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Severus Snape: Heel or Hero?

Is Snape a hero? Would James and Lily be alive now if not for him? Would Harry be dead now if not for him? Did he ever care about Harry, or only Lily? At the end of the epilogue, Harry says that Severus Snape was the bravest man he ever knew. Did he feel that way only after years of reflection? How do we feel now, while it's still fresh for us?

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Reader Comments: (Page 30)

Why do we pick and pick at people we should be sympathetic to and some admire, i mean Dumbledore for heavens sake. Sure he did things that were wrong. But he was young.

I've found something in the replies to the articles that makes me think. It seems that all those who dislike Snape focuse on the things he did in the past his deeds. While those who like him the majority to dwell on his motives for his actions in the present not the actions themselves. I personaly feel that I think of his motives for the things he does now and I like and adore Severus Snape.

Posted by Raphael13 on October 12, 2007 5:36 PM

I don't think Snape could "filter" his memory when , his last thoughts poured out of him uncontrolled. Still, he chose Harry to take them, thus fulfilling his dedication to help Harry right until his .

I think Snape respected Harry throughout the book, he is just to stubborn to admit it. He was determined to see "what he expected to see" as Dumbledore put it. There are moments though when Snape drops his defences slightly, e.g. in the Occlumency lesson when Harry successfully defends himself with a Shield Charm. Snape is surprised and says "Well that certainly was an improvement." During the lesson, Snape also gets to see some of Harry's moments of humiliation by the hands of the Dursleys. You would think that this would have been a feast for Snape to make some nasty remarks, but he chose not to comment on that at all, he spared Harry further humiliation.

As for Dumbledore, I still don't fully understand his intention about the Elder Wand. In Chapter 35 "King's Cross" Harry says "If you planned your with Snape, you meant him to end up with the Elder Wand, didn't you?"
- "I admit that was my intention," said Dumbledore, "but this plan didn't work as I intended, did it?"

And later, in Chapter 36 Harry says that "Severus Snape was never the true Master of the Elder Wand. He never defeated Dumbledore... Dumbledore's was planned between them. Dumbledore intended to undefeated, the wand's true last master! If all had gone as planned, the wand's power would have d with him..."

So why did Dumbledore want Snape to end up with the wand anyway, if the wand's power was to with Dumbledore? Why put Snape in such a risk? Voldemort knew that Dumbledore intended Snape to have the wand:

"Dumbledore was trying to keep the Elder Wand from me! He intended that Snape should be the true master of the wand! But I got there ahead of you, little boy - I reached the wand before you could get your hands on it, I understood the truth before you caught up..."

How could Voldemort know all this? It looks as if Voldemort knew about the connection between Snape and Dumbledore! Did he, after all, penetrate Dumbledore's mind? We don't get any hints that Snape knew anything at all about the Elder Wand, and Harry wasn't involved in the plan either, so Voldemort must have got that information from Dumbledore.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 13, 2007 05:59 AM

Michelle wasn�t satisfied with Rowling�s work as regards the character of Snape and his goodness. I don�t agree. I don�t know how some people still don�t see that Snape had been good for a long time, but I don�t think THIS is Rowling�s fault. I think Snape�s goodness, if anything, is clear from the books. To me it was clear already before this seventh book.

The end of the seventh book leaves us very confused and bemused about some things, which I think it shouldn�t do, but I think it is very clear from the book that Snape, the adult Snape, was a good man, a man of great integrity.

Posted by Sara from Finland on October 13, 2007 06:11 AM

I assume J.K. Rowling's intention during all the books right until the moment when Snape s was for us to believe that he was working on the Dark Side (just as Harry believes this until that moment) We are wandering through the books guided by Harry's thoughts and emotions and they are thus. She gives us very faint hints, however,about Snape's true intentions, e.g. when he ed Dumbledore his face was full of hatred and remorse (about what he was doing) and earlier on, when Harry calls him a coward, he "seemed to be in as much pain as the dog inside the burning house" Also Hermione once or twice defended Snape from Harry's conclusions, for example when they discuss Snape's first Defence Against The Dark Arts" lesson and what Snape said about the dark arts. Harry accuses him of a "loving caress" in his voice, but Hermione cooly says "well I thought he sounded a bit like you,Harry, in our DA sessions". We learn there that Harry might be on the wrong track when hating Snape.

When Snape s we see Harry to come to some kind of conclusion that he might have had the wrong concept about Snape when he kneels next to him and doesn't really know why he is doing it. He is drawn to stand by Snape in his last moments. It is very touchingly written I think, the two men bonded in a moment that shouldn' have happened..

Although I agree that Rowling did not spend much time on Snape's resolution, she wrote some very touching moments for him (I agree, Michelle, the doe moment was beautiful!) and maybe the silence that occurs between Dumbledore and Harry at King's Cross Station when saying "Well this plan didn't work out" is also a kind of silent tribute to Severus Snape.

Anyway Rowling said somewhere that she loved writing about Snape and this is clearly noticeable. Maybe she knew all along that there would be those readers who love him for what he was and others who would refuse point blank to see that at all.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 13, 2007 06:29 AM

I also love Snape. In looking at how he was as a teenager around Lily, he seemed to wear his emotions on his sleeve around her. The adult Snape was very much different, and distanced himself emotionally from everyone around him. Is this what he needed to do in order to master the art of Occulmency? Sienna's quote where Voldemort admits he knew that Dumbledore intended Snape to end up with the Elder Wand was brilliant. It makes me wonder whether Voldemort was finally able to penetrate Snape's mind...perhaps because Snape did finally allow himself to admit that he cared for Harry? That whole scene in the forest where Snape is guiding Harry to the sword via the doe really is quite gentle. Snape could have chosen many other possibilities to lead Harry to the sword, but he chose the doe. Was this characteristic of Snape's true nature, which he had to hide under a veil of cruelty in order to fulfill his duty?

My confusion over Snape is really based on JKR's comments about his character in interviews over the years. Here are a couple of things she directly said, none of which are taken out of context...which leads me to wonder whether when she wrote these books, did she just not realize how Snape's character would be perceived by so many?:

"It's fun to write about Snape because he's a deeply horrible person."
"I really like Snape. I mean, I wouldn�t want to have a dinner with him, but as a character he�s great because he�s complicated and quite nasty."
"Why do people love Snape? I do not understand this. Again, it�s bad boy syndrome, isn�t it? It�s very depressing."

Q:"Was Snape always intended to be a hero?

JKR: *gasp* Is he a hero? You see, I don't see him really as a hero. Yeah, he's spiteful, he's a bully. All these things are still true of Snape, even at the end of this book. Ah, um, but was he brave? Yes, immensely."

Posted by Michelle on October 13, 2007 1:14 PM

Severus Snape was a lonely and resentful soul.

From an early age, he witnessed abuse and suffered neglect. At school, he was bullied and harassed by fellow students. When he met a beautiful girl who was ing to be his friend, he had no idea how to maintain the friendship. As a teenager, he was swayed by his Eater friends instead of Lily's true friendship. Loving her from afar (emotionally), he was the unwitting cause of her at the hand of Voldemort. If students were sorted later, as Dumbledore said, he might have learned compassion and experienced real love, which requires give and take, by living with students other than Slytherins.

Snape was capable of goodness, integrity, perseverence and bravery. But it was not tempered with compassion, kindness, understanding or a sense of perspective.

His role in Lily's opened his eyes to the evil in Voldemort, but it did not change the core personality of Severus Snape. He did not switch sides for the moral goodness of it, he was betrayed by his Dark Lord, and thus switched allegience. He would have been just as brilliant in the service of Voldemort as he was in the service of the Order of the Phoenix, if Lily was not Voldemort's victim that night.

Posted by Patty from Quincy,Massachusetts on October 13, 2007 5:23 PM

I don't think Voldemort got the information about the Elder Wand from Snape, as Snape didn't know about it, did he, as Dumbledore left him in the dark about it?
We don't get any information that Voldemort accessed Harry's mind about the wand either and anyway, Harry knew about the wand but would neither have known about Dumbledore's intention that Snape should end up with it nor that it's power was supposed to with Dumbledore.

So, Voldemort must have either guessed or penetrated Dumbledore's mind (but we don't learn anything about that either.)

I think Rowling might have wanted to lead readers on a false trail about Snape with her remarks. She realized that some shrewd readers looked beyond his questionable behaviour or realized her hints and wanted to work against it. It would have destroyed a great deal of suspense she had so carefully established.
In a discussion she was involved with after Book 6 had come out a member of the aunce suggested that Dumbledore's was planned somehow involving Snape and she quickly changed the subject...
Her empathies in the books were clearly with those who empathized with Harry and Snape never openly admitted a way saying everyone has to like Harry in order to be in her good books. Harry is the one who was never tempted by the Dark Arts (Dumbledore: "I should have known you are the better man") therefore is the one everyone has to love in order to be regarded as "good" by her?

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 14, 2007 08:35 AM

I never liked Snape at all. But i wonder if it were not for Lily would he have ed Harry? At the end of the 7th book when snape s i wonder why he was nice to Harry then? Why not before? i mean he could of given Harry the memories before his hour but why was he always so evil to Harry? If he loved Lily wouldn't he have a tiny bit of respect for Harry? or was Harry to much like James for him? But even though Snape protected Harry sometimes he was still really cruel and horrible to him. What does Snape think Lily would want him to do to her son? I think if I were Snape i would be nice to Harry because Harry is just about the last reminder of Lily. Maybe he is mean to Harry because he goes through so much pain remembering Lily when Harry is around? But even though most of the evidence in the 7th book points to Snape as good and nice I still think he was a pretty mean person in his lifetime. But also why did he report where Lily was if he loved her so much? Wouldn't he relize if he told Voldemort about the profecy Voldemort would track Harry down and then it woudl end in Lily ? How could he not relize that Lily would protect her son? Is it because he thought that Voldemort would go for Neville instead of Harry? aBut wouldn't it still be to risky? I just do not get why he told Voldemort about the profecy if Lily was partly involved in it. Wouldn't Snape relize that Voldemort would track Harry down and then Lily? I mean Snape knows what Voldemort does to his victims. So why did he do it?

Posted by Amy from California on October 14, 2007 09:49 AM

Back-tracking a bit to the Dumbledore issue, I think that all throughout the first 6 books, JK gave Dumbledore the fatherly image, always wise and protecting, calm, loving and kind. She gave him very few flaws and those he possessed only endeared the readers more to him because we want to love someone who is human.

Snape, on the other hand, was given all the characteristics which we hate (listed above only about a thousand times, I really don't need to repeat). At the end of DH, though, our views of these two people have been totally tipped on their heads. Snape, who we know had a dodgy past and horrible present was given a loving past and brave present. Dumbledore, who we think to have an honourable past and wise present, is given a power-hungry past and a very shaky present.

JK never suggests that we stop loving Dumbledore for his past and present mistakes, but nor do we just pretend they never happened. I don't think that the majority of readers begin hating Dumbledore for his murky past, and knowing this, we shouldn't hold Snape's mistakes against him because doing so would mean we have double standards.
I hope that made sense.

Footnote: I think that if JK Rowling read this site she would be horrified. It quite reminds me of when I analyse texts in English (especially poems) and try to figure out why someone wrote "the sea is like a jewel" instead of the thousands of other things they could have compared the sea to. Usually, I find that they think it just sounds cool.

Posted by Uric the Oddball on October 15, 2007 04:18 AM

Snape did not know who the prophecy referred to when he told it to Voldemort. When he knew Lily was in danger he asked him to spare her, but knew it was a long shot (from the scene with Dumbledore which Harry witnesses in the pensieve, the one where Dumbledore says "You disgust me"). Snape asked Voldemort to spare Lily, but knew what Voldemort was capable of, as you say. Before it became personal, Snape had no concern for casualties or s.

Snape very much needed a friend from childhood but had no time for anyone he thought was beneath him, who was pretty much anyone. In the end we see a type of friendship between Snape and Dumbledore, born out of mutual need of each other professionally, driven by the common goals of the downfall of Voldemort and the protection of Harry. But who else did Snape open up to? Not his fellow Eaters, not the Order of the Phoenix, not the teachers. He distances himself from everyone, including by living in a Muggle neighborhood, not surrounded by "his own kind".

I think even Dumbledore benefited from more than just Snape's potion ss. Who else did Dumbledore have as a friend? We don't see any friendship for Dumbledore either. He had more support than Snape, obviously, but in his later life, who was a friend to him?

I think this is the reason he encourages Harry to include Hermione and Ron in what he knew, so Harry would have friends to be there when he needed them.

As to how Voldemort knew of Dumbledore's plan for the Elder Wand, I think he figured it out on his own, and got it right, except for Draco's unexpected role. Snape was to be the owner of the wand without knowing it. I don't think a magical object of such power which has lasted through so many years would just "go gently into that good night."

Harry misinterprets Dumbledore's plan in my opinion.

Posted by Patty from Quincy,Massachusetts on October 15, 2007 05:53 AM

J.K. Rowling let Harry name his children Albus Severus, Lily and James. This means Harry named his children after the people he loved and honoured most in his life - his mother and father naturally, and then Dumbledore... and Snape! By naming his youngest son both Albus and Severus he makes Dumbledore and Snape equals! Furthermore, Albus Severus is described as Harry's only child that inherited Lily's eyes. I think it means that Harry acknowledges and honours Snape's love for Lily.

I mean Harry could have chosen to name his son after Sirius or Lupin instead of Snape but he chose Severus!

Maybe this is the greatest resolution Rowling could give Snape really!

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 15, 2007 06:21 AM

I agree with Sienna, Dumbledore and Snape were equals. They both made mistakes, but they were balanced out by their inner want to do good.

I think "two-faced" would be a good word here. Both Albus and Severus had two faces, one was to use in front of everyone else, to make them carry on with life, and one was something they let out only at certain times, with certain people. They made mistakes in their youth, they tore at them inside. So they decided to live life the way they thought would help them move on, but never quite forget. Snape liked to distance himself from everyone, look unapproachable, should anything leak out. Dumbledore put himself where he considered himself "safe", where he could care and help and love to make up for the past. And that's all okay! They both ended up doing some good for themselves and the wizarding world. In life, it's not the thought, but the best you can do, that counts.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on October 15, 2007 9:07 PM

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