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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 36)

Snape did good things to help foil Lord Voldemort's plan and to help Harry, but not because he loved Harry. He helped Lupin, and Harry in SS, but not because he loved Harry, not because he loved Lupin, or even wanted to help them. It was because he felt guilty that James saved him and he wanted to go back to hating him, and I think Dumbledore asked him to make the potion for Lupin, and the first chance he got, he betrayed Lupin, and all the time, he made sure every one knew of his loathing and contempt for Harry. He loved Lily, which is sweet, but does not make him a good person. It shows he was capable of good things, but chose to be a horrid person most of the time. In short, he was a brave, noble fighter, but a grudge-holding mean person.

Posted by Camille from Manchester on December 22, 2007 08:29 AM

I actually feel sorry for Snape. It's not his fault he's a little bit strange and a bit mean to harry. james was pretty rotten to him, calling him "snivellus" and playing tricks and picking on him and so forth. poor harry thinks his father's a noble, brave, kind and compassionate person, but i really think james was a bully and one of those people who let popularity get to their head. i reckon lily was a good person, who could see the good in people, so that's why she befriended snape before they went to hogwarts. so what i'm saying is that snape really is a good person, but got tricked into going to voldemort at his lowest of times when lily didn't like him anymore. it wasn't really snapes fault he called her a mudblood, maybe he got a bad result in his exam, and didn't mean what he said. anyway, wasn't lily a potions star, so why would she need snape's help in class?

Posted by ashliet on December 22, 2007 4:16 PM

Snape is as human as the rest of us. Indeed, he had a feeling of hatred towards Harry. To Snape, he could easily see that Harry had everything going for him. He had friends (Ron and Hermione) that cared about him, he has adults that look out for him, he was loved by Dumbledore, he had strength and courage that Snape thought he didnt have.

In OofP, we see that James tormented Snape, we seem to conclude that Snape had no friends...a loner. Seeing Harry having friends and friends risking their lives in all possible ways had an effect on Snape.

Although, Harry may have not been living the "perfect life", with his parents ed, learning that Lord Voldemort is out to him makes it hard to sleep and night.

But, as readers, we are revealed that Snape does have courage and strength. Being ordered to one of the greastest wizards of all time, is pretty intmidating.

Snape is a hero, he knew that this was an important key fact.

Posted by Alyaa from Dayton, Ohio on December 24, 2007 5:40 PM

wow, i feel so sad for snape... he was really a good guy. i felt so sad when he d... it was a pretty dramatic scene.

Posted by HPfan #1 on December 26, 2007 10:22 AM

As we're discussing whether Snape is a heel or a hero, it might be interesting to look closely at the parts in which Harry doesn't look at Snape in a negative way.

When he looks in the pensieve and sees a boy in ill-fitting clothes being bullied by his father, Harry instantly sympathises with him. (Because Harry has spent many years wearing Dudley's old clothes and understands what it's like to be bullied.) Harry is so disturbed by what he has seen in the pensieve that he asks Sirius and Lupin about it.

When Harry encounters Snape in the guise of the "Half Blood Prince," he is drawn to this clever boy who helps him excell at Potions, and heatedly argues that the Half Blood Prince is not evil.

And when Harry meets Snape's doe Patronus, he is drawn to its beauty and feels that he is n the presence of a protector. All his fears disappear for a space while Snape's doe is with him, and resurface once again when the doe goes away.

It's also interesting to look at Dumbledore's view of Snape. The fact that Dumbledore trusts Snape is mentioned repeatedly. We actually see Snape (in "the Prince's Tale") doing his best to save Dumbledore's life. We also see that when Snape talks of Lily, Dumbledore has tears in his eyes.

Although there are a lot of negative descriptions of Snape, there are lots of positive bits, too, which seem to tell us that the author actually intends us to sympathise with him.

Posted by Rodent on December 28, 2007 09:04 AM

I'm beginning to think this whole argument is a bit ridiculous. The whole human race is shaped by events. And the events in the book are shaped by J K Rowling herself. So don't give me this poppy about how Snape's just a jerk.

Every single day of his life has been torture. J K Rowling was the one to decide to have a character who would be teased and tortured by the entire student body except his love interest, who would only lead him on until finally marrying the main ringleader of his torture, James. His father abused him as a child because of his powers. When he got to Hogwarts, he was forbidden from taking the job he wanted most, and forced to teach Harry, a permanent reminder of the girl who led him on, who he never stopped loving. He then eventually gets strung up in all this Dark Mark business, only because Lily didn't have the same feelings for him, and ends up sacrificing himself to end it all because he couldn't live with himself to know that Lily's child had d on his behalf.

J K Rowling made it so he would have such a horrible life on purpose. Nobody deserves that kind of life, and you don't realize how lucky you are that he hadn't become evil.

Posted by VulcanInsanity on December 28, 2007 1:19 PM

Snape wasn't really "good" or "bad". He was a normal guy who had a lot of bad things happen to him, who let his emotions get the better of him, who lived a lot of his life in hatred and misery, who actually decided to do some good in the end. He could have been a nice guy, tried to turn the other cheek. It depends on what may be too much hardship to take. Harry had most of the same things happen to him, but then Snape was never as famous as Harry and never had as good of friends as Harry, excepting Lily of course. If all that matters is that he tried to do some good in the end, then that's that and he's great just for trying. If counts against him that he still had some bitter feelings and did some pretty mean things, and couldn't quite forgive, then maybe he is mostly just a bucket of grease (no pun intended) and did some good just to accomplish his own ends. Or maybe he was just a tool in some great plan and isn't all that important. Maybe he's just some person trying to work and live and in this world and he just got caught in something sad. I guess it's just how you look at it.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on December 28, 2007 10:53 PM

I think Snape is a middle sort of person because he is not as evil as Lord voldemort and not as kind hearted as Harry. Snape is mean to Harry from the first class with him to the day he s because Harry is a miniature of James.But he saves Harry (or only attempted) every year because he promised dumbledore and Harry is Lily's son. I hate the way Snape tries to be mean to Harry but I love the way Snape tries to save Harry despite his deep hatred of Harry's father. Snape risked his own life to save Harry, How? Snape actually betrayed the eaters because of his love for Lily. Snape is not a hero but he is not evil. Snape is a real triumph of J.K. Rowling.

Posted by Ann Marie from Beijing,China on December 29, 2007 6:24 PM

Snape's a hero. No doubt about that. I understand why he treats Harry so badly, because he reminds him of James; if I was in his position I would probably dislike him too. I knew it from the first book on that Snape was on the good side. Although when the sixt book arrived J.K made me doubt about where his loyalty was. He's a hero because - I think - he's very, very brave. I feel bad for him... because everything in his life was torture just like VulcanInsanity wrote. The moment in which Snape s, and the last thing he sees are Lily's eyes, what a tragedy! I couldn't bear living with a secret the way he lives with it, so hell yeah he's a hero.

Posted by xvy on December 30, 2007 08:45 AM

I respect you, VulcanInsanity, and all.

But you are making it seem as if J.K. Rowling was too harsh on Snape.
Im sure that, that is not you intention at all.
But it just appears that way. Exactly like xvy put it "hell yeah he's a hero"

Would you want to go through all the difficult things Snape had to endure. I doubt, anyone would, but he did.
He d as a hero.
I mean, even Harry names like one of his kids Severus, Albus Severus so that shows that Snape was a hero or Harry would have never bothered to name his kid after him.

R.I.P. Severus Snape

Posted by Mitchell on January 2, 2008 6:49 PM

Vulcaninsanity says Snape's father abused him because of his (Snape's) powers. I disagree. The father was a drunk, if you recall. Drunks, as we know even today, can be abusive to the vulnerable around them--their wives and children. It's a horrible form of alcohol-induced bullying. There's never an excuse for the behavior from anything done by the targets of the abuser.

Posted by Alice from Milton on January 4, 2008 06:47 AM

I believe that even after everything that Snape has done he was still intended by JKR to be one of the heoroes of the series. There is a quote in the OOTP film in which Serious says "the world isnt split into good ppl and eaters, we all light and dark within us, it is the part on which we choose to act on which sets us apart" (or somthing to that affect) I think that particular quote applies here to snape. He chose to act on the light part because of love for lily. In a recent interview JKR described her opinion of being evil as not being able to love and as snape loves Lily i think that proves that he is not evil.

Posted by Emily from Lisburn, Nothern Ireland on January 5, 2008 3:40 PM

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