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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 37)

Mitchell I totally agree. You can read in the last chapter that Harry forgives him, and even names his son after him! So, you can conclude after reading these facts that Snape is a hero (to Harry). Snapes rol in the books is just amazing... oeh he must have felt so bad when it came out he betrayed the Potters.. including the love of his life. He has made a lot of mistakes.. I think that's the reason why the story is so real. I really love the books J.K. has done a excellent job.

Posted by xvy on January 6, 2008 10:20 AM

I once read in a book two definitions that describe a hero: the person everyone recognizes, and the person who makes sacrifices for what's right. Snape surely isn't recognized for being a hero (except for some of you lot here on Beyond Hogwarts). But what sacrifices did he make? He sacrificed his relationship with Lily for the Eaters. He sacrificed his life to give Dumbledore information, but that is one of the occupational hazards of being a spy. Besides that one generality, there are few sacrifices he made for good. He learned this AFTER he had barely anything less to lose. If being a spy in itself makes him a hero, which I suppose it should, because if he didn't do that then he could have either wimped out like Malfoy or continued on with being a Eater, no difference with Lily gone. I think there's always a chance to be a hero, and the way he took is the only way...he's a hero.

But being a hero doesn't mean perfect. Snape was probably a hero, but he was pretty much heel. It's like a fuitcake with chocolate frosting. Some people lick the frosting, some puke out the cake. You could also feel the sweetness of the chocolate then puke up the cake.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on January 7, 2008 12:41 PM

For me, at the very end, Snape was the greatest hero, or at least among the greatest.
Of course, he wasn't really nice, mostly. How he treated some students, how he abused his position (in taking point from griffindor) his slight attraction to dark arts.. But, he was never a real eater.. he just tought voldemorts side was the right one, he never was cruel like the other 'bad guys'. and he came to see how wrong voldemort and his eaters were, out of love. just like harry, love get/keeps him on the good side. I don't think he ever really loved harry, he couldn't because of the past with harry's father. (the way james treated snape was no better than how snape treated harry)

now why he was such a hero.. he sacrificed anything for helping the good side. imagine in what sort of life danger he was, all the time in the presence of voldermort and eaters, because, anytime they discovered him he would've been ed.. and, the rest of the world he was trying to save hated him for being a eater. then he helped harry, under the nose of 'the enemy', while he also could've just let voldemort win and remain one of his followers. or, he could've went back to the right side and tell the truth about dumbledore, so he would be 'appreciated' again. but he didn't, because the life-treatening and miserable position he had was more profitable for harry and the rest.. Well, I find that heroic enough. I love the charactere.

Posted by Dries from The Netherlands on January 9, 2008 09:30 AM

Happy Birthday and Rest In Peace, Severus Snape - my heart is with you!

Posted by Katie T from California on January 9, 2008 1:55 PM

I think that Snape is the bravest man Harry ever knew, even Dumbledore saw it, "Sometimes I think we sort too early." he says to Snape in book 7. I dont hink Snape saw his own courage or self worth. Lily saw something in Snape, she was friends with him, and i think that Snape felt like that was the only good thing he had going for himself. Snape had problems at home most likly with his muggle father, at school he had James and his friends who hated him from the beginning because he wanted to be in Slytherin, the house in which his mother was most likely in. Snape wanted to belong somewhere, he needed to be wanted. He thought he could be wanted by Lily but he messed that up by hanging around the wrong people at school. Snape loathed James even more when James got Lily. But yet again Snape screws things up for Lily and this time she s. Snape loathed himself for for what he had done. i think this is the main reason he treated Harry the way he did. I think he only blamed it on Harry being like his father James. Snape hated himself more than anyone else, Harry was a reminder of his greatest mistake every time he looked into his eyes, Snape could never forget what he had done to Lily. It was The memory of Lily that made him the man he was. She did change him for the better. From the day she d until the day of his Snape strived to do right by her. To protect her son the living reminder of Snapes tragic mistake, and his love lost. Snape had nothing else to live for. Snape welcomed his fate, he finally did right for Lily one and only love "Look into my eyes" Snape said to Harry as he lay there ing, book 7.

Posted by Sarah from Monroe, Oh. on January 11, 2008 10:55 AM

I remain convinced that Harry would not have been able to give up his life after the Battle of Hogwarts without having seen Snape's and his memories in the pensieve. Dumbledore instructed Snape to reveal to Harry that his own was necessary in order for Voldemort to , of course. However, it was not enough for Harry merely to know this fact. He also had to understand what real sacrifice in the name of love meant, and this he learned only from seeing Snape's true character in the pensieve.

Snape is complicated, but he is also the purest form of hero, because he acted not for recognition or riches or even for the affection of the woman he loved. He made a promise to Dumbledore to protect Harry on behalf of Lily's memory, and he kept that promise to his . Through his memories, Snape taught Harry what real heroism is made of.

Posted by hollyanna from New Jersey on January 15, 2008 7:34 PM

It is true what you're saying, Hollyanna; Snape never gained anything for himself through his actions - his great love Lily is and therefore he could have never been truly happy. He sacrificed everything despite knowing that Lily was happy with her life with James and Harry and would probably never have considered leaving her family for Snape. It is therefore truly heroic that he agreed to save her son and it is also true and deep love. There are a lot of touching moments in "Harry Potter" but Snape's dedication and deep loyalty is the most touching one for me. Accepting the way a loved one chooses to live even if this involves pain for oneself is true love.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on January 17, 2008 05:14 AM

Hi all, I just finished reading the last book. Let me tell you i never read the books and didn't want to until i saw OotP, and hearing how much the book was better. Once I started reading I couldn't put it down. But before that, I new Severus Snape was good and on the right side ever since Prisoner of Azkaban movie came out. After reading book five, I was sure, and after reading book 6 I was damn sure he was good. In book six, Dumbledore tells Harry the reason he isn't influenced by Voldy is becuase of love; Voldy can't pentrate through that. And after Harry always complaining about Snape, I knew the reason he wasn't influenced by Voldy is becuase of love as well, and I lknew it was for Lily. What I have a problem with is why is his love being called an obsession. Is it a obession when you love someone for your whole life, and not have it returned but continue to love? NO, Hell No! And for everyone saying he only cared for himself. remeber his memories when Dumbledore told him to tell harry that Harry must sacrifice his life when Sanpe sees Nagini in a protective spell, that is why he kept asking to go and get harry, that is why he kept looking at the snake. Snape sacrificied a lot, for one the truth about his loyalties, he had no idea when he would , and therefore he knew that he might being known as a eater. On top of that, the only reason he was living was because of lily's sacrifice for harry. Like Dumbledore said to him, make sure she didn't in Vain. He probaly thought that if that is why she d that it better be worth it. I was sad that he d, but also happy for now he can be with Lily and like he always wanted. He did what he had to do and thats that. Also, he was with Dumbledore the day he asked Dumbledore for help-we dont know how long that was before they d. He didn't join right after they d like many of you say. Remember Dumbledore asked him for a favor in return.

Now there are a few things I am confused about:
-Did he blame harry for his mothers as well? (obviously he blamed himself, sirius, wormtail, Dumbledore ect.;
-did he truly hate harry?
-was he trying to get him expelled to protect him?
-Was the reason he was always angry with him struting the corriders becuase he was walking into danger, and he didn't want harry to pay his mother back by having him ? (poorly worded but hoepfully you know what I mean)
-Dumbledore says that he rejoin the order and not joined the order, so does that mean he used to be a OP member? And if so why did he leave? B/C Lily and James got married maybe?
-Why didn't he want harry to know that he loved his mother when he asked Dumbledore not to tell her son?

Other questions:
-If he was obsessive, why didn't he use a love potion on Lily?
-Where do you think he is now? and How do Sirus and the others treat him?

Posted by sarah madison from san diego, california on January 20, 2008 7:10 PM

Leah from NYC:

"The fascinating thing about (most) of the convoluted plot threads is that they do make sense. The question of whether Snape and his love for Lily was ultimately benificial is answered both philosophically and practically. Philosophically, we have the theme of love being the most powerful and mysterious kind of magic. If Snape had not loved Lily, he or someone else would have overheard the prophesy and told Voldemort. But NO ONE would have asked Voldemort to spare Lily. So, she would not have been given the choice to sacrifice herself. Remember, James also sacrificed himself, but that did not conjure the same type of protective magic because he was never given the choice to live. Lily was only given that choice (which then, bestowed upon her sacrifice the protective magic) because Snape loved her and asked Voldemort to spare her. Ultimately, it was not only Lily's love for her son, but snape's love for lily plus her love for her son, that gave Harry the power the dark lord knew not."

Thank you for that. Perfectly spoken. Which brings me to another question, do any of you think the sorting hate can see into the future, or knows the furture. I mean if these characters were not sorted in the houses they were, then it would have been a different story, obviously...;)

Posted by sarah madison from san diego, california on January 24, 2008 8:09 PM

Sarah, he didn't use a love potion on Lily because he genuinely loved her - and, as Slughorn points out, a love potion can only create a kind of false attachment or infatuation but never real love. Remember, Voldemort was conceived under the influence of a love potion... and he was unable to love throughout his life.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on January 25, 2008 04:22 AM

Also, Lily did love Snape back - not romantically yet, maybe, but certainly as a friend. She only turned her back on him because she despised his desire to get involved with the Dark Arts and then his unforgivable reference to her as a "mudblood."

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on January 25, 2008 04:28 AM

"Which brings me to another question, do any of you think the sorting hate can see into the future, or knows the furture. I mean if these characters were not sorted in the houses they were, then it would have been a different story, obviously...;)"

Interesting question. I think though that the sorting hat simply looks into the child's mind and sifts through what's there to see where, deep down, the child truly wants to go. In the case of Hermione the hat took ages deciding between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. Obviously there were two competing aspects of her make-up; her courage and her intelligence. In Harry's case the connection with Voldemort made the hat think of Slytherin, but Harry had already made his choice and he communicates that to the hat very clearly. I did wonder though if in its continued insistence on Slytherin, the hat was testing and tempting Harry's resolve.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on January 27, 2008 06:43 AM

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