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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 42)

I agree with shivam, Snape d saving harry, He could have easily taken voldemort's side and taken th revenge of james from haryy but no, this is because Snape was good. If not for snape dumbledore would have been much much earlier because of the ring.
Hats off to SEVERUS SNAPE!The real HERO!

Posted by Apoorva Yadav from Dehradun,India on May 31, 2008 12:20 AM

To Katie T. First of all I'm glad that there is finally someone out there who agrees with me on the "Elder Wand - Mystery" and the way Dumbledore led Snape into mortal peril - I still think it would have been his duty to tell Snape about the wand and Voldemort's fatal belief concerning its power.
But Dumbledore is not heartless; as we learn throughout the book he is moved by people who are able to feel deep love and who are driven by this feeling; he admires Harry for his untarnished soul and he is moved by Snape and his confession about his immortal love for Lily Evans.
But Dumbledore is also a very cold person in a lot of ways. Basically we learn only about one major mistake he made in his life - falling in love with Grindelwald, trusting him, flirting with the Dark Arts and losing his sister in the effect. After that his life is blameless; he never succumbed to any weaknesses again, on the contrary, he became very guarded and pulled a lot of strings ever since, using people along the way ( although always for the good cause, but still, using people, never fully explaining what he is up to, not to Snape, not To Harry- although they were probably the only two people in Dumbledore's confidence. Dumbledore once said that the Eaters who believe themselves to be friends of Voldemort are dilluded - but so are those who believe themselves to be close to Dumbledore. Dumbledore pulled strings until the very last - to his , controlling Draco, controlling Harry - and controlling his own , carried out by one of his servants - Snape. And no one really understood him.

I agree with most of the things Elizabeth from Australia said - but I cannot agree on one thing: I believe Dumbledore very well knew how things would turn out, and he is not surprised that Snape d along the way. Snape was doomed. As you pointed out, Katie, Snape had no real reason to continue living after he had fulfilled his last act to save and protect Harry for Lily. He had chosen to with her in a way, never forgiving himself, never forgiving those who harmed him, never making a new start that could have resulted from forgiveness. Rowling knew Snape to long ago and so did Dumbledore, who spoke for Rowling in many ways, knowing as much as she did.
As Elizabeth said Snape would have become a recluse had he lived (he already was a recluse in ways but one with a purpose) and this would have led to another story, a story Rowling chose not to tell.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on June 5, 2008 06:50 AM

If people could be considered heroes simply because they did one good thing in life then everyone would be a hero, which I highly doubt is even remotely possible.

The only thing driving Snape to help Harry was Lily and nothing else, just an obsession with the woman he loved. It was Lily's eyes that Harry had that kept Snape doing everything he could, not the fact that Harry was a youngster who needed protecting, otherwise I think Snape would have not done everything he truly could of.

And of Snape giving into peer pressure at school, that is understandable but that doesn't make it right. What of when he left, became an adult: still give into peer pressure like a little boy or make the choices based on his own beliefs like a true grown up... obviously in Snape's case retain everything he suffered under peer pressure.

His victimisation of Harry simply because of the likelyness between him and James was not justifiable in anyway either. It would be like saying that simply because someone looks Middle Eastern that they must be a member of the taliban: no two people are the same and Harry was definately more like his mother than his father in personality (as Dumbledore stated). Those who can't and/or won't perceive anything beyond what they see with their own eyes should probably be pittied more than praised.

Lily broke all ties with Snape because of his prejudice and obsession with the Dark Arts and yet, becoming an adult he still chose his obsession over his love: what does this prove about his priorities. Even if peer pressure what crushing his spirit at school what stopped him from making the right choice after he left? Maybe the choice to bottle his pride and join the Order despite James and Sirius being there.

Even after years Snape retained his distain for James and Sirius (which transgressed to Harry), wouldn't years of reflection have caused him to come to terms with everything that's happened? Obviously not...

Posted by Zero192 on June 5, 2008 08:58 AM

im not sure wether snape is definately 1 all the way through the books, at the end, i do agree - hero but throughout he is really the "villain", but the "villain that you kind of like. i have always liked snapes character, since i finished book 2, i guess i saw through the hard faced "villain" he is made out to be.

Posted by sophie from uk on June 6, 2008 1:42 PM

Zero192: "Lily broke all... chose obsession over his love " yes, Zero192, this is correct - and this was, as Dumbledore mildly put it "the regret of his life."
Snape made a grave mistake - no denial of it, and no denial also that he was a weak person in many ways, he never found the strength within him to forgive James and Sirius for what they have done to him - but, on the other hand, Sirius took great care to harbour his grudge against Snape as well. Yes, Snape should not have used Harry as a target for his vindictive fury - but Sirius and James should not have bullied Snape in the first place - do you know what I mean? There are always loads of "should haves" and "shouldn't haves"...

Snape's love for Lily was not an obsession. Unless you fancy calling every true, unselfish and enduring love obsessive.

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on June 7, 2008 04:20 AM

Well...Snape was bad but he changed didn't he? Just like dumbledore, he was also quite bad when he was young but he changed and we all forgave him. So the same way Snape was bad, but he changed so let's forgive and forget....If not for Snape, Harry would have been in the first book by quirell. Hats off to SEVERUS SNAPE! The Real HERO!

Posted by Apoorva from Dehradun ,India on June 20, 2008 9:52 PM

I think that in the beginning Snape was bad, like when he was with Voldemort. But when he went on Dumbledores side he wasnt evil. Snape could have ed Harry tons of times. He even saved him in the 1st book when Professor Quirrel tried to throw him off his broom! he followed Dumbledores orders.

Posted by Emily Kearns on June 25, 2008 07:42 AM

Wow some of you guys talk about Snape like he was so terribly horrible to the kids, as a teacher. But come on, he wasn't that bad. Obviously he had a problem with Harry because of his resemblance to James, but I'm sure he had a problem with all Gryffindors because it was at the hands of some Gryffindor bullies that he was so humiliated as a kid. Not to mention his terrible upbringing by his parents who probably weren't there for him, then at his only home (Hogwarts) these jerkoff's treat him like crap cuz he looks funny and has greasy hair. Not to mention the lead jerkoff married his love, although he called her a mudblood.
I love Severus Snape and he is one of my favorite characters. I knew before the 7th book that he was not evil. I don't know if you can go so far to say that he adored Harry, but he definately loved him.
I see and always see Severus Snape as an amazing wizard, second only to Dumbledore. Also he is one of the main heroes.

Posted by Trey C from Jacksonville, Fl on June 28, 2008 6:38 PM

Snape is GOOD person for me but NOT A HERO. Some say he is bad or evil but i say he is only HUMAN.Being bullied in school is something you can never forget nor forgive easily. It go on haunting you for years and years depending on how emotionally hurt you are.(Those who could not understand this perhaps had never experienced being treated as an outcast) The only thing I regretted about Snape's character was that he never seems to forgive people who hurts him wholeheartedly. Yes he had always saved Harry in every possible way he can but the memories of James hinders him to do it wholeheartedly. The way he treats his students is another reflection of his past hurts. But no, he is not evil, I say he is a good person but just trap in a past he could not seem to overcome.

Posted by snoops on June 30, 2008 08:50 AM

To me, I believe that Snape was truly just a tragic hero.

Though he was well known as being mean to all of his students, he was well known as being the most evil to Ron, Harry, Hermione, and Neville. The reason i think he is always mean to Harry is not just seeing the miniature version of James, but he also serves as a reminder of all of the regrets that Snape has about his life. He is the reminder that he lost Lily, the reminder of the man who forever bullied him, and the reminder that he was in fact the one that led to his one loves . In other words, Harry, to Snape, is the mixture of everything he has hated in his life, and therefore treats him horribly as a sort of revenge for such a horrible reminder.

Neville serves as a similar, but much less painful, reminder of his greatest mistake, as the prophecy that led to Lily's also could have happened to Neville. Therefore, for Snape, he has mixed emotions about Neville. For one, he has a wish that he would have been the one that Voldemort attacked, as it would have left Lily alive. However, after years with Dumbledore, I think that this way of thinking sickens Snape, and he grows to hate himself for that horrid way of thinking. He then expresses his hatred for himself on Neville, making him a scapegoat of sorts.

Then, we get to Hermione. I think the reason that Snape is always so hateful to Hermione is that she is so similar to Lily, that she also serves as a sort of reminder of his horrid mistake. Though she is not as pretty as Lily, she acts so similar that she to makes Snape hate himself, and he again expresses anger towards her. He also could be so mean to her as to sort of assure himself that she is not like Lily, as he always tried to be kind to her.

Then, the reason he hates Ron is... well... I think he just doesn't like him.

Posted by Kamin Hecox on July 1, 2008 08:07 AM

I can see many points that go either way with Snape, hero or heel, he seems to be both in different ways. But wot i still don't get is why he still originally chose to join the eaters over joining the order?

Didn't he learn that the eaters are ous and distainful of'Mudbloods' and that it woz this obsession that drove him and Lily apart? These points in mind why did he still choose the evil side? was he really that weak and clingy to his obsessions with dark magic?

Posted by Zero192 on July 1, 2008 1:29 PM

At one point in DH, Ron says to Harry, "Over, mate."

That's how I felt when I read that Harry named one of his kids after Snape.

I disagree with the poster who tried to justify SS's behavior because of the bullying "jerkoffs." And I disagree with all who believe he was a "true hero," any more than Robert Ford was a hero for shooting Jesse James in the back.

1) Snape hated Muggles from childhood (p. 665 of DH).
2) He used magic against defenseless Muggle girls (p 668).
3) He read other people's mail (p. 670) -- a seemingly minor point, except it shows what a sneak he is.
4) He insulted James, personally, before James had ever done a thing to him (p. 672).
5) He CHOSE Dark Magic and Dark Magic friends (p. 673).
6) He responded to the heartfelt defense of his "love" and last friend by calling her a Mudblood (p. 675).
7) He CHOSE to be a Eater -- he can't even deny it when Lily calls him on it (p. 675-676).
8) He CHOSE to reveal the partial prophecy to Voldemort (p. 677). Five seconds thought would've shown him he was putting his "love" at risk, but no, he was too eager to serve his TRUE love. And as Dumbledore correctly observes, he'd have been ing to let James AND HARRY if he could only save Lily.
9) The heart of my contempt for Snape, though, comes from his performance as a Professor. As a "teacher," he is so blinded by his hatred of a man that he cannot even fairly evaluate, let alone truly teach, a child (p. 679). He cannot even find a grain of grudging sympathy within himself for a boy whose childhood was exponentially worse than his own. (Speaking of teaching, the only time anyone ever seems to learn anything from him is when Harry uses his old textbook. Perhaps Dumbledore should've given him a position as Head Researcher & Magical Publisher.)

AND, even if you argue that this is some sort of karma for James' bullying of Snape, there's one big difference. James was Snape's PEER. When they meet, Harry is a CHILD and Snape is a PROFESSOR. He didn't have the guts or s to stand up to his peers, but he can hold a grudge for years and take it out on helpless kids.

As Kamin notes above, not just Harry, but any kid who remotely reminds him of his own vileness is a target, and anyone close to any of the reminders! Though Kamin is wrong about one thing -- he's NEVER "mean" to Slytherins. In addition to being a sadistic bully, he also plays favorites.

After some thought, though, I think his perfectly appropriate. ed, not in a noble duel in which he could reveal his "true loyalties" to the world, but in secret; not even with the ing Curse, but by snakebite. Perhaps he has made some restitution for his life, but... naming Harry's kid after him? "Over, mate."

Posted by Doc Liberty on July 5, 2008 9:43 PM

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