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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 43)

What do you think Snape would have been like if Harry was born a girl that looked like Lily but had James' eyes?

Posted by Zero192 on July 6, 2008 3:32 PM

ok here's the thing:

just because snape went all " i love lily and i made a mistake" does NOT make him a hero. He definantly loved her, and he was definantly sorry that her was his fault, but look how much he hated james, and look at how much hell harry went through when he was around him. He woulnd be the least bit sorry if voldemort had ed only james and harry, and therefore, in my eyes, he is not a matter how much he did to help harry, because he only did it because lily was .

Posted by victoria on July 6, 2008 7:14 PM

Snape is a very complex character and for this reason he has been one of my my favorite charcters in the series. Snape was not a hero. I agree with the many people who said he was not an evil person and could be considered an antihero. His childhood was difficult, but it was no worse than Harry's. He could not maintain a friendship with Lily, whom he loved. Snape was always attracted to the dark arts and Slytherin. When Lily was sorted into Gryffindor, Snape let out a tiny groan, but he hadn't been sorted yet. When it was his turn he still chose Slytherin over Gryffindor and Lily. Snape did change later in life after being the cause of Lily's . I don't think he could have known who the prophecy was referring to. If he wasn't in contact with Lily he might not have known if she had a son or when he was born, but this showed he was ready to let someone else . Later, he only agreed to protect Harry (reluctantly) because of his love for Lily. I disagree with everyone who said Snape grew to love Harry. When Dumbledore asks him if he has grown to care for the boy after all,Snape casts his doe patronus.This clearly shows his love was only for Lily. Snape's teaching methods were not good, but the students did learn something. (I don't know why he didn't just write his revised instructions on the board intead of the official ones.) I don't think Snape's treatment of Harry and his friends can be excused because of James's treatment of Snape. It is human to be bitter because of bullying, but not for an adult to treat a student in that way because he looks like his father. If Snape had gotten to know Harry instead of just "seeing what he expected to see", he would have realized Harry was more like his mother. Snape did not hate Lily for choosing James over himself, yet he hated Harry for being James's son. Despite his faults, Snape was definitely a very brave person who played a large role in protecting Harry. He put his life at risk many times. Dumbledore did use him in a way. I don't think he was told everything about the elder wand, but Dumbledore also used Harry. Like Harry told Aberforth, you sometimes have to think about the greater good. Dumbledore knew Harry would survive, but he didn't tell Snape, which was why Snape felt used. Snape was ed for a pointless reason, though I think it would have been very unrealistic if he had done something openly heroic before he d. I, like Harry respect Snape, but Harry naming a kid after him seems too much.

Posted by Anonymous from Arizona on July 7, 2008 11:09 AM

Back in March, a blogger commented that Regalus was a hero on the same level as Snape. Actually, I believe he as more so. Snape acted because he caused the of his one true love, I'm not sure if Voldemort had gone after Neville he would have changed his ways. At least not with/out the pleadings of Lily.

Secondly, there's an implication that Regalus followed the ways of the Eaters, because it's how he'd been taught by his family. His revelation came about when he finally realised what being a Eater was all about and it repulsed him. He was acting almost altruistically, putting society over his own life. The most unfortunate part of it all, was that his own brother never got to know how truly heroic he was.

I absolutely believe that had he survived, he'd have been a founding member of the OOP.

Posted by scout on July 8, 2008 09:50 AM

To those who say he mistreated Harry because he reminded him of his father, I don't think so. His understimation of Harry is due to that, but his mistreatment of Harry was exactly what he needed to do, so as to 'fool' any Eeater that would question his loyalties. He uses his mistreatmeant of Harry to help convince Bellatrix to where his loyalty to Voldemort.

Harry sees in the Pensieve, that Snape does not dislike him 1/2 as much as he displays to the world of Hogwarts.

As to Dumbledore pulling strings and 'Using' people, it's not quite as black and white as all that. Yes, he absolutely uses Snape in a purely Dogmatic way. As for Harry, I believe he absolutely LOVES him; and whatever "Using" of Harry that is done, is not only so that he'll defeat Voldemort, but in doing so dd was saving Harry. If he does not put Harry through each and every step, Harry probably would not have survived.

Posted by scout on July 8, 2008 5:44 PM

the reason snape bullied neville so much was because if voldemort went after neville instead of harry, lily would still be alive. that's why he hates him so much.

Posted by monkey from sandy hook, ct on July 9, 2008 05:37 AM

This has been said, but only as a "side comment" of sorts, so I want to point it out: isn't the most important aspect of Snape's story the fact that, in the entire 16 years, at any point, he could have turned to the dark side, but didn't? Not once?

Isn't it important that he chose Love over Power? Or, rather, the love of Lily over the love of Power?

That "simple" fact holds a lot of weight, no? Hmmm...

Posted by Katie T from California on July 10, 2008 3:56 PM

I think Severus Snape is truly a hero. Some people definitely disagree with this statement arguing that he was truly devoted to Lord Voldemort, but it clearly states in the ly Hallows and partly the Half Blood Prince that Snape WAS devoted to Voldemort until he heard his master chose to hunt down the Potters. Snape also relayed the prophecy that Trelawney made only because he was a Eater at the time. Throughout the entire series Snape was a spy for Dumbledore, and more of Snape's "undercover work" is revealed in the 7th book. Snape, as he was revealed in the memory he left to Harry, really did love Lilly Potter and soon grew to love Harry as well, even though he chose not to show it. Yes, Snape was nasty to Harry only because he thought revealing his true feelings would reveal the softer side of him, the side that which he didn't want anyone to know about. I thought this was a very interesting element to put in the book, something I was always hoping for when reading the previous books. Snape also mistreated Harry as to keep his position as a very trusted Eater, providing Voldemort with so much key information, and convincing him that he truly hated Harry as much as Voldemort.

As for Snape being the antihero, I totally disagree. First of all, he didn't CHOOSE Slytherin over Lilly, the hat chose it for him, and his ancestry also chose it for him. Snape and Lilly could have never worked out, and I think that Snape realized that early on. They were complete opposites. He was attracted to the Dark Arts, and she was completely disgusted by them. He was pure blood and she was a muggleborn. In most instances opposites attract, and at first that was the case, but Lilly soon moved on. But Snape never really gave up; he loved her even after she was and did everything he could to preserve her name, making sure she didn't in vain, helping Harry survive and thwart the Dark Lord.

I definitely agree with the comment above: he chose love over power, and I think that's one of the key elements of Snape's Hero mentality. Think about it. Dumbledore always said that love prevails over everything else. And he was right, wasn't he? In the end, Harry's love for everyone else around him for HIM gave him the motivation to do what he needed to do, and therefore defeated Voldemort. And Snape's love for Lilly gave him what he needed to do what HE needed to do: to put his loyalties in Dumbledore's hands.

So to wrap up, what makes Snape a hero is:

1. Him revealing his true feelings to Harry in the Pensive

2. Him only treating Harry only because he needed to keep his position as a spy, kind of like he's on both sides

3. Last but CERTAINLY not least, he chose love over power and his interest in the Dark arts that he cherished for his entire life

Posted by Becca from Longmont, Colorado on July 14, 2008 7:19 PM

I don't believe Snape ever grew to love Harry. He was horrified when Dumbledore told him Harry must because his whole life after revealing the prophecy was devoted to protecting Harry for Lily. Letting Harry seemed like betraying Lily's memory to him.

I don't think Snape's mistreatment of Harry was to keep his position as a spy. His favorable treatment of Draco Malfoy and the Slytherins was for that. Snape could not have treated Harry kindly, but he could have treated him like other Gryffindors. Snape treated harry more horribly than the rest because of James. The only way Snape's treatment of Harry would be known to Voldemort was through the Eater's children. During occasions when they were alone or unheard, Snape treatet Harry just as badly. None of his last memories showed that he actually loved Harry.

The Sorting Hat takes choices into account. Snape wanted to be in Slytherin. He told Lily that on the train. His ancestry had nothing to do with where he was placed. Snape was a half-blood. His father was a muggle. Snape does not seemed to have realized he could never have worked out with Lily. He never understood Lily's aversion to the dark arts.

As Katie and Becca have said, Snape did choose love over power and was faithful to Dumbledore for 16 years, which makes him a good person, but to me not a true hero.

Posted by Anonymous from Arizona on July 15, 2008 10:53 AM

I agree with anonymus but I don't think that harry's childhood was more difficult than snape's. Harry was only ill-treated till he was 11 but after that things changed for him but snape was quite lonely when he was young and he was torchered by james & sirius after that. So i don't quite agree that harry had a more difficult childhood.

Posted by Apoorva from India on July 17, 2008 04:16 AM

for me is snape a hero, his give his life for harry after lily's

Posted by laura from nederland on July 20, 2008 08:58 AM

Snape hated James for a reason. We know from his memories that Snape did nothing against James and Sirius when they first met - James and Sirius were obnoxious to him from the very start, calling him "Snivellus" even as he left the Hogwarts Express compartment. Then, as he went through the school, they continued to humiliate him, in front of large numbers of people, including Lily, the only girl (or possibly person) he ever loved. Then, James, his worst enemy, married Lily, with Sirius as best man, and they had Harry. What human being, what real human being, wouldn't feel hate and resentment for the childhood bully who ruined his life? Then, Harry, who looked exactly like his father, came into his classroom - what did we expect him to do? Don't forget, all of you who say that Snape was wrong to hate James and Sirius so vehemently - Harry hated Snape just as much and for the exact same reasons. Also, Snape did NOT find it easy to look after Harry - quite apart from the physical dangers of it, Harry looks just like James, and, in Snape's understandably biased view, acts like him too. I also believe that Snape could foresee the usefulness of Voldemort thinking that Snape was loyal to him, so obviously didn't want him to hear that Snape was protecting Harry. All in all, I think Snape was a wonderfully written character, who was not a hero as we might think of one, flawless, but a brilliantly human hero. I also think Snape's , to those who mentioned it, was a human , in accordance with Snape's human qualities, and not ignoble or degrading.

Posted by Anonymous on July 20, 2008 12:14 PM

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