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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 47)

Steph, you are quite right - the way Snape treated Harry was wrong, he never really made an effort to get to know the "real" Harry behind the superficial outer resemblance to his father. Still - Harry never tried to understand Snape either - he never questioned his teacher's motivations behind his vindictiveness. Their mutual misunderstanding is what makes their relationship so tragic - and of course at the same time interesting. This is what Rowling is so brilliant at (among tons of other things, mind you) - depicting difficult, tense relationships: think Dumbledore - Aberforth for another example.

Posted by Siena from Nottingham, UK on April 4, 2009 04:08 AM

I believe that Snap is hard to explain by Harry Potter Harrys father, James. Snap is a very part. He has put all his life at stake, to shadow voldemort for dumbledor. Snap is a hero, but has its dark sides^^

Posted by liver from copenhagen, dk on April 8, 2009 12:49 AM

Everyone has their dark side and Snape shows it all the way through the book. I believe the only reason Snape was playing the hero was because he kept loving Harry's mother Lily for nearly all his life.

Snape had joined Voldemort and yet, he turned against him because he had passed information to Voldemort, causing him to go after the Potter's. He only cared about one of them very deeply and I feel that he didn't give a damn about Harry. It was only the fact that he was Lily's son that caused Snape to appear as a hero.

Posted by Craig Edwards from Telford on April 25, 2009 08:07 AM

I agree that Snape kept showing his dark side all through the book.

But since he loved lily I think he would have also known howmuch lily wanted her son to live.So i think he was only trying to save Harry as he wanted to fulfil Lily's last wish.

Posted by Priyanka from India on May 3, 2009 01:38 AM

I don't think that Snape is a hero at all, but he is "good."Throughout the Harry Potter books, we meet a variety of characters, some evil and some good. We see Harry who does have his flaws, but is clearly pure hero. Voldemort on the other hand, has no redeming qualities and is pure evil. However, these two characters are exceptional.
Most of the other characters (as in life) are more complicated than that. While Snape does have some redeming qualities and I wouldn't consider him "evil", he is mean and selfish. Does his love for Lily cancel out all of his past misdeeds and bad qualities? I don't think so, but the fact that so many people think about and discuss this issues prooves that JKR has done her job well. She has created a character complex and contraversial enough that nobody is entirely sure about, which I'm sure, is any authors dream.

Posted by Hannah from Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2009 1:10 PM

Snape isn't a 'hero' but he is complex and important more important than even harry.
He is a complex character who is torn between his love for one person, and his hate for another. The one thing Snape is not is simple black and white, cardboard cutout not simply hero or villan so much evidence was being laid out without an answer, that pointed to Snape being motivated with a powerful 'back story'. After a while this could not be ignored It took time for some to realise that Ultimately, Severus Snape is on the side of right, and good. You must admire him he risks absolutely everything Everyone seems to overlook the fact that Snape really did love Harry i had no doubt in snape
�I never even met him but he was braver than anyone I have met�
Snape is and was complex and amazing

Posted by The Truth of Snape from Veritaserum,Truthville on July 8, 2009 02:30 AM

I don't think Snape loved Harry at all. His love was all for Lily. Snape proves this when Dumbledore asks him if he has grown to care for Harry after all. Snape says "For him?" and casts his doe patronus. Here, Snape is clearly saying that he has only ever loved Lily and always . The only reason he protects Harry is that Harry is Lily Evans's son.

Posted by Anonymous from Arizona on July 8, 2009 10:47 AM

Saw HBP the other night. Really enjoyed it over all. Interestingly it doesn't add a lot to the heel/hero debate apart from if you haven't read the book! It did remind me that because the books are written (on the whole and deliberately) from Harry's point of view we do not know the whole truth about Snape until his so he is portayed as a heel for 95% of the story. He is an iceberg of a character! Rowling gives us clues and makes us wonder why he hates Harry and why everyone seems to trust him because Dumbledore trusts him. (I have just thought: do the Weasleys, Tonks, Lupin etc know the full story?) I thought the Unbreakable Vow scene was excellent but the escape from the castle at the end was a little disappointing compared with the book. Hair less repulsive, more fluffy.

Posted by handmaid from Birmingham, UK on July 23, 2009 02:18 AM

Ofcourse, Severus Snape was a complex and mysterious character. His true loyalty was not revealed until the last book. In the whole series he was like a villain to Harry. He didn't trust Snape at all. But Snape, the man who loved Lily Evans, was always trying to protect Lily's son. He risked his life for Dumbledore and somehow lied to Voldemort. But there is a question, why Voldemort never realise that Snape was working against him? How was that possible that Voldemort was always convinced of Snape that he was betraying Dumbledore?

Posted by Arman from Bangladesh on July 23, 2009 11:13 PM

handmaid: No, no one ever knew the full story about Snape. He made Dumbledore promise never to reveal it - and never to reveal his "way forward" (to protect Harry for Lily). Dumbledore sighs and replies something like: "Never to reveal the best of you? Well, if you insist..." But Lupin of course knew that Snape was once on best- friends terms with Lily Evans... so maybe he guessed something. He also doesn't hold any grudges against Snape, even defends him in "Prisoner of Azkaban".. so maybe he guessed there was something going on a deeper level within Snape. They were both outcasts in a way at Hogwarts - Lupin with his condition and Snape with his interest in the Dark Arts. Lupin also believed for a long time he wasn't good enough for Tonks... so he knows how it is to love and suffer...

You are right about Rickman's wig in the HBP movie - definately more on the dishevelled side than usual.. and Rickman's facial expressions for the first time were a little less than straight too - when he ed Dumbledore.

Posted by Siena from Nottingham, UK on July 24, 2009 08:29 AM

I don't think Snape is evil but he clearly didn't have an easy life - being poor and watchng his parents fight throughout his childhood. When he then arrived at Hogwarts - the place he had always dreamed of he meets James who has had an easy childhood - being spoiled and loved by his parents, becoming popular and talented at school - and obviously Snape gets jealous. When then James and his friends start bullying Snape, Snape makes friends in his own house, where there is of course a lot of peer pressure to hate "mudbloods" and that conflicts with Snapes relationship with Lily, who finally rejects his leaving him with only one place in the world, where he feels accepted - the eaters.

Well tha's why I think he joined Voldemort.

And also I think the reason James and Sirius hated him so much to begin with was, that Sirius knew how much his parents would prefer to have Snape in stead of him as their son. And therefore may have felt jealous of him at first.

Posted by Eva from Denmark on July 30, 2009 01:07 AM

Now that I think about it Harry could have easily winded up in a similar situation to Snapes. If he hadn't asked the sorting hat to put him in Gryffindor he too would have been a loner - jealous of Ron's great family and Hermione talent - and possibly felt that acceptance the dursleys never gave him as a child from Draco's gang.
This may seem unlikely but you never know.
I think Snape is a hero for overcoming the odds like he did.

Posted by Eva from Denmark on July 30, 2009 04:18 AM

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