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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 48)

Snape is no hero! Had Twelawney never made the prediction, and Snape never had heard, voldemort wouldn't Lily and Snape would never go against him.

Posted by bLi on July 30, 2009 08:29 AM

Eva, this is an interesting point you are making about fate there. It is just that Harry actively opposed to being put in Slytherin and the Sorting Hat took his CHOICE into consideration. I think Harry Potter is all about the choices that we make in life, not so much about "fate" - Dumbledore said he once met a boy who made all the wrong choices, referring to Tom Riddle - but he could have also referred to Snape, maybe he even was in a way. Snape would have never CHOSEN Gryffindor, although he would have met the criteria, as Dumbledore said to him "sometimes I think we sort too soon." Later on Snape obviously let out the Gryffindor inside him, helping Harry. bLi - it doesn't matter WHY people convert from bad too good. The main thing is that they decide to do it. And to do it for love is for me the best and most noble reason there is, wouldn't you agree?

Posted by Siena from Nottingham, UK on July 31, 2009 10:36 AM

well i think snape is actually a nice person. he just doesnt show it. he did act on dumbledore's orders after all. but i think he couldve been nicer to harry, but thats what makes him funny

Posted by syd from abilene ks on July 31, 2009 11:39 AM

Dumbledore often told Harry that there is no greater power than love. If that's true, then that means Severus Snape must've been one of the most powerful wizards alive.

I think Snape personifies the power of love that is prevalent in the novels. His love for Lily Evans was perhaps stronger than the love of any other character to someone; even stronger, I daresay than Lily's own love for Harry. I mean think about it: could you imagine Lily doing things that she'd know would cause everyone around her and close to her to hate her, even going so far as to Dumbledore, all for the sake of protecting Harry? Sorry, but I don't think even Lily's heart had enough love to make her do that. In all honesty, giving your life is a MINOR sacrifice, compared to the prospect of sacrificing your reputation, your friendships, and jeopardizing your very soul, all for the sake of protecting someone; actually seems the easy way out.

Snape's love, however, WAS strong enough, that he was ing to do all that. Why? Because his love was just that great. His love for Lily was so great, that he was ing to destroy his own reputation, cause all his close friends and allies to despise him, and to do things no one else would've had the stomach to do, all out of love. And mind you he did all this to protect someone he did not like at all. To sacrifice all that in the name of protecting someone whom you have absolute dislike for, just because he is the son of someone you loved dearly: THAT is some powerful love!

It was once said that the greatest love is laying down your life for your friend. But I disagree. I believe the greatest love is laying down your reputation for your enemy; Severus Snape did that. And I'll eat my hat if I can ever find a literary character with as much love in their heart as he did.

Posted by Ligeius the Undying on August 21, 2009 08:47 AM

to: bLi who said Snape is no hero! Had Twelawney never made the prediction, and Snape never had heard, voldemort wouldn't Lily and Snape would never go against him

that is not true because if that really happened then this would never have happened this forum would never have happened snape never would have happened harry potter in general would be gone,

Posted by jonathan from new york,new york on August 21, 2009 4:23 PM

I think both Severus Snape and Lily Evans loved very deeply. The main difference between their stories might be that Snape made more of a conscious decision about it - he agreed on Dumbledore's plan immediately but at least he had time to think about what he was letting himself in for. Lily didn't really have that choice. In all honesty: what kind of mother would watch her child getting ed right under her nose? It was natural that she stepped in. Every loving mother would have done this. Rowling states that herself when she lets Harry contemplate whether Neville's mother would have d for her son, and he comes to the conclusion: "Surely she would have." Furthermore I don't think Lily had much time to contemplate - Voldemort was standing right in front of her, about to her son within seconds. As for Snape: surely not every man would have done what he did. His great love was - there was nothing to gain for him by protecting Harry - apart from of course doing what Lily would have wanted him to do. He finally lived up to her standards.

Posted by Siena from Nottingham, UK on August 22, 2009 03:14 AM

I'm always getting angry when I read the "You disgust me" scene on the windy hilltop, where Dumbledore implicates that Snape should have asked Voldemort to spare not only Lily, but James and Harry too. I cannot understand why people often use this as an argument for Snape's alleged badness, because in my opinion he simply had no choice to act any other way, not if you use your common sense. I mean, how thick would someone have to be to ask Lord Voldemort not to eliminate the boy he has been told could endanger his power and cause his downfall? The man is a bloody tyrant, for goodness sake! What could Severus have possibly gained by doing it, besides getting ed on the spot for being a traitor, in which case he would not have been able to warn Dumbledore? Would you have him say: "Please my Lord, don't the boy, because that really isn't a very moral thing to do, you know"? Surely Lord Voldemort would not have taken kindly to that sort of advice from a twenty year old, who furthermore is supposed to be a loyal Eater and not a lay preacher. Severus could not even admit why he wanted Lily to be spared (loving a muggleborn wasn't approriate behavior for a Eater) and therefore said that it was because he desired her. Should he have told his master that he desired James Potter, too? I for once find it perfectly understandibly that Severus wasn't about to risk his life for the man who abused him all his schooldays and stole (from Snape's POV) the woman he loved. As for asking Voldemort to spare Harry, it wouldn't have made any sense, at all. By warning Dumbledore about Voldemort's plans Severus ensured the hiding of the entire Potter family, even without explicitly mentioning Harry and James, and that's all that's counting.

By the way, Harry wouldn't have survived if it hadn't been for Snape asking Voldemort to spare Lily. Because of Snape's request he gave her a choice between stepping aside or , which enabled her to sacrifice herself and save her son's life.

Posted by Mausemarie from Augsburg, Germany on September 2, 2009 3:26 PM

Mausemarie,you are perfectly right there - the outcome of Snape's request was the creation of those powers Voldemort understood nothing about. Personally I have always been surprised that Voldemort did indeed follow Snape's request - he must indeed have thought very highly of his servant if such a thing is possible for a tyrant like Voldemort.
Furthermore I got the feeling that Dumbledore really forced that bit about only saving Lily out of Snape: when first telling about it all, Snape is clearly shocked that Voldemort is going to track them down to " them all" - not just the boy or Lily. It is as if Dumbledore wanted to inflict even more pain on Snape to see how far he would go in terms of humanity - whether he would overcome his hate for James. Well, he did!
But still, Mausemarie, you are neglecting one aspect: By asking Voldemort to spare Lily, Snape totally disregarded the power of her love for her only child - the motherly love I described in my previous comment. Snape, like Voldemort, fails to understand this most wonderful of all human capacities.

Posted by Siena from Nottingham, UK on September 3, 2009 02:53 AM

The more I think about it the stranger I find it that Voldemort did indeed Lily to step aside - she was Muggle-born, after all. And since when did Voledort have any regards for anyone's desires? Let me just assume Voledort had really forced Lily to step aside - immobilized her or something - so that she couldn't shield Harry. Would her wish to sacrifice herself have sufficed (in place of the actual act) to create the enchantment?

Posted by Siena from Nottingham, UK on September 14, 2009 10:48 AM

Good question siena. I am certain that Snape is a very complex character. Yet I believe that he certainly is a hero in the series.

Posted by Felix from Somewhere, Some Place Aust. on September 20, 2009 12:15 AM

I think it could have sufficed, because Harry didn't in the forest, but his sacrifice still protected his friends during the rest of the fight.
That was however a slightly diffrent situation, so we can't know for sure, and come to think of it, why didn't James' sacrifice protect Lily?

Posted by Eva from Denmark on September 30, 2009 01:36 AM

I've spent the better part of the past few days reading these posts pertaining to snape,and it absolutely baffles me how interesting snape is. It's crazy to me. This is a truly a great character JK has created. I honestly didnt think that people would still be talking about this, but low and behold someone posted something earlier this day. Now, I've got a few things to say bout Snape. Its not exactly in any particular order, but here goes:

1) In POA, Snape did not see Wormtail on the map. I just re-read that chapter, and he says that he only saw Lupin running down the tunnel and out of site. Of course he would come into the room, thinking that Lupin was in cahoots if you , with Sirius. And he had good reason to hate Sirius, and Lupin by extension. Here's why: Snape, after talking to DD about saving the Potter's, probably wanted very badly to know the protection. So if snape, along with everyone else in the order (in POA even McGonagall is under the assumption that Sirius is the Secret-Keeper,) then of course he would be infuriated that Sirius gave his only true love to LV. He didnt know Pettigrew was the true Secret-Keeeper. He thought it was Sirius. and of course, if Remus is in Sirius's camp, then Snape has good reason to Hate him also. ( I wonder if Wormtail was indeed the one who told LV the truth, and was working with the Eaters, why didnt snape know? I remember someone sayin that no eaters knew everyone else who was a eater save LV himself. someone should look into it.)

2) When DD says that Snape doesnt want the best of him revealed, i dont think Snape didnt want people to know he was capable to love, I truly think that he didnt want people to know, ( cuz he hated the fact himself) that he is the reason the only person he ever loved is . I think he said especially Harry, because he couldnt live with himself if he knew that the child of the one he loved knows he is the reason she's .

3)Awkward fact here, but ride with me: People say the only reason Snape helped the world is because his actions made lily , so he spent the rest of his life repenting for his sins.
Spider-man (i know, its out there, but this stays on my mind due to the forementioned arguement) had the chance to stop the mugger that ed his uncle before he d but did not, and spent the rest of his life fighting, helping the world, with no recognition needed. So is Spider-man less than a hero, just cuz he only fights cuz his uncle d? Because if his uncle never d, spider-man would still be wrestling. Just think bout it.

4)Say Severus married Lily because he never called her mudblood that day. If James Potter was a teacher, and Snape had a son, do Snape haters really think that James wouldn't hate Snapes son? would James treat him the same as other children?

5)How is DD better than Snape just because he LOVED Harry? DD had a really messed up passed, but someone said he is justified as better than snape because he cared for harry more. Snape sacrificed a hell of a lot more than DD did.

6)Lily was not Snape's obsession, she was his INSPIRATION to be a better man after her . Thats how i see it.

7)People argue that if Lily never d, Snape would never have came to the good side. Does that matter? If Ariana, DD's sister, never d, how do we KNOW, FOR SURE, that DD wouldnt go along with Grindlewald in his quest for Domination? It doesnt matter, does it? all that matters is that DD came to realize the truth, even if it took a major tragedy to do so. Snape deserves the same. Thats usually how it works. It takes tragedy to make most people see the light.

8)He teaches that you cant wear your heart on your sleeves. He never says you shouldnt have emotions, but you shouldnt let them dominate your way of thinking. Personally, my father taught me the same things in life, and he is right, because when i dont control my anger or emotions in general, thats where all my fights or conflicts come from. If you cant control your emotions, not letting everyone see what your feeling, you be ruled by them, instead of logic, and you wont think straight. Not at all useful in a fight, an arguement, in anything for real.

9)When did Snape put Harry in detention when he didnt deserve it? Harry only got detention with snape when he was insubortinate, or when he ALMOST KILLED MALFOY! He damn near cut him to shreds, so of course he deserved detention. He should have been expelled, and if DD wouldnt have let that happen, Snape couldve went to the governors (where were they for the last 4 books?) and overrode DD, yet another time Snape was looking out for Harry. And someone said earlier that snape took Harry out of the Quidditch match because it would help slytherins chances at keeping the title. why should harry get to play a game he enjoys, WHEN HE ALMOST KILLED A FELLOW STUDENT?

10) I agree with an earlier post by Ligeious the un. To for a cause, while not easy, is much easier than ing for a cause. To stand tall, accept the hate, punishment, and repurcussions of ing, is truly difficult, and herioc in my opinion.

I am sorry this post is so long. But long story short: Snape is a hero. His story is certainly more tragic than Voldemorts, more even than DD's, and on par, if not more so, than harry's. If not for Severus Snape, Harry would most definately not have succeeded in his tasks. With all his flaws, he is still a hero.

Posted by Paco from US, Of A on September 30, 2009 7:50 PM

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