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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 53)

Pavel, Snape was definately a hero! At the very least he was no coward! As Siena said, he put himself on the line again and again, even when despised and hated by the very people he was trying to help. He did all of this, not because of friendship, but out of principle - first love and loyalty to Lilly and her memory, then loyalty to Dumbledore, then later he comes to a realisation of the importance of "doing the right thing" and, I believe, acts from the understanding that the "right thing" is for Voldemort to be defeated. All this without the comfort of true friendship - having at least one other person who you allow to see and accept the real you and who reveals their real self in return, also receiving your acceptance (Dumbledore is not a real friend in these terms until possibly the end of his life - before this he is a mentor, confidente and secret agent boss). Anyone who has had to study, work or live in a place without friends, where those around you are luke-warm at best and obviously despise you at worst, understand Snape's position and know how brave he was to continue with a plan with some abstract "good" purpose, but that turned the people around him further and further against him. That's really hard to take on a day to day level - but he chose to do it to defeat true evil (arguably it began as an act of remorse/loyalty, but after Dumbledore's he was no longer beholden. He was a hero to the Eaters at that point and could have reverted if he'd wanted to. But he didn't.) That's a true hero.

Posted by astrokitty on July 1, 2010 12:08 PM

I don't see how anyone cannot view Severus as a hero. Many times he protected poeple he hated, without them knowing. And he never received a thank you from anyone for having doing so. I know Harry hated Snape but he still could have done the decent thing and thank him for his efforts in saving him in the Quidditch match(muttering counter-curse to save him), and all those times when he came to Harry's rescue. Just because Snape had a very unpleasant personality, it dosen't make him any less deserving of thanks and other things.

Snape was amazingly brave. As we know, courage isn't the absence of fear, it is the mastery of fear: being afraid and still do something you must do in spite of it.In his life, there's many examples of him being courageous.

He clearly had a phobia of rejection(just look at how defensive he was when Lily accused him of having making that branche fall on Petunia) and was socially inept but he still made the steps to become his friend. after SWM, he put aside his dignity(which would have been very essential in his eye as he thinks that people who put their hearts on their sleeves are FOOLs)to go apologize to Lily repeatedly, almost in a begging kind of way...her friendship was more important than his dignity, obviously.

When he went to warn DD about the prophecy(Lily being a target), he yelled something along the lines of "Do not me!" Clearly, he was expecting DD to him, or send him in Azkaban after he told him about Lily being in danger, but he still took the risk and warned him.(Oh, and don't forget, at that time, the aurors had the permission to use Avada Kedavra and the other unforgivables. )From that moment, Severus walked away form all he beleived in, betrayed his friends, the only ones who accepted him, for someone who rejected him years ago. He had to live with his guilt, grief, persecuted by his own demons.

Later on...In PoA, he went to Harry, Ron and Hermione's rescue, in the Shreiking Shack. Now, let's pause and think about what this place represents for him. It is where he was almost ed at the age of sixteen by Lupin, as a result of Black's "joke"... Severus thought Lupin was involved as Sirius's accomplice all along, on the attempt and to seek revenge on Harry. Can you guys imagine how hard it must have been to be the collegue all year of someone he thought wanted to him, someone who almost ed him? Can you imagine how afraid he must have been when he came in the Shreiking Shack, where he knew history could reapeat itself(Lupin having forgotten to take his potion and all)? Where he knew both could-be-ers could get rid of him once and for all? The flashbacks it must have caused...

Severus also hides his fear with a sheild of anger, harshness. When DD asks him to him, his response is sarcasm. he later gets angry at him for taking too much for granted, and sort of tries to get out of it. But alas, he still does him, in spite of the internal torment it must have caused him, in spite of the emotional torture at having to kil his mentor and the only one who beleived 100% in him. He has to live in DH with anyone thinking he is a traitor, coward, a er. He has to live with the hate, and thinking he be hated forever, thinking that Harry , that he has failed Lily...

Severus seems afraid when he and LV talks before his . He seems to anticipate it. He still cannot defy LV because he'll be ed on the spot for being a traitor, and his last chance of giving Harry the memories disappear. He has to let himself .

I'd also like to mention that it must have been pure torture for him to have his colegues and friends(He did seem mroe like McGonagall's friend than an aquitance, IMO. Thre's many hints proving this in the books...)hate him. It's not like he could have defend himself without blowing up his cover. When mcG dueled him, he had to flee. It's not as if he could have continued to protect himself without harming her. He had to while knowing they thought ill of him. AND, what about his friends in the Eater clan? How horrible it must have been to have continue to saw them, knowing he was betraying them while they had done nothing to cause his betrayals. The Malfoys seemed like genuine friends to him and yet, SS as a part of his spy job, had to betray info to DD.

AND, of course JKR has to choose the damn Shreiking Shack, symbolizing the Marauders's "monthly adventures", which almost ed SS before! That makes me sick. But anyway... all those examples portrayed Severus as being afraid, internally tortured, and still doing what he has to do, all for Lily,and later on, when he was more morally aware for:Dumbledore, the greater good(LV's defeat),etc. How can any reader look at this and still think that Severus isn't a hero? His bavery is proven times and times again. And his reason weren't selfish at all.

Doing everything for one women(former best friend,longtime true love)cannot be considered selfish! He basically sacrificed everything(from his friendships in the light side, his peace of mind, his life, any hope of recognition,etc) without any hope of receiving an award. He did it because his love for Lily was priority number one. Severus absolutely had NOTHING to gain by spying after Lily's but he did it anyway.

I've seen lots of comments indicating that Severus betrayed Lily. I'm sorry but this is downright ridiculous. He dIDN'T know that Lily's family and herslef were the ones linked to the prophecy. He did not know Lily was pregnant, and as LV didn't tell his eaters a bunch of things, he might not have known that the Potters had defied LV three times. In an interview, JKR said that the first time the "defied him", was when they refused LV's offer to join, indirectly. Assuming SS knew of this, who would have counted this as "defeating LV"?

Anyway, when SS came to know that it was indeed Lily who was the target, he asked LV to spare her. If he had asked for Harry's life as well, he would have been ed, without warning DD about it. No one with a tiny little shade of intelligence would had asked LV to spare Harry when he was the one linked to the prophecy. And what kind of excuse he could have given for this anyway? lV would have taken him for a taitor even if he wasn't exactly one at that time.

As for James...With Severus thinking he was in league with Black for the so-called "prank gone wrong", with him having tormented SS for years, having done a sexual assault(exposing him in public), having declenched the end of his friendship with Lily... it's no wonder he didn't asked for him to be spared. Also, i don't think that severus realized that Lily would have been distraught with James's ...

Remember, he didn't seem to understand why Lily was upset about Petunia hating her just because they were sisters.(Having been raised by a hateful and possibly abusive father, one can understand why blood relations mean so little to him). He did not seem to have even THOUGHT about James at all... he didn't stop to think about things, he just learned about Potters being the target, thought of lily, panicked,then asked LV to spare her, wasn't satisfied with LV's promise, then went to Dumbledore.

And in any case, when DD brought the subject of James and Harry, he "recoiled"... He then asked DD to protect them all. I think that's when he realized that James actually mattered to Lily, that he actually stoped to think about James's importance in Lily's life. In the memory before SWM, and the aftermath of the prank, we see Snape go hysteric at the thought of Lily liking James. he had a sort of denial problem, I think... He didn't want to admit ot himself that Lily might actually really care about James. And anyway, it's not as if SS could have asked for James to be spared either... Everyone knew he utterly loathed him. It would have appeared suspiscious, and like with the scenario of Snape asking LV to spare Harry, LV would have thought him a traitor and excecuted him on the spot. A man like Severus got to think strattegically...

But apparently DD prefered the impulsive "I want to show that I want everyone to be saved, even if it'll cost me my life and that no one be saved anyway because my keep me from warning someone about the targeted persons" to the "Well, one person saved is better than zero person saved" train of thoughts. How.. poorly strattegic.

So, yeah, basically, Snape telling the phrophecy is the same as Sirius telling the Potters to switch Secret's Keeper. Not done with any harm, attempt to save their loved ones...but fail to do so. The only person to be blamed for this are Pettigrew and LV. the Potters were in danger before the whole phrophecy drama because they defied LV three times, and were in the Order. They, along with every order members, were targets by association(to DD).

Another so-called "betrayal" that people seem to hate SS for, or think him a poor friend, is because, and I quote "He chose the dark arts over Lily". I'm sorry but this is untrue. First, Lily NEVER GAVE SEVERUS AN ULTIMATUIM. She never ordered him to chose. She never let him know that it was either "me or them". After five years of them being friends, him doing dark arts and being friends with wanna-be eaters that may have hated Lily, and Lily being friends with possible Slytherin-haters that hated Severus, what prompted Lily to suddenly take this as a reason to break their fr5ienship after sWM?

In the memory before SWM, we see Severus confronting Lily about something. We don't know what it was, but from the way Sev said "thought we were supposed to be friend?", it seems as if Lily has done something to make him doubt their friendship. What was it? How about:"You don't seem to want to hang out with me anymore, Lily" or "You seem to be distancing yourself from me, Lily...I thought we were supposed to be friends?"

It would fit everything if you think about it. Because later on we see Lily discuss the Werewolf Incident with sev. She said something along the lines of "I heard that James Potter saved you form whatever was out there that night" She dosen't say "last night", implying that it is the first time she talked about this to sev. So, she hears that he almost d(requred saving) and didn't check on him at all? Not even a "Are you allright, Sev?"?

This, inlcuding that this was when sev confronted her about something, implies that Lily had started to distance herself from him not so long ago. And as the werewolf incident took place when he was sixteen, it's after January 9, 1976, in fifth year. So the confrontation was probably around the end of January. So, from the looks of it, it is Lily who started the "drifting apart" thing sround January in fifth year. We see Lily give reasons for whatever she did to make Sev question their friendship(probably the distancing thing): She disaprooves of Sev's friends. She claims they are evil and that dark magic is evil.

So why did Lily waited five years before sharing her views? Why did it suddenly started to matter? Perhaps Severus only became friends with them in fifth year? Well, in any case, it's not as is she didn't knew what kind of people Severus asscociated himself with- He was friend with Malfoy, after all. Apparently she never had anything to say about it? Perhaps she disaproved but knew that LM would be gone after their third year so she didn't see the point? Perhaps because she actually was a good friend at that time and knew that Severus was different from them, so didn't care about his choice of friends at the time because as we know, our friends aren't us?

Perhaps because when she was younger, she didnt let her friends's and Housemate's opinions corrupt her mind? i quote: "None of my friends know why I even talk to you!" "I made excuses for you for years!" Excuses for what? At no point during youngSnape's memories, he is accused of doing nasty things such as bullying, hurting anyone with dark magic, or anything evil. Bellatrix accused him of being all talk and no action. plus, "What has he ever done to you?" "He exists" from SWM is another indication that no one had ever heard or seen him do disgusting deeds. Otherwise someone (like James or Sirius) would have accused him of doing so. Lily bashes his friends, not him, in the memory before SWM. JKR said he was drawn into loathsome acts,drawn into dark magic. She never said that he had commited any crimes himself.

So let's go back to this sentence: "i made excuses for you for years!".My guess would be: Excuses for him being a good person in spite of him being a Slytherin(and EVERY Gryffindor is anti-slytherin, they all think they're nasty!)Excuses for his unpleasant, anti-social personality and him having good qualities beneath the surface(Most people don't bother looking for the real content, just the surface, like most people did with Snape). Excuses for him having a great passion for the dark arts and him still being decent in spite of his hobby. (People, lily included, are judgmental about dark arts). Excuses for him being a good person in spite of hanging out with a rotten crowd(the only that accepted him, like Lily. The only folks that were loyal to him, unlike Lily.).So yeah, the excuses would have been for those facts.

The thing is that somewhow in fifth year Lily lost the faith she had in her friend, and eventually beleived that her friends and the Marauders had the right opinion about him. She d, never knowing she was wrong, never knowing that the person who did the most for her was the one friend she so mercilessly abandonned. She married James, never knowing he still bullied Severus behind her back, beleiving falsely he had changed. She never realized Peter's treachery and that Remus wasn't the traitor. What a "amazing" judge of character...

Not that severus dosen't have his part of responsability in the break up of friendship, of course. He didn't listen to Lily's concerns about his friends. He would have been the kind to lash out, unowingly pushing Lily away from him when she tried to help him(not that he would have seen it that way). He could have tried to write a letter to her or something, when it was clear she didn't let him talk in the episode after SWM. But, he probably saw it was too late... Oh, and he should not have called her a Mudblood. But of course, any decent friend would see that it was just him being embarrassed at needing help, at being exposed in front of everyone, at Lily smiling during his humiliation.

But Lily was just equally, if not more, guilty about the drifting apart. It is she who had objections towards Severus's friends. She didn't listen to him about the Marauders. In fact, she thought it was OK for her to have friends who detested Severus, while it was not OK to have friends who detested her...How hypocrital of her. Apparently, her hobby in (Don't know..potions, charms?) was OK, but it was not OK that severus had a hobby in Dark Arts. It's OK for her to keep friends who detested Severus while she can perfectly find other friends easily seeing as she is popular, WHILE it is horrible of Sev to hang out with the only people who don't make fun of him. Talk about unfair demands....

But it is allright seeing as Lily NEVER asked him to give his Dark arts hobby up, or to abandonned his friends. Sure, she made it clear she didn't like it, and bashed it, but she never (as far as cannon shows) ordered that he got rid of all that. No, she only ditched him later because she thought those things made him a monster(whiel she had no prove of it). To prove my point, I quote, from JKR, in an interview: (she responds to someone who asks why Snape didn't chose lIly over dark arts and stuff)Snape wanted Lily. But he wanted mulciber too. He was so blind towards his attraction in the dark arts that he thought Lily would be impressed with him. He thought he could have both.

So...The author herself claims that there was never any question of choice, that Severus never knew there was one in the first place. Well...answer this, dear Snape-haters: How did he chose anything over anything if he never knew there was a choice in the first place? If Lily wanted him to chose, she should have asked him, not cut him off and not let him speak, not making the choice for him. Afterwards, severus knew he did not have Lily. What should he have done? Throw away the only thing left for some girl that rejected him? Of course not. not that Lily would have changed her mind about him if he would have given up all of this because her mind was made, period. She, as she had done after SWM, based her assumptions on "the popular opinion", not facts.

Now...let's go back to the memory before SWM, shall we? lily chose to beleive the version she heard(by who? It was supposed to be a secret, Dumbledore made Severus promise never to reveal Remus's condition and what happened to anyone... only the Marauders knew. remus wouldn't have told. and who would have cared if Lily heard what happened, you know the James-saving-Severus part? Why, james, of course. )rather than even ASK her own best friend what on earth happened that night. she beleived James(Or icognito's version)'s version over Severus's attempts to hint her in the right direction. Of course, he could never tell anyone, due to his promise, but could at least hint. He did, Lily called him "ungrateful". ungrateful of James having to rescue Severus from Sirius's attempt...and it was unclear if James was involved in it, there's not proof if he was or not, but going from S's POV, he beleived JP was an accomplice.

Yes, very ungrateful of him indeed...But, ah, Lily didn't know what happened so she is not to blame for her lack of knowledge. though she is to be blamed for not beleiving him and asking for his version. It would have been nice to know she trusted him and was concerned... No, to Lily, the Marauders were better than mulciber and avery even though both parties bullied. Mulciber used dark magic on mary M, apparently that's evil. While James uses light magic to nearly choke Severus to ...Apparently that isn't evil and is better than whatever Mulciber did. is Lily so dense that she never realizes this? I think so and honestly, I hope so, because otherwise, that makes her an hypocrite and bad friend, and as I actually like Lily, I don't want my opinion of her to deteriorate...

Well, that is all for now. i have that I have proved that SS is an hero and that he's NOT a traitor, and never has betrayed Lily.

Posted by Nymma from Canada on July 17, 2010 12:44 PM

Snape was a hero through and through. I mean come on. I'm sure most of us have had teachers then have had their favorites, like Snape does. I've had teachers I thought I hated because they were so harsh and mean and what I though were cruel. But now that I think back about it those are the ones that I learned the most from.

Throughout the entire Harry Potter series Snape had been doing something to try to save Harry. SS- he was trying to save him from the bucking broom. Though everyone thought the complete opposite at the time. Of course everyone thought he was trying to him. I know I did at the time. But when I read further I realized then that Snape had a softer side to him. Then when it said that Snape was trying to get the SS I thought what why? Then after finishing the book maybe he wanted to destroy it so that You-know-who couldn't come back. I think the reason why Snape acted like he did was because he saw Harry as James. And then later when seeing Harry's eyes he was reminded what was broke his heart. Lily married James. One of the people he hated so much. And he had to live with all the torment and memories of his days as a student.

In CoS I believe that Snape knew what was going on. That maybe the reason he tried to get Harry in so much trouble was to actually protect him. To keep him away from danger and evil. Because he knew ultimately in the end Harry would be the one to save so many lives. And still yet he was reminded of James.

PoA-Snape made was making the potion to help Lupin. Dumbledore may have asked him to, but he didn't have to do it. Did he? No. Thus he made sure it was safe for the students. Plus he practically warned everyone when he made them do that essay. He can't help it if everyone but Hermione seems a bit dim witted. And I think the reason why he acted like he did when Harry and Ron were attacked by the Whomping Willow was because he was worried about their safety. Another place where he tried to protect Harry and his friends were when they were facing Sirius for the first time in the book. I mean before everyone figured out he was all good and innocent and stuff. And who was it that brought them back to the castle? Snape. So yeah he acted like a jerk but that's just him.

GoF- Harry was in all sorts of trouble. And I know Snape acted like normal. But honestly I think this was all well like I said an act. I mean come on. He obviously knew that something was up when Karkaroff came to the school and Harry was one of the Champions. So he knew that Harry was in danger. Of course he had to act like he hated the boy. Who knows what would have happened if he didn't.

OotP- Well first of all he risked his neck every single time he went to a meeting and followed out Dumbledore's orders. If that isn't means right there for him to be called a hero then I don't know what is. And then yeah so he said something to Sirius about it. So what. It was time that he got a little pay back for what he had to go through all those bloody years. But when Umbridge asked him about what Harry was talking about and the Veritaserum he said he didn't know and there wasn't anymore. That there protected Sirius and it made it so that Harry wouldn't blab his mouth about everything. Therefore it protected alot of things. Plus until Harry revealed Snape's secret he was teaching him Occlumency and it seemed he really wanted Harry to learn so that Voldy couldn't get in side his mind. So pretty much he was yet again trying to protect many different people. Yet it was Harry's fault in the end because he didn't practice like he was supposed to. So it was his fault that his Godfather was ed. And if you remember it said that Snape checked to see if what Harry was true. Before he could get back to Umbridge's office Harry and Hermione were showing the said witch the 'weapon' that Dumbledore instructed them to build was.

HBP-In the very beginning he makes an unbreakable vow so that Draco won't have to do the deed. Saves him from Harry's wraith. Plus when Harry used Sectumsempra on Draco he worried about the hurt boy first. Then I don't think he really did anything about him actually using it did he? Harry is the one who freaked and took off afraid of getting in trouble. Then after he ed Dumbledore he was doing something that they had planned on before hand. And to tell you the truth he I think he saved Dumbledore from having to suffer from the pain that he was going through. When Harry went after him not once did he attack the boy back. There were plenty of times that he could have. And he could have done it so easily. I mean come on.

And lastly let's move on to the ly Hallows. Well first of all. Yeah he took over as Headmaster. But he did it to make sure that none of the students were actually hurt beyond repair. Then he helped The Golden Trio. And this my friends is my arguement.

Oh and I forgot one thing. After what happened to the one person he showed love or kindness to did anyone ever bother to think that maybe just maybe he was afraid the same thing would happen to Harry if he showed that he cared? Just think about it and let me know.

Posted by Melmoe from Coalwood on August 2, 2010 11:05 PM

And one more thing. When I read when Snape ed Dumbledore. I cried my eyes out because I couldn't beleive he could do something so aweful. I later discussed with a friend of mine and the both of us had decided that it either wasn't him that had ed Dumbledore, meaning someone used a polyjuice potion, Dumbledore when he said, "Please Severus." he was really asking him to him, or and this was a big or at the time, or Dumbledore and him had planned it all out at the time.

Posted by Melmoe from Coalwood on August 2, 2010 11:23 PM

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