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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 9)

"I'm going to be a critic in a way no one like here by saying that Harry's innocence IS the entire miracle of these books, that Snape is the more common response to a certain kind of humiliation and abuse, and that Riddle's is the pathological response. They all three had similar upbringings. I think the challenge JKR has set us as readers is to understand why one child turns out more than OK, one damaged but redeemable, and the third beyond redemption."

Well, I like it JK. It makes perfect sense. Several times Rowling shows us the connection and similarities between the three of them along with the differences, and finally there was that line about the "abandoned boys." And Gabrielle, that line, and Snape's last words, "Look at me" both had me in tears, so we'll have to be wusses together!

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on August 5, 2007 07:52 AM

I love Snape's character. Because he seems so strict and cruel, it was an amazement to see he even loved anyone. I think he is a hero. I don't like the fact that he gave Lily away, even if he didn't know it was her, but the reason Dumbledore trusted him so much. It was sweet. I found it touching that Harry had named his son after him. It really was sweet.

I don't have a teacher who is as cruel as him, but he is a man who didn't show his emotions. The fact that he changed, risked his life to cause Voldemort's downfall and helped Dumbledore and Harry, all for Lily, was a great storyline. I loved the end of the chapter The Elder Wand, when he wanted to look at Harry's eyes for Lily. And his doe patronus. It was really a great story to his past. JK did a perfect job. It's sad he d in the end.

Posted by Tasmeeah from London, England on August 5, 2007 10:16 AM

Severus Snape is the most complex, most fascinating character whom I believe to be a hero. A hero doesn't have to be perfect - a hero has to be brave and loyal, Snape is just that.
I feel so much for his character, born into a home of misery - clearly desperate to escape to Hogwarts (just like Harry) and he finds Lily Evans who gives him the ray of sunshine in his life he so desperately clings to.
Seperated from her at Hogwarts by the automatic rivarly between Slytherin and Gryffindor, he finds 'family' in the Slytherin Common Room - who feed on his insecurities, who fill his head with pureblood nonsense. The day he calls Lily a 'MudBlood' is the worst moment of his life - because with hindsight he believes that is the moment he lost everything, lost all that was good in his life - and he spiralled further and further into the Dark Arts.
YES - he told Voldemort the prophecy, but then, if he had not have told of the prophecy Voldemort would not have known - and therefore Harry never 'marked as his equal', and there would be no story to tell. He tried to back track - he tried to save them, no, he did not care about James Potter - but then, I think he saw in James everything that was bad about his life - reasoned thinking doesn't come in to it when you are lonely and desperate.
Snape not only asked Voldemort not to Lily - thus creating the opportunity for the protection (unwittingly) he also went straight to Dumbledore and sold Voldemort out - he risked his own life to save another.
Snape protected Harry throughout his years at Hogwarts. I feel great sympathy for Snape - every smart comment, every y attitude from Harry must have felt like a kick in teeth direct from James Potter. Yet every resentful look, every look of dislike was made with Lily's eyes - it must have been a knife in the heart.
Then when Snape was finally told of Harry being a Horcrux - when it was revealed that Dumbledore had told him only a half truth all these years, did he walk away? No, not only did he stay loyal to the cause - he agreed to help Dumbledore to the he wanted. He stood by and allowed himself to become the most hated, most despised man on the planet in order to protect Harry, Draco AND Dumbledore.
He continued the fight once Dumbledore had d - he followed orders, he never once tried to back out of it, even though he thought Harry would .
He is a flawed man and a tortured soul - but he is a hero all the same.

Posted by Orlando from England on August 5, 2007 10:45 AM

One could easily argue that Snape is the true hero of the novels. Other than saving the man who defeated Voldemort on many occasions, he did the "dirty work" that almost no one was wiling to do. He played the role of the double agent.

How completely terrifying would it be to go into the presence of every Eater and Voldemort himself with the knowledge that you were working for their enemy? To know that if you were ever found out you would be ed, or worse, in a heartbeat?

To do that took a kind of bravery that I don't believe Harry ever had, it was not the kind of bravery that has monuments built in your honor, it was not the kind of bravery that had you lifted up by your peers and called a hero.

It was the kind of bravery that tears a man apart, forces him to do things no one should ever have to do the kind of bravery that could make a thousand people look upon you in disgust, even though he did the right thing.

"Albus were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew"

Posted by Hannah from Texas on August 5, 2007 4:17 PM

I definitely agree with He who chose not to reveal his name in that if Snape had asked Voldomort to spare all the of the Potters, rather than just Lilly, he would have been ed. Since he knew the prophesy, he knew why Voldomort wanted to the Potters, therfore he knew that if he told him not to all of them, I'm sure Voldomort would have considered it betrayal and would have ed him on the spot.

Posted by Davis from Nashville TN, USA on August 5, 2007 6:20 PM

Ok, here's the basic definition of a hero (I didn't look it up, this is the honest thing): a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. We know Severus Snape was definitely brave, snd his abilities are clear. I suppose his nobility can be debated, but now that I think on it I guess he's kind of noble. Looking after Harry, putting himself at risk to help him, I find that rather brave. I find it hard to say this, but for our purposes, I guess he's a hero. So I suppose we Snape-haters don't really have a right to hate him anymore. I'm gonna miss my little grudge, but if Snape got over it, so can I.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on August 5, 2007 8:56 PM

Hannah and CJ... Yes! and thank you... the 'Snape Believers' of old thank you for summing it up so well...

My Son pointed out tonight that Snape was, like Fred & George, unique in that he invented spells. They are the future of the Wizarding World. Had more of these inventors lived, the Wizarding World might even have reached the Industrial Revolution. Who else at these ages invents new spells? Hermoine 'the brightest witch of her age'... only memorizes spells.

The Half Blood Prince and the Weasley Twins create new, useful magic. Had Snape lived he and the twins might have led their people into a new era competitive with the Muggle world. Snape is not only a hero, but could have been a 'founding father'. There are more 'virtues' of Severus Snape to be discussed here still...

Posted by Charlie Tarbox from Gettysburg, Pa on August 5, 2007 11:06 PM

I have read the posts here with interest and confess I have always been interested in Snape because, as has been mentioned again and again, his is a complex and interesting character, and JK has written about him with great perception.

No, I don't think he would ever be a likeable person, and in book 7 we see why. He never even tried after his split with Lily but never stopped loving her - his once in a lifetime love.

Hannah from Texas sums it up admirably in her post, and I agree.

Snape is not the glowing here that people like to see on the front page, his was a dirty fight but he carried on courageously until the end.

Posted by Marjorie from New Zealand on August 6, 2007 12:44 AM

Snape definitely didnt belong in slytherin. the sorting hat made a terrible mistake that day. i reckon snape was much braver than james and especially wormtail. i agree that its weird that wormtail was put in gryffindor as he was--a filthy betraying wimp!

Snape was never evil. I agree with Hannah. thats the exact bravery that needs to be counted. that inner strength. risking everything to stay loyal and to keep your promises. snape is definitely the most bravest in the novels. if only his life could have been longer and happier...

Posted by Blue and Beyond from AustrALIA on August 6, 2007 04:32 AM

Snape IS a hero! I agree with Hannah and Orlando. What more can I say? They already said what is meant to be said. He is now absolutely my favourite character in the Harry Potter series. I cried when he d because I never thought that he would be as brave as he is. He 'sacrificed' himself to be a double agent to Voldemort, knowing that he could be ed in a milisecond. I can't believe that there are some people that still thinks he's NOT a hero. For those of you who do, try putting yourself in his shoes, then you'll understand. Yes, he's done some nasty things to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville but so what? Nobody's perfect, even heroes! We all have flaws inside of us and Snape happens to have a lot of flaws but he's still and always be a hero..

Posted by Astri from Indonesia on August 6, 2007 08:48 AM

i agree with astri hanah and orlando, except he is definitly NOT my favorite. i mean he really did make potions a living hell for harry, but in the end he really did care, so...

Posted by toni from LA on August 6, 2007 11:22 AM

Yes Snape betrayed Harry's mom and dad and even Harry but, then he felt the remorse of what he had done and became the 2 faced to spy on Tom Riddle that we know and barely tolerate! But he did help Harry by both stopping Quirrel in the first book, partially teaching him occlumency, and even following threw on dumbledores orders to him!

Posted by Maggie on August 6, 2007 11:33 AM

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