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Snape Clues

by David Haber

These are the clues contained in the pages of Harry Pottter and the Half-Blood Prince which support the possibility that Snape is not really a Death Eater, has remained loyal to Dumbledore, and all through the book, Snape is working on Dumbledore's Orders.

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Reader Comments: (Page 21)

Heather, that's how I read that scene too. That initially Snape was bluffing, trying to draw Narcissa out. By the end of the scene I was fairly sure that he knew what was going on. After all, as you say, he is a master of Legilimency and it wasn't as though Narcissa was trying to hide anything from him. She was distressed too, which from what Snape says in Harry's lessons, would make her even easier to read. I did wonder why she speaks so elliptically (except of course the obvious reason of keeping us in the dark!) but I think it is in case Wormtail is still listening.
I think Snape went ahead with the Unbreakable Vow because he could see no other way forward. At the time he was probably hoping he could avoid having to fullfil it.
What I do find interesting is that Malfoy - Malfoy! was able to hide the details of his plan from Snape. Quite an achievement for a 16 year old.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on February 8, 2007 07:00 AM

Elizabeth, I too found it strange that the one area that Draco exhibitted some competence was occlumency.

HBP---"There was a pause and then Snape said quietly, "Ah...Aunt Bellatrix has been teaching you Occlumency, I see. What thoughts are you trying to conceal form your master, Draco?"
"I'm not trying to conceal anything form him, I just don't want you butting in!""

I have never really been that impressed with Draco's abilities (the movies appropriately show him as a pathetic baby). Clearly, Harry far outshines him in everything and is a much more proficient wizard. However, i did find it rather surprising that Draco had some s with occlumency, the one area in which Harry has shown weakness.

More importantly, I am truly concerned that Snape, a master at Legilimency, could not penetrate Draco's thoughts:(
It won't be good for the order if Draco can hide information from Snape.

Posted by Heather from NJ on February 8, 2007 09:44 AM

Do you think it would have been wise for Snape to interrogate Draco in this manner? Imagine what Draco thinks about this, why does Snape wanna know so badly. If Snape goes about it the wrong way it is suspicious. I don't think Draco is so much more sed than Snape, I just think Snape knew he couldn't get the info the easy way anymore.
What makes a wizard a good occlumens is not the fact that you know how to do it, but the fact that your enemy doesn't know you are using it. If Lord Voldemort is aware of Snape's occlumency Ss he wouldn't be so useful to Dumbledore. Draco is clearly just a beginner.

Posted by Asidi from Alaska on February 8, 2007 10:30 PM

Asidi, excellent point. I hadn't looked at it that way. All the more reason to believe that Snape is on the good side, and trying to prevent Voldemort from finding out. The less suspicious he (Snape) appears to be, the deeper he can go with his undercover work.

Once again, Snape proves to be an amazingly talented and sful wizard (and no, i didn't say he was nice), while Draco is clearly a modest if not poor wizard. Thanks.

Posted by Heather from NJ on February 10, 2007 7:44 PM

Good points, Asidi. I also wondered if Malfoy is better at Occlumency than Harry because of their respective teachers? Malfoy probably doesn't loathe his Aunt Bellatrix the way Harry loathes Snape. That for a start is going to make it hard for Harry to learn that particular s from Snape because his emotions are already engaged. He probably would have learned better from Dumbledore. I think you are right though and that Snape needed to be very careful how he handled Draco. There are obviously different ways of employing Legilimency. We know from his own testimony that whatever Voldemort did to Bertha Jorkins left her completely broken, but Dumbledore on the other hand was able to find out the truth behind Hokey and Morfin's false memories. I think we can assume that he didn't destroy their minds in the process.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on February 11, 2007 06:51 AM

I found your post on Feb.7th fascinating. It makes me think that Snape and Lily were childhood best friends [pre-hogwarts]. Afterall Snape grew up in a muggle community. Were they neighbors?
Then they both go to Hogwarts, and get sorted into opposing houses. Snape, through fellow slytherins is pressured to renounce Lily, his best friend. And it is from this that everything else follows in Snape's life.
I always had a problem with the Snape/ Lily crush. To me it made as much sense as Malfoy having a thing for Hermione. But seeing it in this childhood context makes it more understandable, and more sadder for Snape would have been 11 years old at the time he was forced to renounce his best freind.
From the Sorting Hat [O.O.T.P, U.S. pg.20]:
"Listen closely to my song:
Though condemned I am to split you
Still I worry that it's wrong,
Though I must fulfill my duty
And must quarter every year
Still I wonder whether sorting
May not bring the end I fear."

Posted by Mikey from New Jersey on February 11, 2007 07:57 AM

I go out on a limb and disagree with you regarding Malfoy's talents. I'm inclined to give Draco a little more credit. Afterall, in S.S. we find he is very good on a broom. In C.O.S. he holds his own in the dueling club, and was able to conjure a snake. As a matter of fact I don't recall Draco ever failing at performing magic due to inability. That's something that we can't say about Harry, Ron, Neville, or Seamus.
I should state that I haven't researched this topic so I'm sure you all could give examples to fill my assertion full of holes. Nevertheless I think Draco's level of competitency add to the story in D.H.

Posted by Mikey from New Jersey on February 11, 2007 08:13 AM

Let's not forget the famous occlumency scene when Snape asks
Harry "To whom does the dog belong to." Kind of a wierd off the topic question to ask. Did Snape recognize the dog?
I agree with you for all of Draco's personality failures, he is an effective leader. I haven't counted him as lost yet. An enemy of my enemy is my friend.

I also find this scene as poking fun at Snape's spy role
There was a pause and then Snape said quietly, "Ah...Aunt Bellatrix has been teaching you Occlumency, I see. What thoughts are you trying to conceal form your master, Draco?"
"I'm not trying to conceal anything form him, I just don't want you butting in!" I would think Snape know's all about hiding thoughts from his master (whoever that is).

Posted by Asidi from Ak on February 11, 2007 11:56 PM

when harry encounters snape after the , snape does not tie him up, blast him away, or even harm him for the most part. in stead he does something that save harry if he can figure it out. instead of hurting harry, he stands there and lectures him on the only way that you can battle the dark lord. (in code of course), he tells harry the massive importance of non verbal spells, how very important that he masters occlumency, and how to block unforgivable curses. this is not the work of a dedicated eater.

Posted by David A from south windsor, connecticut on February 12, 2007 04:15 AM

I just can't get my previous post about Snape's childhood friendship with Lily out of my head. In the Occlumency lessons, Harry witnesses "...A girl was laughing as a scrawny boy tried to mount a bucking broomstick-" I think the girl was Lily and Snape was trying to impress her by demonstrating his magical abilities. Something any fool wizard boy would do for his childhood sweetheart.

Now what else might that poor wizard fool do? How about an unbreakable vow. Perhaps something along the lines "I'll be your friend forever" only to betray that vow once school started. I realize they would need a bonder who is a witch/wizard with a wand [or else I would consider Petunia]. So I need help with that one. We really don't know what happens if you break an unbreakable vow but maybe this is why Dumbledore trusts Snape so.

Maybe that scene in the pensieve showed Lily as not betraying her friendship for Snape. Now that would qualify as a "worst memory" for Snape in my book.

Posted by Mikey from New Jersey on February 12, 2007 6:45 PM

Mikey, you make a good point about Snape and Lily being childhood friends. it just might work. I had thought that the girl laughing at Snape was either Lily or Petunia, but I suppose Lily works better.

I tell you (or Ron ) what happens when you break an unbreakable vow---you .

This is after Harry tells Ron about Snape's unbreakable "Oath" ch 16 HBP/US version p325:
"an Unbreakable Vow? said Ron, looking stunned. "Nah, he can't have...Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure, "said Harry. "Why, what does it mean?"
"Well, you can't break and Unbreakable vow..."
"I'd worked that much out for myself, funnily enough. What happens if you break it, then?"
"You ,"said Ron simply.

Now, interestingly enough, Ron then goes on to tell us that Fred and George tried to get him to do one (an unbreakable vow) when he was five. he and Fred were holding hands, when his dad broke it up. his dad went "mental."

Mikey, you might be on to something---you know JKR, she throws everything in for a reason. this may have everything to do with Lily and Snape as childhood friends.

AS for my earlier comment about Malfoy and his ability, Mikey, i guess we can just respectfully disagree. I see Malfoy as a spoiled brat who has gotten places only because of his father and his father's money. But hey, you did make a good point. He was able to do all those tricks! I'd still put my money on Harry--he has guts! When push comes to shove (in the "real" world) Malfoy is just a wimp.

Posted by Heather from NJ on February 12, 2007 8:09 PM

I actually do agree with you. Malfoy is a spoiled brat. It seems he even judges himself and others not by their abilities, but on their wealth, connections and blood lines.
Here's something about Malfoy's character. In their 2nd year, Hermione successfully made a polyjuice potion. Later, in their 6th year, Malfoy steals a polyjuice potion [Hope I'm right. It's from memory]. Hows that for laziness.
However, I don't feel we should discount Malfoy just yet as an incompetent wimp. Up til now Malfoy has been, in a word, formidable.

I actually feel sorry for Malfoy. He's lived his life under his father's influence. And look where that world view has gotten them. When I think of Malfoy, I consider Dumbledore's words about choosing what is right or what is easy, and I feel Malfoy wasn't given that choice. Everything was forced on him, first by his father, then by Voldemort.
I can't believe I'm such a bleeding heart.

As a side note, Dudley seems to be the muggle equivelant to Malfoy. Does this have any meaning.

Posted by Mikey from New Jersey on February 13, 2007 06:28 AM

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