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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 7)
Snape is an amazing literary character, if he did not exist the whole series would be different, and I fully commend JK for doing that, he is an awesome piece of writing, and is just as, if not more complex than a real life person.
If you think of the way that the book ends, with everybody happy and everything. You can see that JK wanted it to be a happy ending, but wanted it to be a sad story. If the truth about Snape had not been revealed then the story may not have been as happy a lot of people would have said "he deserved what he got," but i think that JK only wanted one real evil in the book (Voldemort,) and for Snape to be evil all the way I think wouldve wrecked it slightly.
All this doesn't mean that I like him, I just think that he was written and concieved extremely well. He was not a "bad" after all, he realized his mistakes in the end.
Posted by Tarz from Sydney, Australia on August 3, 2007 01:28 AM
I think that Snape proved that he was good in the end. Although he wasn't a nice person he put himself in danger to protect Harry. He also ed Dumbledore when he knew it would make much of the wizarding world despise him. In doing this he shows his faith in Dumbledore.
I think that it is quite tragic that he doesn't allow Dumbledore to tell anyone else why he is helping Harry. I'm glad that in the end Harry tells everyone that Snape is good and that he was acting on Dumbledore's orders.
In my opinion he was definitely a hero.
Posted by Mike from Wales on August 3, 2007 03:50 AM
Perhaps the explanation for Snape's permanent bad mood at Hogwarts is more easily explained. I mean, the guy was in love with Lily from the age of 10 right? So devoted to her throughout school, and even after her marriage and ... Perhaps a lack of "snogging" is to blame?
Posted by Brett from BC, Canada on August 3, 2007 05:35 AM
Tex Fan... I think that you are quite right to focus on Snape's isolation as a teacher. ONLY Dumbledore was 'in' on the background of Snape's life, travails and similar. While Dumbledore we have learned can be quite manipulative in his personal relations (Harry and Snape for only 2) he is also a very reassuring figure in the series.
When we see a memories of Snape with Dumbledore this is the ONLY time and place that Severus can unburden himself to anyone. You are quite right to point out how his emotions can get out of control with the students when he has no normal life to help keep himself in balance. It is significant that more than once he is using a Dumbledore meeting to 'vent' some of those conflicting emotions which the whole world could only guess at up until we could see 'behind the mask'.
I am especially intrigued by your seeing that by 'eye contact' with Harry Professor Snape is doing more than just looking at Lilly one more time, but that he is also showing Harry some of the Hidden Snape and his feelings towards Harry as well. I would like to hope so anyway.
Let me pose this question: Given that Dumbledore suggests that because of his huge Bravery that Snape could have been 'miss sorted' ("sort too soon" statement DH) and what Snape has said about which House he be in; Is it possible that he would have been a Gryffindor but ASKED the hat for Slytherin? Of course this is probably what happened with Sirius, and certainly what happened with Harry. (I don't know about the Patel twins...nor apparently do the films)
Imagine the almost ultimate irony.. he should have been a Gryffindor with Lilly but thought he should be a Slytherin from pre-sorting rumors similar to those with Harry, Ron and Draco. "It is our CHOICES" that make us who we are.... good, or bad.
One may only speculate if Professor Snape could have pulled the Sword from the Hat in an emergency... he might have been able to despite his sorting.
Posted by Charlie Tarbox from Gettysburg, Pa on August 3, 2007 08:46 AM
Snape isn't really all that complicated: In HBP when he had to defend his actions/inactions to Bellatrix, he was telling her (and us) the truth. Or at least, the truth as it needed to be, which is this: Snape had to hate Harry. He had to develop a true hatred of him to show his love for him. As good as Snape was at Occlumency, he couldn't allow the slightest risk that Voldomort would find out that he was helping Harry/Dumbledore/the oppostion in any way whatsoever. Did Snape love Harry? No. He loved Lilly and that is why he did what he did. Snape may have been able to love Harry, but from the moment he became a double agent for Dumbledore, he had to eliminate that possibility alltogether. the fact that Harry looked so much like James, i'm sure, helped develop this loathing. When snape saw him and interacted with him, he conciously chose to see James (whom he already hated most bitterly) and transfer those feelings, thinking of them as the same boy. The feelings for Lilly were still there, but if Voldomort were able to penetrate that deeply into Snape's conscious, he still would not learn of Snape's betrayal from those memories...Voldomort havning never understood love would never make the connection. It was a plan that had to be real and genuine to be effective.
In addition, all we ever see of Snape is the self-serving survivor. This is a ploy to some degree as well, in my opinion. It is just another layer of the deception of character to make his role convincing. We go back and forth trying to decide....is he good....is he evil....we don't ever consider him to be a caring, emotional individual because there is no evidence to support it until we see the memories he gives harry in DH.
Snape is defiantly a hero...perhaps the best kid of hero. He is the kind of hero who does more than the world is aware of, receives no glory for it and makes all the difference in the world. He even suffers infamy and defame for the sake of his heroic task. Harry understands this and (in the god awful cheesiest epilogue ever) commemorates him for it. I wonder if Harry ever shared those memories with anyone else...I wonder if he made it a point to let the world know what Snape did or if he kept it to himself. Personally, I believe Harry would keep it to himself and maybe Ron, Hermiony and Ginny.
Posted by Tim from Flagstaff, AZ on August 3, 2007 09:43 AM
I think this is alot like what harry felt for Snape. We, having read the entire story from behind the view of harry being the protagonist, are most of the time determined to see him as a villain in the story. If you think about it from Snape's point of view you see it a little differently.
Here you have the son of the man who you despise more than anyone. Both because he made your school years torture and becasue he married the only woman you have ever loved.
Seeing it this way I think it would have been very hard to do things like, save harry from falling off his broom and the other random acts of kindness we have seen from snape in the book. Yes he wanted Harry expelled but that is where it stops. He seemed determined through out the book to, yes make harry's school years as bad as his were, but to also make sure that that was the only harm that came to him. So I think that yes Snape did make a MISTAKE telling Voldomort about the prophesy and he did feel great remorse. So much that he decided to risk his life to aid in the destruction of the wizard who ed Lilly Evans, and also to protect her only son from mortal harm.
Posted by Davis from Nashville TN, USA on August 3, 2007 10:11 AM
Snape: Heel or Hero?
The answer is...yes. Snape, while often dismissed by Potter fans to be a mere distraction or inconsequential threat, is, as we learn in "ly Hallows," a much more complex character with many layers.
It is inarguable that Snape's main function so often appeared to be making life miserable to Harry & his friends. But, as we learn of his never ending deep love for Lily, and the subsequent sacrifices he made for Dumbledore, his status as a villain becomes less clear. While he no doubt had contempt for Harry’s existence, his admiration for Lily drove him to protect Harry (even if it seemed to be done half heartedly) throughout the seven books. In fact, his very last action in this life was to fulfill a promise to Dumbledore regarding Harry’s own prophecy. Until his last breath, Snape kept his own allegiance to Lily.
One could easily argue that by giving Harry his own memories meant that Harry would then know that for Voldermort to , so must Harry, an action that could please Snape. However, I disagree. Snape’s own disdain at the thought of Dumbledore keeping Harry alive to simply feed him to Voldermort showed that even he, Snape, would not be so cruel. I believe that Snape knew and trusted Dumbledore to be a greater wizard than he could imagine, and trusted Dumbledore as much as his beloved Lily had.
While Snape was clearly never a fan of Harry Potter’s, and was often a heel to him and his friends, he also proved to be quite the hero, deserving of Harry’s admiration in the epilogue.
Posted by Pottermaniac from Long Island on August 3, 2007 10:27 AM
To Charlie Tarbox from PA.
I'm so glad that you see where I'm coming from!
In answer to your question;
I suppose it is possible that Snape could have been meant to be in Gryffindor, but chose Slytherin because maybe he liked what he heard in the Sorting Hat's song about the qualities that Slytherins have. However, I doubt it because in the memories we hear him conversing with Lily and find that he in fact wants to be in the same house as her, and I don't think that any rumors he had heard could overcome his love for lily and his desire to be with her. If he was meant to be in Gryffindor, then it would be entirely possible for him to pull the sword out of the hat. After all, it takes a TRUE Gryffindor, so I don't think it would matter what house he was in. But let me ask you this: If Snape hadn't been a Slytherin, what would this have done to the Harry Potter Series? If Snape had been a Gryffindor, he would never have gotten involved with the wrong people and gone over to the Dark Side and would have been clueless about Voldemort's intentions, and therefore would never have been able to be so helpful to Dumbledore and Harry. It would have destroyed the plot. I think Snape was written that way on purpose, meant to be a Slytherin, and meant to come back to the right side to be a double-agent. He is certainly a many-layered and complicated character. I like him that way, though; JKR did a fabulous job with him.
Posted by Severus Snape fan from Texas on August 3, 2007 3:07 PM
Snape is definately a hero!
Before i read the last book, i thought Snape was evil but he's not, infact he a hero just like Harry said.
First of all, asking Dumbledore to keep the best of him as secret was brave. in Snape's perspection, he saw Harry as a rule breaker, famous quidditch player, so he thought that harry is just like his father (though Harry broke most of the rules to fight evil not like James for the fun of it.) so thats why sometimes Snape hated Harry.
But for the case of Lily, that was all his fault. Snape knew she didn't like dark magic and he started hanging around with people who do dark magic and he ended up doing too. So Lily made a wise choice to chose James over Snape.
James is this good-at-everything-he-does-guy, he's good looking, doesn't do dark magic and doesn't call people "mudblood" especially Lily. Being the best couple ever, they made the best kid ever HARRY POTTER. I love James. i wish J.K could write a book about James; i think his life a Hogwarts was the best ever. I am sorry Snape hated James and may be some people out there b'se ofthose prunks he played on him and for Lily, i don't care because i see every thing James does perfect and hot and i think that why she chose him over snape. James is my best character though he's not mentioned so much but i can alway imagine the rest.
Posted by Aisha from Virginia USA on August 3, 2007 6:14 PM
One thing I think makes a huge difference between Snape and Harry is that very handling of humiliation so many have mentioned. Harry and Snape actually had more in common than most of the characters, and Snape, as a child/teen, we now learn was rather like Harry in circumstances. 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.
Posted by JK from California on August 3, 2007 9:56 PM
i think everyone prefers to see snape as a hero because he is someone everyone can relate to at some point of their life (im pretty sure everyone must have been bullied or loved someone but didnt get it back). i think he is the perfect manifestation of all the qualities that all the houses of hogwarts represent. he was loyal (hufflepuff), he was brave (gryffindor), he was smart (ravenclaw), and he of course was cunning (slytherin).
Posted by Anonymous from dubai on August 4, 2007 06:06 AM
Snape is definitely a hero. He always tries to protect the good guys, especially Harry. Even when he runs away from the teachers and Harry in DH, it's so he doesn't end up hurting them. Snape is clearly an extremely powerful wizard. He is the best at non-verbal spells in the books. He is great at Occlumency. He is an incredible Potion Maker. He can fly without a broom. He could've easily beaten the teachers, but he didn't want to risk hurting them. And he is clearly working for good because otherwise, when he was about to , he wouldn't have given Harry the knowledge needed to defeat Voldemort. And the reason he is so cruel to Harry and friends is simply so he can play his role as an evil wizard better. I can't believe that there are people who can consider him less than a hero.
Posted by Chuck Norris on August 4, 2007 06:19 AM
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