Daily Archives: December 15, 2011
Ever since the first book of Harry Potter hit the shelves and kids and adults alike dove into its magical world, we’ve all found characters we loved and characters we hated. The majority of the loved characters were a wide choice. And amongst the characters facing hatred and anger was Severus Snape, the arrogant and sarcastic teacher and later on headmaster of Hogwarts who was in truth “a very brave and misunderstood man.” Over the years I’ve seen articles and heard people complain about Snape. He was the character everyone loved to hate. But ever since I started my journey in the Potter World, I found him to be one of my favorites. I did not dislike him; rather I felt he was a person with a kind of hidden past and knew that sooner or later, there would be a time when there would be a revelation about him that would change everything! When I read the sixth book where Snape kills Dumbledore, my belief was ever stronger. The final words Dumbledore said “Severus, Please” did not sound like a plea for life to me; It felt more like encouragement-the go ahead. Since Snape had previously fought with Dumbledore once and told him he took “too much for granted” I knew I was right. And today, after watching the final Harry Potter movie years after I finished the last book, I am ever more glad I put my faith in Severus till the end.
Since he was a child, Severus had a painful history. He hated his half blood lineage and was forever alone until he met Lily. Both of them were gifted and that started their friendship. Even though he followed the Dark Lord and believed in true blood wizards, the love of his life was Lily- a Muggle born and whom he always loved, to the very end. They’d spent their childhood together, shared magic and secrets and entered Hogwarts at the same time. But she had been placed in Gryffindor and he was in Slytherin. Still, they remained friends even as he became enemies with James Potter and was constantly bullied by James and his friends where Lily even saved him.
James and Lily eventually fell for each other and Snape always watched from the sidelines. He was always alone, as Rowling puts it:
Snape as a little boy crying in the corner as his parents argue, a kid trying to mount a bucking broomstick while being laughed at, and a teenager sitting alone in a darkened bedroom shooting down flies with his wand.
He was a good person but perhaps he didn’t know how to make the right choices or maybe the world never gave him reason enough. He joined Voldemort and continued as a death eater for a long time, straining his relationship with Lily, until he found out about the prophecy and how Voldemort was going to hunt and kill Lily’s child. And knowing Lily as he did, he knew she would stay in the line of fire; which is why he sells his loyalty to Dumbledore. Whatever bad things he did as a Death Eater, he redeemed himself over the years by working for and with Dumbledore, protecting Harry.
And what the movies show us clearly is that Snape did not want to kill Dumbledore and was in much pain for having to do the deed and then being misunderstood about it. Rolwing writes “…there was revulsion and hatred etched in the hard lines of his face.” When describing Snape’s expression at the time of the killing but only a little while before, we read the same expression on Harry’s face when Harry is with Dumbledore in the cave and is forced to feed Dumbledore more of the potion that is weakening him – “Hating himself, repulsed by what he was doing, Harry forced the goblet back toward Dumbledore’s mouth”.
And his agony is ever clearer from the words he speaks to Harry when Harry is trying to fight him in the forest right after Dumbledore is killed.
“Don’t,” screamed Snape — his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as the Yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning building behind them, — “Call me coward!”
Even the fact that Dumbledore pleaded with him to take his life is not enough to steer his mind from the pain. He may have simply done what Dumbledore himself wanted; but it evidently cut him to have to do it, even if it meant being loyal.
In some of her interviews, Rowling has described Snape as a “deeply horrible person”. As the writer, she knows more about him and his character and development and why he is so horrible, but in my view point, he has redeemed himself well and the best part is that he did it so that no one would ever know. He was a person who grew up in misery and along life made the wrong choices but when he finally started making the right ones, they far outweighed the wrongs. And he may have been a horrible man, but he was fiercely loyal to those he chose, as seen from the fact that he agreed to kill Dumbledore upon Dumbledore’s own request. I believe with Harry when he says that “he was one of the bravest men I have ever known”. From my end, it’s a definite Yay for Snape! Snape is the human, flawed and broken hero in the shadows who does what is necessary to stop the wrongs to which he has contributed in spite of how difficult and hurtful it may be to him.
Here’s another beautiful moment that speaks volumes about Snape:
Lily Potter: Does it make a difference, being Muggleborn?
Snape hesitated. His black eyes, eager in the greenish gloom moved over the pale face, the dark red hair.
Snape: No, It doesn’t make any difference.
An apt description of him:
“In a world where everyone is either on the side of the Phoenix or the Death Eaters, Snape’s allegiance is fascinatingly unclear…even though he wears more black than anyone else.”