So my dear friend, Jackie, a.k.a. Bazingirl, over at the blog, Seeking Bazinga, wrote a post tonight all about Professor Severus Snape of the Harry Potter series. She talked about how as a whole, the Harry Potter universe has made him into a martyr of some sorts, and that some people believe he should be pitied, and some people even believed that James Potter ruined his happiness. It was a really good blog post, and you can read it HERE.
I was going to comment back on it, but I was on my phone and I knew my typing skills on my iphone were not going to be adequate enough for my response to her post. So I figured I’d just respond to her post once I got back home and on my computer. Then I thought, nah, let’s do a WHOLE blog response to hers.
The thing about Severus Snape is…I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was 10 years old…which is 15 years ago. I was still a kid. So when I first read the character Snape, I hated him, even after he saved Harry’s life in Sorcerer’s Stone. I was very much a child, and it stuck with me all through the series. When everyone was contemplating whether Snape as a good guy or bad guy before Deathly Hallows hit bookstores, I was SO sure he was a bad guy. I hated him. He had just killed Dumbledore and nothing could fix him in my mind.
And then we all got the shock of a lifetime in Deathly Hallows. Severus Snape had been, and still remained, madly in love with Harry’s mother, Lily, had loved her since he was a child. He had lost Lily when he called her a Mudblood, a derogatory term for a Muggle born wizard/witch. He went on to become a Death Eater and she went on to marry James Potter, join the Order of the Phoenix and give birth to baby Harry. Then Snape overhears the prophecy, tells Voldemort, finds out he thinks its Harry and BEGS Dumbledore to protect them. Plans go awry, the Potters die, Harry escapes with his life and Snape suddenly becomes a double agent, working for both sides, to keep the son of Lily Potter safe.
Now, the love story? It is both sweet and bordering on a little creepy. I think Lily was the first person in Snape’s life that showed him true kindness. His father was obviously not the nicest man in the world, and his parents spent much of their time fighting. This had to leave his mother in less than happy moods and he avoided his house a lot. Lily was probably his first friend, and she became hugely important to him. He screws up as a teenager, and joins the Death Eater. After the death of his love, he spends the rest of his life dedicated to protecting the legacy she left behind. This is a ridiculous love story, a love story that takes place across a long period of time. And every time Snape says “Always”, I do get a bit teary eyed.
But I don’t like Snape. I don’t. And so many times when I say this, its usually followed by a gasp and an incredulous look but its true. I’m no Snape lover.
And yes, okay, Snape was a brave man. He risked his life. He died in the end, protecting Harry Potter. He played a double agent perfectly. He switched sides and proved to be a valuable asset to Dumbledore, and the Order of the Phoenix. I recognize all these things.
But I do not believe in making him into a martyr. I do not believe in giving him pity.
First off, the idea that he belongs with Lily over James Potter? Sure, maybe, if he had realized that she was more important than his previous beliefs sooner rather than later. The fact is, Snape messed up. Big time. He called Lily a Mudblood and even if he apologized after, saying he didn’t mean to call her that, it reflected his beliefs. He made an exception for Lily because they were best friends, because he loved her but Lily couldn’t handle that. She didn’t feel special, she felt it was absolutely wrong. Snape doesn’t deserve pity. Did James and Sirius bully him? Yes, yes they did. Was that right? Of course not. But does he deserve Lily more? I think not. I think if he would have changed his ways earlier, Lily could have maybe fallen in love with him. But he decided that his beliefs were more important and he joined up with Voldie and the Death Eaters.
And he just realized things too late! It took Lily’s life being in danger, and Lily’s actual death for Snape to reform, to turn his back on Voldemort and become part of Team Order of the Phoenix.
But did he really reform that much? I mean, sometimes I get the feeling that Snape did it for Lily and just Lily. And sure, maybe to some people that’s super romantic and all that but that doesn’t necessarily make him a better person. I agree that it made it him do some brave and noble things but I just don’t think it excuses him, or makes him an amazing a person or a martyr.
Also, whatever he may feel toward James Potter, and what he may be passing along to Harry Potter, whether because of his hatred of his father or to further lend credibility to his double agent role, he still remains a bully. Now maybe he bullies Harry because of his dad. Maybe he bullies Harry because people expect him too, and it just makes his double act more legit. So he shows Harry nothing less than extreme dislike. And honestly, I am okay with that. That makes perfect sense.
But Snape’s treatment of Neville and Hermione, and other various students? Its inexcusable. Some people may say its just further actions of his commitment to his double agent role but this is NOT normal teacher bullying. He reduces them to nothing at times. He genuinely frightens Neville, cuts him down and treats him like…well like nothing. He calls him stupid and simple and idiotic. He doesn’t really truly give him a chance. And he takes shots at Hermione too. I understand that all teachers can’t be nice, and sometimes we have teachers that are meaner than others, but he seemed to take it beyond that. It wasn’t just mean, it was downright cruel at times. As a kid who was bullied and teased throughout my school years, this really makes me mad. As a kid that was bullied and teased and tormented, I don’t feel as if Snape should have treated anyone like that, as he knew what it felt like.
So that’s my opinion. I do think Snape was a brave man. But I still do not like him. I do believe that he had the possibility of being a great man. I think he was a confused, flawed man who made the right decisions in the end. But I don’t think we should worship the man, make him a martyr, put him up on a pedestal and give him our pity. I think at the end of the day, he morphed exactly what he was so angry at when he was at Hogwarts: a bully. And it took the death of the one person he truly cared about to get him to change, and he really didn’t change that much.
Now, its about three am and I’m pretty sure my argument/response/rambling just went in about a hundred different directions, and it probably went in some circles as well. But that’s how I feel. And I know that there are a ton of people who don’t feel the same way. But that’s okay. Because I’m totally right.
Just kidding :)
But I’d like to hear other opinions too. I love discussing me some Harry Potter, because its one of those series that keeps the discussions going on for ages. So please, share below what you think!
And Jackie, thanks for the great topic!
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5 thoughts on “Snape: Friend or Foe?-A Response to Seeking Bazinga”
I am 100 percent in agreement with you. I think Snape was a bitter selfish little man. He thought nothing of anyone else’s feelings. He despised Harry and was jealous of him. He is no martyr, just a man out for himself, and what will keep him alive. He might have been a double agent, but I think he was more afraid of Dumbldore and that is why he kept Harry out of harms way. I could go on and on! But I digress, lol!
I think “Voldie and the Death Eaters” would be an awesome name for an indie rock band.
Snape has all the built up anger because he has to be the double agent and he has to keep the secret that he’s actually Harry’s dad!!!!! Mom and Dad both Gryfindor. Sorting hat wanted to put him in Slitherin. Why? Not because he had part of you know who because he is Snapes son!!! Harry I am your father, search you sole and you know it to be true!! Join me and we will rule Hogwarts as Father and Son!! ALWAYS!!!
I feel very enlightened after reading your post, lol -but seriously, I never looked at it this way before! I agree that Snape did some pretty terrible things; he is a deeply flawed character, and his love for Lily doesn’t necessarily reedem him. What I liked about the revelation that James and Sirius had bullied Snape was that it blurred the lines at least a little between who we viewed as good versus bad characters. All of this being sad, the girl-who-likes-bad-boys in me became a little obsessed with the mere idea of Lily and Snape, even though if they had stayed together that would have totally obliterated the premise of the series.
Oh, I TOTALLY agree that Snape was a CRAP teacher. The article I read that sparked this whole idea said that even JKR herself is quoted as saying that Remus is the example of great teaching and Snape is an example of the worst. He was, in effect, doing all of his students a disadvantage because he was not preparing them for what he had to know was coming. So, yeah, he was TOTES a bad teacher.
But, see, I read the books as an adult, and I was one of the hard core “trust Snape” folks because I just knew in my heart of hearts that Snape was a good guy. So many little things pointed to his playing both sides, at least to me.
I understand why people hate Snape. I get it. I LOVE HIM. I love him as a character and I even love him as a person. I do. I dunno what that says about me, really, but yeah. I love Snape.