Snape analysis

Severus SnapeI’ve been flipping through Order of the Phoenix, but I can’t find it, the bit where Harry momentarily breaks into Snape’s mind and sees Little Snape cowering while a man (probably his dad) yells at a crying woman (probably his mom). You know, I don’t think that’s a throwaway scene. I think JKR’s trying to show us that Snape grew up in an abusive home. Now pair that with the scene Harry saw in the pensieve, of James humiliating Snape at school. That was a harrowing scene, and whose side were we supposed to be on? James wasn’t evil, but he was really nasty to someone who couldn’t defend himself, and he did permanent damage to another human being. Bullying is frequently dismissed as childish and trivial, but it can have really dreadful consequences. Suffering doesn’t always ennoble a person.

I really want Snape to turn out to be good – not in a last-minute turnaround, but to have been a good guy all along. I naturally side with the underdog, and he is certainly that. But it might be that early abuse and schoolyard humiliation stunted his soul and put him on a path he would not otherwise have taken. And how ironic would it be if the actions of the great and noble martyr James Potter were a significant factor in the death of Dumbledore? I think that’s exactly the kind of thing JKR would do. Harry’s a pretty good guy, despite having lived with years of abuse, a point Dumbledore makes at the end of Book 5 (I think). She might want to remind us that it doesn’t always work out that way.

And this points to what I think she’s trying to say about good and evil. Absolute evil exists, people can really truly be that horrible – for a real-world example, just look at Dick Cheney – and all that can stand in opposition to it is us regular folks – people are imperfect, as Melanie says. Well-intentioned, maybe, but sometimes stubborn, selfish or thoughtless. Sometimes fatally so.

Song du jour of the day: Feed My Frankenstein, by Alice Cooper.

7 responses to “Snape analysis

  • amy

    I thought of you today–we saw a “Snape is Good” bumper sticker!! My husband thinks Snape is a double-agent, sort of, working on Dumbledore’s side, and that Dumbledore’s death was agreed upon in advance, that Dumbledore basically said, Hey, if I’ve got to go for you to remain undercover, so be it. Sort of like Jack Bauer. He’ll kill anyone if it means getting the bad guys in the end. (NOT that I want to spark debate on “24”–I can’t stomach the violence–just an example.)

    My husband also wonders if Snape is going to be the main character who dies in Book 7. I hope Snape turns out to be good–but I’m not making any guesses. I just really want to see how JKR finishes the series.

    I agree with you about us regular folks, too.

  • vicki

    Moi? I’d rather knit than psychoanalyze Snape. And the road to Hell is paved with, etc.etc. Good comment you left at Mamacita’s, btw. She is a good example of regular folk, yes? I’m hoping we can take on the likes of Cheney…

    Hope all is well and you are having a good weekend!

  • vicki

    P.S. It’s hard to decide which side of Jack Bauer you want to be on- every time he promises to take care of someone, they die. Maybe. Is Audrey really dead or just held captive by the Chinese for next season? I still miss Edgar…

  • Emma

    Snape is an interesting man. Did you notice when Snape told Harry to keep his mouth shut and mind closed, or something like that, even after he killed Dumbledoor? Also he wouldn’t let Harry be killed, supposedly because Voldemort wanted him alive. Could be true, but you never know with JKR do you? I have an uncanny knack for guessing what is going to happen next in any plot, but JKR is one of the few authors who can still surprise me. Still if Snape doesn’t turn out to be good, I shall be rather put out. At the moment I’m being pulled in two directions, I want the 7th book to come out, because, well, because I want to read it, but I don’t want it to come out because I’m afraid that Snape will be evil, Harry will die, and I really don’t want the series to be over. Does anyone else feel this way?

  • alala

    Pretty much exactly that way, actually. I want Snape to be a good guy, but she sure is piling up the evidence against him – but then, she does that, doesn’t she? Remember how scary Sirius was, right up until the end of Prisoner?

    Sigh, I just don’t know. But I’ve started reading book 1. I’m going to go through them all, so I’ll be ready on July 21st.

  • Chelsea (random snape fan)

    I think the part where Mr. Snape is being abusive to Mrs. and Young Snape is either the 1st time Harry goes in for the lessons, or the second. The last time, obviously is Snape’s Worst Memory. I want to say that its the chapter where the slytherin boy is found in the toilet, and Draco inturrupts the lesson. I could be wrong though, dont quote me on this lol. Happy Snape hunting!

  • alala

    I’m reading the 5th book now: when I find the references, I’ll try to remember to add them here. Though of course all this discussion will be moot in 26 days aaaaaaggggh!.

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