Hi, I’m back! So about the snape hate, I guess what I’m trying to say is less of a question and more of a comment, but I just feel like we see the story from Harry’s perspective, and I just have a tiny hope, that if James and Lily had lived then Snape would become bestest friends with them again, and he would forgive James. I think that circumstances have really shaped his life, like i would be a mess if my best friend (who I was secretly in love with) died and her son was like looking at a pic (continued)
Hi again! a picture of her everyday, it would make you hate yourself for letting her die. I guess I just think that snape needs forgiveness for being a human.
Hello there! Thank you so much for your asks, your compliments are lovely.
When talking about characters I refer to Good Characters and Good people. Good Characters mean they develop over the narrative, are fleshed out, etc etc. Good People, on the other hand, can be regarded as role models. They can have flaws, but essentially do the right thing, someone who you can aspire to be, which is opinion-based.
And, in my opinion, Snape is not a Good Person.
Let me get this straight. I don’t hate Snape’s character. I think he is an amazing character. I was quite excited when I got this ask, because I adore talking about him! He’s so complex. We have so many layers to his character: his abusive/neglectful home; his love/obsession with Lily; his fascination with the Dark Arts; his good traits (his bravery, his cleverness).
But Snape is not a Good Person. I don’t believe he is a role model. If I met him, I would dislike him (I wouldn’t even say I hated him as a person, I usually just post it as Snape Hate so people can blacklist it). Let’s take a look at why I think Snape is not a Good Person.
- He joined the Death Eaters in the first place. I for one can’t simply excuse this fact. You can argue about his upbringing etc, but he chose to join a terrorist group who thought themselves superior despite the fact he was best friends with Lily Evans, a “mudblood” at the time.
- He only changed sides because of Lily Evans and his unrequited love. Now, a lot of people think this is beautiful and tragic but I don’t think so. I believe he wouldn’t have changed sides if Lily hadn’t have died. Let that sink in. He only questioned his position after she was targeted. It’s not exactly role model behaviour. If it had been any other woman, if it had been Alice Longbottom who had been targeted, he would not have changed sides. This is worse than Regulus Black, who initially joined the Death Eaters, but became disillusioned because of the cruelty of the Death Eaters, not because of one woman.
- His love for Lily borders on obsession and I do not think it is healthy. JKR says “who on earth would want Snape in love with them. That is a very horrible idea.”I think Snape built up what he thought Lily was like on memories he had of her. He made her up to be some idealistic woman who he was meant to be with. I also think he blamed James for “stealing” the love of his and built up his anger against James, when in actual fact this was not the case. Lily broke of her friendship with James in their 5th year, and didn’t start dating James until their 7th. (Oh, did you really think I could go through a Severus Snape post without mentioning James Potter). The part where Snape steals part of the letter which Lily sent to Sirius kind of creeps me out. I feel like he would imagine that she sent her love to him. We see no indication at all that he tried to get over Lily, and he didn’t even try and make amends, other than changing sides, as he bullied Lily’s only son, but we’ll get on to that.
- Snape was willing to let James and Harry die if it meant Lily could survive. Again, this relates back to his obsession with Lily. If you truly loved someone, you wouldn’t want the people they loved to die. I also think that Snape thought that if James died he would have a chance with Lily. This, again, relates back to the fact that Snape has built up Lily in his head, and thinks James “stole” Lily.
- He is/was bigoted. His Dark Magic is also disturbing. His bigotry is shown in the fact that he joined the Death Eaters in the first place. He knew what they stood for. Secondly, he calls Lily a mudblood. Now, he argues that it just “slipped out”. But if it “slipped out” it must have meant he used it regularly and/or was thinking it. Lily also says that he calls other muggleborns mudbloods too. As for his Dark Magic, does it not disturb anyone that he created Sectumsempra? He created a spell that tortures people. Not only that, but he knowingly used it on James, at around 15 years old. You can call James an idiot and a bully, but he didn’t use Dark Magic like that. Snape also excuses other people’s use of Dark magic, and plays it for laughs, as seen in DH when he defends Mulciber’s actions against Mary. (Godric knows what he did to poor Mary though.) JKR herself calls Snape a deeply horrible person.
- All this perhaps could be forgiven. Snape fans argue that this is what he did when he was younger, before he changed sides. But the fact also remained that he was horrible as an adult too.
- He bullied Harry. He was taking out his anger about his unrequited love on an eleven year old boy. There are lots of arguments in the HP fandom about why this is apparently okay, but I just don’t think it is. Firstly, he picks on Harry for not knowing things in his first lesson. Harry obviously doesn’t know anything, he was brought up as a muggle, and Snape obviously knew this. Harry is not aggressive towards Snape when they first meet, Snape immediately forms his opinion of Harry based off his dead father’s actions. Again I emphasise, he is holding an eleven year old responsible. James and Snape were enemies, but Harry didn’t even know about the extent of this until his 5th year, when he felt sympathy for Snape. Secondly, Snape is a teacher. He shouldn’t be treating students like that. Thirdly, Harry came from an abusive home. He lived in a cupboard for Merlin’s sake! Even if Snape didn’t know about this from Dumbledore, he sees Harry being abused when they are having Occlumency lessons. Instead of relating to this and feeling sympathy for Harry, Snape mocks him. Funnily enough, this is the exact opposite of how Harry acts when he finds out Snape is a victim of bullying.
- He bullied Hermione. I can think of many, many occasions where Snape’s actions towards Hermione were unacceptable. The first being where she calls her an “insufferable know-it-all”. Even Ron knows this is wrong, even though he calls her it. The reason is he is a teacher and in a position of authority. Another incident occurs in OoTP, when he ridicules her over-large front teeth. Was there any need? She is a insecure, teenage girl. He is a grown adult. I also have to emphasise, that Hermione only ever treated Snape with respect, both behind his back and to his face, and she showed enthusiasm for his subject, which he should have encouraged.
- His treatment of Neville was unacceptable. For me, this is the worst. I can never ever forgive this. Neville has had an awful life, his parents were tortured by Voldemort’s supporters into insanity (which obviously greatly impacted his life; we see this in GoF when Fake!Moody shows him crucio and in OotP when he visits his parents), he obviously suffered from extremely low self esteem (seen all the way through the books) and he seemed very lonely. Snape should have sympathised with Neville, but he didn’t. He made the whole situation worse. JKR also says as a teacher, the “worst, shabbiest thing you can do” is to bully children.
- His behaviour to Remus was also horrible. He blames Remus for being part of the prank which was played on him at school. This is bigoted and based on his bitterness. He should know that Remus was not part of the trick because he would not be in his right mind in werewolf form. As an adult, Snape purposefully let it slip that Remus was a werewolf, full well knowing that it would mean he would lose his job and he would find it hard to find work again.He was also willing to allow Remus to go to Azkaban or suffer a dementor’s kiss because of his bitterness. He won’t even listen to Remus’ side of the story. Remus hasn’t even done anything to Snape. As we see in OotP, Remus simply stands at the sidelines without doing anything to Snape. I’m not saying this is ideal, because it’s not, but it’s much better than Snape’s actions; Snape who, at the same age, tried to excuse Mulciber’s use of Dark Magic (like I said before).
- His treatment of Sirius. Now, I know that Sirius didn’t help things in OoTP, but in POA, Snape is willing to let Sirius die because of his school boy grudge. You could say “oh, Sirius bullied Snape” but the fact remains he was willing to let someone have their soul sucked out. Again, he wouldn’t listen to Sirius’ side of the story, and the only reason was because of their old rivalry.
- Lastly, he does not value human life. I’ve already touched on this, but the fact he was willing to let James, Harry, Sirius and Remus die because of a grudge, shows he is not a role model. Of course, people always bring up the “pig brought up for slaughter” quote to contradict this, but Snape says immediately after this that it’s only because of Lily that he cares. Again, that links into point 1 and 2. If Harry had been Neville or an unknown face, Snape would not have minded a child dying. I also want to emphasise that James Potter didn’t want Snape to die when he was 16.
In response to your points:
We see the story from Harry’s perspective. Well yeah, we do. But I judge Snape on his actions, not just from Harry’s thoughts.
If Snape, Lily and James had lived, they all would have become friends and forgiven each other. Unlikely. Snape was unwilling to forgive Harry for simply being James’ child and for looking like James, so he certainly would not have wanted to forgive James. Snape was unwillinging to forgive Remus, who treated him with respect in their adult years. Would Lily and James forgiven Snape? I honestly can’t say. Yes, Harry probably wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for Snape, but would the Potter’s forgive Snape’s treatment of Harry, Remus, Sirius and a lot of other people? James would probably punch Severus in the jaw for only changing sides because he fancied his wife. Lily would probably hex Snape for treating her son, her best friends and her son’s best friends so badly.
Circumstances really shaped his life. Like i would be a mess if my best friend (who I was secretly in love with) died and her son looked like my rival. Yes, circumstances really changed his life. But I felt, through my whole time of being a HP fan, that the message of the books is that we have a choice. We have a choice to do good, to be better and to be brave. Yes, it was brave of Snape to change sides, but it would have been braver (and harder) to be kind to people. The way he treats people his whole life reveals his character, because those are the choices he makes.
"You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!"
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities"
Snape deserves forgiveness for being human. Perhaps, I just feel like he doesn’t truly deserve forgiveness. He only showed remorse for getting Lily killed, so he changed sides. (Again, because of Lily, not moral obligations!) He changed sides, but he did not change his character. I don’t feel like he deserves forgiveness for traumatising students, devaluing lives and being a bully into his adult years because he never showed remorse for these things.
This is just my take on Snape’s character. Thanks for asking me. (Yeah, I would never have named my child after him if I was Harry.)
Also some more links on Snape’s character: here, here and here which bring up the same stuff (probably better than me).
Rowling sums it up better than me. "Snape is vindictive, he’s cruel. He’s not a big man. But he loves. I like him, but I’d also like to slap him hard." This is me, I think he is sadistic/cruel, he is not a role model, but I admire certain aspects of him. If I met him, I think I would slap him.