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Students & Teachers in HP

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Please note that this topic is about PLATONIC teacher/student relationships ONLY. Thank you! 

Has anyone else become morbidly obsessed with a fan of the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text over the past year? No? Just me? (It's amaaaaaaazing - and I am not usually a podcast person. :twothumbsup: )

I was just re-listening (I told you I was obsessed) to the episode about CoS chapter 7, where Draco calls Hermione a mudblood, and then the trio retreats to Hagrid's. Hagrid is very kind to Hermione in that scene, and it made me think about how, in PoA, Hermione is initially the only one of the trio who is really there for Hagrid during the allegations against Buckbeak. I think that if the stories were told from Hermione's point of view, Hagrid would actually have an even greater presence in the books than he does in Harry's experience. He doesn't just support Hermione - she supports him, too. They have a very caring and genuine teacher-student relationship, and I had never really thought about it before.

Teacher-student relationships in HP don't seem to get a lot of attention in the fandom (with the exception of Snape's loathing for Harry), even though some very important characters fall into this category.

For example, I would love to know more about the relationship between McGonagall and Neville. In the scene where she does career advising with him in OoP, she is clearly very supportive, and able to see strengths in him that most people don't notice. On the other hand, she can be dismissive of him and find him embarrassing. The relationship between Snape and Draco is also fascinating, in both similar and different ways. And then there are some we don't know anything about at all. Who was Luna's favorite professor? Or Oliver's?

Is anyone else interested in this? (As a teacher, I may well be biased :P)

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Ahh, this is such an interesting topic! 

I wanted to say, immediately, that I don't really think that you could compare Draco and Snape's relationship with anyone else's. I mean, Snape literally made an Unbreakable Vow with Draco's mother--their shared past and their common situation indicates that their relationship is a little different from other student-teacher relationships. 

I definitely agree with you in that I wish these sorts of relationships would be considered more often in fandom. The character that I'd want to explore the most would be McGonagall's relationship to her students. I hadn't really thought of Neville until you mentioned it, but as I started thinking about it, I'm a little conflicted about how McGonagall feels. See, I'm assuming that she knows Neville's parents and thus feels some pity for him--but because she knows his parents, she must therefore have high expectations of him. McGonagall is, after all, the sort of professor to demand excellence from all her students, to not coddle them, but to help them be the best they can be. So I think you're right--she's supportive, but can also get embarrassed and maybe disappointed a little in Neville. I think that in the end, she acts as a sort of mentor to Neville, but perhaps indirectly? In like a tough love kind of way? 

You mentioned Hagrid, and the more I think about it, I realize that I never really considered him as one of Harry's professors primarily, but rather as one of his friends, and I think that's something that's common in a lot of Harry's, and I'm sure other students', relationships with their teachers--they often evolve beyond just a student-teacher relationship, into mentorship and mutual friendship. I think this is definitely shown in Harry and McGonagall's relationship.

This is something that I wish was explored more with other characters--referencing back to Neville, I'd love to read a fic about his relationship with Professor Sprout! 

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Yes, I definitely agree with you that that is interesting. Now that I think of it, I subbed once in a boarding school and there were clearly closer relationships between teachers and students than would be in an ordinary school. I was only there a week but if another teacher came into my classroom to give a message, students would greet them in a friendly, rather than formal manner and there was occasional joking, like one day a first year class (think Hogwarts 2nd years) were being really annoying and one of the teachers was joking with one of the older kids about how "your brother was driving me crazy today." And most of the teachers there didn't even live in the school - there were three or four who did. Add in the fact that the wizarding world is pretty tiny and we know a lot of the teachers know family members of students (Remus being friends with Harry's father, Snape fancying Harry's mother and attending school with both his parents, Snape's conflicted relationship with the Malfoys, Neville's grandmother and McGonagall) and you have a really interesting mix. The teachers aren't just teachers but also almost parental or at least aunt/uncle/grandparent/older sibling figures.

 

You should definitely create a challenge about this. I would probably write a story for it if you did. I have actually planned teacher-student relationships to play a big part in year 6 of my next gen series, but since I'm stuck at the beginning of year 3, whether or not I'll ever even write that is questionable. And a lot of the characters are OCs anyway. 

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Honestly I love the professors so much!! I wrote a fic about McGonagall and Harry's relationship (a very platonic one of course) - and it just gave me the chance to explore so many headcanons. What I love about fanfics is when they don't bash teachers and look at them doing their job. Take Minerva: strict, yet fair, doesn't cross a line where they become altogether extremely friendly...but everyone respects her. I'm not too familiar with the books these days (it's probably been 8 years since I read them) but I bet even the slytherins respected McGonagall. Like one of my favourite parts of the entire series was when Minerva promised to train Harry so that he'd become an auror, day and night if she had to...and I think in OotP she actually did?! She didn't say that out of her dislike for Umbridge....she said it because she was such a dedicated teacher and I think she knew that Harry didn't have a lot of people left? Like he only really had Sirius and Remus, and he didn't /see/ them. He had no female role model, no mother figure - so while McGonagall didn't want to mother him, she kind of took that guidance upon herself. 

^that's one of many scenes between Harry and McGonagall that I could talk about (the snape and mcgonagall fight scene, the 'would you like a biscuit ' scene, and so many quidditch based scenes)

I also think that relationship would've gone two ways. Like as McGonagall got older, if she ever needed any help once she retired and was no longer independent, Harry would definitely help Minerva. She'd refuse to move in with him and Ginny, but he'd visit her house every other day to see how she was. 

 

Another platonic relationship I like is the idea that Snape is generally protective of his slytherins in his own...snape-ish way. He's never been one to love or care for people openly, but I imagine as head of a slytherin house he'd have to actually help his snakes. There was a fanfic I read once where Hermione (yes it was snamione however did u guess ahaha) asked Snape if there'd ever been any muggleborns in slytherin while he was head of house- and he said no, but being a half blood himself he'd explain things to any first year half bloods. Whether they chose to hide it or not and that he would help. It was done in such an in character way, like he wasn't warm or charming but it worked!! I imagine that he'd be really insightful with the older students, career meetings and grade discussions. But in that way that's so Snape, like I don't really care either way - but you should care so here's a sly suggestion but if you don't follow it I'll continue to go about my business. 

 

This opened up so much for me because I hold the Hogwarts Professors very close to my heart <3 

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When it comes to Snape, I think you have to remember the layers and complexity of his character. He didn't favour Draco just because he was a Slytherin or because of the vow. Snape was a double spy. Every move/counter move Snape made had a reason. Now when it comes to the Vow, Snape had no hesitation. Not because he was loyal to these people or close in any way, but because he had already promised to kill Dumbledore to Dumbledore - We just hadn't learned this yet. However, during the Prince's Tale  when the memories unfold, Snape uses dry humour to mask the request, but then this:

Quote

'If you don't mind dying,' said Snape roughly, 'why not let Draco do it?'

'That boy's soul is not yet so damaged,' said Dumbledore. 'I would not have it ripped apart on my account.'

'And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?' (DH P558, Sep 2014 edition)

 

Snape can only speak this way with Dumbledore. He cannot speak this way in front of any of Voldemort's followers. So by the time the vow happens, he had already sealed his fate. Making this vow was easy for him. Snape's relationship with Draco would also be one of complexity. He's bound by duty to care for him as a student, but he also must keep up appearances. Favouring Draco keeps up the pretence that Snape is still on the Dark Lord's side because Draco would report everything back to his parents. I would rather explore Snape's character if Voldemort had truly died the night he attacked Harry. With no more threats looming over their heads would he then get Defence Against the Dark Arts in his own right? Would he still favour Draco or in other students who showed more potential? Would he be at Hogwarts at all??

I do love/hate Dumbledore's relationship with Harry. Dumbledore plays mentor, father figure, idol to Harry, but I hate that Dumbledore also treats Harry as a pawn in the "big" game and doesn't tell Harry things directly. It's like he's trying to protect Harry and use him at the same time. 

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@Elena  I don't know but the fact that Snape asked that of Albus is not confirmation nor denial of his relationship with Malfoy's and Draco. He could have easily asked that question because that would help Malfoy's. Draco was set to a failure from the start with that task - so why not let the boy complete the task?

On the general note, yes Snape with his Slytherins. Minerva and Gryffindors. Hermione with other teachers. That would be interesting to see :)

Edited by SnapeLove
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^ I'm inclined to agree with that. I feel like there's sometimes a tendency to see Snape as an unfailingly deliberate person, and it's not an interpretation that I tend to buy. He fell in with Voldemort in the first place for a reason, and it's clear to me that his helping Dumbledore was as much about revenge as true reformation, and I feel like he can be working to take down Voldemort and genuinely favor Slytherins (esp before they start getting murdery) and genuinely dislike Harry.

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15 hours ago, SnapeLove said:

Draco was set to a failure from the start with that task - so why not let the boy complete the task?

1

For the reasons before Snape's question above?? The point was to save Draco.

Also, I never said this conversation is the sole reason why Snape doesn't favour or feel close to certain people - what I'm saying is Snape calculates everything. By being a double spy, he's essentially defying Voldemort, thus the Malfoy's. If Lucius had any idea what Snape was really up to, I dare say his life would have been taken much earlier. Although a double spy, Snape never gave all information away to Voldemort - only enough to keep up his appearance. Harry throws this in Voldy's face too, in the final duel. 

@abhorsen. - I agree with you, that he could be working to take down Voldemort while genuinely favouring Slytherins, and hating Harry. What I am saying is none of these things are reasons or motivations why he did things, like take the vow. He couldn't allow himself to step into a hole if it didn't serve the right purpose. But because he had already agreed to kill DD - taking the vow was easy for him and kept Bella from doubting him. As I said above - Snape's character is more complex.

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@Elena I agree that he has to calculate everything. And I strongly agree with @adhosen. Snape is more about revenge than about repentance. He feels guilty but that is personal, very intimate feeling. But that only gives another dimension to the whole - if Snape seeks revenge...Dark Lord is the one that Killed Lily, but!, Dumbledore failed to save her life as well. Dumbledore is a useful tool in that revenge against Voldemort, the question is -is Snape truly loyal and devoted to Dumbledore?  In books, we have hints that Lucius and Snape were friends: Umbridge mentions that Lucius speaks highly of Snape, Draco shows plenty of liberty in talking to him privately, after Lucius end up in jail Snape was always kind to Malfoys, Narcissa came to beg her husbands oldest friend. If Snape didn't know that Voldemort will return and if he wasn't truly friend with Malfoys - then why staying friends with them at all? Malfoys are in disgrace, why not abandoning them then - it is the perfect opportunity. 

And even in a conversation between Snape and Cissa, we do not see his true reaction - Bellatrix is there, so the mask stays on.

The two of us, discussed on another thread that Snape can show emotions in certain moments...what of the moments when he can't show emotions? That calculative side omes handy there I think. My personal opinion is that Snape truly wanted to help Draco and the Malfoys with that question, he did not want to kill Dumbledore - but how much of that is devotion? He asks Albus "What about my soul" but he knows he killed already, his soul is already tainted, the question is rather pointless at that moment. I think that Snape dances his dance not only with Voldemort but with Albus as well. 

You know what I think about Snape's love for Lily...and I know that romanticizing Snape helps readers to connect with him. After all, if we take that out of the equation he is much less likeable, and we can't find excuses for him. For me, he is so much more human that way. Not very nice, calloused, even patty but loyal to those he holds close to his heart, vengeful and lost, emotionally very unadapted. 

@adhosen. I agree with you, he has not one single reason to like Harry. Any of readers placed in his shoes would act the same. Even if it is hard to face such ugly part of our human nature it is true. Harry is the son of the girl he loved and his enemy, his tormentor! The boy looks like his father and has almost genetical predisposition to dislike him. Harry is a constant reminder, the dagger into the heart that keeps twisting, he is the embodiment of all that Snape lost on more levels than one (losing Lily as a friend, losing Lily to James, losing Lily's life). Lily died to protect the boy,

Spoiler

we have numerous examples of father rejecting a child if the mother died in childbirth in our world - that is nothing new. 

 

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I think that the point you make re: the Malfoys is a good one, @SnapeLove. It would've been very easy for Snape to justify cutting off his relationship with the Malfoys even if Voldemort did come back - they did betray him, after all - and he certainly didn't seem to cultivate the same kind of relationship with other Death Eaters' kids that he did with Draco. Similarly, he didn't need to bully small children to the extent that he did to make himself believable as a spy. I guess that at the end of the day, I don't think it's possible for a human being to act completely independently of how they feel. Snape was a relatively complex character, but deep down, I think his character in the books can be pretty easily explained by him being a bigot and also obsessed with his childhood best friend, whose murder he was directly responsible for. He was an effective double agent, but I don't think he was playing three-dimensional chess.

I would argue, though, that not every reader put in Snape's shoes would behave that way. I think a lot of people wouldn't.

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12 minutes ago, abhorsen. said:

Similarly, he didn't need to bully small children to the extent that he did to make himself believable as a spy. I guess that at the end of the day, I don't think it's possible for a human being to act completely independently of how they feel. Snape was a relatively complex character, but deep down, I think his character in the books can be pretty easily explained by him being a bigot and also obsessed with his childhood best friend, whose murder he was directly responsible for. He was an effective double agent, but I don't think he was playing three-dimensional chess.

I would argue, though, that not every reader put in Snape's shoes would behave that way. I think a lot of people wouldn't.

 

Hmmm. I have an issue with Snape bully small children in general, we do not have that proof - he was extremely strict and he held no love for Gryffindor. But we never had heard any other students complain. He did pick on Harry and his friends and on Nevile. Ron says that he heard from Fred and George about him (but what potions/chemistry professor wouldn't be "nasty" with those two?) but Percy never said that he is nasty, Percy even freely approaches him and other professors. So it is a moot point. Do we know for sure or do we have only Weasley's and Harry's POV on that matter? 

Children tend to see the strict professor as a bully, so how much is really a bullying of students beside these we know he did bully, and how much is just projection? If he really just picked on certain individuals but not on student body in general...well then he is as bad as he is presented before the "prince's tale" chapter. 

I think that Snape is all about Snape - all his moves, good and bad, do benefit him one way or the other. It is hard to say what his game is. 

25 minutes ago, abhorsen. said:

I would argue, though, that not every reader put in Snape's shoes would behave that way. I think a lot of people wouldn't.

 

Maybe. However, I purposely excluded female population from my reply, but I do not want to argue about that here, I'm not discriminating just pointing out the difference in reactions due to a difference in the upbringing (blame it on my education - social studies, gender roles).  And please tell me if with this comment I overstepped my boundaries to edit my post and delete the last comment. 

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27 minutes ago, SnapeLove said:

Hmmm. I have an issue with Snape bully small children in general, we do not have that proof - he was extremely strict and he held no love for Gryffindor. But we never had heard any other students complain. He did pick on Harry and his friends and on Nevile. Ron says that he heard from Fred and George about him (but what potions/chemistry professor wouldn't be "nasty" with those two?) but Percy never said that he is nasty, Percy even freely approaches him and other professors. So it is a moot point. Do we know for sure or do we have only Weasley's and Harry's POV on that matter? 

Children tend to see the strict professor as a bully, so how much is really a bullying of students beside these we know he did bully, and how much is just projection? If he really just picked on certain individuals but not on student body in general...well then he is as bad as he is presented before the "prince's tale" chapter.

I mean, we do have proof, though - we see him bully multiple students in Harry's year as their professor. I don't think we need to see proof in other classes to say that his behavior was both bullying and entirely unacceptable. Off the top of my head, he:

  • Mocked a student on his first day at a new school by calling him their "new celebrity" and implying that he's stupid for not having memorized the textbook
  • Called an enthusiastic student an "insufferable know it all"
  • Called a student who struggled with his first potion an "idiot" and then took points away from another student for not noticing the mistake
  • Told a student who was struggling with an assignment that nothing penetrated his "thick skull" and then used his pet to test the potion he was struggling with, explicitly saying that the pet could be poisoned
  • Told another professor in front of an entire class that a student shouldn't be trusted to perform basic spells
  • Mocked a student who had been hexed by saying that he saw no difference when her teeth had gotten so big that they were down to her chin
  • Terrified a student whose parents were permanently incapacitated due to torture to the point that he was that student's biggest fear

That goes far beyond "strict" and "no love for Gryffindor," and we saw all of those things directly in canon. We don't need other students that Harry has minimal contact with using one of their few lines to badmouth Snape to identify behavior that we directly observe for what it is: bullying. It's also not like other students were singing Snape's praises - that some of them didn't explicitly badmouth him on the relatively rare occasions that they talked to Harry really doesn't prove anything.

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21 minutes ago, abhorsen. said:
  • Mocked a student on his first day at a new school by calling him their "new celebrity" and implying that he's stupid for not having memorized the textbook
  • Called an enthusiastic student an "insufferable know it all"
  • Called a student who struggled with his first potion an "idiot" and then took points away from another student for not noticing the mistake
  • Told a student who was struggling with an assignment that nothing penetrated his "thick skull" and then used his pet to test the potion he was struggling with, explicitly saying that the pet could be poisoned
  • Told another professor in front of an entire class that a student shouldn't be trusted to perform basic spells
  • Mocked a student who had been hexed by saying that he saw no difference when her teeth had gotten so big that they were down to her chin
  • Terrified a student whose parents were permanently incapacitated due to torture to the point that he was that student's biggest fear
 

Ummm, he did all those things - but... as I said we know he bullied Harry, Hermione, Ron and Neville (I won't argue with that, it is a fact)  - and all those things are done to them. 

  • Harry
  • Hermione
  • Neville
  • Ron
  • Neville
  • Hermione
  • Neville

There were more Gryffindors in Harry's class beside four of them. And don't forget, when he called Neville an "idiot" Neville was paired with Finnigan. But all he said to Finnigan was to take Nevill to the infirmary. And Nevill did melt down Finigan's cauldron - if he bullied all, why not throw in a blame on Finnigan as well, just for kicks? I had a professor who was bullying me on the faculty, but I wasn't the only one in my group and not the only one through years or in other groups (which would cover Fred and George Weasley, he did go "nasty" on them).

Can we just agree that we have a different point of view on certain events and that we do not see Snape exactly the same way? I can be a bulldog when it comes to the things I believe in, and tho I can be proved otherwise I need proof beyond a shadow of a doubt or at least quantification of data. I do not wish to cause problems, I am new here and people do not know me, I do enjoy a good debate - but from my previous experiences with HP community debate is rarely lead without stirring emotions and I want to avoid that.  

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Obsessed by Lily, yes. Bigot...hmmm...wrong word. I don't think he cared if anyone had different opinions. I think Snape himself became conflicted and partly because of his obsession with Lily. Regardless of his reasons, he chose a side the moment he went to Dumbledore. I also do not think Snape bullied kids so much that it created long-life issues. Even with Neville, given that he was scared of Snape, at least up to PoA in which he was helped to defeat that fear by the boggart scene - Neville also had confidence issues and part of his story arc was gaining confidence and becoming braver as the story goes on. But I do think a part, not all of it, a part of it was to keep up his appearance.

There is no denying Snape held a grudge against Harry, but Snape did have to make sure Voldemort believed that he was still on his side and not turning to Dumbledore's side. Part of that was showing his biases to his own house and disliking others and still proving himself to those still working to bring Voldemort back, like Lucius, Narcissa, Bella and other DEs. Even right up to when Snape takes the Vow, Bella still questioned him, even when Voldemort accepted all his answers. He's had to continue living life with a foot always in the Darkness, even if he wanted out - there was no out for him until Voldemort was no longer a threat and Harry was safe.

I think this is why Harry could forgive him and even name his son after him. Harry, or JKR, isn't saying that being a bully gets you named a hero or brave - But sometimes actions speak louder than words. That the ultimate sacrifice Snape made, regardless of his reasons, was worth forgiving him being a Professor that gave his students a hard time. That at any point, he could have chosen Voldemort's side, but never did. Snape put himself in danger so many times to protect Harry - sure, it may be because he was Lily's son - but Snape chose to do it through all the hate, anger, and grudges - he still did what was necessary to keep Harry safe. It doesn't excuse any of Snape’s behaviour, but when you make such a sacrifice, it can make other matters seem small, some even petty, in comparison.

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