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nott theodore

Severus Snape

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I feel like I'm maybe doing something risky here, but if there's one character we all have a strong opinion on from the books, I think it's Snape.  So I want to know what everyone thinks of him, with some potentially controversial questions :P

 

Did Snape really love Lily?

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

Was Snape actually a good guy?

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Oh Sian...  :o You really shouldn't have...

 

Did Snape really love Lily?

 

Well, it's a fine line between love and obsession isn't it? I went back and forth on this (which may be surprising given everything I'm probably about to say), but I still came down on no. For me, I think what makes the dividing line in his case is that genuine love involves not just caring about someone, but to a certain extent, caring about what they care about and making choices accordingly. Snape didn't. He focused on dark magic even though it was abhorrent to Lily. He continually associated with people who wanted to murder people like Lily (and probably Lily herself). And even after Hogwarts, he cared nothing about saving James or Harry from Voldemort despite the fact that they were the two most important people in her lives at that time and particularly with Harry, her child. Even after their deaths, he couldn't treat Harry with even human decency, let alone respect. The fact that was instrumental in defeating Voldemort doesn't change that for me. I think Snape was more obsessed with Lily as his first friend and perhaps the only one that didn't judge him or abuse him like others and then following on from that, with the idea of her.

 

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

 

Of course he had a choice. With Snape you don't even have to get to the argument that it was some sort of false choice between what was right and dying. It was a life he wanted and continued to want, until the moment it conflicted with his obsession with Lily. The Dark Mark, which we know isn't actually given to just anyone, is further evidence that he was in deep and very pleased to be so at that point.

 

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

 

Well, the results were good right? The Order won, he saved some lives, and he was instrumental in that happening. Does it redeem him though? I don't think so, primarily because despite that work, I don't think Snape ever actually changed. He did what he felt he had to do to be faithful to Lily and then Lily's memory in his deal with Dumbledore. Nothing more.

 

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

 

Absolutely not. Harry was a little jerk at times, but his relationship with Snape (caused by Snape's actions) provoked a lot of that. Snape basically hated Harry because he was he old rival's son. He humiliated him in front of an entire classroom because he wanted revenge for the humiliation he suffered at the hands of James. Not even the fact that he was also Lily's son changed that.

 

Was Snape actually a good guy?

 

People can hate me for saying this, but I don't think Snape was a good guy. Even aside from all the foregoing, I think Snape was an opportunist. He masterfully manipulated both sides in the Second Wizarding War such that he was in a position to reap rewards no matter who prevailed in the conflict. He was a classic double-agent and again, just because his actions ended with a good result doesn't mean he deserves to be treated as a hero or even a good man. I was (and remain) genuinely disgusted that Harry made Severus Albus's middle name.

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*cracks knuckles* Being that my husband says that all I do is see the good in people, I will shine the light of goodness on this subject!

 

 

Did Snape really love Lily?

 

Yes. I believe he did. I think that at a young age, he met this girl who was nice to him and he bonded with. I also think that at a young age, he grew to like the dark arts. Lily confused his dark world by being a light and despite her being a Muggleborn, he simply couldn't wrap his head around why she didn't like it- why she didn't fit inside this other world. Because he had met her so young, she was an anomaly and his love for her and his love for the Dark Arts warred with each other. I think this is why he never told her how he felt- that and James was unabashedly after her, so he would have kept comparing himself, probably putting himself down. When push came to frustrated shove and she had to come to his defense, bringing to light that he couldn't even fight his own battles, he made the biggest mistake of his life and lost her. Now one love hated him, but the other was still there, waiting for him. He took solace where he felt safe. Maybe after he had calmed down and matured a bit, he could have made amends with her, but then she was married, had a family, and was killed all by the time she was 21. He spent the rest of his life haunted by 'what ifs.' I think that if he hadn't loved her, he would have simply let the world of the dark arts consume him rather than shun what had killed her.

 

 

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

 

Of course he had a choice. Maybe he thought it was the only way at the time, but no one forces you to become a Death Eater. Like I said above, he simply turned away from the pain and let his other love envelope him.

 

 

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

 

I'm not sure on this. I would like to say that yes, it did. He kept the Death Eaters from being too big of jerks by being Headmaster, he fed as much info as was possible to Dumbledore without getting caught, and he continually lied to Voldemort about the Elder Wand so that he was not truly it's master. But... I think he is only redeemed if he feels he was (regardless of our own opinions) and I think only Lily could do that after death.

 

 

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

Yes and no. Yes because it served as justification to keep up his cover for the Death Eaters. He taught many children that belonged to Death Eater families and if any one of them saw or caught wind that Snape was being nice to or in any way giving special treatment to Harry, then the moment Voldemort returned, he would have been killed as a traitor. No because even though some of it was for cover, the majority of it was simply because Harry was a constant reminder of both James and Lily. He looked just like James, so he hated him, and every time he looked into his eyes, he felt the guilt for what he had done to Lily and his part in her death, so he hated him even more.

 

 

Was Snape actually a good guy?

I think he was. Or at least, I think he wanted to be. It’s easy to see the side of the ‘good guy’ and see where he comes from and why he stands for what he stands for because we like the good guy and we want to see him succeed. It’s hard to see the point of view of a ‘monster’ and perceive why he thought he was doing good when it was so obviously evil to the rest of us. I think Snape had the benefit of seeing both sides. He worked for a monster and in turn became one, his young mind blindly following an ideal he thought would better the world. Then the monster turned on him and he saw him for what he was and what he himself had become and he realized he was wrong. It was too late to change what had happened, but maybe he could change the future.

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Wow. Heavy stuff. Here we go...

 

Did Snape really love Lily?

 

I think he truly believed that he did, but I'm not sure Snape really understood what love is. In the end, Lily was more of an ideal to him than a person. She was his refuge from a horrible childhood. She saw the good in him, even as he sank deeper and deeper into the bad. He imagined that someday she would love him, and that helped him cope with the feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing that were probably ingrained in him by his abusive father. But like Kevin said, in spite of all of the good things that Lily did for him, Snape continued to embrace people and ideals that devalued her very existence. That's not how you treat someone you love.

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

 

He definitely had a choice. Voldemort selected only the most committed to join his inner circle. There were plenty of Slytherins who didn't choose to become Death Eaters.

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

 

It depends very much on what you assume that his motivation was. In the memory he shared with Harry, he made it pretty clear to Dumbledore that he didn't really care about Harry. He tried to protect Harry because of the extreme guilt that he felt over Lily's death. And he worked to bring down the Dark Lord because he wanted revenge for losing Lily. The fact that one feels guilty doesn't absolve them of responsibility for their actions, and vengeance is not really an admirable motivation.

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

 

Of course not. Aside from his appearance and his flying skills, JKR made it pretty clear that Harry had more in common with his mother than his father. But Snape could never see past the fact that Harry looked like James. He was unwilling to let go of his petty grudges. He was a grown man with the morality of a 12-year-old.

Was Snape actually a good guy?

 

I can't convince myself that he was. A good guy wouldn't have compromised the educations of a generation of students just to act on house rivalries left over from his teenage years. A good guy wouldn't have taken out his anger on an orphan who couldn't even remember his own father, let alone emulate him. A good guy wouldn't have made the choices Snape made prior to Lily's murder.

 

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Did Snape really love Lily? I don't have any doubts as to if he loved her or not. He absolutely did love her, in his way. Was it a healthy kind of love, maybe at first. But ultimately it wasn't. It was an obsessive love, but still love. If he didn't love her he wouldn't have spent his entire adult life playing spy for The Order and ultimately giving his life for the cause. He definitely loved her, but not in a way Lily wanted or needed to be loved.

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him? Everyone has a choice, but I feel he made the choice to join them because he felt he had no other option. The only person he truly cared for ran off with his bitter rival. Not to mention, he screwed up his relationship with Lily beyond repair. He probably felt alone and completely worthless. And if we know anything about Voldemort, we know how cunning and persuasive he could be. He knew how Snape felt for Lily, and I'm sure he used that to convince Snape to join him. Yes he had a choice, but it was the wrong one.

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him? I think it did. It doesn't excuse the bullying of minors, that was just immature and petty on his part, but he worked his adult life to help save the lives of wizard kind by being a spy for The Order. He could have been killed at any moment, yet he still did it. I think that redeems the short amount of time he was a Death Eater. I mean, he was working for Dumbledore longer than he had worked for Voldemort.

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did? Not at all. But I can understand it. I'm the same age that Snape was during PS/SS, and to tell you the truth, if I was a teacher, and the kid of my biggest bully was in my class, I'd have a difficult time treating him/her fairly. But I am one to hold onto grudges for a long, long time. Is it right, no. But I get it.

Was Snape actually a good guy? Overall, I would say yes. Was he a nice man? No. Was he fair? Definitely not. He had his flaws, but he wasn't a bad person. He was a bitter 30 something who had an extremely difficult life. It doesn't excuse most of his actions, but he was only human and no human is perfect. You can be a jerk and still deep down be a good person.

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Did Snape really love Lily?

 

I'm going to go with CambAngst on this one and say that I think he thought he did, but it's definitely not a healthy kind of love, and I don't know if I would call it love over obsession, personally. His whole relationship with her seemed very possessive and jealous from the beginning, and I don't think a relationship where one of the parties is that obsessive over the other can ever be healthy or really even be quite 'love' rather than 'want'. He didn't really, as others have said, have much interest or care about her opinions and wants and didn't really treat her like you treat someone you love. But he definitely believed it, and perhaps that makes a difference, in that he simply didn't quite know what love looked like, because of his upbringing.

 

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

 

Yes. I'm a great believer in the realities of duress, but I don't think Snape can be really said to be under duress. Pressure, yes, but lots of Slytherins didn't become Inner Circle Death Eaters, so it would have been possible for him to avoid it, to pay lip service but not actually be part of it. He and his friends were talking about joining in fifth year, so while there might have been some element of indoctrination, with the people he hung around with being so involved in it and so admiring of the group, I don't think that really stops him from having a choice.

 

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

 

No. For me, his work for the Order and his death are incredibly brave things, and they highlight the qualities and the strengths that he had, and in that kind of sense I would respect him - but I can't say they redeem him. Grudgingly doing something, not because you believe it's the right thing to do but because of guilt at your own actions and what they caused, doesn't redeem someone. He didn't believe or realise that what he'd done, the group he'd joined was wrong as such, he wanted vengeance and to atone for his guilt. That, for me, makes a huge difference.

 

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

 

I don't think there are really ever any reasons which can justify bullying a child as a grown man, frankly. Being bullied is horrible, and yes, the girl you loved marrying the boy who bullied you is not a nice story, but that's not Harry's fault. Regardless of which of his parents Harry looked like or was more actually like, he wasn't his parents and Snape's petty, bitter personal issues should never have involved Harry. It's childish and pathetic and incredibly wrong.

 

Was Snape actually a good guy?

 

No. I think he may even have viewed himself as a good guy - as the victim, in his relationships with James and Sirius, and even Harry and Lily - but I don't think he was. He was undoubtedly brave and daring, clever and patient to put up with what he had to do and what he needed to do, really, but that doesn't outweigh the other things he did - how he treated Harry and Neville, the lifelong obsessions with his memories of Lily and with somehow attempting to better or beat James and Sirius, in a way. He has explanations for his behaviour in his awful, awful childhood and the scars that kind of thing leaves, and he did some incredible things in the service of the 'right' side, but I don't think that can make him good.

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About time that I replied to this, I think :P although a lot of you seem to think along the same lines as me!

 

Did Snape really love Lily?

I have a really hard time saying that Snape actually loved Lily.  I think that he believed he loved Lily, and that's the reason that he did the things he did.  I think that his love was more of an obsession, but he believed that it was love because he'd never really had any experience of love at home to understand it.  Lily was the first real friend he had (I would argue the only true friend he had, too, as the rest of them would all have betrayed him for Voldemort) and it's easy to see why he'd feel that way about her.  He lost her friendship through his own actions, and I think if he'd really loved her then he wouldn't have joined a group that went against her existence.  But then again, perhaps he only realised how much he "loved" her when he was on the brink of truly losing her, and that's what triggered his later actions.

 

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

I think someone always has a choice what to do in this sort of situation; you have a choice to do what's right or what's wrong, and Snape chose to do the wrong thing.  He could easily have chosen not to join the Death Eaters without fighting against them, but he didn't.  I can understand his fascination with the Dark Arts - they were a way he could gain power when he'd had none as a child - but I don't think that his appreciation of them ever really changed when he was older, except that he came to connect them more with Lily's death and was perhaps less likely to use them, although he didn't seem to have a problem with it when he was using dark magic later on.

 

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

This is an argument that I've had so many times with friends :P There are so many people that repeat the line "Always" as if that automatically makes Snape a hero, but I really struggle to believe that.  I think he was incredibly brave to do what he did, and risk everything to try and protect Lily's son because he'd failed to protect her, and I think that was partly his way of redeeming himself, both in his own eyes and in Lily's.  But we don't know the full extent of what he did as a Death Eater, particularly before the war; we don't know how many people he killed and how many families he destroyed, and I really struggle to think that helping to put a stop to Voldemort's regime eventually redeemed him from contributing to it.

 

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

I've actually never thought of WindingArrow's point before, that Snape treating Harry the way that he did helped maintain his cover so that he could return to his position as a double agent when Voldemort returned, and I think that's a really interesting way of looking at it.  I get Meg's point as well, that some people would find it incredibly difficult to teach someone who looked exactly like their biggest school bully.  Even so, I think it was incredibly unfair and neglectful for a teacher to use their position to bully a child who hasn't done anything at all to deserve it, based entirely on who their parents were.  He could just as easily have ignored Harry completely, rather like he did with Hermione, rather than pick on him all the time and make his life a misery.

 

Was Snape actually a good guy?

I don't think that Snape was a good guy, all in all.  I don't think he was entirely bad, either.  And I'm not actually sure if he really cared whether or not he was seen as the good guy or the bad guy in the end, because it certainly didn't seem to govern his actions.  It does frustrate me that Harry named his son after him, too, because I don't think Snape's actions fully redeemed him or made him a worthy namesake.  But I think Snape is very much the grey in between the black and white juxtaposition of good and evil.

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Oh goodness!

 

Did Snape really love Lily?

 

Personally, I don't think so. I don't care how much you claim to 'love' someone, you don't truly love that person unless you want them to be happy. I have gone through my fair share of friend-breakups and even though they may have done terrible things, I hope that they are happy. The problem with Snape was that it seemed as though he didn't actually care if Lily was happy because he thought she could only really be happy with him. And I don't think that's love, I think it's obsession.

 

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

 

Everyone has choices, as did Snape. His choice to join the Death Eaters is a little different than most however. He didn't have a family, his only friends were Death Eaters. I feel that although he had a choice, he almost didn't. Perhaps the Death Eaters would've killed him if he hadn't joined, but how can we know for certain? I think he did have a choice, but it was a lose-lose situation: become a Death Eater or lead a life in hiding, a lonely life.

 

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

 

Absolutely not. That's like wondering if just because I put the apple pieces I just cut apart back together with super glue if the apple is whole again. He can never redeem what he did, because of his work as a Death Eater for how many years? I'm almost sure that before he became 'reformed', Snape would've been just as bad as some of the other Death Eaters, torturing and killing innocent muggles, because that was his life.

 

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

 

Absolutely not. Snape's problem was with James, not Harry. His bullying of Harry is inappropriate for a man of his age, let alone a teacher. He was the older man in this situation but acted even more immature than an eleven year old.

 

Was Snape actually a good guy?

 

Two words: Neville Longbottom. If you are a teacher and one of your thirteen year old student's biggest fear is you? You are an awful person and deserve to get yelled at by Moaning Myrtle every day of your life. I know there's a theory that Snape hated Neville because Neville was the other boy that could've fulfilled the prophecy but there is still no reason for that kind of behaviour. I would also like to point out that Snape bullied other children as well and favoured Slytherin house openly, something that is inappropriate for a professor to do.

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Did Snape really love Lily?

Of course, he did :) Unrequited love doesn't mean that the emotion is not real. I feel for both Snape and Lily. They had such a bond and a solid friendship but the time in which they grew up together was against them. 

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

Yes, he had a choice. I don't think he was forced to be a DE. But I do think he felt it was the place he was most accepted. 

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

I feel as if it did. I don't think it changes the kind of man that he was but he didn't have to place himself in mortal danger for a boy who he had a major grudge against. Right up to his death he helped Harry.

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

Justified? No. I think we saw a flaw in Snape. Even as a man, he hadn't gotten over the torment from James and given Harry looked exactly like his father but with his mother's eyes, it tormented him again and he took that out on Harry. However, I think if Harry felt that Snape's treatment of him was so bad and unforgivable, why name his son after him? I don't think Snape was justified but could be forgiven.

Was Snape actually a good guy?

I think he wanted to be. I think he wanted to be what he needed to be for Lily. I think he was extremely conflicted and had no middle ground. He wasn't part of Lily's world, but not completely in the DE world. As much as he wanted to save Lily, he didn't have to go to Dumbledore, he did not have to help protect Harry - but he did. I think if you took the danger away, Lily may have chosen Snape. Even if she didn't, and still fell in love with James, Snape would be a part of her life regardless of what James thought. 

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How did I manage to miss this topic until now? 

Did Snape really love Lily?

Yes - he did love her - she was his first friend, first and possibly the only person who was gentle towards him. What's there not to love? Was Snape in love with Lily - NO! He like any child from abusive, loveless home latched onto her. He saw in her everything he was denied and confused general friendly fondness with true and meaningful love - or rather being in love.  He became obsessed with her so much so that he never even stopped to see if she is deserved of such blind devotion. Question is: was Lily deserved to be loved by Snape? We all know that she hated the dark arts - Snape's mother was Slytherin, she thought him all the curses she knew, and you have to admit exploring the dark side is tempting  - but!, exploring and using dark arts are two different things. Are all DADA teachers dark? They had to know and even learn Dark Arts in order to defend themselves and to be able to create dark spells. Lily didn't like his friends... fine, so what is the solution for him? Isolate from his housemates? Be a friend to Gryffindors who bully him? She demands, but do not provides ample solution for her demand. I can understand her, but I can understand him as well. And his obsession prevented him to truly look at her She was and she remained the ideal for him.  

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

He did, there is always a choice. He was after all Slytherin - he got the opportunity and took it. His mother was disowned, disgraced! His father was a muggle. In reality, he had no connections, not much prospect for the future. And he did, like anyone else in his situation would, wanted to rise above poverty and anonymity. With good reason - he was extremely talented after all. I think that joining DE gave him chance to create those connections and he took it.

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

Redeem for what? At any rate, I don't think so. But again, I believe that Snape was more about revenge than redemption. Nothing he did could redeem him in his own eyes, and in the end, it is the only redemption he needed. As for the others - well Harry thought so. I, as a reader, don't feel compelled to see him redeemed. Why? For joining DE, everyone has right to make a mistake and pay the price. For telling the prophecy? It could easily be Neville, not Harry - for that, I blame Voldemort, not Snape. If nothing - he deflected, he tried to save her, he begged Dark Lord to spare her.  As much as he failed so did Dumbledore and Sirius...and no one asks for their redemption. 

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

Uh, tricky one.

No, Harry was just a child so not his fault.

Yes, Harry was the son of the woman he loved and who abandon him and his worst enemy.

In "Prince's tale" we learn that after Lily's death he wanted to die - Albus gave him choice to live and destroy dark lord by protecting Lily's child. So he lives a miserable life because the child lived. Immature but also true. Lily died to protect Harry - he didn't even then care for the child of his enemy, so why suddenly start now.  And as the time gone by, Harry did prove to be as much his father's son as he was Lily's - even when Hermione would point out that Snape helped them he wasn't willing to accept. Snape shouldn't take out his frustrations on Harry with such satisfaction, but he did have to keep the pretences (even if that is a moot point, same could be said and it would be more useful to Dark Lord if he actually befriended Harry).  

Was Snape actually a good guy?

Does he need to be? I don't think he is neither good nor bad guy. He is what he is - neutral at best. All he did he did for himself - good and bad. But to do good things he doesn't need to be good, just to do the right thing.  He is an anti-hero and that is rather good description of him. 

 

And now I'm running for cover, before you start throwing stones at me :D

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Did Snape really love Lily?

Yes.

Did he have a choice about joining the Death Eaters, or was it the only way for him?

This is something the books simply did not address. Whilst everyone has a choice (in a literal sense), Slytherin House was poorly characterised; we don't know what the atmosphere was like in the Common Room and we don't know what proportion of his house-mates were recruited. I think that if Regulus Black could find himself wound up with them, then Severus would've needed to be exceptionally resistant to peer pressure (for a teenager) to have refused.

Did his work for the Order and the manner of his death redeem him?

Yes on the first, no on the second. His work for the Order was crucial in saving countless lives and destroying an abomination. His death was what it was; he did not willingly sacrificed himself but, then again, he did not need to. I'm not really a fan of the "Redemption Equals Death" trope. No matter what bad things you've done, you can almost always do more practical good things to redeem yourself whilst alive rather than dead (then again, I tend to be quite forgiving).

Was he justified in treating Harry the way he did?

No. His treatment of Harry was petty, vindictive and misdirected. I don't believe it was a ruse, either, since Voldemort is unlikely to question why Snape doesn't bully a pupil whilst he's operating as a spy.

Was Snape actually a good guy?

Yes. He was a loyal soldier in the fight against evil.

Edited by Simplicius
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