Severus Snape

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Post  Mona on Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:25 am

legolas returns - Oct 11, 2008 9:18 am (#426 of 2988)  
Isnt it when Harry goes into Umbridges office and uses the fire to Speak to Sirius about Snapes memories



wynnleaf - Oct 11, 2008 9:45 am (#427 of 2988)  
Isn't it when Harry goes into Umbridges office and uses the fire to Speak to Sirius about Snapes memories (legolas)

That seems to be what many of us thought, but where is it?? A quote anyone?



rambkowalczyk - Oct 11, 2008 7:44 pm (#428 of 2988)  
OK, I concede. It isn't in Career advice. What is there is the quote Snape was a special case. I mean, he never lost an opportunity to curse James, so you couldn't really expect James to take that lying down, could you?

I did an internet search on the quote. I found one reference that stated it was Sirius in POA who said it. I found others that also seem to think it was in Career advice as well.

My goodness. Have we just discovered an Urban Legend?



Dryleaves - Oct 12, 2008 12:23 am (#429 of 2988)  
LOL! I have also been searching for this quote now without being able to find it! And I was absolutely sure that I had actually read it somewhere!  



Julia H. - Oct 12, 2008 1:22 am (#430 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 12, 2008 2:23 am
So shall we officially declare this "quote" an Urban Legend? (At least until someone proves its existence.) I wonder how and where it started.  

Again, will that change our view of the Severus--James rivalry?  OK, Snape never lost an opportunity to curse James and that is said with reference to the seventh year when James had stopped attacking others (apart from the "special case") and was already going out with Lily. But without this much quoted phrase, do we still have a reason to think that Snape actually gave as good as he got?



Dryleaves - Oct 12, 2008 4:21 am (#431 of 2988)  
Maybe this is a case for the series read-a-long?  



wynnleaf - Oct 12, 2008 12:33 pm (#432 of 2988)  
Dryleaves, I love the little Holmes!

As Julia suggests, I think this is important for all of us who were thinking that the Marauders were using the "gave as good as he got" explanation for why their actions weren't truly so harmful to Snape, or that he was just as active as they were in attacking them.

Yes, there is the comment about Snape never losing an opportunity to hex (or is it curse?) James, but that was used as an excuse for 7th year attacks by James.

By the way, I was in the library just yesterday browsing around the parenting sections and saw a book on bullying, which I picked up and scanned through, then checked out. Fortunately, I'm not having to deal with this with any of my kids right now, but I was thinking about Snape and wondering about what the "experts" might say. There have apparently been several very large studies on bullying in several countries and they tend to turn up the same kinds of information. I was fascinated to note that the author commented that the most vulnerable children to bullying are those who are already coming from neglected backgrounds, with parents that are not caring for them at home.



mona amon - Oct 12, 2008 7:20 pm (#433 of 2988)  
All the time I spent arguing about the grammar, logic, syntax and semantics of the phrase "gave as good as he got" and now you all tell me it doesn't exist!!!  



Julia H. - Oct 13, 2008 9:45 pm (#434 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 13, 2008 10:53 pm
Interesting point about the experts' opinion, Wynnleaf, about the connection between parental neglect and peer bullying. Since JKR is a teacher, it is probably not an accident that she also connected these two things in one character.

Some readers refuse to see Snape as a victim, and the "as good as he got" argument has often been cited. But now this "quote" seems to be a legend only. The bullying remains and also the fact that early experiences have a strong influence on a person's character and life. In fact, everything done or said has a consequence. This is true of Snape's actions but also of the actions of others.

Now I think if Snape did not in fact give as good as he got, at least not before the seventh year or not before he got really desperate, this might mean that for a long time he simply experienced being (regularly) bullied, attacked by other kids, without a teacher interfering. He also learned he could count on himself only and reacted accordingly. This could explain some aspects of his behaviour later, when he was a teacher: When Snape saw students fighting, his strong and biased reaction, perhaps especially when Slytherins and Gryffindors were involved (and especially when a Gryffindor named Potter, with black, untidy hair, was involved), may be a reaction to his teenage memories as well. Perhaps he saw himself again being bullied with nobody to help him, with nobody to stop the fight, and that made him stand up fiercely for any of his Slytherin kids who were being attacked and, more generally, this was the reason why he, as a teacher, was not going to tolerate fighting when he could help it.

I am not saying it was good that he let his own personal emotions influence his decisions when he was dealing with fighting students but I guess everyone is influenced to some extent by their own experiences. More fortunate people, of course, don't have such bad experiences or at least they have enough good experiences to counterbalance the bad ones and psychologically healthy adults may be mature enough to avoid being influenced so strongly by their own wounds and childhood frustration but Snape was not one of these adults. Snape had a lot of problems he had never learned to deal with properly so these problems remained "active" and strongly affected his life and his behaviour for many, many years.



Dryleaves - Oct 13, 2008 11:36 pm (#435 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 14, 2008 12:40 am
I was fascinated to note that the author commented that the most vulnerable children to bullying are those who are already coming from neglected backgrounds, with parents that are not caring for them at home. Wynnleaf

I recenty read a (very short) article about bullying that described the average bully. When I read this description my first thought was: James Potter!  

Perhaps he saw himself again being bullied with nobody to help him, with nobody to stop the fight, and that made him stand up fiercely for any of his Slytherin kids who were being attacked... Julia

I agree Snape's teenage experiences of being bullied has formed his behaviour as an adult also in this way. He is very determined not to let any Gryffindor get away with anything, and I am sure this is because he is used to the Marauders pretty much doing what they like without anyone reacting against it. But I think his experiences often make him jump to conclusions about who is to blame in the particular case. It is always the Gryffindor.  (BTW, I am not a teacher, but many years ago I was assisting a teacher in a class of eight-year-olds for a month, and I realised it was much more difficult to be fair than I would have thought. It was very easy to put the blame on the kid that usually caused trouble in class, though that was not necessarily the case in the particular situation. I thought this was rather scary. Hopefully you get experience to notice these things when you work as a teacher, but I am not sure the teacher I was assisting had learned to, though...)

We have discussed Snape as Head of House before on this thread, and there are a lot of problems with this role of his, for example his bias, his role as a spy, etc... But I think he is the only Head of House who is shown to be openly supportive of his House, not only by being unfair in favour of his Slytherins, but for example by, as I think Pesky mentioned earlier on this thread, wearing green at Slytherin's Quidditch matches. As we know, the game commentaries are rather anti-Slytherin in general, so by wearing green he explicitly shows that he is on their side. And he is worried about their study results as well, as he shows when he argues with Draco in HBP and talks about Crabbe and Goyle not passing their DADA OWLs.



Julia H. - Oct 14, 2008 12:36 am (#436 of 2988)  
When I read this description my first thought was: James Potter! (Dryleaves)

Now I would like to read this description, too.  (Please... I don't even mind if it is in Swedish. My husband learned Swedish for a while when he was a student and he sometimes looks for things to read in Swedish on the internet. He would probably read and translate a short description for me.)

Dryleaves, I agree that his experiences made Snape biased against Gryffindors. I think I even mentioned it, only I focused on something else.  On the one hand, he did everything he could to stop these fights, by which he probably believed he was or could be preventing students from being harmed and/or humiliated, but on the other hand, he was always ready to put the blame on the Gryffindor.

I also agree that he was supportive of his house in several ways (not only by being unfair to Gryffindors) and that was in itself a good thing. As you say, he showed he was on their side and was worried about their study results. I would also like to mention how Draco went to him for help when Montague had been found in OotP. (It is only natural that Snape went to the rescue at once.) All students (not only "evil" Slytherin ones) like a teacher they can depend on. With his role as a spy and with the DE backgrounds of several of his kids, this may be the most he could do for the students of his house.

As for being fair and deciding who is to blame among children, it is really not easy. I know this from my experience with my two kids.  (Snape acts instinctively, while McGonagall normally decides that everyone is to blame. Dumbledore keeps his distance, except in the werewolf case Marauders vs. Snape, where his judgement might or might not have been perfect in every respect.)



Dryleaves - Oct 14, 2008 1:44 am (#437 of 2988)  
Julia, I read this article in the newspaper some weeks ago and it was just a very short one (more like a paragraph)referring to some scientific study that had been done and which stated that contrary to popular beliefs, bullies were not weak people, but people with good self esteem and they were rather aggressive. Unfortunately, I have thrown away the paper and I could not find the article on the newspaper's website either. Maybe it was never published there or maybe they have removed it. I do not even remember what date it was published...  I am not sure the scientific study was quoted correctly, this sort of newspaper paragraphs often simplify things a bit, but I found it interesting. What I do know is that I, who tend to refer everything to HP nowadays, immediately associated to James when I read it.  Sorry not to be able to provide more accuracy to my statements!  

BTW, interesting that your husband has been studying Swedish.  May I ask why? I mean, we only speak it here. But it is a nice language, of course!  



Julia H. - Oct 14, 2008 12:03 pm (#438 of 2988)  
Thanks, Dryleaves, for giving the description from memory. I'll watch out for similar descriptions.  

As for learning Swedish, well, it is mainly because it is a nice language and my husband is interested in it.  A very good reason, I think.



Dryleaves - Oct 14, 2008 1:29 pm (#439 of 2988)  
A very good reason indeed!  

(Sorry to be off topic!)



Julia H. - Oct 22, 2008 3:30 am (#440 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 22, 2008 4:35 am
The following question was posted by Mrs Brisbee on the Read-Along thread. I think it would be interesting to discuss it here:

I wonder if Snape was some sort of special project for Dumbledore? Dumbledore puts a lot of effort into Snape, and indulges Snape's desire to not to have to explain his actions or why he should be trusted to anyone else, including those he has directly wronged. (Mrs Brisbee)

The following is my answer on the Read-Along. I'm really curious about others' opinions.

It is a good question. I wonder that, too, and I think he probably was though perhaps my interpretation of the "special project" is different from yours. I am thinking about factors like DD's own mistake in his youth and his lasting guilt about it (he may have seen the similarity with Snape, which may have made Snape special to him); the fact that Snape personally had sought DD's help to put it right what he had done wrong and practically had given himself up to him; that by vouching for Snape and by single-handedly giving him a second chance, DD took moral responsibility for Snape so he "had to" guide him and protect him, which then resulted in a father-and-son relationship between them - at least I think Snape came to regard DD as his "true" father (as opposed to the "real" one) and he probably needed a father figure he could respect. (I have often noted that fathers are often at the roots of problems in HP. Both Snape and DD had disturbing pictures of their fathers though in different ways.) I also like to suspect that DD intended for some kind of reconciliation between Snape and Harry, eventually, though he could not do much about it during the seven years of the books.

ETA: DD, who (it seems) never confided his own psychological problems to anyone, probably understood it very well why Snape wanted secrecy.



rambkowalczyk - Oct 22, 2008 6:37 am (#441 of 2988)  
I think I have a problem with the word 'special project' but I do think there is a bond between Dumbledore and Snape that is above and beyond employer and employee.

I see Dumbledore as a type of surrogate Dad in that he provides moral guidance and more importantly Snape accepts it.

In some ways Snape's growth is stunted by his bitterness that no one likes him as he is. His father doesn't seem to like much of anything and doesn't make an exception for his son. His mother seems helpless against the rage of his father and doesn't protect Snape from him. Even Dumbledore, to Snape's way of thinking, seems to favor James over him.

When Snape turned to Dumbledore for help he may have originally thought Dumbledore is just being civil to him because it was the only way to save Lily and James but Dumbledore remained loyal to him even after Voldemort's defeat. I think it took a while before that Snape could accept that Dumbledore might have his best interest at heart.



wynnleaf - Oct 22, 2008 6:50 am (#442 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 22, 2008 7:56 am
I was thinking recently of the number of times Snape confronts DD with a kind of "what about me ?" sort of question. In POA, he does it regarding Sirius. He makes a "what about me?" comment to DD when he wanted DD to take his version of events at the Shrieking Shack, and he wanted DD to consider what Sirius had previously done to him.

Later, we learn that during the HBP year he came back to that concern several times. "What about my soul?" "Why don't you trust me?" (Not quotes of course. I'm trying to get at the meaning behind what Snape was saying.)

I think Snape really needed to feel that Dumbledore not only trusted him, but was on his side, or cared about him. It comes across to me as a desire of someone yearning very much for a father-figure and wanting DD to be that for him.

I think he had earlier done a similar thing with Lily. He wanted to matter more to her than Petunia and later, more to her than James. He wanted her to believe him over the Marauders and to side with him. So he uses a similar angle when she criticizes him, saying "what about Potter?" in the sense of wanting her to compare him to James and to dis like James' actions more than she dislikes his actions, or to acknowledge him over James. And Lily doesn't do it.

Snape, from an early age, seems to be searching for someone to care specifically for him and to prove it by taking his side over others. I can understand this, especially since his parents do not seem to have cared for him. But it's interesting. I think he shows a bitterness in his later comments to DD, as though he expects DD to care more for others (trust Harry more, care more for Draco's soul), than DD cares for him. He still wants that care for himself, but can't believe that DD is giving it to him.



Julia H. - Oct 22, 2008 12:49 pm (#443 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 22, 2008 2:04 pm
When Snape turned to Dumbledore for help he may have originally thought Dumbledore is just being civil to him because it was the only way to save Lily and James but Dumbledore remained loyal to him even after Voldemort's defeat. I think it took a while before that Snape could accept that Dumbledore might have his best interest at heart. (Ramb)

All the more so since his experiences by that time had probably taught him not to expect much from anyone. It is interesting to imagine how the hilltop scene continued. I think at some point Snape was probably surprised to find himself free (i.e., not a prisoner) and in possession of his wand again.

I think Snape really needed to feel that Dumbledore not only trusted him, but was on his side, or cared about him. It comes across to me as a desire of someone yearning very much for a father-figure and wanting DD to be that for him. Wynnleaf

I agree with your whole post but especially with this observation. When Snape and Dumbledore talk near the forest in the HBP year (and Hagrid overhears them), Snape's jealousy of Harry and his demands that Dumbledore should trust him and finally his "real anger" when they got to the topic of Dumbledore's death, IMO has a very important underlying meaning: What Snape is desperately trying to convey is that he is going through a horrible time because of the job he will have to do and he wants to feel, he wants to be sure that Dumbledore at least cares for him while he is still there because he needs comfort and encouragment, perhaps something he can remember later. Unfortunately, he can't say any of this directly, so he is demanding trust and threatening to change his mind. Dumbledore in the end does show him that he trusts him by telling him a very important secret and by giving him yet another difficult task - but I don't think that is exactly what Snape has wanted to get.

Actually, Dumbledore does "take Snape's side" several times but (as far as we see) always in Snape's absence. At least he keeps telling Harry and apparently others that he trusts Severus Snape completely and McGonagall later says that Dumbledore would not hear a word against Snape. But Snape does not know about these conversations and when he talks to Dumbledore, then Dumbledore generally appears to take others' sides (Harry's in the first place). Dumbledore must have also taken Snape's side when he vouched for him but we don't know how this happened.

He still wants that care for himself, but can't believe that DD is giving it to him.

Perhaps Snape can't believe anyone could truly care for him or anyone could truly take his side in any situation. But what we see of Dumbledore's behaviour in these last months does not seem to be really reassuring in this respect. He does not seem to realize at all what his great request means to Snape. Dumbledore is either a very good actor or perhaps another one who can't fully believe anyone could truly care for him.

The fact that Snape remains loyal to Dumbledore and his plan even when he knows / thinks that he has to give up his primary goal of protecting Harry's life and when he knows that he will have to do the dirtiest and loneliest job Dumbledore could ever give anyone shows how much he is willing to do for someone who has accepted and trusted him and who has become the father figure Snape earlier missed and maybe looked for.



Istani - Oct 23, 2008 5:32 am (#444 of 2988)  
I agree that Dumbledore was probably sort of a father figure to Severus.

'I think it took a while before that Snape could accept that Dumbledore might have his best interest at heart'- rambkowalczyk.

I doubt that Dumbledore did have Severus' best interest at heart. He certainly trusted him as he pointed out several times, and Severus was definitely valuable for him as a spy but in the end he only saw the useful pawn in him, all for the Greater Good.



Julia H. - Oct 23, 2008 8:17 am (#445 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 23, 2008 9:19 am
Welcome, Istani!  

I doubt that Dumbledore did have Severus' best interest at heart. He certainly trusted him as he pointed out several times, and Severus was definitely valuable for him as a spy but in the end he only saw the useful pawn in him, all for the Greater Good.

That is such a big question! I guess it could be argued in both ways. In the end Dumbledore does sacrifice Snape and he is by no means a Weasley-type "parent", still the best Snape has ever had. Does Dumbledore care for Snape as a person or does he simply see him as a useful fighter / pawn / whatever? That is a question I would really like to ask JKR... Until she answers or until I find something decisive that answers this question in either way, I think I will opt for Dumbledore caring for Snape a little in his own distant way - even though the Greater Good of defeating Voldemort is more important to him. (Doesn't Aberforth say that it is bad luck being loved by Dumbledore? I don't know...)

BTW, "best interest" can probably be defined in different ways. Dumbledore probably cares more for Snape's soul or for his moral development than for his life. - But then again what is the question Snape asks him? And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine? Difficult.



Dryleaves - Oct 23, 2008 8:46 am (#446 of 2988)  
I doubt that Dumbledore did have Severus' best interest at heart. He certainly trusted him as he pointed out several times, and Severus was definitely valuable for him as a spy but in the end he only saw the useful pawn in him, all for the Greater Good. Istani

I have also been wondering about this. There seems to be some sort of doubleness in Dumbledore's relationship with Snape. He keeps Snape's story secret, just as Snape wishes, but he also takes advantage of this secret. The fact that nobody knows Snape's true story and his true motivation makes him a useful spy, but sometimes I feel this may also hold him back in his development, that it is useful to Dumbledore to keep Snape's ghosts alive. On the other hand the job as a spy is a way for Snape to be redeemed.

I think Dumbledore is very much living the conflict between caring about the individual person and working for the greater good. He probably tries to combine the two as best as he can but sometimes they must clash. I do not really think he only saw the useful pawn in Snape, but when he had to choose he chose the greater good.

BTW: Welcome, Istani!  



rambkowalczyk - Oct 23, 2008 11:28 am (#447 of 2988)  
I do not really think he only saw the useful pawn in Snape, but when he had to choose he chose the greater good.

Certainly when he asks Snape to kill him, I believe he is choosing the greater good. But do you think there were other times when he chose the greater good rather than what's best for Snape?



wynnleaf - Oct 23, 2008 12:29 pm (#448 of 2988)  
Welcome Istani!

it is useful to Dumbledore to keep Snape's ghosts alive (Dryleaves)

A truly wise and caring person (as DD is supposed to be) would surely use his influence to get Snape into a more healthy perspective regarding his past and Lily.

One might argue that DD wasn't really aware of Snape's attitudes until Snape's "Always!" proclamation during the HBP year. But if he wasn't aware of the Lily motivation running so deep, what did he think was moving Snape to fight LV in such an incredibly risky way?

But I don't know that DD was really any better than Snape at dealing with past guilt. It may be that he didn't truly care about Snape and only used Snape's guilt and love for his own purposes. It may also be that he did care, but just as DD used himself, he used Snape as well, no more able to help Snape deal with his demons than DD was able to deal with his own.



Istani - Oct 23, 2008 1:59 pm (#449 of 2988)  
Thanks for the welcome Smile

I didnt have the time to ponder about or discuss the character developpent between the releases of the books because I read all 7 in less than two weeks. I don't know what JKR intended to tell us about the relationship between Dumbledore and Severus but I had the feeling that Dumbledore didn't care much about him as a person. In my opinion he had used him and his secret, his feelings for Lily. Because of that and because of his guilt Dumbledore trusted Severus and Dumbledore's trust in him made him a spy and in the end the pawn in his game.

Aberforth said, "Funny thing, how many of the people my brother cared about very much, ended up in a worse state than if he'd left 'em well alone." (DH, The Missing Mirror)

I think Aberforth knew his brother quite well. Maybe Dumbledore really wanted to do good until it got in the way of his plans. To me he appears like a very manipulative man. He kept his secrets, didn't tell anyone the whole truth. He was willing to sacrifice Harry as well as he was willing to sacrifice Severus.

Actually, the most scary thing he said was "And Severus, if you are forced to take part in the chase, be sure to act your part convincingly..." (DH, The Prince's Tale) Now we can argue how to interpret 'convincingly'when he's on the hunt with the Death Eaters but to me it sounded like a licence to curse or even kill if that helped Severus to keep his cover. Maybe I'm totally wrong but that's how I read it.

On the other hand I doubt if Severus had been much better off if Dumbledore had left him a alone. He needed a father figure, someone who trusted him.



Orion - Oct 23, 2008 2:20 pm (#450 of 2988)  
You are severely unlucky if you're a severely damaged person who falls into the hands of an equally severely damaged mentor. DD surely meant well, but he wasn't mentally equipped to guide a traumatized adolescent because his own personal defects and his goals came into the way.


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Post  Mona on Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:32 am

Istani - Oct 23, 2008 2:32 pm (#451 of 2988)  
"You are severely unlucky if you're a severely damaged person who falls into the hands of an equally severely damaged mentor." Orion

I really like that line, it's great, sad and true.

Probably Dumbledore meant well but by the time he meant well it was already too late, the damage was already done. He had already failed as a headmaster when he let his dear Gryffindor Marauders bully other students.



wynnleaf - Oct 23, 2008 5:12 pm (#452 of 2988)  
Istani,

I haven't met anyone in quite awhile -- well, maybe not at all -- who read all 7 of the books at once, after DH was released. Many of us wonder about the different perspective of those who will read the books without waiting for years in between and trying to figure out every possible "clue", analyze the characters for what might be the undercurrents going on, etc.

Could you give us your impressions of the key characters? Or anything else that strikes you? What about Snape? Especially since you didn't have to wait years wondering whether wondering whose side he was going to be on in the end.



Istani - Oct 23, 2008 6:05 pm (#453 of 2988)  
wynnleaf,

I never wanted to read Harry Potter because I thought it's too much a kid's book for my liking and then I was surprised to see many interesting adults- well, some people of my age since I wouldn't actually call Sirius an adult because he hadn't grown at all. Remember he still justified his 'prank' as something Severus deserved?

I thought Dumbledore was a kind old man with weird hobbíes- knitting patters and sock- before I found out bout him in DH. I always liked Severus- his very dark humor was refeshing. I absolutely fell in love with him when reading the Prince's Tale. I couldn't believe he wasn't mentioned any further as the books came to an end... If he and Harry had worked together he probably wouldn't have needed to die.

But actually I see the problem much earlier rooted. Severus' background and all of that, his unhealtey background, his obsessive love for Lily which never stood a chance in the house politics of Hogwarts.

I'm asking all of you now- when have we ever seen a member of a different house sitting down at another table? Luna did, but that's all. McGonagall holds a speech about houses and family at the beginning of the year, making it clear that your house is your home, your family.

Now we have Sirius, the rebel, who gives a damn about his family and their believes, and we have Severus, who wants to belong.

I can understand both of them but it seemed that Gryffindor is always the protected house while all Slytherins are frowned upon...

I blame it on the house politicy that Sev and Lily never had a chance- well she had never cared much about her allegedly 'best friend'... I'm sorry if I sound cynical now but that's how I feel...



Julia H. - Oct 24, 2008 12:29 am (#454 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 24, 2008 1:36 am
Very interesting posts, all!

Certainly when he asks Snape to kill him, I believe he is choosing the greater good. But do you think there were other times when he chose the greater good rather than what's best for Snape? (Ramb)

I don't know if there were any other times when Dumbledore had to choose between the Greater Good and what was good for Snape. Can anyone recall any other instances? Is it maybe when he told him Harry would have to die after everything Snape had done to keep him alive, while Dumbledore probably knew Harry would survive but could not risk that Harry might learn it from Snape?

Actually, the most scary thing he said was "And Severus, if you are forced to take part in the chase, be sure to act your part convincingly..." (DH, The Prince's Tale) Now we can argue how to interpret 'convincingly'when he's on the hunt with the Death Eaters but to me it sounded like a licence to curse or even kill if that helped Severus to keep his cover. (Istani)

I wonder if that has been discussed on the Dumbledore thread. It would certainly be worth a discussion! With this interpretation of Dumbledore's words, it can be argued that Snape tried to save Lupin in spite of Dumbledore's instructions. (Even if Dumbledore did not mean to say "kill", he was probably discouraging Snape from following his "saving people thing" in that particular case.) This IMO would prove that Snape had by that time developed his own internal moral compass not directly dependent on either Lily or Dumbledore. It would nicely complete the arch of his moral development. BTW, I think even though Snape never abandons Dumbledore's plan, their priorities are different. Snape is probably more concerned about individual lives (watching Charity's death must have been an especially terrible necessity to him), while Dumbledore concentrates more on his final goal. This may just be the general difference between a commander-in-chief, who does the planning, and a soldier out in actual fight.

On the other hand I doubt if Severus had been much better off if Dumbledore had left him a alone. He needed a father figure, someone who trusted him.

Yes, Snape needed a father figure,a mentor, a guide, he needed help on the hilltop and protection later, he needed someone to give him a life purpose and finally he needed trust and the chance to prove himself. But he got none of those for free.

You are severely unlucky if you're a severely damaged person who falls into the hands of an equally severely damaged mentor. DD surely meant well, but he wasn't mentally equipped to guide a traumatized adolescent because his own personal defects and his goals came into the way. (Orion)

Good point, really. I think Dumbldeore understood very well Snape's need for secrecy because he kept his own demons similarly (or even more) a secret. Snape did not want to confess his guilt to Harry and I have the impression that Dumbledore never discussed his own feelings and problems connected to Ariana with Aberforth (the other interested party) in the course of at least a hundred years (even though they worked together in the Order). Perhaps Dumbledore knew that it was a mistake but how could he have encouraged Snape to open up to anyone when he could not do the same himself? And he needed to open up to his own brother, not to someone like Harry was to Snape (a much more complicated relationship).

He had already failed as a headmaster when he let his dear Gryffindor Marauders bully other students. (Istani)

I agree but I think his greatest failure as a headmaster was allowing whole groups of students from his school to grow up to be Death Eaters when he was probably intelligent enough to see the danger.

McGonagall holds a speech about houses and family at the beginning of the year, making it clear that your house is your home, your family.

Exactly. I don't know what experiences others (parents, teachers) have regarding young teenagers but my daughter is eleven now and I find it amazing how important it is for her to identify with her classmates and that she absolutely refuses everything that she thinks her peers may find odd or strange or different. I think (and hope) it is due to her age and this is the age when HP students go to Hogwarts. They are away from their real families, of course they want to be accepted by those who would be most likely to accept them as soon as possible and that may well mean they become as similar to them as possible. Snape was considerably different from the typical Slytherin from the start, which probably meant he had to work rather hard to be accepted.



Dryleaves - Oct 24, 2008 1:16 am (#455 of 2988)  
I blame it on the house politicy that Sev and Lily never had a chance (Istani)

Snape was considerably different from the typical Slytherin from the start, which probably meant he had to work rather hard to be accepted. (Julia)


Yes, and also Lily would have had a hard time defending her Slytherin friend to her Gryffindor ones even if Snape had not been interested in the Dark Arts. The children are put in Houses according to their traits and choices, but once sorted it must be extremely hard for them not to be formed too much by their House.

Certainly when he asks Snape to kill him, I believe he is choosing the greater good. But do you think there were other times when he chose the greater good rather than what's best for Snape? (Ramb)

Yes, this is of course the best and perhaps only real example of Dumbledore choosing the greater good over Snape's best. When Dumbledore promises Snape that he will never reveal the best of him he says: "If you insist..." I just get the feeling that Snape's wish to keep the best of him secret suits Dumbledore's plans very well and maybe he does not challenge Snape's insistance very much, which I think he perhaps should have done for Snape's own best. Snape might have been useful in another way than as a spy, and there is also a risk in isolating an individual from the good people around him and then send him back to those who once had a bad influence on him. Snape may have chosen isolation and secrecy himself, but maybe Dumbledore does not encourage him to do otherwise. But as many have stated here, Dumbledore was after all a person who himself did not confide in others, and maybe his lack of challenge of Snape's secrecy was more due to an inability to cope with these things than an actual choice between an individual and the greater good.



wynnleaf - Oct 24, 2008 4:30 am (#456 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 24, 2008 5:31 am
I think DD's asking Snape to return to LV as a spy was also for the Greater Good and not truly in Snape's personal best interests. Sure, Snape's work as a spy is a way that Snape uses to deal with his guilt, to protect Harry, and to try to right the wrongs he did. But was it truly in his own best interests for him to take on the most dangerous of all of the Order tasks? Could he not have done other valuable things that weren't practically guaranteed to lead to his death? Yet, DD wanted a spy and DD says himself, "you know what I must ask you". So DD asks Snape to do this.

And we could even argue about the "Greater Good", given that Snape was also head of Slytherin, but as a supposed Death Eater he could hardly help to guide his charges away from following LV, thus leading to even more young people following that dark path.



Julia H. - Oct 24, 2008 5:24 am (#457 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 24, 2008 6:29 am
Snape becomes a much better person under Dumbledore's guidance but not the least bit happier than he was before. In other words, Dumbledore teaches him how to choose what is right (if only he had taught him a few years earlier!) but does not (cannot) teach him how to overcome his personal demons.

It sounds convincing that Dumbledore found Snape's secrecy useful for his plans. Yes, Snape wanted it, too, but people do not always want what is best for them. (Who would know that better than Dumbledore?)

I agree that Snape could have done other jobs to fight against the dark side, not only spying. He could have worked and fought like the other order members, he could have protected Harry in other ways, he could have become (perhaps with some training) a Head of Slytherin who used his own experiences with the dark side to make students understand why it was bad or what it really meant to join the dark side, he could even have become a healer specialized in dark injuries and he could probably have invented more spells, for the benefit of the light side. Any of these jobs would have brought him trust and respect from good people and would have been less dangerous both physically and psychologically than spying on Voldemort, misleading him while pretending to be his faithful servant, taking part in Death Eater activities, witnessing Voldemort's fury or triumph or crimes, building walls of occlumency around himself and risking being found out on a regular basis.

Yet, as Wynnleaf says, Dumbledore wanted a spy. It was a dirty but important job, someone had to do it, and nobody could have done it as well as Snape did.



Orion - Oct 24, 2008 5:43 am (#458 of 2988)  
Merciless exploitation of emotional distress tacitly accepting the person's death, withholding vital information, keeping the person in an unhealthy relationship of dependence... sorry, but when "DD plus Snape" is mentioned, I start to hiss and spit...

I never understood why it's so important that Harry gets the soulbit blasted out of his brains. If DD had told every Order member about the Elder Wand and the Horcruxes, all of them could have gone on Horcrux search, and if one of them had succeeded in zapping Voldie, there would have been Vapormort again, and so what? Harry would have been the only surviving Horcrux, and he doesn't live forever, and he should have been able to endure a few headaches in exchange for all the pointless deaths in DH and even earlier. I lost a lot of patience with JKR when Cedric died, most of my patience when Sirius died and the rest of it when Snape, Remus, Tonks, Fred OMG, Fred) died.



me and my shadow 813 - Oct 24, 2008 10:39 am (#459 of 2988)  
I never understood why it's so important that Harry gets the soulbit blasted out of his brains. -Orion

I thought that, too, on a symbolic level. I felt Harry would be a vehicle for "evil" to transform itself by living on within him. But ultimately I feel the story of blasting the Harry-horcrux was parallel to the "Knight slaying the Dragon" in mythology: psychologically representing the demons and negativity to be conquered within one's self -- and, in this story as with those old folk tales, that only one can survive.

Snape becomes a much better person under Dumbledore's guidance but not the least bit happier than he was before. In other words, Dumbledore teaches him how to choose what is right (if only he had taught him a few years earlier!) but does not (cannot) teach him how to overcome his personal demons. -Julia H.

I agree and see DD in many ways as a head figure who "helps those who help themselves". Snape was desperate to make a redemption contract with DD in order to save himself from being devoured by the guilt of being responsible for Lily's death. DD complied, simple as that. DD was in a position to grant such an opportunity and did so because of the 'greater good'. Regardless of obsessive love for Lily, remorse caused Severus to repair some of the karmic damage, in my opinion.

(Hello to all that might remember me from past postings...)



rambkowalczyk - Oct 24, 2008 1:31 pm (#460 of 2988)  
I think DD's asking Snape to return to LV as a spy was also for the Greater Good and not truly in Snape's personal best interests. wynnleaf

I would have agreed with this if Snape objected but I don't think he did. I think he was willing to go back as a means to defeat Voldemort because he killed Lily. We can argue whether that was best for Snape but I don't think Snape thought his own soul was in any particular danger as a result of going back.

For the record, Snape did object to killing Dumbledore and he also objected to telling Harry that he must die. The first I can see as Dumbledore working for the greater good with no regards for Snape's soul. In the second instance, I think Snape's soul was partially at risk because he clearly didn't want Harry to die, but he was only delivering a message not taking part in a killing.

He also may have objected to watching people die while doing nothing all in the name for the greater good.

I never understood why it's so important that Harry gets the soulbit blasted out of his brains.

To defeat Voldemort once and for all. Even if the other horcruxes were destroyed and Voldemort reduced to vapormort as long as Harry is alive Voldemort has a chance of coming back.

This is not to say it was the only way....



wynnleaf - Oct 25, 2008 5:57 am (#461 of 2988)  
I would have agreed with this if Snape objected but I don't think he did. I think he was willing to go back as a means to defeat Voldemort because he killed Lily. We can argue whether that was best for Snape but I don't think Snape thought his own soul was in any particular danger as a result of going back. (ramb)

I agree that it was also Snape's choice to go back and yes, he wanted to help destroy LV, in part because he killed Lily.

As for whether or not his soul was in any particular danger, I think there's different dangers to the soul. I'd agree that Snape wasn't necessarily in danger of actively doing something that would split his soul like murder would. But standing by and watching people be tortured to death and having to act like it's okay with you, or having to sometimes contribute to the deaths of others (possibly Vance, definitely Moody), is sould destroying in a different way.



Solitaire - Oct 25, 2008 9:23 am (#462 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 25, 2008 10:26 am
I never understood why it's so important that Harry gets the soulbit blasted out of his brains.

Ramb is right. As long as one Horcrux remains, Voldemort--however unstable he may be--could still resurrect himself. And we all know there is no shortage of evil gits to help him return.

By having Voldemort himself destroy that Horcrux when he thought he'd killed Harry in the forest, the way is clear for him to die. Nagini is the only remaining Horcrux, and the moment Neville kills her, only the tiniest, most unstable fragment of soul--which is in Voldemort himself--is all that is left.

When Voldemort--ever arrogant and presumptious, and refusing to believe Harry about the Elder wand--attempts to kill Harry in that final battle, he kills himself. Note that all Harry does is disarm him; Voldemort's AK rebounds on Voldemort, and he dies--an absolutely perfect illustration of "what goes around comes around." So Harry is spared having to commit murder, even for "the greater good."

In The Prince's Tale, when DD asks Snape how many people he has seen die, he says, "Lately, only those whom I could not save." That sounds as though he has watched others die whom he did not attempt to save. Could Snape, in his DE days, have murdered anyone? Could that be why DD is less concerned about his soul? Or is it simply that DD does not consider what he is asking Snape to do to be murder?

Solitaire



Dryleaves - Oct 25, 2008 10:12 am (#463 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 25, 2008 11:15 am
Could Snape, in his DE days, have murdered anyone? Could that be why DD is less concerned about his soul? Or is it simply that DD does not consider what he is asking Snape to do to be murder? (Solitaire)

We cannot tell for sure whether Snape murdered anyone during his DE days. Something in the conversation between him and DD makes me think he did not (but I do not know), but he probably watched people getting killed without trying to save them and he seems to have had no problem giving the prophecy to Voldemort (at least not so much that he refrained from doing it) though he must have realized that someone would be killed. He did not react until he knew how Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy and who was going to be murdered.

But I am not sure it is all the same whether you murder one person or many. Does not Slughorn say something like that to Tom Riddle, that it is bad enough to kill one person, but seven?! And I think there was a way to make your soul whole again if you had split it and made horcruxes: remorse.

So I think DD does not really consider Snape killing him as murder. It seems as if the reason you have for killing someone counts. When DD says that Draco's soul is not yet so damaged, I think he considers Draco's reason to kill him as something that will make the act murder. When he tries to persuade Snape he talks about saving Draco's soul, and then he asks Snape to decide whether he thinks saving an old man from pain and humiliation will damage his soul.

Snape is not the only one that will be killing someone in the battle against Voldemort. Many of the characters do that and many of them had never killed before. Sometimes I think that Snape, ironically enough, probably had to do or watch more terrible things as a spy and member of the Order of the Phoenix than he did in his DE days.



Solitaire - Oct 25, 2008 12:07 pm (#464 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 25, 2008 1:11 pm
Regarding other "good guys" who killed ... Despite her image as a nurturing, compassionate mom, I can't imagine Molly suffered much damage from killing Bella. On the contrary, I suspect she felt she'd struck a blow to avenge the deaths of both her son and Sirius and helped rid the world of a dangerous murderess. Bella's soul, I suspect, was probably almost as damaged as Voldemort's, given some of the heinous crimes she'd committed by that point. The ones we know about are the murders of Sirius and Dobby and the brutal torturing of the Longbottoms. I'm sure she has many others under her belt.

Like you, I do not consider Snape's taking of DD's life to be murder. On the contrary, I view it more as a matter of choosing one's own executioner and means of execution. Dumbledore knew he was going to be murdered. He wanted to spare Draco from crossing that line of becoming a murderer--he may even have suspected Draco would never have the guts when it came to the point of acting--and he simply opted for the quick, painless method over the "protracted and messy affair" he knew he would suffer if he were left to one of Voldy's other henchmen. Can you blame him? Snape was the only person who could act on DD's behalf and still remain in a position to keep the kids at Hogwarts safe ... as he'd promised DD he would do.

Solitaire



wynnleaf - Oct 25, 2008 1:36 pm (#465 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 25, 2008 2:38 pm
In The Prince's Tale, when DD asks Snape how many people he has seen die, he says, "Lately, only those whom I could not save." That sounds as though he has watched others die whom he did not attempt to save. (Solitaire)

"Lately" puts a particular spin on it. When exactly could Snape have been standing by watching people die needlessly when he could have helped them?

Snape almost certainly hadn't spent anytime watching anyone die between LV's first downfall and his return. After returning to spy on LV, I doubt sincerely that DD would have countenanced the idea of his spy callously standing by watching innocent people getting killed while he could have easily helped them out.

What then is DD referring to? It is almost certainly during those times prior to LV's first downfall, either before or after Snape turned to DD.

But afterward, Snape has apparently been put in positions more than once where he must either literally watch someone killed (like with Charity), or in some other way participate in endangering people, such as the Order members getting Harry out of Privet Drive. He may have been in those positions prior to LV's first downfall. By the 2nd Voldemort war, Snape will only do this if he can't find a way to save them.

Did Snape ever kill anyone directly other than DD?

Here's the evidence.

1. JKR said Snape could see thestrals because as a Death Eater he'd "seen things".

2. Snape is worried that a mercy killing of DD might jeopardize his soul. Doesn't sound like someone who had killed before.

3. DD comments on Snape having stood by while people were killed, but not on having personally killed.

4. It seems unlikely that DD -- however Machiavellian he was -- would have taken on Snape as a spy and later a teacher and Head of House if he was a murderer.

Of course, some people think that DD was entirely unscrupulous, but I really don't think he'd go that far.



Julia H. - Oct 25, 2008 1:49 pm (#466 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 25, 2008 3:15 pm
Considering whether Snape murdered in his DE days: There is no direct information in the books, we can only deduce things. In The Prince's Tale, Dumbledore and Snape have two conversations in which the topic is killing. The first one is about who is going to kill Dumbledore. Dumbledore is worried about Draco's soul and then:

“And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?”

“You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,” said Dumbledore.

I notice here that while Snape is worried about his soul, Dumbledore does not say that it does not matter so much to Snape, instead, he reminds him that in his case killing will not be murder because of his motives.

The other conversation is about Harry being killed by Voldemort. This is where the "people you watched die" part is found. (This conversation is not about Snape killing anyone.)

“Don’t be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?”

“Lately, only those whom I could not save,” said Snape.

To me the fact that Dumbledore talks about people Snape watched die (probably in his DE days) and not about Snape having killed people suggests that Snape did not murder. (After all, the latter would be a stronger argument that Dumbledore could use.)

We know Voldemort sent Snape to spy on Dumbledore (probably assuming Dumbledore would not know about Snape being a DE). We know that after Voldemort's downfall Dumbledore vouched for Snape saying that he had been a DE but then returned and fought for the good side and that was enough (Snape apparently did not have to answer for any specific crimes) and not even Karkaroff mentions any particular crimes Snape committed (he does mention such details in connection with other DE's). All this implies, IMO, that Snape may not have been one of the fighting DE's - we don't know it but he may have been a relative newcomer or perhaps Voldemort had planned to use him as a spy or perhaps as a "background scientist" - Snape could invent spells and was learned in theoretical dark magic after all. I find it realistic that Voldemort did not need only murdering or torturing machines but people who could do other jobs as well.

There are literary reasons, too, that make it probable that we are not meant to think Snape was a murderer. In DH, it turns out his redemption is entirely dependent on Harry (according to the logic of the novel). Snape is redeemed when Harry learns about his story and forgives him. That seems to imply that the greatest wrong Snape did was what he did against the Potters. I think, though giving the Prophecy to Voldemort was bad enough, direct murder would have been worse than that (especially that he later did try to save the Potters) and it should have been addressed somehow in the books before he was redeemed.

I find Dumbledore's death much more dramatic if Dumbledore is killed by a Snape who has never murdered before, by an atoning Snape who, as a DE, never got as far as murdering anyone (willingly or due to hatred), and who now kills someone unwillingly because of love and duty.

I agree that Snape did not commit murder by killing Dumbledore. However, it is probably possible to endanger souls in various ways, not only by ripping them (which happens when somebody commits murder). The "revulsion and hatred" that appears on Snape's face when he AK's Dumbledore is probably due to the fact that he hates the job he must do. But it is mentioned that Unforgivables work well only when the wizard / witch casting them means them. Snape may "mean" the AK simply by wanting to do as Dumbledore has told him to do but it is also possible that he has to gather a certain amount of negative energy to cast the spell successfully and that in itself may not do good to his soul at that moment and later, when he remembers that moment, - even if his soul is not actually ripped. It is possible that killing Dumbledore adds to Snape's already existing feelings of remorse. After all, he has now had a hand in the deaths of the two people he cares for most and who have had the greatest influence on him in his life. Meanwhile, the job of sending Harry to his "death" is still before him....

ETA: Cross-posted with Wynnleaf!



Steve Newton - Oct 25, 2008 2:46 pm (#467 of 2988)  
"I doubt sincerely that DD would have countenanced the idea of his spy callously standing by watching innocent people getting killed while he could have easily helped them out."

I'm pretty sure that standing by is what a good spy would do. If he blows his cover he is worthless as a spy. I don't think that Dumbledore would so cavalierly waste such a valuable resource.



wynnleaf - Oct 25, 2008 3:28 pm (#468 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 25, 2008 4:29 pm
"I doubt sincerely that DD would have countenanced the idea of his spy callously standing by watching innocent people getting killed while he could have easily helped them out." (wynnleaf)

I'm pretty sure that standing by is what a good spy would do. If he blows his cover he is worthless as a spy. I don't think that Dumbledore would so cavalierly waste such a valuable resource (Steve)


I must have been unclear. When I said "easily helped them out" I didn't mean "easily helped them out with no thought to the importance of his primary mission." I meant that I didn't think DD would countenance his spy allowing innocent people to die when he could have easily saved them (that is, without getting immediately killed or blowing his cover and then getting killed).

Snape said he now only stood by and allowed people to die when he couldn't save them. One presumes that he meant that he could save them and retain his cover, since rather obviously he didn't blow his cover. He didn't attempt to save Charity (that we know), but he did try to help Lupin out. His comment must have included the implied caveat of not blowing his cover.



Istani - Oct 25, 2008 6:17 pm (#469 of 2988)  
Very interesting posts. I always love to read them, and I have been lurking for quite a while.

Dumbledore is worried about Draco's soul and then:.... “And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?” “You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,” said Dumbledore. I notice here that while Snape is worried about his soul, Dumbledore does not say that it does not matter so much to Snape, instead, he reminds him that in his case killing will not be murder because of his motives. Julia

I'm having an idea here why Draco's soul might be more in danger than Severus' soul. Could it be because Draco was trying to kill Dumbledore in cold blood, because he had been told so by Voldemort in order to restore the name of his father and make amends for his failure in the battle at the Ministry? Bellatrix said he should be proud when Narcissa whined about his fate, and that the Dark Lord is granting him a great honour. So maybe Dumbledore believes Draco's soul more in danger because he is young and trying to fit in the ruthless ways of a Death Eater whereas he had explicitly asked Severus to kill him? A mercy killing for an old man who would die soon anyway.

?



Julia H. - Oct 26, 2008 3:42 pm (#470 of 2988)  
Yes, if Draco killed Dumbledore, it would definitely be murder and it would rip his soul. Perhaps it is similar to the Philosopher's Stone in the Mirror of Erised: If you want to find the stone and use it (meaning probably: partly or totally for your own benefit), you cannot get the stone. If you want to find it for selfless reasons, you can find it. If you kill someone for selfish reasons (for your own benefit - probably excluding self-defense against someone trying to murder you), your soul will be ripped. If you kill someone for entirely selfless reasons (including the purpose of helping the person who is being killed, as well as other people), as Snape does in the Tower, or to protect someone, as Molly does when she kills Bellatrix, it is not murder and the soul is not ripped. (The experience can still be disturbing.)

Snape as a spy standing by watching someone die: I think he has to know very well when he has the chance to help and when not. The only example JKR gives us of Snape standing by and watching someone die is Charity's death. This scene is constructed in such a way that it makes it absolutely clear (once the reader knows Snape's true allegiance) that Snape has no choice at all. The circumstances are extreme: Charity is totally helpless, bound by magic; Voldemort (determined to kill Charity) is sitting right next to Snape, watching him, talking to him; and if that was not enough, there is the whole inner circle of his followers around them, also the protective enchantments of the Malfoy Manor. Even if Snape decided to blow his cover and sacrifice his life, he could not save her - they both would be dead within minutes. Obviously, Snape cannot afford that so he has to watch her die, practising Occlumency to hide his feelings.

JKR gives us another scene in which Snape has to decide whether he should try to save someone or not: the Chase. By trying to save Lupin, Snape risks blowing his cover but, on the one hand, there is a chance that he can indeed save Lupin, on the other hand, he may try to explain the incident to the DE's later as an "accident", something that happens in battle. So he opts for trying to save Lupin. But when George is injured, he cannot rush to him to chant his countercourse. That would mean very seriously risking his cover and it would almost surely be in vain because he could not save George: Lupin would kill him before he could finish saying the spell for the first time.

... and he simply opted for the quick, painless method over the "protracted and messy affair" he knew he would suffer if he were left to one of Voldy's other henchmen. Can you blame him? (Solitaire)

I could not blame Dumbledore or anyone simply for opting for one over the other. However, the request included practically sacrificing Snape - and I'd find it very, very sad and disappointing if Dumbledore sacrificed in this way someone who would follow his instructions with extreme loyalty just because Dumbledore wanted an easier death. While I absolutely believe that Dumbledore preferred being killed by Snape to being killed by Greyback or Bellatrix, he had other reasons (hopefully, the main reasons), too: One was the Elder Wand, another was that he wanted to put Snape into the position of the greatest possible influence among Voldemort's followers and he wanted him very much to be the Headmaster when Voldemort took over the Ministry and the school so that Snape could protect the students.

It is interesting though that the reasons Dumbledore mentions to Snape are not these ones. Snape does not seem to know about the Elder Wand at all but he can certainly guess the second reason. Yet, Dumbledore does not tell him "if you kill me, you will be in a better position to fight for our victory later", instead he tells him (not in these words) "if you kill me, you will save Draco's soul and life and you will save me from a painful and humiliating death". It seems Dumbledore knows that these are the reasons - saving specific people on a specific occasion rather than some indeterminate advantage in the future - that can persuade Snape more easily. At times Snape has to stand by and let people die for the sake of the greater good but he is probably more willing to sacrifice himself now to save Dumbledore (and Draco) than he would be willing to kill against his heart for the greater good.



rambkowalczyk - Oct 26, 2008 4:58 pm (#471 of 2988)  
I think it is possible that Snape witnessed Emmaline Vance's death. In book 6, I think he says to Bella that he was responsible for Emmaline's death. Although I don't think he killed her, he might have been there.

I don't entirely agree with JKR's reasoning that it was ok to kill Dumbledore because he was dying anyway etc etc, but I accept it. At least she showed that there was pain and anguish afterwards and leaves it to us to decide whether or not Snape's soul was damaged. It's possible that the tears he shed holding Lily's picture may have been healing tears.

With regards to Molly, she killed in the heat of anger when she saw Bella attacking her youngest child. I believe that it's possible that once the adrenaline wore off, she realized the magnitude of what she did. I do think her soul was damaged but she took appropriate steps to take care of herself.



Solitaire - Oct 26, 2008 8:41 pm (#472 of 2988)  
Molly's killing was in defense of her children and, as such, I think she would not suffer the same soul-rending of a true murderer. She had to know that, once she entered into battle with Bella, it was a duel to the death ... and she was prepared for it.  

Bella, having no children, seemed to hold a mother's love and ferocity in protecting her children rather cheaply. She was clueless even to the depth and strength of her own sister's maternal love.

Even though he claimed responsibility, I'd never before believed that Snape really was connected with Emmaline Vance's death. Hm ...



Julia H. - Oct 26, 2008 9:49 pm (#473 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 26, 2008 10:37 pm
Being there and witnessing Emmeline Vance's death is not the same as killing her or getting her captured. While the former is perfectly possible, I don't believe the latter either.

"But what use have you been?" sneered Bellatrix. "What useful information have we had from you?"

"My information has been conveyed directly to the Dark Lord," said Snape. "If he chooses not to share it with you —"

"He shares everything with me!" said Bellatrix, firing up at once. "He calls me his most loyal, his most faithful —"

"Does he?" said Snape, his voice delicately inflected to suggest his disbelief. "Does he still, after the fiasco at the Ministry?"

I think it is clear to Snape that Voldemort does not share the information he gets from him with Bella or anyone else so he can say almost anything that does not sound too improbable.

"The Dark Lord is satisfied with the information I have passed him on the Order. It led, as perhaps you have guessed, to the recent capture and murder of Emmeline Vance, and it certainly helped dispose of Sirius Black, though I give you full credit for finishing him off."

Snape claims that he gave information that helped get Sirius killed but the reader knows how and why Sirius died. He uses words with rather vague and broad meanings: led ... to; helped - nothing specific like "I told the Dark Lord where he could find Emmeline Vance" or something similar. I don't think he is any more responsible for Emmeline's death than for Sirius's although he may have had to watch her die.



Quinn Crockett - Oct 28, 2008 9:51 am (#474 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 28, 2008 11:05 am
Being there and witnessing Emmeline Vance's death is not the same as killing her or getting her captured. - It may be to him. He may well have acted in a way that got her killed - or at least, did not prevent her death - and as a result he feels extreme guilt about the death of someone who had heretofore been a valuable and trusted colleague in the Order. If that is the case, he isn't lying when he takes responsibility for her death.

ETA: Totally with you there, Orion  



Orion - Oct 28, 2008 9:55 am (#475 of 2988)  
He shouldn't have agreed to take part in this abominable spying thing in the first place. Never never never. You stand by and let a mad murderer kill an acquaintance of yours whom you're working alongside in an organisation, and you stand by and let the mad murderer kill a colleague who desperately asks you for help? And that's the best plan DD could come up with?

**retch**


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Julia H. - Oct 28, 2008 10:44 am (#476 of 2988)  
If that is the case, he isn't lying when he takes responsibility for her death. (Quinn)

If that is the case, he isn't. I was merely saying just because he tells Bellatrix he is responsible for her death, it does not mean it is so - at that moment he happens to be saying a whole series of lies and I noted he does not say it specifically how he helped to get her captured and killed. Of course, if he does witness her dying, it must be terrible to him and he may very well feel guilty about not doing anything. (That is not how I meant "not the same" but - objectively speaking - it is not the same.)

He shouldn't have agreed to take part in this abominable spying thing in the first place. Never never never. (Orion)

I agree to some degree - perhaps Dumbledore should not have given him this job. Snape promises "anything" ("selling his soul" for the protection of Lily, if you like) and later he promises to help protect Harry and then Dumbledore tells him that this is the way he can help.

If he does not agree, he is not brave or not committed enough and he breaks his promise. If he agrees, he can help a lot - I am sure his spying is useful in many ways and it allows him later to protect Hogwarts students when Dumbledore is not there to protect them any more - but he also sacrifices his soul (no, not ripping it) by doing a sickening, degrading, corrupting and traumatizing job. I view this as a sacrifice on Snape's part, which is even greater because nobody admires him for it (except for some readers but that's a different thing), on the contrary, he is first suspected, later despised and hated. But it is a good question whether you are allowed to ever make such a sacrifice for any noble purpose.

BTW, Dumbledore does give people tasks like that. Lupin is sent to spy on werewolves, Hagrid is sent to talk to giants, Snape is sent to the Death Eaters. Each to his own demons.

Quinn, welcome back!  



Quinn Crockett - Oct 28, 2008 11:14 am (#477 of 2988)  
I was merely saying just because he tells Bellatrix he is responsible for her death, it does not mean it is so - Yes, I understood you, Julia. But Snape may see it differently. In his mind, there may no longer be any distinction between that for which he is truly (literally) responsible (i.e. pointing a wand or not stepping in to stop someone else from doing so) and simply feeling responsibility for what befalls others at the hands of the Death Eaters.

In the words of George Costanza, "It's not a lie if you believe it."



Julia H. - Oct 28, 2008 12:02 pm (#478 of 2988)  
That may be absolutely so, Quinn. I'm sure he goes through one of the deeper circles of Dante's Inferno whenever he plays the part of a faithful Death Eater.



Orion - Oct 28, 2008 12:20 pm (#479 of 2988)  
"I am sure his spying is useful in many ways and it allows him later to protect Hogwarts students when Dumbledore is not there to protect them any more - but he also sacrifices his soul (no, not ripping it) by doing a sickening, degrading, corrupting and traumatizing job. I view this as a sacrifice on Snape's part, which is even greater because nobody admires him for it (except for some readers but that's a different thing), on the contrary, he is first suspected, later despised and hated. But it is a good question whether you are allowed to ever make such a sacrifice for any noble purpose." (Julia)

It's not about Snape's soul. It's just that your plans, however clever and grandiose, shouldn't include sacrificial deaths of innocent people like Emmeline Vance or Charity Burbage. Not only shouldn't you force a person to sit still and watch, but you should protect the victims in the first place.



legolas returns - Oct 28, 2008 12:39 pm (#480 of 2988)  
When Dumbledore challenges Snape on the number of people he has watched die Snape says they were the ones he could not protect. How was Snape meant to protect Charity Burbage when she was floating in front of him and all the death eaters? I am sure that Voldemort was in the habit of not making his plans widely known until they were at fruition. Very few people knew about the plan to use Draco to kill Dumbledore beyond immediate family and Snape. How Snape found out is debatable. Perhaps he knew and perhaps he didnt. Are we 100% sure that it was information that Snape gave that lead directly to Emiline Vances death or was he using something accidental/fortuitous and a good deal of bravado to reinforce his position to Bellatrix.



Orion - Oct 28, 2008 1:03 pm (#481 of 2988)  
It's very difficult to assess a situation like that but I think I'd have stepped in earlier if I was a powerful wiza- witch  with DD's abilities. Like a clever forumer said a few days ago, why did DD watch a whole generation of DEs grow up and not do anything against it? You CAN influence children. It's called education.

And somehow I think that in DD's shoes I'd have locked everybody into Hogwarts and forbidden anybody to go out, both the students and the Order members and the muggleborns - is it a big place or isn't it? *challenging look*

The whole big plan is "leave Harry till the end because of the soulbit and who cares who dies, so please don't kill Voldie until Harry does it" which is like Voldie's "nobody touches Harry except me". IMO Voldie would have been a very weak Vapormort indeed without his other six or seven Horcruxes, and there's no harm in a few headaches - Harry's Braincrux would have been quite powerless because its host would have been so very, very opposed to it that nothing on earth could have convinced him to go over to the dark side.



legolas returns - Oct 28, 2008 1:16 pm (#482 of 2988)  
You can give someone as much guidance as possible but its the individual that makes the final decision.

If you forbid someone from doing something the idea becomes much more tempting.

Snape chose both wrong and right. It wasnt until his was really challenged (e.g the one he loved was going to be murdered) that he went to Dumbledore. Snape took the first steps and had to be "helped" along forcefully. Once on the correct path he stuck to his promises.



Julia H. - Oct 28, 2008 2:18 pm (#483 of 2988)  
It's just that your plans, however clever and grandiose, shouldn't include sacrificial deaths of innocent people like Emmeline Vance or Charity Burbage. (Orion)

I don't think Dumbledore's plan included the deaths of Charity Burbage or Emmeline Vance. They were victims and it is impossible to always protect everyone in a war. Dumbledore did protect Trelawney by keeping her in the castle because she was in an especially great danger. But Emmeline was not a Hogwarts teacher, she was an Order member and she actually fought against Voldemort, which was a dangerous thing to do. Charity was captured and killed after Dumbledore's death. What was in Dumbledore's plan, however, is that Snape had to play his part convincingly. It seems Snape did save people when it was possible but when it was impossible, he had to keep his cover even by watching the victim die, horrible though it was. Otherwise Snape would not only have blown his cover, but he would have got himself killed as well - without actually saving the victim. We don't know what happened to Emmeline but in Charity's case it is quite clear that Snape could not have saved her. I understand that Dumbledore did not instruct Snape to get himself killed in a situation like this. The horrible part of the plan is that he sent Snape into such a situation (regularly) and then it was Snape who went through all this, witnessed what he witnessed, heard what he heard and may very well have felt guilty and responsible, as Quinn says. It must have had a damaging effect on him.



wynnleaf - Oct 28, 2008 5:22 pm (#484 of 2988)  
He shouldn't have agreed to take part in this abominable spying thing in the first place. Never never never. (Orion)

The problem for Snape is that what with his guilt and his desperation to help Lily, he really was willing at that point to do "anything" and Snape does seem to be a person of his word, so he was unlikely to back down. I don't see it as "he shouldn't have agreed to it", but rather, no one should have asked that degree of soul destroying (not in JKR's sense of splitting the soul), work out of anyone. Yet DD did ask it.

However, I also agree with Julia that DD didn't necessarily "purpose their deaths" when it came to the grim deaths that Snape did or may have stood by and watched. All of the Order members knew they could be at risk. If Snape, as the spy among the DEs, happened to be there when an Order member died, then that only makes Snape's job all the worse, but it doesn't mean DD planned on that happening.



Solitaire - Oct 28, 2008 7:42 pm (#485 of 2988)  
If you stop and think about Snape, it is possible to put more than one construction on almost everything we see him do for the first 5 books. Have we ever seen him lie? I can't remember him telling a direct lie. Is it possible that he is so well able to fool Voldy because he doesn't really have to lie?

This possibility makes me wonder whether he did have something to do with Vance's death--not killing her or even betraying her, but perhaps inadvertently compromising her safety? While he would grieve over this privately, he could gloat to Bella and it would not (might not?) be a lie.

Solitaire



Julia H. - Oct 28, 2008 10:04 pm (#486 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 29, 2008 12:00 am
Have we ever seen him lie? I can't remember him telling a direct lie. ... While he would grieve over this privately, he could gloat to Bella and it would not (might not?) be a lie. (Solitaire)

We do not see Snape lie except when he talks to Death Eaters. In this particular conversation with Bella, we know he tells lies, too, although quite often he tells the truth, literally at least.

You ask why I did not attempt to find him when he vanished. ... I believed him finished.

I deeply regret that he did not trust me. He would have returned to power three years sooner. As it was, I saw only greedy and unworthy Quirrell attempting to steal the stone and, I admit, I did all I could to thwart him.

Yes, the Dark Lord thought that I had left him forever, but he was wrong.

...and it certainly helped dispose of Sirius Black...

I should remind you that when Potter first arrived at Hogwarts there were still many stories circulating about him, rumors that he himself was a great Dark wizard, which was how he had survived the Dark Lord's attack. Indeed, many of the Dark Lords old followers thought Potter might be a standard around which we could all rally once more. I was curious, 1 admit it, and not at all inclined to murder him the moment he set foot in the castle.

I think those are lies even though sometimes very careful ones. Bella's question "What useful information have we had from you?" seems to imply she does not think Snape has given them any useful information. In his answer, Snape does not mention the actual information he has given, only the supposed "results".

I agree that he often deceives Bella (and probably Voldemort) by "telling the truth". But he himself says that he has to lie as a spy:

The Dark Lord, for instance, almost always knows when somebody is lying to him. Only those skilled at Occlumency are able to shut down those feelings and memories that contradict the lie, and so utter falsehoods in his presence without detection.

I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you.

As for Emmeline Vance, the only information we have is what Snape tells Bella. For all we know there may be some truth in it - or not at all. HBP is the book in which JKR wants to make, so to speak, a total fool of the reader, regarding Snape.



Solitaire - Oct 29, 2008 6:10 am (#487 of 2988)  
We know that, if Bella has been teaching Draco Occlumency, she has to be capable of using Legilimency herself, just as Snape did with Harry. I suspect she has tried to use it on Snape, too--and possibly he may have used it on her back at Spinner's End, when he questioned the extent to which the Dark Lord trusted her these days--and I'm guessing Snape would lie as little as possible around her. I suppose the bottom line is that, even if he did not contribute to the deaths of any Order members, Snape may have felt some sense of responsibility ... even though everyone in the Order knew the risks they were taking.

Solitaire



Julia H. - Oct 29, 2008 6:47 am (#488 of 2988)  
Well, Snape could repel Voldemort's Legilimency. I don't think he had to be afraid of Bella's.

Do we know that anyone who can do either Occlumency or Legilimency can always do the other one as well?

Yes, I agree that Snape may have felt guilty even if he was not directly responsible for the death of an Order member but had to watch them die without being able to help and had to pretend he was OK with it. Especially because it seems that he did develop a "saving people thing" himself - which may have been reinforced in him every time he could not save someone.



Quinn Crockett - Oct 29, 2008 11:02 am (#489 of 2988)  
it seems that he did develop a "saving people thing" himself - I don't see this. Yes, he fired off a spell in an attempt to protect Lupin... Well, that's really all.

I think it is safe enough to assume that someone capable of teaching Occlumency is skilled enough in Legilimency as well. The author gives us no reason to think otherwise. However, it would be just plain stupid to think that only Voldemort himself could be skilled enough to accomplish anything by Legilimens-ing Snape. To have the attitude "Oh, it's just Bellatrix. She's no threat to my psyche." is bordering on suicidal, if you're Snape.

I'm guessing Snape would lie as little as possible around [Bellatrix]. - I'm guessing he would lie as little as possible, period. The only way to truly protect yourself - and the mission - would be to give as much truth as is possible to reveal without truly compromising anything or anyone, especially yourself. The problem with this - and I think what Snape starts to grow weary of - is that his truths are far more costly than he had ever really considered.

But this actually speaks to his emotional growth. As a young Death Eater, he gave information freely and without regard for any potential consequences. His only consideration was "the prize" of being in Voldemort's favor. Until this backfired on him and his "eyes on the prize" strategy cost him, in his mind, everything.

I think his "Lately, only those I cannot save" is a straight jab at Dumbledore and his "for the greater good" master plan, which, as with the way any child sees his parent, Snape doesn't really come to understand until he is mature enough. Of course, it takes him 20 years, but he gets there in the end.
But Snape sticks with the plan (whatever it is) I think largely out of a sense of penance. Having caused the death of others from handing information to evildoers, Snape's karma is to hand information to evildoers with the full knowledge that others will likely die as a result. Still he carries on believing in Dumbledore and believing that he is, in some way, atoning for his past.

But when he learns that Harry, himself, must die, it all comes together in Snape's mind. His so-called penance has been nothing more than another string in the puppetmaster's hand. "You have used me" is his straight acknowledgment of this.

Of course we know that Dumbledore needs Snape to believe that Harry must die - so Harry will believe it - or else Harry will never walk the last mile. But there is a certain amount of truth in Snape's accusation. I think even Dumbledore knows this, too. Perhaps this is why his portrait is so wound up just before Snape drops off the sword.

Of course, all of this is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.



legolas returns - Oct 29, 2008 11:36 am (#490 of 2988)  
I found the reasons given for Snape avoiding being seen delivering the sword very poor.

The first reason-HRH not being happy to see Snape because he cursed off Georges ear is very weak because they still view him as Dumbledores murderer/Harry sees him as the reason for his parents death.

The second reason-Voldemort may read Harrys mind is almost as bad because Voldemort would kill Harry first and then ask questions later.

Dumbledore is very anxious though which makes me wonder if this is a result of him asking Snape to act openly in Harrys favour. If Snape was spotted by a death eater he would not be able to worm his way out of trouble because he himself stored the sword in Bellatrix vault. A layer of protection would be removed from the school and Harry would be at greater risk. Harry would never find out the truth about the soul bit. I wonder how much of Dumbledores anxiety was over the master plan rather than Snape himself?



Julia H. - Oct 29, 2008 2:06 pm (#491 of 2988)  
Yes, he fired off a spell in an attempt to protect Lupin... Well, that's really all. (Quinn)

Well, he protects and saves a lot of lives actually. It can be argued that most of it is part of his duty as an Order member, Hogwarts teacher, Harry's protector, Headmaster, but when it all adds up, quantitative change seems to result in qualitative change. Besides the many instances of Snape saving lives as a duty, we have the incident of Snape trying to save Lupin without, even almost (?) against Dumbledore's instructions. That implies that he has probably internalized a need for saving people's lives - it is not just duty for him any more. When he says Lately, only those whom I could not save, I understand it as meaning that he wants to define himself as one who saves lives ("lately" at least) whenever it is possible (and that he did save lives, actually, even if not always on the pages of the book). Perhaps he also wants to remind Dumbledore that he has changed and is doing his best to help and save people now (and perhaps it is not fair for Dumbledore to rub his past in again and again).

Having caused the death of others from handing information to evildoers, Snape's karma is to hand information to evildoers with the full knowledge that others will likely die as a result. Still he carries on believing in Dumbledore and believing that he is, in some way, atoning for his past.

I don't know. I don't think anybody believes that following Dumbledore's orders will directly (and on purpose) result in more deaths. Snape says he has been spying and lying and risking his own life to keep Harry safe - not risking others' lives. I'm not totally sure about this but can we really call it "karma", if he has to do the same wrong again that he is trying to atone for? I'd rather think his karma is to protect lives and save lives as atonement for carelessly endangering lives before and when he has to stand by and watch others die or in some way be instrumental in others' deaths, then he is working against his karma and suffers for that and accumulates more karmic debt that he has to pay for by saving or protecting more lives.

But I agree that Snape is finally mature and realizes / understands certain things in the end.

Perhaps this is why his portrait is so wound up just before Snape drops off the sword.


It is difficult to understand. I see tension between (portrait) Dumbledore and Snape at this point. This is the only Dumbledore - Snape interaction scene we see after the Chase. I think the Chase is another realization moment for Snape. Now Snape still sticks with Dumbledore's plan (and his own word of promise); Dumbledore (while he still does not answer Snape's question) talks like a worried parent:

Do not forget ... Severus, be very careful ...

Snape, however, interrupts him twice: I know ... "Don't worry, Dumbledore," he said coolly. "I have a plan..."

He is duty-bound to follow Dumbledore's master plan and could not do otherwise anyway because he still does not know a lot of details about the situation so he could hardly make a master plan of his own. But he does not want any more of Dumbledore's more specific instructions. He knows what he has to do and he knows how he wants to do it. He has a plan...

He seems to be both mature and disillusioned with Dumbledore.

I wonder how much of Dumbledores anxiety was over the master plan rather than Snape himself? (Legolas)

A lot. Perhaps most of it. IMO.



legolas returns - Oct 29, 2008 2:17 pm (#492 of 2988)  
Kind of weird isn't it a dead person giving instructions? I would imagine that having a anxious portrait stressing out over your shoulder would be tiresome after a time .



Dryleaves - Oct 29, 2008 2:27 pm (#493 of 2988)  
Dumbledore asks Snape to kill him, which in a way is like forcing someone into independence and growing up, but then his portrait seems not able to let go. Yes, after a time all those instructions must seem rather annoying...  



severusisn'tevil - Oct 29, 2008 2:35 pm (#494 of 2988)  
Excellent point, Julia. He tried to save *Remus's* life. Now, from my understanding of previous books, even I can lay no claim that Severus and Remus liked each other. Remus tells Harry that he has no particular quarrel with Severus, which I think was rather decent of him given how easy and well-accepted it would be to feed the fire of Harry's dislike. He'd be telling Harry what Harry wants to hear, after all.

Anyway*, Severus tries to save the life of a man who---in POA---he would have (unfortunately) fed to the dementors with some relish. Even if that *were* "all", that's an awful lot, in my (biased) opinion. No one would either have blamed him or known if he had not made the attempt. But he did. The fact that it backfired and hit George is regretable but for the sake of this particular argument, irrelevant.

And he doesn't only try to protect Remus. He goes easily on the students as Headmaster, even the ones he dislikes. He sent Luna, Ginny and the others into the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, but is there anyone safer for Hogwarts rebels to be with? As Harry says, ironically mocking Severus, "they're probably laughing." I think that's the whole point. Severus is many things, but stupid is not one of them. (Neither is heartless). He's protecting the students by not having them tortured as punishment, and he is aided and abetted by the other teachers who, according to Neville, don't send students to the Carrows anymore than they can help.

And taking a slight jaunt into speculation, there is the moment at which McGonagall attacks him. "If [Harry Potter] is here, Minerva, I must ask you---" She attacks him then, but I think that it was a bit uncalled-for. He did not seem to be on the verge of ordering Harry's death, or summoning LV. He seemed anxious. I'd guess he was wondering how on Earth he was going to keep LV from finding out.

And I second your assertion, Julia. DD may have loved Severus. I know he cared. But he cared more for his plan than individual people. He was willing to sacrifice Severus *and* Harry to bring LV down, and whether he hated himself for it is, again, rather irrelevant. But there again is my bias.

Yes, a portrait DD would tend to wear on the nerves.

severusisn'tevil



Julia H. - Oct 29, 2008 2:41 pm (#495 of 2988)  
You may be right, Legolas!  That would explain a lot.

In a more serious tone, I sometimes think Dumbledore's death was only symbolic (except that Snape did not kill him symbolically) and it mainly meant that he became a weak, old man, with no magic or political power - expressed by Dumbledore reduced to being a portrait on the wall - but still retaining a lot of his original brain-capacity and still remembering his plan and his goals. Somewhere JKR says something that I remember as meaning (I hope you notice the double-narrative ) that portraits are less than souls and they only repeat catchphrases of their lives but cannot change or develop. We also know that the portraits of former Headmasters must help the present one. But Dumbledore's portrait seems to be more alive and active than that.

The situation can be interpreted as Dumbledore being powerless and weak and alone helpless, while Voldemort is powerful both magically and politically. Dumbledore's plan has resulted in Snape becoming an outcast, totally isolated from the ones he is fighting for. Voldemort, however, appoints him as Headmaster. With this comes the real test of Snape's loyalty and allegiance: Can he remain loyal to a weakened and powerless Dumbledore and to a similarly weakened Light Side, where everybody hates him, and to their goals? In spite of all his bitterness and disappointment, Snape proves that he can remain and will remain loyal until his death.

EDIT: Good question, Legolas, how? Cunning old man.  



legolas returns - Oct 29, 2008 2:44 pm (#496 of 2988)  
I think that Snape tried to protect Lupin because he did not know which "Harry" he had on the broom with him. There was always the chance that it was the real one. By protecting Lupin he protected "Harry". The thing is I dont know how Dumbledore found out that it was George who had his ear sectumsemprad?



Quinn Crockett - Oct 29, 2008 4:11 pm (#497 of 2988)  
Yeah, I just don't see a "saving people thing" coming from Snape. Although, that's a fair point about him having the back of the same man he would have gleefully handed over to the dementors only a few short years ago. And an equally fair point that he may only have done so to ensure that the real Harry wasn't killed as well.



Solitaire - Oct 29, 2008 7:33 pm (#498 of 2988)  
The only way to truly protect yourself - and the mission - would be to give as much truth as is possible to reveal without truly compromising anything or anyone, especially yourself.

This is what I was trying to convey. I was thinking of a line by Harrison Ford in Random Hearts: "The trick is not to lie any more than you have to," or something like that. I guess my brain is just too fried right now to participate intelligently.  



Julia H. - Oct 30, 2008 4:38 am (#499 of 2988)  
Perhaps it was my post that was not clear enough.  I didn't want to say that Snape does not have to be careful with Bella. I just wanted to say that as long as it is Legilimency, Snape knows what to do. And I agree that keeping to the truth as much as possible is the safest strategy for Snape. Still there are limits - there are things he must not tell and there are times when he has to lie. It would be interesting to analyse the conversation with Bella in this respect: A great deal of what Snape says is true but not everything and sometimes there is just one tiny lie in an otherwise true statement but it makes the whole thing a lie.

For example, here is this quote:

I should remind you that when Potter first arrived at Hogwarts there were still many stories circulating about him, rumors that he himself was a great Dark wizard, which was how he had survived the Dark Lord's attack. Indeed, many of the Dark Lords old followers thought Potter might be a standard around which we could all rally once more. I was curious, I admit it, and not at all inclined to murder him the moment he set foot in the castle.

This is a lie (I think), yet most of it can be quite true, literally. What makes it a lie is one tiny word: we because it implies that Snape also thought he might one day rally around Harry(!)  the great dark wizard. And this we is essential for the intended purpose of the sentence.

Keeping to the truth is possible in several ways. Giving true information is only one of them. Another way is avoiding giving specific information. It works well with Bella (it may not be so easy with Voldemort though). When Bella asks Snape what useful information he had given the Death Eaters, Snape basically says (not a quote): It is the Dark Lord's business, why don't you ask him? (It is probably risky to be too curious around Voldemort and Snape knows it and he also knows that Bella knows it as well. ) Then without mentioning any specific information, he says things like "it led to... it helped" - that is so vague that it would be rather difficult for Bella to find out for sure that these statements are lies.

Another interesting strategy is playing on the Death Eaters' fear of doubting or appearing to doubt anything Voldemort does. There is a personality cult around Voldemort. When Narcissa almost says Draco cannot kill Dumbledore when even Voldemort failed (it is probably a reference to the confrontation between Dumbledore and Voldemort in the Ministry), both women are rather frightened. It is probably very dangerous to mention any of Voldemort's failures or defects. So Snape tells Bellatrix that Vodemort trusts him. He reminds her of Voldemort's Legilimency abilites and asks her if she really thinks the Dark Lord is mistaken(!) or is fooled by him(!). Of course, this is basically what Bella thinks but admitting it (perhaps even to herself) is difficult and possibly dangerous. For all Bella knows, the next day Snape might tell Voldemort "My Lord, I heard Bellatrix Lestrange express doubts about your extraordinary talents" - and it might be enough to get Bella into trouble, especially that Voldemort is at the moment angry and frustrated because he failed to get the Prophecy.

Lying, on the other hand, is also possible not by means of words but by means of gestures, for example. It is more difficult than saying lies yet it is essential for Snape if he wants to act convincingly (like bowing to Voldemort or to look at him respectfully as a real Death Eater should or looking indifferent when Charity is killed). I don't know it may be sometimes even more soul destroying than "simple" lies.



Solitaire - Oct 30, 2008 6:10 am (#500 of 2988)  
as long as it is Legilimency, Snape knows what to do

Draco knew that Snape was attempting to practice Legilimency on him. Bella is sufficently gifted that she might be able to tell that Snape was using Occlumency against her, and it would certainly heighten her suspicions, if they're supposed to be "on the same team." Just a thought ...

I completely agree with your assessment about the DEs' fear of expressing doubt about Voldemort. Snape plays that card to the hilt, I think. It is one of his best weapons. He makes great use, too, of the fact that Voldemort (like Dumbledore) does not like to "keep all of his eggs in the same basket." I think that is how DD expressed it. In other words, no one person knows every single thing he is doing or planning ... although Snape knows more than anyone else, I suspect.

I agree that standing by and doing (as well as appearing to feel) nothing while an innocent like Charity Burbage was killed had to be horrific and may, indeed, have been more "soul-rending" than many other detestable acts Snape was forced to perform.

Solitaire


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Dryleaves - Oct 30, 2008 6:45 am (#501 of 2988)  
Bella is sufficently gifted that she might be able to tell that Snape was using occlumency against her (Solitaire)

Voldemort does not detect Snape's Occlumency and I get the impression that Voldemort really is a master Legillimens (it's not just that I fear questioning his abilities...  ). I am not sure how occlumency works, but I am not sure it is like a wall that would be visible in some way when you try to enter someone's mind, maybe it just makes some parts of the mind "invisible" so that it simply looks like they are not there at all. I think Snape's occlumency works something like his lies have been described to work in some of the posts here on this thread - everything is there, except from the few details that contradict the lie and these small "empty spaces" are perhaps almost impossible to detect. For example Snape may show some of his feelings for Harry to Voldemort, but not others, and as Voldemort actually see feelings, and maybe even complex feelings, he may believe this is the truth and may not suspect that something is missing. And perhaps this ability is what makes Snape a superb Occlumens.



Julia H. - Oct 30, 2008 7:10 am (#502 of 2988)  
Draco knew that Snape was attempting to practice Legilimency on him. Bella is sufficently gifted that she might be able to tell that Snape was using Occlumency against her... (Solitaire)

Interesting topic. I may be quite mistaken but this is my interpretation:

Harry feels that Snape is reading his mind in OotP because suddenly all those memories are starting to come. However, Snape says the spell aloud and even tells Harry that he is going to break into his mind. In HBP, after the Sectumsempra, Snape does not tell Harry what he is doing, yet Harry knows he is "reading" his mind. But by this time Harry has had quite a lot of experience with Legilimency. He also knows that eye-contact is usually essential for Legilimency and Snape looks into his eyes. Draco, too, realizes what Snape is doing but he may have had quite as much experience with Legilimency as Harry. It is interesting that prior to OotP, whenever Snape's eyes bore into Harry's, he never seriously realizes that Snape is reading his thoughts - either because it is a different type of (surface?) Legilimency or simply because he has never heard about Legilimency and does not recognize the signs. All in all (deep) Legilimency seems to be easily noticeable (once you know what Legilimency is).

But I've always thought Occlumency is different. Or at least, it is possible to practise Occlumency without the attacker's knowledge (if you are really good at it). Otherwise Voldemort would have known it the very first time Snape used Occlumency against him that Snape had secrets. I think if Voldemort realized that a "DE" (and especially his spy, who spent a lot of time with Dumbledore) was practising Occlumency whenever he was checking his thoughts and memories, that person would be as good as dead (first probably tortured for information though). I have always thought Occlumency is an effective defensive method because Voldemort does not know Snape is using it. I suppose Snape is very careful to shut down only certain memories and thoughts and feelings and leave the neutral or irrelevant ones open to Voldemort's investigation.

Snape realizes that Draco is practising Occlumency against him but Draco actually tells him so. Also, Draco may not be skillful enough to do Occlumency unnoticed, he even tells Snape that he does not keep things secret from Voldemort - perhaps he is not advanced enough to dare to risk that.



Quinn Crockett - Oct 30, 2008 8:00 am (#503 of 2988)  
Edited Oct 30, 2008 9:01 am
What makes it a lie is one tiny word: we because it implies that Snape also thought he might one day rally around Harry(!) the great dark wizard. - Is it really a lie? In fact, Snape did "rally around Harry" - pinned his entire being on Harry, in fact. And in CS, most of Hogwarts did believe Harry, a Parselmouth, to be a Dark wizard.

Of course, [thinking Voldemort has been fooled by Snape] is basically what Bella thinks but admitting it (perhaps even to herself) is difficult and possibly dangerous. - I didn't get the impression that she thought it was difficult to admit. She practically blurts it out. Dangerous to admit, certainly. But all too easy to believe.



Julia H. - Oct 30, 2008 8:44 am (#504 of 2988)  
In fact, Snape did "rally around Harry" - pinned his entire being on Harry, in fact. (Quinn)

But not around Harry the great dark wizard. Snape pinned his entire being on Harry - yeah, but did he really "rally"? (Unless in a deeply psychological-symbolical sense. ) Since Snape knew why baby Harry was able to repel Voldemort's curse, I don't think he ever expected him to be a dark wizard (even if he may have been startled later by Harry being a Parselmouth).

She practically blurts it out.

Bella tells Narcissa, her sister, that she believes Voldemort is mistaken but when Snape challenges her to assert this opinion, she retreats. Perhaps she would blurt it out in her anger but as soon as she is reminded by Snape what she is doing and what Voldemort's mistake could imply, she becomes cautious.

And do you really think that, had I not been able to give satisfactory answers, I would be sitting here talking to you?"

She hesitated.

"I know he believes you, but..."

"You think he is mistaken? Or that I have somehow hoodwinked him? Fooled the Dark Lord, the greatest wizard, the most accomplished Legilimens the world has ever seen?"

Bellatrix said nothing, but looked, for the first time, a little discomfited.



Quinn Crockett - Oct 30, 2008 9:06 am (#505 of 2988)  
Perhaps she would blurt it out in her anger but as soon as she is reminded by Snape what she is doing, she becomes cautious. - Yeah, that's what I said.

I'm not going to quibble over whether or not Snape literally "rallied" around Harry. I mean, why does it matter? We're talking about the level of truth in what he tells Bellatrix. And what is clear is that, for Snape, Harry was indeed a sort of standard, a symbol (if you prefer) for why Snape was doing what he was doing.



Julia H. - Oct 30, 2008 9:17 am (#506 of 2988)  
Hm... even in this case the plural form of the pronoun (we) is a lie. Snape did not mean to (truly) rally around Harry with the DE's or in the same sense dark wizards might have done if Harry had been a dark wizard and certainly not because he thought he was a dark wizard. I see what you mean by Harry being a standard or symbol for Snape's fight (it is a nice image) but I still detect a tiny little lie in Snape's statement, which makes the whole thing in essence a lie. (Admittedly,a clever lie. Do you think he mentioned this one to Voldemort, too? )



severusisn'tevil - Oct 30, 2008 4:22 pm (#507 of 2988)  
Occlumency would be useless if the person trying to read your mind knew it was there. They would think you have something to hide. Severus tells Harry that Occlumency is protecting the mind from external penetration, and he also goes on to say that only an accomplished Occlumens is "able to suppress the feelings and memories that contradict the lie, and thus utter falsehoods in [LV's] presence. So it isn't a wall, it's an invisibility cloak, if you like.

And yes, Quinn, I agree that Harry is the symbol of what and why he's being a double agent. Your lost love's child---whom you've sworn to protect---makes a good symbol, don't you think? Even if said symbol doesn't like or care about you one whit.

In terms of the lies he's told, I think that it's his art, blending them with the truth. Lying as little as possible is indeed a clever strategy. He really didn't lie outright much during that scene.

And I think having to watch one of his colleagues murdered while she begged him for mercy would tear him apart. "Lately only those whom I could not save" all over again.



Quinn Crockett - Oct 30, 2008 8:12 pm (#508 of 2988)  
Even if said symbol doesn't like or care about you one whit. - Yeah well, that's all down to Snape. Things could have been different if Snape hadn't been such a... jerk.



wynnleaf - Oct 31, 2008 5:44 am (#509 of 2988)  
Yeah well, that's all down to Snape. Things could have been different if Snape hadn't been such a... jerk. (Quinn)

Certainly if Snape had not been so harsh and sarcastic with Harry from the first, Harry wouldn't have automatically disliked him.

But I don't see Harry as necessarily ever liking Snape. Not hating Snape doesn't mean that he'd like him. Even if Snape hadn't acted so sarcastic and insulting, I can't see him becoming the caring, encouraging opposite. Snape wasn't going to morph into Sirius.

Lupin was kind and encouraging, but the moment he appeared to be supporting the supposed murderer Sirius, Harry immediately doubted him and would have turned on him, but for Lupin and Sirius being able to explain that Sirius wasn't guilty at all. Harry's immediate devotion to Sirius in POA hasn't got anything to do with Sirius personally (who he doesn't even know yet), but to the idea of Sirius being his dad's friend and his godfather. Sirius later gives Harry a fair amount of support and Harry comes to care for him more personally.

Harry cares for Dumbledore, a kind of grandfather figure. But no matter how much he loved DD, he seriously reconsiders that in DH, after learning more about DD.

My point is that Snape wasn't ever going to have treated Harry like Sirius or DD treated Harry. Yet Harry would still have found out the following things that make him not trust Snape:

1. Back in the first year, Harry would still have seen Snape acting suspiciously what with the bites from Fluffy, the threats to Quirrell, apparently cursing his broom, etc. Snape being a harsh teacher made it easier to think badly of Snape, but Harry would probably have still been highly suspicious of him.

2. He'd have still asked DD about why Snape protected him and DD would likely have still said the same thing. After all, the way PS went, DD could have said that Snape protected Harry out of his duty as a teacher, but chose not to say this. Why would he say it just because Snape was not acting sarcastic or harsh?

3. Even if he didn't discover it in PS, Harry would have found in POA that Sirius hated Snape and that the Marauders disliked Snape and that Snape hated James and the rest of the Marauders.

That would have strongly colored Harry's view of Snape, because at that point Harry idolized his father and Sirius.

4. Harry would still have found out from Sirius that Snape had been into Dark Arts. And he'd still have found out that Snape was at least a former Death Eater. He'd have still heard suspicious remarks between Karkarof and Snape.

5. In OOTP, Sirius would have continued to hate Snape, and vice versa. That would sooo much color Harry's opinion, especially listening to them snipe at each other and Snape retaliate to Sirius' rudeness with his own insults. Snape would probably still have implied that Sirius was a coward and Harry would likely still have partly blamed Snape for Sirius getting killed.

6. Ultimately, Harry would find out from Trelawnney that Snape took the partial prophecy to LV.

My point is that Snape not being sarcastic, harsh, or somewhat unfair to Harry doesn't morph Snape into a lovable guy and Harry's chosen mentor. And Snape could easily have chosen to see more of Lily in Harry and therefore be less nasty to him, yet still hate Sirius -- and with somewhat good cause. And Sirius was still going to hate Snape. And Lupin was still going to waffle back and forth and not give a clear indicator. So I think that Snape being just "okay" (not mean, but not lovable), would not make Harry trust or even like Snape, particularly in the light of the various suspicious things that happen and especially when Harry's much loved godfather hates Snape so openly.



Istani - Oct 31, 2008 6:59 pm (#510 of 2988)  
Yeah well, that's all down to Snape. Things could have been different if Snape hadn't been such a... jerk. (Quinn)

Yeah, but his reaction is understandable, at least to me. After all, Harry looked just like a miniature James- or, when they met first, like the James he remembered from the train ride when they were both of Harry's age, eleven year old kids who have already started an animosity. Also, Harry is the living reminder of everything that went wrong between Severus and Lily. I can imagine what it must have been like for him to look at the boy and see a little James, remembering that Lily had married the very person who had bullied him. Of course, one could argue now that Severus should have acted more mature. Nevertheless, just because he didn't it makes him actually a more believable character- who bears no grudges? Also I believe that the moment Harry's scar hurt when looking in Severus' direction might have been the initial point of his dislike rather than the first Potions lesson.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 1, 2008 12:31 am (#511 of 2988)  
Hm. I'm starting to remember why I quit participating on this Thread.

Whether or not someone's feelings are "understandable" during an bout of abusing someone weaker can never excuse their actual behavior - especially when we're speaking of taking out your never-worked-through adolescent frustrations on a little boy.



Orion - Nov 1, 2008 1:30 am (#512 of 2988)  
But you can never help the way you're acting, can you? The same must apply to everybody else, of course, also for bullies like James. Rarely people are so mature and considerate and in a safe enough environment that they can freely choose how to behave and also resist doing something they'd like to do at that moment just because they realise it might be damaging for somebody else. Most people behave on the spur of the moment and follow their inner programme without even realising what they're doing.



Julia H. - Nov 1, 2008 3:03 am (#513 of 2988)  
Understanding and discussing the reasons why Snape behaves the way he behaves is a great topic for the Snape thread. (Where else could we discuss these things anyway?) If we just agreed that he was a jerk and there was no more to it, that might be the end of this discussion. Understanding and finding a reason does not mean we necessarily approve of such behaviour though.

Most people behave on the spur of the moment and follow their inner programme without even realising what they're doing. (Orion)

That is difficult to understand with regard to others but it is probably very often so. (Which does not mean it is good.) I think Snape reacted to Harry "on the spur of the moment" at first but later a pattern of behaviour developed between them, a "game" that started as soon as they were back in the already familiar situation (whenever they saw each other in fact), in which the roles and the rules and even the strategies were basically the same (with surface variations, obviously) and the ending was predictable, too. It is very difficult to get out of a cycle like this, especially if the players do not realize that they are taking part in an ever-repeated "game" (which may be destructive for both of them though they may get some temporary satisfaction or relief out of it).

Also I believe that the moment Harry's scar hurt when looking in Severus' direction might have been the initial point of his dislike rather than the first Potions lesson. (Istani)

But that was not the reason why Harry's scar hurt, is that right? (Voldemort was probably also looking at him through the turban.) It is hard to define the initial point of Snape's dislike. By that time Snape had watched Harry being sorted into Gryffindor - just as he had expected him to be, probably. My guess is that the knowledge that Harry would be coming to Hogwarts soon must have aroused mixed feelings in him. He knew Harry had Lily's eyes but we don't know if he knew how much Harry looked like James (he may have heard it from Hagrid - or not). But he had seemed to be afraid of "Potter's son" and that he might find out his secret as soon as he had vowed to protect him. Harry was the standard for Snape's fight but also the symbol of his guilt. I still think Snape (for all his hatred for James and for all the similarity between James and Harry) instinctively and systematically made Harry regard him with the same feelings Snape probably thought he could expect from Harry if Harry knew his secret and his guilt.

Interesting point, Wynnleaf, about the multiple reasons Harry had to dislike Snape anyway. Lupin apparently has the same opinion:

"You are determined to hate him, Harry," said Lupin with a faint smile. "And I understand; with James as your father, with Sirius as your godfather, you have inherited an old prejudice.

There is one moment that makes wonder a bit.

"Maybe he's ill!" said Ron hopefully.

"Maybe he's left," said Harry, "because he missed out on the Defense Against Dark Arts job again!"

"Or he might have been sacked!" said Ron enthusiastically. "I mean, everyone hates him__"

During the first year Snape did his best to make Harry dislike him. But there was also Harry's suspicion of Snape, which turned out to be entirely mistaken. In fact, the last thing the Trio learned about Snape at the end of the first year was that Snape had been actively guarding the stone and protecting Harry, watching over him, even saving his life. While I don't think this should have made Snape Harry's favourite teacher, this is now the beginning of a new school-year and Snape has done nothing to them yet. Remembering that he did quite important good things as well besides his usual nasty behaviour might have by this moment made up for some of Snape's first-year nastiness. Not that they should like him now but don't they know better than starting fantasizing about Snape having left or having been sacked the moment they arrive at Hogwarts?

But then again, the moment Harry learned Snape had been protecting him and had saved his life, he also learned Snape and his father had loathed each other and that influnced his opinion much more than Snape saving his life. (No wonder if he thought it had all been just to pay back a hated debt.)



legolas returns - Nov 1, 2008 4:15 am (#514 of 2988)  
Doesnt Harry say to Hagrid when he has tea with him at the end of the first week that Snape really hates him. Snapes delibrately picks on Harry in class/takes point and when Harry is cheeky to him he takes further points. Is it any wonder that Harry reacts in the way he does? Harry does not know that Snape and his father hated each other until the end of the book. His impression of Snape is formed from day one.



wynnleaf - Nov 1, 2008 4:17 am (#515 of 2988)  
Most people behave on the spur of the moment and follow their inner programme without even realising what they're doing. (Orion)

I don't think Snape's initial actions toward Harry in the first potions calss was on the spur of the moment. I do think he had built up bad feelings directed at Harry by convincing himself that Harry was going to be just like his dad and not like his mother. But I think his actions that day stemmed from a predetermined decision to test Harry and find him lacking.

Further, Snape did have opportunities to review his own attitudes, such as early in the year when in discussion with DD, DD pointed out that Harry's other teachers didn't see him as Snape did.

I disagree with the notion that you can't help the way you act. In the spur of the moment you react without thinking, but even a brief time later you can review initial actions and decide whether or not you should have done them and work to do differently the next time. Snape doesn't seem to have done this, or if he did, he must have determined that it was okay to act toward Harry as he did.

But my point earlier was that ultimately it wouldn't have mattered. Because Snape was not going to be a deeply encouraging person who Harry came to love as mentor, everything else Harry later observed or learned about Snape would have driven him to distrust and dislike Snape anyway.



Dryleaves - Nov 1, 2008 4:22 am (#516 of 2988)  
Hm. I'm starting to remember why I quit participating on this Thread. (Quinn)

I feared you would remember that, Quinn.  But I hope you will not give up again.  

It is hard to define the initial point of Snape's dislike. (Julia)

I think Snape started to dislike Harry as soon as he learned that Harry was born. Harry is Lily's son with another man, and not just any other man, but the man who humiliated Snape during his school days.

Harry is also the one Voldemort chooses as his enemy in his interpretation of the prophecy Snape has conveyed to him. I guess Snape could reason that if Harry had never existed nothing of this would have happened. At the same time I am sure that Snape realises that it is his own actions that have caused the situation. (Something like when an adult person who hits his toe against the table can think "Stupid table!" and blame the table for the pain he feels, but of course knows that the table is an innocent, dead thing.)

In the Great Hall it is probably much easier for Snape to see from the staff table that Harry looks exactly like James, than it is to see that behind those glasses are the green, almond-shaped eyes of Lily. His reaction of dislike may very well be an instantaneous reaction to seeing his old enemy again. This expression of dislike, plus the hurting scar, is also what makes Harry notice Snape and gives him a bad first impression of him.

It must be almost impossible for Snape to behave anything like "normal" to Harry. Then of course you could say that he exaggerates it a bit. Snape has a problem not only separating Harry from James and Lily, but also from himself (Snape) and his feeling of guilt. Snape's emotions about Harry are so strong and so contradictory that he probably short cicuits himself sometimes.

It is an interesting point about Snape's and Harry's game, Julia. Their relationship is really very much like that.

Wynnleaf's post about why Harry would dislike Snape regardless of Snape's behaviour is also very interesting. It would probably have been difficult for Snape as well to like Harry even if he had seen more of Lily in him and even if Harry had shown him more respect. The conditions for a good relationship between these two are not ideal, really.

Edit: Crossposted with Legolas and Wynnleaf



Quinn Crockett - Nov 1, 2008 9:49 am (#517 of 2988)  
Most people behave on the spur of the moment and follow their inner programme without even realising what they're doing. - Yeah, they're called "Death Row inmates".

But seriously, of course Snape's inability to control his outbursts is what makes him believable - believable as a big fat Jerk. But if someone is being a jerk, you're not going to stand around wondering whether he came from an abusive household or whether he, himself, had been bullied at school. You're going to tell him where he can stick it right now.



Dryleaves - Nov 1, 2008 10:19 am (#518 of 2988)  
But that won't do much good when they are fictional jerks...  



Julia H. - Nov 1, 2008 10:25 am (#519 of 2988)  
Well, it depends on who you are. Are you inside the same world or are you a reader with a broader view of the story? What I'm wondering is while we can see bullies or jerks quite often in real life, it is not usual that the person who irritates us also happens to save our lives. Wouldn't that modify our reaction to that person in real life? I don't know the answer, I'm just wondering. A somewhat similar real life situation I can think of is a doctor with a very irritating style. Then one day this doctor happens to save your life in an emergency. It is his duty and his job but still you realize that he has acted in a very responsible and professional way and while you are in a crisis, he checks your condition even on his day off. (The latter would correspond to Snape going after and watching over Harry in his free time, besides teaching classes and marking homework.) He still does not treat you nicely and you still don't like him. But will you still want to tell him what Quinn suggested above?

The fact is that Snape is not the ordinary "bully" but one who happens to protect Harry in very serious situations. It is interesting that Harry tends to like him when he doesn't know it is Snape. He likes the Prince and trusts the Doe. Even though Hermione warns him that the Prince has a "nasty sense of humour", Harry defends him because the Prince has helped him save Ron's life and win Felix Felicis. Harry finds excuses for the Prince even after the Sectumsempra incident, although Sectumsempra is much nastier than anything Snape has ever done to Harry in school. His main argument is that the Prince's "advice" helped save a life. In the case of Snape, Harry's viewpoint is just the opposite: when it is mentioned that Snape has done anything good for anyone, it is always "yes, but...". It never seems to count. Perhaps it really just comes down to this: Harry likes the Prince, and whatever the Prince "does" must be OK. Harry dislikes Snape so he does not believe Snape could do anything really good.



wynnleaf - Nov 1, 2008 11:08 am (#520 of 2988)  
But will you still want to tell him what Quinn suggested above? (Julia)

If you're twelve years old like Harry in COS? Sure. I could easily picture the 12 year old kid thoroughly disliking a really, really unpleasant doctor and not particularly caring if that doctor saved his life. 12 year old kids think they're mostly immortal anyway.

I can picture it now. My 13 year old having a really hateful doctor, then having an accident from which that doctor's special care saves her/him. Then I have to take my child back to visit the doctor for a follow-up exam and the reaction? "What do I have to see him for, mom? I hate him." "But dear, he's a really good doctor and he did save you life." "Well, yeah, but I still hate him. Why'd he have to be my doctor?"

Childish reaction, but Harry is a child in COS and even POA. As he gets older, one would hope that Harry would at least recognize Snape trying to save him, like at the end of POA, or acknowledge his efforts in OOTP, but Harry doesn't do that.



Mrs Brisbee - Nov 1, 2008 11:42 am (#521 of 2988)  
Childish reaction, but Harry is a child in COS and even POA. As he gets older, one would hope that Harry would at least recognize Snape trying to save him, like at the end of POA, or acknowledge his efforts in OOTP, but Harry doesn't do that.

Alas, Harry's reaction is based off Snape's reaction to him, the doctor who "arranged" the boy's accident in the first place. I think if Harry can pick up on the unreasonable expectations of Snape, he's less likely to want to fulfill them. I think Snape owes Harry, not the other way around.



Julia H. - Nov 1, 2008 12:03 pm (#522 of 2988)  
I did not say that Harry owed Snape, only that Snape is a bit more complicated than an ordinary jerk. Harry learns what Snape is responsible for only at the end of HBP. And yes, Harry is 12 in CoS but he matures over the years, in fact, it is sometimes mentioned that he is not an ordinary kid - he has adult experiences and he often behaves as only an adult could be expected to - but his view of Snape remains the same. It is really not about owing to him - only to start thinking about whether everything is truly as simple as he has thought so far.



Solitaire - Nov 1, 2008 12:18 pm (#523 of 2988)  
But you can never help the way you're acting, can you?

You may not be able to help how you are feeling, but any responsible human being can control how he or she behaves.

Most people behave on the spur of the moment and follow their inner programme without even realising what they're doing.

If that were true, teachers everywhere on the planet would have those special "pain-in-the-neck" children restrained in their chairs with duct tape on their mouths. While that may happen with teachers who have poor judgment or are mentally ill, it does not happen with those of us who have mastered impulse control. The fact that Snape can control his mind in the presence of Voldemort demonstrates that he is perfectly capable of behaving appropriately with Harry or anyone else ... if he wants to. That is the bottom line.

Solitaire



Orion - Nov 1, 2008 2:07 pm (#524 of 2988)  
Yes, Soli, that's exactly that: Teachers are - well, not wishing to sound elitist, but they have a university degree, meaning that they have a personal history of doing their homework, study well and work diligently in an extremely stressful job. Teachers are practically paid for impulse control.  

But how often have you encountered a piece of wildlife behind you on the motorway who tries to kill you because you're going slower than them? How often have you read in the papers that an innocent woman has been killed by her husband with the excuse "she provoked me and insulted me"? How often do you watch kids bully each other just because they are bigger therefore they can"?



Mrs Brisbee - Nov 1, 2008 2:32 pm (#525 of 2988)  
Harry learns what Snape is responsible for only at the end of HBP. --Julia H.

But I mean that Harry picks up on Snape's hostility towards him immediately, before he learns anything about either parents background with Snape. Harry knows that there is something wrong there, even before he learns what. Snape chooses to make the relationship a hostile one. That Harry matures-- towards a man who is more aptly described as the "doctor" who pushes an entire family in front of a bus to gain brownie points with a traitorous megalomaniac, manages to get the mother and father killed, then decides to follow the kid around to make sure he isn't "accidently" hit by any more buses all the while treating the kid with great hostility and being mad that the kid isn't fulfilling his duty to make him feel better for his transgressions-- well, maturing is to Harry's credit, not Snape's. Whatever Snape's secrets might be, he made sure he set a hostile tone for the relationship.

You may not be able to help how you are feeling, but any responsible human being can control how he or she behaves.-- Solitaire

Well said, Solitaire!


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Julia H. - Nov 1, 2008 4:00 pm (#526 of 2988)  
Well, just to describe the full picture, Snape also tries to stand between the bus and the family, risking his own life while doing it, and that he fails there is due to reasons outside him. There is also the fact that he is sincerely remorseful and is ready to do much more than just "following the kid around" and is trying to protect him from the same megalomaniac. He cannot bring the parents back and he feels that most deeply. I don't think he expects Harry to do any "duty" towards him - it is Snape who has a duty towards Harry and he takes that duty very seriously. I don't think he expects to "feel any better". If he could feel better, if he could "get over" what he did, he might be able to be nicer to Harry but perhaps he would not be willing to do everything that he is willing to do now to keep Harry Potter safe. Yes, he should behave differently. He probably could behave differently if his own emotional development had not suffered serious damage. But I think Snape's nastiness to Harry and his willingness to do anything to atone and to keep him safe originate in the same reason: In his remorse and in his inability to get over what he did.



wynnleaf - Nov 1, 2008 4:45 pm (#527 of 2988)  
Prior to the end of HBP, Harry had no idea that Snape had taken the prophecy to LV and therefore had no earthly idea that Snape was personally involved in the calamities that had overtaken the Potter family when Harry was a baby. So Harry's reaction to Snape prior to the end of his 5th year, while certainly egged on by Snape's ill temper, etc., has nothing to do with Harry needing to overcome any knowledge of Snape being the "doctor who caused the accident". Up until the end of HBP, Snape is just the unpleasant, sarcastic, somewhat unfair doctor who also saved or tried to save Harry's life on a few occasions.

I repeat, while Snape's actions and attitude are a discredit to himself, Snape being insulting, unfair, sarcastic, and so on is not the only thing that makes Harry distrust and dislike Snape and if Snape had controlled his sarcasm, and other unpleasant actions toward Harry, it would not have prevented much of anything, because Harry would still have disliked and distrusted Snape, even if he hadn't hated and distrusted him.

Orion, I can't figure out what you're really trying to get at. Are you saying Snape couldn't help the way he acted toward Harry? I'd agree that perhaps he couldn't help his feelings, as those are quite difficult to control, but I disagree that he couldn't control his words and actions because, as Solitaire quite rightly points out, he was clearly able to control his words and actions, yes and even his thoughts, around Voldemort.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 1, 2008 6:53 pm (#528 of 2988)  
Snape is a bit more complicated than an ordinary jerk. - Well, as an ordinary jerk I can tell you from first hand experience that Snape isn't any more complicated than the rest of us.

Harry's reaction is based off Snape's reaction to him, the doctor who "arranged" the boy's accident in the first place.
Whatever Snape's secrets might be, he made sure he set a hostile tone for the relationship.
- Nicely put, Mrs B.

The fact that Snape can control his mind in the presence of Voldemort demonstrates that he is perfectly capable of behaving appropriately with Harry or anyone else ... if he wants to. - Another excellent point, Solitaire.

Harry would still have disliked and distrusted Snape, even if he hadn't hated and distrusted him. - Hm. I'm not sure I agree with this. Harry distrusted Snape largely because of Snape's treatement of him. If Snape had behaved more appropriately (and by that I don't mean treat Harry like either Lupin or Sirius did), Harry would not have been so quick to think of Snape as traitorous.



Mrs Brisbee - Nov 1, 2008 9:02 pm (#529 of 2988)  
Well, as an ordinary jerk I can tell you from first hand experience that Snape isn't any more complicated than the rest of us-- Quinn Crockett

LOL!

Prior to the end of HBP, Harry had no idea that Snape had taken the prophecy to LV and therefore had no earthly idea that Snape was personally involved in the calamities that had overtaken the Potter family when Harry was a baby. So Harry's reaction to Snape prior to the end of his 5th year, while certainly egged on by Snape's ill temper, etc., has nothing to do with Harry needing to overcome any knowledge of Snape being the "doctor who caused the accident".-- wynnleaf

I know that Harry doesn't learn about Snape's complete role in his parents' death until HBP. I don't think I am explaining my position clearly. I'll give it another shot.

Up until the end of HBP, Snape is just the unpleasant, sarcastic, somewhat unfair doctor who also saved or tried to save Harry's life on a few occasions.

The point that I'm trying to make is that Snape is not that way, and Harry does not perceive Snape in that way. Snape has had an abnormal hatred of Harry that colors his actions towards the boy from the start, and Harry discerns this hatred and it causes disquiet. Harry doesn't distrust Snape because Snape takes a few points off of Gryffindor. Harry distrusts Snape because Snape makes clear his actions are motivated by this abnormal personal and inexplicable hatred. To me it's no wonder Harry can't trust him.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 1, 2008 10:00 pm (#530 of 2988)  
Harry distrusts Snape because Snape makes clear his actions are motivated by this abnormal personal and inexplicable hatred. To me it's no wonder Harry can't trust him. - My thoughts exactly, Mrs Brisbee.



Julia H. - Nov 1, 2008 11:11 pm (#531 of 2988)  
Edited Nov 2, 2008 1:48 am
I'm not sure this discussion is going the way my question intended but anyway. Just to make it clear: I did not compare Snape to a doctor, I simply tried to think of an everyday situation in which a person both behaves in an extremely unpleasant way and saves someone's life. I thought of a situation without Snape's back-story, on the one hand, because it would be difficult to think of an everyday situation with a back-story like this, and on the other hand, because Harry does not know why he treats him like this. Yes, Snape knows but the imagined doctor can also have any back-story that would explain his nastiness - as Quinn pointed it out, people are usually not interested why someone is a jerk in the first place. (I thought of someone whose profession is to save lives precisely because I thought in this case it was clear the rescued person would not be indebted to the person saving his life and because a teacher is also responsible for students' safety in a professional way.) My question was simple. I was wondering why Harry never stops to think about the contradictory aspects of Snape or why he always dismisses things like Snape saving his life so easily. Saving someone's life is more than just a common gesture of politeness, I think it would normally have some significance. (Harry is even able to feel a bit sorry about Tom Riddle and Merope; and with the HBP, he certainly puts the fact that the Prince helped him save a life before the negative things.) I was wondering if that was the normal thing to do or whether it was because JKR arranges information for Harry in such a way that anything good Snape does always gets connected to something negative for Harry or is made to seem insignificant. I did not mean to imply that the relationship as such was not Snape's responsibility or that Harry did not have a reason to hate him. Believe me, I know all these things but it is still my opinion that Snape behaves in a noticeably contradictory way. (Just compare him with Lucius, whose words and actions are in perfect harmony, in CoS, for example. That man is an ordinary jerk an unambiguously bad guy.) If Harry can detect Snape's inexplicable, personal hatred for him (and I know he can), anything that contradicts that so conspicuously could in theory make him wonder what exactly motivates him (besides hatred) - even if it does not make him trust Snape.



rambkowalczyk - Nov 2, 2008 4:52 am (#532 of 2988)  
I was wondering why Harry never stops to think about the contradictory aspects of Snape

In Harry's 5th year between Snape's worst memory and Sirius' death, Harry began to have second thoughts about Snape in that he realized that Snape was not wrong about his father. It was only when Sirius died that his hatred of Snape came back and that was because it was easier to hate Snape (who in this one instance behaved responsibly) than to accept the fact that if he didn't go to the ministry, Sirius would still be alive.



Mrs Brisbee - Nov 2, 2008 6:11 am (#533 of 2988)  
Perhaps the problem has to do with discussing Harry's feelings and actions on the Snape thread? I know it makes me want to turn the conversation back to what Snape is thinking and how he is acting, and put more of the emphasis on Snape. I'm actually being serious, here. I know it has to do with Snape, and Harry's relationship with Snape, but the Snape thread by it's nature will be somewhat limited as a venue for discussing other characters' motives in depth. This could go to the Harry thread. It's too bad a good neutral thread doesn't exist for such discussions, but I'm at a loss on how to describe what its parameters would look like, so I'll just wander away now and drink more coffee....



Sinistra - Nov 2, 2008 8:29 am (#534 of 2988)  
I'm very interested in this thread about Snape. I've never written here because the discussion is very complex and it isn't easy for a new member to join at this point.  

In recent posts about the amount of truth Snape told the Death Eaters and Vodemort, this piece of dialogue between him and Bellatrix was quoted:

The Dark Lord is satisfied with the information I have passed him on the Order. It led, as perhaps you have guessed, to the recent capture and murder of Emmeline Vance, and it certainly helped dispose of Sirius Black, though I give you full credit for finishing him off.

I had always thought that Snape wasn't really involved in Sirius's death. However I was wondering why the DEs arrived at the Ministry when Harry and his friends where there. For some reason, I thought it was just a coincidence.

Well, now I think (and perhaps it's pretty obvious) that Snape alerted the DEs!. He alerted them and then he alerted the Order. This would also explain why the members of the Order arrived at the Ministry well after the beginning of the battle.

What Snape did (if he did) was extremely dangerous: some of the kids (not to mention Harry) could get killed.

I'd like to know your opinion.

(By the way, sorry for this change of subject).



Julia H. - Nov 2, 2008 8:48 am (#535 of 2988)  
Mrs Brisbee, you may be right, perhaps it does not belong here. But it was something on this thread that gave me the idea. Yes... I think it was Quinn saying if you are a jerk, people are not interested why, they only want to tell you ... whatever. Then I thought, OK, but what happens when this jerk does things that are not quite compatible with your ideas of him? ... Never mind.

Welcome, Sinistra! It is great to have new members, please, feel free to join at any point.  

Regarding your question: I don't think Snape alerted the DE's but I don't think their presence was a coincidence in the Ministry either. Voldemort lured Harry into the MOM on purpose so that Harry could take the Prophecy off the shelf. But the DE's had to be there to take it from him afterwards. I have always thought the DE's were hiding in the Ministry waiting for Harry to touch the Prophecy. I think they went there and then Voldemort started to project the vision of the tortured Sirius into Harry's mind. Actually, it is a rather badly guarded Ministry if so many people were able to just enter at night with nothing to stop them.

I don't think Snape would have done anything so dangerous, anything directly endangering Harry's and other kids' lives. Not even Dumbledore could have wanted him to do that.



Solitaire - Nov 2, 2008 8:49 am (#536 of 2988)  
now I think (and perhaps it's pretty obvious) that Snape alerted the DEs!. He alerted them and then he alerted the Order.

Sinistra, I do not think Snape alerted the DEs, because he did not have to do so. Voldemort knew by this point that Harry would go to the Ministry in an attempt to save Sirius. Remember that he had planted in Harry's mind the vision of Sirius being held by him in the bowels of the Ministry specifically to lure Harry there. He knew Harry would come to Sirius's rescue. I do not remember it being implied anywhere that Snape had alerted the DEs to the kids' flight to the Ministry.

Solitaire
Edit: Cross-posted with Julia.

Additional edit: I agree that the Ministry appears to have very lax security. DEs and a bunch of inexperienced kids have managed to breach the security of the DoM and the Prophecy room. Order members are able to gain entry. Voldemort apparates in (I assume) ... I have to say that it almost looks like someone in the Ministry may have "paved the way" for Voldemort, DEs, and Harry to get inside. BTW, how many known DEs are working in the Ministry at this point?



legolas returns - Nov 2, 2008 8:58 am (#537 of 2988)  
I dont think Snape needed to tell the Death Eaters as it was a certainty that Harry would come down to London to save Sirius. The death eaters knew about the Prophecy and knew about Harrys dream. The turned up too quickly (e.g when he picked it up) and the night watch wizard was absent. This could probably be accomplished by using the imperius curse.

Edit-Oops another cross post  



mona amon - Nov 2, 2008 9:00 am (#538 of 2988)  
If Harry can detect Snape's inexplicable, personal hatred for him (and I know he can), anything that contradicts that so conspicuously could in theory make him wonder what exactly motivates him (besides hatred) - even if it does not make him trust Snape. (Julia)

I've just returned from a long journey and I'm suffering from jet-lag so I might be remembering things wrong...Harry first learns that far from wanting to harm him, Snape actually was trying to protect him at the end of PS and he gets this information from Quirrell. I'm not sure how a child feels when it is revealed to him that the person who hates him (and whom he hates back) was actually trying to save his life or whatever. It's complicated enough for an adult to process information of this sort.

So Harry turns to the wise old adult for guidance, and here is an excellent opportunity for Dumbledore to open an 11 year old's eyes to the fact that people can still do their duty towards others, despite disliking them personally. Instead he follows the 'secrets and lies' approach, fabricating motives for Snape, cheapening what Snape was really doing, turning the whole thing into a joke (on Snape of course) and, IMO, setting the wrong tone for Harry's relationship with Snape. (Grrrr....  )

But although it sounds like it, I'm not holding DD responsible for the Snape/Harry animosity. That, I agree with all those who said it, is mainly due to Snape being a jerk (ordinary or extraordinary  ) towards Harry. I also don't feel that Harry would have been as distrustful of him if Snape hadn't shown him so much hatred. I think kids understand love and hatred much better than 'protection'.

EDIT: Oops, cross-posted with lots of people  



legolas returns - Nov 2, 2008 9:04 am (#539 of 2988)  
I am sure if Harry really understood that Snape was protecting him he would want to rebel against it and wish he wasnt protected. He would have done more risky things. He may well have put Snape and himself at risk if he knew the real reason.



Julia H. - Nov 2, 2008 9:19 am (#540 of 2988)  
BTW, how many known DEs are working in the Ministry at this point? (Solitaire)

Yes, Solitaire, you must be right.  It must have been the DE's working in the Ministry who had arranged that the entrance should be free. (Which now makes me wonder why Voldemort needed Harry at all: He could have just walked in and take the Prophecy himself. Oh, well, perhaps he was greedy and wanted to capture Harry as well.)

BTW, to me it seems Snape does not even know about this specific plan. For a second, he seems to be really surprised when Harry says in Umbridge's office that Padfoot has been captured and is in the Ministry. Dumbledore later tells Harry that Snape, after leaving Umbridge's office, checked whether Sirius was in 12GP or not. It does not sound as if Snape knew at that point what was going on - but he can probably guess it quite quickly. (But then he probably thinks Harry cannot go to the Ministry anyway since he has been caught by Umbridge. My guess is that - ironically - it is the Slytherin kids who alert him after Harry and his friends escape.)

Welcome back, Mona!  



Orion - Nov 2, 2008 2:31 pm (#541 of 2988)  
Hello, mona! Where have you been? Welcome back!  

Back, for a moment, to a subject of yesterday: Impulse control. It is really funny that Snape has perfact impulse control in Voldie's presence, yet none at all in Harry's. But Voldie killed his girl, James merely married it.

One tends to forget that Snape knew James as a kid, so he doesn't only see in Harry the younger version of James, but he sees exactly the spitting image of young James who started to torment him practically when he set eyes on him.

There seem to be impulses which are generated at an early age, maybe a very impressionable and insecure age, at the verge of puberty, which go so deep that even a relatively sane (and I take a very big "relatively" here) adult (okay, a man over thirty) goes wild when he sees the red blanket swinging in front of him. Good bye, impulse control.

Voldie, maybe this shouldn't be forgotten, always treated Snape with cordial politeness and never bullied him. Maybe this is also important.



Julia H. - Nov 2, 2008 3:44 pm (#542 of 2988)  
Yes, Harry is a red blanket. Sirius is another one. Snape never behaves less like an adult than in their presence. I agree that these are impulses generated in childhood but (I think) they still operate only because of Snape's special (arrested) emotional development in certain respects. (A psychologist could only tell how much he can help these impulses.) But he seems to be able to control himself when others are around him. (Actually, when Solitaire wrote "If that were true, teachers everywhere on the planet would have those special "pain-in-the-neck" children restrained in their chairs with duct tape on their mouths", I almost thought, well, even Snape controls himself in Harry's presence! )

In the case of Voldemort, Snape has Occlumency to help him and a whole set of very good reasons to control himself but no childhood impulses to lose control at all. However, I don't think Voldemort always treated Snape with cordial politeness and never bullied him. He does tend to bully his followers. Snape may get preferential treatment after HBP or already after the MOM incident but I'm sure he has some bad memories from his earlier experiences with Voldemort. Just think of Voldemort's initial displeasure at Snape's lateness (as Snape puts it) at the end of GoF.



mona amon - Nov 2, 2008 7:29 pm (#543 of 2988)  
Julia and Orion! I was in the US for two weeks for my husband's niece's wedding, and now I'm spending time reading 70 odd new posts on this thread instead of getting my house back into working order!

I agree that these are impulses generated in childhood but (I think) they still operate only because of Snape's special (arrested) emotional development in certain respects.

That's true. Also, I think he just doesn't care. After Lily's death and renouncing the DEs, he doesn't have anyone to live for. He doesn't have anyone to please. So he doesn't take too much trouble over impulse control, unless it's part of the duty he has imposed on himself, like controlling himself in Voldemort's presence.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 2, 2008 9:05 pm (#544 of 2988)  
Voldie, maybe this shouldn't be forgotten, always treated Snape with cordial politeness and never bullied him. Maybe this is also important. - Voldemort, of all people, understood the importance of good manners - regardless of his psychopathic nature. He specifically mentions, at one point, the importance of decorum at all times. In fact, we really only see Voldemort completely lose it on (I think) 1 or 2 occasions. One is, of course, just before he kills Snape in DH, when he unloads on everyone and anyone within arm's reach.



Julia H. - Nov 3, 2008 2:40 am (#545 of 2988)  
Voldemort, of all people, understood the importance of good manners - regardless of his psychopathic nature. He specifically mentions, at one point, the importance of decorum at all times. (Quinn)

I agree. Voldemort tends to be cold-blooded and polite and does not often lose control on the pages of the books but he still taunts, bullies, even tortures his followers. At the beginning of DH, he taunts and humiliates not only the Malfoys but Bellatrix as well - without any apparent reason (apart from enjoying it). He tortures those who make a mistake, e.g., Pettigrew in GoF, Avery in OotP. Also, at the end of GoF, in the cemetery, he tortures one of his DE's (is it Avery again?). I'm not sure if he loses control at that moment or just calculatingly and in cold blood makes an example of him for those whose loyalty is not strong enough. (After Harry's escape, Voldemort may even be angry enough to lose control - and it is only a few hours after this moment that Snape arrives.) It is rather probable that Snape (before becoming Voldemort's "most trusted advisor") has his share of bad moments in Voldemort's presence.



severusisn'tevil - Nov 9, 2008 1:50 am (#546 of 2988)  
So, the gist of all this is what. . .? That Severus has no one to blame but himself for Harry's dislike? Okay, I see your point, but I think it's a pretty narrow one. Yes, he provokes Harry, but he also fulfills what he sees as his duty, and what a thankless job it is. And my point was, however self-inflicted, that protecting an angsty teenage boy who exactly resembles your worst enemy with Lily's eyes (no less) is not going to be pleasurable at all. And it sure isn't going to be easy. Think about being in high school and signing up for a horribly difficult class of your own volition. Yes, it was your choice to take the college-level chemistry course, but does it being your choice at all improve the situation.

And, honestly, how much would Harry liking Severus have improved the dynamic? I brought up the dislike because it is rather unfortunate and also, I believe ironic, but I think another equally fair point is this:

Liking Harry and having Harry like him back did not make Sirius more effective than Severus at keeping Harry alive.

In fact, I seem to recall, correct me if I'm wrong, that Severus survives Sirius and continues said protection of Harry for almost exactly two more years/books. It is, I think, very ironic that all the people who love Harry and protect him for that reason die before Severus.

Excellent point about the torture, Julia. I don't think Severus was left unscathed after all those years in LV's presence. I mean, the initiation rite itself, being branded with the Dark Mark, is in itself an act of torture that all DEs must face. Yuck.



Solitaire - Nov 9, 2008 4:02 am (#547 of 2988)  
I do not think anyone expected Snape to love Harry. I wonder, though, whether a lot of Harry's "angst" and his difficulties could have been avoided had Snape adopted the simple expedient of treating him with civility. Snape was also in a position to help Harry enormously with regard to knowing and understanding Voldemort, yet he chose not to do so. Well, he did point out to Harry that his emotional vulnerability was a weakness where Voldy was concerned. His manner of doing so, however, seemed to create even more angst for Harry.

Of course, his manner and method may have been on Dumbledore's orders. Then again, maybe it was his own choice. Actually, I guess it was Jo's choice ... because cooperation between Harry and Snape would probably have shortened the series considerably!  

Solitaire
edited



Julia H. - Nov 9, 2008 4:04 am (#548 of 2988)  
Actually, I guess it was Jo's choice ... because cooperation between Harry and Snape would probably have shortened the series considerably! (Solitaire)

Agreed, completely!  



legolas returns - Nov 9, 2008 4:48 am (#549 of 2988)  
I always wondered why Snape does not show some basic level of understanding after seeing so many of Harry's memories (all of his memories from the Dursleys/Voldemort were bad)? He continues thinking Harry is as arrogant and as full of himself as James was-he even says it to Dumbledore. When Harry sees Snape's worst memory he knows that his father was as bad as Snape describes and he also feels a little bit sorry for him. It does not stop him reacting instantly against Snape whos attitude to Harry is no different in class.



severusisn'tevil - Nov 9, 2008 9:33 am (#550 of 2988)  
Well, Solitaire, I don't think DD would have ordered Severus to treat Harry in the sarcastic, biting and hurtful way he normally does. Actually, we have, it seems, evidence to the contrary when DD tells Harry that he thought that Severus could overcome his grudges against the Marauders, Harry's father in particular.

But I agree, legolas. I wonder that on the same level that I wonder about why he continues to hate Remus so much, even after they are on the same side and Remus matures. But I think it's all traceable to James. Anyone connected to James through friendship or blood is just *not okay* in Severus's eyes, to put it mildly.

And why should Severus's attitude be any different in class? Harry saw his *worst* memory, arguing that it was that memory that he least wanted Harry to see, (although why he put said memory in the Pensieve of all places and then left the room is beyond me or my ken). Thus, it seems to me, that having the boy he always sees as "Mini-James" view his WM is going to make things *worse*. And though it's not rational, it's understandable.


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legolas returns - Nov 9, 2008 9:39 am (#551 of 2988)  
Even before Harry saw his worst memory he had "seen" a lot of Harry's memories and continued to have the same attitude towards him. I am not sure that his attitude had changed even by the time he died.



Solitaire - Nov 9, 2008 10:23 am (#552 of 2988)  
Harry saw his *worst* memory, arguing that it was that memory that he least wanted Harry to see, (although why he put said memory in the Pensieve of all places and then left the room is beyond me or my ken).

You know, I've always wondered the same thing. Do you suppose DD neglected to tell him that Harry had poked his nose into the Pensieve once before? That would seem to be rather a large omission of information, if you ask me.

Solitaire



Orion - Nov 9, 2008 10:28 am (#553 of 2988)  
IMO a tiny little soulbit in Snape's poor twisted mind made him do that to provoke Harry to take a peek, to give himself even more reason to hate Harry's guts and also to show Harry what a jerk his father had been. Snape couldn't "hope" for Draco's diversion but tiny little soulbits don't tend to be overly rational.



legolas returns - Nov 9, 2008 10:32 am (#554 of 2988)  
Lucky that Snape got back in time to pull out Harry before he saw the incriminating part e.g Snape and Lily's conversation outside Gryffindor tower.  



Quinn Crockett - Nov 9, 2008 11:31 am (#555 of 2988)  
Yes, [Snape] provokes Harry, but he also fulfills what he sees as his duty - No, he fulfills Dumbledore's orders. If he had any sense of "duty" he would honor the spirit of those orders as well as the letter.

Think about being in high school and signing up for a horribly difficult class of your own volition. Yes, it was your choice to take the college-level chemistry course, but does it being your choice at all improve the situation. - But Snape isn't in high school any more. He's not only a grown man, he is a teacher AND in an extremely important position of leadership as Head of Slytherin. He has a "duty" to perform these functions quite apart from whatever he does for Dumbledore.

Snape leaving the pensieve unattended did seem a bit like entrapment.



wynnleaf - Nov 9, 2008 11:43 am (#556 of 2988)  
The only way Snape could have put those memories into the pensieve with any intention or subconscious wish that Harry would sneak in and look would be if Snape actually knew that he'd have to run out of the room and leave Harry with the pensieve. And he didn't know that. So it wasn't a set up or even wishful thinking. Snape may have had no way of knowing at that point that Harry even knew what a pensieve was.

As I've said several times recently, Snape should have been responsible for his own feelings and actions to the extent of not allowing his hatred of James to so color his treatment of Harry. Still, even if he had treated Harry with civility, it would not have made Harry like Snape any more than he liked other adults about whom he later developed suspicions. Snape would have still done things that looked suspicious even in the first year, what with Harry seeing that Snape had apparently tried to get past Fluffy, Snape appearing to be cursing Harry's broom, and Harry seeing Snape threaten Quirrell. Later in POA, Harry would have learned how his dad and his dad's friends despised Snape even to the point of Sirius being glad he'd sent Snape in to meet a werewolf. And he'd see that Snape clearly despised the Marauders. All of that would still make Harry distrustful of Snape, regardless how civil Snape might have been to Harry in the ordinary day-to-day.



Julia H. - Nov 9, 2008 12:04 pm (#557 of 2988)  
I always wondered why Snape does not show some basic level of understanding after seeing so many of Harry's memories (all of his memories from the Dursleys/Voldemort were bad)? (Legolas)

It is at least interesting that Harry - when he accidentally breaks into Snape's mind - finds Snape's sad childhood memories there, as if watching Harry's bad memories reminded Snape of his own. I don't know but I have a feeling the fact that Snape can see Harry's bad memories does have the potential to modify Snape's view of Harry. However, it would have to be a slow and gradual change (and not necessarily one that could go very far) and it is hampered not only by everything that Harry means to Snape but also by the situation - i.e., during the Occlumency trainings they have to pretend () to be enemies (it is basically a series of duels) and it is too real for them. Harry's (understandable) attitude does not help either. Then Snape catches Harry watching his Worst Memory and at that moment - whatever he has seen in Harry's mind before - Harry is James's son again, watching his humiliation, maybe (as far as Snape knows) enjoying it as his father did before him.

It is a very good question why Snape puts those memories into the Pensieve - they would be much safer in his head. That he is afraid at all that Harry might see into his mind implies that deep-down he might actually have a higher opinion of Harry's abilities than he would ever acknowledge. However, he could actually put those memories into bottles and lock them in a cabinet - he would not even have to borrow the Pensieve. It seems probable at least that he does not know Harry knows what the Pensieve is - in that case Dumbledore did not mention it to him that Harry had already used the Pensieve (and without permission) but that would not be very much out of character with Dumbledore. I don't think Snape designed any "trap" for Harry to see his Worst Memory. Even if he may want Harry to see what his father was like, I don't think that he would want that at all costs - I don't think he wants Harry to see his humiliation at all. Besides, when Harry has seen what his father was like, Snape does not follow it up with anything (in connection with James), he just doesn't want to see Harry again, and that also makes it unlikely that it was any kind of a trap.

Unless it was something that Dumbledore planned.  But right now I don't really think it was so. (I have to think about that one.)  



Solitaire - Nov 9, 2008 1:39 pm (#558 of 2988)  
even if he had treated Harry with civility, it would not have made Harry like Snape any more than he liked other adults about whom he later developed suspicions

The thing is, it was Snape's treatment of Harry from the get-go which made Harry so suspicious of Snape. Had Snape treated Harry in more neutral fashion, he might never have made it onto Harry's short list of suspects in the first place. He might have remained outside Harry's suspicions until he began to run afoul of Remus and Sirius. By then, Harry might have felt somewhat less willing to believe something bad of one who had never mistreated him before. We'll never know, however ...

Solitaire



rambkowalczyk - Nov 9, 2008 3:05 pm (#559 of 2988)  
I doubt that Snape wanted Harry to see the worst memory incident. If he wanted Harry to see what kind of people his father and Sirius were, I suspect there were other bullying incidences that did not involve Lily.

What I find curious though is that there were three memories that Snape put into the Pensieve. I wonder if one of them was the werewolf incident and if so why would he not want Harry to see it. Wouldn't it support Snape's assertions that he was tricked into following Lupin? Maybe it's because it doesn't support the fact that James knew what Sirius did. Or that James actually acted more heroic than Snape wishes to give him credit for making Dumbledore's statement to Harry about Snape's motives to be more true than we give him credit for.



legolas returns - Nov 9, 2008 3:08 pm (#560 of 2988)  
I would have thought that the other memories would be when he first saw Dumbledore on the hillside and then when he later agrees to protect Harry.



severusisn'tevil - Nov 9, 2008 4:41 pm (#561 of 2988)  
Yes, Quinn, DD orders him to protect Harry, or at least instructs him in how to do so, but if Severus actually didn't feel compelled to do it, he wouldn't have. He doesn't follow DD's orders because they're fun. (Especially not his.)

And as for whether he *should* have let his hatred for James color his perception is something of a moot point. He did, and he's canonly dead and in the ground (presumably). And, to top it all, even Harry acknowledges Severus's sacrifice. Albus Severus? That shows serious recognition if you ask me, especially when he tells his son that Severus was "possibly the bravest man I've ever known."

And when I made the reference to high school, it had nothing to do with adolescence, really. I'm sure there are things in the adult world that are comparable. I mean, it's not just in high school that you take on things that are unpleasant but that you chose anyway, and it's not only the perennial adolescent types that do it.

I agree, legolas.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 9, 2008 6:09 pm (#562 of 2988)  
DD orders him to protect Harry, or at least instructs him in how to do so, but if Severus actually didn't feel compelled to do it, he wouldn't have. - Well, clearly he didn't feel "compelled to do so" since he only does it at Dumbledore's suggestion. He does not come to Dumbledore and offer to protect Harry on his own. In fact, it doesn't even seem to occur to him. Not only that, but he only agrees to it if his specific conditions are met.

And as for whether he *should* have let his hatred for James color his perception is something of a moot point. - Really? I thought that was exactly the point we were talking about. Okay then.

I guess I didn't understand your point about taking chemistry, then. Because as far as I'm concerned, yes, if you signed on for the class, you need to do the work. If you are struggling there are people you can go to for help (tutors, your instructor, etc). If you refuse to ask for help and you fail the class, you have only yourself to blame.

And I really don't care what Harry or anyone else thinks of Snape. That's his (fictional) opinion and he's welcome to it. I don't share it, nor will I change my opinion just because Harry decided to saddle one of his kids, in part, with Snape's name.



Julia H. - Nov 9, 2008 9:36 pm (#563 of 2988)  
He does not come to Dumbledore and offer to protect Harry on his own. (Quinn)

To be fair, he does not know that Harry will need any more protection until Dumbledore tells him that Voldemort will return and Dumbledore tells him that when he is asking him to protect Harry - and this seems to be very much just minutes after Snape learns the news of the Potters' death. We can hardly blame him for not being quicker with an offer of his own than Dumbledore is with his suggestion.



mona amon - Nov 9, 2008 10:22 pm (#564 of 2988)  
And, honestly, how much would Harry liking Severus have improved the dynamic? (Severusisn'tevil)

That's an interesting question and I don't know the answer. But if he had allowed himself to like Harry, he'd definitely have been a happier person in the few years of life remaining to him.

I always wondered why Snape does not show some basic level of understanding after seeing so many of Harry's memories (all of his memories from the Dursleys/Voldemort were bad)? He continues thinking Harry is as arrogant and as full of himself as James was-he even says it to Dumbledore. (Legolas)

Actually I feel Snape's attitude does show signs of softening during the occlumency lessons, and it could be because of the memories he happens to see. He's agitated and emotional, he gives Harry a compliment or two, fails to get angry when Harry breaks into his memories, confesses his fear of Voldemort to him, and most important, he gives Harry an answer to his questions, something that all the other adults in OOTP refuse to do. Of course, after he catches Harry peeking into his memories he goes back to square one.

The thing is, it was Snape's treatment of Harry from the get-go which made Harry so suspicious of Snape. Had Snape treated Harry in more neutral fashion, he might never have made it onto Harry's short list of suspects in the first place. (Soli)

I completely agree. The trio start suspecting Snape immediately after they see that he's been bitten by Fluffy, and surely that was only because they disliked him so much. If they had seen a Fluffy-bite on Flitwick's leg, they would simply have concluded that he got it in the course of his duty of protecting the stone. And if they hadn't disliked Snape and suspected him already, they would have rightly concluded that Snape was murmuring incantations to prevent Harry from falling off his broom.

And I do not think Sirius's dislike of Snape would have influenced Harry much if he did not already despise him. In OOTP Molly and Sirius are at loggerheads, but that doesn't influence Harry's opinion of either. I also feel that if he hadn't hated Snape so much, he would have been more ready to listen to Dumbledore when he tried to explain to him that Snape was remorseful about handing the Prophecy to Voldemort.

Most of Harry's dislike and suspicion of Snape is a rational response to Snape's treatment of him, and I think his own blamelessness and lack of guilt in this conflict is one of the reasons why he is able to forgive Snape so easily and completely once he learns the truth about him.

Harry saw his *worst* memory, arguing that it was that memory that he least wanted Harry to see, (although why he put said memory in the Pensieve of all places and then left the room is beyond me or my ken). (Severusisn'tevil)

This wasn't a problem until HBP, when we learnt that memories could be stored in bottles. I'm sure it's nothing but an oversight on Jo's part, and that we are supposed to take the simple view of it. Snape did not want Harry to see those memories, so he extracts them and stores them in the Pensieve. I've even got a theory about why he uses the pensieve instead of a jam jar. Maybe you need a pensieve to scoop up the memories and put them back into your head (We see Snape doing this as soon as the lesson is over). And maybe you can't do that if the memories are in some other receptacle. Any explanation that fits...  

And why does this superb occlumens who can fool even Voldemort fear that Harry will be able to break into his memories? I assume it's because he's more confident about controlling his feelings when he is with Voldemort. With Harry his emotions are a lot closer to the surface, and he knows it.



Julia H. - Nov 9, 2008 10:36 pm (#565 of 2988)  
Actually I feel Snape's attitude does show signs of softening during the occlumency lessons, and it could be because of the memories he happens to see. He's agitated and emotional, he gives Harry a compliment or two, fails to get angry when Harry breaks into his memories, confesses his fear of Voldemort to him, and most important, he gives Harry an answer to his questions, something that all the other adults in OOTP refuse to do. Of course, after he catches Harry peeking into his memories he goes back to square one. (Mona)

That's exactly how I see it, too.

Maybe you need a pensieve to scoop up the memories and put them back into your head (We see Snape doing this as soon as the lesson is over). And maybe you can't do that if the memories are in some other receptacle.

Aaaaaaaaw, Mona, this sounds like an absolutely satisfying explanation!

And why does this superb occlumens who can fool even Voldemort fear that Harry will be able to break into his memories? I assume it's because he's more confident about controlling his feelings when he is with Voldemort. With Harry his emotions are a lot closer to the surface, and he knows it.

Very good point.



mona amon - Nov 9, 2008 11:10 pm (#566 of 2988)  
Thanks, Julia!  



Dryleaves - Nov 10, 2008 12:36 am (#567 of 2988)  
He does not come to Dumbledore and offer to protect Harry on his own. In fact, it doesn't even seem to occur to him. Not only that, but he only agrees to it if his specific conditions are met. (Quinn)

Regardless of what opinion you have of the character, is this not to be a little hard on him?  He has just learned that Lily is dead, he is overcome with grief and as he thinks Voldemort is gone forever there is no reason for him to believe that Harry needs protection. Snape's reaction seems normal to me.

When Dumbledore suggests he protect Harry, Snape agrees to do this. Dumbledore says "If you loved Lily Evans, if you truly loved her, then your way forward is clear." My interpretation is that Snape agrees because he feels that he owes Lily this, because he truly loved her. Dumbledore tells him that this is what he can do for Lily, now when she is dead, and Snape wants to do something for her.

I do not think that what Snape says to Dumbledore about never telling anyone necessarily should be interpreted as a condition. It could be just a request meaning something like "I'll do it regardless, but please, could you do this for me as well?"

Mona, I think your Pensieve theory seems very plausible. JKR will be forever grateful to you.  



journeymom - Nov 12, 2008 8:29 am (#568 of 2988)  
I always wondered why Snape does not show some basic level of understanding after seeing so many of Harry's memories (all of his memories from the Dursleys/Voldemort were bad)? He continues thinking Harry is as arrogant and as full of himself as James was-he even says it to Dumbledore. (Legolas)

Actually I feel Snape's attitude does show signs of softening during the occlumency lessons, and it could be because of the memories he happens to see. Mona


In The Prince's Tale does Snape's evident change in attitude (pig to slaughter comment) correspond with the time he witnessed Harry's Dursley memories?

I was disappointed that Snape didn't start treating Harry better, too, after the occlumency lesson. I guess the difference is that when Harry is a baby Severus could not care less if Harry were killed. By the time Harry is 16 or 17 years old, Severus is shocked that Dumbledore would ruthlessly lead Harry to slaughter.



Soul Search - Nov 12, 2008 9:06 am (#569 of 2988)  
I read Snape's "pig to slaughter" comment to his being upset that he had wasted a lot of his life protecting Harry, only to have him intentionally die. Snape wasn't concerned for Harry at all, just his own wasted efforts.



Julia H. - Nov 12, 2008 9:17 am (#570 of 2988)  
I think Snape's efforts to protect Harry and the part of his life he spent protecting him made him concerned for Harry.

In The Prince's Tale does Snape's evident change in attitude (pig to slaughter comment) correspond with the time he witnessed Harry's Dursley memories? (Journeymom)

It was a year later than the Occlumency lessons (HBP-time).



journeymom - Nov 12, 2008 9:27 am (#571 of 2988)  
I think both those explanations make sense. I'm going to settle somewhere in between. [/I]It was a year later than the Occlumency lessons (HBP-time)[/I]. Darn! I like my theory.



legolas returns - Nov 12, 2008 11:55 am (#572 of 2988)  
I always took the "pig to slaughter" bit as more shock at Dumbledores attitude/sudden disregard for Harry's safety rather than the standard attitude of we are doing this to care for Harry for Lily's sake. Its explained in such a way that Harry will know that he has to "die" to get rid of another part of Voldemort's soul. If Snape had been told that Harry would survive then Harry may have been tempted to try and fight back. By having Snape and Harry believe this, Harry does not fight back and he gives everyone protection (Voldemorts spells are no longer binding). So Dumbledore's apparent disregard is actually giving people greater protection but he does not explain to Snape which leads to Snape's outburst.



haymoni - Nov 13, 2008 7:36 pm (#573 of 2988)  
I wonder if Snape would have done himself in if it weren't for keeping Lily's son alive.

I could understand his frustration with Dumbledore.



severusisn'tevil - Nov 15, 2008 4:52 pm (#574 of 2988)  
I think it very likely that he would have killed himself. He'd go to the same place as Lily, theoretically, and could possibly beg forgiveness. And even if he didn't, he'd be free of the mess the mortal world was in. What did he have to live for? And I can understand his frustration as well. Fifteen years of his life protecting Harry and then finding out that Harry was meant to die? If it were me, I would have been positively furious.

And legolas, i think that the "pig to slaughter" comment *was* related to carry for Harry for Lily's sake. If you look at it in the context of the entire scene, I mean:

"'So the boy. . .the boy must die?'

'And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential.'

'I thought . . . all these years . . . that we were protecting him for her. For Lily.'

'We have protected. . . when he does set out to meet his death, it will truly mean the end of Voldemort.'

'You have kept him alive all this time so that he can die at the right mooment?'

'Don't be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?'

'Lately, only those whom I could not save. You have used me.'

'Meaning?'

'I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter---'

'But this is touching, Severus. Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?'

'For *him*? Expecto Patronum!'

'After all this time?'

'Always.'"

So, Severus says "everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter's son safe." He wasn't shocked that DD was suddenly writing a death warrant for his favorite student, he was angry that DD had lied by omission and then announced that the boy Severus had spent 15 years protecting was supposed to die at the same hand as Lily Evans, or, as he calls her in this scene, interestingly enough, Lily *Potter*.

Then, to underline the point, he conjures his Patronus to prove that he still loves Lily.

So, yes, I'd say he's angry with DD. Shocked, too, perhaps, since DD has always had a sensitive feel to him, but a surprisingly Machiavellian chess-player type mind. I think Severus assumed that of everyone, Harry would be the most likely to survive. After all, he's had many people protect him over the years, including DD and Severus himself. I mean, protecting Harry covertly has been Severus's life for 15 years. How would anyone like to discover that those 15 years were wasted, and the boy they're protecting has to die anyway?



Orion - Nov 16, 2008 5:14 am (#575 of 2988)  
For the first time Snape sees the real DD without make-up and without twinkling blue eyes. No wonder he's shocked.



rambkowalczyk - Nov 16, 2008 10:40 am (#576 of 2988)  
For the first time Snape sees the real DD without make-up and without twinkling blue eyes. No wonder he's shocked.

And yet when all was said and done, he obeyed Dumbledore. Why?

Snape knows Harry was entrusted with a mission but not the details of it.

Dumbledore has explained to Snape that part of Voldemort's soul is in Harry and it must be destroyed before Voldemort is truly dead. Snape would later recognise this as truly valuable information; something that Voldemort obviously doesn't know or he wouldn't be so quick to kill Harry.

Earlier in the evening, in the forest, Dumbledore refers to Voldemort's soul as maimed. This in and of itself would not lead Snape to consider horcruxes in the plural as he would initially think Voldemort's soul is maimed because part of his soul is in Harry. But it is possible that after a year or so, Snape might conclude that Harry was hunting for other possible horcruxes especially when he knows he must give Harry the Gryffindor Sword.

After 6 months of thinking and grieving, Snape must have concluded that Dumbledore knew what he was doing or at the very least decided to continue to trust Dumbledore's plan and follow his orders.

Some of us think that Snape may have matured in this past year, that his bitterness to Harry began to decrease maybe in part because he felt sorry that Harry had to die. A distinction was made between Snape of old who did everything just because Dumbledore told him to, and Snape of new who did everything because it was the right thing to do.

I think when Snape gave Harry Dumbledore's last message, he felt that Harry was old enough to decide whether to obey the message or disregard it.



wynnleaf - Nov 16, 2008 7:58 pm (#577 of 2988)  
After 6 months of thinking and grieving, Snape must have concluded that Dumbledore knew what he was doing or at the very least decided to continue to trust Dumbledore's plan and follow his orders. (ramb)

Yes, but I also think he didn't have much choice. By then he was enmeshed in his work as a spy with LV, which he couldn't leave without probably losing his life. And he had an Unbreakable Vow which meant he had to kill DD if Draco didn't kill him first. Once DD was dead, the only thing he'd be able to do was go to LV's camp and hope that DD's plans worked out. He didn't know (supposedly) about what DD had been working on with Harry, but he did know it was somehow crucial.

Basically, if he'd backed out of telling Harry what DD wanted him to pass along, he'd risk everything that they had all done, everything they'd all given up and risked, being for naught. LV would completely take over and Harry likely die anyway. But if he followed through perhaps at least LV would be destroyed.

I don't really think at that point Snape had much choice but to go ahead with DD's plans and orders. It must have been even more difficult, because by that time he'd know beyond a doubt that DD was keeping crucial info from him and possibly lying to him as well, at least by default or implication. And indeed DD did keep the information about the Elder Wand from Snape and that's what ultimately got him murdered.



Julia H. - Nov 16, 2008 11:53 pm (#578 of 2988)  
For the first time Snape sees the real DD without make-up and without twinkling blue eyes. No wonder he's shocked. (Orion)

LOL!

I don't really think at that point Snape had much choice but to go ahead with DD's plans and orders. (Wynnleaf)

I agree. No wonder Snape is shocked when DD tells him that Harry will have to die, but he has plenty of time to understand as long as Harry is alive, Voldemort is invincible and as long as Voldemort is invincible, the chances for Harry and many others to survive in the long run are very bad. He knows Harry has to do something of vital importance before he dies. He also understands Harry must know his fate and make his choice. This is Dumbledore's plan and it has already been set in motion - there is no other way now but to go through with it. The information Snape has is enough for him to know that but he could not possibly come up with any alternative plans of his own. He accepts - bitterly - that he must trust Dumbledore's orders blindly because full information is denied to him.

Yet, so much is said about making a choice. In a moral sense, Snape certainly has a choice. With Dumbledore dead, he is practically free to choose between going through with the plan (the difficult way) and abandoning it, accepting a comfortable position in the favour of an invincible master (the easy way). The secret Dumbledore tells Snape means from that moment on Snape has responsibility for the fate of the whole wizarding world. It is Harry who has to vanquish the Dark Lord but he can't do it without the piece of information Snape has. If Snape fails to give Harry this information (or if he lets Voldemort find it out) the future for the wizarding world is rather bleak. If he tells Harry what Harry must know, then and only then Harry has a chance to save thousands or millions of people.

Snape is given this choice in a moment when he is appreciated by Voldemort alone. He sits by Voldemort's side, he receives an important and - for a DE - comfortable position at Hogwarts, he even learns from Voldemort how to fly: Appreciation, power, knowledge - if this is not a tempting combination, I don't know what is. It could be especially so when every living soul on the other side (on the good side) is convinced Snape is an enemy, a dark wizard, Voldemort's right hand man and they treat him accordingly. Yet, temptation does not have an effect on Snape, his isolation and Dumbledore's secrecy do not alienate him from the cause of the good side. He chooses to go through with Dumbledore's plan as the only way he knows that may lead to Voldemort's defeat.  



tandaradei - Nov 17, 2008 7:50 am (#579 of 2988)  
Ironically, yet another secret Dumbledore keeps from Snape (the Resurrection Stone) may have allowed Snape to make the moral choice. I rather think if Snape realized the possibility of finally communing with Lily through that stone (as DD did and succumbed to, wanting to see his sister, putting ont the ring and through that choice eventuatingt his death) that Snape might have abandoned all for that choice, and maybe in time even chosen suicide like the fabled second brother.



Julia H. - Nov 17, 2008 12:08 pm (#580 of 2988)  
Edited Nov 17, 2008 2:33 pm
Another topic for the Snapilogue thread perhaps?  What would have happened if Snape had got hold of the Resurrection Stone?

... and maybe in time even chosen suicide like the fabled second brother.

The Tale of the Three Brothers makes an eventual suicide rather probable. But would Snape have wanted to look into Lily's eyes if he had abandoned his promise and his duty before the job was finished?

Snape does choose if not direct suicide but a suicidal duty and way of life for the sake of Lily. He agrees to do several jobs any of which could easily cost him his life and in the end that is indeed how he gets killed.



tandaradei - Nov 17, 2008 8:16 pm (#581 of 2988)  
Julia H. said:


...[cut]...would Snape have wanted to look into Lily's eyes if he had abandoned his promise and his duty before the job was finished?...[cut]...


An interesting problem here, and yes maybe it does have Snapilogue possibilities; because, in the final year Snape newly views Harry as being "groomed as a pig" for slaughter ... and what would a Lily from the Resurrection Stone have had to say about that???

I would think that (1) Snape could not think Lily would have been happy with Dumbledore's plans for Harry; and (2) that Dumbledore might have suspected this scenario also, and thus for even this reason would have left Snape in the dark.



severusisn'tevil - Nov 21, 2008 7:56 pm (#582 of 2988)  
Wonderful assessment, Julia. Thank you. But I wouldn't say that he is entirely beyond temptation. I simply think that LV did not know the right things to tempt him with. As another literary hero puts it, "a hunted man will grow weary of distrust and longs for friendship", but his love for Lily was more important---his determination to assist in the finishing off of her killer more potent. Like the second brother, I think that he desired to see his lost love most of all, and thus was not tempted by anything LV offered.

In terms of the RS, I honestly think that such an occurrence would break him. He blames himself at least in part, and not without reaon, for Lily's death, and he loved her. Seeing her after her death would not help him, it would cause him to go into shock. If DD thought about the RS and Severus at all, I believe that is the conclusion he would have come to. Meeting Lily, apologizing and asking forgiveness is something he can and should do when they both inhabit the Realms of the Dead, where there is no life/death barrier between them and Severus would not be tempted to be suicidal. Therein is Severus's temptation.



tandaradei - Nov 21, 2008 9:43 pm (#583 of 2988)  
I see things that way too...




mona amon - Nov 22, 2008 4:56 am (#584 of 2988)  
And indeed DD did keep the information about the Elder Wand from Snape and that's what ultimately got him murdered. (Wynnleaf)

There's nothing in the book to show that Dumbledore kept the Elder Wand information a secret from Snape. We know that they had some plan about the wand, and that it didn't work out because of Draco's Expelliarmus.

For the first time Snape sees the real DD without make-up and without twinkling blue eyes. No wonder he's shocked. (Orion)

Well put, and very true, at least as far as Snape knows. He gets a double shock here- learning suddenly that the boy for whom he has such complex feelings will have to sacrifice his life if Voldemort is to be defeated, and realising that Dumbledore, on whom he has been depending for moral guidance, is no longer what he seemed.

BTW, I wonder what he thought about Harry then? Did he believe that Harry, whom he is always putting down as utterly mediocre, would have it in him to sacrifice himself? I think he did, the way he takes Harry's death as a given when DD tells him about the soulbit.

Appreciation, power, knowledge - if this is not a tempting combination, I don't know what is. (Julia)

Like Severusisn'tevil, I believe that Snape had reached a stage where these things (especially coming from Voldemort) would not have tempted him at all, however lonely he may have been. I never could understand why Dumbledore was so very impressed by Harry's refusal to join the dark side. I mean, why on earth would Harry want to do that?

As for the Resurrection Stone, yes, he would have been tempted. In fact anyone who's lost a loved one would have been tempted by it. Would he have been more tempted than most others and succumbed to the temptation? I guess it all depends on what he would have seen in the Mirror of Erised, something that JKR never tells us. Would he have seen himself with Lily? Or would he have seen Voldemort defeated and himself without a Dark Mark?

Snape does choose if not direct suicide but a suicidal duty and way of life for the sake of Lily. (Julia)

I wouldn't call it a suicidal duty. Very dangerous, difficult, and even soul-destroying, yes, and the risk of death was always there. But at no point did he think it would lead to certain death. Nor am I convinced that it was only for Lily's sake, rather than an innate desire to do the right thing.

Actually I don't see Severus as suicidal at all. As far as I can make out, he seems to have valued his life, such as it was, just as much as anyone else. Of course if he had been tempted by the Stone there's no telling what would have happened. But that's because it's a weird magical object (like the Mirror of Erised), probably dark, and can cause even 'normal' people to go off their heads.



Julia H. - Nov 22, 2008 10:17 am (#585 of 2988)  
Edited Nov 22, 2008 12:35 pm
Meeting Lily, apologizing and asking forgiveness is something he can and should do when they both inhabit the Realms of the Dead, where there is no life/death barrier between them and Severus would not be tempted to be suicidal. (severusisn'tevil)

A very timid suggestion here: While I understand that (as far as we can know) the changing of Snape's Patronus into the shape of Lily's Patronus is entirely dependent on Snape's love for Lily, I think perhaps it may have been a hopeful sign for Snape that Lily was perhaps giving him a second chance for forgiveness beyond the veil. I don't mean it in the sense that Lily would have somehow "wanted" the change of Snape's Patronus, rather that Snape's Patronus as a sentient being "knew what it was doing" and took the shape in which it could guard Snape's soul the best way and was giving him something "real" (the possibility of Lily forgiving him beyond the veil) to live for.

Like Severusisn'tevil, I believe that Snape had reached a stage where these things (especially coming from Voldemort) would not have tempted him at all, however lonely he may have been. (Mona)

I agree. I didn't want to say that Snape was actually tempted by anything Voldemort could offer. He had got far beyond that kind of temptation for ever. I was only saying that the true or final test of Snape's loyalty to Dumbledore was after Dumbledore's death and in such extreme circumstances when "the easy" would be (physically, not psychologically or morally) very easy and "the difficult" was very, very difficult. Of course, Snape was not tempted at all. But it was - in a moral sense - still a choice and the reason why it was not a really difficult choice was Snape's unshakable loyalty.

Did he believe that Harry, whom he is always putting down as utterly mediocre, would have it in him to sacrifice himself? I think he did, the way he takes Harry's death as a given when DD tells him about the soulbit.

A very good observation. It is one of the signs that Snape deep down thinks more highly of Harry than he admits.

Actually I don't see Severus as suicidal at all.

I see him suicidal after Lily's death and that is when he accepts his future duty. After that I think he has something to live for: atonement (protecting Harry) and later probably a desire to prove himself worthy of Dumbledore's trust and protection. A person who has something to live for is not suicidal. But he sort of loses these life purposes in the end when he has to send Harry to his death and when he experiences that Dumbledore kept / keeps things secret from him and there is no one to trust him or to respect him any more. He still wants to do his duty helping Harry to save the world from Voldemort but it is a bitter duty (even if it is the right thing to do) and it may well be the last thing he wants to do in life. (I'm not saying he would commit suicide if he was not killed, only that his life becomes focused entirely on this duty with nothing else to give him satisfaction or hope.)

I wouldn't call it a suicidal duty. Very dangerous, difficult, and even soul-destroying, yes, and the risk of death was always there. But at no point did he think it would lead to certain death.

Nothing is certain but Snape's job means a very high risk of death. But I don't think the job was suicidal in the sense that it was a way of suicide for Snape. What I said I meant in a symbolic sense referring to the second brother in the tale, who willingly killed himself to join his dead love. Snape also willingly chooses a road that leads to his early death (and is likely to lead to an early death from the start) and he chooses this road because of his love. But what he does is more meaningful than "simple" suicide (like the second brother's).

I guess it all depends on what he would have seen in the Mirror of Erised, something that JKR never tells us. Would he have seen himself with Lily? Or would he have seen Voldemort defeated and himself without a Dark Mark?

He would have seen himself without the Mark and with Lily.  

Nor am I convinced that it was only for Lily's sake, rather than an innate desire to do the right thing.

Thanks, Mona!!!  I was beginning to think I was alone with this kind of opinion.



Orion - Nov 22, 2008 11:58 am (#586 of 2988)  
I've just had a thought about Snape when I read another thread and I remembered how furious the Snape-fans were about the end of DH. Probably this theory has been circulating in fandom quite a bit but I haven't read anything about it so here it is, whether it's a new thought or an old one:

Can it be that Snape isn't just an echo of a hated former teacher, but a part of JKR's own personality that she can't get to terms with? All her personality traits that she doesn't like about herself thrown together in one character who undergoes a difficult personal development but has to be ritually killed in the end as a cathartic act of self-purification?

Sorry to be off-topic!  



severusisn'tevil - Nov 22, 2008 7:38 pm (#587 of 2988)  
No, of course not. I don't think the only good in him comes from his love for Lily. He's human, curse it.

Wow Orion! Thank you very much. But Severus is a character in his own right, whatever else he is. And if JKR really was doing a catharic whatsit, so much more shame on her for usinga character thus. It is interesting, though, isn't it, that the character she writes to be disliked is one of the favorites among readers? I know she's said in at least one interview that she doesn't understand people's attraction to Severus. I think it's funny.

And how does staining your hands with character murder purify you, that's what I want to know. Ah well. Just when you all were agreeing with me, too. My inr=credible bias is showing, again. Sigh.



wynnleaf - Nov 23, 2008 12:14 pm (#588 of 2988)  
Can it be that Snape isn't just an echo of a hated former teacher, but a part of JKR's own personality that she can't get to terms with? All her personality traits that she doesn't like about herself thrown together in one character who undergoes a difficult personal development but has to be ritually killed in the end as a cathartic act of self-purification? (Orion)

Perhaps. Of course, that may be going a bit far, but even so...

It seems to me that while JKR based Snape in a good many ways on one of her former teachers, one of Snape's prime characteristics -- holding grudges -- seems to not be true of the former teacher, but on the other hand does seem to be true of JKR, at least as regards that particular person. Besides that, it is often true that the very faults that concern people the most in others are the very ones they have in themselves.

I could therefore picture this as a subconscious reason for JKR's attitude toward Snape. I have often found it fascinating that she gave more attention to his character than almost any other. She tells us every nuance of his voice, the color in his face, the expression and color of his eyes, the way he moves, what he wears, his teeth, the color and texture of his hair, the way he physically responds to surprises, fear, or anger.

And then she wrote a character that many, many fans liked, but in spite of all the bravery he shows (JKR's most valued virtue), she seems to dislike the character.

But even more interesting to me was the fact that she wrote all of the last chapters of DH without ever actually writing and articulating Snape being forgiven. In other words, JKR wanted redemption -- she said so later. But many readers felt that Harry forgiving Snape and the redemption lost a good deal of its impact because it not only didn't happen on the page (we never read where Harry rethinks Snape, or decides to forgive, or decides that Snape was redeemed), but instead is conveyed to the reader in a very oblique way only by implication. Harry must have forgiven Snape or he wouldn't have named his son after him. When I couple this with the rather clear indicators that JKR cannot seem to forgive Snape either, or at least seems to keep a grudge toward someone or something in reality that Snape represents, I tend to think that a good deal of what's ultimately coming out in JKR's attitude toward Snape is her feelings about something in her own life, whether others or herself.

Of course, it's all speculation, but even critics of great literature have a field day with this sort of thing, so if the HP series survives far into the future, I'm sure that it will remain a subject of speculation.

By the way, for anyone interested, JKR's former chemistry teacher has written a humorous little piece related to HP. I won't link to it, however you may get to it this way: Google whitehound, then click the first thing that comes up (in spite of the mention of rats and no mention of HP). Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "fan fiction". Then scroll on down until you find the entry just above "Essays". It's a supposed "missing piece" from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.



Dryleaves - Nov 23, 2008 12:47 pm (#589 of 2988)  
Interesting discussion. Unfortunately I don't have much to add to it. I was a little puzzled by JKR's post DH comments about Snape, because after having read the book I was positively sure that she did love this character, even if I was disappointed that there was no direct confrontation between Harry and Snape and that he, as Wynnleaf says, was not really forgiven on the page. So I am not convinced that she dislikes him, but it seems as if she has some kind of mixed emotions about him.  

I sometimes find that I would like to ask JKR a silly question, but I ask you forumers instead (and it would be fun if someone actually answered it  ): If you took one long, black, greasy hair from the head of Severus Snape and put it into a vial of Polyjuice Potion; what colour would the potion turn into and what would it taste like?  (I am not asking you what you would do after drinking it... )



Julia H. - Nov 23, 2008 2:11 pm (#590 of 2988)  
Interesting discussion, everyone.  

Perhaps a Freudian analysis of JKR's personality as reflected by the Snape character would help. She does seem to hold a grudge that seems to go beyond a rational grudge towards a merely fictional character. But then it is not only the grudge that is interesting but (in spite of that grudge?) how she manages to turn him into a fascinating character attracting fans world-wide and a character distinctly likeable though not in a conventional way.

Dryleaves, my cyber twin, it is so weird that you are asking this question right now.  Perhaps later I will be able to explain why... I do have an idea of what colour Snape's Polyjuice Potion would take (I haven't thought of the taste yet), which is not necessarily the same as what JKR would say... At the moment, I'm curious what other forumers will say.  



mona amon - Nov 23, 2008 5:37 pm (#591 of 2988)  
LOL, never ever thought of it. So what colour would Essense of Snape be? Royal purple for a prince, with hints of gold, but the grease causes it to become a bit muddy? I'm not good at this- waiting to hear what Julia will say!  

Julia I've been wanting to reply to your previous post but haven't got down to it yet.

Good post, Wynnleaf. I found John Nettleship's piece- it was very funny!



tandaradei - Nov 23, 2008 9:32 pm (#592 of 2988)  
Not meant for disparagement, I'd think the polyjuice would taste startlingly bitter.

Maybe something metallic.



Dryleaves - Nov 24, 2008 12:49 am (#593 of 2988)  
Julia, now you made me really curious!  

I'm not sure I've decided what I think polyjuice Snape would taste and look like, myself. Maybe the taste would be like some of those really bitter things that still have a good taste in them, like really dark chocolate, for example.  



Julia H. - Nov 24, 2008 3:27 am (#594 of 2988)  
Dryleaves, I may have sounded more mysterious than I should have.  I was much surprised that you asked this question... But my actual answer to it is not more interesting than all the other (very interesting) answers here. So here it is:

I think Essence of Snape would be a silvery colour. Not only because silver is a Slytherin colour but primarily because of my favourite Voldemort - Snape - Harry are the Three Brothers - hobby horse and because of the various Harry - Snape connections we talked so much about. Harry's colour is gold (which also happens to be a Gryffindor colour). Gold also symbolizes perfection and true value. Silver is often connected with gold, either as the "little brother" (or a sort of "forerunner") of gold or sometimes as the opposite of gold. I think both interpretations work here.

In folk tales I know (I can't answer for English ones though) three brothers (three princes or three poor brothers) are often associated with copper, silver and gold. If there are three dragons or three tasks, they are often placed in a copper, silver and gold environment, gold marking the strongest dragon or the final task. (Even in HP we have bronze, silver and gold coins.) If Harry is gold, then Snape must be silver. (It also means Voldemort should be copper or perhaps bronze.)

Silver would also correspond to Snape being a "Prince": Royal but still not the king.

The taste: I see why you say it must be something bitter. Dark chocolate is interesting. (Snape is dark...) I think the potion could also taste like acid mineral water - coming from a spring from deep down, tasting strange, even unpleasant to those who are not used to drinking it but having beneficial health effects and in the end even delicious to those who get "addicted"(i.e., who drink it regularly). (This kind of mineral water is also called "wine water" in my language - now why do I associate Snape with wine and water? BTW, water is a Slytherin element, isn't it?)



Dryleaves - Nov 24, 2008 3:51 am (#595 of 2988)  
Julia, I still want to know why you were surprised!  

I think the principle of dark chocolate and the mineral water is somewhat the same. You have to get used to it or you will not like it.  (Dark chocolate is said to be healthy too...)

I have thought of silver too as the colour and I like your explanation of the symbolism. And speaking of wine, I have also been thinking of a really dark red colour...  Maybe because of his deep love and its dark story. But I haven't really stopped thinking yet.  



tandaradei - Nov 24, 2008 9:23 am (#596 of 2988)  
Bitter is misunderstood.

How about the salt rime on a Margairta? Actually, I've not drunk that, but how about Saki?

Salt is basically bitter, and goes with many things well. Same with mustard.

My favorite coffee, black, is bitter; I want it no other way.

vinegar is bitter, and it obviously works well in many recipes.



Orion - Nov 24, 2008 9:53 am (#597 of 2988)  
It would be jet black because Snape is the most misplaced Slytherin ever, so no silver lining, and it would be bitter as bile and you would spit it out because of all the hate and guilt and depression and general rotten feelings inside him. The question is what you would do with it. ***scratch***



Dryleaves - Nov 24, 2008 10:22 am (#598 of 2988)  
So your conclusion, Orion, would be that no one could polyjuice themselves into Severus Snape because the taste of him is so disgusting? Or maybe one could just swallow enough to get greasy hair or something?  One thing you could do polyjuiced into Snape would be to be nasty to people without facing the consequences of it afterwards, when the potion has worn off...



Julia H. - Nov 24, 2008 10:26 am (#599 of 2988)  
Orion, it sounds like Essence of Crabbe slightly overdone.  



Orion - Nov 24, 2008 11:24 am (#600 of 2988)  
"One thing you could do polyjuiced into Snape would be to be nasty to people without facing the consequences of it afterwards, when the potion has worn off..." Now you've given me an idea what to do with it, Dryleaves! I would clamp a clothes-peg on my nose and take it myself and go to Snape and give him a punch so that he passes out for a few hours and then I would go to DD and tell him: "You can go and kill yourself if you feel like it but I'm not gonna do it! Do I look like a moron? And that's what I think about your Elder Wand!" And then I would take his wand and "crack!" the Elder Wand would be history! And then I would say: "And I'm not going to spy anymore! These people are disgusting and not my choice of company. I have standards!" And then I would go to Harry and tell him a long and complicated story. And then I would go to Snape and tell him that his life had taken some unexpected turns and there were a few people whom he should try not to run into for some time. In fact, I'd tell him to leave the country.


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Dryleaves - Nov 24, 2008 11:53 am (#601 of 2988)  
Excellent idea, Orion!  



mona amon - Nov 24, 2008 6:41 pm (#602 of 2988)

 



Istani - Nov 24, 2008 7:05 pm (#603 of 2988)  
Great ideas, everyone. I especially liked Orion's. Wink For what Snape might taste like, I guess it could be quite an unexpected surprise. The Polyjuice Potion will look dark and even muddy, unpleasant to even think of drinking it. First it will taste bitter but- like a good wine (or chocolate)- you will start to taste more in it. Maybe it burns your tongue like chilli but after the first shock you start to taste a variety of spices you hadn't expected, and you suddendly feel very warm... Of course, you can still go then and connect Dumbledore's head with his desk for manipulating a once tasty flavour becoming bitter, and I would like to apologize if I once again offended anyone with my words.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 24, 2008 9:43 pm (#604 of 2988)  
I think Snape would taste like black licorice. A flavor I personally don't like, I might add.



Dryleaves - Nov 25, 2008 12:34 am (#605 of 2988)  
Would that be salt or sweet liquorice?



mona amon - Nov 25, 2008 12:44 am (#606 of 2988)  
Salt liquorice?  Never knew there was any!  

I feel liquorice is way too popular for Snape. I can't stand it, but most of the people I know love it. I vote for bitter, as in Tandaradei's and Orion's posts.



Dryleaves - Nov 25, 2008 12:50 am (#607 of 2988)  
Maybe salt liquorice is called something else in English?  I just thought the sweetness of the liquorice taste would be a little interesting here, in this context.  I am no liquorice fan either, BTW.  



wynnleaf - Nov 25, 2008 7:08 am (#608 of 2988)  
I've never liked liquorice, but I could imagine that taste for Snape.



legolas returns - Nov 25, 2008 7:32 am (#609 of 2988)  
You either love or hate liquorice (rather like Snape really!). Aniseed is not for everyone but I love it.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 25, 2008 10:29 am (#610 of 2988)  
Well, that's just it. With anise there is no in between, really. People either like the taste or can't stand it. It fits Snape perfectly, in my view.

I think if anyone were to be foolish enough to try to polyjuice themselves into Snape, that would have been a death sentence for Snape. No one else could have occluded themselves out of a sticky situation with Bellatrix or even Dumbledore. Even if the person never confronted another Death Eater, Snape's odd behavior would likely have got back to Voldemort somehow, refueling suspicion about him.



Soul Search - Nov 25, 2008 12:20 pm (#611 of 2988)  
Of course, there is a problem with all this "polyjuiced Snape" discussion: you have to get something of Snape's to make the potion. Sure, just walk up to him and yank out some hair. Yea, right.

Of all the magic we have seen in HP, polyjuice potion seems to be potentially the most dangerous. Can you imagine the trouble someone could cause while impersonating someone else. And there doesn't seem to be a magical way to detect if someone is really them or someone polyjuiced.

I would guess wizards have to be a little careful with hair and toenail clippings, etc. Clean the hairbrush, brush off the coat, dispose of everything by burning. Otherwise, someone could cause trouble.

Then again, it could be the perfect excuse. What, you saw me robbing Gringotts. Couldn't have been me, I was here all along. Must have been someone polyjuiced as me. I am going to have to be more careful with my toenail clippings from now on.

What, a bit off topic? This thread has been off topic for quite a while. So what, amusing discussion.



Julia H. - Nov 25, 2008 11:51 pm (#612 of 2988)  
Off topic? Everything is connected to Snape.  

I would guess wizards have to be a little careful with hair and toenail clippings, etc. Clean the hairbrush, brush off the coat, dispose of everything by burning. Otherwise, someone could cause trouble. (Soul Search)

Now I'm trying hard (but in vain ) to remember where I read that somewhere (where???) in the world tribal wizards had to preserve everything that once belonged to them because if anything that was theirs (hair etc.) got into the hands of others, all kinds of dangerous things could be done with them.



Soul Search - Nov 26, 2008 6:28 am (#613 of 2988)  
"Everything is connected to Snape." (Julia H.)

Sure is. Most topics seem to converge to Snape.

"Now I'm trying hard (but in vain ) to remember where I read that somewhere (where???) in the world tribal wizards had to preserve everything that once belonged to them because if anything that was theirs (hair etc.) got into the hands of others, all kinds of dangerous things could be done with them."

I have repeatedly run across the idea in fantasy fiction that with a part of someone a spell can be placed on them. Off hand, though, I can't come up with any citation, either.

Snape was potions master and had all the ingredients fo polyjuice potion in his store cupboard. Did Snape keep a stock of potion for his own use? Would have been useful to a spy. Mad Eye kept a stock.



Dryleaves - Nov 26, 2008 6:43 am (#614 of 2988)  
I think this is a rather common notion in folk magic in many places on Earth. For example I think I have read about something similar (but not to a very large extent) when reading about witch hunts in 17th century Sweden, but I am not sure.

The idea that Snape might have had a stock of Polyjuice Potion is a fun one. It could be useful for many purposes. Maybe he found a hair from Harry in the Pensieve and took the chance to feel what it would be like to be famous.  But he probably wouldn't have wanted to right then...  Well, I better stop this now before this post is moved to the FanFiction Forum...  

Yes, Soul Search, it's strange: almost everything seems to be related to Snape!  



legolas returns - Nov 26, 2008 7:14 am (#615 of 2988)  
The only time I could see Snape needing to use Polyjuice potion would be when he was going into the Forrest to leave the Sword for Harry. His safety would be comprimised if any death eaters followed or if HRH spotted him.

I don't know how much contact he had with the order after Dumbledore's death but I assume it was almost negligible because they would want to kill him. When looking at the memories Snape left Harry he was himself when he met Mundungus. He may have confunded Mundungus before he could defend himself. Memories are meant to be a true representation.

When Snape was round visiting Grimauld Place he was himself.



Dryleaves - Nov 26, 2008 7:20 am (#616 of 2988)  
Yes, Legolas. I don't think Snape actually used Polyjuice Potion. I wonder to what extent he used potions at all? He seems not to have done it very often, but if it is something he did in private we would of course never see it in the books. He knows a lot about potions, so you would think he would have tried them sometimes, at least. But then, of course, some of them you had better not try...  



legolas returns - Nov 26, 2008 7:31 am (#617 of 2988)  
He should of tried little mouthful of Felix Felicis .



Dryleaves - Nov 26, 2008 8:32 am (#618 of 2988)  
Yes, things might have been different then!  



Julia H. - Nov 26, 2008 8:41 am (#619 of 2988)  
Exactly, Legolas, exactly!  Who would have needed it more than Snape? But he never seems to use potions for himself. (I know it would greatly and inconveniently simplify everything  in the books.) Of Felix Felicis, at least we know that it had side effects, which Snape might have known more about than what Slughorn mentioned to Harry and the other students. Still a little mouthful would not have hurt once or twice. Then again, if Snape generally hates himself, that makes it more likely that he denies himself the pleasure of feeling happy and lucky once or twice in a lifetime.

As for Polyjuice Potion: This kind of disguise was not his method of spying. He pretended to be a faithful DE, that was his disguise. If he had polyjuiced himself into a DE, how would he have known that Voldemort was not at the moment angry with that particular DE or that the DE did not have to be in a completely different place at that moment at Voldemort's orders? Besides, Polyjuice Potion loses its effect unless taken again and again, and how was he to know how long he would have to stay among DE's for example at any give occasion? (Continuous drinking might seem suspicious in itself when you are impersonating someone else than Moody.) Yet another problem is that you have to know lots of things the other person knows but you have no way to find it out. (Fake-Moody obtained a lot of information from real Moody but you don't always have this opportunity.)



legolas returns - Nov 26, 2008 8:52 am (#620 of 2988)  
I would have thought that Snape would have a certain level of confidence in his dealings with Voldemort because he had been spying for years and had not been uncovered as a good guy. He may have thought that he could have handelled anything that came his way. He made a slight underestimation of Voldemort and his increasing desperation. Mind you he did not know about the Death Stick-its not something he could have planned for.



Quinn Crockett - Nov 26, 2008 9:22 am (#621 of 2988)  
I would think something like Polyjuice, for the level of wizard that someone like Snape is, would be a sort of last resort option more than anything. Snape can surely perform the Disallusionment Charm on himself, just as Dumbledore can.

Also, I think that part of potion-making that we get from folklore is that the potions are almost never consumed by the maker him- or herself. They are strictly for use by others (i.e. Wolfsbane potion). It is, in effect, a giving of oneself in service of others (for good or bad).



Julia H. - Nov 26, 2008 11:04 am (#622 of 2988)  
Good observation, Quinn, about the folklore. Yes, Snape makes potions for others but not for himself.

As for Polyjuice Potion, I think it can be used really effectively in two ways:

A) If you want to impersonate someone permanently and if you can imprison that person permanently, as Crouch Jr. did.

B) If you want to impersonate someone for a short time and then vanish, as Hermione impersonated Bella in DH.

Neither of these would have worked for Snape. The first method is rather cruel, and it would not have been much use to Snape. Once he was able to make Voldemort believe he was a faithful DE, the best role for him to play was the role of Severus Snape the double agent. It was the only way he could remain in contact with both Dumbledore and Voldemort and stay away from open battles.

Impersonating someone for a short while and then disappear ... well Snape did not want to disappear but the trick would have come to light and created suspicion.



Soul Search - Nov 26, 2008 11:15 am (#623 of 2988)  
The polyjuice may not be as effective as we hae seen it used. Wizards would be on guard and any out-of-character activity of speech would arouse suspicion. For example, in DH, "The Seven Potters," Voldemort broke off his attack of Mad Eye when Mundungus disapparated, knowing he couldn't be Potter. In other circumstances a question only the polyjuiced-into wizard would know the answer would reveal the deception.

When the trio went through the "Thieves downfall" in Gringotts Herminoe became herself again, the polyjuiced effect being removed, so the potion isn't a perfect disquise. There are, likely, other ways to cancel its effects.



Solitaire - Nov 27, 2008 10:14 am (#624 of 2988)  
Edited Nov 27, 2008 11:47 am
Exactly, Legolas, exactly! Who would have needed it more than Snape?

I think Snape likes being negative and morose, and I think he loves it when he can give detentions to and deduct points from kids, especially Harry and the Gryffindor Gang. It's his way of getting revenge on the Marauders. Snape could certainly have used some Felix on the day he was killed, as it may have prevented that. But then he might never have given Harry the information he so desperately needed to complete his "mission," had he not been dying. I do not think Snape could have borne Harry knowing about his feelings for Lily while he was still alive. He would have feared Harry would use them against him ... perhaps the way he used Harry's feelings to taunt him during his Occlumency lessons. Snape didn't fear much, but he feared showing love. Perhaps he learned from his father's treatment of his mother that showing love just makes one vulnerable ... and he could not allow himself to be vulnerable. In Snape's' world, vulnerability had become a weakness to be exploited.

Solitaire



Julia H. - Nov 28, 2008 2:13 am (#625 of 2988)  
Solitaire, I agree with most of your post. Yes, Snape probably feared showing love and showing himself vulnerable. He grew up that way and his later experiences probably reinforced these tendencies. He also feared Harry (or even others) finding out his secret. It is interesting that while he was able to put up with a lot (even including bad things he did not deserve), the two things he feared were revealing the worst and the best of him (his greatest sin and his ability to love).

However, I don't think Snape only gave Harry his memories or the information included in them because he was dying. He had been looking for Harry before he was chased out of the castle. Even though he had not yet seen Nagini under magical protection, he realized if Harry was in the castle and Voldemort would be arriving soon, there was no time to wait. Harry had to learn the truth before he was face to face with Voldemort. But Harry had to know that he could trust Snape and Snape must have already resolved to tell him the full truth.

I'm sure it was a difficult decision and that Snape was dying may have made it ultimately easier to get rid of his fears. Then again Snape's life had changed in such dramatic ways in the preceding year that it does not seem unlikely that in his extreme solitude and in his state of general disgrace some of his priorities changed and he may have given up these greatest fears, as he may have given up hoping for things he had perhaps wanted for himself earlier (like people's respect, Dumbledore's full trust or the clearing of his name). It seems his life became entirely focused on his duties only and the fact that he had already given up so much may have made him all the more ready to gallantly throw away what he still had (when it became necessary) - like his well-guarded secret or his life.

Hm... I'm not sure how this is related to Felix Felicis though.



severusisn'tevil - Nov 30, 2008 9:46 am (#626 of 2988)  
Hmm. I would have to agree with the idea that Severus's Polyjuice would be silver. (I've always preferred silver as a metal to gold, anyway.) But I think there might be gold streaks in it. After all, Harry is not that much "better" than him. Severus showed a bravery that was *at least* almost equal to Harry's. And we shouldn't disregard DD's comment that "we sort too soon" (DH).

As for the taste. . . "I think Snape would taste like black licorice, a taste I personally dislike" (QC)

Now, there's a surprise. But I wonder, is that the only reason you picked that flavor, or did you also pick it simply for the obvious implication of darkness? I think the ideas about dark chocolate and mineral water are interesting.

As for JKR's attitude toward Severus, I read an interview that said the loved *writing* Severus because he is such an interesting and twisted character . . . or something to that effect. I found it somewhat irksome, seeing as I thought that attitude would have been more logical in Dickens writing Bill Sykes, for instance, or in her writing LV or Bellatrix. She went on to parry a question about a possible relationship between Lily and Severus by saying "What a terrible thought. Who on Earth would want Snape in love with them?" At which I got so angry I closed the window to the interview. But she really does seem to adore him as a plot device and hate him as a "person." Sighh. I'll explore what I'll do as Severus later.



Solitaire - Nov 30, 2008 11:11 am (#627 of 2988)  
As I love the anisette taste, I would never have Snape's Polyjuice taste like licorice. Cod liver oil, perhaps ... or maybe over-cooked Brussels sprouts or even tuna (which makes me ill). Never chocolate or licorice!



Julia H. - Nov 30, 2008 11:51 am (#628 of 2988)  
Just yesterday I had some chocolate that I could imagine as Snape Essence.  It was pure dark chocolate melted into liquid, with a straw in it and with vanilla ice-cream on the top. I didn't start to drink it in time and the ice-cream cooled the chocolate and it became solid so that I couldn't move the straw at all. After eating the ice-cream, I managed to somehow break and liquify a part of the chocolate again so that it became eatable with a spoon. It was very good and of high quality but at the same time such a substantial drink (?) that it was impossible to consume it alone. I had to share it with my family members. This is more or less what happened to me with the Snape character as well. It was too substantial for me alone so I had to share the experience. That's how I ended up here.  



Quinn Crockett - Nov 30, 2008 11:59 am (#629 of 2988)  
Edited Nov 30, 2008 12:32 pm
I wonder, is that the only reason you picked that flavor, or did you also pick it simply for the obvious implication of darkness?

Actually, I didn't "pick" the flavor. It's just the taste that came to me as I imagined the character. My dislike for it is coincidental.

I think if I were going to actually choose a flavor for this character, it would be something like moldy coffee grounds.



Mrs Brisbee - Nov 30, 2008 12:05 pm (#630 of 2988)  
How about overcooked spinach? It could have been wonderful, lightly wilted and lightly seasoned with olive oil and garlic, but instead it has chosen to be cooked down into an opaque green-brown sludge.



Solitaire - Nov 30, 2008 2:27 pm (#631 of 2988)  
LOL Mrs. Brisbee! Overcooked spinach is about as appetizing as overcooked Brussels sprouts! Moldy coffee grounds work, too, Quinn.



Julia H. - Nov 30, 2008 3:42 pm (#632 of 2988)  
Edited Nov 30, 2008 4:12 pm
There are lots of disgusting tastes in the world but I don't think they characterize very well a complex and ambiguous character like Snape. Nobody likes overcooked spinach and other similar things while the Snape character attracts fans world-wide and - in the books - he is not that simple unambiguous something that overcooked spinach is bound to be, which cannot be mistaken for anything else and whose quality probably would not inspire long discussions anywhere. Snape is a mystery and can be interpreted in many ways. I think a strong, good quality flavour which has unusual characteristics and which is liked by certain people but strongly disliked by others can symbolize the character better. Dark chocolate and the kind of mineral water I described earlier have such flavours.

I've been thinking of another candidate for the taste of Snape Essence. I haven't mentioned it so far because if you are not familiar with it, my description won't help but anyway... It is the flavour of an alcoholic drink from my country made of a combination of lots of herbs. It is black and distinctly bitter and it was invented centuries ago by a chemist. It is called Unicum.

But my vote still goes to silver and mineral water.



Mrs Brisbee - Nov 30, 2008 5:16 pm (#633 of 2988)  
Heh, my Mom likes overcooked spinach. But I agree that it is an unusual taste.

I really don't know that Snape is that complicated. It is his veneer which is mysterious and ambiguous (but after DH, I'm not sure how much of that is left). If we are talking about the true essence of the man, and since this is all an exercise in imagination, I guess each of us will see the essence of whatever we think fits Snape the best.



wynnleaf - Nov 30, 2008 5:44 pm (#634 of 2988)  
Julia, I liked your idea about the dark chocolate. What about this one? It's a favorite of mine. Very dark, bittersweet chocolate over coffee beans. You get the bite of the coffee, the bitterness, rich flavor, and it's quite stimulating. Besides, with all he had to do, Snape must have hardly ever slept.



Solitaire - Nov 30, 2008 9:12 pm (#635 of 2988)  
Well, he has been compared to a bat, a creature that is quite active nocturnally.



Dryleaves - Dec 1, 2008 12:50 am (#636 of 2988)  
How many of you have actually eaten mouldy coffee grounds?   But to me it would work better than overcooked spinach, I think, if I try to imagine what it would taste like. I, personally, find it really hard to compare Snape to overcooked vegetables (if you like them, it is usually because you prefer things not to taste anything) but brussels sprouts at least have a bitterness in them.

I do not really agree that it is just the veneer that makes Snape ambiguous and complicated. He has a lot of contradicting feelings and character traits in him, I think. Even if I like this character he often makes me angry (and spinach does not, not even when it is overcooked). I think he would have a taste with some bite in it, with a lot of bitterness, but also many nuances, some of them actually tasting good.

It has been really fun to see the different suggestions, though. Obviously we have very different opinions about this character - as if that would be any news!  



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 1, 2008 5:11 am (#637 of 2988)  
Even if I like this character he often makes me angry (and spinach does not, not even when it is overcooked).-- Dryleaves

LOL, I'm trying to imagine anger inducing food. Maybe the mustard jar that refuses to open, although how you get the jar-won't-open taste into a Polyjuice Potion, I don't know.



Dryleaves - Dec 1, 2008 5:30 am (#638 of 2988)  
LOL!  Yes, maybe I did not choose the best way of expressing myself there... But if you manage to get that jar to open, a good spoonful of Dijon mustard would perhaps heat you up just as much.  



Julia H. - Dec 1, 2008 8:06 am (#639 of 2988)  
Bittersweet chocolate with coffee! I like that.  And yes, Snape is a nocturnal being - even when he seemingly walks about in daylight, it is night inside him.

As for the Dijon mustard - something hot and spicy? Some people actually like that burning sensation in their mouths even though it is not pleasant in the usual sense of the word, and I would even say it is painful - and yet...

I do not really agree that it is just the veneer that makes Snape ambiguous and complicated. He has a lot of contradicting feelings and character traits in him, I think. (Dryleaves)

I agree with Dryleaves. Even though we find out Snape's secrets in DH, he remains ambiguous and contradictory. Strong love and strong hatred so close to each other in him; hardness and sensitivity; Slytherin-ness and Gryffindor-bravery; inventor of curses and healer in one person; all the darkness around him and his beautiful Patronus, which is everything Snape himself seems not to be - to mention just a few aspects.



tandaradei - Dec 1, 2008 5:58 pm (#640 of 2988)  
Erm, how about something with horseradish in it?

To me, horseradish clears the senses almost like ammonia. As to the HP series, Jo's usage of Snape has in the end cleared my senses of preconceptions regarding him.

To, HP has shown me in the extreme how one must respect the third-person limited narrative style: which can lead the reader into thought processes of its characters, that do not necessarily help one find the true path for every necessary discernment.



Julia H. - Dec 1, 2008 10:54 pm (#641 of 2988)  
Yes, and when you think of it, in reality every single person experiences life in a similar style - "first-person limited narrative style" instead of the third-person one.  



severusisn'tevil - Dec 3, 2008 2:23 pm (#642 of 2988)  
Moldy coffee grounds, indeed! *Head shake*.

The bitter chocolate is a good idea, though. I mean, I love chocolate (except white, which is not called white chocolate in Britain anyway. It's against the law to do so because it does not contain chocolate liquer. Anyway...) Eating bitter chocolate that has a high cocoa concentration is something that takes patience. It's hard to just gobble a bar of chocolate if it's 70 or 80% cocoa. You have to take small bites or eat it with something else, otherwise, the *initial* bitterness will overwhelm you. *Initial* bitterness---like how at first Severus's character seems to be nothing more than a mildly sadistic and rather biased teacher, but turns out to be very brave and loyal in his own way.

And tandaradei, I'm not sure I understand your meaning. Her "usage" of Severus? You mean having him be miserable his whole life and then killing him off in a vicious and cruel manner? Or did you mean the development of his character?

If I were able to obtain essence of Severus, I would capture a DE and force feed him the potion. Then I would send the DE to the Shrieking Shack in Severus's place. Nice poetic justice. Possibly Bellatrix, or maybe her husband. I don't think I'd want to impersonate him myself.



tandaradei - Dec 3, 2008 2:47 pm (#643 of 2988)  
Ahhhh, I didn't even remember that. Had to go back and look it up.

By "usage" I meant how she presented the story, in order to (IMO) teach us about the problems of judging people too early.

Harry et al (including me) judged Snape throughout and until the end IMO they (we) did so without sufficient information to make such judgements realistic -- at least in the sense of judging with all necessary facts in place. The Prince's Tale blew me away.

In a recent lecture at Harvard she touched on this intention of hers.



Barbara J - Dec 3, 2008 7:46 pm (#644 of 2988)  
Jagermeister.



Solitaire - Dec 3, 2008 8:02 pm (#645 of 2988)  
I agree that bitter is the flavor for Sev. How about turnips? They are totally bitter, IMO. Since I love chocolate of any variety, I have difficulty linking it with Snape.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 4, 2008 5:13 am (#646 of 2988)  
I love chocolate too, and have a hard time associating it with Snape also. Especially since in the books chocolate cures the dementor blues. Somehow I can't fathom, "Look, dementors! I know, my thoughts of Snape cheer me up!"

Maybe he's Meatloaf Surprise. You know, meaty, but the ingredients are a bit questionable (we could even add a side of turnips).



Solitaire - Dec 4, 2008 7:17 am (#647 of 2988)  
LOL Mrs. Brisbee! Actually, I love meatloaf ... especially mine. I use wheat germ and ground flax seed instead of cracker crumbs, so it has a wonderfully nutty taste. In fact, I think I may make some next week, now that you remind me of it!



mona amon - Dec 4, 2008 8:54 am (#648 of 2988)  
LOL, I haven't been to other HP forums, but I bet their Snape threads are absolutely nothing like ours!  

I love Snape and I love dark chocolate, but I too have a hard time associating the two. However dark the chocolate, it also has some sweet. And there's nothing sweet in Snape. Associating the good in him with the sweet in the bitter chocolate doesn't work for me. 'Good' and 'sweet' are so different. And sweet isn't always good, LOL.



Julia H. - Dec 4, 2008 9:26 am (#649 of 2988)  
Vegetables and meatloaf? These things bring up images of cutting and mincing and stuffing and biting and eating - and when I remember that we are talking about a human character, those images seem to be excerpts of a horror movie.  It seems Snape Essence has changed from a way of analysing the character into a way of analysing our feelings about him.

Especially since in the books chocolate cures the dementor blues. Somehow I can't fathom, "Look, dementors! I know, my thoughts of Snape cheer me up!" (Mrs Brisbee)

Sorry for nitpicking but I don't remember it ever being mentioned in the books that the thought of some chocolate will cheer you up. You have to have the chocolate itself (and you don't have to like that chocolate). Now, if I suddenly found myself in the company of Dementors, it would be very useful to have Snape (not just thoughts of Snape) nearby. He would cast a Patronus to chase the Dementors away, which I might not be able to do on my own!  That would certainly cheer me up. (Actually he could come at this very moment with that Patronus because nowadays I can distinctly feel the presence of Dementors lurking in the winter darkness nearby.)

And sweet isn't always good... (Mona)

I'll have to remember that.  (Fudge, anyone?)



Dryleaves - Dec 4, 2008 9:52 am (#650 of 2988)  
Well, I think the possible chocolate taste of Snape would be at least 90% cacao (probably more), so there would not be that much sweetness. Of the suggested "vegetables" I think I could believe in chili, mustard or horseradish. (They may not keep the dementors away, but they would surely cure a cold...  )

(Yes, I know, I'm just rambling...)


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tandaradei - Dec 4, 2008 9:54 am (#651 of 2988)  
Speaking to all this, how about some French orange marmalade?

Personally, I've never liked sweet marmalades. The only good orange marmalades I've ever liked retain the bitter rind taste.

I mean it, its REALLY good, say on a buttered toasted English Muffin.

Here, bitter is good, sweet is bad.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 4, 2008 9:59 am (#652 of 2988)  
Vegetables and meatloaf? These things bring up images of cutting and mincing and stuffing and biting and eating - and when I remember that we are talking about a human character, those images seem to be excerpts of a horror movie. It seems Snape Essence has changed from a way of analysing the character into a way of analysing our feelings about him.

LOL, are you sure it wasn't always that way? What's wrong with meat and vegetables? Why are they less legitimate than chocolate or coffee? Isn't it all a matter of how we read a character?

Although I do admit I was attracted to this topic out of bemusement. You got to admit, there is something very entertaining about so many people wanting to "taste" Snape, and debating what flavor he is.

In order to reach consensus, I propose combining all flavors, so we have meatloaf with horseradish mustard pureed with mashed turnips, spinach, and brussels sprouts, topped with chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and licorice bits. All in a jar that won't open.



Julia H. - Dec 4, 2008 10:11 am (#653 of 2988)  
What's wrong with meat and vegetables? Why are they less legitimate than chocolate or coffee? (Mrs Brisbee)

LOL, it's not that they are less legitimate, only I personally find images of food somewhat harsher than images of drinks in this case (especially when methods of cooking are also discussed) - and yes, I think it is because of our feelings about the character.  We started discussing what Polyjuice Snape would taste and what colour it would have and we end up with a complete menu on the dinner table! He is a complex character, after all.  Poor Severus.

EDIT: Polyjuice Snape: The liquid equivalent of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans???



shepherdess - Dec 4, 2008 10:21 am (#654 of 2988)  
Someone should copy this conversation and send it to Alan Rickman. Can you imagine?! A whole new perspective on the character he plays. Lol.



Swedish Short-Snout - Dec 4, 2008 10:27 am (#655 of 2988)  
This discussion is funny.  I think Snape polyjuice potion would be black with silver sparks. As for the taste... I know what I think it would taste like, but I can't explain it. It's bitter, but it's not coffee or dark chocolate or anything else, it's just... Snape.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 4, 2008 10:56 am (#656 of 2988)  
How else can people imagine a "taste" other than by comparing it to known flavors? That is, things they have tasted in the past? Which for most of us is limited to actual food.

For example, while I have personally never tasted moldy coffee grounds. I have certainly smelled them. And since 90% (or there abouts) of our sense of taste comes from our sense of smell I think I could pretty well imagine how something like that would taste if I were ever forced to consume it.

Having said that, on a camping trip one time, I accidentally picked up the bottle people had been using to put their cigarette butts in - thinking it was my beverage that I had set down to attend the fire or something. I took a GIANT swig of that - and then very nearly hurled as I immediately realized what I was actually drinking.

So, I can imagine Snape Juice would taste pretty similar.



legolas returns - Dec 4, 2008 3:10 pm (#657 of 2988)  
Marmite?



severusisn'tevil - Dec 7, 2008 2:31 pm (#658 of 2988)  
Send this to Alan Rickman? Maybe he's here already, contributing to the discussion (not me) or, he views the forum as a guest. I know I would if I were trying to play Severus properly. Then again, he's in another movie (other than HP&HPB) that comes out this year, so I don't think he'd necessarily have time. Can't remember what the movie is called, but he's British in it, so it can't be too awful, but I digress.

And Quinn, it's 66% of taste is from smell, which is interesting because I have a friend born without a sense of smell, and she seems to get a fair amount of enjoyment from food. And how badly did the moldy coffee grounds smell, Quinn?

Severus would taste like cigarette ash mixed with beverage?? Then again, we don't know for sure, do we, whether taste has anything to do with the character in question? Hermione says she thinks Harry looks tastier than Crabbe and Goyle, but we don't know what he tastes like.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 7, 2008 5:43 pm (#659 of 2988)  
Severus would taste like cigarette ash mixed with beverage?? - Yeah, that's right.

If you seriously need to ask how bad moldy coffee grounds smell, I would suggest you try leaving some to mold for a few weeks and take a big whiff. Obviously if that sort of scent doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother you. It does me, however.



Orion - Dec 8, 2008 9:32 am (#660 of 2988)  
Dear Mr Rickman, can you please play a meatloaf dipped in cigarette ashes with marmite, moldy coffee beans and horseradish.

Earth calling forumers... Why does nearly everybody only come up with the most unpleasant tastes imaginable?

Essence of Snape would be not only pitch-black like tar, but also teeth-shatteringly bitter, like a double espresso which shakes you awake with a jolt. Very strong coffee often has a burnt cigarette aroma. The colour would also fit.



Dryleaves - Dec 8, 2008 9:48 am (#661 of 2988)  
Dear Mr Rickman, can you please play a meatloaf dipped in cigarette ashes with marmite, moldy coffee beans and horseradish.

Now I can hardly wait for Deathly Hallows I and II...



legolas returns - Dec 8, 2008 10:14 am (#662 of 2988)  
You have summed it up well Orion . He's not all bad though. Where's the redeeming bit-the under it all he has kept his promise to protect Harry?



Quinn Crockett - Dec 8, 2008 10:29 am (#663 of 2988)  
Earth calling forumers... Why does nearly everybody only come up with the most unpleasant tastes imaginable? - Well for one thing because not all of us worship at the altar of Saint Severus. The character, himself, is one of "the most unpleasant tastes imaginable". So why shouldn't people imagine that "his essence" would be as well?

Essence of Snape would be not only pitch-black like tar, but also teeth-shatteringly bitter, like a double espresso which shakes you awake with a jolt. Very strong coffee often has a burnt cigarette aroma. The colour would also fit. - You must not be much of a coffee drinker. A double espresso isn't really that dark and it isn't even that bitter. Certainly not "teeth-shatteringly" so. And coffee - even espresso - smells nothing at all like cigarettes. Even burnt coffee still just smells like coffee.



Orion - Dec 8, 2008 10:51 am (#664 of 2988)  
Quinn, I'm a ten-mugs-a-day coffee user who sometimes has to take "coffee breaks" due to a protesting stomach. And then, in my coffee-free periods, when I smell real coffee, it distinctively smells like cigarettes to me. But you only smell it if you have stayed clear of coffee for a few days.

You're right, normal espresso isn't that bitter. But my colleagues brew something I call rat poison. It makes my stomach cringe with fear. So I find the notion of Snape tea tasting like very strong, very black coffee quite fitting.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 8, 2008 11:22 am (#665 of 2988)  
Edited Dec 8, 2008 12:12 pm
Ah, I stand corrected, Orion. Ouch! Your poor tummy! Sorry, it's just that I've only ever heard non-coffee drinkers complain about the smell of coffee.
Ha! But I think we've all worked somewhere, at some point, where some colleague or other didn't know how to make coffee and ended up with "jet fuel" (or "rat poison") in the pot.

I could definitely see there being that sort of coffee element to the "Snape Tea".



Julia H. - Dec 8, 2008 12:36 pm (#666 of 2988)  
Coffee tastes distinctly different in different parts of the world. Even different individuals make different coffee. Different individuals also make different Snapes.



legolas returns - Dec 8, 2008 12:41 pm (#667 of 2988)  
Coffee smells to me of burnt toast.



Solitaire - Dec 8, 2008 7:15 pm (#668 of 2988)  
Oh, I love the smell of coffee--especially freshly ground beans--so I can't relate Snape to that.



Viola Intonada - Dec 10, 2008 7:48 pm (#669 of 2988)  
I think Snape would have to taste greasy.



Dryleaves - Dec 11, 2008 12:01 am (#670 of 2988)  
Viola, your suggestion added to the previous coffee discussion made me think of something I read in a food magazine once. A lady had written to the magazine complaining that small drops of oil were floating around in her coffee. She had washed her cups really well, so it could not be that. The answer was that this was some kind of aromatic oil that was a part of coffee and a sign that her coffee was of really good quality. But I think some people here might heartily disagree when it comes to Snape.  However, if you use a hair from Snape, I guess there would be some amount of grease in the potion...  



tandaradei - Dec 11, 2008 11:57 am (#671 of 2988)  
How about Hickory-laced coffee? It's complex and bitter, and something one must get used to.



severusisn'tevil - Dec 11, 2008 7:47 pm (#672 of 2988)  
Earth to forumers, huh, Orion? Well-said, indeed.

And Quinn, for heaven's sake. I'd say we're pretty much opposites on this thread, you and I, but I would not consider myself, or anyone else on the thread for this matter, worshiping Severus. I do not take every available opportunity to bash him, perhaps, but I swear I don't have a bubble gum replica in my closet that I pray to daily.

Good idea, tanda. Hickory laced coffee.



me and my shadow 813 - Dec 23, 2008 4:44 pm (#673 of 2988)  
Would it be alright to get off the food topic? Here goes, back to the prior discussion...

Yes, Snape probably feared showing love and showing himself vulnerable. He grew up that way and his later experiences probably reinforced these tendencies. He also feared Harry (or even others) finding out his secret. It is interesting that while he was able to put up with a lot (even including bad things he did not deserve), the two things he feared were revealing the worst and the best of him (his greatest sin and his ability to love). - Julia H.

Here is the exact quote from interview with JKR in 2005:

MA: Oh, here’s one [from our forums] that I’ve really got to ask you. Has Snape ever been loved by anyone?

JKR: Yes, he has, which in some ways makes him more culpable even than Voldemort, who never has.

Severus was loved by Lily. But was Severus --with his dangerous "obsessive love" towards her-- turned into more of a monster or less of a monster by losing her not once (to James) but twice (to death)?



severusisn'tevil - Dec 27, 2008 11:12 am (#674 of 2988)  
That quote, which is one of my least favorite JKR's ever, does not mean that Lily loved him. It means someone did. I would honestly hazard a guess at his mother and DD. He was less of a monster in the end. Losing her the first time to James probably solidified his initial loyalty to LV, but when LV killed her, it was the negative stimulus that brought his back to his senses and "snapped him out of it," so to speak.

And I don't think his love for Lily was really dangerous. He shouted at her when he was angry, but he never attacked her or tried to force her to be his.



Solitaire - Dec 27, 2008 11:14 am (#675 of 2988)  
If she didn't love him romantically, I do think Lily loved Snape as a friend. She had a genuine concern for his welfare and happiness, and she certainly stood by him until she could no longer support his DE leanings.



Dryleaves - Dec 27, 2008 2:31 pm (#676 of 2988)  
I interpret the quote by JKR as Snape being more culpable because he was not a monster. He knew love and he was able to love, while Voldemort has never understood love at all. Snape looks for love, Voldemort never does, he only looks for power. With this knowledge, which Voldemort does not have, Snape can be said to be more culpable when he chooses to become a Death Eater, a path incompatible with love (and is, if you like, the path to becoming a monster), because he has a better understanding of what the choice really is about. To me a “monster” is someone who has lost part of his/her humanity, like Voldemort, and I do not think Snape ever goes there, or if he does, he finds his way back before it is too late. Then I think that to love is more real to Snape than being loved, and perhaps this is the case with most people, but Snape has a very poor experience of being loved from his parents, so I think he is extra vulneralble in this area.

I do not really see Snape's love for Lily as dangerous and I would rather call it constant than obsessive. It may seem obsessive as Snape seems to be a person who prefers to have a few, deep relationships. He is also a person with intense feelings. He holds on to love and he holds on to grudges, but I think the guilt he later feels about what he has done to Lily may be yet another thing that makes him hold on to her even many years after her death. He cannot allow himself to let go. Even if he has been loved, I think his experiences rather show a lack of love, and this maybe makes him expect too much of Lily. He wants her to give all the love and friendship he never got from anyone else, but I think this is mostly annoying, not directly dangerous. I think the danger comes when his high expectations fail and he feels disillusioned with love. I think this is something that happens gradually during his years in school, when he is also affected by his Slytherin friends with Death Eater leanings. He never seems to turn this disillusionment directly against Lily, though. I agree with severusisn’t evil that he shouted at her when he was angry and deeply humiliated, but never attacked her or forced her to be his.

When he loses Lily to James he chooses a path which is not love, but when he realises that Lily is being targeted he tries to save her, even if he risks his own life when doing so and even if it means he cannot have her. It is his ability to love that turns him away from the Death Eaters, and I think what he feels for Lily is genuine love, not dangerous obsession.



Solitaire - Dec 27, 2008 2:43 pm (#677 of 2988)  
What does shift it into the realm of obsessive love, for me, is the way he still takes his anger toward James out on Harry. That is not the behavior of a rational, well-adjusted adult. It is the behavior of a resentful adolescent.



Quinn Crockett - Dec 27, 2008 7:04 pm (#678 of 2988)  
Precisely, Solitaire. If he truly loved Lily in a healthy way he would automatically have wanted to protect Harry for her sake. He would never have had to be convinced of this and he would certainly never treat Harry as he does.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 27, 2008 8:26 pm (#679 of 2988)  
I see Snape's love for Lily as obsessive. He was obsessive about his grudges, too, having a hard time letting them go. He was an obsessive type of guy.

When he loses Lily to James he chooses a path which is not love...-- Dryleaves

I think that's one of Snape's problems, that he thinks he lost Lily to James. Snape never had her romantically-- he had her as a friend and that's what he threw away. And Lily makes clear that in her opinion he has already chosen to walk his dark path before she leaves the friendship for good, which was at least a year before she hooked up with James. I have to agree with Lily about what "lost" Lily for Snape.

I'd like to think that Snape grew out of his unhealthy obsessions, and finally saw what he really threw away, but I am troubled by the things he stole from Sirius's room at Grimmauld place. He stole Lily's love to Sirius, which is more symbolic of understanding that what he had had was the love of a friend, and that it was really Sirius, not James, that took the place he had vacated. But Snape also rips photo-Lily out of her family, and throws the husband and son away, which leads me to think that he hadn't really progressed that far afterall.



Ludicrous Patents Office - Dec 28, 2008 6:53 am (#680 of 2988)  
Snape probably didn't have anything of Lily's. I can see why he would take her signature and picture. He has always regretted her death and the loss of her friendship. I would not want the picture of the person who humiliated and bullied me. LPO



Solitaire - Dec 28, 2008 8:43 am (#681 of 2988)  
How sad that he took a photo which showed the three Potters together. I'm sure Harry would have loved to have that pic intact.



Dryleaves - Dec 28, 2008 9:02 am (#682 of 2988)  
In a way, when we see him tear the photo apart, he has already given it back. Through Snape's memories Harry gets to read the rest of the letter and he also gets to see something of his mother. When Harry meets his father's old friends he also conjures his patronus, which is a stag, the same as his father's. Snape's patronus, which is a doe like Harry's mother's patronus, helps Harry in DH.



Solitaire - Dec 28, 2008 9:17 am (#683 of 2988)  
I do not think Snape ever intended for Harry to see some of those memories, because I do not think Snape intended to die.



Dryleaves - Dec 28, 2008 10:06 am (#684 of 2988)  
I meant that Snape also functions as someone who gives Harry answers about his past, but not necessarily that he does so out of generousity towards Harry. When it comes to intention, I think Snape, dying or not, was prepared to tell Harry so much as was needed for Harry to believe what Snape was telling him. Had Harry demanded less to believe it, Snape would probably have told him less. Had Harry demanded more, he might very well have told him more.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 28, 2008 7:17 pm (#685 of 2988)  
Snape probably didn't have anything of Lily's. I can see why he would take her signature and picture.-- Ludicrous Patents Office

But, why doesn't Snape have anything of Lily's? They were friends for years. No gift exchanges, or photos taken? That seems really odd.

Does no one else but me think it symbolically significant that Snape chooses to steal what was Sirius's, the man who took his place as Lily's best friend? Or that he takes the love the adult Lily gave Sirius, to pretend it was his own? Or that he tears the adult Lily out of her family to take her away with him? Yes, I can see that he wants comfort, but also that he still wishes to delude himself about what her life was like after he was out of it.



mona amon - Dec 28, 7:30 pm (#686 of 2988)
Hi me and my shadow! Where have you been?  

I feel Snape's love for Lily was very normal. After she has broken off the friendship he doesn't pester her or stalk her or anything. His grudge against James is more obsessive. But he had reasons other than jealousy over Lily for his hatred of James. He has an almost equal grudge against the other Marauders as well.

I think that's one of Snape's problems, that he thinks he lost Lily to James. Snape never had her romantically-- he had her as a friend and that's what he threw away. And Lily makes clear that in her opinion he has already chosen to walk his dark path before she leaves the friendship for good, which was at least a year before she hooked up with James. I have to agree with Lily about what "lost" Lily for Snape. (Mrs Brisbee)

I too agree that Lily turned away from Snape because he refused to give up his DE aspirations, and that it was not because of James, at least initially. But I'm not sure Snape did not know this. To me it seems like he made a conscious choice between the dark side and Lily. The Dark Arts were Snape's area of expertise, his special talent. They were to him the equivalent of being a rock star or a quidditch hero. He needed to be something like that to impress this girl who he felt was too good for him. At some point he must have realised that Lily was telling him she hated the Dark Arts. But the need to be a rock star was overwhelming.

Snape probably didn't have anything of Lily's. I can see why he would take her signature and picture. He has always regretted her death and the loss of her friendship. I would not want the picture of the person who humiliated and bullied me. (LPO)

I agree, LPO. He wanted a picture of Lily, not James and Harry. I do not think the action was particuarly symbolic.

Good post, Dryleaves. I like your interpretation of JKR's comment, but when I read it again I'm not sure that it's what she meant.

MA: Oh, here’s one [from our forums] that I’ve really got to ask you. Has Snape ever been loved by anyone?

JKR: Yes, he has, which in some ways makes him more culpable even than Voldemort, who never has.

She seems to be saying that Voldemort never received any sort of love, and that's what made him into a monster. Snape has received love, so he is no monster and has to take responsibility for his (evil) actions. Almost the same as what you are saying, but she focuses on the amount of love that they recieved, without really showing us where Snape got this love that ought to save and makes you culpable if you do evil inspite of it.

Soli, Harry already has pictures of himself with his parents. And although he ransacked Sirius's bedroom in an attempt to find the rest of the picture, he has such a sympathetic and generous nature that when he eventually finds out what happened to it, I think he does not grudge Snape the photo. When the incident is described to us in The Prince's Tale through Harry's eyes, there seems to be a complete absense of resentment. He seems to approve of Snape's love for his mother.



Solitaire - Dec 28, 2008 7:49 pm (#687 of 2988)  
I know Harry has pictures of his parents--Hagrid gave him an album made up of photos from their old school friends (PS/SS Ch. 17)--but it doesn't say Harry is in any of them. I think he is in the one in the movie, but that is the movie ... not the book. Are you sure there are any others of him with his parents? I don't remember that, although I have forgotten a lot.

Lily turned away from Snape because he refused to give up his DE aspirations, and that it was not because of James, at least initially. But I'm not sure Snape did not know this.

When Lily had that final confrontation with Snape, she did not seem to be too interested in James at that point. Snape just doesn't seem to comprehend that Lily could have ended the friendship because of his actions. He thinks she is being influenced by James, and he hates James for that. Does he think that, if there had been no James, Lily would have followed him into the Dark Arts? I just do not think Snape tracks properly where either James or Lily is concerned. He is unable to accept responsibility for the end of his friendship with Lily, and he punishes anyone connected with James for it.



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 28, 2008 8:15 pm (#688 of 2988)  
He wanted a picture of Lily, not James and Harry. I do not think the action was particularly symbolic.-- mona amon

J.K. Rowling created the photo, though. She could have created a photo of Lily that Snape could have taken without ripping the husband and son away and throwing them on the floor. She could have made a signature from Lily on any document, but she chose one where the love was addressed to Sirius. I just can't see how Snape's actions can't be symbolic, considering the complex relationships of all involved.



mona amon - Dec 28, 2008 8:36 pm (#689 of 2988)  
What I meant was, Snape was aware that he was losing Lily's frienship because of his Dark Arts fixation even before he was aware that she was attracted to James, but he could not give them up in spite of it. And he had his hatred of James was due to various things that had happened between them in the past, not just jealousy over Lily. This is shown by the fact that he hated the other marauders almost equally.

I think he is in the one in the movie, but that is the movie ... not the book. Are you sure there are any others of him with his parents?

Oops, it must have been movie contamination.  Anyway, Harry does not seem to mind.

But, why doesn't Snape have anything of Lily's? They were friends for years. No gift exchanges, or photos taken? That seems really odd. (Mrs Brisbee)

If they had exchanged gifts, letters and photos I guess they returned them after the rift in the fifth year. I picture them over the next two years both looking pointedly in opposite directions whenever they happened to meet in the corridors.

Does no one else but me think it symbolically significant that Snape chooses to steal what was Sirius's, the man who took his place as Lily's best friend? Or that he takes the love the adult Lily gave Sirius, to pretend it was his own? Or that he tears the adult Lily out of her family to take her away with him? Yes, I can see that he wants comfort, but also that he still wishes to delude himself about what her life was like after he was out of it. (Mrs. Brisbee)

I think he only had one motive. He wants Lily's signature, and he wants her picture. I do not think he would have tried to pretend that the love was for him, that does not seem like Snape. I think that the moment when he read her letter was the moment he stopped having delusions about her (if he ever had any) and accepted the fact that she was happy with James. To me this is shown by the fact that he responds to this testament of domestic happiness with tears rather than with anger or resentment.

EDIT: Cross-posted!  



Quinn Crockett - Dec 29, 2008 12:31 am (#690 of 2988)  
Does no one else but me think it symbolically significant that Snape chooses to steal what was Sirius's, the man who took his place as Lily's best friend? - I do, Mrs B. I thought you made an excellent point there - so good that I've nothing to add, really.

I also agree with Solitaire that Snape never completely makes the connection that Lily ending their friendship had nothing to do with James and everything to do with his own behavior - not the least of which included his using the most offensive epithet a wizard can against her, his "best friend".

I actually think that part of the reason Snape took the letter was, as has been suggested, to prevent anyone from reading the information about Dumbledore's youthful association with the young Grindelwald. Although he could not have known that it wouldn't have mattered if he'd left it, since Rita Skeeter later let that particular cat out of the bag anyway.

I do not think he would have tried to pretend that the love was for him, that does not seem like Snape. - Why not? This is a guy who lives entirely inside his own head. We have no idea what little fantasies are knocking around in there. But whatever they are, he had to develop his Occlumency skills pretty quick to be able to keep them.



mona amon - Dec 29, 2008 4:49 am (#691 of 2988)  
Why not? This is a guy who lives entirely inside his own head. We have no idea what little fantasies are knocking around in there.

Well, LOL, I can't really argue with that. I should have said 'that does not seem like Snape to me', as there is absolutely nothing in the books to show that he was the sort of person who would take Lily's love to someone else and pretend that it was for him. I'm sure that he had his fantasies just like anyone else. And like anyone else he wouldn't have wanted others to know what they were. So we cannot really draw any conclusions about the nature of his fantasies.

I also agree with Solitaire that Snape never completely makes the connection that Lily ending their friendship had nothing to do with James and everything to do with his own behavior - not the least of which included his using the most offensive epithet a wizard can against her, his "best friend".

Here again, we'll never know. Nowhere in the books do we see Snape accusing Lily of throwing him over because of James. And since we never get a single glimpse into Snape's mind, we can never know how much blame he apportioned for the split to James, to Lily or to himself. When he finally comes around to Lily's point of view about Voldemort and the DEs (after joining Dumbledore), at least then he must have realised why she ended the friendship.

J.K. Rowling created the photo, though. She could have created a photo of Lily that Snape could have taken without ripping the husband and son away and throwing them on the floor. She could have made a signature from Lily on any document, but she chose one where the love was addressed to Sirius. I just can't see how Snape's actions can't be symbolic, considering the complex relationships of all involved. (Mrs. Brisbee)

But there's also the plot to be considered. If she had just shown Snape at the end weeping over some random photo of Lily, it would not have had the same effect. Instead she has Harry find and carry one part of the picture with him, while Snape carries the other. It was a small mystery and creates more interest in Snape's action for the reader.

Actually I do find it symbolic. But I feel that tearing James and Harry from the picture and throwing them away just symbolises his continuing grudge against James and his continued loathing of Harry. It shows that Snape had only an incomplete sort of redemption even at the end. I do not think it symbolises a divorcing of Lily from her family in Snape's mind.

As for Snape taking Lily's signature from her letter to his enemy Sirius, I think there's more pathos and irony there than symbolism. The incident must have happened shortly after he killed Dumbledore. That he comes to #12 Grimauld Place, home of his old enemy Sirius and starts ransacking his bedroom in the hope of finding second hand mementoes of Lily indicates (at least to me) his lonely and desperate state of mind at the time.

Anyway, Sirius was James's best friend, not Lily's. Her letter to him is friendly and affectionate, but not exceptional. If Snape was stealing Lily's love to Sirius, it was only a very moderate sort of love.



Ludicrous Patents Office - Dec 29, 2008 5:33 am (#692 of 2988)  
Snape's path was the most dangerous as a double agent. Finding the letter and photo of Lily would be a way for him to "Keep the Faith" after he had just killed the one and only person that supported and helped him. I can't imagine he had much from the adult Lily. We see a sentimental side of him with this and with the fact Dumbledore is the password he uses as headmaster. LPO



Mrs Brisbee - Dec 29, 2008 7:13 am (#693 of 2988)  
Anyway, Sirius was James's best friend, not Lily's. Her letter to him is friendly and affectionate, but not exceptional. If Snape was stealing Lily's love to Sirius, it was only a very moderate sort of love.-- mona amon

I used to think Sirius couldn't have been Lily's best friend, but I have since changed my mind. She appears to have had no close women friends, as she chooses none as a godmother for Harry. Not only does she choose Sirius to be Harry's godfather, she also chooses him to be her family's Secret Keeper, and also goes on his advice to switch to Pettigrew. I think all evidence shows that Sirius was indeed her closest friend, male or female, and Harry had got it right in PoA when he described Sirius as his parents' best friend, not just his fathers.

(I found the rest of your post to be thoughtful and interesting, but I need to go do things, so I'll try to get back to it later.)



Solitaire - Dec 29, 2008 8:49 am (#694 of 2988)  
Nowhere in the books do we see Snape accusing Lily of throwing him over because of James.

Snape points out to Lily that James "fancies" her, and he continually tries to excuse his own Dark connections and activities by pointing out that they are no worse than the things James does. He may not impute her disapproval of his actions to her being love with James at this point, but I do believe he connects her "defection" from their friendship to a growing influence of James Potter, because whenever he addresses Lily, he is the one who brings up James. What's more, Lily actually does marry James and has his child--a child Snape would certainly have seen as being the reason Lily died. If she hadn't married James, she wouldn't have had Harry ... and if she hadn't had Harry, she wouldn't have been targeted to die (probably ... although she was Muggle-born and still would have been in danger).



Orion - Dec 29, 2008 11:59 am (#695 of 2988)  
"But there's also the plot to be considered. If she had just shown Snape at the end weeping over some random photo of Lily, it would not have had the same effect. Instead she has Harry find and carry one part of the picture with him, while Snape carries the other. It was a small mystery and creates more interest in Snape's action for the reader.

As for Snape taking Lily's signature from her letter to his enemy Sirius, I think there's more pathos and irony there than symbolism. The incident must have happened shortly after he killed Dumbledore. That he comes to #12 Grimauld Place, home of his old enemy Sirius and starts ransacking his bedroom in the hope of finding second hand mementoes of Lily indicates (at least to me) his lonely and desperate state of mind at the time." (mona amon)


Now they're running about in the forest, and each of them has one part of a photograph in their pocket which they cherish for different reasons but it's ultimately about the same person. It's so romantic! Another invisible bond between the lost brothers.  

The scene in which Snape rips the photograph is the ultimate picture of "pathetic". It could be in a dictionary with picture explanations. I bet that was the point in which Harry chose to forgive Snape forever because you just can't be cross with a person who is so monumentally pathetic and admits it.



Julia H. - Dec 30, 2008 9:13 am (#696 of 2988)  
Interesting discussion. I don't think Snape's love for Lily was "obsessive" though his hatred for James probably was. He was loyal to this love even when he seemingly "let her go". JKR says that Snape wanted to be a part of something powerful because he thought he could impress her that way. But then Lily got married to James and Snape was still a DE - at this point it may have been a way of turning away from her and what she represented rather than a way of trying to impress her (although we can't know it for sure and of course leaving Voldemort was not easy anyway). When he realized he had brought mortal danger on her, it turned out Lily was more important than anything else to him, and then her death and his guilt made it impossible for him to ever get over this love.

If Snape the teenager did not realize that Lily was breaking up with him because of his associations with budding DE's, then it is likely he did not understand the full significance of the organization, of what it meant to people like Lily. On the other hand, later in his life, he must have understood. To start with, he knew Voldemort had destroyed Lily, who had not done anything to deserve this fate, not even by the standards of war. Then he was Dumbledore's spy for years and now as an outsider watched what the DE's were doing, sometimes watched people die, perhaps people he knew (like Charity). I think when he understood and felt the full horror of what Voldemort was doing, of what he himself had been doing, he probably understood Lily.

Yet, if he thought that James was a reason why Lily broke up with him, strictly speaking he was not exactly mistaken. His DE associations cost him Lily's friendship but even before that happened, James had been there, close to Lily, fancying her. James seems to have been a popular boy, a handsome and confident "Quidditch hero" and even though Lily appeared to have a bad opinion of him, this opinion was not all bad (as their conversation after the Prank shows). Moreover, James was a Gryffindor, so he had "access" to Lily when Snape did not, like in the Gryffindor common room, in more classes, at the house tables etc. Lily obviously supported the Gryffindor Quidditch team, too. So even if Snape had not lost Lily's friendship, he could not at all have been sure of winning her love, especially while James Potter was there and while he apparently did not even dare to tell her about his love. He probably realized competing with James would not be easy and then he reacted in the worst possible way.

Ripping the photograph: It may be pathetic but if it is symbolic, it symbolizes mainly Snape's feelings. He wants Lily's picture but he does not want the picture of Lily's family - why would you want to keep a photograph of any person your loved one has ever been in love with? That he cries shows he probably realizes he lost Lily becasue of his own fault but even in this case Lily's husband and child represent his own terrible and tragic mistake and its consequences to him - not exactly a source of comfort. (I can imagine he has nothing from Lily or at least nothing as personal as a photograph - carrying around an old, old chocolate frog card in her memory cannot be the same thing as having her photograph.)

probably ... although she was Muggle-born and still would have been in danger (Solitaire)

Yes, a muggle-born and an order member and in general someone Voldemort would consider either an enemy or one not deserving to live. Snape was bound or almost bound to realize that.



rambkowalczyk - Dec 30, 2008 6:37 pm (#697 of 2988)  
Snape's path was the most dangerous as a double agent. Finding the letter and photo of Lily would be a way for him to "Keep the Faith" after he had just killed the one and only person that supported and helped him.

I agree. It's somewhat vague as to when Snape takes the picture. In the memory scenes, I think it happens after Harry goes to the Burrow and Snapes does Sectumsempra on George's ear. JKR says it happens right after Snape kills Dumbledore.

In both cases Snape is acting as a DE and imho it is tearing his soul apart. He needs Lily's love.



severusisn'tevil - Jan 2, 2009 1:21 pm (#698 of 2988)  
It seems to me that in this scene Severus is an emotional wreck in all directions. He just killed DD, and we know what DD meant to him as the person who trusted him implicitly. Everyone in the Order believed him a traitor. And he's losing hope.

His love for Lily was strong, but I agree that it was not dangerously obsessive. He didn't stalk her, and he could have.



Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 2, 2009 3:42 pm (#699 of 2988)  
He did hang out in the hall until she came out of the Gryffindor common room to talk to him after he called her a mud blood. Not quite stocking! I think Snape knew when they were sorted how things might progress. He was constant in his affection for Lily. As children for probably the first time in his life someone listened to him and treated him with respect. LPO



mona amon - Jan 3, 2009 6:39 am (#700 of 2988)  
I think Snape knew when they were sorted how things might progress.

Come to think of it, Lily was sorted into Gryffindor before Snape was sorted. That means Lily's sorting did not make him change his mind, and when he put on the Hat he did not express any ardent wish to be also sorted into Gryffindor so that he could be with her. If he had, the Hat would have taken his choice into account. Of course what he really wanted was Lily and Slytherin and the Dark Arts, but when called upon to make a definite choice he chooses, first Slytherin over Lily, then the Dark Arts and DEs over Lily.


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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 3, 2009 7:47 am (#701 of 2988)  
Interesting thought mona amon. I wonder how many students know they can choose their sorting, or do they passively let the sorting hat do it. I think Severus expected to be in Slytherin because his mother was. I agree his choices were first Slytherin then the Dark Arts. LPO



mona amon - Jan 3, 2009 7:59 am (#702 of 2988)  
No, Snape would not have known that he had a choice, but neither did Harry. He just sat with the hat on his head, desperately wishing not to be put in Slytherin, and the Hat took his choice into account. So Snape, when he put on the hat, must have continued to hope he'd be in Slytherin, even though he knew that he'd be separated from Lily.



Orion - Jan 3, 2009 8:11 am (#703 of 2988)  
Surely for Snape being sorted into Gryffindor wasn't an alternative to be taken seriously. Not only because he didn't know that the Hat took wishes into account but also because he had had some contact with future Gryffindors on the train and their behaviour didn't foretell happy friendships. He probably had the feeling that poor Lily was thrown into the lion pit.

He would have been mercilessly bullied in Gryffindor, probably. IMO an eleven-year-old can't think on his feet enough to make such a decision. You'd have to be pretty quick, and the Sorting is a stressful situation. He'd have to think of many things at once: Oh, Lily is in Gryffindor, what a disaster! Oh, I want to be with her. Oh, maybe the Hat will sort me into Gryffindor if I ask nicely? Oh, but it's against the family tradition... Oh, but these boys from the train will bully me...



Solitaire - Jan 3, 2009 8:47 am (#704 of 2988)  
He would have been mercilessly bullied in Gryffindor, probably.

Then again, maybe not. The Marauders might have felt he was okay if he was put into Gryffindorl If so, the worst thing that might have happened would have been being ignored. Of course, then we wouldn't have had a story--at least, not the one we have. It had to play out the way it did.

As to the Sorting Hat moving quickly, it sat on Harry's head a while. The book also mentions other kids who sat under it rather a long time. It sounds to me as though the Hat seriously tries to probe the kids' feelings about things.



Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 3, 2009 1:11 pm (#705 of 2988)  
Evan DD admitted sometimes sorting takes place to early. Severus did prove he had courage. LPO



TomProffitt - Jan 4, 2009 7:45 am (#706 of 2988)  
Severus did prove he had courage. --- LPO

I think Severus demonstrated great physical courage, but not much in the way of moral courage.

While Snape risked his physical well being to spy for Dumbledore as an atonement to Lily, he was never able to change the way he treated people Lily loved and respected. If Snape had had moral courage he would have treated Harry with decency, respect, and an open-mind, he would have found a way to bridge the gap that divided him from Sirius & Remus (certainly it would have been easier with Remus than Sirius).

I have my doubts that there was ever a point when Severus truely belonged more in Gryffindor than Slytherin. I think a Gryffindor would have protected Lily's son because it was the right thing to do, but Severus did it because he wanted forgiveness from Lily and not because he ever cared for Harry's well being for Harry's sake.

Yes, Severus showed a great love for Lily, but it was a very selfish love.



Solitaire - Jan 4, 2009 9:03 am (#707 of 2988)  
Well, that post should stir things up a bit, Tom! LOL  



Julia H. - Jan 4, 2009 9:05 am (#708 of 2988)  
On the Hogwarts train, it seems, for Snape, Slytherin means the place where brainy kids go and Gryffindor is the place where the strong and brave ones go (nobody mentiones the Dark Arts). Snape indeed has great courage but I don't think he knows that when he is eleven. He can see some would-be Gryffindors on the train and they instantly dislike each other. That counts. But I also think it is important that Snape is described as a skinny, little boy, not good at sports, who may often be afraid of his own father - I don't think he believes that he could be one of the "heroes" at Hogwarts or that he would ever be accepted into Gryffindor. He clings to the knowledge that he has brains and wants to make the most of that. He probably has ambition - he wants to get out of what he is experiencing at home and he probably knows that he can only rely on himself in the future. (We don't know whether his mother was a Slytherin.) If his self-image is such that he thinks he could not be accepted by the "heroes", it is understandable that this self-image does not change quickly just after he can see how Lily is sorted. He looks stricken when Dumbledore tells him that he was sorted too soon - perhaps because he remembers how he did not consider Gryffindor an option for himself. We also know that - as an adult - he is especially sensitive to being called a coward. Perhaps the origin of this goes back to the time when he could not see himself as "brave" and, as a result, he made the first wrong choice in his life.

As for Gryffindors in general: Many of the original Gryffindors seem to lack some Gryffindor values at least in the beginning - some of them become true Gryffindors in the House only, some never.



TomProffitt - Jan 4, 2009 9:40 am (#709 of 2988)  
"As for Gryffindors in general: Many of the original Gryffindors seem to lack some Gryffindor values at least in the beginning - some of them become true Gryffindors in the House only, some never." --- Julia H.

I've always thought that the Sorting Hat sorted as much by potential as it did by values, self-image, and personal desire. And perhaps of those personal desire is the strongest. Ron and Hermione desired to be in Gryffindor while Harry desired only to be "not Slytherin."

Severus's self-image & desire at the sorting placed him in Slytherin, it was where he wanted to be and where he felt that he should be. While Severus experienced profound growth in his character following his betrayal of Lily (you can't really say he betrayed James), he never came to embrace the values of Gryffindor House that we see young Gryffindors develop. Ron, for example, is a much better role model for Gryffindor values at the end of DH (not the beginning) than he is during GoF.

To compare Ron and Severus, Ron wanted to avoid "anymore Dobbys" for the sake of the House Elves, not because he thought it would win him Hermione. Severus, conversely, gave his life to save Harry not because he valued Harry for Harry, but because felt a debt to Lily.

So, back to my original point, Severus isn't going to have a self-image as a Gryffindor because he wanted to do what Lily would have had him do rather than wanting to do the right thing for the sake of rightness.

(Sorry, for the excessive verbosity, but I can't think of a simple way to say this that's persuasive.)



Quinn Crockett - Jan 4, 2009 2:08 pm (#710 of 2988)  
Severus isn't going to have a self-image as a Gryffindor because he wanted to do what Lily would have had him do rather than wanting to do the right thing for the sake of rightness. - I think that's very clearly put, Tom, and I agree completely.

Snape never does seem to develop his own moral compass, relying until his last breath on Dumbledore's guidance - to the point that, even though Dumbledore has already preceded him in death, Snape follows the instructions of a mere painting of his mentor rather than make his own decisions.



Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 4, 2009 3:21 pm (#711 of 2988)  
I think Severus demonstrated great physical courage, but not much in the way of moral courage. Tom

I agree. Severus had physical courage but not moral. Even as a child his attitude toward Petunia vs Lily was immoral. He saw Petunia as less than human. His behavior towards Harry is unforgivable. I find it interesting that his value as a spy was the ability to completely shut down his emotions, except where Harry is concerned. LPO



Istani - Jan 4, 2009 4:29 pm (#712 of 2988)  
"Snape follows the instructions of a mere painting of his mentor rather than make his own decisions."- Quinn Crockett

That is simply not true. In the Prince's Tale we do see him makig his own decisions as he tells the portrait 'Don't worry, Dumbledore, I have a plan," and he seemed determined to follow it even if Dumbledore still keeps secrets from him. In my opinion he had reached the point here in doing what's right over just pleasing the memory of Lily.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 4, 2009 5:35 pm (#713 of 2988)  
That is simply not true. - Really? Then what was Snape doing talking to the painting in the first place? Anyway, the only thing he "has a plan" for is getting the sword to Harry. Big deal. I mean, how hard was that to figure out?



mona amon - Jan 4, 2009 8:57 pm (#714 of 2988)  
I think Severus demonstrated great physical courage, but not much in the way of moral courage. (TomProfitt)

There's actually not one single instance of Snape demonstrating physical courage in the books. We assume it is there, but we are not shown any instances of him fighting bravely in battle, or doing anything in the nature of running into a burning building to save a child. This was actually a disappointment to quite a few Snape fans, who wanted to see 'heroic Snape' in action. I myself was quite flabbergasted when I read his death scene for the first time. I thought, "what, already? In such a passive way? And before showing us what he can do?" I only changed my mind after re-reading and getting more of the bigger picture.

Whenever we are shown Snape's courage it is almost always 'moral courage', though I don't belive you can have moral courage without having physical courage as well. It was moral courage which he showed when he bared his arm and displayed his Dark Mark to Fudge. Moral courage that made him steel himself and go and face Voldemort at the end of GoF. Moral courage that enabled him to carry out his double agent role. And it is this courage that Harry recognises and respects in him in the end, placing it slightly higher than the great physical courage shown by so many in the Battle of Hogwarts.



TomProffitt - Jan 5, 2009 2:39 am (#715 of 2988)  
mona amon, I tend to think of Snape's constantly being under the threat of what Voldemort would do to him if he were caught as his physical courage. I think this is what Snape faced most of the time. His actions placed his life in danger, and his death was certain to be a gruesome one.

I view his lack of moral courage to be his unwillingness to change his core behavior when that is what Lily would really have wanted from him. Lily didn't want her friend to be a cruel bullying git, and that is precisely the attitude Snape held for Harry during the series. For me, that is where Snape failed Lily and himself.

However, to give Snape credit he deserves in the moral courage department, it took a heck of a lot of moral courage to AK Dumbledore.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 5, 2009 5:14 am (#716 of 2988)  
However, to give Snape credit he deserves in the moral courage department, it took a heck of a lot of moral courage to AK Dumbledore.

Of course, Snape does that out of love for Dumbledore. I don't think Snape takes measure of the impact of that action on other people who might have been relying on him or Dumbledore in the fight against Voldemort, so the action is very narrow in scope. He did it for Dumbledore, just like he did those other things for Lily. What I would like to know is if he ever graduated to doing the right thing because he knew it was the right thing, rather than for just Dumbledore or Lily.



Julia H. - Jan 5, 2009 9:16 am (#717 of 2988)  
While Snape risked his physical well being to spy for Dumbledore as an atonement to Lily, he was never able to change the way he treated people Lily loved and respected. If Snape had had moral courage he would have treated Harry with decency, respect, and an open-mind, he would have found a way to bridge the gap that divided him from Sirius & Remus (certainly it would have been easier with Remus than Sirius). (Tom)

As for bridging the gap that divided him from Sirius and Remus - Snape does not try but nor does Sirius, so what logically follows is that Sirius (a Gryffindor) does not have this kind of moral courage either. Lupin can be civil to Snape, though he sometimes emphasizes that it is because Snape made the Wolfsbane Potion for him, but I don't think he truly tries to bridge the gap - besides, this Gryffindor also lacks moral courage in other respects.

Snape was never able to change the way he treated Harry. This is true. I think, in some ways, it would haved been easier to treat Lily's son decently than go through the hell Snape went through for Lily's memory. For Snape to agree to do all that he agreed to do and actually did, he must have felt his guilt greatly and I think it was this very guilt that was the biggest barrier between him and Harry. By treating Harry the way he treated him, Snape prompted Harry to think of him exactly the way he (subconsciously) probably felt Lily's son should think of him - without having to tell Harry what reason he really had to hate him. In the background, secretly, he atoned for what he had done but appearing to be Harry's friend, making Harry like him (without telling him about his guilt) would have been deception, something false.

Still I think Snape showed moral courage in other ways, some of which have been mentioned above. While he did risk his physical well-being in the fight, he also risked other things. AK-ing Dumbledore was one of the deeds that required huge moral courage - even if he only did it for Dumbledore's sake (though I'm sure he understood what asset it meant for his spy work because he took advantage of it). The moral courage part was that he effectively made everyone on his own side his enemy, that he threw away everything (his home, his "mended" reputation, his place among respectable people etc.) with the possibility of never getting any of it back for the sake of others or maybe for the sake of only one respected and loved person. (It is moral courage either way.) He also showed moral courage when he was dying and gave his memories to Harry.

I have my doubts that there was ever a point when Severus truely belonged more in Gryffindor than Slytherin.

I can't really assess how much anyone belongs to Gryffindor or what that means. There are many different kinds of Gryffindors and not all of them are nearly perfect (Percy, Cormack McLaggen, James Potter, Sirius). If "Gryffindor" means everything positive, than Snape is certainly more Gryffindor than Pettigrew and yet the Sorting happened as it happened. I know Pettigrew is not the typical Gryffindor but then Snape is not the typical Slytherin. Yet, we see examples of the Houses forming the students' characters (developing the potentials in them) - Snape might have been able to grow up a Gryffindor in Gryffindor House but he grew up in Slytherin...

I think a Gryffindor would have protected Lily's son because it was the right thing to do, but Severus did it because he wanted forgiveness from Lily and not because he ever cared for Harry's well being for Harry's sake.

Snape wanting forgiveness from Lily (beyond the veil, I suppose): He probably wanted that but if it was all he wanted, how could he agree to send Lily's son to his death? Did he not, by telling Harry he had to die, at least risk Lily's forgiveness? And yet he did so. I think Snape did a lot of what he did in Lily's name but doing the right thing - even if it does not come from an original great humanitarian idea - influences the person who does the right thing and in time it may become a habit.

And I do think Snape kept following Dumbledore's orders well after Dumbledore's death because he thought that was the right thing to do (as did Harry). Dead or alive, only Dumbledore knew the whole plan and all the facts that were necessary to have any plans to defeat Voldemort. What could Snape have done? Start Dumbledore's work all over again and eventually come up with a new plan in the distant future? But I agree with Istani that Snape did things on his own. Taking the sword to Harry was only one of these things, he probably did a lot of "small" things on his own at Hogwarts, for example. He did not have Dumbledore's help when he wanted to talk to McGonagall or when he faced Voldemort in the Shrieking Shack or when he used the last of his strength to extract his memories without using a wand. "Big deal", oh, yes. But what on earth was he to do on his own without or against Dumbledore's plan and what could he have achieved? Anyone?

Yes, Severus showed a great love for Lily, but it was a very selfish love.

Well, if sacrificing yourself to someone's memory, risking your life and more and giving up everything you have for a dead woman who never loved you - even if you want "forgiveness" in return - is very selfish love, then a lot of the love that exists in this world must be equally or even more selfish.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 5, 2009 9:34 am (#718 of 2988)  
Well, if sacrificing yourself to someone's memory, risking your life and more and giving up everything you have for a dead woman who never loved you - even if you want "forgiveness" in return - is very selfish love, then a lot of the love that exists in this world must be equally or even more selfish.

If that kind of love exists in great quantities in this world, than yes, the world is full of selfish love.  

Snape strikes me as self-indulgent. And yes, I do think wallowing in self pity and turning one's life into a melodrama with oneself as the star as self-indulgent

Snape loved Lily deeply, but I don't see that he loved her like she was a real person, with feelings of her own. For Snape, it was his own feelings that mattered, and that's why his love was selfish. His "redemption" is selfish too if he is just indulging his feelings, and disregarding anyone else's who were harmed by his actions.



Orion - Jan 5, 2009 11:22 am (#719 of 2988)  
I don't understand why he didn't simply pull together and say to Harry "Harry, I have to tell you something. This is going to be very ugly. Please bear with me until the end." How difficult is that? If you have done something, just admit it, for heaven's sake.

There's another thing I don't understand: If it really was for Lily's sake that he did all that and not really for the sake of Voldie's defeat, then why didn't he run to Harry and say "DD told me that you have to die so that Voldie is defeated. Run! Hide! You don't have a chance against him!" Yes, I know that Harry survived and why, but Snape didn't know that, did he?

And I'm still convinced that Harrycrux didn't matter. As soon as anybody would have killed Voldie, there would have been another Vapormort and people would have had enough time to look for all the Horcruxes in peace, and Vapormort would have found a quiet end ("pfffff...") as soon as Harry would have died at a ripe and dignified age.



TomProffitt - Jan 5, 2009 12:48 pm (#720 of 2988)  
Perhaps, "moral courage" is the wrong term, but it comes pretty close for me.

What disappoints me in Snape is his lack of growth. (Of course there were many other characters who had this same failing; Sirius, e.g.)

Snape believed as a Hogwarts student that all he had to do was demonstrate to Lily how imperfect a person James was and Lily would then choose him instead. Naturally, Lily already knew that James was imperfect, but she found other qualities in James that made him attractive to her. Lily also knew that until Severus realized just how cruel and evil his own associates were she and Severus would never have anything more than an awkward friendship at best.

What I think would have best pleased Lily, would have been for Severus to recognize the wrongness in his own behavior and that of his friends and seek to make it right. Then to take the confidence in himself that would bring and create a life that didn't hinge on the only person who had ever cared for him, but create many more such friendships.

Severus never figured that out.

We have no evidence that James ever figured that out either, but I'm betting that he did.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 5, 2009 1:52 pm (#721 of 2988)  
Lupin can be civil to Snape, though he sometimes emphasizes that it is because Snape made the Wolfsbane Potion for him. - Lupin is perfectly polite and professional to Snape in all of their interactions. He never once says it's because Snape does the wolfsbane potion, only that he considers himself fortunate (and he is very grateful) that Snape is able to make the reputedly difficult potion. Even during the confrontation at the Shrieking Shack, it is Lupin who is the voice of reason, the only adult among a roomful of teenagers (including Sirius and Snape).

I don't think he truly tries to bridge the gap[I] - Well, it takes both parties to agree and Snape was having no part of it.

[I]By treating Harry the way he treated him, Snape prompted Harry to think of him exactly the way he (subconsciously) probably felt Lily's son should think of him - without having to tell Harry what reason he really had to hate him.
- Then why does he swear Dumbledore to secrecy about his involvement in Harry's parents' deaths? If it was all part of Snape's big "plan" for Harry to hate him because he felt he deserved it, why wouldn't he just tell Harry the truth? In fact, if he had it would have made his life as a once-and-future Death Eater a bit easier once Voldemort came back around.
I agree with Orion that if Snape had really wanted Harry to hate him, he could have simply told Harry (or had someone else do it) the truth. What's more, I think it's perfectly obvious that Snape's secret self-hate (subconscious or otherwise) had sod all to do with how he treated Harry. Snape treated Harry the way he did because Harry reminded him of James. End of story.

He probably wanted that but if it was all he wanted, how could he agree to send Lily's son to his death? - His was trying to bring down the one who killed Lily. If that meant sending Harry to his death, so be it.

What disappoints me in Snape is his lack of growth. (Of course there were many other characters who had this same failing; Sirius, e.g.) - Well, at least with Sirius we know that a lot his arrested development is the result of his incarceration at a young age. Snape was out and about and under Dumbledore's direct influence, so I feel that there's really no excuse there.

What I think would have best pleased Lily, would have been for Severus to recognize the wrongness in his own behavior and that of his friends and seek to make it right. Then to take the confidence in himself that would bring and create a life that didn't hinge on the only person who had ever cared for him, but create many more such friendships. - Yes, I agree completely. Lily didn't just want Severus to give up his Dark leanings. She also wanted him to lead a happy, productive social life with healthy relationships in which he could grow and thrive.



wynnleaf - Jan 5, 2009 6:17 pm (#722 of 2988)  
Is it selfish love if that love is based in large part on a desire for forgiveness? Well, millions of people in this world love someone primarily because they want or felt they got forgiveness. So no, a desire for forgiveness is not, in my opinion, selfish -- at least in a negative way. Ultimately, almost everything we do or want could be considered selfish in one way or another if for no other reason that most of what we want is because it "fulfills" some need within ourselves. Even people who seem very altruistic would be unlikely to act the way they do if they did not feel inner fulfillment from their actions.

Does Snape grow in the HP universe? Yes, and he's one of the few characters who we know does good things in later years that he absolutely wouldn't have done in earlier years. Snape attempts to save a man he dislikes and for whom he holds a grudge and he doesn't do it to get Lily's forgiveness. He becomes unwilling to allow anyone to die if he can save them, even someone he hates, whereas before the Potters died he was not interested in saving a person he disliked, only the woman he loved.

Does Snape only act for Lily's sake? Certainly he said so, but is it actually true? Perhaps in the sense that she may have become a symbol for Right, but there's no reason given to the reader for how Snape's desire to save anyone he can is directly related to doing it for Lily.

If his love for Lily was healthy, he'd have been able to treat Harry well, right? Not necessarily. If he only hated James because James was a rival for Lily, then I'd say yes. But he hated Sirius as well -- probably equally. If Sirius had left a son, I imagine Snape would have loathed him just as much. While his hatred of James and therefore Harry was in part because James got Lily, it is also because of the bullying, the "arrogance" he thinks James displayed, the way James seemed to break the rules all the time yet still (probably unfairly in Snape's eyes) being well thought of and appealing to Lily, etc. Snape comments numerous times on Harry being just like James. It's not just that Harry looks like James physically. Snape hates seeing Harry appear (in his opinion) to have all of James faults yet still get all sorts of praise, be popular with the Headmaster and other teachers, etc., and be the person whose existence led to Lily's death.

I don't think I'd call Snape's love for Lily either healthy or unhealthy. When would anyone consider it "healthy" to pour 17 or 18 years of your life entirely into actions for the memory of a dead love -- even if he was the person who helped bring her into danger?



mona amon - Jan 5, 2009 8:47 pm (#723 of 2988)  
Perhaps, "moral courage" is the wrong term, but it comes pretty close for me. (Tom)

besides, this Gryffindor also lacks moral courage in other respects. (Julia)


Yes, I think it was Lupin who lacked moral courage, not Sirius, and not Severus. Physical courage is the bravery one exhibits when confronted with physical danger. Moral courage is what is shown when one does what is right, no matter what it may cost. Snape exhibits moral courage because he does what he feels is right (helping Dumbledore to defeat Voldemort) in spite of the physical danger to himself. It's a cold-blooded sort of courage, with no adrenaline rush to aid him.

I view his lack of moral courage to be his unwillingness to change his core behavior when that is what Lily would really have wanted from him. Lily didn't want her friend to be a cruel bullying git, and that is precisely the attitude Snape held for Harry during the series. (Tom)

There's certainly a great lack of something there, but it has nothing to do with courage. Is it moral sense? But even that does not seem to fit. What is shown here is Snape's lack of maturity, his inability to grow as a person (as you have mentioned), his inability to forgive past wrongs, his irrational desire to make an innocent person pay for these wrongs.

We have no evidence that James ever figured that out either, but I'm betting that he did.

He figured it out alright. James is just the type to figure everything out to his advantage. He respected Lily's feelings about bullying, continued to do it only when she was not around to see it, and got the girl.  

Does Snape grow in the HP universe? Yes, and he's one of the few characters who we know does good things in later years that he absolutely wouldn't have done in earlier years. (Wynnleaf)

He grows in some ways. In other areas there's a woeful lack of growth. Some of us focus on the one, some of us on the other.

Does Snape only act for Lily's sake? Certainly he said so, but is it actually true? Perhaps in the sense that she may have become a symbol for Right, but there's no reason given to the reader for how Snape's desire to save anyone he can is directly related to doing it for Lily.

I agree. Dumbledore asks Snape to help him protect Lily's son, and he agrees. Just because of this, why should anything and everything positive that he does be attributed to his 'doing it only for Lily's sake'? Maybe it's because of that silver doe that goes flying off into the night. But he only produces it to try and prove to Dumbledore that he does not love Harry, only Lily.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 6, 2009 5:31 am (#724 of 2988)  
I think we can only ascribe moral courage as a motive to someone if they do something courageous and were motivated by morals. Thus, Snape does not qualify for the badge of "moral courage", until maybe the end, and that's definitely debatable. He is very brave, but he is motivated by personal reasons. So too are a lot of people in times of war.

Maybe what we need is someone to provide a definition of "moral courage". Mona amon describes Lupin as having none, at the same time as lauding Snape for fighting Voldemort-- just like Lupin does. Why does one equal "moral courage" but the other does not (and maybe if other characters are going to be discussed in depth what we need is a "Meanings of Courage" thread)?

He figured it out alright. James is just the type to figure everything out to his advantage. He respected Lily's feelings about bullying, continued to do it only when she was not around to see it, and got the girl.

Snape's view on James? I think it goes to viewing Lily as a prize rather than a person, and blaming everything but his own behavior for his troubles. Twenty years later Snape is still blaming James Potter for his life woes. Boy, it got tiresome.

I actually do think that at some point (late in the series) Snape starts to desire to do the right thing, but just doesn't know what it is. He relies on Dumbledore to point him in the right direction. Dumbledore relies on Snape to use him like a crutch. That counts as moral courage because of intent, I suppose, even if the execution leaves something to be desired. Snape's attempt to save Lupin, after selling him out, shows a step towards actually caring about people in general, I think. Quite different from when he betrayed people to their deaths all those years ago, but then got upset because his Lily was going to be one of them. I think moral courage has to go beyond serving one's own desires.



mona amon - Jan 6, 2009 6:49 am (#725 of 2988)  
Snape's view on James?

No, no! Entirely my own. I just can't help being cynical when I discuss James Potter, my least favourite character.  



Dryleaves - Jan 6, 2009 7:30 am (#726 of 2988)  
I think Snape's love becomes less and less selfish, starting at the hilltop. He starts with wanting Lily and ends up telling her son that he must die in order to reach a greater goal.

I agree to a certain extent that Snape is self-indulgent, but as I have a cousin who easily would win the title "Miss Self-indulgent", I must say that there is one huge difference between her and Snape: he actually does something. I do not agree that he only sits down complaining about James Potter.

Snape does a lot of things where there is no immediate personal gain for himself. Lupin's weakness is that he wants other people to like him and because of this he chooses not to do the right thing at some occasions. Lupin once leaves his family because he cannot stand seeing his wife and his unborn child suffer because he is a werewolf. In the end he leaves his child because he wants his child to grow up in a better world. The first case I would say is lack of moral courage, the other is not. But Lupin's son is his motivation. Snape may want forgiveness, but Lupin may have reasoned that if he did not go to the battle to fight Voldemort he would not be able to look his son in the eyes later. As Lily is dead it will sort of always be Snape's own decision whether he is forgiven or not. He can never be sure that she will actually embrace him and forgive him in the afterlife. I am not sure this is that much different from the satisfaction of doing the right thing because it is the right thing.

He grows in some ways. In other areas there's a woeful lack of growth. Some of us focus on the one, some of us on the other. (mona amon)

I agree.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 6, 2009 8:30 am (#727 of 2988)  
Good post, Dryleaves.

I do have one exception, though:

As Lily is dead it will sort of always be Snape's own decision whether he is forgiven or not. He can never be sure that she will actually embrace him and forgive him in the afterlife. I am not sure this is that much different from the satisfaction of doing the right thing because it is the right thing.

Lily is not the only person Snape ever wronged, and not all the people Snape wronged are dead. He simply chooses to make it all about Lily, perhaps because she is the only one he liked. This way he avoids having to deal with the other people and their feelings, or seeking their forgiveness.



Dryleaves - Jan 6, 2009 9:17 am (#728 of 2988)  
Snape's actions does not only affect Lily, though, and in many ways he "reverses" his DE actions, for example by healing dark arts injuries. But then, of course, I agree that you could wish for him to deal with other people, both those he has wronged and those who have wronged him. But I meant that if you go back to trace motives, they will turn out to be personal in some way.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 6, 2009 11:31 am (#729 of 2988)  
I agree that if you trace back any characters motives, they will have some sort of personal investment involved. It will vary in breadth and depth, of course, as some people care about only a few people, some for many people, and some also have compassion for that other guy who's in the same boat even though they don't know him that well. Many characters will have both a personal motive and a general compassion, as they will care both for their loved ones and how the Wizarding World turns out in general for everybody. Some people will only care about themself and their loved ones (for example, Narcissa Malfoy).

Snape certainly starts out caring only about Lily-- or more accurately, only about how Lily matters to him. I agree that when Snape sends Harry to his death in the end, he is finally acting for the greater good (although I also can see ways to argue against this, since Snape also loved Dumbledore and it's Dumbledore's plan that Harry must die. However, since Snape himself indicated a growing compassion by attempting to save Lupin, a man he hates, after betraying him, I think I'll stick with Snape finally getting it).



Quinn Crockett - Jan 6, 2009 11:52 am (#730 of 2988)  
That's an interesting point about Snape saving Lupin. While I agree that it does show a certain amount of "doing what is right" I think the true test of whether or not Snape finally "gets it" is if it had been Sirius on that broom who was about to be Kevad'ed and not Lupin.

Would Snape have done the same for Sirius? Somehow I just don't think so.


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wynnleaf - Jan 6, 2009 12:07 pm (#731 of 2988)  
Would Snape have done the same for Sirius? Somehow I just don't think so. (Quinn)

It's not the same thing exactly, but Snape does go out on a limb a bit for Sirius. At the end of OOTP, when Harry thought Voldemort had captured Sirius, Snape first went and fire-called Grimmauld Place to see if Sirius was there. He discovered that Sirius was there.

Now if Voldemort had captured Sirius or had been planning to capture Sirius, then Snape's action could have helped to protect Sirius.

Later, when Harry is missing, Snape calls Sirius yet again, and spoke to all of the Order members gathered (four, I think), and gives them info about Harry possibly off hunting for Sirius at the MOM. Then he told or suggested that the other Order members go to the MOM, and Sirius to stay at Grimmauld Place to notify DD.

So he did act twice that evening in ways that could have helped to protect Sirius.

Of course, we might say that this is different from trying to protect Lupin, because it didn't involve any risk for Snape. On the other hand, it could very well have been a risk for Snape because if LV had considered exactly how the Order had known about the whole thing of LV luring Harry to the MOM, then LV might well have realized that the info most likely came from Snape. He'd especially have considered that if Draco had ever passed on the odd exchange between Harry and Snape about "Padfoot" being in the "place were it is hidden". Wormtail, after all, knew exactly who "Padfoot" was.

Point is, when Snape chose to act at all in regards to Harry's warnings about Sirius being in danger, Snape put himself at risk. Not as much risk as when he fired at another DE to try to help Lupin, but it was a risk, nevertheless.



TomProffitt - Jan 6, 2009 1:21 pm (#732 of 2988)  
I'm with wynnleaf on the protecting Sirius thing. I think that Snape would have made whatever effort he could have to save anyone late in his life. He's a man who has truly felt the guilt of betraying someone to their death and does not want to do that again.

My original point when I jumped into this thread again was whether or not Snape had acquired "more Gryffindor qualities than Slytherin" ones. I think the best comparison for my point is Snape and Dumbledore.

Both of them through their youthful self-indulgence brought about or greatly contributed to the death of a loved one.

We see very clearly a different type of person in Dumbledore than one who could do this. With Severus Snape I doubt there was a doubt in any reader's mind that Snape was capable of that type of evil.

Dumbledore didn't fixate on his sister, he tried to better himself in all ways and was eventually able to reconcile with his brother and be acclaimed by the majority of the Wizarding World. Snape in turn dwelled on his guilt and seemed unable to completely accept his own guilt, evidenced by his vicarious punishment of James though Harry.

On further reflection I think that there is a good probability that Snape reached the same level of personal change as Dumbledore after he killed Dumbledore on that tower. Unfortunately for us, like the changes we can conclude occurred in James, we are never able to clearly see those changes in Snape's behavior because he is too separated from Harry after those events.

I think Harry perceived those changes, hence the name of his second son, but I'm not quite as perceptive as Harry.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 6, 2009 2:59 pm (#733 of 2988)  
I'm just not all that convinced.

That Snape and Sirius had come to blows mere weeks before the MOM incident over the same old argument of who was trying to kill whom doesn't show much growth on either of their parts, least of all Snape, who - again - was able to freely move about the country and interact with people as he wished for the last 14 years, and who had the benefit of Dumbledore's direct influence.

We know from DH that Snape could have sent a Patronus directly to Dumbledore (or even to Harry, for that matter) to inform him of what had happened (or that Sirius having been kidnapped was a trick), even without knowing where Dumbledore (or Harry) was. To me this would have been far more sensible and efficient way of intervening.

Anyway, I don't think I'm less perceptive than Harry, but I know I'm less forgiving.



TomProffitt - Jan 6, 2009 4:48 pm (#734 of 2988)  
Quinn, prior to Snape killing Dumbledore I have some serious doubts as to him taking risks to save people. In OP I think Snape does essentially the minimum he could get by with in regards to Sirius.

Unlike Dumbledore, I think Snape had two seminal moments that changed his life. The death of Lily and the slaying of Dumbledore. It is that second event where the significant growth in Snape takes place. I think it intentional on Jo's part to keep the reader from seeing the the new level of change in Snape following Dumbledore's death until the revelations of his memories in the pensieve.

This is pretty much the only way I can interpret it so that Harry's high level of respect for Snape makes sense to me.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 6, 2009 5:12 pm (#735 of 2988)  
Well, I would argue that Dumbledore also had two seminal moments. The death of his sister, possibly at his own hand, and also having to confront the great love of his life, now a megalomaniacal despot. To me this mirrors Snape as much as it can and makes sense as to why Dumbledore took such a strong interest in mentoring the young former Death Eater even though he wasn't probably the best person to teach intimacy.

I would also agree that there was a certain amount of growth after Snape had to kill Dumbledore - that the act itself implied a certain level of maturity and compassion. Too bad he couldn't learn to apply that elsewhere.

But yeah, I completely understand what the author (okay, Jo) intended. I just don't see it on the page. Sure, others do, but it's all about interpretation and I just don't find that to be very satisfying.



TomProffitt - Jan 6, 2009 5:17 pm (#736 of 2988)  
But yeah, I completely understand what the author (okay, Jo) intended. I just don't see it on the page. Sure, others do, but it's all about interpretation and I just don't find that to be very satisfying. --- Quinn Crockett

I agree with you. I've had to bury myself much too far into the text looking for reasons to understand Harry's sudden complete change in his view of Snape. There was enough for me to understand a change from hate to understanding, but not near enough for such apparent high regard.



tandaradei - Jan 6, 2009 5:55 pm (#737 of 2988)  
Aaack, I feel the same way; but inasmuch as I'm eating crow for the rest of my life, having so completely misinterpreted Snape until the "Prince's Tale" chapter ... well, I'm just assuming such interpretations are there, which I must now diligently look for...



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 6, 2009 7:18 pm (#738 of 2988)  
Quinn Crockett and TomProffitt, you both make a lot of sense!



wynnleaf - Jan 6, 2009 7:38 pm (#739 of 2988)  
I agree that you have to really search for why Harry changed his opinion, but that's because I don't think JKR was right about not actually showing us Harry's change of mind on the page, instead implying it later through his naming of his son. For those of us who already thought Snape was a whole lot different from what Harry thought, it wasn't that hard to assume that Harry had figured out what we believed we already saw in Snape. But for those who didn't see Snape that way before The Prince's Tale, I think Harry's change of heart was hard to really "get".

As for a comparison of DD and Snape's change of heart, I mentioned the other day on the DD thread that DD's "change of heart" is harder, in my opinion, to really see. He concealed his sister's murder or manslaughter from authorities and everyone else his entire life and personally avoided anything that would reveal to himself the true extent of his culpability. He ridiculed Aberforth and I don't get from Aberforth as though they were on very good terms, even if Aberforth was willing to help with the Order. Then, when he believed himself partly responsible for the monster Grindelwald became and considered himself the only person able to stop him, he nevertheless turned his back on trying to stop Grindelwald until so many hundreds or thousands of people had died that he felt the "shame was too great".

The only reason it was a shock for readers to learn that DD was capable of the things he'd done was that we had been taken in, just like Harry, by the "wise old wizard" who was supposed to be the "epitome of goodness" (expressions of JKR as I recall) -- but that was actually false.

By the way, I agree Quinn that Snape could, in the wizarding universe that JKR created, have simply sent a patronus to DD at the end of OOTP, but his not having done so shouldn't detract from his actions. JKR often leaves little plot holes laying around. She writes DD as perfectly satisfied that Snape did all he could and made the right decisions, so perhaps she simply forgot about the use of the patronus at the time. After all, she didn't want to reveal anything about Snape's patronus, or even if he actually had one, so she probably didn't want to have him use it, but also wanted DD to assure Harry of Snape's actions that night.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 6, 2009 8:22 pm (#740 of 2988)  
After all, she didn't want to reveal anything about Snape's patronus - Yeah, I thought about that as soon as I hit "post message" - that it was simply a device of the author not to use that particular method of communication because she was likely saving the "big reveal" for the Prince's Tale section.

I see your point, Wynnleaf, about Dumbledore. But I think we have to give him a bit of a break since he apparently didn't have the kind of mentorship which he later offered to Snape. Perhaps, again, part of the reason he did so, even though he wasn't perhaps the best qualified. And in fairness, since everyone looked up to him so much, they apparently didn't think there was anything they could possibly teach such a brilliant man. How wrong they were, though.

We get kind of a hint of this when he laments always receiving books for gifts instead of something a bit more personal.



Solitaire - Jan 6, 2009 9:00 pm (#741 of 2988)  
Harry's sudden complete change in his view of Snape

Being young and having fewer (and shorter) life-long prejudices to overcome, Harry was certainly able to forgive more easily. We saw how angry Harry was with Dumbledore following the Battle at the DoM, yet a couple of weeks later, he is on good terms with Dumbledore and they are off to meet Slughorn. He does experience periods of exasperation with DD in HBP and DH, but the more he learns, the more able he is to understand why DD has operated as he has. By the time we see Harry in the epilogue, it is 19 years later, and Albus Severus is 11. That means he had several years to come to terms with everything that happened.

Many of the things Harry said to Voldemort in the final battle did indeed praise Snape and help to exonerate him of murder. I'm not sure that Harry was at the point of forgiveness just yet. He was at the point of understanding, however, and he also knew that saying such things to Voldy would really rub in the fact that he had been so hoodwinked. I think it probably took some time to really incorporate all of what he had learned into his heart.



mona amon - Jan 7, 2009 12:07 am (#742 of 2988)  
I realise that the discussion has progressed since Mrs. Brisbee's post which I am now analyzing, but anyway-

I think we can only ascribe moral courage as a motive to someone if they do something courageous and were motivated by morals. Thus, Snape does not qualify for the badge of "moral courage", until maybe the end, and that's definitely debatable. He is very brave, but he is motivated by personal reasons. So too are a lot of people in times of war.

Maybe what we need is someone to provide a definition of "moral courage". Mona amon describes Lupin as having none, at the same time as lauding Snape for fighting Voldemort-- just like Lupin does. Why does one equal "moral courage" but the other does not. (Mrs. Brisbee)


What personal reasons? Was Harry fighting against Voldemort only because he murdered his parents? Why is it assumed that Snape was fighting Voldemort only because he murdered Lily?

We are never even shown a strong revenge motivation in Snape. His attitude towards Voldemort is one of fearful reverence, never one of vindictive fury. So I can only conclude that he was fighting against Voldemort because he had realised that it was the right thing to do. So the courage that he displays is moral courage, the courage to do what you believe is right, without bothering about consequences. In Snape's case the consequences are physical danger, but I still feel it belongs to the moral courage category because it is not direct physical danger that he can rush headlong into, adrenaline pumping through his veins.

Neville displays a very good example of moral courage when he tries to prevent the trio from sneaking out at night and risking Gryffindor house points. It is this sort of courage that Lupin lacks. But he's certainly not lacking in physical courage.

Actually, compared to most of the people who were fighting Voldemort, like Lupin and Tonks, the Weasleys, etc, who were fighting in order to create a better world for their children, family and friends, Snape was the one who was fighting without personal motivations.

Lily is not the only person Snape ever wronged, and not all the people Snape wronged are dead. He simply chooses to make it all about Lily, perhaps because she is the only one he liked. This way he avoids having to deal with the other people and their feelings, or seeking their forgiveness.

But Snape didn't wrong anyone who's still living, apart from Harry. Unless you mean the general wrong that he did to society by joining the Death Eaters?

I actually do think that at some point (late in the series) Snape starts to desire to do the right thing, but just doesn't know what it is. He relies on Dumbledore to point him in the right direction.

I agree, but feel that his desire to do the right thing started pretty early, definitely before the end of GoF. I feel he had a desire to be on the right path, but did not have a very strongly developed moral sense. But he did have enough sense to allow himself to be completely guided by Dumbledore, who did have this moral sense.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 7, 2009 3:54 am (#743 of 2988)  
What personal reasons? Was Harry fighting against Voldemort only because he murdered his parents? Why is it assumed that Snape was fighting Voldemort only because he murdered Lily?

Snape indicates he is doing it for Lily. He says he is doing it for Lily. I know that sometimes characters lie, but I usually assume they are telling the truth unless evidence indicates otherwise. Later he tells us he is just starting to care when when other people get murdered, and I believe he is telling the truth then also.

In Snape's case the consequences are physical danger, but I still feel it belongs to the moral courage category because it is not direct physical danger that he can rush headlong into, adrenaline pumping through his veins.

I think that's why we need someone to provide us with a definition of "moral courage". It seems silly to me that someone's actions should be discounted as moral because of immediate physical risk, or automatically be considered moral because the danger wasn't something immediately physical. I'd say Snape was in great physical danger-- if he were found out. So less so then say someone openly opposing Voldemort, but really, I hate to have the people who are openly opposing Voldemort have their moral motives discounted. I just don't understand this argument.

Neville displays a very good example of moral courage when he tries to prevent the trio from sneaking out at night and risking Gryffindor house points. It is this sort of courage that Lupin lacks. But he's certainly not lacking in physical courage.

I still don't understand why you say Snape displays moral courage for fighting Voldemort, but Lupin shows physical courage only when fighting Voldemort. I think we must have a very different idea of morals (hey, it happens ).

Actually, compared to most of the people who were fighting Voldemort, like Lupin and Tonks, the Weasleys, etc, who were fighting in order to create a better world for their children, family and friends, Snape was the one who was fighting without personal motivations.

I think we are waaay far apart on this. Snape himself says he is doing this all for Lily, not altruism. I do agree that most people operate with both moral and personal motives. I just don't see Snape as overwhelmingly moral, out for the general good of humanity, especially as he tells us himself what his motives are.

But Snape didn't wrong anyone who's still living, apart from Harry. Unless you mean the general wrong that he did to society by joining the Death Eaters?

Are you sure? What about all of Lily's and James' friends, for example Lupin and Sirius? I know that Snape probably didn't care at the time that he hurt them, but if he wants to tally up all the horrible stuff he and the Mauraders did to each other over the years, I think Snape could finally pat himself on the back for "winning". What about anyone else who ever loved Lily or James?

We also don't know what other damage Snape caused to other people during his service to Voldemort, or how many murders he watched with indifference, not helping the victim even if he had means.



wynnleaf - Jan 7, 2009 6:32 am (#744 of 2988)  
We can't tell from Dumbledore's comment about Snape watching while people died what time period DD was referring to -- the first LV war or the second. Therefore it's difficult to know whether Snape's comment about "lately" being unwilling to watch someone die if he could stop it refers to the recent few years, the past year, the last few months, or the last few days. It depends on what time period DD meant in order to better understand what Snape means by "lately" and we can't know that.

However, we do see Snape caring about the fate of others -- or at least appearing to care -- early on. He appears very concerned about the fate of Ginny in COS. Sure, you can imagine his concern was for something other than her safety, but since we are never told any other reason, and we are later told that he at some point began to care about the lives of others, it seems more likely that he's actually concerned at that point about her life. And clearly Ginny's life or death had little to nothing to do with Lily.

Snape seems to care for protecting others when it has nothing to do with Lily -- Ginny, Dumbledore, Katie Bell, Draco, etc. Sure, in each case we can imagine other reasons for his apparent concern and his actions to protect, but we are never told it was anything else other than a true desire to protect their lives.

With no evidence to show that he did not care for protecting the lives of others during the entire series (or at least from COS onward), I think the weight of evidence is more that he did care.

And remember, Snape didn't say that he did everything because of his love for Lily. What he said was that he hadn't grown to care for Harry, but still protected Harry because of his love for Lily.

I think Snape went beyond the mentorship of DD when it came to caring about the lives of others. DD, for instance, seemed to advocate "standing by" and watching Order members die in DH, rather than risk his cover to protect anyone other than, perhaps, Harry.

As for "moral courage", my interpretation is that it is standing up for something because it is right, or moral, but not necessarily because it is for the "the general good of humanity" as Mrs Brisbee termed it. Therefore, when Snape wanted to help protect Ginny, even though he had no particular personal connection to her other than as a teacher, that would be moral courage.

Harry himself appears to be motivated primarily from a wish to protect his friends and avenge the deaths of people he loved. We never get any evidence that Snape is out for revenge or has an overwhelming hatred of LV that inspires his actions.

Harry does decide that certain things are wrong and act to combat those things, but Harry's opinions about something being right or wrong are often combined with who is doing the action -- a friend or foe. If Draco harms someone it's wrong, if Harry's friends harm someone Harry sees nothing wrong with it. If Slytherins cheat at Quidditch it's wrong and Harry opposes it. If Hermione cheats to get Ron a place on the team, it's okay and Harry doesn't oppose it. Harry sees muggle baiting at the Quidditch World Cup as bad, when it's done by DEs, but Harry never saw Hagrid firing on an 11 year old kid, solely because he was eating a cake (Hagrid knew nothing about Dudley and Harry's relationship), as wrong at all. Harry disliked Dudley and therefore saw nothing wrong with Hagrid's action. Is Harry standing up for "right" when he opposes Draco's actions (pre-HBP) or the actions of the Slytherins, or is he mostly just opposing people he dislikes and who dislike him?

I'm not really trying to get on a conversation about Harry. I bring him up because I'm showing that JKR takes the protagonist of the book, the character whose motivations we see a great deal about, her hero, and yet even there we see many signs of some ambiguity regarding whether Harry is really standing up with moral courage, or whether he is just standing up for himself and those he loves and against those who threaten or dislike himself and those he loves.

Harry does in DH act to save people who dislike him and who he dislikes as well, but I see this as growth in Harry at the end. Even in saving Draco, I wonder whether he'd have done so if he hadn't begun to feel some sympathy for Draco regarding his situation with his family threatened by LV and Draco having shown conflicted actions and sometimes acted slightly for Harry's benefit in not giving him away.

Snape, as a smaller character with far less page time, is also shown to act to protect certain people, to fight LV, etc. He specifically said that he protected Harry, not because he had grown to care for Harry, but because he loved Lily. We see Snape protect people who actively dislike him. Indeed, his entire work for the Order is for the most part risking his life for people who dislike and/or distrust him.

Is Snape acting out of "moral courage", because something is simply the right thing to do? Perhaps. Lily's memory seems to have become more a symbol for what is right. In any case, we are not shown that Snape works to protect students besides Harry for anything other than because it is right.

That said, I think Snape probably is very motivated by commitment to duty and his promises. So I think that would move him to protect students. Is that moral courage? Is commitment to follow through on one's commitments moral courage? Especially if the commitments are right?

As for DD, I'm not always sure about his personal willingness to have moral courage. He's just far too willing to bring danger in amongst the students and not concerned enough about their safety. I tend to think he puts the "greater good" -- what he feels is right for society as a whole -- above his duty as Headmaster to protect his students. Where this falls under moral courage, I'm uncertain. I suppose it depends on what one feels is more important.



Solitaire - Jan 7, 2009 7:05 am (#745 of 2988)  
DD, for instance, seemed to advocate "standing by" and watching Order members die in DH, rather than risk his cover to protect anyone other than, perhaps, Harry.

Examples, please?

Interestingly, I do not think of Snape as "caring" for Harry or any of the other students. If you are using caring as a simple physical verb--like tending them or watching over them--then, yes, I see it. However, I do not see any real emotional buy-in--any tenderness or caring--for Harry or anyone else. Whether that is because he felt he had to keep himself emotionally isolated to do his job, or because he simply did not wish to make the emotional commitment, I do not know.

I think Snape probably is very motivated by commitment to duty and his promises. So I think that would move him to protect students.

I agree ... I think it was an issue of pride for Snape to fulfill his promises to Dumbledore.



mona amon - Jan 7, 2009 7:12 am (#746 of 2988)  
"Snape indicates he is doing it for Lily. He says he is doing it for Lily."

"Snape himself says he is doing this all for Lily, not altruism." (Mrs. Brisbee)


But when does he ever say this? I don't think he does.

I still don't understand why you say Snape displays moral courage for fighting Voldemort, but Lupin shows physical courage only when fighting Voldemort.

But they were each fighting Voldemort in totally different ways. I didn't really intend to compare Lupin and Snape, it's just something that happened during the discussion. They are not often in comparable situations. Lupin displays a lack of moral courage whenever he has to stand up to his friends, or whenever the consequence of doing the right thing is the loss of trust or admiration or affection of his friends. He could never have shown the moral courage of Snape when he killed Dumbledore and faced the hatred of every decent person.

Lupin shows physical courage when he fights bravely in the battle at the MoM and in the battle of Hogwarts. There was never any occasion when Snape was required to fight in battle or anything like that. So we don't see him display physical courage.

I just don't see Snape as overwhelmingly moral, out for the general good of humanity, especially as he tells us himself what his motives are.

Like I said before, I don't remember him telling us what his motives are. I'm pretty sure he does not. But actually I too do not see him as overwhelmingly moral. I do not believe he had a strongly developed moral sense. But I do not think he lacked it altogether. He never displays any love for 'all humanity'-in fact, quite the opposite. Yet he does work for the general good of humanity, doing whatever Dumbledore required of him in that capacity. Must have been a mix of motives, a vague desire to make up for what he did earlier, recognition and rejection of the evil that Voldemort represents, desire to make amends to Lily by protecting her son, desire to please Dumbledore, and the kick one gets out of doing a difficult job superlatively well.

Mrs. Brisbee, I'm not sure what you mean in the last paragraph of your post. Some of it comes under the head of Snape's general wrong to society by joining Voldemort. He certainly made restitution for this by his willingness to do anything to bring down Voldemort. But how did he hurt Lupin and Sirius? We are only shown that they hurt him!



wynnleaf - Jan 7, 2009 7:42 am (#747 of 2988)  
DD, for instance, seemed to advocate "standing by" and watching Order members die in DH, rather than risk his cover to protect anyone other than, perhaps, Harry. (wynnleaf - me)

Examples, please? (Solitaire)


I was referring to the point in DH when DD advocated the plan of giving LV the info about the Order members upcoming attempt to get Harry out of Privet Dr. In going along with that plan, DD was well aware that he was putting the lives of Order members at risk. He told Snape at that point "if you are forced to take part in the chase, be sure to act your part convincingly..." In other words, if Snape had to be there when DEs were firing on Order members with intent to kill, Snape was not supposed to try to save them, but instead appear to go along with their deaths and even appear to join in attempting to kill them. That's not literally "standing by" while people are killed, but it is going along and appearing to enthusiastically support their deaths. DD didn't add that Snape should attempt to protect any Order members where possible. Snape decided to do that all on his own.

Interestingly, I do not think of Snape as "caring" for Harry or any of the other students. If you are using caring as a simple physical verb--like tending them or watching over them--then, yes, I see it. However, I do not see any real emotional buy-in--any tenderness or caring--for Harry or anyone else. (Solitaire)

Care, as a verb, means many things -- having concern or interest, providing assistance or supervision, etc. I had to get to the 4th definition of the verb to find "liking or attachment". In other words, my use of the verb "care" was in it's more typical usage -- the protection of others besides Harry concerned Snape and was of interest to him for whatever reason and he provided assistance to them, even at risk to himself. The fact that he almost certainly felt no tenderness toward most people in no way negates the "care" issue.

I think Snape probably is very motivated by commitment to duty and his promises. So I think that would move him to protect students. (wynnleaf)

I agree ... I think it was an issue of pride for Snape to fulfill his promises to Dumbledore. (Solitaire)


I agree, it probably was a source of pride. But why would Snape have been proud of fulfilling his commitments and duty? Why would he think it something to be proud? He seems to see it as a good thing. He dislikes rulebreaking and any idea that someone might think the rules are meant for others, but not them. He seems to dislike lying and we never see him consciously lie except in his work as a spy. For whatever reason, Snape seems to have had a standard of behavior -- commitment to duty and his own word, being worthy of DD's trust -- and he is probably proud to uphold that standard. Not all pride is bad, especially when it is in a desire to follow a standard that is honorable.

However, I think I get your concern that the motivation is more internal. It reminds me of DD's comment that he only went against Grindelwald when the "shame became too great". My reading of that was that he didn't go against Grindelwald because he was concerned or "cared" about the people dying, but because his own shame in his breaking personal standards had grown too great. What I feel is different about Snape is that he protected others besides Harry, at least according to his comments, because he couldn't just stand by and watch them die -- not in order to keep himself from the increase of personal shame due to breaking personal codes or standards.



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 8:33 am (#748 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 7, 2009 9:32 am
Vow, a very interesting discussion! It's good to see the Snape thread is alive and kicking...  

Tom, I think "moral courage" is a very good term and a very interesting topic. We probably interpret moral courage in several ways though. Mrs Brisbee, I don't think moral courage excludes personal motivations (physical courage can also be connected to personal things). For example, in HBP, Harry (IMO) shows moral courage on the train when he tells his new admirers that Luna and Neville (two students not in the "cool" or "popular" category) are his friends. At the same time I think his motivations are perfectly personal: he loves these two people and will not let them down. Also, there are situations in which it requires moral courage for a person to stand up for their own right or dignity - an entirely personal motivation. Another example is Snape AK-ing Dumbledore: It requires the same moral courage (because the risk is the same) regardless whether he does it entirely for the love of Dumbledore or for the greater good.

I think moral courage, like physical courage, is not something that a person either has or lacks completely. When I say that Lupin lacks moral courage in certain ways, I don't mean that he lacks moral courage entirely. Although I can't recall now a scene in which he demonstrates moral courage, I only meant that Lupin lacked the moral courage to risk losing others' love, friendship or high regard for something more important.

Back to Snape, I think he lacks the moral courage to tell Harry (or anyone else) his secret about the Prophecy - in fact it seems to be Snape's single greatest fear - but he demonstrates huge moral courage in other respects. (Perhaps his behaviour towards Harry is partly due to the fact that he "knows" deep down that this is the problem and is irritated by it.) Eventually though, before he dies, he finds the moral courage in himself to share his secret with Harry. It is noteworthy (I think) that he does that as part of his duty, for something "greater than himself". While he can never bring himself to confess his sin to Harry for the purpose of easing his own consciousness, he eventually does it for the greater good. But maybe he has to get through various stages of moral courage (from facing Dumbledore on the hilltop to revealing his Dark Mark to Fudge in a critical moment in front of a group of people to AK-ing Dumbledore and to pretending to be Voldemort's right hand man, accepting a shameful appointment by the Voldemort regime in his old workplace and home to protect anyone he can protect there) before he can have the moral courage to reveal his past to Harry.



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 9:22 am (#749 of 2988)  
If that kind of love exists in great quantities in this world, than yes, the world is full of selfish love. (Mrs Brisbee)

I think most of us who love expect, want or hope something in return. Not necessarily forgiveness but usually to be loved, too. Teenagers can often feel they are "in love" with an unreachable person (a star, for example) but adult people's love is more "selfish". It is possible to continue loving someone without getting anything in return but even in these cases, the person who loves would probably like to be rewarded somehow. Snape's love is quite selfless given that Lily's "forgiveness" (in this world) is mostly related to his own perception of it, as Dryleaves says. What is "extraordinary" in Snape's love is that it is connected to guilt but that does not make it selfish, at least I think it is a different problem.

Snape may have wronged other people, too, but he does not seem to want forgiveness from people he does not love. Nevertheless, he makes up for whatever he did against humanity by helping humanity to get rid of Voldemort and by protecting various people eventually at great personal sacrifice. As for hurting Lupin and Sirius - perhaps Mrs Brisbee means he hurt them by causing the death of their friends. Snape makes up for this (as much as he can) by protecting their friend's son, whom they also love.

If it was all part of Snape's big "plan" for Harry to hate him because he felt he deserved it, why wouldn't he just tell Harry the truth? (Quinn)

Quinn, it was not at all what I said. I never said or meant to say that it was Snape's "big plan" to make Harry hate him. I am trying to explain:

Snape does not want anyone (besides Dumbledore) and least of all Harry to know about his secret. I believe it when he says that he "couldn't bear" it or at least that is how he feels. I find it remarkable that he can sooner bear being generally considered the murderer of Dumbledore and a traitor and judged as such than letting people know his real guilt (which is, objectively speaking, not as great as being a murderer). Anyway: He does not want Harry to know his secret. Yet, that does not prevent him from knowing how Harry would probably feel about him if he knew and he probably thinks or feels that Harry has every right to hate him - among others things because he probably hates himself, too, for the same thing. As a result, he cannot pretend everything is OK (or even "neutral") between himself and Harry - but this is not a conscious decision or a "plan". He does not want to let Harry know what reason he has to hate him but with his gestures and actions he is warning him (implicitly) "beware of me, I am not your friend, you must not trust me, I wronged you". He is interacting with a Harry (representing his guilt) who hates him and despises him and with his behaviour he makes the real Harry feel towards him exactly like that. It is all the more poignant that he is eventually forgiven by a Harry whose forgiveness he never seeks and yet he goes through a sort of hell for him.

As for Snape growing during the story - I think he definitely does. IMO, this is one of the main points about the character: Crime and punishment but also the possibility of change and growth and we are shown that is happens slowly and painfully by very hard work and by remorse and suffering and sacrifice but it still happens.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 7, 2009 9:42 am (#750 of 2988)  
But when does he ever say this? I don't think he does.--mona amon

I hate dragging out my books and typing out quotes! I'm an abysmal typist, and slow as molasses in January. But here you go:

"I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for the slaughter--" (Snape, in "The Prince's Tale", DH)

So he states right here why he is doing "everything", to keep Lily Potter's son alive.

Dumbledore asks him if he has grown to care for Harry:

"For him?" shouted Snape.

Yeah, I think not.

Snape produces his doe, and Dumbledore asks:

"After all this time?"

"Always," said Snape.

Snape's motive seems definitively defined to me, straight from his mouth. Everything, to keep Lily's son alive, for Lily.

But they were each fighting Voldemort in totally different ways. I didn't really intend to compare Lupin and Snape, it's just something that happened during the discussion. They are not often in comparable situations. Lupin displays a lack of moral courage whenever he has to stand up to his friends, or whenever the consequence of doing the right thing is the loss of trust or admiration or affection of his friends. He could never have shown the moral courage of Snape when he killed Dumbledore and faced the hatred of every decent person.

Okay, thanks for clarifying. I couldn't quite connect the dots on what you were trying to say, and was starting to wonder if you meant that Snape was all moral because he could stand up to his "friend", Voldemort  

Mrs. Brisbee, I'm not sure what you mean in the last paragraph of your post. Some of it comes under the head of Snape's general wrong to society by joining Voldemort. He certainly made restitution for this by his willingness to do anything to bring down Voldemort. But how did he hurt Lupin and Sirius? We are only shown that they hurt him!

My life experiences are different, I suppose. We will all filter things through our own life experiences. I've been there when people I love first hear the news that someone they loved has been murdered. It does hurt them. A lot. I hope this isn't an experience many of you have had, so I don't expect it to be something everyone will weigh.

You would think this would make me more sympathetic to Snape, but it's his complete self-absorption that turns me cold to the character. Yes, he hurt Lupin and Sirius, and everyone else who loved Lily and James. That he can't see beyond his own feelings is... I can't even think of a word. And I promised my daughter the computer, so, later.


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rambkowalczyk - Jan 7, 2009 9:49 am (#751 of 2988)  
I think when we discuss moral courage, there needs to be some sort of sacrifice on the part of the person displaying said courage as well as a higher cause worth following.

When Neville stood up to the trio in book one, he risked their friendship and good will. He risked being called a tattletale. One might question the higher cause. Was it just following rules (not as noble) or was it a warning against reckless behavior (more noble)?

Contrast to Harry not saying anything when Hagrid put a tail on Dudley. If Harry had moral courage at that moment he would have said something about it to Hagrid risking the fact that Hagrid was the closest thing to a friend he had experienced.

To be fair,when Harry chose to accept the fact that he had to die, he had to give up any dreams of having a normal life with Ginny. He did this because he wanted to save others knowing the effects of his sacrifice would be similar to his mother's sacrifice.

However Harry choosing to save Sirius in OOP was not necessarily an act of moral courage because he didn't have to give up anything for it. I will admit that one could argue that Harry would never live with himself if anything happened to Sirius and he could have prevented it. Certainly if Harry did nothing that would show a lack of moral courage. However there might be times when it takes courage to do 'less' than it is to charge recklessly into a situation.

One could argue that Harry saving Sirius was somewhat of a selfish act because it was about Harry living with himself and not about Harry doing the best thing at the time.

I am not sure that Dumbledore defeating Grindelwald is an example of moral courage. Certainly the cause was right, but what was Dumbledore risking? Revealing the fact that Dumbledore was responsible for the death of his sister? Maybe we can say that Dumbledore did show moral courage in going after Grindelwald, but not in hiding the circumstances of his sister's death.

I think the Weasley's fighting Voldemort was more a moral courage because the right thing to do was to stop Voldemort and they knew they were putting their families more at risk as a result of doing this.

Snape as always is ambiguous as ever even though we know he was Dumbledore's man.

I think for example that he showed some moral courage by going to Dumbledore to warn him about Lily. He put himself at risk and the cause was right as Lily was innocent (at least in the sense that she only opposed Voldemort but was not necessarily doing evil to stop him, imho).

One could argue that this isn't moral courage because if it were the Longbottoms, he wouldn't have bothered. To me a small step is better than none.



mona amon - Jan 7, 2009 10:25 am (#752 of 2988)  
"I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for the slaughter--" (Snape, in "The Prince's Tale", DH)

So he states right here why he is doing "everything", to keep Lily Potter's son alive. (Mrs. Brisbee)

Oh darn! (And LOL! ) I completely forgot about that line. Thanks for typing it out. I'll be back tomorrow with a defence for Snape, which will be along the lines of 'he protests too much'.  



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 10:41 am (#753 of 2988)  
Yes, he hurt Lupin and Sirius, and everyone else who loved Lily and James. (Mrs Brisbee)

Yes. But I still think the closest he could come to make up for that was by protecting someone these people loved for Lily's and James's sake.

That he can't see beyond his own feelings is... I can't even think of a word.

It is more difficult to sympathize with those who have always hated you or did you wrong, and Sirius and Lupin were such people to Snape. I suppose, when we lose a friend, most of us will typically feel a certain friendship (or at least sympathy) towards those who also loved this friend. In Snape's case, his friend's friends were his enemies - it is not the usual situation. Unfortunately, Jo does not give us a counterexample: For example, if we knew that Lily's parents had been kind to Snape, it would be interesting to know whether his guilt would have been extended to them or whether he could have sympathized with their sorrow - if they had been alive at the time of Lily's death. But there are no such examples.

When Lily died, Snape did not lose her as an "active" friend and he was not a part of her circle of friends or loved ones. Therefore his loss was different from the loss of the others and he was lonely when he mourned her as he had been lonely when he loved her. There was no one he could share his sorrow with so he was not able to share the sorrow of others, nor was there anyone wanting to share their mourning with him.

Another explanation is that Snape, unfortunately, did not have the same experience of friendship as most other people do. He had only one friend all his life (unless we count Dumbledore but he was more a father figure than a friend) and lost even that one (not when she died but earlier). As a result, he simply had no experience of a network of friendship or of sharing feelings like loss or mourning with others. Even in his family, there does not seem to be a lot of sharing of various feelings. In the happiest part of his life, he could share feelings with one person, not more, but most of his life he had to experience loss, regret, hope, jealousy, fear, pain and everything else, alone.



wynnleaf - Jan 7, 2009 12:21 pm (#754 of 2988)  
To add to Julia's comments, I think it's also important in Snape not feeling anything for Lupin and Sirius' loss that in Snape's opinion, these were people who had actively sought his death at one point. Further, we can see in POA that Snape thought that James' using one of the Marauders as a secret keeper was a huge mistake because they were a bad group and one was even a traitor.

This is a lot different than not empathizing or feeling guilt over bringing grief to people who have never done you any harm.

Back to that point about who Snape did it for...

"I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for the slaughter--" (Snape, in "The Prince's Tale", DH)

So he states right here why he is doing "everything", to keep Lily Potter's son alive. (Mrs. Brisbee)

Well, not exactly. He's saying he did all of the spying, lying, dangerous stuff to keep Harry safe. In other words, Snape's spying activity was to protect Harry. The whole point of the comment is that DD has just said Harry will have to die and Snape is saying, "wait a minute, I thought I was doing all kinds of things to keep him safe!"

Snape is not addressing why he:

1. Is concerned over protecting other students.

2. Why he's willing to run out of his bedroom in his nightgown and through the halls of Hogwarts all because he heard screaming (the egg sounded like screaming in GOF).

3. Why he was so quick to dash into a bathroom in HBP after only hearing a girl scream "murder!"

4. Why he tried to protect Lupin.

5. Why he didn't defend himself against McGonagall and Flitwick when they fired on him in DH.

6. Why he was more concerned with caring for the body of the unconscious Sirius (putting him on a stretcher), then Sirius was for the body of unconscious Snape (uncaring about bumping his head on a tunnel ceiling).

7. Stopping Slytherins from choking Neville even though they were acting under Umbridge's orders and Snape was in a bit of a precarious situation with Umbridge, not exactly following her every whim at that point.

8. Risking drawing suspicion on himself when "punishing" kids by sending them to Hagrid. I thought that should have been highly suspicious to anyone who knew anything about Hagrid.

These actions aren't part of the regular spying, lying, risking his life spying on LV and DEs, but much of that included some risks to Snape and had little to nothing to do with Lily or protecting Harry.



TomProffitt - Jan 7, 2009 12:38 pm (#755 of 2988)  
With out going to the dictionary:

physical courage is a willingness to expose yourself to physical harm, for any reason. Playing Quidditch requires a certain amount of physical courage. Cutting your own hand off requires physical courage. Using occlumency. against Voldemort requires physical courage, particularly when The Dark Lord is already suspicious of you for having turned up very late following his rebirthing.

moral courage is a willingness to risk harm, physical, social, or mental, by taking an action for the sake of a moral standard which you could have avoided. Ron's inability to stand up to Fred and George in OP show's a lack of moral courage. Barty Crouch Jr torturing the Longbottoms is an example of moral courage (albeit a very warped and twisted moral courage), because he like many other Death Eaters could have slipped back into the Wizarding World. Killing Dumbledore required moral courage.

Sometimes an act can show the presence of one type of courage but a lack of the other. I'm having trouble thinking of a good example, but this is the kind of thing I associate with the younger less mature Harry. Perhaps Snape fleeing McGonagall & Flitwick shows a presense of the moral and a lack of the physical (a bit of a stretch, I know).

Sometimes an act shows an absense or lack of both types of courage. Picking on the unsuspecting eleven year old Harry in his first potions class shows a such a lack.

And of course many times an action can show both kinds of courage, like Harry going willingly to his death. Spying on Lord Voldemort fits this pattern, because certainly Dumbledore could not have forced Snape to do it if he didn't want to.



Orion - Jan 7, 2009 12:45 pm (#756 of 2988)  
There is a central problem that nobody addresses in this discussion. It is the futility of Snape's task, at least in his eyes. As much as he is probably willing to help Harry, nothing he does will make Lily alive again. What he can actually do is so depressingly little, comparing to Lily's death. His monumental guilt can never, never be reduced by what he does. And I think that this bleak outlook makes him hate Harry even more than Harry's looks.

Snape is in the position of someone who has accumulated a great debt - let's say millions. (It can happen, for example if you tried to set up a business and failed.) But this someone only earns, let's say, 1200 per month. Even if the bank impounds most of his money for the rest of his life, he will never be free. (Let's assume there is no such thing as personal bankruptcy which will free you of your remaining debt after a period of a few years of good financial conduct.)

The whole thing was wrong and askew from the beginning. You have to have the chance of atoning for your wrongs and then to be free, also morally. The feeling that whatever you do you will always owe another person something damages you, so a normal relationship or even a carefully neutral one is simply not possible.

The madness of making Snape head of Slytherin and a spy at the same time comes on top of all that. The situation is contorted like a corkscrew.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 7, 2009 1:09 pm (#757 of 2988)  
Why is it assumed that Snape was fighting Voldemort only because he murdered Lily? - Because Snape, himself, tells us this when he fires of his "Lily Patronus" and says, "Always". (I see Mrs B has beat me to it.)

Snape was the one who was fighting without personal motivations. - No, his motivation was to avenge Lily. He may have been a bit of a milquetoast about it, but by his own admission, this was why he ever got involved.

He appears very concerned about the fate of Ginny in COS...it seems more likely that he's actually concerned at that point about her life. - I think what's actually "more likely" is that he is afraid of what Voldemort's imminent return will mean for him personally.

As for "moral courage", my interpretation is that it is standing up for something because it is right, or moral, but not necessarily because it is for the "the general good of humanity" - I would agree with this, and add that it often comes in direct opposition to the prevailing feelings of others.
Or perhaps more simply put "Doing the right thing for its own sake in spite of what others might think or do in consequence."

If Hermione cheats to get Ron a place on the team, it's okay and Harry doesn't oppose it. - Well, Harry did chide Hermione for this pretty strongly, at least. I would say it was his own dislike for McLaggen that kept him from righting this particular wrong.

Even in saving Draco, I wonder whether he'd have done so if he hadn't begun to feel some sympathy for Draco - They tried to save all of the boys. Draco was the only one they could save. In that sort of situation, where not saving them means they are burned alive, you'd have to be one sick muthah to just leave the person to their fate, however much you may hate them.

I think Snape probably is very motivated by commitment to duty and his promises. So I think that would move him to protect students. Is that moral courage? - A very good question. When we consider that he had, in the past, made a "commitment" to his "duty" to Voldemort, however well he may have honored this, I think we can all agree that it was not "right". Therefore, to my mind, one's sense of duty or good word and loyalty is not, in and of itself a measure of "moral courage".

[Lupin] could never have shown the moral courage of Snape when he killed Dumbledore and faced the hatred of every decent person. - Obviously, we'll never know the answer to this. But I would argue that Lupin voluntarily chose to isolate himself from those who knew and loved him when he went "underground" to live within the outcast werewolf community. He was in constant danger and, more importantly, was choosing to live among those who openly distrusted and despised him. Could he have pulled the trigger on Dumbledore for the sake of those he loved? Yes, I think he could have.

He certainly made restitution for this by his willingness to do anything to bring down Voldemort. - I have a hard time giving credence to any promise made under duress. He only said this to get Dumbledore to protect Lily. That Snape actually honored it is to his credit, but I really don't think he was very sincere at the time, and why he stuck only to the "letter" of his promise and not its spirit.

Snape's love is quite selfless given that Lily's "forgiveness" (in this world) is mostly related to his own perception of it - This seems inherently contradictory to me. How can anything be considered "selfless" if it is wholly dependent on one's own perception?

Selfless love is without expectations - even if these are forgiveness, reciprocity, companionship, etc. The love a mother has for her child is usually given as the example. Snape's love for Lily is really no different than the "teenager's love for an unreachable person". It is inherently selfish because he is the only "self" involved in the relationship. It is all inside his own mind, both his feelings and her imagined response to them.

Quinn, it was not at all what I said. I never said or meant to say that it was Snape's "big plan" to make Harry hate him. I am trying to explain: - No, I got it the first time. I just think it's kind of ridiculous. You are ascribing this absurdly complicated thought process to the character rather than face the plain fact that he despises the boy because the boy reminds him so much of his arch-rival, and because he is a living reminder that the girl he liked chose to go with the arch-rival over him.

His monumental guilt can never, never be reduced by what he does. And I think that this bleak outlook makes him hate Harry even more than Harry's looks. - Interesting take, Orion. Snape was doomed from the start.



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 2:34 pm (#758 of 2988)  
Why is it assumed that Snape was fighting Voldemort only because he murdered Lily? - Because Snape, himself, tells us this when he fires of his "Lily Patronus" and says, "Always". (Quinn)

Snape says he protected Harry for Lily's sake, but as Wynnleaf points it out, he did other things fighting Voldemort apart from protecting Harry.

No, his motivation was to avenge Lily.

I don't think so. It does not seem to be "avenging" Lily but to make sure she did not die in vain.

He appears very concerned about the fate of Ginny in COS...it seems more likely that he's actually concerned at that point about her life. - I think what's actually "more likely" is that he is afraid of what Voldemort's imminent return will mean for him personally.

Another question to Jo perhaps? In a question like this, we will always be guided by what we think about Snape in general. However, I don't see why this would be the moment when he actually realizes that Voldemort may be behind these things. Dumbledore knew it earlier. If Snape did not know it before that the monster had anything to do with Voldemort, why would he realize it suddenly just because the monster has kidnapped a girl? If he knew it before, why does he get suddenly concerned about his own fate just at that moment?

I have a hard time giving credence to any promise made under duress. He only said this to get Dumbledore to protect Lily. That Snape actually honored it is to his credit, but I really don't think he was very sincere at the time, and why he stuck only to the "letter" of his promise and not its spirit.

Since we do not see into Snape's thoughts, we can only judge with any fairness the sincerity of his promises by the extent of his fulfilling them. Snape fulfilled all of his promises, this one in the first place, despite the fact that Dumbledore did not manage to save Lily. If his promise had not been sincere, he could have easily backed out later saying "I would have done anything for you in return for Lily's life but you did not protect her successfully, so I think I owe you nothing." In the Prince's Tale, when Dumbledore asks the ominous question, Harry expects Snape to protest. I can only interpret this as meaning that Snape could have protested reminding Dumbledore that he (Dumbledore) was asked to save his own people and Snape had already warned him of the danger. Dumbledore would have protected the Potters without Snape's promise or with a simple promise of "I will never serve the Dark Lord again", so Snape was not absolutely compelled to make any promises, much less to promise "anything". And I do think he did live up to the spirit of his promise (even to the point of dying) but obviously, living up to the spirit of his promise means something different to you.

How can anything be considered "selfless" if it is wholly dependent on one's own perception?

Quite simply. With a healthy amount of selfishness, he could simply "forgive" himself at any point in the story - "What is done is done, I wish I had not done it and I will never do anything similar again (I have atoned for it) and now I want to start a new life." But he keeps struggling with his guilt. He lives and works on his guilt for the rest of his life.

Selfless love is without expectations - even if these are forgiveness, reciprocity, companionship, etc. The love a mother has for her child is usually given as the example.

Nooooo! I am a mother and I love my children deeply but I do have expectations in return for this love. True, I would still love them even if they did not meet my expectations at all but I still would have these expectations and I would be profoundly unhappy for not getting anything in return for my love (if they did not love me at all, for example, or if they despised everything that I thought them to value). Call me selfish but I would keep hoping that some day maybe.... A mother's love may be unconditional but I have never seen a loving mother who does not expect to be loved in return.

Lily cannot forgive Snape in this life any more (it would be much easier to seek Harry's forgiveness in fact), and he does not really know what awaits him beyond the veil, so Lily's forgiveness is a rather vague reward and certainly nothing that he can be sure of (especially after sending Harry to his death), and he sacrifices a great deal for it nevertheless. In other words, he still loves Lily (unconditionally) even though he cannot expect much in return for this love - certainly not love, happiness or companionship etc., and the forgiveness part is only a vague hope, nothing else. That is why I call this love remarkably selfless.

Snape's love for Lily is really no different than the "teenager's love for an unreachable person".

You seem to be contradicting yourself. By your own definition, the "teenager's love for an unreachable person" should be the most selfless love because nothing can be expected in return (unless we count a photo with a signature) and you say Snape's love is selfish but still not different from the above mentioned type of love. I still think there is a huge difference: Most teenagers do not give up their lives totally to this love, they simply grow out of it or change the object of that love.

It is inherently selfish because he is the only "self" involved in the relationship.

I thought this would be the definiton of "lonely"... But Lily is pretty much involved in this "relationship". From Snape's viewpoint.

No, I got it the first time.

So you were distorting my words intentionally then.

I just think it's kind of ridiculous. You are ascribing this absurdly complicated thought process..

Thanks for the assessment of my thoughts. Very kind. It may be ridiculous perhaps but if it seems absurdly complicated to you as well - I can imagine more than one reasons for that. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing, …or at least, most minds are…

Orion, I absolutely agree with every word in your post!!! There is nothing Snape can do to really ease his guilt because he cannot change what has happened. That is why I don't buy the argument that he simply wanted to "feel better" about his guilt by doing all these things. If he had wanted to feel better, he should not have remained at Hogwarts at all to atone and to fulfill great promises. He should have gone to the other end of the world, change his identity and to try and forget not only Lily Potter but Severus Snape as well. Or he could have simply sent a bottle or two of Firewhisky down his throat every day to make himself "feel better" as many people with incurable guilt and no hope in life do.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 7, 2009 3:24 pm (#759 of 2988)  
Well, I really don't think it's a case that this character is so wonderful and amazing and thoughtful and kind, but I'm just not clever enough to see it.



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 3:42 pm (#760 of 2988)  
Well, my "ridiculous and absurdly complicated" thoughts did not concern Snape as a "wonderful and amazing and thoughtful and kind" person at all but you don't seem to mind what I'm really saying. Or perhaps you don't understand if your counter-arguments are nothing more than that.



TomProffitt - Jan 7, 2009 3:50 pm (#761 of 2988)  
Well, I really don't think it's a case that this character is so wonderful and amazing and thoughtful and kind, but I'm just not clever enough to see it. --- Quinn Crockett

This is where I used to get confused with Snape's Apologists. No one is asserting that Snape "is so wonderful and amazing and thoughtful and kind." What they are asserting is that (and please correct me if I am wrong) Snape was not in general with out moral fiber, was capable of selfless love, and was from the start(of the series) as devoted as any other Order Member to the defeat of Voldemort. They are not afraid to say that at times he behaves in an immature and bullying manner, but that he is in general more of a good person and not at all an evil one.

I think the crux of the problem comes from a Core Value of JKR: "The qualities of courage and love are not compatible in the same person as the capacity to intentionally perform acts of pure evil." This is almost asuredly an overstatement or oversimplification on my part, but in spirit I think it applies to both JKR and the Snape Apologists. So that the argument arises, Snape is capable of both physical and moral courage, he acts with both types of courage out of a long standing love, therefore Snape was not capable of performing Great Evil so we must reconsider our previous opinion of Snape as evil.

I disagree with JKR here. I think a person can possess both of those two qualities which Jo so highly admires and still be capable of Great Evil. This is why I expected so much more from Snape before I could consider him "reformed." In my opinion, were Snape truly "reformed" he would never have tormented Harry or Neville (among others) in class, and would have listened with an open mind to the arguments of HRH before he so tenderly and lovingly placed Sirius on a stretcher and hauled him off to have his soul sucked out.



wynnleaf - Jan 7, 2009 4:03 pm (#762 of 2988)  
Tom, after Snape's turning away from LV, what Great Evil does he ever do that must somehow exist alongside his love? In fact, many would argue that Great Evil has to be more than joining a terrorist group as a teenager, spying on a job interview, and relating a partial prophecy of Trelawney's back to the terrorist leader. I'm actually not saying I agree or disagree -- but this really is the worst that we know Snape did. The rest of it was being verbally malicious, sarcastic, and somewhat unfair in taking points from school children. Granted, what Snape did in joining LV was Very Bad, but do we actually know that he committed what would be considered Great Evil? I ask, because many people only use the word "evil" for particularly horrendous actions. Snape takes the prophecy back to LV and it would clearly endanger someone, but does that equate to Great Evil?

By the way, Lily and James were already risking their lives fighting LV and defying him several times (this sounds like some sorts of direct confrontations with LV or DEs), so Snape's action, while it made them a direct target for LV, it wasn't like putting a couple who was being all safe and sound into danger. It's more like putting two soldiers in active duty into greater danger, along with their innocent child. I certainly think Snape's action and attitude toward it (prior to learning it was Lily), is terrible, but I don't necessarily think it was Great Evil. And certainly after LV's fall, I can't recall any Great Evil that Snape did.

By the way, do we actually know that Snape was doing his spying, etc., in order to forgiveness?? I can't recall him saying that. The only thing I recall is that he's protecting Harry for the sake of Lily's memory and because Harry is all that's left of Lily in this world, but not because he's seeking some sort of forgiveness from beyond the veil.

Also, there is no place where we're told he's after revenge. Before Lily's death, his motivation is her safety. After her death his motivation is to protect Harry. But I don't recall anyone, Snape, Dumbledore or even JKR, saying he was out to avenge her death.



TomProffitt - Jan 7, 2009 4:16 pm (#763 of 2988)  
Tom, after Snape's turning away from LV, what Great Evil does he ever do that must somehow exist alongside his love? --- wynnleaf

We don't see any at all. I see a lot of "little evils," but no great big ones (and I'm not singling out Snape for that either).

For me the heart of it is that in my opinion Snape committed something akin to Great Evil when he passed information over to Voldemort that he was certainly intelligent enough to realize set someone up for murder. Therefore, he has shown the capacity for it in the past so I need to see something comparably strong to believe he was no longer capable of Great Evil. I never saw that in the books. I was given reason to suspect it was true, but not enough for me to know it.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 7, 2009 4:45 pm (#764 of 2988)  
What they are asserting is that (and please correct me if I am wrong) Snape was not in general with out moral fiber, was capable of selfless love, and was from the start(of the series) as devoted as any other Order Member to the defeat of Voldemort. - I know, I know. I'm just being flippant about it because I don't agree with the Apologists.

But Wynnleaf has a good point that it's true that no one ever actually says Snape is out to "avenge Lily's death" or seek her forgiveness (real or imagined) or whatever. I suppose his "Lily Patronus" is as open to interpretation as much as anything, but from my perspective of being un-Apologetic about Snape, I think it only confirms his desire to do so.



TomProffitt - Jan 7, 2009 5:30 pm (#765 of 2988)  
Quinn, I don't agree with them either.

There is, however, room for interpretation. It depends on how "unbiased" the information we get from Harry's point of view happens to be. e.g. Harry interprets Snapes behavior in class as cruel bullying, but many Apologists would say that is only how Harry sees it and Snape is really more intent on snarkiness than bullying.

I think Snape is too often given more credit than he deserves and other characters are often viewed too harshly in order to make Snape seem less unkind than Harry interprets. This is merely my opinion, though.

It's kind of like "reasonable doubt" in the American court system. "Is there enough evidence for a reasonable person to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Snape had not truly reformed." (Ick, what a mouthful.) I put it in the negative, because the American court presumes innocence not guilt.

That said, in my opinion there is not enough evidence to say "beyond a reasonable doubt" Snape is unreformed. I would, however, say that the converse is also not true. There is not enough evidence to say "beyond a reasonable doubt" Snape did truly reform.

I'd say we've got a hung jury.



Julia H. - Jan 7, 2009 5:40 pm (#766 of 2988)  
Tom,

I don't see JKR simply asserting because Snape was brave and because he loved, he was not capable of committing evil. (Some of the others who are generally good, also commit "little evils" at times.) What I see is that JKR gives us a life-story, in which a young person becomes attracted to evil - but we can see what leads him there and we see that it is a combination of his own faults and of bad (evil?) things that were done to him. Still this person is not all evil - he is capable of loving and that saves him from becoming truly evil and yes, he is also brave enough to risk his life for his love. I think love is very important in the HP saga and we can see that loving even one person can change a life that has already turned in the wrong direction. (I agree with Wynnleaf the the greatest evil Snape does is very bad but not the supreme evil yet.) Then again, another important thing is acceptance. Dumbledore accepts Snape in the knowledge of his guilt and his remorse and becomes his mentor, in other words helps him to become a better man. Snape changes but he does not become a wonderful person. In fact, as Orion says, he can never get rid of his guilt and - because of his past - he will for ever remain an unhappy person, also a man with a past, a "marked man". In this sense, he is never free and he will certainly never have a healthy personality. But he still does what he can (given the kind of personality he has) for the memory of a woman, for the defeat of Voldemort, or for the purpose of putting right some of the wrong he did (interpretations vary) and he agrees to do things that can be considered (at least partially) self-imposed punishment. As for the "little evils" he does: These mainly come from psychological problems that are the results of his past and of his guilt. This is not an excuse, only an explanation. But then he also does "small" and greater good things to counterbalance the little evils. In the end, he sacrifices everything - we don't really seem to know or agree on what for but he does sacrifice a lot. His "redemption" on the pages of the books is posthumus forgiveness and respect by Harry but he dies knowing nothing about that.

A "truly evil person" could never get as far as Snape. If we are not satisfied with what he ultimately does, then either JKR did not write that part of the book properly, or she may have wanted to get through a very different message - something like try as you might, bad choices can never be truly atoned for, once you have failed morally, you are lost for ever. However, JKR also says somewhere that when Harry suggests Voldemort should try for some remorse, there is indeed a chance for him to be saved (from a terrible after-life fate, I suppose) if he really tried to be remorseful. JKR says Voldemort has this chance because he has Harry's blood (and by extension, Lily's sacrifice) in his blood. Love. My problem with this is that Voldemort acquired this by an act of cruelty, more precisely, by several acts of cruelty. Nevertheless, if Voldemort, of all people, after decades of doing evil, really Great Evil, still has the chance to be redeemed by a last-minute remorse, then I think Snape's years of atonement - however imperfect he as a person is - must also be worth something. You don't have to be wonderful to be redeemed. It takes true remorse and a serious attempt to change your life.

Also, it is interesting that - again according to JKR - the Malfoys are pardoned after the end of the war because they finally turned away from Voldemort (when they had nothing to gain by his victory). It is never mentioned that Lucius ever feels guilty about his past or ever tries to atone for anything or that he will ever be haunted by any of the wrong he has done. It seems only those are able to feel remorse and be ashamed of or tormented by their bad deeds who have enough goodness in them (I cannot specify the necessary quantity) - like Dumbledore, Harry(!), Lupin, Percy and also Snape.

I need to see something comparably strong to believe he was no longer capable of Great Evil. (Tom)

It is easy to show that a character is capable of doing Great Evil by making the character do that Great Evil. But how can you prove that the same character is not capable of Great Evil any more apart from not making him do Great Evil and by making him do good things? Does it have the same force as proof? Probably not. You can show us the person's mind and feelings but this is not an option for JKR. I think the closest JKR comes to showing Snape is not capable of Great Evil is when he makes Snape generally hated and despised by the good side as the murderer of Dumbledore and a traitor, removes his mentor and his boss from life, then makes it clear that Snape is a rising star with Voldemort and makes Voldemort give him a position in which he could take all the revenge he wants on those who hate him and which is a position of greater power than he has ever had (no, not real power but more than what he had before) and it may easily seem to Snape that Voldemort's defeat would be very dangerous for him, who is believed to be Voldemort's right hand man, while Voldemort's victory might mean more power for him - and yet Snape is not tempted by any of this, he sticks to the cause of the good side (when he cannot even hope to keep Harry alive, which seems to have been his life purpose for years).



Solitaire - Jan 7, 2009 8:36 pm (#767 of 2988)  
Tom ... I told you so!  



mona amon - Jan 8, 2009 12:24 am (#768 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 8, 2009 12:55 am
You would think this would make me more sympathetic to Snape, but it's his complete self-absorption that turns me cold to the character. Yes, he hurt Lupin and Sirius, and everyone else who loved Lily and James. That he can't see beyond his own feelings is... I can't even think of a word. (Mrs. Brisbee)

Hmm...I never thought of it before, but he is rather like that! He never seems to realise that there's a larger world out there, he is so wrapped up in the wrongs that have been done to him.

"I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for the slaughter--" (Snape, in "The Prince's Tale", DH)

So he states right here why he is doing "everything", to keep Lily Potter's son alive. (Mrs. Brisbee)


When discussing Snape's motivations, I'm always reminded of Coleridge's well known description of arch-villain Iago as the 'Motiveless Malignity'. The full phrase is "The motive-hunting of motiveless Malignity," which Coleridge has written as a note in his copy of Othello, at the end of act I scene 3 where Iago is soliloquizing and mentions a motive for his evil plans.

He also says,

"It is a matter of infinite difficulty, but fortunately of comparative indifference, to determine what a man's motive may have been for this or that particular action. Rather seek to learn what his objects in general are!--What does he habitually wish? habitually pursue?--and thence deduce his impulses, which are commonly the true efficient causes of men's conduct; and without which the motive itself would not have become a motive]...[Without the perception of this truth it is impossible to understand the character of Iago, who is represented as now assigning one, and then another, and again a third, motive for his conduct,..."

Coleridge is saying that although Iago provides motives for himself, (his suspicion that Othello is having an affair with his wife, being passed over for promotion, etc), these do not satisfy the reader, who searches for other motives to explain the difference between Iago's self-professed motives and the monstrous degree of evil that he exhibits.

And similarly, with Snape, I think to say that Lily was his one and only motivation does not adequately explain, to me at least, why he was putting his heart, soul and life into that horrendously difficult, dangerous and thankless job. His 'all for Lily' seems to me a mere rationalization.

ETA His monumental guilt can never, never be reduced by what he does. (Orion)

Orion, I absolutely agree with every word in your post!!! There is nothing Snape can do to really ease his guilt because he cannot change what has happened. (Julia)


But why can't he get over his guilt? Lots of people do, and for doing far worse things. I do not think it's to his credit to keep nursing his guilt forever (if that's what he does). 'Because he can't change what happened' is not the criteria, or most people will have to feel guilty forever. IMO, it's part of the self-absorption thing mentioned by Mrs. Brisbee.



TomProffitt - Jan 8, 2009 2:39 am (#769 of 2988)  
Still this person is not all evil - he is capable of loving and that saves him from becoming truly evil and yes, he is also brave enough to risk his life for his love. I think love is very important in the HP saga and we can see that loving even one person can change a life that has already turned in the wrong direction. --- Julia H.

This is where I disagree with you and Rowling. This last thing Adolph Hitler did before committing suicide as the Red Army closed on Berlin was marry his long time mistress Eva Braun. No one(reasonable) will dispute Hitler was truly evil, but what other motivation can we ascribe to his final act other than that he held some sort of feeling for Braun?

For me, this is what makes evil scary. A person can seem to be reasonable, compassionate, and understanding, but then have one driving overwhelming prejudice which leads them to great evil on that score.

For me to be ready to accept a reformed Snape I need to see him make the small changes in his life. He has to overcome his urge to belittle and berate Harry for having the imagined (or real) faults of his father. I've known too many people who go to church on Sunday and are complete jerks (or worse) the other six days of the week for me to give them a pass when they get one big thing right.

Did Snape make the big changes Rowling projected onto him? I believe he probably did, but it was not presented to me in a clear, obvious, and satisfying manner.

I told you so. --- Solitaire

The only other discussion I've had that was near as much fun was accusing Hermione of being vindictive.



Julia H. - Jan 8, 2009 5:49 am (#770 of 2988)  
This last thing Adolph Hitler did before committing suicide as the Red Army closed on Berlin was marry his long time mistress Eva Braun. No one(reasonable) will dispute Hitler was truly evil, but what other motivation can we ascribe to his final act other than that he held some sort of feeling for Braun? (Tom)

But Hitler stopped here, whatever love he felt for Eva Braun, it did not change him. Going back to the Potter saga, it can be argued that Bellatrix loves Voldemort but it does not make her a better person. The fact that Snape can love Lily is only a potential for him. Suppose he loves her but does not have the courage to try to save her - he might still love and mourn her and hate himself for what he did and yet remain the same DE without trying to change his life. In that case, love would not change him in itself. Snape's love for Lily has a greater potential for changing him than Hitler's love for Eva Braun or Bellatrix's love for Voldemort because Snape's love is incompatible with DE ideology. He loves and values someone he as a true DE should in principle despise or hate. Bellatrix's love for Voldemort is totally compatible with evil deeds and feelings. The love Hitler felt did not force him to reconsider his evil ways. Snape, however, has to eventually face a choice: He can't give his heart to both Evil and to Lily because Voldemort and Lily represent opposing values and both seek to destroy the other (in different senses though). Then it turns out that Snape's love for Lily is stronger than whatever attraction evil has for him and he values her life above his own. This is what I mean when I say that Snape is not truly evil - he loves, truly loves the opposite of evil and is ready to make sacrifices for her.

I think where I disagree with you is that Snape does not change. I think he changes a lot, even if he does not become perfect and still has lots of faults. I would also like to have read more about his change, a deeper look into his mind, and a lot more facts about his last year in DH. Still what comes across to me is a deep change.

You also seem to think that this was Rowling's intention to convey, and you seem to be dissatisfied with the way she accomplished that. This is probably something beyond the discussion of the character (but also interesting).

I've known too many people who go to church on Sunday and are complete jerks (or worse) the other six days of the week for me to give them a pass when they get one big thing right.

I know such people, too. But Snape does not strike me as one of them. He strikes me as a very difficult person who is struggling with his own faults and who never shows himself better than he is (not even on Sundays), quite on the contrary. My impression is that he becomes a better man than what he seems to be.

As for the small changes: The main problem seems to be his behaviour towards students (and some adults) that we see on the pages of the books. Am I the only one who has the impression that in the DH year he must have given up bullying students or that he did not retain more than what was necessary to keep up appearances but that there might have been no bullying for the sake of bullying any more? He was the one to give light detentions and the students were in real danger while his concern was to protect them. I'm sure he was not a kind person even then but it is a change of some sort. The students hated him more than ever and he did not retaliate when he could have retaliated real hard. I also think that when he tells Phineas not to use the "Mudblood" word, it is a sign of one of the "small" changes in him. If the indications of Snape's change in the book are not enough, then it is either a problem with the way the book was written or we can conclude that JKR wanted to say something else but when we look at it, the opposite message (that Snape did not change) does not seem to be conveyed in a more satisfactory way either.



Solitaire - Jan 8, 2009 6:38 am (#771 of 2988)  
but what other motivation can we ascribe to his final act other than that he held some sort of feeling for Braun?

Hm ... perhaps, like Voldemort, he feared death. He knew he was going to die at the hands of the enemy, if they captured him. Perhaps he just wanted a companion in death. If he'd really loved her, would he have wanted her to die?



Steve Newton - Jan 8, 2009 7:12 am (#772 of 2988)  
Tom says; "The only other discussion I've had that was near as much fun was accusing Hermione of being vindictive.

You obviously missed out on all the fun of the Marietta wars.



Julia H. - Jan 8, 2009 10:07 am (#773 of 2988)  
But why can't he get over his guilt? Lots of people do, and for doing far worse things. I do not think it's to his credit to keep nursing his guilt forever(if that's what he does). 'Because he can't change what happened' is not the criteria, or most people will have to feel guilty forever. (Mona)

I don't think either of us said not being able to get over one's guilt was a virtue. I don't think it is exactly a fault, either, but I think it is probably a character trait. People who can get over their guilt more easily probably have better chance of happiness in life. On the one hand, I understand why someone would find it difficult to get over his guilt when it is like Snape's, and on the other hand, I don't think it is a matter of simple decision either way.

I am reminded of Mr Bennet's confession in P&P: No, Lizzy, let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough.

Some people can (or even must) get over such things easily, others cannot. I don't know if it is innate or comes with early socialization. But I know, for example, that sometimes when the marriage of the parents is bad or breaks up, a small child may feel some inexplicable guilt, that he/she is somehow to blame for what is happening. It is perhaps possible that people who used to feel guilty a lot and were not forgiven when they were small children, (as the child in the above example cannot be forgiven because nobody even knows about these guilty feelings) will find it harder to get over a guilty feeling when they are adults than those who did not have such experiences in their childhood. Some people get over their guilt with the help of others. (Muggles have psychologists, for example.) Snape does not receive outside help. In his case, it is probably even more difficult because his whole life is based on guilt and atonement. Perhaps he would more easily get over his guilt (and Lily) far away from Hogwarts (and even from Spinner's End) and far away from the people who remind him of the past.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 8, 2009 12:04 pm (#774 of 2988)  
But Hitler stopped here, whatever love he felt for Eva Braun, it did not change him. - - Precisely. Which was, I believe, Tom's point.

Snape's love for Lily has a greater potential for changing him than Hitler's love for Eva Braun or Bellatrix's love for Voldemort because Snape's love is incompatible with DE ideology. - See, this is where I think the Snape Apologists completely fall apart. Because the main argument in support of Snape is how his love for Lily is supposed to signal the beginnings of his reform. But when one cites examples of "evil" people who have also exhibited deeply powerful abiding love, the response from the Apologists is inevitably, "Oh well that's different."

Hitler was actually a "health nut" who abhorred smoking and a vegetarian who, by many accounts, deeply loved animals - which I think would strike many as fundamentally incompatible with his own brutal ideology. Back in the HP world, we see that Narcissa Malfoy's love and concern for her family also leads her to turn against Voldemort. I see absolutely no difference between Narcissa's motivations and Snape's, yet Narcissa's change of heart is often dismissed, even by the author, while Snape's is lauded.

As for "getting over" the guilt of what he's done, I don't think anyone expects a person to truly "get over" the idea of having contributed to a person's murder. I think in this case, "getting over" means being able to move on a form healthy relationships and live a reasonably productive life.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 8, 2009 12:15 pm (#775 of 2988)  
Hi mona amon and everyone else -- I've been "sans computer" for a long time... Glad to be back, although it will be sporadic at first.

I've got 101 posts to read since I posed my question -- so glad people are interested in this topic still! will post later Wink

Edit: I will begin by saying that I think in the JKR quote she was referring to Lily, not Severus's mother or DD. The interview was given right after HBP came out and, for me, the Amortentia potion concept was emphasized, not simply for the Romilda Vane episode but to introduce the idea of obsessive love. In my opinion, what Severus became as a result of "losing" Lily could be seen as the fallout of such a situation.

Back to reading posts...



wynnleaf - Jan 8, 2009 12:39 pm (#776 of 2988)  
Snape's love for Lily has a greater potential for changing him than Hitler's love for Eva Braun or Bellatrix's love for Voldemort because Snape's love is incompatible with DE ideology. - See, this is where I think the Snape Apologists completely fall apart. Because the main argument in support of Snape is how his love for Lily is supposed to signal the beginnings of his reform. But when one cites examples of "evil" people who have also exhibited deeply powerful abiding love, the response from the Apologists is inevitably, "Oh well that's different." (Quinn)

I suppose the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. In Hitler's case, his love for Eva Braun did not move him to any change as regards the evil he was doing. Snape's love for Lily did move him to change.

The problem that any person will have in convincing someone else that they are changing away from a life of previous evil-doing, is when the person doing the observing basically says, "I don't care how much you change in various other ways. If you don't change in this one particular way, I can't believe in your changing."

Harry is rather this way as well. Prior to seeing Snape AK DD, DD has told Harry repeatedly that Snape, while once a DE, has changed, thoroughly regrets his former actions in following LV, thoroughly regrets taking the prophecy to LV, etc. Harry doesn't believe that Snape has really changed. Yet Harry has no particular evidence other than the fact that Snape loathed James, loathes Harry, and is in Harry's opinion an unfair teacher. Basically, Harry's thought is that it doesn't matter what actions Snape has done -- spying for DD, risking his life, showing the Mark to Fudge, checking to see if Sirius was still at Grimmauld Place, sending the info to the Order about Harry possibly going to the MOM, saving Katie Bell's life, saving DD's life, etc -- none of it matters at all to Harry because Snape dislikes him, personally, and is unfair to students in general. Because of this, and really this is about all the "evil" that Snape is doing when Harry gets to know him, Harry refuses to believe that Snape has changed.

JKR gives Harry this flaw throughout the series until the end. Basically, if someone likes and appears to support him, he figures they're not, even if they're good, even if they're really not like fake-Moody and the young Tom Riddle. But if the person appears to dislike Harry personally or perhaps just doesn't support Harry as he wishes, Harry views that person basically as an enemy, even without that person actually doing anything overt directly against him. I found it interesting that Harry viewed Scrimgeour extremely negatively primarily because Harry felt Scrimgeour wanted to use him for publicity, which Harry hated, yet the man died rather than reveal crucial info about Harry. With Snape, at the end of DH, Harry finally is able to see that someone loathing him personally is not the final measure of whether or not that person has many other good qualities or is "redeemed" in the HP universe sense.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 8, 2009 1:11 pm (#777 of 2988)  
But Snape also rips photo-Lily out of her family, and throws the husband and son away, which leads me to think that he hadn't really progressed that far afterall. – Mrs. Brisbee #679

A sure sign to me of his unhealthy feelings toward Lily’s choice to be with James. Perhaps because he's trying to convince himself her choosing James caused her death – which of course is completely inaccurate.

One of the main factors, to me, is Severus’s obsessive personality. Layer upon layer, year after year, Severus might have woven a web of scenarios (at Spinner’s End…) of how He should have been the one to be Lily’s “chosen one” and He should have been the father to her child and on and on. With obsessive love comes obsessive hate toward the one depriving you of your desire.

If she had just shown Snape at the end weeping over some random photo of Lily, it would not have had the same effect. Instead she has Harry find and carry one part of the picture with him, while Snape carries the other. It was a small mystery and creates more interest in Snape's action for the reader. – mona amon #691

Yes, I agree with you and Orion -- symbolic of another connection in the triangulation between Harry, Severus and Vold.

…whenever he addresses Lily, he is the one who brings up James. What's more, Lily actually does marry James and has his child--a child Snape would certainly have seen as being the reason Lily died. – Solitaire #694

And JKR stated in the same interview that, although Lily didn’t show overt signs of attraction to James at first, she covertly already had feelings for him around the time of the Worst Memory. She says something like “well, you know how it works”. Severus is obviously very sensitive (alluded to with "feminine handwriting", spider symbolism, the doe, and more). I'd imagine he would have picked up on it instantly.



TomProffitt - Jan 8, 2009 1:20 pm (#778 of 2988)  
You obviously missed out on all the fun of the Marietta wars. --- Steve Newton

If I recall correctly, it was my "vindictive" comment which started the Marietta Wars. Of course, that could just be a self-congratulatory spotty memory.

Snape's love for Lily did move him to change. --- wynnleaf

I agree. The question for me is not whether or not a change took place, but how deep and broad that change was. For example, all of Harry's preferred role models (Lupin, Dumbledore, Sirius, and the Weasleys, etc) show a capacity to offer forgiveness. Some (Dumbledore) show a greater degree of this than others (Sirius), and this is a trait we are unable to see in Snape (except perhaps at the very end he seems to have offered a degree of it to Dumbledore).

I think we have ample cause to question the depth and sincerity of Snape's change, at least until he slew Dumbledore. I still wonder if somehow James had survived Voldemort's attack and only Lily were slain, would Snape have given James the AK if he had had the chance to do it and get away clean. In the first six books I'm thinking that he would have done it, but I'm not so certain in the 7th.



Steve Newton - Jan 8, 2009 1:36 pm (#779 of 2988)  
"If I recall correctly, it was my "vindictive" comment which started the Marietta Wars."

Ah, the good old days!

Actually, I thought that I remembered you there but in a quick search, back a couple of hundred posts did not see your name. I should be more persistent.



Julia H. - Jan 8, 2009 2:32 pm (#780 of 2988)  
Quinn, I think if anything is sure to lower the standards of the discussion on this forum, it is when somebody starts assessing the quality of others' comments. If you truly think my arguments are "falling apart", "ridiculous" and "absurd", why don't you just ignore them? Why bother to react to them? If you don't want it, my posts will not even appear on your screen. But if you want to continue any discussions with me, then let me make it very clear that reasoned arguments are fine and real questions are also fine with me but nothing even similar to "name-calling".

Because the main argument in support of Snape is how his love for Lily is supposed to signal the beginnings of his reform. But when one cites examples of "evil" people who have also exhibited deeply powerful abiding love, the response from the Apologists is inevitably, "Oh well that's different."

Because often it is different. I think I explained that without falling apart. Not all love changes a person for the better. It is partly due to the fact that lots of different things go under the name of love. I don't know how deeply powerful abiding Hitler's love was for Eva Braun. But as Solitaire pointed out (and she is not one of the Snape Apologists, who always "fall apart") Hitler marrying Braun when he was in the greatest trouble may not have been strictly for her good. It is quite possible that he tried to keep her by his side by marrying her when he could not keep her by power any more. Sometimes what seems to be love is nothing else but a need to share one's table and bed with another person, or a desire to be loved or to avoid solitude. I've said that almost everyone who loves deeply wants, wishes or hopes to be loved in return. However, not everybody who merely insists on the company of another person loves that person in the truest sense of the word. If a cruel mass murderer loves animals, it is rather suspicious that he "loves" them because animals are beings he can have absolute or almost absolute control over, thus it may not be as incompatible with his brutal, totalitarian ideology as it seems at first sight. (Even Voldemort, who did not know love, seemed to be attached to Nagini.) I do think the Hitler - Eva Braun relationship is different from the Snape - Lily thing but if you think the two cases are similar, perhaps you can explain why.

Snape's love meant that he placed Lily's interest above his own. It was that particular kind of love that started his change. As you say, love does not necessarily change someone for the better. I think it is a potential only, but fundamentally a good thing (provided it is real love), and it goes to Snape's credit that he realized that potential.

I agree that Narcissa's motivation for turning away from Voldemort is very similar to Snape's. I do see some difference - in Narcissa's case all of the Malfoys were in danger by Voldemort, Narcissa herself included, while it seems that Snape turned away from Voldemort to save Lily when he himself was probably favoured by Voldemort as the one who had brought the Prophecy, so his own life and position was not in danger until he decided to reveal everything to Dumbledore. I am ready to believe that Narcissa worried more about Draco than about herself so this may not be a very important difference - still the fact remains that the Malfoys left Voldemort when they had nothing more to gain by being loyal to him, while Snape could still choose between a DE career and saving Lily. Anyway, Snape's true change took a long time and a lot of effort and sacrifice and a series of important and difficult choices. Narcissa is simply not there at the end of the series. She turned away from Voldemort at the end of the war when it was the sensible thing to do but she did not yet demonstrate remorse or a willingness to atone or to start a new way of life or anything similar. She may truly change over time - for the moment we don't know.

I still wonder if somehow James had survived Voldemort's attack and only Lily were slain, would Snape have given James the AK if he had had the chance to do it and get away clean. (Tom)

Can we judge the depth of the change of a character on the basis of totally hypothetical situations, which only take place in our own heads but never even alluded to in the books?


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TomProffitt - Jan 8, 2009 3:05 pm (#781 of 2988)  
Can we judge the depth of the change of a character on the basis of totally hypothetical situations, which only take place in our own heads but never even alluded to in the books? --- Julia H.

Of course we can't. I offer this statement as an opinion of how I perceived the Snape character. Others have perceived him in quite different ways. It's my way of explaining why for me the naming of Albus Severus Potter felt hollow and contrived to me the first time a read it. I can understand Jo's reasoning now, but at the time it was far from the "obvious" eventuality many readers seem to have taken for granted.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 8, 2009 3:12 pm (#782 of 2988)  
His "redemption" is selfish too if he is just indulging his feelings, and disregarding anyone else's who were harmed by his actions. - Mrs. Brisbee #718

Selfishness would seem to be a prerequisite to invest so much time in oneself, and one must invest an extraordinary amount of time in redemption. Harming others along the way is a different story.

I do view his feelings toward Lily as selfish in the worst definition of the term. If he truly loved Lily, he would have been happy for her eventually. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented that happening, as they went from school to DE-versus-Order of the Phoenix, to catastrophe. If Lily hadn’t died, could he have gotten over her? Too many *if*s.

I view his lack of moral courage to be his unwillingness to change his core behavior when that is what Lily would really have wanted from him. Lily didn't want her friend to be a cruel bullying git, and that is precisely the attitude Snape held for Harry during the series. – TomProffitt #720

But Lily fell in love with a cruel bullying git, didn’t she? She didn’t fall in love with James, so far as we know, only after he’d changed his obnoxious behavior. He did “save” Severus from Lupin but are we supposed to interpret James as being the antithesis of Severus? Not to me. I guess the deciding factor was the Dark Arts, but here we again have a grey area, where we are left to wonder how much of Severus’s reputation of being up to his eyeballs in the Dark Arts was accurate... we know the Marauders were dancing along the grey area at the time, if the definition of Dark Arts is to cause harm to another unnecessarily

I just can't help being cynical when I discuss James Potter, my least favourite character. – mona amon #725

Yeah, me too…

There is a central problem that nobody addresses in this discussion. It is the futility of Snape's task, at least in his eyes. As much as he is probably willing to help Harry, nothing he does will make Lily alive again. What he can actually do is so depressingly little, comparing to Lily's death. His monumental guilt can never, never be reduced by what he does. And I think that this bleak outlook makes him hate Harry even more than Harry's looks. – Orion #756

That’s why I don’t see it as “wrong” that he is doing it all in self interest. He knows it will not change the past but by helping Harry – as much as it pains him to do it because of jealousy – he is helping himself.

But why can't he get over his guilt? Lots of people do, and for doing far worse things. I do not think it's to his credit to keep nursing his guilt forever(if that's what he does). 'Because he can't change what happened' is not the criteria, or most people will have to feel guilty forever. IMO, it's part of the self-absorption thing mentioned by Mrs. Brisbee. – mona amon #768

To me, its not as simple as self absorption but the culmination of everything that makes it so hard for Severus to “get over” it – so many *what if* scenarios going on in a sensitive, solitary, resentful young man’s head and heart.

Of course, it’s another compare/contrast between him and the lonely boy sitting in #4, Privet Drive for a decade and how differently they dealt with their circumstances.

Edit: But, more to your point, this might be what JKR is trying to show us about what makes Severus more "culpable" than Vold. Yes, there are those who don't carry around guilt for doing far worse things but they are more a reptile than a human... Severus is not like Vold.

For me, this is what makes evil scary. A person can seem to be reasonable, compassionate, and understanding, but then have one driving overwhelming prejudice which leads them to great evil on that score. – Tom Proffitt #769

Yes, I adore the Severus character but I definitely view Lily’s love for him – whether romantic or not – like water being poured into the proverbial bucket with a hole at the bottom. Usually these types of people are the obsessive ones because it’s never enough, no good will is ever truly felt and absorbed as a needed sign of self worthiness.

I think his perception of losing her twice made him even more emotionally cut off than had she gotten away from Vold that night. It seems to me that guilt is far more damaging, toxic, and hard to “get over” than heartbreak.



TomProffitt - Jan 8, 2009 3:23 pm (#783 of 2988)  
I think James Potter gets judged unfairly. We see virtually nothing of him after "Snape's Worst Memory." We have only biased viewpoints on which to judge him that are very scarce in detail. I would hate to have my own adult self judged by my actions at age 16.

We have no way of knowing just what kind of person James grew into. I think it just as unfair to compare adult Snape to 16 year old James as it is to compare adult Snape to an even younger Harry (which has often been done in the past, but not recently).

Personally, I don't like or dislike James, I don't know what he became as an adult, but somehow I have the suspicion that HRH (and Ginny) were better behaved students than James and Lily. And probably nicer adults, too.



wynnleaf - Jan 8, 2009 8:07 pm (#784 of 2988)  
I think James Potter gets judged unfairly. We see virtually nothing of him after "Snape's Worst Memory." We have only biased viewpoints on which to judge him that are very scarce in detail. I would hate to have my own adult self judged by my actions at age 16. (Tom)

I think we can judge James like any other literary character -- by exactly what the author chooses to show us about him. JKR chose to not show us anything of a "changed James", no regret for past actions, no cessation of behavior which endangers others (we never hear that they ever gave up letting a werewolf out to roam the countryside), not giving up fighting at school, only hiding it from Lily. And so on. JKR could have shown us examples of a changed James. We could have read in Lily's letter about some wise or brave or otherwise admirable actions of James, but mainly she comments on James thinking it funny that the baby broke Petunia's present and that James would like to have his invisibility cloak back so he can have his little "excursions". Even at his death JKR could have shown us James with his wand always on him, ever vigilant for an attack, fighting off Voldemort until he died. Instead, JKR chose to show us James caught without his wand (can anyone imagine Harry in this situation?) struck down easily by LV.

Point is, if JKR thought James turned out better than she shows us, she could have let us know it.

How this relates to Snape??

In all these comments about how Snape's attitude toward the dead James is all wrong, I think we should remember that Snape believed James had been in on a plot to murder him and only got cold feet at the last minute and rescued Snape because he wanted he and his friends to avoid too much trouble. Snape certainly regretted his actions that put the Potters into greater danger with LV. But I would not expect him to cease to hate a man who he felt had tried to murder him, and whose "arrogance" and bad judgement in his friends contributed to Lily's death.

When Snape tore the picture, I think he only really had two choices that make the slightest bit of sense. The reason to take the photo is to have some memento and memory of Lily. Snape could choose to leave the picture there and leave with no memento of Lily. Or tear it in half and leave the part with James and Harry. No photo with James in it would have been any sort of comfort to Snape, so why take the whole thing? Tearing it wasn't some sort of desecration -- it wasn't a holy relic after all, just a photo.

James was no saint. As far as I see it, he wasn't even very nice. Basically, he comes across as a rich, spoiled, arrogant bully who happened to be on the right side. I think it makes complete sense that Snape would vastly regret his actions that got the Potters killed, but continue to loath James who seems to have deserved Snape's intense dislike. People don't become good just because they're dead, even if their deaths were brought about by extremely grievous wrongdoing.

Of course, Snape has no excuse to loathe Harry. His initial dislike of Harry is simply completely wrong. Still, Harry, immediately after the first class plays almost completely to Snape's negative assumptions. It doesn't excuse Snape, but on the other hand I don't excuse Harry either.



Solitaire - Jan 8, 2009 8:40 pm (#785 of 2988)  
I agree, Tom. And the only memories we see are Snape's memories. James might have a few choice morsels that would show Snape in a less-than-flattering light, too.

Of course, we do have Remus and Sirius to give us some indicator that there was more to that story than met the eye ... that Snape never lost an opportunity to jinx James, and James couldn't be expected to take that lying down. Some, however, do not accept Remus's comments as reliable, despite the fact that he owns his actions and expressed regret on more than one occasion that he had not done more to keep James and Sirius in check. Even Sirius acknowledges his own stupid, arrogant behavior from that time of his life.

James was certainly snotty on the train, but was he the first to start the jinxing business? Snape was the one inventing spells like Levicorpus! and Sectumsempra! If Snape invented Levicorpus! James had to see it somewhere ... or perhaps have been the victim of it. Perhaps that is where he learned it to use on Snape!



wynnleaf - Jan 8, 2009 9:12 pm (#786 of 2988)  
One might also say that the only memories we see of James were all personally written by JKR. I mean, it's not like it's Snape's choice that those are all we see of James. It's JKR's choice.

As for Remus' comments, we are shown examples of Remus fudging the truth about Snape and other things too often to assume that what Remus says is true. And further, Remus shows that he is willing to even put the lives of children at risk if that's what it takes to keep the good opinion of others. Why should he balk at a little fudging of the truth so that the Marauders don't look so quite so bad in Harry's eyes? As a matter of fact, given Remus' past habits in concealing or fudging truth to keep good opinion, I would expect him to skew the truth from Harry at that point.

As for Sirius, even as an adult he thought his actions in almost getting Snape bitten by the werewolf were justified, so it's hard to consider him objective either. And he never loses an opportunity to call Snape some name or another -- "odd ball" or whatever. There are times when I think Sirius' comments are as objective as he can be -- such as in GOF when he comments on Snape, but even then he shows his deep bias (which JKR, by the way, acknowledges). But in OOTP, when he's defending his own actions, I don't give much credence to his opinions, considering that he defended the Prank as well.

Of course, Snape hates the Marauders thoroughly, but we get to see James in the JKR-chosen objective memories of the pensieve and don't have to wonder if what we're seeing is reliable or not.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 8, 2009 9:20 pm (#787 of 2988)  
Perhaps that is where he learned it to use on Snape! - I would say that was indeed the case, since Snape's last tirade to Harry as he is fleeing the Hogwarts grounds in HBP is how Harry has the audacity to use his "own spells against [him]" just as James had done.



Solitaire - Jan 8, 2009 9:57 pm (#788 of 2988)  
No one says that Remus always had good judgment, and Sirius is as immature and resentful as Snape is. However, I still do not think Remus would lie to Harry. I suppose neither of us is going to change our opinions, since we haven't done so thus far. I simply think Jo included Remus's comments about Snape give us a more even-handed idea of how things really were. I believe him when he said Snape hexed James every time he got a chance.

Also, I think Lily's strictures to Snape--"You and your precious little Death Eater Friends"--put him squarely in the same camp with the Death Eaters she has previously accused of using Dark Magic. Does this mean she is aware that he does use Dark Magic? And if he does--we know he created and used Sectumsepmra! ... "for use on enemies"--I don't think it's a far stretch to suppose he used a few Dark spells on James ... an enemy.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 12:16 am (#789 of 2988)  
Perhaps that is where he learned it to use on Snape! (Soli)

Or perhaps not. When Harry mentions Levicorpus to Lupin, he says, "Oh, that one had a great vogue during my time at Hogwarts. There were a few months in my fifth year when you couldn't move for being hoisted into the air by your ankle." (HBP, Chapter 16) He never says anything about Snape using it on them, even though Harry mentions that he saw James using it on Snape in the Pensieve. It seems like Snape did not keep his invention a secret, and it soon became very popular. One cannot really learn Levicorpus by having someone hex you with it, since it's non-verbal.

Having said that, I agree that Snape must have hexed James every time he got a chance. Of course he must have. I don't think anybody here is denying that. But what JKR shows us, in the Pensieve and from Lupin and Sirius's remarks (which I accept as true) is that James was more culpable for the animosity than Snape.



TomProffitt - Jan 9, 2009 2:33 am (#790 of 2988)  
But what JKR shows us, in the Pensieve and from Lupin and Sirius's remarks (which I accept as true) is that James was more culpable for the animosity than Snape. --- mona amon

I don't know that I'd agree with "more" culpable, but I could easily accept "equally." We also have to realize that it was Snape who chose the memories for Harry to see. In my opinion, I saw Snape making less than optimal responses to either his friend Lily or her eventual husband James, and it occurred to me that these memories were Snape's moments of regret were he could have changed his life by making better choices.

I think Jo intentionally left us with so little solid information on James. And when I earlier said "biased" opinions, I was including those of Remus and Sirius as being biased. Jo wanted a very "muddy" picture where Snape was concerned, she was obfuscating this plot line just as she did any other. James and Sirius were a lot closer to Fred & George in behavior than they were to Ron & Harry, but there is hardly any room to conclude anything more serious or benign in their behavior.

Good James or Bad James, I don't think it has much relevance to Snape's responsibility for his own actions. "Oh, but James did it first," seems an awfully childish excuse when James and his wife ended up getting murdered over it.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 3:17 am (#791 of 2988)  
Good James or Bad James, I don't think it has much relevance to Snape's responsibility for his own actions. (Tom)

I agree.

"Oh, but James did it first," seems an awfully childish excuse when James and his wife ended up getting murdered over it.

You are connecting James and Lily's murder to James' pranks? Why?

We also have to realize that it was Snape who chose the memories for Harry to see.

No. Harry himself peeks into Snape's Worst Memory. It's a memory that Snape did not want Harry to see. And the other information comes from Sirius and Remus. Nothing to do with Snape's choice.

James and Sirius were a lot closer to Fred & George in behavior than they were to Ron & Harry, but there is hardly any room to conclude anything more serious or benign in their behavior.

Fred and George were no saints, but I don't think James and Sirius were anything like them. Even Harry says he does not think so after he sees SWM. Something about "could not imagine Fred and George hanging someone upside down just for the fun of it."

Evidence that I can remember for 'more culpable' rather than 'equally culpable' (But I haven't done any research. Wynnleaf will be much better at this )

James butts into a private conversation between Snape and Lily to denigrate Slytherin. Snape retaliates. James and Sirius then make insulting remarks against Snape, call him Snivellus and try to trip him.

In 'Snape's worst Memory' James and the Marauders are undeniably more culpable than Snape for what happens there.

Lupin and Sirius never accuse Snape of starting anything, or in any way deserving the bullying.

James himself admits that he torments Snape "just because he exists' and not because he did anything to him.

We are not shown a single instance of Snape starting anything against James or the other Marauders, or in any way deserving the bullying.

There's Snape's evidence too, but I suppose that does not count.

That's all I can remember. And I don't believe JKR gives us a muddy picture of the bullying. It's both clear and detailed.



Solitaire - Jan 9, 2009 7:23 am (#792 of 2988)  
James butts into a private conversation between Snape and Lily to denigrate Slytherin. Snape retaliates. James and Sirius then make insulting remarks against Snape, call him Snivellus and try to trip him.

They're eleven years old. It's not like they're older teens or adults. It's what kids do. I see it a hundred times a day.

In 'Snape's worst Memory' James and the Marauders are undeniably more culpable than Snape for what happens there.

Perhaps ... but they see it as Snape following them around and trying to get the goods on them. I have to say that, when I read the scene the first time, it seemed to me that Snape was following them around, too, and listening (or attempting to listen) in on their conversations.

Lupin and Sirius never accuse Snape of starting anything, or in any way deserving the bullying.

Actually, they do. He was accused by Sirius of following them around and trying to get Remus thrown out. I agree that Sirius's "solution" to the problem was unconscionable. A few good hexes would have been sufficient. Just kidding!



Julia H. - Jan 9, 2009 7:57 am (#793 of 2988)  
I do view his feelings toward Lily as selfish in the worst definition of the term. If he truly loved Lily, he would have been happy for her eventually. (me and my shadow 813)

If I understand you well (I'm not quite sure), that means if Snape had truly loved Lily, he would have been happy that she was happy with James. But isn't it expecting a little too much from him or even from the average teenager? It must be a saintly person who can be happy in any sense of the word when the great love of his life is happily in love with the rival. This is simply not what is encoded into us. Harry is "a remarkably selfless person" and he loves Ginny but what does he feel when he finds Ginny kissing Dean? Not happiness but a savage urge to jinx Dean into a jelly - and Dean is not his enemy at all. Then Ginny and Dean break up and Harry's insides were suddenly dancing the conga.  

About James: I agree with Wynnleaf that on the pages of the books we see what the author wants us to see. We know it from JKR that the memories in the Pensieve are not subjective memories, as they would be if a particular person recalled them in their head. Pensieve memories are fairly objective and the Pensieve is (among other things) a literary device for the author for "time-travel". So if James viewed Snape's memory in the Pensieve, he would see the same as Harry or Snape or anyone else would see. (It is remarkable while Harry is watching Snape's memory, he can see and hear things that Snape did not see or hear at the time, for example, Harry can see his father scribble the L.E. letters and can hear the conversation of the Marauders when Snape is not even aware of their presence.) Probably, the memory that Harry can see in Voldemort's head is more subjective because it is how Voldemort experienced events. Using characters' narration (like Lupin's or Sirius's) is another literary device but it is often used when the author wants to put a distance between the "objective" narrator and the story by means of an intermediate narrator. I don't think James's friends tell outright lies but they are certainly biased towards both Snape and James and their feelings necessarily colour their narration and not only their narration but their original perception of what happened. Of course, the same is true of Snape's verbal recollections. The facts are probably true, the interpretation is subjective. But even their bias can provide us with information about James because we find out how James is seen by his friends and by his enemy. Then of course we also see the James who is "beyond the veil" (or comes from behind the veil). All in all, to me it seems we get a reasonably detailed picture of James Potter and it is even possible to detect (with some "detective work") his development from the age of 11 until his death (perhaps even beyond his death ).

I have to say that, when I read the scene the first time, it seemed to me that Snape was following them around, too, and listening (or attempting to listen) in on their conversations. (Solitaire)

But wasn't he deeply immersed in the exam paper in a totally Hermione-like way?



Swedish Short-Snout - Jan 9, 2009 7:58 am (#794 of 2988)  
Fred and George were no saints, but I don't think James and Sirius were anything like them. Even Harry says he does not think so after he sees SWM. Something about "could not imagine Fred and George hanging someone upside down just for the fun of it."

Well, I could easily imagine them doing that, if the person hanging upside down is someone they already dislike, such as Draco.



TomProffitt - Jan 9, 2009 8:10 am (#795 of 2988)  
You are connecting James and Lily's murder to James' pranks? Why? --- mona amon

I can't remember where I was going with that. It was early in the morning my time.

We also have to realize that it was Snape who chose the memories for Harry to see. --- me

Here I was referring to "The Prince's Tale" in DH, not "Snape's Worst Memory" in OP. One of the things I gleaned from these memories was that dying Snape (as opposed to pre-Voldemort's Return Snape) is no longer (possibly) blaming James and Sirius for his failure with Lily, but is now seeing his own mistakes. It seems to me that in each memory Snape made some faux pas that alienated Snape from either Petunia or Lily's friends and eventually her husband. I think there was a realization on Snape's part that there were choices he could have made better.

This is not to say that Snape alone was responsible for the outcome, but his mature realization that everyone can shape their own lives by making good choices regardless of the obstacles they face. Perhaps James and Severus would never have been friends, but I think that dying Snape knew that they needn't have been enemies.

And I don't believe JKR gives us a muddy picture of the bullying. It's both clear and detailed. --- mona amon

This bullying incident (Snape's Worst Memory) was a single occurrence of James at age 16. James certainly looks bad here. However, James lived to the age of 21, we're missing the culminating 5 years of the maturing process. We know very little of James after this.

Anyway, this is Snape's thread, if I have the time I'll put a little more effort and detail into something on James's thread.

(lots of editing for grammar)



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 8:22 am (#796 of 2988)  
It's what kids do. I see it a hundred times a day. (Soli)

I know. But this isn't real life. It's a story, and every detail counts. It is significant that even in this first small skirmish, JKR has James start the trouble and not Snape.

He was accused by Sirius of following them around and trying to get Remus thrown out.

Snape followed them on the night of the werewolf prank, and Sirius makes that accusation specifically to justify the prank, not to justify the general bullying. There's no other instance of Snape following them. When Harry uses Umbridge's fire to talk to them, they do not say he either snooped around, or deserved the bullying in any way.

EDIT: Here I was referring to "The Prince's Tale" in DH, not "Snape's Worst Memory" in OP. One of the things I gleaned from these memories was that dying Snape (as opposed to pre-Voldemort's Return Snape) is no longer (possibly) blaming James and Sirius for his failure with Lily, but is now seeing his own mistakes. It seems to me that in each memory Snape made some faux pas that alienated Snape from either Petunia or Lily's friends and eventually her husband. I think there was a realization on Snape's part that there were choices he could have made better. (Tom)

Somehow I can't imagine Snape becoming that mature, even when he's dying, but it's an interesting theory. I'll be thinking about it some more.  



Orion - Jan 9, 2009 8:26 am (#797 of 2988)  
"It seems to me that in each memory Snape made some faux pas that alienated Snape from either Petunia or Lily's friends and eventually her husband. I think there was a realization on Snape's part that there were choices he could have made better."

Yes, they are a torture to read. Like a Laurel & Hardy movie. (I never understood what people find funny about them.) He is so stupid in conversations!

Anyway, happy birthday, Sev.



Julia H. - Jan 9, 2009 8:40 am (#798 of 2988)  
Indeed! Happy Birthday!  

I agree that in the Prince's Tale he is showing how he made his mistakes and bad choices and he can do it because he understands them now. I can imagine he is that mature because of all the things he went through starting with Dumbledore's death. It is impossible that he is not influenced by them. Also, he must have had plenty of time to spend thinking and reconsidering a lot of things during his total isolation at Hogwarts in the DH year.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 9, 2009 10:27 am (#799 of 2988)  
First of all, I would hardly call the train incident "a private conversation" that James "butts in" on. There were four students all sitting in the same compartment together. Two of them happened to be friends and were openly discussing their thoughts on what might happen once they arrived at their destination. James was already sitting there, he didn't "butt in" on anything.

It is significant that even in this first small skirmish, JKR has James start the trouble and not Snape. - Well, it really depends on your point of view, doesn't it? Because to my mind, it was Snape who started things by scoffing at James and adding his "brawn over brains" remark. He could have ignored James or moved to another compartment. But, as Tom P points out, even Snape himself later realizes, he chose to antagonize James instead.

Snape followed them on the night of the werewolf prank... There's no other instance of Snape following them. - The prank is referred to as a key point in the rivalry, but it's certainly not the only instance where Snape follows the Marauders around. For one thing, how could Snape have even known that the Marauders were sneaking out unless he had been following them? "Snape was interested to know where we went every month" Lupin tells Harry in the Shrieking Shack. So the prank incident could not have been the first time Snape followed them. In fact, the prank incident was in retaliation to Snape sneaking around after them all the time.

On the subject of Snape following them, count me among those who thought that Snape was deliberately tailing the Marauders after the OWL exam. It's actually hard for me to see anything else, even now. One could argue that it was Lily he was following, but since they were still friends at that point, it is very strange that he wouldn't have just walked with her and asked her how her exam went or whatever. Poring over your exam questions is a very good cover for eavesdropping.

in the Prince's Tale he is showing how he made his mistakes and bad choices and he can do it because he understands them now. - I agree that he understands that he made mistakes and could have/should have handled these moments differently. But I'm not entirely convinced that he knows why what he did was the wrong thing.

Consider that, when he reprimands Phineas Nigellus for his use of the M word about Hermione, Snape says only, "Don't use that word". He does not say "Don't call her that". In other words, he does not find the word offensive as applied to a particular person. For him, the word is only a painful reminder of the moment where he lost the girl he loved.



wynnleaf - Jan 9, 2009 11:35 am (#800 of 2988)  
I realize that sometimes we talk about the characters as though they are able to pick and choose what we read about them. But in actuality, they don't.

In the series, Snape is an important character and James is not especially important (as far as the reader knowing a lot of detail about him). When JKR shows us details about the characters in the books, she is showing all that we should need to know in order to understand whatever it is that she feels we need to understand about those characters. We don't need to understand a great deal about James, therefore it's not necessary that JKR show us a lot about his character. We do need to understand a good deal about Snape. JKR therefore has shown us all that we need to know to understand his motivations, etc. We may disagree over exactly how to interpret what we read, but I think it's a mistake to assume that there's all sorts of stuff that's completely hidden from us that should change our view of Snape.

Therefore, if all we are shown is James and the Marauders being the aggressors in the Snape/Marauder enmity, it should not be necessary for us to imagine that maybe (unrevealed by JKR), Snape was just as much of an aggressor toward the Marauders and therefore we should judge their relationship by something not even on the page.

Similarly, James is only shown in his bully/jerk persona. We are never shown that he changed. Sirius and Lupin say that his head got "deflated" (or something like that), but agreed that he continued to get in fights while hiding it from Lily, and apparently he kept endangering the countryside with the Marauders. So we're never actually shown that he truly changed. If JKR felt that it was important for the reader to know that there was another side of James -- a good, admirable side -- she could easily have shown it. If she felt that our understanding of Snape should include the knowledge that Snape hated a nice kid who just happened to get up to a few teenage pranks, but was otherwise a great fellow, she could have showed us that.

She didn't show us. If Good James was important to our understanding of Snape -- an important character whose motivations are crucial to much of the story -- we have to assume that the author would have shown us Good James. She didn't.

In fact, I think it's very important to remember that when Snape continues to hate James even after he's dead, that Snape is hating a man he considered an attempted murderer, the man who married the girl Snape loved, and an arrogant fellow whose foolish trust in his untrustworthy friend, in spite of excellent advice to the contrary, helped get himself and Lily killed.



journeymom - Jan 9, 2009 11:54 am (#801 of 2988)  
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PROFESSOR SNAPE!

JKR is wishing him a happy birthday on her web site, as well. Has she always done this or is this the first time he's had a rolodex card?



TomProffitt - Jan 9, 2009 11:55 am (#802 of 2988)  
wynnleaf, I only disagree with you in part. I think your basic premise "When JKR shows us details about the characters in the books, she is showing all that we should need to know in order to understand whatever it is that she feels we need to understand about those characters." is pretty darn accurate.

Where I differ is that I would say: " ... that she feels we need to understand that character's relationship to the plot."

So, I would say, in the case of James, we aren't shown what James grew up to become as it was of little significance to the various plot lines.

In fact, for the Harry plotline it is pretty important for us to never be certain. Just as Harry agonized through DH that no one would tell him the truth about DD instead of their preferred memory of him, Harry was treated to much the same thing in regards to his parents. Harry knew that version of the truth about James he got from Lupin, Sirius, & Hagrid was just as biased as the one he got from Snape.

So, while I agree with your basic supposition, wynnleaf, I disagree with your conclusion.



Dryleaves - Jan 9, 2009 12:14 pm (#803 of 2988)  
Snape says only, "Don't use that word". He does not say "Don't call her that". In other words, he does not find the word offensive as applied to a particular person. For him, the word is only a painful reminder of the moment where he lost the girl he loved. Quinn

It could mean that, but the alternative you suggest could also mean: "don't call her that" and indicate that it could be allright to call someone else by the name. If you say "don't use that word", it could also mean that you should never use that word, not on anybody, ever, in any situation. And this does not have to mean that it is only a reminder of a painful moment for Snape, but that he actually is renouncing the ideology behind the word. I know this is a matter of interpretation, but opposing the word generally could in fact be a strong indicator that Snape has changed.



wynnleaf - Jan 9, 2009 12:41 pm (#804 of 2988)  
Where I differ is that I would say: " ... that she feels we need to understand that character's relationship to the plot."

So, I would say, in the case of James, we aren't shown what James grew up to become as it was of little significance to the various plot lines. (Tom)


I agree that whether or not James grew into a better man out of Hogwarts doesn't affect the plot much, nor the motivations of any other characters. However, whether or not James was truly an arrogant bully in school, or just a high-spirited teenager up to some normal pranks; whether James was an actual aggressor in the Snape/Marauder enmity, or equal in culpability in their animosity is very important to how the reader understands the motivations of a primary character.

Therefore, I think JKR's picture of James on the page has to be intended, in part, to inform the reader of how to view Snape. If the reader adds to JKR's picture -- for instance, imagining that Snape was just as much an aggressor as James -- then that changes the way the reader views Snape's motivations. Of course, an author can't show everything that occurs throughout their years at Hogwarts, so what an author must do is give us instead a kind of typical picture, so that we can assume what we don't see is similar to what we do see.

What I see often is fans wanting to take the examples JKR gives us of James being an aggressor and 1. assuming that is atypical and everything we don't see is either James not attacking Snape at all, or 2. Assuming that what we don't see is the flip side of what JKR shows us -- that is, Snape being just as much of an aggressor.

Because Snape's view of James is in fact crucial to his actions as well as to his attitude toward Harry, these aspects of what JKR shows us and what she doesn't show are very important to the story.



TomProffitt - Jan 9, 2009 1:05 pm (#805 of 2988)  
When I think of James Potter, I think of the father who died at age 21 not the 16 year old boy who tormented his arch-enemy Snivelus Snape.

Perhaps when other people think of James Potter they aren't thinking of Harry's father, but rather the immature aggressive troublemaker who was quick to pick on the abused, friendless, and misunderstood friend of Lily.

Perhaps the difference isn't one of accuracy, so much, as to which point of his life people associate with him. Frankly, the negative image the "pro-Snape" folks have of him is reasonably accurate (but I think viewed more through Snape's eyes than objective, but still reasonably accurate) when associated with James following his OWLs. In deference to Snape, I have a 22 year old nephew in the US Army MPs in Bahgdad and it is very hard for me to separate his qualities as the 12 year old I remember to the qualities he now possesses as a soldier, so I can understand how hard it would be for Snape to accept growth in someone who has been an enemy since they were both 11 years old.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 9, 2009 1:17 pm (#806 of 2988)  
James and Sirius were a lot closer to Fred & George in behavior than they were to Ron & Harry, but there is hardly any room to conclude anything more serious or benign in their behavior. – Tom Proffitt #790

Could you give an example of when Fred & George hexed random people walking down the hall or, for instance, been instigators virtually setting the tone for the entire fiasco? As mona amon pointed out, we can refer to the first Hogwarts Express train ride, which JKR provided us with intentionally, of course. “Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?” James asked the boy lounging on the seats opposite him…”

Who does this sound like? Not Fred and George to me. As other have said, I see James as the parallel of Draco. Severus was minding his own business in that first meeting. To me, James set the tone for the animosity, similar to how Draco set the tone for Harry's animosity towards Draco, not the other way around. Of course once the tone is set, it is a two-way street.

Most importantly, I take DD’s opinion as the most evolved one. And, DD’s ultimate say regarding James speaks volumes to me:

‘He is his father over again -’

‘In looks, perhaps, but his deepest nature is much more like his mother’s.’ – (DH, The Prince’s Tale)

JKR had every opportunity to insert some other opinion on DD’s part, to try to shed some light on James’s redeeming qualities as an adult, but DD/JKR did not. Instead, he confides that Harry’s goodness, bravery, and all the rest came from his mother. Not because of the sacrifice, but because Harry’s nature “is much more like” hers. This tells me that DD, being a gentleman, had nothing nice to say about James when speaking frankly and in confidence.

I do view his feelings toward Lily as selfish in the worst definition of the term. If he truly loved Lily, he would have been happy for her eventually. (me and my shadow 813)

If I understand you well (I'm not quite sure), that means if Snape had truly loved Lily, he would have been happy that she was happy with James. But isn't it expecting a little too much from him or even from the average teenager? - Julia H.


Yes, I agree it would be expecting too much from the teenager, that’s why I said *eventually*, then went on to say unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for that to happen, as the prophecy got interpreted within a few years of their graduating school.

Edit: Also, there is a nice parallel with Merope and Riddle, Sr., when DD tells Harry he thinks Merope stopped giving him the love potion because she truly loved him. So, although things are done out of "obsessive" desire, if it is truly love there should be, eventually, the ability to use hindsight to make things right again. It seems this is what Severus does by aligning with the Order to make sure Lily did not die in vain, because I think ultimately his remorse did help him to evolve into truly loving her but I think it was by then coloured by nostalgia as well. Does that make sense?

What I see often is fans wanting to take the examples JKR gives us of James being an aggressor and 1. assuming that is atypical and everything we don't see is either James not attacking Snape at all, or 2. Assuming that what we don't see is the flip side of what JKR shows us -- that is, Snape being just as much of an aggressor. - wynnleaf

Completely agree. My feeling is JKR is exploring the possibilities of "fair is foul, foul is fair", from her favourite play, Macbeth. Not in a black and white sort of way, but in a *don't judge a book by its cover* way. I would venture to say Severus becoming a death eater was much different than, say, Lucius. I don't feel Severus was on that level. Yes, he became rapt with dark magic and it cost him everything. But, again I take DD at his word when he said, "You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon..."

edited for errors, and, um, other stuff.



Orion - Jan 9, 2009 1:19 pm (#807 of 2988)  
What qualities does you nephew have, Tom? Was he totally different at 12 from how he is now? When I think of myself as a 16-year-old, I wasn't all that different from now.

**Flattens the idea of personal growth in one go***

You change in some respects because your experiences shape you, of course, but in essence you stay the same, don't you? Even little children have a distinctive personality already.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 9, 2009 1:41 pm (#808 of 2988)  
it should not be necessary for us to imagine that maybe (unrevealed by JKR), Snape was just as much of an aggressor toward the Marauders and therefore we should judge their relationship by something not even on the page. - We don't have to imagine it. We see the way he acts toward Sirius and Lupin, not to mention Harry and others. Since Snape (and Sirius) hasn't grown at all, emotionally, since his own Hogwarts days, I would say it's perfectly fair to assume that Snape gladly took his turn when it came to starting the little skirmishes between himself and the Marauders.

apparently [James] kept endangering the countryside with the Marauders. - I got the impression all of that ceased once the prank came to Dumbledore's attention. Admittedly I could be wrong.

If you say "don't use that word", it could also mean that you should never use that word, not on anybody, ever, in any situation. - But he doesn't appear to be thinking of the word beyond what it means to him, personally. He knows it is egregiously offensive, but he doesn't really seem to grasp the true meaning behind it, or how it affects the actual person to whom it refers, in this case a specific person. It shows that he is still failing to make human connections, to recognize that actions (or words) have a real consequence on real, living human beings - even some he knows personally.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 9, 2009 1:58 pm (#809 of 2988)  
Since Snape (and Sirius) hasn't grown at all, emotionally, since his own Hogwarts days, I would say it's perfectly fair to assume that Snape gladly took his turn when it came to starting the little skirmishes between himself and the Marauders. - Quinn Crockett

Using this reasoning, it's fair to assume that James had not grown at all since his own Hogwarts days -- given we are talking about a few years since Hogwarts for James versus, in OOTP, approximately eighteen years for Sirius and Severus.



Julia H. - Jan 9, 2009 2:05 pm (#810 of 2988)  
James butts into a private conversation between Snape and Lily to denigrate Slytherin. Snape retaliates.

Because to my mind, it was Snape who started things by scoffing at James and adding his "brawn over brains" remark. He could have ignored James or moved to another compartment.


Opinions may differ regarding the meaning of "private conversation". In a train compartment, it is very easy to hear what anyone else is saying but that does not necessarily make the conversation public. Snape is certainly talking to Lily alone when he says he wants to be in Slytherin and then James expresses his negative opinion about Slytherin (instead of ignoring Snape or moving into another compartment). Then he says he wants to be in Gryffindor and Snape expresses his negative opinion about Gryffindor. I don't see a difference here but the order is quite clear: James is first.

On the subject of Snape following them, count me among those who thought that Snape was deliberately tailing the Marauders after the OWL exam.

I think The Prince's Tale clarifies that. Harry watches Snape's Worst Memory again and this is what we can read: Harry watched again as Snape left the Great Hall after sitting his O.W.L. in Defense Against the Dark Arts, watched as he wandered away from the castle and strayed inadvertently close to the place beneath the beech tree where James, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew sat together. Since the memories in The Prince's Tale contain JKR's last words about Snape, it is very unlikely that she left anything in the narration which is the opposite of the truth and this chapter says quite plainly: strayed inadvertently.

About "Don't use that word" and "Don't call her that": To me, the former seems to be definitely more general than the latter because the former refuses the word itself, while the second might mean that a certain person should not be called that. Anyway, at this point, it would be highly redundant for JKR to simply show us once again that the "Mudblood" word is a "painful reminder" for Snape because the reader must have realized that by now: The reader has already been reminded of Snape's Worst Memory because Harry has watched it again. We have seen the conversation between Lily and Snape following Snape's humiliation and the break-up between them with the M-word in focus. We have found out that he continued to love Lily even when she was already James's wife. We have read Snape's Always, informing us that Snape still loves Lily after nearly two decades. (In my copy that's only two pages before the Don't use that word line.) After all these scenes, it is easy to guess that the M-word must be a painful word to Snape, JKR does not really need to include Snape's comment to Phineas just to let us know. However, the inclusion of the line in Snape's last memory is perfectly justified if JKR wants to show us that he has changed and that he now rejects the word and - by extension - the pure-blood / DE ideology. Since this is the last memory, it completes the character quite nicely.

But he doesn't appear to be thinking of the word beyond what it means to him, personally.

Actually, he may. At the moment he does not have much time to think about it but I don't think that his rejection of the word suddenly happens at that moment for the first time. I think with this line, we are shown the result of a change, not the change itself. The "thinking" has already happened.

Yes, I agree it would be expecting too much from the teenager, that’s why I said *eventually*, then went on to say unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for that to happen, as the prophecy got interpreted within a few years of their graduating school. (me and my shadow)

In fact, I think even an adult who is in love is likely to find that difficult. Of course, after years or decades of distance, it is possible to be happy that your former love lives happily with someone else but it is probably because the rejected person is not in love (romantically) with the same person anymore.

Also, there is a nice parallel with Merope and Riddle, Sr., when DD tells Harry he thinks Merope stopped giving him the love potion because she truly loved him. So, although things are done out of "obsessive" desire, if it is truly love there should be, eventually, the ability to use hindsight to make things right again.

The difference is that Snape does not try love potion or other tricks to get Lily against her wish, which Merope does. The similarity is that neither knows how to "conquer" the heart of a loved person properly.

It seems this is what Severus does by aligning with the Order to make sure Lily did not die in vain, because I think ultimately his remorse did help him to evolve into truly loving her but I think it was by then coloured by nostalgia as well. Does that make sense?

Of course it does.  I definitely see Snape's love as true love.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:52 am

TomProffitt - Jan 9, 2009 2:16 pm (#811 of 2988)  
What qualities does you nephew have, Tom? Was he totally different at 12 from how he is now? When I think of myself as a 16-year-old, I wasn't all that different from now. --- Orion

The biggest thing I've noticed is that's he's gained a tremendous amount of objectivity, which is a trait he didn't have in the least at age 12. He's still got very strong opinions and he's still stubborn, but his first reaction now is to think about it rather than dismiss an argument out of hand. It's a subtle thing, but it is really quite profound in his ability to get along with other people.

"Could you give an example of when Fred & George hexed random people walking down the hall or ..." --- me and my shadow 813

You seem to be looking for a specific correlation when I made a general one. Fred and George's behavior in OP is a good example of the "general" feel I have for them. More in the way they relate to other members of the DA than the way they relate to the Inquisitorial Squad. In HBP their use of "volunteers" to test their products is a similar kind of recklessness as the Marauders transformed and prowling the Forest.

A more fitting parallel for James might be Snape himself. Aside from their personal hygiene they're very similar. Although when James's friend does something dangerous James puts a stop to it, but when Severus's friends attempt Dark Magic on Mary Macdonald, Sev says "That was nothing. It was a laugh, that's all - "

But, I'd really rather be talking about Snape than James on this thread.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 9, 2009 2:30 pm (#812 of 2988)  
Actually, he may. At the moment he does not have much time to think about it but I don't think that his rejection of the word suddenly happens at that moment for the first time. I think with this line, we are shown the result of a change, not the change itself. The "thinking" has already happened. – Julia H.

That’s my thought on it, too. These small revelations of Severus’s mind and heart continually reinforce – to me – that he was an extremely sensitive but impulsive youngster. He was painfully aware of being the class "weakling" and tried to compensate. The “mudblood” comment to Lily seemed like the impulsiveness coming out due to the sensitivity of being humiliated. I have never witnessed bullying like that, let alone been the victim of it. Yikes, then he sees a glimmer of amusement on her face? Double yikes.

Anyone with two eyes would agree Severus wasn’t in the same “class” as James and Sirius. Why not pick on someone your own size?

But, I'd really rather be talking about Snape than James on this thread. - Tom Proffitt

I would say we're comparing James and Severus - their interactions, their personalities and flaws, and how that impacted and basically caused the entire story to exist. How are we to speak of one character in isolation? To me the source of the entire plot revolves around this relationship - Severus, James and Lily.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 9, 2009 4:58 pm (#813 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 9, 2009 5:36 pm
He was painfully aware of being the class "weakling" and tried to compensate. - Was he? I don't see that at all.

Anyone with two eyes would agree Severus wasn’t in the same “class” as James and Sirius. Why not pick on someone your own size? - Well, my two eyes see that that's exactly what James and Sirius were doing. As far as I can see, they were all equally talented, magically, all self-taught, but applied their respective gifts differently. The only real difference between them is that James and Sirius knew how to make friends and maintain healthy relationships. Snape didn't have the first clue, in spite of having Lily to guide him.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 8:17 pm (#814 of 2988)  
The prank is referred to as a key point in the rivalry, but it's certainly not the only instance where Snape follows the Marauders around. For one thing, how could Snape have even known that the Marauders were sneaking out unless he had been following them? "Snape was interested to know where we went every month" Lupin tells Harry in the Shrieking Shack. So the prank incident could not have been the first time Snape followed them. In fact, the prank incident was in retaliation to Snape sneaking around after them all the time. (Quinn)

Can you give me any other instances. I can't remember any, but then it's been a while since I read the books, and I've been bungling a lot lately. Lupin actually says "Snape was interested to know where I went every month". I'm pretty sure of this. So it doesn't imply that Snape was following them around. He would have noticed Lupin's periodic absenses in class. The prank was in retaliation to Snape following them on that particular night.

apparently [James] kept endangering the countryside with the Marauders. - I got the impression all of that ceased once the prank came to Dumbledore's attention. Admittedly I could be wrong.

There's two bits of evidence I think. In SWM (which happened after the prank) James tells Peter, "How thick are you, Wormtail? You run around with a werewolf once a month-" He is speaking in the present tense, not the past, and more conclusively, Sirius makes this remark, "I'm bored. Wish it was full moon."

If they were continuing to roam the countryside with a transformed Lupin, it shows that whatever Dumbledore did or said to them had absolutely no effect, and we know how good Dumbledore is at making people feel ashamed of themselves.

Well, my two eyes see that that's exactly what James and Sirius were doing. As far as I can see, they were all equally talented, magically, but applied their respective gifts differently.

Two kids of equal magical talent gang up to pick on a lone kid who has magical talent equal to only one of them, and they're equally matched in your two eyes?  I feel it was very unsporting of them.

The only real difference between them is that James and Sirius knew how to make friends and maintain healthy relationships.

And they'd have been much better people if they had learnt not to pick on and torment those who do not happen to possess that useful talent.

When I think of James Potter, I think of the father who died at age 21 not the 16 year old boy who tormented his arch-enemy Snivelus Snape.

Perhaps when other people think of James Potter they aren't thinking of Harry's father, but rather the immature aggressive troublemaker who was quick to pick on the abused, friendless, and misunderstood friend of Lily.

Perhaps the difference isn't one of accuracy, so much, as to which point of his life people associate with him. (Tom)


Speaking for myself, it's not only because of what James did when he was 15 years old, though that did prejudice me against him quite a bit. If this was the case, I'd feel an equal dislike for Sirius, who did almost the same things as James, with the werewolf prank on top of it. But I like Sirius quite a bit, even though the author did not show us much growth in him. What she has shown is that there's a lot more to him than the 15 year old kid who sent a classmate to a werewolf.

In James case she has shown nothing strong enough to erase my first impression of him. She shows us that he was brave, joined the Order and was a loving father, but all in a way that makes me think 'big deal'. Most fathers love their kids. And there are too many good, brave people in the books for that to make much of an impression on me.



wynnleaf - Jan 9, 2009 8:22 pm (#815 of 2988)  
it should not be necessary for us to imagine that maybe (unrevealed by JKR), Snape was just as much of an aggressor toward the Marauders and therefore we should judge their relationship by something not even on the page. (me, wynnleaf)

We don't have to imagine it. We see the way he acts toward Sirius and Lupin, (Quinn)


He does not act as the aggressor toward Sirius or Lupin during the series. In POA he is somewhat sarcastic toward Lupin, but not highly by Snapish standards. His actions in the Shrieking Shack can hardly be called aggressive as he thinks he's dealing with a mass murdering DE and his about-to-transform werewolf cohort. His "outing" Lupin as a werewolf does not come across as "aggressive" to Hagrid when he later relates it. Personally, I think it was justified whistle-blowing, for a guy who would put his own standing with the headmaster above the safety of the children. Later, in OOTP we are actually only shown Sirius being the aggressor in initiating an argument with Snape, and then drawing his wand on Snape first. Once again, there was a chance for JKR to have Snape starting the argument or drawing his wand first, but she doesn't.

The only actual "aggressive" behavior I can think of from Snape toward Lupin or Sirius (and it may be more passive-aggressive, rather than overt), is when he assigned the essay on werewolves. And in Snape's mind, I expect he'd see it as a retaliation and kind of "defensive" action, rather than aggressive or offensive as Lupin had already advised Neville in such a way as to cause Snape to feel he'd been mocked in front of an entire class with the encouragement of the teacher.

apparently [James] kept endangering the countryside with the Marauders. (me)

I got the impression all of that ceased once the prank came to Dumbledore's attention. Admittedly I could be wrong. (Quinn)


Yep. In DH we see that the Prank occurred before the Worst Memory scene and in the Worst Memory scene, when we read it complete in OOTP we can see the Marauders discussing yet another full-moon excursion.

I do view his feelings toward Lily as selfish in the worst definition of the term. If he truly loved Lily, he would have been happy for her eventually. (me and my shadow 813)

If Lily and James had lived and Snape had known them to be happy long-term, perhaps. But at the time they dated and for the brief time they married, Snape would likely have never believed that James would be anything but an arrogant bullying jerk. Why should he ever become happy, in retrospect, that Lily had married such a person, especially when he can't look back on seeing her living many years happily with James?

Personally, my "call" on James is that his "don't make me hex you, Evans" comment is quite ominous - a spoiled bully who seems to believe that if he hexed Lily during the Worst Memory scene, it would have been her fault. I am not sure that she would have been happy with him long-term -- but that's far and away for another thread.



Solitaire - Jan 9, 2009 8:35 pm (#816 of 2988)  
This tells me that DD, being a gentleman, had nothing nice to say about James when speaking frankly and in confidence.

I think this is taking a pretty big leap. Dumbledore simply realized that Snape hated James and would admit nothing good in his character, no matter how visible it was to anyone else ... so why even go there. Dumbledore was smart enough to know that, if he wanted Snape to see good in Harry, it was much better to point out the ways in which Harry was like Lily, Snape's lifelong love.

I'm also curious to understand how the Pensieve scene can be translated as an indicator that James is continually bullying poor Snape, while Snape being caught sneaking around after the Marauders, coupled with Lily's remark about him being obsessed with them--and we all know how easily Snape is able to get the better of his obsessions (not)--is reduced to a one-time only incident. If Snape has truly been obsessed with the Marauders, I would bet my cauldron he has attempted to follow them before, although unsuccessfully. In fact, I think it is those previous snooping expeditions which prompts Sirius to do what he does, without telling James or Remus.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 8:41 pm (#817 of 2988)  
I don't see why, even if Snape was obsessed with the Marauders, it means that he was always following them around. There is no evidence of it. They never say he was always following them around.



wynnleaf - Jan 9, 2009 8:46 pm (#818 of 2988)  
I'm also curious to understand how the Pensieve scene can be translated as an indicator that James is continually bullying poor Snape, while Snape being caught sneaking around after the Marauders, coupled with Lily's remark about him being obsessed with them--and we all know how easily Snape is able to get the better of his obsessions (not)--is reduced to a one-time only incident. (Solitaire)

I agree that DD would most likely try to tie Harry's good qualities to Lily when talking to Snape.

As to the other, I think that what posters (including me) are doing is saying that JKR gives us, in the unbiased pensieve memories, a snapshot of what was really going on. She doesn't give us any pictures of Snape being the aggressor toward the Marauders, on the Marauders toward Snape.

Yes, Snape probably did sneak around trying to find some proof that the Marauders were up to no good. If JKR's snapshot of Marauders being aggressors toward Snape is typical (the train, Worst Memory, the Prank, the examples we see between Sirius and Snape in OOTP) are not isolated incidents, then it makes perfect sense that Snape would want the school to expel them.

And Snape was right!! In point of fact, the Marauders were doing grievous wrong and endangering all and sundry throughout the area every single month, without a care about who could die or get infected by the werewolf, even though they themselves knew there to be several "close calls". So Snape's sneaking after them, in the belief that they really were extreme rulebreakers who deserved to get caught, was completely correct.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 9, 2009 9:09 pm (#819 of 2988)  
And Snape was right!! In point of fact, the Marauders were doing grievous wrong and endangering all and sundry throughout the area every single month, without a care about who could die or get infected by the werewolf, even though they themselves knew there to be several "close calls". So Snape's sneaking after them, in the belief that they really were extreme rulebreakers who deserved to get caught, was completely correct.

True. At the same time, Snape was endangering his fellow students, their families, and the Wizarding World at large by aspiring to be a Death Eater. He bullies his classmates with "Mudblood" at the very least, a word loaded with threat in a world where people that the bigots don't like can be maimed, disappeared, or murdered. Why is it so easy to overlook the Wizarding War??? If Snape wanted to see someone doing grievous harm, he need only look in the mirror. So, ironically, James and Sirius were right about Snape.

What I would hope to see was some maturing after a couple of decades. After 20 years, the "But look what the Marauders did!" defense wears kind of thin.



Solitaire - Jan 9, 2009 9:12 pm (#820 of 2988)  
She doesn't give us any pictures of Snape being the aggressor toward the Marauders, on the Marauders toward Snape.

Well, we do not have James's memories in the Pensieve. They might tell a different story. We do have Remus's statement that Snape never lost an opportunity to hex James ... and I do believe Remus to be a reliable narrator when it comes to his conversations with Harry. I just do not believe James was as evil or Snape as innocent as some seem to do. I never will. I remember now why I stopped reading this thread ... No one is going to change his or her mind.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 9:35 pm (#821 of 2988)  
If Snape wanted to see someone doing grievous harm, he need only look in the mirror.

Mrs. B, that Snape did evil is an accepted and acknowledged fact. It is something that's out in the open and very obvious. But the 'not so good' side of James is not that obvious. People who can't stand him (like me) find it irritating that this character should be considered so wonderful just because he joined the Order and never sullied his lips with the word 'mudblood'. ETA I don't think anyone's trying to compare Snape and James in the sense of James was more evil than Snape or Snape was more evil than James. Snape definitely did more evil than James, all things considered, yet, in books as well and in real life, we sometimes like (at least some of us) the more evil one better than the less evil one. It depends on who you have more empathy for, rather than who's the better person.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 9, 2009 9:42 pm (#822 of 2988)  
Mrs. B, that Snape did evil is an accepted and acknowledged fact. It is something that's out in the open and very obvious. But the 'not so good' side of James is not that obvious. People who can't stand him (like me) find it irritating that this character should be considered so wonderful just because he joined the Order and never sullied his lips with the word 'mudblood'.

But why not take that conversation to the James thread, rather than here? If you want a truly in depth study of James, I think it is more likely to happen there. Here, the conversation gets turned back to Snape, and what Snape does or doesn't do, or thinks (or doesn't), or feels (or doesn't).



wynnleaf - Jan 9, 2009 9:50 pm (#823 of 2988)  
At the same time, Snape was endangering his fellow students, their families, and the Wizarding World at large by aspiring to be a Death Eater. (Mrs Brisbee)

Actually we are not told or shown at what point Snape aspired to be a Death Eater. What we know is that he was friends with people who later became DEs.

Remember in GOF, according to Sirius there was no hint that Snape became a DE. Further, when Lily asked James why he was attacking Snape, it would have been in James' better interests to give her some sort of decent reason. If James could have said, "because he's a Death Eater in training who will be a threat to us all" don't you think he'd at least have said something about it? I mean, this was a point where the girl he really likes is chewing him out over bullying someone. And James can't tell her Snape the supposed aspiring Death Eater is deserving of it?

In spite of what Lily's assumptions might have been, we have no evidence of when Snape decided to become a Death Eater.

In this discussion, we were talking about whether Snape was just as much an aggressor toward James as James was toward him. The discussion, as I understood it, was started in considering whether or not Snape's continued hatred of James and despising of his having married Lily, shouldn't have stopped if Snape really loved Lily so much.

I wasn't trying to make any point about Snape being a sweet gentle soul who never harmed anyone until he suddenly fell inadvertently into LV's camp. I was pointing out that JKR gives us no real evidence that Snape was an equal aggressor, or even much of an aggressor at all, toward James. That instead, JKR shows James being a bully and aggressor toward Snape. Snape's continuing hatred of the man he thought helped plan his attempted murder is not unreasonable, even in the light of Snape's love for Lily.



mona amon - Jan 9, 2009 10:07 pm (#824 of 2988)  
In spite of what Lily's assumptions might have been, we have no evidence of when Snape decided to become a Death Eater.

Wynnleaf I hate to argue against you in a James debate, but when Lily makes her accusation, Snape remains silent. It shows that what Lily was saying was indeed the case. But I agree that James probably knew nothing about it. That was certainly not the reason they were bullying him in the Pensieve scene.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 9, 2009 10:18 pm (#825 of 2988)  
Two kids of equal magical talent gang up to pick on a lone kid who has magical talent equal to only one of them, and they're equally matched in your two eyes? - I really don't understand why the Apologists would have us believe that Snape deserved the moniker "Snivellus"; that he was completely isolated, friendless and barely able to hold a wand if he had to. In reality, he was a self-taught inventor of powerful (potentially lethal) spells whose friends thought using Dark magic on people "was a laugh" and who "nearly all became Death Eaters". I don't see a "class weakling" here. I see a future "Voldemort's most favored servant".

He does not act as the aggressor toward Sirius or Lupin during the series. - No, he just threatens to subject them to the dementor's kiss. He just antagonizes Sirius at every possible opportunity.

His actions in the Shrieking Shack can hardly be called aggressive as he thinks he's dealing with a mass murdering DE and his about-to-transform werewolf cohort. - No, he knows he's dealing with his old school arch enemy. ("Is a schoolboy grudge worth sending an innocent man to Azkaban?") That Snape believes Sirius was the mass murderer the Ministry accused him of being is nothing more than icing on the cake, in his eyes ("How I wished I'd be the one to find you").

in OOTP we are actually only shown Sirius being the aggressor in initiating an argument with Snape, and then drawing his wand on Snape first. - Actually, it is Snape who starts the argument by - as usual - belittling Sirius. Sirius may have been first to draw his wand, but he was not the aggressor. Snape had antagonized Sirius by deliberately making rude comments during the entire conversation. If Snape's behavior here is to be ignored in terms of "aggression" than so should young James's remarks on the train.

I would bet my cauldron he has attempted to follow them before, although unsuccessfully. In fact, I think it is those previous snooping expeditions which prompts Sirius to do what he does, without telling James or Remus.

I don't see why, even if Snape was obsessed with the Marauders, it means that he was always following them around.

There seems to be a double standard regarding the James's bullying and Snape's sneaking around. One incident (the worst memory) is treated as a clear indication that this is how James and Sirius were all the time, but Snape's one incident of sneaking around that preceded it is supposed to be considered an anomaly.

the Marauders were doing grievous wrong and endangering all and sundry throughout the area every single month, without a care about who could die or get infected by the werewolf - Well I don't think that's entirely true. For one thing, they obviously did care whether someone might be bitten, even if they were reckless about it. In any case, Snape didn't even know about it so that couldn't have been his motivation. He real motivation was that he suspected (rightly) that Lupin was a werewolf and wanted to out him.

ETA: Remember in GOF, according to Sirius there was no hint that Snape became a DE. - Actually what Sirius says is that he had never heard of Snape being a Death Eater, and he quickly amends this statement with, "not that that means much". And clearly the Ministry knew that Snape had been a death eater so I think it's a fair assumption that, while it may not have been spoken of openly, many people in the wizarding community knew of Snape's past. Certainly the Order knew about it, in both its past and present incarnations. In any case, I agree with Mona that Snape's silence at Lily's accusation speaks volumes.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 9, 2009 10:23 pm (#826 of 2988)  
Well I don't think that's entirely true. For one thing, they obviously did care whether someone might be bitten, even if they were reckless about it. In any case, Snape didn't even know about it so that couldn't have been his motivation. He only suspected that Lupin was a werewolf and wanted to out him.-- Quinn Crockett

I guess I said "True" too soon before, because this actually matches more closely what it says in the books. Ah, well, I should go to sleep, I guess, before the rest of my brain also shuts down!



TomProffitt - Jan 10, 2009 3:36 am (#827 of 2988)  
People who can't stand him (like me) find it irritating that this character should be considered so wonderful just because he joined the Order and never sullied his lips with the word 'mudblood'. --- mona amon

I think this is where we get crossed up. It's a matter of degree.

In PS/SS this ever so wonderful view of James is what we have, it is the one that Harry has. However, as we progress through the books we see Harry develop a more realistic view of who his parents actually were. For me it's not so much a slide downhill as a progression towards something realistic.

I defend James Potter, not because I think that he is something wonderful, but because I think he has become for many people the excuse for Snape's atrocious behavior.

And Snape's case is a mirror to James's. Our first perception of Snape is one who we are convinced is the villain of the very first book and as we progress through the series he becomes one of it's heroes.

My first visions of the two characters in PS/SS are far from the ones I hold now, but frankly, I think that it is gravely mistaken to reverse those impressions in total (which is the impression often delivered by "Snape's Apologists").

aside: (The term I use "Snape's Apologists" is not intended to be a slight or slur or anything bad or sarcastic, but merely a way to identify a group of people who share similar views regarding Snape, Lily, and James. If this term bothers people let me now and I'll find a better way to make my explanations.)



Julia H. - Jan 10, 2009 5:23 am (#828 of 2988)  
About Snape being a "weakling" or not:

Intellectually and magically he was far from being a weakling. But James and Sirius were similarly strong and talented. It does not make Snape a weakling if he was no match for two of his own quality, especially when there were two more behind the first two, who may have been passive but were nevertheless there, with their sympathies clearly on one side, and - in principle - could join or could have joined any time if Snape happened to be a match for the James-and-Sirius pair. Specifically in the Worst Memory Scene, it really does not matter whether Snape was a match for two or not because they caught him unawares and managed to disarm him. Wandless, Snape was surely no match for James and Sirius, who were using their wands. It was neither brave, nor chivalrous to torment a disarmed enemy. It would not have been if it had been one armed boy against one disarmed boy but in this case there were two armed ones against one disarmed one.

In other respects, I can see where James and Sirius had the advantage. It was from a social point of view. James was the spoilt, adored son and heir in a rich pure-blood family, with all the advantage such a family and his loving parents could give him. Moreover, he was a popular student, a self-confident and successful Quidditch player, and he had a star position among his peers. Sirius's family background was far less fortunate but he still came from a powerful and socially prestigious, rich wizard family. He is described as extremely handsome, so in spite of the antagonism between him and his family, he was viewed as the handsome, cool, merry eldest son of an ancient, "noble" family. (He was disinherited at the age of about 16 but I bet he remained popular even after that). Snape came from a poor family with neglecting parents (one of them Muggle), a Muggle neighbourhood that did not count as "good" even among Muggles, with less experience in "real" wizard life, looking like an "oddball", with apparently no clue how to make himself liked in a proper way. His poverty and his blood-status, as well as his lack of Quidditch skills and his lack of leadership qualities mean he can't have had an advantageous position in Slytherin - and I suspect that he used the "imaginative, little spells" he invented to gain some respect / popularity or a better position among his house-mates (and I would not be surprised if some fellow-Slytherins copied his homework regularly.)



wynnleaf - Jan 10, 2009 5:43 am (#829 of 2988)  
Wynnleaf I hate to argue against you in a James debate, but when Lily makes her accusation, Snape remains silent. It shows that what Lily was saying was indeed the case. (mona amon)

It depends on how you picture what was going on. Lily certainly thought that in this case "silence was consent", but as I see it, she first wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise, and then he was frustrated and upset and didn't know what to say. She clearly already had her mind made up about Snape, so what could he say? She had no intention of believing him regardless. And he may certainly have been considering the possibilities Death Eaters presented, without having made up his mind to join them. But could he say anything like that to her? It would have made no difference.

The entire thing of just how much the general public knew about the danger of Voldemort at that point is ambiguous in the series. You get some comments that make it sound like most people knew, but other comments -- for instance from Sirius describing his parents knowledge -- that sounds like LV's more lethal activities were not generally known at first, at least prior to the time of Snape and the Marauder's graduating from Hogwarts.



Dryleaves - Jan 10, 2009 5:47 am (#830 of 2988)  
(The term I use "Snape's Apologists" is not intended to be a slight or slur or anything bad or sarcastic, but merely a way to identify a group of people who share similar views regarding Snape, Lily, and James. If this term bothers people let me now and I'll find a better way to make my explanations.) (TomProffitt)

Tom, I see what you mean with the term "Snape's Apologists", but I do mind it a little. I don’t think you have intended for it to be slighting or anything, but if it gets established it could easily be used in that way as a label for anyone who has a more positive view of the character. People who like the character do not always apologize for him and they have somewhat differing opinions of him as well. Perhaps it is better to address the specific opinion if we do not agree with it rather than formalize the “camps”.

I think the case of Snape and James shows that people are neither all evil nor all good, that a person can be the victim in one situation and the perpetrator in another and vice versa. Both James and adult Snape are bullies, but when the lives of their bullying victims are threatened they try to save them. Harry’s different visions of them change from being very black and white to being more nuanced and realistic.



TomProffitt - Jan 10, 2009 6:22 am (#831 of 2988)  
Both James and adult Snape are bullies, but when the lives of their bullying victims are threatened they try to save them. Harry’s different visions of them change from being very black and white to being more nuanced and realistic. --- Dryleaves

I agree with you. What irks me is seeing posters argue (or appear to argue) for black and white positions.

Another point of annoyance for me in the Snape debate (and others) has to do with an axiom of the late Carl Sagan. "Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence." It is often stated that because we only see one point of view regarding a character or event it must therefore be the only possible interpretation of that character or event period.

I think this is wrong. We are often left not knowing the full story and we have to make our judgments based on what we know of other characters opinions and the outcomes of other events. And sometimes we have to say, "I don't know for certain."

Another big problem in the interpretation of characters, actions, and events is related to the style. The series has quite a lot of comedy, comic relief, and slap stick humor and that means you can't just make a "real world" evaluation of the action. A good example is Hagrid and Dudley's tail. Just how should we interpret that? I take it with a grain of salt and chalk it up to slapstick humor as opposed to a moral failing in Rubeus Hagrid. Some people aren't so kind.

This line of reasoning probably deserves a thread of its own.



wynnleaf - Jan 10, 2009 6:35 am (#832 of 2988)  
Tom, I understand your concerns over some of the almost "rules" some of us want to use regarding interpreting the books.

Carl Sagan's comment, while I don't know it, was probably about the Real World -- that is, just because you don't see evidence of something, doesn't mean it isn't there. But we're discussing a book in which the author actually plans out what she's putting down and has purposes for what she writes, especially when she's revealing backstory and motivational evidence for an important character.

Another big problem in the interpretation of characters, actions, and events is related to the style. The series has quite a lot of comedy, comic relief, and slap stick humor and that means you can't just make a "real world" evaluation of the action. (Tom)

I agree that this is a real problem in evaluating the actions of characters. The problem is made a lot bigger because the books get more and more serious as we go. One thing I've noticed though is that when the "bad guys" do something that could be slap stick, it's still written as bad and Harry appears to view it as evidence of their bad characters, but when a good character does something -- like Hagrid putting the tail on Dudley, or Fred and George putting Montegue in the cupboard -- it comes across in the book as more slap stick and not something for which we need judge the character. I don't know what JKR intended. In interviews she sometimes comments on the good characters as though perhaps those actions weren't really "okay" and slap-stick after all, but why write them that way? I do think it makes some character actions hard to analyze.



TomProffitt - Jan 10, 2009 8:45 am (#833 of 2988)  
wynnleaf. I think we are actually in agreement for the most part.

I think where we differ is on the depth of the information a scene brings forward.

For example, "Snape's Worst Memory" brings us very important information about Snape and James, but it also brings about important growth in Harry. Which goal is Jo pursuing in this scene? All three at once? I don't think so, I think it is mostly about Harry's growth, especially when coupled with the following scene where Harry talks to Remus and Sirius.

When viewing those two scenes together it helps me to believe that as poorly as James behaved there he was also capable of saving Snape for Snape's sake rather than that of his friends.

For me, this is why I think Lily chose James over Severus, when James saw his friend put Severus at risk he acted to save Severus, but when Severus's friends (Mulciber and Avery) put someone at risk (Mary Macdonald) "It was just a laugh." I can't see Lily making that choice if she didn't have reason to believe it true.

I think Dumbledore believed it to be true of James as well or else he would never have believed Snape was in "life debt" to James, nor would he have made James Headboy.

I've probably drifted pretty far off topic, but most of the scenes we see of James are pretty much the ones that were important to Snape and how he came to his biased opinions. They aren't scenes chosen from Lily's point of view and why she thought James to be the one for her.

So, to conclude, I think that we need to be more careful in how much weight we give to each scene as it relates to all of the characters with in it. Just as Jo tells us on her website that she had a deeper story planned for Dean Thomas and didn't have the room to tell it, I think there was a lot more to James and Lily than she had space to tell us.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 10, 2009 1:51 pm (#834 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 10, 2009 2:40 pm
By *pick on someone your own size* and *weakling*, I meant that in the physical sense, not regarding wand-wielding or spell-casting. James was in "another league" and I would imagine wizard boys can be just as insecure about their looks, muscles, teeth, hair, etc., as any muggle boy would be.

We are distinctly given the contrast between teenage Severus -- who, (until school robes saved him) was dressed in embarrassing clothes, was socially awkward/backward, introverted and from a horrible home life -- and teenage James who was from a good home ("adored") and, it seems, the proverbial "jock" instantly popular guy at school. For me it seems like JKR is virtually screaming for us to make this comparison, and for me I cannot help but sympathise with teenage Severus.

Regarding his hanging around with school aged DE's in training, again, I relate it to being an outcast from the popular group and *of course* he could have joined the Potions Club, or Gobstones like his mother, but I can imagine kids who come from DE families would prey on the outcast kids to get them in the fold. It happens all the time in school. At least it did when I was there.

At that point, not as an adult, but at that point when Severus was beginning to separate from Lily, and says "it was just a laugh" or whatever, I compare this more to blaming Lupin for what happened in the Worst Memory just because he is part of the group and witnessed it.

I relate to Severus, that's why I am intrigued by him. Perhaps those who "stick up" for James were more the jock-types or popular ones at school. Personally, I never appreciated people getting away with stuff because they were charming or popular or priviledged in some way. It bugged me. I wasn't picked on but I was an artsy weird one. Also, I had a lot of boyfriends who could be classified as Severus-like before his DE days. I find it interesting that (I think) many of the posters who "stick up" for Severus are female... is this true?

As a last aside, my comment that Severus should have eventually been happy for her, I don't mean that he should have gotten over being jealous, I mean he might have been able to accept that Lily didn't choose him and perhaps they could have been friends. I know it's a lot to ask and of course too many *if's*...

I do have some comments about Severus's obsessive love but that will be for another post.

(edited for clarity)



Quinn Crockett - Jan 10, 2009 2:39 pm (#835 of 2988)  
I don't see anything in the text that gives the impression that Snape is in anything less than average in physical stature. Perhaps a bit slight of build, but that's it.

I find it interesting that (I think) many of the posters who "stick up" for Severus are female... is this true? - Personally, I find it worrisome that any (particularly young) woman would find such a revolting personality in any way attractive.

I'm also not sure where people are getting the "Snape as outcast" persona. We see him being welcomed, literally, with open arms by Prefect Lucius. We also hear from Sirius that Snape's friends were mostly older students "who nearly all went on to become Death Eaters". And we know that he continues to be pretty close with the Malfoys as an adult - Narcissa even appeals to this relationship in HBP.
He's definitely neither an "outsider" nor a "loner" easily manipulated by the young predatory DE wannabes. He knew exactly who they were and what they were doing. He consciously chose them, in fact, over his "big love".



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 10, 2009 2:52 pm (#836 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 10, 2009 3:34 pm
I tried to be as clear as possible in my post so as to avoid further miscommunication about what I meant. I'll try again, then I'll give up. Physical appearance has a lot to do with how people are treated. When a boy who was adored and who seems to have natural athletic ability instantly picks on a boy who has greasy hair, a hook nose, and probably other non-redeeming physical characteristics, I take offence. It seems on the train ride before even the first day at school, this is what happened to Severus. He even had a mean nickname before the first day at the school he is overjoyed at finally going to.

Yeah, JKR finds it worrisome, too. I don't.

He had a misguided youth (21 when he changed his ways) and yes he became a bitter middle aged man riddled (no pun intended) with regrets, but in the end I am extremely proud of Severus and I hope he died feeling he'd earned back some self respect. Certainly, he earned DD's. When DD died, he despised himself. What a pity. Everyone who makes amends deserves more than that.

Edit: Regarding his friends -- Lucius, and the others that "nearly all became DE's" -- that is an excellent example of my point. Nearly immediately Lucius sucked Severus in to the DE-to-be world. I think it's safe to assume Lucius and other "older" Slytherins came from DE/Vold oriented families, were hearing this stuff around the house, then grouped together at school as the years went on, and were on the lookout to preach to Slytherin first years. No wonder Lucius welcomed him with open arms. If I was looking for new recruits, so would I. If Severus was the kind of kid who hung out in bushes staring at his pretty neighbor rather than making real friends, he would be a prime target for Lucius, who could probably spot the lonely types a mile away *in my opinion*.

If Lily and James had lived and Snape had known them to be happy long-term, perhaps. - wynnleaf

Yeah, and adding to what you said in your post, I had theorised years ago on this forum that Lily and James really didn't have that great a marriage. Boy, forumers weren't happy with that one...



wynnleaf - Jan 10, 2009 3:42 pm (#837 of 2988)  
If I was looking for new recruits, so would I. If Severus was the kind of kid who hung out in bushes staring at his pretty neighbor rather than making real friends, he would be a prime target for Lucius, who could probably spot the lonely types a mile away *in my opinion*. (me and my shadow)

In fact, this is a common way for terrorist groups to recruit. They will often go for the young disenfranchised, loner types and basically convey the message of "no one else understands you, no one else really accepts you except us." Snape would be the perfect target in that sort of case.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 10, 2009 4:12 pm (#838 of 2988)  
Exactly, wynnleaf.

I had a thought while reading an old thread about Severus and Lily, and I'm sure some folks are gonna hate it but oh well. Here goes:

After Severus realises the prophecy is being interpretted to be about Harry, and James and Lily, he goes to Vold and convinces him to spare Lily, thus she was given the opportunity to step away from Harry but she chose to die, thus giving Harry the protection that saved his life. So... if Severus had not asked for her life to be spared, Harry would never have received the protection. It would have been AK James, AK Lily, AK Harry, done.

Edit: it hurts my brain to then consider how a prophecy would know that this chain of events would occur - that Vold would choose Harry, that Severus would ask for Lily to live, that Lily would choose to die and step in front of her son giving him the "ancient" magical protection. If Neville had been chosen, who would have asked that Alice be spared?

Perhaps you guys have covered that ad nauseum, but it just occurred to me ~clunks forehead~

(edited for clarity)



Quinn Crockett - Jan 10, 2009 4:14 pm (#839 of 2988)  
I don't think you are being unclear, Shadow. I just don't agree with your (and others') interpretation of the character as a poor, misguided pathetic, undersized "weakling" outsider who was "seduced by the Dark Side". In fact, for his redemption is to have any meaning at all, he has to have made these early choices entirely of his own volition and not out of some misperception or ignorance of any consequences.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 10, 2009 4:37 pm (#840 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 10, 2009 5:20 pm
I see. Thanks for insight into your point of view. To be clear on my part, I am 100% in support of people being responsible for their choices, unless there's a gun to your head or your family's head and even then there are exceptions. I'm not into the concept of victims and that goes double for a Death Eater. What I am saying is I am familiar with the phenomenon of people who don't "fit it" with happy, well-adjusted "normal" ones of the given society (in this case "happy, normal wizards") and they tend to be vulnerable to what could be considered cults and the like. If the cult or group does no harm to others then who cares? If harm is done, should they be held accountable for their actions? Yes of course. Should they be praised for making things right? Yes, I believe they should. Severus wasn't responsible for Vold's interpretation of the prophecy. He was responsible for being misguided enough to be a servant to a dark wizard. He was responsible for choosing to become a DE and for (we assume) harming innocent people. He went out of his way to make things right because of guilt, remorse, his enduring feelings for Lily and to save his soul.

(edited for grammar)


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Julia H. - Jan 10, 2009 5:20 pm (#841 of 2988)  
"Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence."

As far as I understand, the quote roughly means just because we cannot prove the existence of something, it may still exist or if something cannot be proven to be true, it may still be true. On a philosophical level, it is so. There can be any number of planets in the universe of whose existence humans have no evidence at all. Yet, if they exist, they exist. Scientists have discovered a certain number of vitamins but there may be more which we take with our food and use it without knowing they exist. There is evidence that Italian and Spanish are "genetically" related languages while there is no evidence that Italian and Japanese could be related. Does lack of evidence prove that Italian and Japanese are really not related very distantly? Technically, no. It could be assumed that they are so distant relatives that all evidence of the "genetic" relationship has disappeared due to language change. However: In practical science, scientists work with data they have evidence of. No serious linguist will study the possibility of any "genetic relationship" between Italian and Japanese because first a new method of analysis should be invented that can go back in time longer than the present methods. Anyone who works with vitamins can only work with the known ones except those scientists who try to discover new ones but their job is specifically to find the evidence that is for the moment absent. I don't know much about astronomy but I don't think astronomers can study planets of whose existence they have no evidence. So, yes, new discoveries are always possible in science but scientists can analyse or use only what they have evidence of. (To mention another example, in legal proceedings, it is always possible that some important evidence remains unknown but in practice no one can be sentenced on the basis of "Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence." ) Similarly, while we can all hope to get new HP books from Jo with lots of new facts and "evidence", and we can also talk about hypothetical events or situations not in the books, we can only analyse what we - at a given moment - have evidence of and actually I think that is what we do.

If Severus was the kind of kid who hung out in bushes staring at his pretty neighbor rather than making real friends, he would be a prime target for Lucius, who could probably spot the lonely types a mile away *in my opinion*. (me and my shadow)

The "welcome" Snape gets from Lucius is rather alarming in retrospect. The way we know Lucius makes it highly unlikely that at the age of 15 or 16 he considered a poor, half-blood first-year student a potential friend. (A few years after Snape's arrival, Lucius was out of Hogwarts.) It is more likely he considered Snape a potential "follower" (for lack of a better word) to highlight his own importance. Snape, with his background and solitude, may have been relatively easy to impress with some basic kindness, especially when it was coming from an elegant prefect, who "knew" so much more about Hogwarts and wizards and the world than Snape... (or so it may have seemed).

James was a leader in his group and - being popular - apparently got away with a lot. Snape may have been hanging out with the Slytherin gang, he does not seem to have been important enough for these "friends" to stand up for him against the Gryffindors.  

We also hear from Sirius that Snape's friends were mostly older students...

If they were older than Snape, that in itself indicates Snape's status in the group. That also means Snape had to do without them in his last Hogwarts year(s). Hm... I wonder if the lack of a respected / accepting father figure and the resulting insecurity in Snape's life was at the root of a lot of things. He was looking for older friends, he joined Voldemort, a terribly powerful leader and wizard who also knew how to attract people if he wanted, and he was infinitely loyal to Dumbledore, the best father figure he ever had.

Lucius was older, too. They can't have been more than three years together at Hogwarts and their relationship is not likely to have been an equal one (as real friendship would be). But there seems to have been a relationship of some sort. Yes, Narcissa refers to this relationship as friendship, but when she does that, Snape is actually more powerful than Lucius and she needs Snape's help.

Me and my shadow, I absolutely agree with your post #840. Snape was definitely responsible for his actions and for becoming Voldemort's servant but we can see how he became attracted to the dark side and there were reasons why he was, as you say, vulnerable. I do believe he was in a sense a teenage victim of Voldemort but not a victim without a choice and he made the wrong choice. Later, he learned to make the right choice.



TomProffitt - Jan 10, 2009 5:22 pm (#842 of 2988)  
Yeah, and adding to what you said in your post, I had theorised years ago on this forum that Lily and James really didn't have that great a marriage. Boy, forumers weren't happy with that one... --- me and my shadow 813

Well, it is a rather strong statement on virtually no evidence.

In fact, this is a common way for terrorist groups to recruit. They will often go for the young disenfranchised, loner types and basically convey the message of "no one else understands you, no one else really accepts you except us." --- wynnleaf

I think the fact that Severus, who is willing to place a lot of undeserved blame on other people (like Harry) never places any blame on the other Death Eaters for recruiting him (unlike Wormtail) is a fairly strong indicator that Snape went into the Death Eaters with his eyes open (unlike Regulus).



TomProffitt - Jan 10, 2009 5:38 pm (#843 of 2988)  
Cross posted with Julia H.

on Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence:

In regards to interpretations of James Potter I think the "direct" scenes we have of him from Snape's viewpoint aren't sufficient to negate the "indirect" opinions we receive of him from Dumbledore, Hagrid, Lupin, Flitwick, McGonagall, Remus, and Sirius.  

I think Harry, Ron, and Hermione are the primary characters of the book, while Riddle, Dumbledore, and Snape are secondary characters who don't rate quite as much exposition and development. After then come other important characters like Neville, Ginny, and Molly who we get a lot of information about, but not a great deal of depth. James doesn't get quite as much exposition as the last group, but more than most. Certainly, we can draw some conclusions about him, but I think we should be careful about the strength of these assertions when our evidence is sparse or directed more fully at other characters' development.

Sometimes in the face of sparse evidence we should be prepared to say "I can't be certain" rather to conclude the actions of a lifetime on one scene at age 16 and another at age 21.



Julia H. - Jan 10, 2009 5:51 pm (#844 of 2988)  
I think the fact that Severus, who is willing to place a lot of undeserved blame on other people (like Harry) never places any blame on the other Death Eaters for recruiting him (unlike Wormtail) is a fairly strong indicator that Snape went into the Death Eaters with his eyes open (unlike Regulus). (Tom)

I think Snape blames himself for having become a Death Eater but I'm not sure whether he blames himself for going there with his eyes open or whether he blames himself for going there with his eyes closed when he could have opened his eyes.

I think (and it's just a gut feeling) that Snape's words to Harry: "Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in said memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily – weak people, in other words – they stand no chance against his powers!" may be about himself, more precisely about the way he sees his teenage self. His description of weak people at least fits the teenage Snape very well. He may blame himself for having been weak and allowing himself to fall prey to the "power" or the temptation of the dark side.

Sometimes in the face of sparse evidence we should be prepared to say "I can't be certain" rather to conclude the actions of a lifetime on one scene at age 16 and another at age 21.

I agree that indirect evidence is also evidence. Absolutely. But we must know that the author often characterizes the people who give the indirect evidence as well as the person they talk about. For example, we find out that Harry finds the way his father plays with the snitch or touches his hair almost disgusting. Sirius and Lupin become totally nostalgic about these same memories. The fact is the same, the interpretations or feelings are different.



wynnleaf - Jan 10, 2009 7:57 pm (#845 of 2988)  
I think the fact that Severus, who is willing to place a lot of undeserved blame on other people (like Harry) never places any blame on the other Death Eaters for recruiting him (unlike Wormtail) is a fairly strong indicator that Snape went into the Death Eaters with his eyes open (unlike Regulus). (Tom)

Well, I don't think Snape places much undeserved blame on people besides Harry and Co. The specific blame he puts on Sirius, Lupin, and James is, from all we can tell, deserved. I don't recall him placing blame on anyone else, although I could of course be forgetting.

As for other character's opinions of James, I do think that JKR has characters say what would be in-character for that particular person. We know that the teachers did not have any idea of just how reckless and dangerous the Marauders could be. We can assume (I hope) that they had no idea of the extent of their bullying or surely the Marauders would have been too worried about getting into terrible trouble to get into the Worst Memory attack. DD and McGonagall, one hopes, investigated the Prank, but somehow never learned about the Marauders being animagi or getting Lupin out of the Shack every month. So basically what I'm saying is that the teachers opinion of the Marauders is based on very incomplete info of what they were capable.

Nevertheless, we can still see in the series that DD apparently thought that Sirius was pretty reckless, as we seem to get this from Molly, from DD's orders to Sirius, and the fact that DD didn't even tell Sirius about the legimency lessons is of note. Then DD's opinion of James? Well, he did make some positive comments, but I wouldn't exactly call them glowing and he also did make his comment to Snape about Harry's good qualities coming from Lily.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 10, 2009 8:11 pm (#846 of 2988)  
We know that the teachers did not have any idea of just how reckless and dangerous the Marauders could be. - Do we? There were boxes of records of their detentions so certainly the teachers had some idea of what they were capable of.
As for any concern over "getting caught" during the worst memory, I would say that the worst Hogwarts has to offer is detention(s). Expulsion seems to be reserved for only VERY severe behaviors - such as mortally wounding another student or exposing the Wizarding World. The worst memory was neither of these.

the fact that DD didn't even tell Sirius about the legimency lessons is of note. - I'm not sure what you're referring to here.

[Dumbledore] also did make his comment to Snape about Harry's good qualities coming from Lily. - Well, yeah. Because he was trying to get Snape do something. He wasn't going to convince him by (in Snape's mind) "siding with James". Dumbledore knew that Snape's weakness was Lily and used it.



Istani - Jan 10, 2009 8:16 pm (#847 of 2988)  
Let's not forget the reality at Hogwarts, where students get encouraged by their houses since their houses are supposed to equal their families- McGonagall stressed this quite nicely the day Harry was Sorted. You live with your house, you eat with your house, you attend classes with your house. Even in Harry's days we don't see much inter-houses activities as there are no rooms for this. Harry met Cho only in the corridors or at the rare Hogsmeade weekends. The only time we ever saw a student sitting down at another house table was Luna- don't remember which books that was in. Point is- how could Lily blame Severus for hanging around with his fellow Slytherins if precisely that was/is the politics at Hogwarts? Where are the common rooms for all students? There aren't any. Despite the Sorting Hat's song about, sort of 'united we stand', there had never been made any attempt to really unite the houses. And yet we blame Severus for not breaking this habitude when in fact he might have tried hard to keep his friendship with Lily during his first years at Hogwarts and even inspite of the houses they had been Sorted in. Mind,I'm not relieving him of the mistakes he made in at any woman would possibly be thrilled with the choices he made, but that there might have been no other way for him than accepting his Sorting and therefore the natural attidude of having to deal with his house mates. Not everyone is as tough as Sirius and gives up his past, his family, his background. Sirius hates his family but I can see a loner striving for everything that makes him special, thus Severus' reaction about wanting to be in Slytherin, wanting to belong. I remember JKR saying he was an insecure person and that's exactly what I get watching him. A socially awkward teen that never really grew up- and yet I find him more agreeable, more real than any other person in the books. About Severus' Worst Memory and how to read it... I loved Sirius until then but quickly changed my mind as I understood Harry's reaction completely. To me it was obvious from the beginning that the Marauders had a fun time at bullying Severus just for the reason he existed. It never ocured to me he was following them around on the day of their Owls since he seemed to have been comletly absorbed by the exams...



Quinn Crockett - Jan 10, 2009 8:43 pm (#848 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 10, 2009 9:23 pm
Point is- how could Lily blame Severus for hanging around with his fellow Slytherins if precisely that was/is the politics at Hogwarts? - Well, actually she complains that he is friends with a specific person, Mulciber, who she describes as "evil". She doesn't say anything about him hanging around with Slytherins in general.

It never ocured to me he was following them around on the day of their Owls since he seemed to have been comletly absorbed by the exams... - I think the operative word there is "seemed".



Solitaire - Jan 10, 2009 10:24 pm (#849 of 2988)  
the fact that DD didn't even tell Sirius about the legimency lessons is of note.

Are you talking about Snape's lessons in Occlumency? Sirius was present in his own home when Snape came to tell Harry about the lessons. Snape does say, "I was supposed to see you alone, Potter, but Black--"

I pretty much take anything Snape says to Sirius with a grain of salt, because his general intent where Sirius is concerned is to inflict pain. Dumbledore knew Sirius well enough that he would have expected Sirius to be in on the "conference" with Snape. Actually, Snape's behavior to Sirius on this particular occasion was pretty despicable. I would give him a pass on Sirius because of the Werewolf incident; however, I think he evened the score when he was going to turn both Sirius and Lupin over to be kissed by Dementors. When Lupin escaped, Snape still proceeded with his plan, which was foiled only by Dumbledore's intervention and Harry and Hermione's actions. As far as I'm concerned, they're even now and they need to get over the past and get on with the business at hand.



mona amon - Jan 11, 2009 4:04 am (#850 of 2988)  
To be fair, Dumbledore does send Snape to Sirius's house to inform Harry about the lessons. Sirius tries to order him about, saying something along the lines of "I'd prefer it if you didn't give orders here. It's my house." The only 'order' Snape had given was to tell Harry to sit down. It's only then that Snape starts getting snarky.

Two kids of equal magical talent gang up to pick on a lone kid who has magical talent equal to only one of them, and they're equally matched in your two eyes? (Mona)

- I really don't understand why the Apologists would have us believe that Snape deserved the moniker "Snivellus"; that he was completely isolated, friendless and barely able to hold a wand if he had to. In reality, he was a self-taught inventor of powerful (potentially lethal) spells whose friends thought using Dark magic on people "was a laugh" and who "nearly all became Death Eaters". I don't see a "class weakling" here. I see a future "Voldemort's most favored servant".(Quinn)


Quinn, you went off at a tangent. Snape may have been a powerful wizard. There is a lot of evidence for this. Which is probably why James and Sirius used to pick on him two on one. But was their behaviour sporting? Do you really believe that Snape was equally matched against James and Sirius together in the Worst Memory? He may not have been isolated and friendless, but he was certainly alone when they picked on him.

Physical appearance has a lot to do with how people are treated. (Me and my Shadow)

But JKR made it a lot more complicated and interesting than this. On the train for the first time, after Snape has put on his school robes, James and Severus are described as being similar (slight, black-haired). The difference lies in the fact that James has been well cared for and adored, while Snape has not.

For example, "Snape's Worst Memory" brings us very important information about Snape and James, but it also brings about important growth in Harry. Which goal is Jo pursuing in this scene? All three at once? I don't think so, I think it is mostly about Harry's growth, especially when coupled with the following scene where Harry talks to Remus and Sirius. (Tom)

Why not all three at once? And other things besides. She gives us a lot of backstory on the Marauders, the James/Lily relationship and an important turning point in the Snape/Lily relationship, Snape using the word Mudblood against her. I agree with you that she's developing a more realistic James as she goes along, rather than a 'down hill' James. It's just that I don't like the 'real' James that she reveals.

I think what you and Mrs. Brisbee suggest is a good idea. If we discuss James on his own thread we can do so without bringing Snape into the picture.

There seems to be a double standard regarding the James's bullying and Snape's sneaking around. One incident (the worst memory) is treated as a clear indication that this is how James and Sirius were all the time, but Snape's one incident of sneaking around that preceded it is supposed to be considered an anomaly. (Quinn)

Here are some quotes from SWM which show that this wasn't a once only incident, and that picking on Snape was habitual.

"This will liven you up, Padfoot. Look who it is...'

Sirius's head turned. He became very still like a dog that has scented a rabbit.

I think the hunter/prey metaphor speaks volumes.

Snape was on his feet again, and was stowing the OWL paper in his bag. As he set off across the grass, Sirius and James stood up.

Lupin and Wormtail remained sitting: Lupin was still staring down at his book though his eyes were not moving and a faint frown line had appeared between his eyebrows; Wormtail was looking from Sirius to James to Snape with a look of avid anticipation on his face.

What more do we need to show us that it was habitual? Lupin and Wormtail clearly knew what was going to happen next. How could they know this if it wasn't always happening? Anyway, we also have-

Snape reacted so fast that it was as though he was expecting an attack.

Why would he expect an attack if they weren't in the habit of attacking him?



TomProffitt - Jan 11, 2009 4:26 am (#851 of 2988)  
Why not all three in at once? And other things besides. --- mona amon

It's about space in the story. Something Jo has specifically said on her website and interviews that she doesn't always have time to develop characters as she would like to.

I think the quality of the character of James and Sirius as we have discussed over the past dozens of posts is quite accurate for them at age 16. I question how well it applies to them at age 19 or 20. Sirius in his mid 30s doesn't seem to have grown much, but I suppose Azkaban could do that to you. Actually none of the lot, Remus, Wormtail or Snape seem to have grown a whole lot either, but that's no reason to assume James did not.

And we should remember that Sirius didn't have to be in Azkaban either, while Pettigrew was primarily responsible for putting him there, Severus was as culpable as James was in the "Werewolf Incident." (Now, that I think about it I think this is a bit off topic and that the logic may be off. I don't think, so, though. Both Snape and Sirius get into a lot of twisty rationalizations over who is responsible for what in the past.)



Julia H. - Jan 11, 2009 9:00 am (#852 of 2988)  
[Dumbledore] also did make his comment to Snape about Harry's good qualities coming from Lily. - Well, yeah. Because he was trying to get Snape do something. He wasn't going to convince him by (in Snape's mind) "siding with James". Dumbledore knew that Snape's weakness was Lily and used it.

So was Dumbledore lying to get Snape do something? In PoA, the same Dumbledore tells Harry this:

You know, Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night... You found him inside yourself.

Actually, I don't think Dumbledore was necessarily lying in any of these scenes, since the two statements are not irreconcilable, yet one emphasizes Harry's connection to his father, while the other emphasizes Harry's connection to his mother. Dumbledore certainly tailored what he said to the situation, to his audience (Harry vs. Snape) and to his particular purpose. There is nothing unusual about that. In fact, it is fair to assume that other characters do the same when they relate their memories to others even when they do not actually lie. Therefore JKR provides us with two types of "time-travel" in the series: Objective narration, the detailed description of events (the Pensieve, where it does not really matter whose memory it is of all the participants or witnesses) and subjective narration, which is when one character tells another his/her subjective recollections in a particular situation and for a particular purpose. The difference is not JKR's invention, both types have long been present in narrative works of literature.

So, to conclude, I think that we need to be more careful in how much weight we give to each scene as it relates to all of the characters with in it. Just as Jo tells us on her website that she had a deeper story planned for Dean Thomas and didn't have the room to tell it, I think there was a lot more to James and Lily than she had space to tell us.

It is quite possible that she had a lot more to tell us about many of the characters. However, we can only work with what we have got. (It is exactly like the "Slytherins' return".) Even if she had to leave out a lot, she could decide what to include and what not to include and she made her decisions and the result is what has been published.

It never ocured to me he was following them around on the day of their Owls since he seemed to have been comletly absorbed by the exams... - I think the operative word there is "seemed".

'Harry watched again as Snape left the Great Hall after sitting his O.W.L. in Defense Against the Dark Arts, watched as he wandered away from the castle and strayed inadvertently close to the place beneath the beech tree where James, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew sat together.' (The Prince's Tale)

Here it is, given to us in plain and clear words by the narrator.

Concerning how much the teachers knew about the Marauders' bullying: It is true they got plenty of detentions but the high number of these cases show the detentions can't have been very effective. (James and Sirius did not seem to worry when half the school saw what they were doing in the Worst Memory Scene.) It is easy to wonder how much McGonagall, who was ready to lecture a fellow teacher (Fake-Moody) punishing a student (Malfoy) in an unacceptable way, liked the boys who did what they did in the worst memory. BTW, I made a discovery regarding that:

OoTP: Yes, he had once overheard Professor McGonagall saying that his father and Sirius had been trouiblemakers at school, but she had described them as forerunners of the Weasley twins...

PoA: "Precisely," said Professor McGonagall. "Black and Potter. Ringleaders of their little gang. Both very bright, of course - exceptionally bright, in fact - but I don't think we've ever had such a pair of troublemakers -" "I dunno," chuckled Hagrid. "Fred and George Weasley could give 'em a run fer their money."

So it was actually Hagrid who compared them to the twins but Harry (?) remembers that it was McGonagall. So much about the accuracy of personal memories...  .

What more do we need to show us that it was habitual? Lupin and Wormtail clearly knew what was going to happen next. How could they know this if it wasn't always happening? (Mona)

Exactly.

I think the quality of the character of James and Sirius as we have discussed over the past dozens of posts is quite accurate for them at age 16. I question how well it applies to them at age 19 or 20. Sirius in his mid 30s doesn't seem to have grown much, but I suppose Azkaban could do that to you. Actually none of the lot, Remus, Wormtail or Snape seem to have grown a whole lot either, but that's no reason to assume James did not. (Tom)

But we are discussing James the school-boy on this thread because that is relevant to Snape's story. James's personal growth until the age of 21 (or lack of it) would really belong on the James-thread.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 11, 2009 10:51 am (#853 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 11, 2009 12:46 pm
Actually none of the lot, Remus, Wormtail or Snape seem to have grown a whole lot either, but that's no reason to assume James did not. - Tom P.

Wormtail's not worth mentioning here, but regarding Remus and Sirius, I always felt there was a kind of arrested development due to the trauma of losing James. Same goes for Severus, regarding Lily of course. They're all sort of frozen in time.

'... and strayed inadvertently close to the place beneath the beech tree where James, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew sat together.' (The Prince's Tale)

Here it is, given to us in plain and clear words by the narrator. - Julia H.


Ya took the quote right out of my mouth Smile Are we to suppose that JKR inadvertently used the word inadvertently?

To me, Lily asking Severus why he's obsessed with the Marauders is 1)so we can know that Severus was desperately trying to expose them for not being "white and shining knights", given his feelings for Lily and how James was (at least in Severus's jealous eyes) considered the "Big Quidditch Hero", and 2)so that we can get the timeline of James "fancying" Lily and how, unbeknownst to Lily, things were beginning to come to a head with the love triangle. We're shown James was falling for Lily in the third year, and Severus was aware of it and stewed for two years before Worst Memory even occured.

mona amon, regarding the physical traits of Severus and James, absolutely they are both "slight" and "dark haired" but the "indistinguishable air" to me is that X-factor that some people have which causes them to be noticed while others seem invisible. I'd imagine James had straight white teeth (why couldn't Severus invent a whitening spell all those years?) and James probably didn't have greasy hair. And, as he was athletic, even if he was slight he probably wasn't slight in the way bookish types can get...

(edited and added stuff...)

EDIT: ...is a fairly strong indicator that Snape went into the Death Eaters with his eyes open (unlike Regulus). - Tom P.

Sorry I know this comment was a while back but, Tom, could you elaborate on what you mean by "unlike Regulus"? Feel free to do it on the appropriate thread, although I must say I'm having a tough time locating where the non-Severus-related discussions are taking place. (i.e., is there a James thread?)



TomProffitt - Jan 11, 2009 11:24 am (#854 of 2988)  
But we are discussing James the school-boy on this thread because that is relevant to Snape's story. James's personal growth until the age of 21 (or lack of it) would really belong on the James-thread. --- Julia H.

I don't think that that is true of everyone posting here. I really don't have any qualms to speak of regarding our conclusions about James at 16, but I've been reading a number of posts that assume he had not changed since then, that was what I took issue with.



TomProffitt - Jan 11, 2009 1:25 pm (#855 of 2988)  
"Sorry I know this comment was a while back but, Tom, could you elaborate on what you mean by "unlike Regulus"?" --- me and my shadow 813

I believe that Severus Snape as aware of just what the Death Eaters were capable of doing when he joined them and that Regulus Black was not so aware. This is based primarily on the known fate of Regulus Black and Snape's ability to hate Harry for surviving when his mother did not, but not placing any blame on the people who recruited him (Severus) into the Death eaters.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 11, 2009 1:29 pm (#856 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 11, 2009 2:02 pm
Sirius tries to order him about, saying something along the lines of "I'd prefer it if you didn't give orders here. It's my house." The only 'order' Snape had given was to tell Harry to sit down. It's only then that Snape starts getting snarky. - Yeah, I know I typically use the expression, "I'd prefer it if..." any time I give orders to someone.
Snape did "order" Harry to sit. And Sirius was well aware of Snape's attitude toward Harry. I think Sirius acted as any decent guardian would have in that situation, politely cautioning Snape. It was Snape who continued to antagonize Sirius throughout the rest of the conversation.

But I agree with Soul Search that they both should have been over the old nonsense by that point.

here are some quotes from SWM which show that this wasn't a once only incident, and that picking on Snape was habitual. - I never disagreed on that point. What I said was that I see Snape Supporters ignoring clues in the text that Snape's sneaking around after the Marauders was just as habitual.

Severus was as culpable as James was in the "Werewolf Incident." - Precisely. Why would he ever take the advice of someone who supposedly "habitually picked on" him? Particularly when that advice was, "Why don't you head down this secret tunnel in the middle of the night and see what you can see?" That's pretty dumb, at minimum. But I would even suggest that Snape almost wanted something bad to happen so he could run tattling to Dumbledore about it.

So was Dumbledore lying to get Snape do something? - Where do you get "lying"? Dumbledore talked up Lily and downplayed James. Although, I suppose one could call this "lying by omission".

'Harry watched again as Snape left the Great Hall after sitting his O.W.L. in Defense Against the Dark Arts, watched as he wandered away from the castle and strayed inadvertently close to the place beneath the beech tree where James, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew sat together.' (The Prince's Tale)

Here it is, given to us in plain and clear words by the narrator
. - But "the narrator" is Harry. The entire scene is told through the filter of Harry's eyes ("...he knew how it felt to be humiliated in the middle of a circle of onlookers..."), even if it is written in the third person. In any case, it strikes me as an extremely fortuitous "coincidence" for James and Sirius that Snape just "happened" to plunk himself down just there.

...is a fairly strong indicator that Snape went into the Death Eaters with his eyes open (unlike Regulus). - I think what Tom means is that, like Draco, Regulus had been groomed by his family to take his place with Voldemort when the time came. It was only then that Regulus learned the reality of Voldemort's "master plan" or whatever.

ETA: Oh, never mind. Tom answered for himself  



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 11, 2009 1:47 pm (#857 of 2988)  
Thanks, guys.

I wonder about Severus's mother. I mean, by age nine Sev had the muggles-are-inferior thing down pat. Where else would he have learned it but from Mama Prince? Did he and his mother interact with WW or were they trapped in Spinner's End with mean muggle Papa Snape. If Mama Prince took Sev out to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley (or Nocturn Alley for that matter) it could mean that Sev was being groomed in his own way. We can only assume Mama Prince was a Slytherin. Does this mean she interacted with other Slytherins with thoughts influenced by young colleague Tom?

Edit: I should clarify that I don't think Severus had much WW interaction. I am wondering if his mother's influence via being in Slytherin at the time of young Tom could have been there before he even arrived at Hogwarts?



TomProffitt - Jan 11, 2009 2:00 pm (#858 of 2988)  
I should clarify that I don't think Severus had much WW interaction. --- me and my shadow 813

I don't know if we can really tell one way or another on this. Living in a Muggle house he probably wasn't able to use the Flu Network, and could only side-along-apparate, so it is probable that he spent most of the time with Muggle kids growing up before Hogwarts. That doesn't mean he couldn't have gone to Diagon Alley with his Mum several times a week.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 11, 2009 2:04 pm (#859 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 11, 2009 3:32 pm
True, Tom. But we do know there were stacks of books at his house. He seems to have been a fairly voracious reader, like Hermione. My impression was that, also like Hermione, he seems to have obtained a lot of his information on the wizarding world from books rather than any personal experience, even a second-hand one.



Dryleaves - Jan 11, 2009 2:51 pm (#860 of 2988)  
Here it is, given to us in plain and clear words by the narrator. - But "the narrator" is Harry. The entire scene is told through the filter of Harry's eyes ("...he knew how it felt to be humiliated in the middle of a circle of onlookers..."), even if it is written in the third person. In any case, it strikes me as an extremely fortuitous "coincidence" for James and Sirius that Snape just "happened" to plunk himself down just there.

On the other hand we know what Harry thinks of Snape. When looking at Snape's memory Harry is most of all interested in his father, but I imagine he would have noticed if Snape appeared to be following the Marauders and if he had he would probably have thought that Snape was going to attack them or something. Instead he sees what he doesn’t expect to see: his father attacking Snape, who is minding his own business. And the author has chosen to show the scene is this way.

Snape being an innocent victim at some occasions doesn't have to mean that other people are responsible for his bad choices. But they could be responsible for what they do to him in this situation.

And the kitchen scene: I don’t think Sirius is polite or acting like a decent guardian. Telling Harry to sit down is not such a preposterous thing to say in this situation that it needs any comments from Sirius at all. On the other hand Snape is definitely not acting like a decent, responsible teacher either.



TomProffitt - Jan 11, 2009 3:25 pm (#861 of 2988)  
In the kitchen scene I think Sirius and Severus are too busy sharing their mutual dislike to pay sufficient attention to Harry's needs. I'd say both of the adults are behaving in a more immature fashion than the teenager.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 11, 2009 3:43 pm (#862 of 2988)  
Admittedly, I am extremely immature in some ways. But even with no personal history between us, I would have spoken just as Sirius did if Snape, a teacher who I am well aware is openly hostile to my kid, had come into my house and ordered him or her to "Sit down, Potter".
Snape could have said, "Sit down Mr Potter" if he had wanted to at least appear to be polite while still keeping the formal distance between master and pupil.



Julia H. - Jan 11, 2009 3:59 pm (#863 of 2988)  
But "the narrator" is Harry. The entire scene is told through the filter of Harry's eyes ("...he knew how it felt to be humiliated in the middle of a circle of onlookers..."), even if it is written in the third person. (Quinn)

But the quote "Harry watched again as Snape left the Great Hall after sitting his O.W.L. in Defense Against the Dark Arts, watched as he wandered away from the castle and strayed inadvertently close to the place beneath the beech tree where James, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew sat together" is in The Prince's Tale chapter, not in OotP. I've said it before that this chapter contains JKR's last words about Snape, these are the memories from which not only Harry but also the reader is supposed to learn the truth about Snape. It is hard to believe that we are meant to think Snape was intentionally following the Marauders when JKR says "strayed inadvertently" (i.e., the exact opposite) precisely in this chapter.

I believe that Severus Snape as aware of just what the Death Eaters were capable of doing when he joined them and that Regulus Black was not so aware. This is based primarily on the known fate of Regulus Black and Snape's ability to hate Harry for surviving when his mother did not, but not placing any blame on the people who recruited him (Severus) into the Death eaters. (Tom)

I find the known fates of Snape and Regulus very similar. Both joined Voldemort and found out that Voldemort was threatening someone they loved. Both seem to have made a great realization and ultimately both dedicated their lives to the fight against Voldemort. The fact that Snape does not blame others for making him join or even if he blames himself does not mean that he was any wiser than Regulus. For one thing, we never see Snape blame Voldemort for Lily's death. I think it means he blames himself too much to blame Voldemort but we know that in actual fact Voldemort played a crucial part in Lily's death. Secondly, it is quite possible that Regulus also blamed himself for having joined. We don't know it for sure but we know that he practically committed suicide. Yes, he did it to help someone in the future to kill Voldemort, but he acted alone, letting nobody know the crucial information about the Horcrux. His suicide may have been just as much the final action of a desperate, remorseful and lonely young man, as a heroe's self-sacrifice.

I think what Tom means is that, like Draco, Regulus had been groomed by his family to take his place with Voldemort when the time came. It was only then that Regulus learned the reality of Voldemort's "master plan" or whatever. (Quinn)

I don't know why someone growing up in a family on the dark side (like Regulus and Draco) would know less about the reality regarding Voldemort, than the teenager who came to Slytherin from a half-Muggle environment and was getting information from other teenagers. If Regulus's parents did not realize the full truth about the DE's, why would Snape? I am curious about the newspaper cuttings Regulus had about Voldemort. Did these articles present him in a favourable light? If so, others might have read the same articles. If not, then Regulus would not be so ignorant, would he?

So was Dumbledore lying to get Snape do something? (Julia)

Where do you get "lying"? Dumbledore talked up Lily and downplayed James. Although, I suppose one could call this "lying by omission". (Quinn)


Er... I think you may have overlooked the next two paragraphs in that post. I answered my own question.

"Er", said Harry, to announce his presence. Snape looked around at him, his face framed between curtains of greasy black hair. "Sit down, Potter.""You know", said Sirius loudly, leaning back on his rear chair legs and speaking to the ceiling, "I think I'd prefer it if you didn't give orders here, Snape. It's my house, you see." (Occlumency)

I sometimes wonder why Harry does not say 'Good afternoon' or something instead of "er" but anyway. Snape tells him to sit down. While it is not the kindest way, it is not rude either. He is offering him a seat. It is not exactly an order. I can easily imagine McGonagall using the same words. I can also see her saying it more kindly but these words are also quite possible. For example, in the Professor Umbridge chapter in OotP, she says Come in here, Potter... Have a biscuit, Potter. Although Sirius says "I'd prefer it", it sounds sarcastic rather than polite to me since: 1) He is speaking to the ceiling. (Rude.) 2) He says Snape is giving orders when he has only offered someone a seat. 3) He reminds him that it is his house. (Very impolite and not justified by Snape's sentence.)

If we look at the situation as one between a visiting teacher and a student's guardian at the guardian's home, Sirius's behaviour is totally inappropriate. It should be OK if the teacher tells the student to sit down (even if the guardian dislikes him) and it is no reason to remind him (a guest) whose house it is, especially not in front of the student. But of course, it is a totally different situation. Sirius is irritated that Snape has anything to do with Harry or in house and he tells him so, not only with words but with body language as well.



wynnleaf - Jan 11, 2009 4:09 pm (#864 of 2988)  
Even McGonagall calls Harry "Potter" quite often. It's not disrespectful from a teacher. Snape told Harry to sit down in a perfectly normal way that even McGonagall could have used. In fact, when she had him in her office earlier that year, she'd even said, "and sit down" rather than, perhaps "would you please sit down?" or something possibly more polite. Of course, when he was in McGonagall's office, she offered him a bisquit as well, because after all, she liked Harry and was sympathetic of the topic of their conversation (his problems with Umbridge). But my point is that calling Harry "Potter" is completely normal, as is telling him to sit down to have a discussion with a teacher.

Sirius was being rude plain and simple to object in a rude way to so mundane a comment by Snape.

Now, my earlier comment that DD bypassed Sirius on the occlumency lessons... When Snape came to discuss the lessons with Harry, it is very clear that Sirius knew nothing about it up until that point. Even though Sirius was Harry's godfather and was eligible to give permission for such things as Hogsmeades excursions, DD did not tell him anything about choosing Snape to teach Harry occlumency. Given that DD knew that Sirius disliked and distrusted Snape, his going around Sirius to arrange these lessons for Harry is particularly noteworthy.



Solitaire - Jan 11, 2009 5:26 pm (#865 of 2988)  
If we look at the situation as one between a visiting teacher and a student's guardian at the guardian's home, Sirius's behaviour is totally inappropriate. It should be OK if the teacher tells the student to sit down (even if the guardian dislikes him) and it is no reason to remind him (a guest) whose house it is, especially not in front of the student. But of course, it is a totally different situation. Sirius is irritated that Snape has anything to do with Harry or in house and he tells him so, not only with words but with body language as well.

As a teacher who has actually gone to students' homes to tutor them, I would never presume to order the student around or assume the right to tell the student and his parent to sit down. I might ask the parent, "May we sit down?" or "Where would you like us to work?"

Snape hated Sirius (and, yes, vice versa), and he took every opportunity and used every situation possible to annoy, irritate, and belittle Sirius, here in front of his godson. In fact, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Snape volunteered to be the one to talk to Harry, since it gave him an opportunity to be nasty to both Harry and Sirius at the same time. And yes ... that is exactly how I see Snape, in spite of all the good deeds we learn about in DH. He is still a colossally unpleasant person, IMO, and I do not like the way he treats people. I can't help it.


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Quinn Crockett - Jan 11, 2009 5:35 pm (#866 of 2988)  
I don't know why someone growing up in a family on the dark side (like Regulus and Draco) would know less about the reality regarding Voldemort - Wow, really? You think these children were that informed about the brutal reality of Death Eater life? Sure, they were groomed to believe in the precepts of Voldemort's agenda prior to joining up. But I don't recall that what Voldemort actually had in mind was never made public knowledge prior to his takeover of the ministry.

It is hard to believe that we are meant to think Snape was intentionally following the Marauders when JKR says "strayed inadvertently" (i.e., the exact opposite) precisely in this chapter. - Not to me. It is still Harry's point of view. And since he already knows what's going to happen, and since he already sympathizes with Snape in the situation about to unfold, it makes sense that Harry would think that Snape had "strayed inadvertently".
Particularly when in the OP version Snape is described as "still poring over the paper apparently with no fixed idea of where he was going." I find it extremely odd that:
A) given his steadfast insistence, even 20 years later, that Sirius had tried to murder him - and that this attempted murder would have happened only very recently, at this point
B) given the "habitual" bullying that Snape is supposed to have been subjected to
that Snape could be that clueless about his proximity to the Marauders. I just don't buy it.

He is offering him a seat. It is not exactly an order. - Okay, if you ever come over to my house I'll be sure to "offer you a seat" by barking a terse "Sit down, H".

But my point is that calling Harry "Potter" is completely normal, as is telling him to sit down to have a discussion with a teacher. - Yes, it is normal in the context of campus environment. It's fine when the student is at school, or in a teacher's office. But when you are in someone else's home, regardless of who you are - or who you think you are - there are certain basic manners to be observed. But Snape couldn't even suck it up and be civil for 5 lousy minutes.

"I was supposed to see you alone..." Why even say this? Even if it were true, that's not going to happen so just pass on the information - without editorializing - and go.

Sirius was being rude plain and simple to object in a rude way to so mundane a comment by Snape. - Really? Mundane? So you're saying that if one of your kid's teachers showed up at your house and commanded him or her to "Sit down, Leaf" you wouldn't say a word about it? I find that really hard to believe.

As a teacher who has actually gone to students' homes to tutor them, I would never presume to order the student around or assume the right to tell the student and his parent to sit down. - Exactly, Solitaire, And I'm sure there must have been at least a couple of occasions when you weren't particularly fond of either the parent or the student.



wynnleaf - Jan 11, 2009 5:41 pm (#867 of 2988)  
I would never presume to order the student around or assume the right to tell the student and his parent to sit down. (Solitaire)

But Snape telling Harry to sit down is not necessarily some curt or rude order. As I said, McGonagall used almost the same words when she was in fact quite sympathetic to Harry. Perhaps it wasn't the best wording, but it certainly wasn't Snape being a nasty git either. Sirius' remark is really quite rude considering the degree of Snape's supposed "order". And of course, the situation goes from bad to worse ending with Sirius drawing his wand first.

Back to a former overall discussion, I'm basically trying to show that Snape's inconsideration for the fact that he'd caused grief to James' friends is quite understandable -- Sirius hated Snape and vice versa. Ditto any regret Snape should have had for the demise of James (in particular, as opposed to being the cause of anyone's demise) -- Snape considered that these people had conspired once to kill him and never really regretted it, and took any opportunity to attack him. Why should he develop a regret for their grief or be ever sad that James was dead? What he did regret was that his actions brought about the Potter's deaths, but not specifically that James was dead.

Back on the DD thread, we talked about DD's disgust with Snape that he bargained for Lily's life. But what alternative did he have? He couldn't bargain for all of their lives, as he had no legitimate (in LV's eyes) reason to do so. He had to try something at least, and all he could reasonably do was ask LV not to kill Lily. Of course, he didn't actually trust LV to follow through on his word (in spite of DD's words to the contrary later), so he went to DD instead.

I can see that DD would feel disgusted that Snape's only apparent interest was in saving Lily, not even thinking about even her child until DD mentioned the family as a whole. Still, Snape's later continued hatred of James and the rest of the Marauders is understandable given what Snape felt they had done or attempted to do to him.

But when you are in someone else's home, regardless of who you are - or who you think you are - there are certain basic manners to be observed. (Quinn)

I'm going to assume you're in the US, where teachers don't call their students by their last names at all, even at school. Do you know it to be the case that in Britain, in a situation where teachers did call students by their last names, that they wouldn't do so at their homes? The kids did it as well -- notice James calling Lily "Evans". It wasn't just a formal mode of address.

By the way, I don't think that Snape's words are described as terse or being "barked". I think that's you're on read on it Quinn. Correct me if I'm wrong.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 11, 2009 6:03 pm (#868 of 2988)  
Snape's later continued hatred of James and the rest of the Marauders is understandable given what Snape felt they had done or attempted to do to him. - Except that he has only himself to blame. He chose to listen to someone who he knew couldn't have meant anything good to happen, then turns around and bemoans "attempted murder".

SIRIUS: Hey Snape, why don't you try pointing this loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger, if you're so curious to know how it works.
SNAPE: Yeah? Well maybe I'll just do that. I'm not afraid of you, you feeble minded gimboid.
JAMES: Snape, no! Stop! You'll be killed!
SNAPE: Get off me! Hey! You guys tried to kill me! I'm telling Dumbledore !



wynnleaf - Jan 11, 2009 7:08 pm (#869 of 2988)  
Actually, Quinn, that's just your assumption that it was partly his fault. Even Lupin and Sirius make it sound like Sirius was actually the responsible party. And without JKR ever giving us the "why it was 50% Snape's fault" explanation, I don't think you can just assume that. And even DD didn't act like James saved Snape from Snape's own bad choices.

It may have been partly Snape's fault -- but no one in the books acts like it is. The only way in which Sirius (the one who didn't even regret it) acted like it was Snape's "fault" is that Sirius thought Snape deserved it, but not that he actually chose to do something that caused his own danger.



Solitaire - Jan 11, 2009 7:20 pm (#870 of 2988)  
But Snape telling Harry to sit down is not necessarily some curt or rude order. As I said, McGonagall used almost the same words when she was in fact quite sympathetic to Harry.

I believe Snape did say it in a rude way ... and as a reader, I am as free to make that interpretation as anyone else is to make a different one. My interpretation fits with everything we have known of Snape up to this point. He has been on Harry's back since the moment Harry walked into his first Potions class. Whatever his motives were, his methods were despicable. Sometimes I think some readers are going back and trying to "re-interpret" how Snape treated Harry--how he talked to him, the things he said to and about Sirius, his behavior toward all of the Gryffindor kids, and all of the other unpleasant things we watched him do--in the context of what we found out about him in the Prince's Tale.

As far as McGonagall's use of the words, well, we all know there is a world of difference between McGongall and Snape. She can be brusque and no-nonsense, but I don't believe Harry has a doubt in the world that she cares about him, is rooting for him, and wants him to succeed. He never feels that about Snape. Even after seeing the Worst Moment in the Pensieve and feeling a pang for Snape, he still believes Snape contributed to the death of Sirius. I know many people impute Snape's treatment of Harry as some method of hiding his perfidy from Voldemort. I'm sorry ... I don't buy it. Snape could have been pleasant to Harry and passed that off as the false behavior ... but he didn't. He MADE A CHOICE to treat Harry badly ... and he did it as often as he could, IMO.



mona amon - Jan 11, 2009 7:41 pm (#871 of 2988)  
SIRIUS: Hey Snape, why don't you try pointing this loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger, if you're so curious to know how it works.

That does not correspond to what Sirius said. Snape never knew there was a werewolf at the other end of the tunnel, and Sirius did not tell him so. It's like Sirius hands him a (loaded) gun and tells him that something interesting will happen if he points it at his head and pulls the trigger. Snape is stupid to allow himself to be tricked, but why should he suspect that Sirius is playing a lethal joke on him? It's not something we generally expect of the people that we know, even if they were in the habit of bullying us.

here are some quotes from SWM which show that this wasn't a once only incident, and that picking on Snape was habitual. (Me)

- I never disagreed on that point. What I said was that I see Snape Supporters ignoring clues in the text that Snape's sneaking around after the Marauders was just as habitual. (Quinn)


I gave you the clues to prove my point. You say there are clues to show that Snape was habitually sneaking around after the Marauders, but you do not say where they are to be found. I'm not saying that there aren't any. But I'm not able to find them.



wynnleaf - Jan 11, 2009 8:00 pm (#872 of 2988)  
Solitaire,

Perhaps I wasn't clear. I never said Snape was nice to Harry or that he wasn't pretty sarcastic and sometimes unfair to him. My point about the incident at Grimmauld Place was regarding Sirius and that Sirius had no reason to leap upon Snape's comment for Harry ("Potter") to sit down as some sort of "order" that Sirius had to rudely insist Snape not do in his house. Sirius pushed the situation into an argument when it needn't have been. Sirius further tried to escalate the argument into a hexing confrontation, but luckily Arthur came in at that moment.

The point about McGonagall speaking to Harry using very similar words was not to say that Snape was being just as nice as McGonagall (not that I'd call her "nice" exactly), but instead to point out that there was nothing more shown in the text about Snape's comment to excite Sirius' ire than there would be if McGonagall had said the same thing.

I have never ever claimed Snape was nice to Harry, nor that Snape's actions toward Harry were just an act to keep his DE cover.



Solitaire - Jan 11, 2009 9:29 pm (#873 of 2988)  
Wynnleaf, I think it must be understood by Sirius's reaction that Snape took a very condescending and controlling tone. I do not like Sirius's behavior, by any means. In fact, I'd have liked to see him show up Snape by acting like the adult of the two. Alas, he did not. I just think that there was something in the way Snape took charge that must have been offensive, and Snape knew it. Perhaps the very fact of Snape giving Harry an order at all offended Sirius, because he knew how Snape had treated him up to this point.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 11, 2009 10:18 pm (#874 of 2988)  
SIRIUS: Hey Snape, why don't you try pointing this loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger, if you're so curious to know how it works.

[I]That does not correspond to what Sirius said. Snape never knew there was a werewolf at the other end of the tunnel, and Sirius did not tell him so.
- Well, number one, we don't know what Sirius said. But whatever it was Snape was stupid enough to listen to him. And number two, Snape certainly suspected, at the very least, that there was a werewolf at the end of the tunnel, so he wasn't completely ignorant of what could possibly happen. And yet he went there anyway.
I would think anyone who was "habitually" bullied would indeed be extremely suspicious of anything an enemy "suggested" they do. Even if they didn't think the person intended to inflict "mortal harm" they most certainly couldn't have meant any good to happen either.

As for references to Snape sneaking, frankly, I don't feel like looking through all my books. Another time I will.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 12, 2009 5:32 am (#875 of 2988)  
Perhaps I wasn't clear. I never said Snape was nice to Harry or that he wasn't pretty sarcastic and sometimes unfair to him. My point about the incident at Grimmauld Place was regarding Sirius and that Sirius had no reason to leap upon Snape's comment for Harry ("Potter") to sit down as some sort of "order" that Sirius had to rudely insist Snape not do in his house. Sirius pushed the situation into an argument when it needn't have been. Sirius further tried to escalate the argument into a hexing confrontation, but luckily Arthur came in at that moment.-- wynnleaf

Snape sounds rude to me. Whether he was or not, he would do well to recognize that Sirius is Harry's guardian, and he is in Sirius's house, so he needs to at least respect that. He's spoiling for a fight at least as much as Sirius, if not more so.

As for escalating it up to a hex war, I'd say your laying too much blame on Sirius, and not enough on Snape. Snape obviously has his hand grasping his wand in his pocket, and then proceeds to bad mouth Harry. That's what sets off Sirius. Snape's comment was way, way out of line.

It gets me, the gall of Snape. He has James Potter targeted for death by Voldemort. Presumably he's supposed to "regret" his Death Eater days, but then he takes these vicious swipes at the kid he helped orphan. Luckily Sirius doesn't know this (but he knows enough that he is Harry's guardian and not to stand for it). But Snape knows it full well, and yet he can stand in Sirius's kitchen and still be that nasty to Harry and Harry's guardian's face!



Julia H. - Jan 12, 2009 5:35 am (#876 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 13, 2009 4:57 am
If a teacher I disliked came to my house to discuss something and told my child "Sit down, H.", I'm sure I would not tell him/her not to give orders in my house. I would have my opinion but I would want him / her to get to the point as quickly as possible and leave. I would certainly respect the guest in the teacher. However, it would be strange if that teacher called my child "H." because it never happens in schools where we live. If the teacher addressed my child by the name children are usually addressed in that particular school, I don't think I would find it strange or impolite even if it sounded rather official, especially if the "order" in question did not contain anything remotely offensive. ("Get out of here, H." would be much more irritating, for example.) Actually I find it quite normal that a teacher addresses the student in the same way in and out of school. The student also addresses the teacher in the same way.

As for assuming the right to tell the student to sit down: Well, Harry appears to be standing there a bit confused and Sirius is not telling him anything (apparently not even looking at him) but Snape wants to talk to him, that is why he tells him to sit down. In my house, the teacher would not need to tell my child to sit down so that they could talk because I would take care of that sooner.

We don't know what Snape's tone was: JKR only says Snape looked at Harry, and she describes how Sirius was looking at the ceiling while talking to Snape. Later, Snape's tone is described in details, and my conclusion is that the author describes his tone when it is relevant and does not describe it when it is not relevant. So while Snape was official rather than kind to Harry, I do think Sirius overreacted to "Sit down, Potter" by far. Yes, he knows Snape dislikes Harry in general, but why jump down his throat even when there is no specific reason for that and there is a job to do?

Wow, really? You think these children were that informed about the brutal reality of Death Eater life? Sure, they were groomed to believe in the precepts of Voldemort's agenda prior to joining up. But I don't recall that what Voldemort actually had in mind was never made public knowledge prior to his takeover of the ministry. (Quinn)

Here is a point where we might agree! What I said was not how well-informed kids like Draco and Regulus must have been regarding Voldemort's true intentions, I simply said I saw no reason why Snape would have been better informed prior to joining. I don't suppose Voldemort revealed anything more specifically to him than to Regulus or Draco or to other kids.

I would think anyone who was "habitually" bullied would indeed be extremely suspicious of anything an enemy "suggested" they do.

As you yourself say, we don't know how Sirius told it to him. I'm not sure it was just :"Touch that tree and go down that tunnel." I can imagine, for example, Sirius made it a question of courage - "You don't dare try it, do you, Slytherin? We do it every time." (This is how Draco tricks Harry into the Midnight Duel and Harry has no reason to trust Draco.) I agree that Snape should not have listened to Sirius but that does not decrease Sirius's responsibility. It is a question whether Snape expected to see a werewolf there. If he knew something lethal was waiting for him, he would not have gone there unprepared, besides, if he saw Lupin going there with Madam Pomfrey, he must have realized the adults in the school already knew and were keeping Lupin's secret, whatever it was.

It is still Harry's point of view. And since he already knows what's going to happen, and since he already sympathizes with Snape in the situation about to unfold, it makes sense that Harry would think that Snape had "strayed inadvertently".

But still it is JKR finally telling us the truth about Snape - do we assume that what Harry sees in the Pensieve and his conclusions are outright mistaken? If JKR wanted to communicate to us that Snape was following the Marauders intentionally, would she leave / put "strayed inadvertently" in the narration with no correction afterwards? What would be her point? It is not even emphasized that "strayed inadvertently" is Harry's thought - it is the description (by the narrator) of something Harry saw.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 12, 2009 12:41 pm (#877 of 2988)  
It gets me, the gall of Snape. He has James Potter targeted for death by Voldemort. Presumably he's supposed to "regret" his Death Eater days, but then he takes these vicious swipes at the kid he helped orphan. - Couldn't have put it better, Mrs B. Bravo!

It is not even emphasized that "strayed inadvertently" is Harry's thought - it is the description (by the narrator) of something Harry saw. - I think we need to back up here for a minute.

It's important to remember that, in literary analysis, the "author" and the"narrator" are not the same person. It's difficult, sometimes, to reconcile this because we know that, in fact, the author provides all of the words, all of the descriptions, etc. But the author does not exist in the fictional world of the story and the narrator does. The function of the narrator is to provide the reader a link between the fictional world and the real one.

In nearly the entire HP series, the "narrator" is describing the events of the story through Harry's point of view, which is the third-person subjective (or third-person limited) mode. In other words, "The reader learns the events of the narrative through the perceptions of the chosen character" - in this case, Harry.

I know we all already know this, but I thought it bore repeating because, even though it is the author who chooses the words for the narrator, the narrator in the worst memory (either version of it) is still giving us Harry's interpretation of it. Even though the pensieve itself provides an objective record of events, we are still being given Harry's perspective on them. If the Narrator tells us that Snape "strayed inadvertently" close to the Marauders, it is because this is what Harry thinks about it. And Harry already knows the outcome of the events about to unfold; so from his point of view, that is what's happening.

But from my point of view as a reader, I find Snape's proximity to people who supposedly habitually ambush him, and (more importantly) who he believes only very recently attempted to murder him, quite suspect. If we are to believe Harry/the narrator, then it is extremely odd, under those circumstances, that Snape wasn't more wary of his immediate surroundings.

So, either A) he wasn't "habitually" bullied or attacked. Most people would certainly take note of where their habitual attacker had planted himself.
B) he didn't come to the conclusion that Sirius had tried to murder him until much, much later.
C) he was, in actuality, acutely aware of where the marauders were sitting and only feigning his total preoccupation with is exam paper or
D) all of the above.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 12:50 pm (#878 of 2988)  
It is not even emphasized that "strayed inadvertently" is Harry's thought - it is the description (by the narrator) of something Harry saw. - Julia H.

Yes, this is the whole point of having the Pensieve rather than a subjective means of communicating history/memories. I can only assume that when JKR is writing the pensieve memories that she speaks as objectively as humanly possible. For instance, are we to go out on a limb and think that Gaunt's memory of nearly choking Merope when he grabbed the locket around her neck didn't really happen because "Harry" was narrating what he saw in the memory?

It is difficult for me to believe that the Worst Memory, after all we are shown, is still being minimized by folks who do not like Snape. It is worrisome to me that outright public humiliation is viewed by some as the equivalent to following troublemakers who bully you around in order to (rightly so) expose them and tarnish their shiny reputations.

It also is hard to believe folks would say Severus censored the memories he gave Harry so as not to implicate himself in the James/Severus issue. I mean, the man was dying from snake poison. Did he have that much time, energy, and resentment as his dying wish? No, his dying wish was for Harry to know about Sev's love for Lily and for Harry to get the memory about DD telling Sev about Vold's soul bit in Harry.

It gets me, the gall of Snape. He has James Potter targeted for death by Voldemort. Presumably he's supposed to "regret" his Death Eater days, but then he takes these vicious swipes at the kid he helped orphan – Mrs. Brisbee

This, Mrs. Brisbee, is the one thing I wish Severus would have done. Apologized to Harry for being involved in Harry becoming another "abandoned boy" and losing what Severus thought to be such a remarkable woman.



Dryleaves - Jan 12, 2009 12:57 pm (#879 of 2988)  
Yes, we mostly see events from Harry's point of view, and his perception is not always what actually happened. The reason why we know that Harry is sometimes mistaken is because the event is later shown in another light. For example Harry sees Snape murder Dumbledore who is begging for his life, but later he watches Snape's memories which give us another story. If the author chooses for the narrator to confirm, rather than contradict, an earlier perception, I think we may assume that this perception is what the author wanted to convey.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 12, 2009 1:02 pm (#880 of 2988)  
I can only assume that when JKR is writing the pensieve memories that she speaks as objectively as humanly possible - Which is the problem. She is not speaking objectively when she still uses Harry's point of view to relate the events, whether he is witnessing them in the pensieve or not.

While the pensieve does provide an objective record of events for the character who happens to be observing that record, for the reader these events are still filtered through that character's eyes. We still experience the pensieve memories through Harry. It's a very subtle, but extremely important distinction.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 1:52 pm (#881 of 2988)  
She is not speaking objectively when she still uses Harry's point of view to relate the events, whether he is witnessing them in the pensieve or not. - Quinn C.

There are very few instances when the series is NOT from Harry's point of view (as in the first chapters of books 6 and 7). Are we then to assume the entire series is up for debate as to what the author really was trying to convey? This seems unlikely to the point of inconceivable.



TomProffitt - Jan 12, 2009 1:55 pm (#882 of 2988)  
Are we then to assume the entire series is up for debate as to what the author really was trying to convey? This seems unlikely to the point of inconceivable. --- me an my shadow 813

Actually, I think that this is a truism. Debating what exactly Jo meant when writing the entire series is pretty much what this forum does.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 2:12 pm (#883 of 2988)  
I guess when I read a book I give myself to the author and don't presume to know better than them what they meant.

During the previous 6 books, and in the 32 chapters prior to the "grand finale", it could well be proven that JKR was tossing in false leads with which to sort of *bait and switch* us.

However, to me this is not the case with what I can only hope is the long-awaited resolution of a debate, not the continuation of one. Therefore, when JKR uses the word "inadvertently" in this instance, I interpret the word to be chosen to convey what actually happened.

I sense those who don't like Severus are *hell-bent* on clutching to a hope that he was causal in the James/Severus youngsters problems. Oh well.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 12, 2009 2:30 pm (#884 of 2988)  
when JKR uses the word "inadvertently" in this instance, I interpret the word to be chosen to convey what actually happened. - But JKR doesn't use this word. The Narrator does. The Narrator and JKR are not the same person, for the purposes of literary analysis. It's not "presuming to know better than the author". It's simply recognizing the distinction.

The author could have chosen a different narrative voice, but she didn't. She chose to use the third-person subjective/limited. Therefore nearly everything we see is "subject/limited" to the interpretation of her "focal character" of Harry, even events that he witnesses in the "objective" device of the pensieve.



Dryleaves - Jan 12, 2009 2:44 pm (#885 of 2988)  
Quinn, I agree that the author and the narrator are not the same, but do you mean that the author is completely absent from the text? Or that the author's main objective is to describe the narrator, not the events? What do you think the author wants to say when choosing words for the narrator?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 3:10 pm (#886 of 2988)  
Quinn and Tom, I wholeheartedly disagree with you. We'll have to agree to strongly disagree and leave it at that. It concerns me that criticism would be taken to such an extreme extent regarding a writer's intent.



TomProffitt - Jan 12, 2009 3:15 pm (#887 of 2988)  
I sense those who don't like Severus are *hell-bent* on clutching to a hope that he was causal in the James/Severus youngsters problems. --- me and my shadow 813

No, not me at least. I suspect that there was probably enough guilt to go around for both sides in the Marauders v. Snivelus War. I've always assumed that it was mutual disrespect and don't really see any reason to change that opinion.

I think that James probably grew up into a decent human being, despite being a troublemaker as a teenager.

I treat the huge file on James's and Sirius's misdeeds as the same type of slap stick humor that allows the DA to leave the slug-like disfigured bodies of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle in the overhead luggage rack with out causing an up roar. Or for Marietta Edgecombe to never be cured of her acne problem.

I have a low opinion of Snape pretty much through out his whole life. I believe that his culpability (however much it was) in Lily's death wasn't what caused him to change in his heart, only what caused him to change his actions.

I think that Snape's treatment of Harry is inexcusable for an adult, particularly one who has authority over him. (I understand it, but won't excuse it)

I think it was killing Dumbledore that brought about the real change in Snape.

Hell bent on blaming Snape for the trials of his youth, nope, not me. Hold him accountable as an adult and not willing to cut him much slack in interpretation of those events, that's me.

I don't know how well these views hold up by a careful examination of the text, but I think they fit the general tone of the story.



wynnleaf - Jan 12, 2009 3:21 pm (#888 of 2988)  
I'm not sure that it should matter whether or not Snape was "sneaking around" trying to find out bad things the Marauders were doing in order to expose them.

What's wrong with that? What if Snape had overheard their comments to each other the day of the Worst Memory? He already knew about Lupin. Maybe he would have gone to the teachers and told them of the horribly dangerous activities of the Marauders and how they could care less about the people they were endangering. That would have shown us how nasty Snape was right? Uh, no.

Harry goes "sneaking around" trying to find out dirt on Draco. In COS it's not even warrented, yet the book is written as though Harry's still the hero. If it's not wrong for Harry, why for Snape? In HBP, Harry is "sneaking around" trying to find out the nasty stuff Draco is doing and we're okay with that because, sure enough, Draco is really doing something bad. Well, amazing as it may seem to some, the Marauders were really doing some expulsion-worthy stuff and were endangering plenty of innocent lives in the process.



TomProffitt - Jan 12, 2009 3:23 pm (#889 of 2988)  
Quinn and Tom, I wholeheartedly disagree with you. We'll have to agree to strongly disagree and leave it at that. It concerns me that criticism would be taken to such an extreme extent regarding a writer's intent. --- me and my shadow 813

I don't think we're as far apart on interpretation as you think. I'm probably closer to you than Quinn on the interpretation of what took place in a scene, but I'm not willing to extrapolate from a single scene a character's full life (probably an exaggeration, but we do have nothing direct on James Potter between his OWL test and his death five and a half years later) if we are given little other information about them.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 3:26 pm (#890 of 2988)  
MA: One of our Leaky “Ask Jo” poll winners is theotherhermit, she's 50 and lives in a small town in the eastern US. I think this was addressed in the sixth book, but, “Do the memories stored in a Pensieve reflect reality or the views of the person they belong to?”

JKR: It’s reality. It’s important that I have got that across, because Slughorn gave Dumbledore this pathetic cut-and-paste memory. He didn't want to give the real thing, and he very obviously patched it up and cobbled it together. So, what you remember is accurate in the Pensieve.

ES: I was dead wrong about that.

JKR: Really?

ES: I thought for sure that it was your interpretation of it. It didn’t make sense to me to be able to examine your own thoughts from a third-person perspective. It almost feels like you'd be cheating because you'd always be able to look at things from someone else's point of view.

MA: So there are things in there that you haven't noticed personally, but you can go and see yourself?

JKR: Yes, and that's the magic of the Pensieve, that's what brings it alive.

ES: I want one of those!

JKR: Yeah. Otherwise it really would just be like a diary, wouldn’t it? Confined to what you remember. But the Pensieve recreates a moment for you, so you could go into your own memory and relive things that you didn't notice the time. It’s somewhere in your head, which I'm sure it is, in all of our brains. I'm sure if you could access it, things that you don't know you remember are all in there somewhere.

There it is from JKR's non-narrative, non-third-person mouth. She clearly states she does not intend this to be up for interpretation or subjective input on the viewer.

Edit: Just to cover all bases, I understand the argument to be whether *Harry* is interpreting the scene incorrectly, not Severus. In my opinion JKR is saying (and it is her world) that pensieve memories are intended to be taken objectively in order to get her, the author's, intended point across. Because, I have to assume, JKR does have a point she is trying to make by giving us this memory. Again, we'll have to disagree on this and move on...



Quinn Crockett - Jan 12, 2009 4:21 pm (#891 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 12, 2009 4:52 pm
Hell bent on blaming Snape for the trials of his youth, nope, not me. Hold him accountable as an adult and not willing to cut him much slack in interpretation of those events, that's me. - It's me too, although I also think he needs to be held accountable for the decisions he made in his youth as well.

There it is from JKR's non-narrative, non-third-person mouth. - JKR is not the narrator. She is the author. There is a difference.

She clearly states she does not intend this to be up for interpretation or subjective input on the viewer. - She is speaking in reference to how the character should consider what he is observing. While the character is observing the events as they actually occurred - in this fictional world, inside this fictional device - it is still his opinion and feelings on what he observes that are the filter through which the reader is given to understand them.

Dryleaves, you ask a fair, and if I may say, excellent question. I'll have to get back to you shortly on that.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 12, 2009 4:38 pm (#892 of 2988)  
LOL, Quinn, you must be a scientist or a trial lawyer Wink

I enjoy having the pensieve memories there precisely for their objective facts. That way I can keep my own wild imagination in check regarding judging the characters. It's the means by which I can most easily grasp the tolerance and acceptance message that JKR says she is trying to convey.



TomProffitt - Jan 12, 2009 4:56 pm (#893 of 2988)  
I think that there are about three levels of exposition in the series.

The least credible is what one character says about something that happened "off screen." E.g. everything that we know about James and Lily between Snapes Worst Memory and their death scene.

The middle form is seen for the most part from Harry's point of view. At worst, his suspicion of Snape in PS/SS, at best his view point in a finale action scene, like the graveyard scene in GOF.

The most credible is when we receive specific exposition from a character about the nature of the wizarding world or history. Usually, exposition from Dumbledore and Hermione is very reliable, Hermione more so than Dumbledore. Exposition from Ron is also good when referring to Wizarding culture. Exposition from Hagrid is always suspect as he is often wrong and reluctant to speak ill of friends. The exposition from Snape and Vernon Dursley is also suspect as both of them are known liars and prejudiced as well.

The pensieve scenes in my view tend to fall in the more credible of the common type. We're receiving important exposition, so we know it's likely to be accurate, but we also know that it is being interpreted by Harry and that Harry has made mistakes in the past.



wynnleaf - Jan 12, 2009 5:22 pm (#894 of 2988)  
Tom,

I disagree in part.

The least credible is what one character says about something that happened "off screen." (Tom)

I agree that when one character tells us about something that happened off the page, we can only trust it to the extent that evidence supports that particular character's reliability.

E.g. everything that we know about James and Lily between Snapes Worst Memory and their death scene. (Tom)

Oh, I see -- I didn't read this correctly at first. You mean all of those things that we learn from other characters comments, be they Snape, Marauders, teachers, or anyone else. I'm assuming you don't mean pensieve memories, because we get to see those on the page just like anything else we see from Harry's point of view.

The middle form is seen for the most part from Harry's point of view. (Tom)

And this would include all pensieve memories

The most credible is when we receive specific exposition from a character about the nature of the wizarding world or history. Usually, exposition from Dumbledore and Hermione is very reliable, Hermione more so than Dumbledore. (Tom)

While I agree, I think it's important for the sake of the rest of your comments why we can trust those comments. JKR has used certain characters to convey certain "facts" to the reader. We have no reason to believe that all the things Hermione tells us from the books are correct. Hermione believed the potions textbook over the HBP, even though the HBP was actually the better source. It's not that Hermione is herself a perfectly correct character. It's that JKR chose, as the author, to set up Hermione's character as the one who would convey facts from books to both Harry and thereby to the reader. Similarly, Ron has clearly got his biases and isn't some well read genius on the Wizarding World. We trust what he says on Wizarding customs because JKR is using his character to convey this to us and we can tell that we're to accept his comments as the truth. JKR at one point said in interviews that she used DD as well to convey facts to the reader, but after DH it became harder to look back and trust everything he said, even if JKR wants us to believe most of it.

So what's the point of the pensieve as a literary device? Why are we to believe in its veracity? Are we only to believe that characters are supposed to see the memories as objective truth? Or are we also supposed to see them as objective truth? I agree that the narration is often using Harry's understanding of a situation, not a completely objective view. If that's the case, every time we see a character (such as Snape) said to be speaking sarcastically, or angrily or whatever, should we assume that Harry might be completely wrong? Some readers do assume just that and note that Snape in the Spinner's End chapter of HBP seems a lot nicer, and that's perhaps because we're not getting the Harry "spin" on him. Personally, I don't think that's what JKR is doing.

JKR does not stay consistently to Harry's perspective even in chapters where we assume we're staying in that perspective. For instance, in PS/SS, we are without warning given perspective during the Quidditch game and Hermione is trying to burn Snape's robes and save Harry, and Harry can't see any of that. There are actually a number of examples of this. I don't think JKR was just thinking "how Harry would view it" in all of the narration.



Steve Newton - Jan 12, 2009 6:16 pm (#895 of 2988)  
Dryleaves asks "do you mean that the author is completely absent from the text?"

I answer with a wholehearted yes. Art which depends on the artist is flawed art. The art must stand alone.



Julia H. - Jan 12, 2009 6:54 pm (#896 of 2988)  
I know the narrator is not the same as the author. But the author chooses the narrator or narrators, just as the author chooses - and designs - the characters. Harry is not the narrator. The narrator usually describes the events through Harry's eyes but not always. Obviously, there are the chapters in which Harry is not even present. Apart from that, sometimes Harry himself is described (by the narrator) as regards outside appearance, or in his sleep. The Quidditch scene Wynnleaf mentions is another example.

While the character is observing the events as they actually occurred - in this fictional world, inside this fictional device - it is still his opinion and feelings on what he observes that are the filter through which the reader is given to understand them. (Quinn)

This is beginning to sound as if there was an objective truth about the world of Harry Potter outside the series in the real world somewhere, inaccessible to the narrator (who is not Harry). Thinking along the same lines, we can also say that the reader also observes the events presented in the books and these observations filter through the reader's opinion, feelings and prejudice. If Harry's observation of what the author pronounces to be the intended most objective / real narration (I know the author is not the narrator but, as I said, the author chooses the narrator) is not only subjective but directly false (such as the difference between "strayed inadvertently" and "followed them intentionally"), I see no reason to suppose that the reader knows any better.

In fact, when Harry observes the memories in the Pensieve, his own subjective observations are often marked as distinct from the narration itself. Examples:

Harry, the only one left to observe him, recognized Snape's bitter disappointment, and understood that Snape had been planning this moment for a while, and that it had all gone wrong...

...and Harry's whose attention had been focused entirely on the two beside the window, saw his father...

Harry thought of lightning but... /it turns out to be Dumbledore/

... and Harry expected him to protest, but after a long moment he said, "Anything."

Harry seemed to be watching the two men from one end of a long tunnel...

... and so on. My point is that while it is described how Harry is observing the memories, there are specific examples in which he is mistaken and the narrator corrects him. He thinks of lightning but Dumbledore appears, he expects Snape to protest after Dumbledore's question but Snape in fact says "Anything". I assume - since this is the chapter in which the author (not the narrator) resolves a series of important questions - that in the instances in which Harry is not corrected by the narration, his original observation must be correct: Correct in this sense that it is not the opposite of what really happened - the observation may still be subjective but "subjective" and "false" are not the same. (If these two words meant the same, or if one entailed the other, then, to give just one example, all the recollections of the surviving Marauders regarding James, Lily and Snape would be false, too, since they are all subjective recollections.)

If we do not have to believe what Harry observes in the Pensieve on the factual level, we have no reason to believe, for example, that the fallen branch had anything to do with Snape and child magic. Snape denies it, after all, and branches do fall off without magic sometimes. The narrator uses the word "lie" but it is only the way Harry percieves the scene and he is prejudiced against Snape. Or we could assume that Snape - after tearing the photo - does not throw one half under the chest of drawers, but merely drops it by accident, without noticing. In your logic, Quinn, it will be enough if I, the reader, say that I find that quite probable and who is the narrator to mislead me with Harry's subjective observation? Or we could argue the potion the injured Dumbledore got from Snape was not really golden but something brownish, only Harry did not observe it properly. I could mention more examples. In the end, we could perhaps get as far as saying the whole HP saga is nothing but the creation of Harry's subjective imagination, and the reader is free to decide which events should be "true" or "false" and someone might conclude that Lord Voldmort should have been the real hero or it might have been Dumbledore who killed Lily, had it not been for the narrator and Harry's subjective filter. (And the author does not count.)

BTW, I agree with those who say that Snape intentionally following the Marauders does not justify what they do to him afterwards but in this situation, the narrator tells us that he is not "culpable" even in that sense. He strayed there inadvertently, and I believe the narrator in this instance is conveying to us, quite clearly, what the author intends to be a true fact in the objective reality of the novel.



Solitaire - Jan 12, 2009 9:27 pm (#897 of 2988)  
me and my shadow (post #883): I guess when I read a book I give myself to the author and don't presume to know better than them what they meant.

How one interprets a work of fiction such as Harry Potter has precious little to do with presuming to know better than the author what he or she meant. It does have a great deal (and for some readers, everything) to do with what the reader brings to the book in terms of personal experiences, attitudes, beliefs about the author's subject matter, one's personal emotions at the time, and a host of other issues.

I lost my father just two weeks before HBP came out, and that experience is all tied up with my perceptions of Dumbledore, I think. I am, perhaps, less hard and judgmental on him than some readers, because I always saw my dad as a kind of Dumbledore figure. He certainly made mistakes, and I disagreed with him on some pretty core life issues. But he was wise and loving, and I miss being able to talk to him when things come up that bother me. Losing Dumbledore made me feel like I'd lost Dad all over again ... and I always will connect that book with my dad's death.

I have terribly strong, negative feelings about Snape, because I've worked with a few Snapes over the years. I've also had a couple of them as teachers, and I know how they can completely demoralize children and teens with their sarcastic, cutting, hurtful, disparaging comments. And please do not tell me Snape isn't bullying, sarcastic, cutting, hurtful and disparaging ... because he is.

There is one thing about which I am curious, having just reread the Worst Memory scene. The narrative says that "Snape was clearly unpopular." Why would he be unpopular? Just because he is skinny, smart, and not too good-looking? It also says the crowd cheers when, following what appears to be Snape's Sectumsempra spell cast at James, James hangs him upside down. Since Lily is angry, Lupin doesn't join in the laughter, and some kids are described as "apprehensive," why do so many cheer? I find it hard to believe that Lily would be the only one incensed if Snape were being picked on for no reason. Is it possible that some of the cheering kids have been victims of Snape's hexes and are glad to see him get his comeuppance? I agree that the method of it was despicable ... as despicable as some of the things Snape himself has done over the years. But is it possible that some of his peers saw him as getting his just desserts? Just a thought ...



Quinn Crockett - Jan 12, 2009 9:29 pm (#898 of 2988)  
For instance, in PS/SS, we are without warning given perspective during the Quidditch game and Hermione is trying to burn Snape's robes and save Harry, and Harry can't see any of that.[I] -A very valid (and excellent) point. I would argue that, though it seems that Harry does not personally witness these events, because the reader is never actually made privy to the interior thoughts of the other characters, the narrator is still acting from Harry's point of view; and by extension, interpreting the actions of these characters as if Harry had witnessed them. Certainly others may disagree, however.

As for Dryleaves question, I would agree with Steve Newton in that a good author does remain absent from the text. There is an old adage in the film/theatre world: "Never let the audience catch you acting". I think it applies equally to the written word. The author is not part of the story itself.

The function of the narrator is not necessarily to speak for the author, but rather to guide the reader through the world the author has created. In our case, the narrator is primarily guiding us based on what Harry observes, or how Harry interprets what he observes on the reader's behalf. The pensieve memories are never given to us through an "omniscient" narrative perspective. Rather, they are explained for us through Harry's experience. They are, therefore, just as open to interpretation by the reader as anything a particular character might say about another, or about a particular event.

This is not to say that the narrator, as a persona, is deliberately misleading the reader. Rather that the narrator can offer no more information than can be observed - or interpreted - by a specific character. More importantly, the author chooses the narrative voice. In our case, the author has chosen to provide information through the character of Harry. As a result, we as readers are free to disagree with that particular character's assessment of what he observes.

I hope this makes sense. It's a very fine line and difficult to explain.

ETA: I'm sorry for your loss, Solitaire. Thank you for sharing your perspective on how it relates to your interpretation of these novels.

You make a very good point about the worst memory that I have never seen brought up before, and which I cannot help but agree with, based on everything else I have seen from the Snape character. Well done!



Solitaire - Jan 12, 2009 9:53 pm (#899 of 2988)  
Thanks, Quinn. I shared that information (although many here already knew it), because it illustrates my point that things in our own lives often influence how we interpret or react to books and characters--especially those of us who "disappear into our books."

[I]Harry goes "sneaking around" trying to find out dirt on Draco. In COS it's not even warrented, yet the book is written as though Harry's still the hero. If it's not wrong for Harry, why for Snape?


I think one big difference is motive. Snape's motive was to get the Marauders expelled. In CoS, Harry's motive was to try and find out who Slytherin's heir was and who was petrifying Muggle-borns. Draco was shooting off his mouth about what was going on, and Harry was a suspect for something he hadn't even done. I can't really fault him for wanting to find out whether Draco was the heir or not.



mona amon - Jan 12, 2009 11:37 pm (#900 of 2988)  
In our case, the author has chosen to provide information through the character of Harry. As a result, we as readers are free to disagree with that particular character's assessment of what he observes. (Quinn)

But I think you'll agree that every single sentence in the books is the creation of the author, and that it was there for a purpose. What could possibly be the reason for making Harry wrongly interpret Snape's actions as inadvertant? What information is being conveyed to us by that?

Anyway, even if you choose to disregard Harry's interpretation, we still have the objective facts that are not subject to individual interprettation.
Fact #1-Snape was buried in his exam questions. You will probably say he was putting on an act, but for whose benefit? The Marauders, if they notice him, will probably hex him anyway, exam paper or not.
Fact#2- He was 'following' them openly, not jumping from behind one bush to another, or trying to hide in any way.
Fact #3- He is completely unaware of their movements. If he had been snooping, he'd have been watching them. But he doesn't see James and Sirius noticing him or preparing to pounce, till they call out to him.

So we have Harry's interpretation for Snape's actions, but we are also given solid facts to support his interpretation.

The narrative says that "Snape was clearly unpopular." Why would he be unpopular? Just because he is skinny, smart, and not too good-looking?

I think you've answered your own question, Soli. The school playground can be a very unkind place. I do not think we have to look beyond the fact that Snape was a 'greasy-haired oddball' to find reasons for his unpopularity. When the kids cheer when James hangs Snape upside down, they are just displaying typical mob behaviour at its worst, sympathy with the 'winner', the one who holds the power, boos for the loser, a certain sadistic pleasure in seeing another person's humiliation. Quite a few people do not like what they see, but they do not speak up, and cheers speak louder than silence. I think JKR gives us a very realistic picture of a certain type of bullying here, and people's typical reactions to it.


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TomProffitt - Jan 13, 2009 2:43 am (#901 of 2988)  
And this would include all pensieve memories ... --- wynnleaf

In my opinion the pensieve scenes lie in the "middle" part and aren't as clear an exposition as Hermione quoting a book. The problem is "the Harry filter."

Harry has always been a character who jumps to conclusions with out carefully examining the facts. His conclusions are often pretty good, but sometimes he is completely wrong.

I happen to think that the pensieve scenes are more reliable than others for his perspective, but I'm not completely certain of it. For example, following Snape's Worst Memory, Harry's only direct view of his parents, he concludes that his father was a bad person and can't understand how his Mum could marry him unless she were a bad person, too. This is essentially why he risked the wrath of Umbridge to contact Sirius, his whole world had been thrown upside down.

We can conclude, but not be certain, that there was much more to James and Lily than what Harry saw in that scene by the way his parent's friends reacted to Harry's concern. It seems to me that Remus and Sirius didn't grasp Harry's concern because they had a deeper and clearer picture of Lily and James because they had grown up with them.

But it all relies on interpretation of exposition given to us through "the Harry filter." Did Harry draw the right conclusion after witnessing his Dad's bullying? It seems he eventually accepted Remus's and Sirius's view of his parents as being more accurate than the single pensieve scene.

Well, I think I've muddied the water, more than cleared up my viewpoint, but I have to run off to work.



Dryleaves - Jan 13, 2009 3:13 am (#902 of 2988)  
How one interprets a work of fiction such as Harry Potter has precious little to do with presuming to know better than the author what he or she meant. Soli

In a way it maybe does. JKR herself is not heard or seen in the text and none of us can actually know what her intent was when she wrote. We cannot really rely on everything she says in interviews either, but we probably make ourselves an idea of the author’s intent, that is not the same as JKR's intent, and not necessarily the same as the narrator’s intent, but is probably based on our perception of the narrator and probably on other things as well. (These things can really drive you crazy.)

To me there seems to be some sort of purpose with the fact that we have the chance to see the Worst Memory scene twice on different occasions, with the opportunity to get another interpretation of it, but are not really allowed to do that. Instead the previous interpretation is rather being confirmed or at least not being questioned. (But according to what I wrote above this should be my vision of the “author’s” intent, I suppose.)

It does have a great deal (and for some readers, everything) to do with what the reader brings to the book in terms of personal experiences, attitudes, beliefs about the author's subject matter, one's personal emotions at the time, and a host of other issues. Soli

Yes, it does. When I was in my early teens, I was being bullied in school by a group of girls (I was not an outcast, I had friends) and this makes it very difficult for me to see any kind of revenge or justification in the Worst Memory scene. I did not do anything like a Muggle equivalent of hexing people; I was shy, silent and fat, and I was not popular. Most people were decent to me when the group of girls were not present, but when these girls were bullying me (not by violent actions, but by mean comments) people who were otherwise decent were either laughing or silent. I think only my friends would have stood up for me, nobody else. So to me there is a meaning in Snape minding his own business here. I do not see the Marauders’ or the other students’ behaviour as an answer to any specific actions of Snape’s, just as Snape’s bullying of some of his students is not due to the fact that these students actually have done something to deserve it.

We can conclude, but not be certain, that there was much more to James and Lily than what Harry saw in that scene by the way his parent's friends reacted to Harry's concern. It seems to me that Remus and Sirius didn't grasp Harry's concern because they had a deeper and clearer picture of Lily and James because they had grown up with them. Tom

Before watching the Pensieve memory Harry has a very idealised image of his parents. One of my possible interpretations of the purpose of this scene (if I am on to keep on the track from the beginning of this post...) is that it does not show that Harry’s parents were evil instead of good, but that the same people can do both bad things and good things, and that people can be victims in one situation and perpetrators in another. The whole truth about a person is more complicated than it seems at first.



Julia H. - Jan 13, 2009 4:28 am (#903 of 2988)  
I happen to think that the pensieve scenes are more reliable than others for his perspective, but I'm not completely certain of it. For example, following Snape's Worst Memory, Harry's only direct view of his parents, he concludes that his father was a bad person and can't understand how his Mum could marry him unless she were a bad person, too. (Tom)

The point is that neither Harry nor the reader ends up with the picture of James as either a completely bad or a completely good person. Harry's both views of his father (the over-idealizing one and the totally negative one) are corrected in the series. I also gave examples in which Harry has a mistaken assumption as he watches the Pensieve memories and these assumptions get corrected in the narration. "Strayed inadvertently" is the last word about the way Snape is following the Marauders (and it is not even stated before that he was following them intentionally) and whether it is Harry's subjective observation or not, this is what the books (and Harry and the narrator) end up with.

Another example: In OotP, Harry accidentally breaks into Snape's memories. He assumes the adult people he sees there are Snape's parents and the little boy is Snape. We are told that this is what Harry thinks. He could be mistaken, as he makes false assumptions other times as well. However, we are never told at any point in the series that this particular conclusion of Harry's was wrong and that makes me think (and it seems I'm not the only one) that Harry was indeed right this time.

I know subjective interpretation is very important, and it is the reader's job and right. I totally understand the way, as Solitaire writes, our personal experiences shape a novel for us. I have a very similar experience to Solitaire's: About the time when I learned that my mother had only months to live, I was reading a particular book whose plot I had known next to nothing about before I started reading it. It turned out, a very important crisis point in this novel was how a woman died with her daughter by her side. I was weeping as I had never wept over anything that I had read because I was thinking about my own mother. This is all so. I understand some people find it harder to forgive Snape or to forgive James, etc. and it is within the interpretation possibilities of the reader. But assuming that we are left with uncorrected, directly false information at the end of the novel gives the reader a bit too much freedom. Completely unrestricted freedom of interpretation would probably spoil the novel as it is, as the complete absence of any rules would probably spoil any game. If we can deny everything that is not proven to be false and is not confirmed by anything else but Harry's subjective observation (which is the main viewpoint of the novel), then can anyone, please, prove it to me that Snape has ever really cast a loathing look at Harry? Suppose I don't believe it on the basis of Harry's subjective observation or on the basis of any character's subjective observation and I want proof. After all, it is quite possible that Snape - being a remarkably ugly adult - always had a look that gave the impression of being full of loathing when in fact he was not. Even the small disparaging noise he makes in one of the memories comes to us through someone's subjective observation. Is it up to me to believe it or not?



wynnleaf - Jan 13, 2009 4:56 am (#904 of 2988)  
There is one thing about which I am curious, having just reread the Worst Memory scene. The narrative says that "Snape was clearly unpopular." Why would he be unpopular? Just because he is skinny, smart, and not too good-looking? (Solitiare)

Given that this is incredibly common, certainly. I have personally seen many cases where a geekish, homely, scrawny kid is ostracized, especially if he/she has developed a bit of a dark or waspish demeanor, oftentimes as a defense mechanism. It's so very common, it almost seems self-evident that JKR was showing us an example in this incidence. Still, I do realize that some people don't understand that it really happens. When JKR has Harry draw a comparison to himself, we can also recall that Harry had no friends prior to Hogwarts, because Dudley and his gang bullied Harry so much that others were afraid to be Harry's friend. I'm not saying that's exactly the case with Snape. But we know that his supposed Slytherin "friends" weren't committed enough to come help him out, so he appears to not have any really strong friends. And the kids in the crowd appear to me to exhibit very common tendencies -- some are apprehensive (why be apprehensive unless they fear the Marauders extending their attack to others, as James threatens to do to Lily?), and many cheer. It is extremely common for teens to jeer whoever the underdog is, especially if he's socially less acceptable and the "victor" is the athletic, handsome, sports star.



Julia H. - Jan 13, 2009 5:18 am (#905 of 2988)  
I think the similarity between Harry being bullied and Snape being bullied is by no means accidental. Snape is called an "oddball" by Sirius. As for Harry:

At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley's gang hated that odd Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses, and nobody liked to disagree with Dudley's gang.

Like Snape, Harry was also seen as "odd" at school and had no friends because he was hated by a gang. He wore "baggy old clothes", quite similar to the child Snape's. He had broken glasses, which may correspond to Snape's bad teeth. Then in OotP, the similarity is confirmed by Harry's own feelings: ... he knew how it felt to be humiliated in the middle of a circle of onlookers, knew exactly how Snape had felt as his father had taunted him...



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 13, 2009 6:43 am (#906 of 2988)  
There is one thing about which I am curious, having just reread the Worst Memory scene. The narrative says that "Snape was clearly unpopular." Why would he be unpopular? Just because he is skinny, smart, and not too good-looking? It also says the crowd cheers when, following what appears to be Snape's Sectumsempra spell cast at James, James hangs him upside down. Since Lily is angry, Lupin doesn't join in the laughter, and some kids are described as "apprehensive," why do so many cheer? I find it hard to believe that Lily would be the only one incensed if Snape were being picked on for no reason. Is it possible that some of the cheering kids have been victims of Snape's hexes and are glad to see him get his comeuppance? I agree that the method of it was despicable ... as despicable as some of the things Snape himself has done over the years. But is it possible that some of his peers saw him as getting his just desserts? Just a thought ...-- Solitaire

That's the impression I got. I think Snape confirms it while fleeing Hogwarts in HBP, snarking about Harry's father turning his spells against him; and Lily in DH when she reveals that Snape hangs out with the DE wannabes, laughs when they attack people, and uses slurs against his fellow students.

I don't think we should forget that this takes place in the middle of the first Wizarding War, during a time people already fear to say Voldemort's name aloud. I bet the playground at school could be a nasty place during that time.

I think one big difference is motive. Snape's motive was to get the Marauders expelled. In CoS, Harry's motive was to try and find out who Slytherin's heir was and who was petrifying Muggle-borns.

I agree. One thing Rowling stressed over and over across the series is that both what someone does and why they do it matter. Having good intentions matters.



Solitaire - Jan 13, 2009 7:17 am (#907 of 2988)  
Mona, being skinny, smart, and not good looking might not make a kid popular ... but I cannot believe it would make people cheer to see him receive the treatment he did. And, BTW, I do NOT think it was James's finest hour at all. IMO, there is something more than mere dislike or even jealousy to fuel that level of animosity between two people. There was something--some deeper anger--to cause James to react as he did. If not, then he was just evil ... and I do not believe that he was evil, or Lily would never have gotten past it ... and others would not have cared for him, either. I also believe there was some deeper cause for Snape's unpopularity to bring cheers from so many of the onlookers.

we probably make ourselves an idea of the author’s intent, that is not the same as JKR's intent, and not necessarily the same as the narrator’s intent, but is probably based on our perception of the narrator and probably on other things as well.

But Dryleaves, that is not presuming one knows more than the author. It is simply (and probably unconsciously) looking at everything through one's own personal filter. Very few people, IMO, are so detached from their own lives and experiences that they don't color how we see things. In fact, it is a reader's own experiences and history which can make a book resound so strongly with that reader. When I read, I put myself in the character's place and see things through his eyes ... although with my experiences behind them. I'm sure I do not consciously say, "Well, this is what Jo really meant." Rather, I do not stop to think about it, because I probably do not realize (at the time) that I am doing it. It's just how I am.

BTW, I am talking about readers like myself, who tend to disappear into a novel when we read, actually becoming a part of the story. In fact, I think that ability is why some people love reading to a degree that many people cannot understand. It's why some of us are disappointed with the movie versions of the books, because they are not what we'd envisioned when we were "in" the books.

I'm not sure that is clear, but I need to go to work!



Dryleaves - Jan 13, 2009 9:42 am (#908 of 2988)  
Soli, I was writing and thinking at the same time, so I was not very clear and it was all just a thought that was not that clear either, I'm afraid  , but I didn't really mean consciously thinking about what JKR would have meant when reading a HP book. I meant it more like something we do subconsciously when we read, that we pick up something in the text that we perceive as "the author", or a guideline, maybe, that is not necessarily the narrator (but is not the actual author either). But I'm not sure that this is the right term to use for it, maybe it is part of the narrator, after all. But if we see the events mostly through the filter of Harry I think we sometimes perceive some sort of "description" of what kind of filter Harry is and have a feeling of when to trust the filter or not. When the narrator uses the word “sneering” instead of “smiling” when Snape curls his lip, most readers assume that he actually sneers, that this is what is meant to be told about him, and get a certain impression of him that we filter through ourselves and our experiences, of course. But our filter would perhaps work differently if the text said “smile” or if we had perceived the narrator as extraordinarily biased and untrustworthy. ...And I think I just got tangled up here and made nothing any clearer...



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 13, 2009 12:27 pm (#909 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 13, 2009 12:58 pm
BTW, I am talking about readers like myself, who tend to disappear into a novel when we read, actually becoming a part of the story. In fact, I think that ability is why some people love reading to a degree that many people cannot understand. - Solitaire  

Yes, this applies to me -- which is why I am thankful that JKR created an ingenious tool with which to inject objective information into a third-person narrative. Some will say 'this is impossible' and I say 'good luck chasing your own tail'. It's not for me. It reminds me of a Woody Allen School of Psychoanalysis. No thanks. For that line of reasoning there will never be enough "proof" that what is, is. As a reader, I guess we choose to draw the line where it works for us and give us the most depth of insight.

Edit: Sorry to hear of your sad news, Solitaire and Julia H. I lost my father when I was a kid, maybe that's why I have sympathetic leanings towards Severus and even young Tom.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 13, 2009 1:05 pm (#910 of 2988)  
I think I know what you mean, Dryleaves.

But if we see the events mostly through the filter of Harry I think we sometimes perceive some sort of "description" of what kind of filter Harry is and have a feeling of when to trust the filter or not. - Yes, this can pose a problem at times.

The author, in choosing the narrative view, "makes a deal" with the reader as to how the events of the story are going to be described, and if that narrative view suddenly changes, the reader needs to understand why. But if the narrative view is confined to the perspective of a single character, I think part of the "deal" the author makes with the reader is that the events described are equally open to the reader's own interpretation.

In the HP series, this change in narrative view is very rare - and even then we are only given insight into the thoughts of precisely three other characters: Vernon Dursley (PS), Frank Bryce (GF) and the Muggle Prime Minister (HBP). But the author isn't breaking her deal with the reader in doing so because it is necessary for the reader to have the perspectives of these characters in order to better understand the setting, the mood, for the events about to unfold.

Obviously, once Harry comes into the story, the reader must rely on him for information. If he fails to ask pertinent questions or simply to look another direction, the reader must fill in the gaps based on the information that is provided. But does this automatically mean that the reader must also rely on Harry's judgement, his opinion?

In my view, no. The author chose a narrative voice based on the viewpoint of a specific character at the expense of the reader's ability to fully comprehend the motivation of all other characters. Because of this, as a reader, I am free to make my own assessment about those other characters and their motivations based on the same observations as the focal character (Harry). I may or may not agree with his conclusions.



Julia H. - Jan 13, 2009 1:17 pm (#911 of 2988)  
I think Snape confirms it while fleeing Hogwarts in HBP, snarking about Harry's father turning his spells against him; and Lily in DH when she reveals that Snape hangs out with the DE wannabes, laughs when they attack people, and uses slurs against his fellow students. (Mrs Brisbee)

There was something--some deeper anger--to cause James to react as he did. (Solitaire)


I don't think, in the HBP scene, Snape confirms that he did anything to deserve the Marauders' bullying. In the Worst Memory Scene, James gets a chance to give his reason but he does not give any. Readers seem to think the fact that Snape does not protest against Lily's accusation in the scene that follows the Worst Memory means that he has nothing to say. By the same logic, the fact that James does not even allude to the deeper cause of his deeper anger when he is asked must mean he does not have a deeper cause. Lupin and Sirius could also tell Harry what caused James to torment Snape in the Worst Memory. They explain the enmity as : James and Snape hated each other from the moment they set eyes on each other, it was just one of those things, you can understand that, can't you?" That amounts to saying: "No deeper reason." Actually, we also have this:

"This'll liven you up, Padfoot," said James quietly.

"Yeah, said Harry, "but he just attacked Snape for no good reason, just because - well, just because you said you were bored"...

"I'm not proud of it," said Sirius quickly."

It goes to Sirius's credit to acknowledge that but here James's friends, the narrator and the author all miss the second opportunity to give an acceptable reason why James behaved so despicably.

As for Lily, she does not only reveal things about Snape (as mentioned by Mrs Brisbee), she also describes James as hexing anyone who annoys you just because you can. There is also Bertram Aubrey on whom James and Sirius used an illegal hex and no noble reason is ever mentioned why.

Yes, Snape invented dangerous spells but James seems to be the one using spells (including illegal ones) on other people. Some readers take it for granted that James "punished" Snape for inventing Sectumsempra or other spells but it is equally possible that Snape started to invent these weapons because he was being bullied ("four on one") and he could not count on others to help him or on teachers to stop the bullying. What we know from the books is that neither Snape nor his friends ever give a legitimate reason for the Worst Memory. Moreover, James and Sirius appear to enjoy hexing the disarmed Snape, which makes it even likely that it is just bullying nothing else.

I also believe there was some deeper cause for Snape's unpopularity to bring cheers from so many of the onlookers.

But Harry has very similar experiences. Nobody seems to ever stand up for him against Dudley and his gang, not even the teachers. Yet, we know there is no deeper cause to hate Harry.

Dryleaves, the "sneer or smile" is a very good example. Perhaps from now on, I will interpret Snape's "sneers" as smiles. Too bad, poor Harry reached the bad conclusion every time Snape tried an encouraging smile.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 13, 2009 2:06 pm (#912 of 2988)  
My take is that, if Snape's little plan to out Lupin had succeeded, it would have been Lupin experiencing the pubic humiliation down by the lake instead. I think the "deeper anger" some of us are picking up on is simply James's outrage that Snape could be so deliberately hurtful to his friend - who, incidentally, we have no reason to believe had ever personally done anything to Snape - and James wanted Snape to know what that humiliation was like.

When Lily asks "What's he ever done to you?" even in his testosterone-fueled alpha male state, James knows he cannot answer honestly without revealing Lupin's "condition" himself. "Because he exists" is the best he can do without going into the whole long backstory.

Going back to Solitaire's suggestion about the crowd's reaction to Snape's predicament, there is the fact that, when Harry later asks Lupin about the Half Blood Prince, Lupin says that the Levicorpus spell had been very popular; that without warning one often found oneself hoisted into the air. If we are meant to believe that Snape was the inventor of this spell, as the HBP potions book suggests (but which Lupin cautions may not necessarily be true), then it seems just as likely that Snape's other spells may have enjoyed similar "popularity" - even the less innocuous ones such as may have been used on Mary MacDonald. If that is the case, I can see every reason for certain members of the onlooking crowd to rejoice in Snape's comeuppance.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 13, 2009 2:21 pm (#913 of 2988)  
I think the "deeper anger" some of us are picking up on is simply James's outrage that Snape could be so deliberately hurtful to his friend - who, incidentally, we have no reason to believe had ever personally done anything to Snape - and James wanted Snape to know what that humiliation was like.

When Lily asks "What's he ever done to you?" even in his testosterone-fueled alpha male state, James knows he cannot answer honestly without revealing Lupin's "condition" himself. "Because he exists" is the best he can do without going into the whole long backstory. - Quinn C.


The problem for me with this interpretation is: where is the canon to support it? We have canon, albeit subjective, to support Severus minding his own business when the attack occurs. Could you support your take on it with canon?



Quinn Crockett - Jan 13, 2009 2:26 pm (#914 of 2988)  
Check the shrieking shack scene in PA. Lupin explains the whole prank. Then go to Prince's Tale where Snape and Lily talk about it. Snape was sneaking around after them trying to confirm his suspicions about Lupin. But for what purpose? The teachers already knew about it so it could only have been to make Lupin's "furry little problem" known the rest of the school.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 13, 2009 2:44 pm (#915 of 2988)  
Quinn, I wasn’t clear there. Would you cite canon to support your take on James’s motivation for the attack being Remus?

I will reread the PA scene, just to be sure, when I am able.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 13, 2009 3:07 pm (#916 of 2988)  
I don't think, in the HBP scene, Snape confirms that he did anything to deserve the Marauders' bullying. In the Worst Memory Scene, James gets a chance to give his reason but he does not give any.-- Julia H.

Solitaire's question was about why Snape was so unpopular. I simply think that there is plenty of evidence to show that Snape was unpopular for the despicable things he was up to. It has nothing to do with me proving he "deserved" being bullied, and really nothing to do with James's reasoning, either (we do know that part of the reason that James hated Snape was his involvement in the Dark Arts, also that Snape was in Slytherin, that he was sneaking after them trying to get them expelled, likely the bigotry factored in as James seems to object to bigotry, and of course their is the whole Lily factor).

But let's forget James for a minute, and focus on why so much of the rest of the school didn't like him. I'm simply trying to point out that Snape was inventing spells for enemies, his specialty was Sectumsempra, he was hanging around with Death Eater wannabes and laughing it up when they attacked people, and he's a bigot who goes around calling people a volatile slur that's charged with disturbing connotations during a time when people of that ilk and their defenders are being attacked or murdered. I don't think it too surprising that he was unpopular. If James flew away to the moon and never came back he'd still be unpopular, because the reasons that the other students didn't like him had nothing to do with James.



Julia H. - Jan 13, 2009 3:19 pm (#917 of 2988)  
My take is that, if Snape's little plan to out Lupin had succeeded, it would have been Lupin experiencing the public humiliation down by the lake instead. (Quinn)

I'm not so sure about that, it is just one of the possible theories but let's see: Do you think James similarly "punished" Sirius publicly for helping Snape discover and possibly expose Lupin's secret and for almost helping Lupin murder or at least bite someone when they were supposed to help him avoid this? If anything, a werewolf bite would have surely exposed Lupin's secret. Did James do the same to Sirius as to Snape?

When Lily asks "What's he ever done to you?" even in his testosterone-fueled alpha male state, James knows he cannot answer honestly without revealing Lupin's "condition" himself.

Yes, he can. He could allude to Snape having done something in a "this is between us" way. That would be enough for the reader. There is also the fact that the adult Lupin and Sirius do not give Harry this explanation either, although they could. As for keeping Lupin's secret: I wonder how Lily learned that James had saved Snape's life. Since Lily seemed to think James had acted heroically, it is unlikely that she had heard it from Snape. So it must have been either Sirius or James (I don't think Lupin wanted to talk about the incident). Even if they did not mention Lupin's condition exactly, was it in their friend's best interest to discuss the incident at all with anybody? Yet, James (or Sirius) overlooked the safety of Lupin's secret for the sake of bragging about his (James's) heroism.

I just don't see that even being angry about Lupin means James is acting with chivalrous justice or that he is acting any less despicably. For one thing, Lupin did not experience any humiliation, so the harm to him is only hypothetical, while Snape's is absolutely real. Secondly, in what almost happened, as I said, Sirius played his part as well, yet Sirius is "punishing" Snape, too. Thirdly and most importantly, Dumbledore had already learned what had happened (at least Snape's part of it) and probably decided on punishment as he found it best. He had also sworn Snape to secrecy to keep Lupin safe. There was no need for James to further punish Snape or to further make him want to retaliate and I don't think it served Lupin's interest at all.

Mona has already given several quotes, each of which strongly implies that similar attacks happened before (like Lupin's and Pettigrew's anticipation of what was going to happen). How many times were they to punish Snape?

Another thing is that it seems quite clear to me that James is treating Snape as a rival for Lily's attention. He glances towards the girls at the beginning of the fun as if expecting them - or just one of them? - to watch. As Snape is hanging upside down deeply humiliated and laughed at, James is asking Lily to date him - in exchange for letting Snape go. His purpose seems very much to be to destroy Snape's dignity especially in front of the girl James likes, to show that he is the strong one, the winner and the other one is a loser, not even able to defend himself.

Lupin says that the Levicorpus spell had been very popular...

But he has no idea who invented it. It does not seem to be a well-known fact. Snape may have invented it but the spell is not associated immediately with his name either as the inventor or the top user.



Julia H. - Jan 13, 2009 3:33 pm (#918 of 2988)  
Mrs Brisbee,

Snape is never shown to be agressive towards fellow-students apart form using bad language, which is bad and yes, he calls Mulciber's action "a laugh", bad again. He invented spells but it does not seem to have been general knowledge - and I don't think he could use (and regularly!) something as dangerous as Sectumsempra at school without being expelled. As for Voldemort, others have said that Voldemort's true intentions may not have been that well known to the general public at the time and this opinion is supported by quotes in the books.

However: James and Sirius are shown to be agressive towards other students (apparently not only towards Snape), they do not use the M-word but they use other words to insult others, they "hex people because they can", they use illegal hexes, the two of them attack one person and torment a disarmed enemy and they can certainly laugh at the suffering they cause (in accordance with some theories about their motivation, they seem to be revengeful), yet James and Sirius are said to be popular.

It does seem that being handsome and self-confident and athletic and successful and coming from the right section of society have more to do with popularity than other, more important qualities.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 13, 2009 4:07 pm (#919 of 2988)  
yes, he calls Mulciber's action "a laugh" - Julia H.

Which, incidentally, is an echo (and foreshadow) of Ron's using it in HBP regarding something George and Fred did. Can't recall exactly what it was (anyone care to quote it?), but I remember Ron's phrase *it was just a laugh* being the same as Severus's.  



TomProffitt - Jan 13, 2009 4:42 pm (#920 of 2988)  
It does seem that being handsome and self-confident and athletic and successful and coming from the right section of society have more to do with popularity than other, more important qualities. --- Julia H.

I'm not really interested in defending James at age 16 or earlier. I haven't seen a lot to like, and I haven't seen too much to be mitigated if we had other sources, or for that matter confirmed to be worse. The information is scant. I have no dog in this fight.

In reference to my quoting of Julia H. One of my best friends in High School was short, Jewish, heavily marred by acne, unathletic, extremely geeky (we played D&D together), bookish (graduated 3rd in the class, would've been valedictorian if he hadn't been a transfer student), pretty much about as bad a set of marks for popularity as you can get. But he was probably one of the most popular people in my graduating class and he did it all on strength of character and personality.

So, I kind of don't accept stereo-types as excuses or explanations very easily, especially from a writer of Jo's caliber who enjoys standing stereo-types on their heads from time to time.



Julia H. - Jan 13, 2009 5:10 pm (#921 of 2988)  
Tom,

I don't know if I was using stereotypes. I certainly believe people like your friend exist but I don't think it makes my statement untrue.

My point is that James, Sirius and Snape are at the same school. Simply going by agression and by their behaviour towards their school-mates, they should be similarly liked or disliked by others (i.e., by the same people). Snape is certainly not shown to be more agressive than James and Sirius. Yet, Snape is unpopular, James and Sirius are popular. We are told (repeatedly) about such differences as looks, family background, social status, wealth and the (I think) consequent differences such as being "odd" versus being "confident" etc.

As for JKR, she also seems to show, in the Muggle school, Dudley is more popular than Harry, even though Harry is infinitely more admirable but he is thought to be odd and known to be bullied.

Perhaps what counts most (and I don't know if that applies to your friend or not) is what the person considers himself to be. Does the person have a basically positive image of himself (herself) or not? Do you believe you are an oddball or do you believe you have every chance to be accepted and liked? These feelings have a lot to do with the factors I mentioned and that you quoted and even more to do with the family background and early experiences ("adored" versus "neglected"). We see James makes friends easily, while Snape is hiding in the bush, watching the child he wants to be friends with, making plans to introduce himself. We know he never tells Lily about his feelings for her, while James asks Lily to date him in a rather casual way. We see James and Sirius are totally confident after their DADA exam, finishing it early and saying it was a "piece of cake". Snape, though he has written far more detailed answers than the others, is writing until the last moment and is still thinking about the questions (and probably the answers he gave) when others have already forgotten the exam. It implies insecurity and a need to prove himself as well as fear of making mistakes. James and Sirius don't seem to be insecure or in need of proving anything - they are just cool as they are. This attitude towards yourself shows, other children will percieve it and treat you accordingly. This is not a stereotype but psychology.



tandaradei - Jan 13, 2009 5:25 pm (#922 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 13, 2009 6:09 pm
I lurk & don’t participate in this thread more than most, but I want to declare one caution, pertaining to some of the vigorous debates I’ve been enjoying here recently.

Jo produces an entertaining and humorous persona in this series, which inevitably involves ludicrous exaggerations. These exaggerated moments are fine within themselves and wonderful for humor; but I’d bet we all would agree that such exaggerations should not be taken seriously to the point of involving deep and serious psychological analysis.

I loved Laurel and Hardy, and also those extremely hard working actors who comprised the Three Stooges; yet I’d bet that if we saw most of their shenanigans in real life, that they’d have to be put into prison. Same with Wiley E. Coyote.

I will forever be alarmed and ashamed of my original interpretations of Snape. But even in that previous life, when I thought Snape very possibly the most evil person alive, more evil even than Voldemort … even then I thought his irascible mannerisms and asides to comprise those very necessary exaggerations for the well-being of a story – the sort of pepper, if you will, that one must add salt to, to make a savory stew.

Here’s an example of exaggeration: Professor Lockhart debones Harry. Well, its funny, but if someone did this in real life I’d bet there’d be million dollar lawsuits within 24 hours, if only for demonstrated incompetence. But in the story of course we just laugh it off.

Why was Harry so delighted with Hogwarts? Because IMO this kind of thing happened all the time and was considered natural – much like how Wiley E Coyote constantly got smashed but got up, dusted himself off, and went back for more. For a kid this kind of thing would just be great.

As to James I do think he is presented as something of a rake. Snape is presented in Harry’s eyes as basically evil; and Dumbledore appears something between a father and an angel, or Moses (or maybe Merlin.) And because of Jo’s humor these things, erm, get exaggerated. But in the end, much of what I said ends up on its ear, so Jo is really trying to tell us something a bit different about people, isn't she?

I’m not saying I disagree at all with most of the conclusions made so far; they make especially good sense on many levels. I’m only thinking that because of the nature of this very entertaining work involving magic, that we must make more than the usual allowances for extra-strong actions by the characters. They must be seen as pointers, not actions put into scrutiny in a court of law.

Julia, I enjoy your meditations perhaps the most; I do think much that is extracted from these characters can have long-reaching implications, so everyone please don't be offended. I'm just a bit hesitant to use singular actions in this series as signature ones for determining a characters goodness or evil-ness.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 13, 2009 6:10 pm (#923 of 2988)  
The echo I referred to in an earlier post is as follows (I'm sure you've covered it at some point in the last 18 months, but here goes)

'It was a laugh!' said Ron, upending a ketchup bottle over his sausages. 'Just a laugh, Hermione, that's all!'

'Dangling people upside down by the ankle?' said Hermione. 'Who puts their time and energy into making up spells like that?'

'Fred and George,' said Ron, shrugging, 'it's their kind of thing. And, er -'

'My dad,' said Harry.

So we're left with the question of what was done to MaryMacdonald? Obviously, it was worse than Levicorpus, because Lily ultimately found that amusing despite her grand effort not to.

(edited for my chronically sloppy grammar)



TomProffitt - Jan 13, 2009 6:21 pm (#924 of 2988)  
Lily thought that it was dark magic, but that really doesn't tell us a whole lot. Jo's definitions of hexes, curses, and Dark magic, seem pretty muddy and blurry to me (and I know she actually defined them for us, too). So, it's possible it was just a really sick but harmless joke, but could have just as well been a very evil joke that landed someone in the hospital wing.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 13, 2009 6:45 pm (#925 of 2988)  
Tom, I do think it was probably pretty bad, possibly Sectumsempra or along those lines. I don't think Lily was as Hermione-ish about "practical jokes" (I never understood that phrase) and I like the Lily character so much I'll assume if she drew the line on it, I probably would have as well.



wynnleaf - Jan 13, 2009 7:03 pm (#926 of 2988)  
Tom, I do think it was probably pretty bad, possibly Sectumsempra or along those lines. (me and my shadow)

A problem with it being as bad as Sectumsempra is that using Sectumsempra was an expulsion-worthy offense. McGonagall said so. Harry of course wasn't expelled, but that would have put him into danger, and anyway the teachers and DD probably thought it may have been related to Draco on his murderous quest. But if a student just used something that bad on a student as we're given to think happened to Mary McDonald, I think the student would likely be expelled. And that doesn't appear to have happened, as it wasn't mentioned, nor even any of the teacher's reaction, punishment or whatever.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 13, 2009 7:37 pm (#927 of 2988)  
True, wynnleaf. It's interesting that Lily says

'D'you know what he tried to do to Mary Macdonald the other day?'

It seems Mulciber attempted something, but did it actually hit her? I wonder if a few kids witnessed it but no teachers. If no harm came to her, is it possible no one went to a teacher about it? Even so, it seems unlikely if a rumour traveled through Hogwarts that a teacher wouldn't catch wind of it.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 13, 2009 8:23 pm (#928 of 2988)  
Snape is never shown to be agressive towards fellow-students apart form using bad language, which is bad and yes, he calls Mulciber's action "a laugh", bad again. He invented spells but it does not seem to have been general knowledge - and I don't think he could use (and regularly!) something as dangerous as Sectumsempra at school without being expelled.-- Julia H.

"Mudblood" is an agressive word. It implies that the person it is flung at should be at the very least stripped of all rights, and at worst tortured and murdered along with their family. Joining up with the Junior Death Eater presents you as strongly favoring the torture and murder camp. It is a threat everytime it is used, as is supporting the Junior Death Eaters when they attack students. Snape was also known for his love of Dark Arts. He also had hexes and jinxes scribbled in his potion book (despite the book being sixth year, we see Levicorpus and possibly Sectumsempra in action at the end of fifth year). I think it a stretch to assume Snape is never using these spells or dark Arts, but that everyone knows about it anyway. So, in my opinion he has presented himself as a threat towards the other students.

As for Voldemort, others have said that Voldemort's true intentions may not have been that well known to the general public at the time and this opinion is supported by quotes in the books.

By this time Voldemort is called He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, thus demonstrating that people already fear to speak his name. The Death Eaters are a known entity. What people assumed about Voldemort's true intention is not clearly described. We see that people like Snape and Regulus balk when someone they cared about was directly threatened, but not particularly caring when it was those other people. So perhaps it was simply that Voldemort's casual supporters weren't expecting themselves to suffer, just the Mudbloods and Blood Traitors. Molly and Arthur have already eloped at this time, as were many others because of the war. I think that many people could see full well what was going on.

However: James and Sirius are shown to be agressive towards other students (apparently not only towards Snape), they do not use the M-word but they use other words to insult others, they "hex people because they can", they use illegal hexes, the two of them attack one person and torment a disarmed enemy and they can certainly laugh at the suffering they cause (in accordance with some theories about their motivation, they seem to be revengeful), yet James and Sirius are said to be popular.

I think intent matters. I doubt that the general populace sees their hexing as serious because it doesn't come with the implied desire to do intentional harm that aspiring to be a Death Eater suggests, or calling someone "a filthy little Mudblood" does.

It does seem that being handsome and self-confident and athletic and successful and coming from the right section of society have more to do with popularity than other, more important qualities.

Let us have James take Snape's place. James now is into Dark Arts. He calls other students "filthy little Mudblood." he has joined up with the Death Eater wannabes. In your scenario, Julia, he is just as popular as before. I disagree. I don't think the same group of students would be cheering him on. He might be very popular within his new Death Eater gang, though, as he is both charismatic and a Pure Blood. But I don't think we can gauge the reaction of the rest of the school as if there wasn't a war going on, it wasn't affecting them in any way, and they had no opinion on the matter. Once someone chooses a side in a war, people are going to judge them on it.



Solitaire - Jan 13, 2009 8:45 pm (#929 of 2988)  
MAMS813, I truly think many--if not most--of the posters on this forum probably do the same thing you and I do when we read a really absorbing novel. Otherwise, they wouldn't be here! LOL

About how I tend to interpret things ... I read the first two novels before I saw any of the movies--although the movies were already out, I think--and I remember thinking that Alan Rickman's Snape wasn't nearly nasty enough. From my first reading of the book, I could picture Snape and hear him in my head every time he spoke, and I really did hear the "sneer in his voice."

Julia, just because Snape and James do not give "real" (IMO) reasons for their hatred of each other doesn't mean there aren't any real reasons. I think there must be deeper reasons on both sides that we do not know, and Jo does not feel we need to know them. I do have to say, though, that in Snape's shoes, if I were as seriously and continuously bullied by James and Sirius as some suggest Snape to have been, I certainly would have known where my tormentors were at all times, and I'd have made sure I was not in their vicinity when they were idle. If Snape truly didn't know they were there, then he can't have been too concerned about them. Then again,, maybe he was just "playing possum"--knowing very well where they were and waiting for an opportunity to use his Sectumsempra! spell on James.

Nobody seems to ever stand up for him against Dudley and his gang, not even the teachers. Yet, we know there is no deeper cause to hate Harry.

Dudley is more popular than Harry, even though Harry is infinitely more admirable but he is thought to be odd and known to be bullied.


Of course, Dudley's gang is going to stand by him. As to the other kids, the narrator indicates that they are too afraid of Dudley's gang to stick up for Harry. I can't find any description of Dudley as popular. There is a big difference between failing to stick up for someone and actually participating by laughing and cheering. The fact that Lily did stand up for Snape and nothing happened to her suggests to me that no one was particularly afraid of James.

Quinn: James knows he cannot answer honestly without revealing Lupin's "condition" himself.

Knowing the level of loyalty among the Marauders (three of them, at least), that sounds like a perfectly plausible explanation. In fact, it would explain a lot about that confrontation. Notice that Lupin never says a thing during that confrontation. Perhaps he is afraid that, if he speaks up, Snape will start in on what he suspects of him. It's obvious that Lupin is upset during the confrontation, yet he does not say anything. Is he afraid that, in the heat of the moment, something will inadvertently be spilled by James?

Do you think James similarly "punished" Sirius publicly for helping Snape discover and possibly expose Lupin's secret

It's hard to say, but I can see him giving Sirius a good chewing-out.

As to no one knowing that Snape was the "father" of the Levicorpus spell ... wasn't it one of the ones labeled "nonverbal"? Perhaps he practiced it without letting people know he was the one doing it. We already know the twins were quite adept at disarming Zacharias Smith (during the first DA meeting) with no one (but Harry) figuring out how it was happening. I can just see Snape "innocently" walking down the corridor, quietly and subtly aiming his wand here and there, wordlessly casting his Levicorpus! spell and leaving various victims hanging in the air ... and probably dropping on their heads when he later released them. It works for me!

Snape is never shown to be agressive towards fellow-students apart form using bad language

No, he saves his aggression for kids who can't fight back.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 13, 2009 10:17 pm (#930 of 2988)  
Do you think James similarly "punished" Sirius publicly for helping Snape discover and possibly expose Lupin's secret and for almost helping Lupin murder or at least bite someone when they were supposed to help him avoid this? If anything, a werewolf bite would have surely exposed Lupin's secret. Did James do the same to Sirius as to Snape?

I think that, if my suggestion about James's motivation for the worst memory attack were true, it's pretty obvious that James wouldn't have done that. But I agree with Solitaire that James very likely had some pretty strong words for Sirius regarding his part in the Prank.

Yet, James (or Sirius) overlooked the safety of Lupin's secret for the sake of bragging about his (James's) heroism. - You're making an assumption here. Lily does not reveal where she heard the information. Being in the same House, it could be that she simply overheard the discussion between James and Sirius about how careless/thoughtless/impetuous Sirius had been in attempting to set Snape up.

I just don't see that even being angry about Lupin means James is acting with chivalrous justice or that he is acting any less despicably - Not remotely what I said. I merely offered an explanation for the "deeper anger" James seems to be taking out on Snape.

Snape is never shown to be agressive towards fellow-students apart form using bad language - Calling someone a racial epithet is beyond mere "bad language". It is hate speech - particularly, as Mrs Brisbee points out, when used at a time when those who regularly utter such hateful remarks are supportive of a genocidal agenda.

As for the invented spells, because Snape transcribed them in his textbook, there is no reason to think that he didn't, as some point, test them out, as Harry did. "For enemies" is a particularly ominous notation, especially as it was later confirmed by Lupin's assertion that "Sectumsempra was always a specialty of Snape's".


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:49 am

mona amon - Jan 14, 2009 1:19 am (#931 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 14, 2009 2:20 am
But let's forget James for a minute, and focus on why so much of the rest of the school didn't like him. (Mrs Brisbee)

I do not know about 'so much of the rest of the school'. We are not told how many people were there at the time, or what house they belonged to. All the ones that we recognise are Gryfindors. Now I'm not trying to suggest Snape was popular. I just don't think we can assume from that scene that he was as universally disliked as you seem to suggest.

"Mudblood" is an agressive word. It implies that the person it is flung at should be at the very least stripped of all rights, and at worst tortured and murdered along with their family.

That's carrying it a bit too far, I feel. It could imply 'you come from a race that I am contemptuous of'. Not good, but not as bad as 'stripped of all rights' etc. Anyway not everyone who uses an offensive word is aware of the full implications of that word, especially kids."But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus". I take Lily's remark to mean Snape was using this offensive way of referring to Muggle-borns, along with the rest of his friends, and not actually calling out to them by this name (ie. not flinging it at them as he had done to Lily). If he had, would Lily have tolerated it until he used it on her?

Mrs Brisbee, your post seems to imply that it was a well known fact around the school that Snape was a DE wannabe. I do not think it was the case. Only Lily was aware of this, being his close friend. Certainly James and the other Marauders did not know anything about it.

Mona, being skinny, smart, and not good looking might not make a kid popular ... but I cannot believe it would make people cheer to see him receive the treatment he did. And, BTW, I do NOT think it was James's finest hour at all. IMO, there is something more than mere dislike or even jealousy to fuel that level of animosity between two people. There was something--some deeper anger--to cause James to react as he did. If not, then he was just evil ... and I do not believe that he was evil, or Lily would never have gotten past it ... and others would not have cared for him, either. I also believe there was some deeper cause for Snape's unpopularity to bring cheers from so many of the onlookers. (Soli)

Soli, I could be wrong, but you remind me of Harry after he witnessed the Memory. He too does not want to believe that his father was quite as bad as that, and tries to find deeper reasons for his father treating Snape the way he does. But, biased as he is against Snape, he cannot find any. So he risks expulsion or worse, using Umbridge's fire to contact Lupin and Sirius in the hope that they at least would provide him with 'deeper reasons'. But they are not able to do so. Eventually I suppose Harry puts the whole thing into some sort of perspective, and decides not to judge his father from that memory. But we are not shown the process.

And no, I do not think what we see in the Pensieve shows that James was evil. He was doing a bad thing and was not very nice, but evil, no. I have seen so many bullies and other not so nice kids grow up into perfectly good people. (lol, never thought I'd ever be sticking up for James).

As for the cheers, I do not believe they had that much to do with Snape's unpopularity. The cheers were because James was providing them with an entertaining spectacle, a skinny kid being hung upside down with his greying underpants in full view. They were cheering James for showing off his power (or something like that) over the under dog. I'd say most of Snape's unpopularity at the moment came from the fact that he was the one who was upside down.

Would the crowd have cheered if James had been turned upside down with his underpants showing? Yes, I believe it would, as long as it was a neutral crowd and not entirely composed of James' fan club.

And let's remember that not everyone was cheering. The ones who looked 'apprehensive' when they saw James and Sirius start the attack must have been silent, along with Lupin.

ETA if I were as seriously and continuously bullied by James and Sirius as some suggest Snape to have been, I certainly would have known where my tormentors were at all times, and I'd have made sure I was not in their vicinity when they were idle. If Snape truly didn't know they were there, then he can't have been too concerned about them. Then again,, maybe he was just "playing possum"--knowing very well where they were and waiting for an opportunity to use his Sectumsempra! spell on James. (Soli)

There are several pointers in the Worst Memory itself to show that these attacks were habitual. I've quoted some here mona amon, "+ Severus Snape" #850, 11 Jan 2009 4:04 am. And he was certainly not playing possum. He was there in full view, not hiding or watching them, and he was completely unprepared for the attack. JKR wanted all her actors to be in one place for her big scene, and she provides Snape with a plausible reason for being near the Marauders, he was so immersed in his exam question paper that he did not realise that they were near him when he was alone.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 14, 2009 4:20 am (#932 of 2988)  
I do not know about 'so much of the rest of the school'. We are not told how many people were there at the time, or what house they belonged to. All the ones that we recognise are Gryfindors. Now I'm not trying to suggest Snape was popular. I just don't think we can assume from that scene that he was as universally disliked as you seem to suggest.-- mona amon

Doesn't the text say he was clearly unpopular? The people there seem to be a mostly from the OWL exam, so it would be a mix of Houses from Snape's year. Whatever.

That's carrying it a bit too far, I feel. It could imply 'you come from a race that I am contemptuous of'. Not good, but not as bad as 'stripped of all rights' etc. Anyway not everyone who uses an offensive word is aware of the full implications of that word, especially kids."But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus". I take Lily's remark to mean Snape was using this offensive way of referring to Muggle-borns, along with the rest of his friends, and not actually calling out to them by this name (ie. not flinging it at them as he had done to Lily). If he had, would Lily have tolerated it until he used it on her?

I don't think what I said carries it too far at all. They are in the middle of the first Wizarding War, and that word is a volatile slur. Moreover, since Snape has chosen the Junior Death Eaters, when he says it it means what they mean in their agenda, so it becomes a powerful threat. I think Snape knows what it means, as he sticks to this path well into adulthood, but even if he didn't it is a little much to expect all his classmates to assume he doesn't really mean it and no one should dislike him for such behavior.

Mrs Brisbee, your post seems to imply that it was a well known fact around the school that Snape was a DE wannabe. I do not think it was the case. Only Lily was aware of this, being his close friend. Certainly James and the other Marauders did not know anything about it.

I'm not sure why you say this. Snape hung around with the DE wannabes. I don't see any evidence that this was secret between Snape and Lily. I'm not sure why you say the Mauraders don't know this, or the rest of the school.

It is hate speech - particularly, as Mrs Brisbee points out, when used at a time when those who regularly utter such hateful remarks are supportive of a genocidal agenda.-- Quinn Crockett

Thank you, Quinn Crockett! That's exactly it. Honestly, I'm rather nonplused that so many people can sweep this sort of behavior under the rug!



Julia H. - Jan 14, 2009 5:49 am (#933 of 2988)  
Julia, I enjoy your meditations perhaps the most; I do think much that is extracted from these characters can have long-reaching implications, so everyone please don't be offended. I'm just a bit hesitant to use singular actions in this series as signature ones for determining a characters goodness or evil-ness. (Tandaradei)

Tandaradei, this is the kindest criticism I've ever got on this thread so I am not at all offended. I suppose you are referring to using the Worst Memory Scene as the single main factor determining James's character. I've been thinking about that and you may well be right it is not fair. In my defence I can say that the WMS seems to be James's worst moment to me but the scene is so intensive, so complex and so much happens in it (to put some of the "blame" on Jo) that it is worth volumes as regards meaning and interpretation.

I've been trying to find out why James's behaviour makes me angry. I've never been a victim of bullying so it is not that. But before I get to James, let me get back to Snape (it is his thread anyway).

I know a lot people disagree but I do see Snape the DE (and to some extent even Snape the bullying teacher) at least partly as the product of an extremely disadvantageous situation he started his life with. I know he had choices but I see him as more vulnerable to making bad choices because he lacked most of the essential experience that could have guided him to make the right choices. The teenage Snape was like a plant kept in the dark. In my interpretation this single simile means a lot: Plants need light to survive, to grow, to be healthy, to be beautiful. To me it means Snape was missing something essential that every child needs and should get in order to be able to grow up in a "healthy" way (in the broadest sense of the word).

James, however, had all the advantage in the world: advantages of personality, of family, of wealth and status, of abilities, of looks, of human relationships. It just makes me angry how, how he could lack compassion so much and how he could ever stoop so low that he could do all those despicable and cruel things to someone so much less fortunate than himself, almost regardless how the other one had behaved. It makes me angry even if it happened only once but it seems similar things happened other times as well and I think he did it as part of a love rivalry, not (primarily) because of Snape's dark leanings. I don't know what could justify such behaviour in my eyes (perhaps nothing) but I certainly don't see anything (the various reasons given by various posters included) that could even remotely excuse James for ever forgetting himself so much and ever humiliate in such a way a fellow human being, enemy or not. I don't think Snape deserved it for whatever he had done, but even if he did, things like that simply should not happen. Being on the good side does not give you licence to do bad things, quite on the contrary, I think.

Now, how can I relate James to my life? For certain reasons, as a child, I went for years to the school where both my parents were teachers. One result was they knew my friends more than most parents know their children's friends. They also knew my "enemies", children I disliked and who disliked me. They knew these children as students in their school. I was a very fortunate child because I never missed anything important. My parents - I know it now - always made a point of empathizing with others, who may or may not have been so fortunate. "Yes, I know she is nasty to you but, really, do you know anything about her life?" And they pointed out single-parent families, a visible and incurable skin disease, the state of being an orphan, a desire to be noticed or a need to compensate for something and so on and made me feel compassion towards those who were nasty to me and I saw that my anger was founded on something unimportant in comparison to real problems. When my father saw me kick a friend I was angry with, he asked me afterwards how I could do it. Didn't I see how sad she was after that? And then I realized that though I had thought she deserved that kick, I never meant her to be sad as well, and really I did not notice her sadness while my father did... I was as kind as I could the next time to this friend. And so on.

Now I'm thinking of two HP fans close to me. One of them can often be jealous, impulsive, insecure, wallowing in a mood of "nobody loves me" or in self-doubt, can be over-sensitive, having difficulties finding new friends (but fiercely loyal to the old ones), hating to be different and wanting acceptance and proof of being appreciated all the time. The other one is easy-going, popular in any peer group, finding new friends with surprising ease (without missing the old ones if they disappear), light-heartedly generous, confident and optimistic, taking life as it is, never wishing for impossible things. The first one finds / found it rather difficult to forgive Snape, not for his DE past, but for the way he treated people, his anger, his jealousy, his sarcasm etc. The second one never for a moment believed that Snape could be really bad.



wynnleaf - Jan 14, 2009 6:02 am (#934 of 2988)  
I think a lot of how we view Snape's friendships in school with future Death Eaters and his use of the word mudblood has a lot to do with just how we might assume Voldemort was viewed at that time. If, due to our knowledge of the future, we assume that LV was viewed as an evil mass murderer and the Death Eaters as torturers and murderers and terrorists, then I think we're making a mistake.

Personally, I think the "facts" in the books are conflicted on just how bad LV was viewed at the time that Snape was in school.

We know from Sirius that his parents, even though one might expect them to have deeper knowledge of Dark activities, had no idea of the extremes LV was willing to go to. It wasn't until Regulas got deeply involved that the family really "got it". Since Regulas was younger than Sirius, I think we can gather that LV's more overtly violent activities were not generally known while Snape was in school.

If we look at people killed by the Death Eaters, the killings seem to be almost all after the Marauders had joined the Order, or at least around the same time. My impression is that the primary action of the First LV War was around the last three years of the Potter's lives.

In the first chapter of PS/SS, it is 1981 and DD says, "we've had precious little to celebrate for eleven years." This would suggest that the first war lasted 11 years. But that isn't backed up by anything else in the series. The deaths mentioned all occur in the late 70's. The photo of the Order of the Phoenix includes James and Lily when they were married and everyone else in the Order who subsequently were killed.

Given Sirius' information about people not realizing the true nature of LV's plans until after around the time Regulas joined up, plus the fact that Order deaths took place after the Marauders joined, it seems to me most likely that the overt, more public evil of Voldemort was not publicly known until the very late 70's.

The word "mudblood" was a very nasty term for muggleborns, meaning dirty blood, and certainly Death Eaters used the term. But actually since anyone else who was simply highly prejudiced against muggleborns could also use the word, use of the word does not equate to wanting people dead, tortured, rights taken away, etc. It may mean that to some readers, but that doesn't mean that the characters take it the same way. Hagrid, for instance, when he heard that Draco said it to Hermione, did not act as though Draco was advocating Hermione's torture, death, and so forth. He is angry, certainly, but not to that extent. And when explaining the word to Hermione, Ron says, ‘Mudblood’s a really foul name for someone who is Muggle-born – you know, non-magic parents. There are some wizards – like Malfoy’s family – who think they’re better than everyone else because they’re what people call pure-blood.’ Ron saying that people using the term think they're better is a far cry from saying that people using the term want muggleborns tortured, killed, or their rights taken. And this is after the 1st LV war when Ron says this.

Okay, so my point.

Snape hung out with some kids who wanted to become Death Eaters. Yes. But at the time, what did becoming a Death Eater actually mean to the general populace? The Knights of Walpurgis (original name of the DEs) had evidently been around a very long time and, while many in the WW may have disapproved, they apparently weren't seen as a bunch of terrorists since their members remained in the regular society.

Certainly the Death Eaters were known to be into blood purity issues and must have been known for an interest in Dark Arts (the name Death Eater seems to equate to something Dark). But that doesn't mean that the general public (we're not talking about Dumbledore here), knew of the Death Eaters as some sort of terrorist or even extremist group.

Snape used the word "mudblood". This is similar to racist term, but did not mean that the user wanted to strip the rights from muggleborns or see them tortured and killed. It was a nasty term and did tend to mean that the user thought purebloods were better.



Julia H. - Jan 14, 2009 7:53 am (#935 of 2988)  
"Mudblood" is an agressive word. (Mrs Brisbee)

Yes, I should have said Snape is never shown as physically aggressive. The Marauders are and they are also verbally aggressive. Sure, we know that Snape also hexed James and invented spells but we really have no idea how far he went in actual physical aggression. Since Jo did not show us anything extreme he did, I don't think we have to suppose he was especially aggressive. As for the implications of the "Mudblood" word and the general knowledge about Voldemort and DE's, I agree with Wynnleaf and Mona and since they said it much better than I could, I'm not talking about that.

I can detect a double standard when some posters say that the hexing James did (according to Lily) all about the place is a source of humour or part of the tougher "reality" of wizard life, while any hexing Snape did must be proof of Snape doing something especially hostile or aggressive. Snape is not a DE at this point but a Slytherin hanging out with other Slytherins, rather immature, but there is no reason to treat him as if he had already been killing people.

I think intent matters. I doubt that the general populace sees their hexing as serious because it doesn't come with the implied desire to do intentional harm that aspiring to be a Death Eater suggests, or calling someone "a filthy little Mudblood" does.

I don't know. When I see someone beating up another person, what I think is not that the person who is beating another one is not a criminal and how lucky he has no bad intentions beyond beating up that particular person or he has no desire to do intentional harm and when I see two people beating up one... it would be difficult to think of their more general good intentions.

James is not shown to be hexing and punishing DE kids in general. He is hexing and cursing Snape and we know the enmity between them is personal. We don't see him hexing Mulciber to protect Mary, for example. With the detention records, the reader might have been informed that James and Sirius were habitually hexing future DE's but that is not what we got, instead we got a name never associated with the DE's. Not even Sirius and Lupin say James went about hexing people because he knew they would be DE's later or that he was known to be fighting on the good side as a student.

Anyway, if Snape was worse than the Marauders, then - other things being equal - he could have been very unpopular, while the Marauders could have been rather unpopular (for bullying others). But we get unpopularity on one side and popularity on the other. It is because other things were not equal. (Quidditch, for example.)

Once someone chooses a side in a war, people are going to judge them on it.

I think the choice influencing people's opinion at Hogwarts is made at the age of 11 when you don't know about war and adults' business. If you are Slytherin, students of other houses will not like you, even if you are only 11 and have done nothing yet. Nobody seems to mind Pettigrew, who clearly enjoys watching others tortured and he is as much a future DE as any Slytherins. But Pettigrew is a Gryffindor and he has cool friends. James is not fighting in the war on any sides at this point.

Julia, just because Snape and James do not give "real" (IMO) reasons for their hatred of each other doesn't mean there aren't any real reasons. I think there must be deeper reasons on both sides that we do not know, and Jo does not feel we need to know them. (Solitaire)

It is fair enough to suppose that there were some unknown deeper reasons on both sides. But these reasons being unknown, it is difficult to use them as justification for anything.

... if I were as seriously and continuously bullied by James and Sirius as some suggest Snape to have been, I certainly would have known where my tormentors were at all times, and I'd have made sure I was not in their vicinity when they were idle.

Yes, but can you live all the time watching out for the bullies? Snape could not have stayed all the time, not even all his free time, in the Slytherin common room. The Marauders attacked him in a crowd, not in a deserted corner of the park - if that could happen, how could he make sure to be always in a safe place? Are you forbidden to have anything on your mind, occupying your thoughts, any time, because you always have to watch out in case you are attacked? Can you be blamed for the attack because you went to a place where everyone else went, too? What kind of life is that? But I think hanging out with other Slytherins (older ones?) is a possible response to not being safe whenever he is outside the Slytherin area.

I can't find any description of Dudley as popular.

I only said Dudley was more popular than Harry and I only meant that Dudley had some friends and Harry did not have any friends at all. I think Harry deserved to have friends more than Dudley did, and yet, it was Dudley who had friends, not Harry.

The fact that Lily did stand up for Snape and nothing happened to her suggests to me that no one was particularly afraid of James.

Lily was brave enough to face Voldemort, too. True, nothing happened to her when she stood up for Snape but James was in love with her, after all. It seems to me, James's purpose was to force Lily to choose between the oddball hanging upside down in his grey underpants for everyone to see and laugh and the cool "heroe" who could do all this, entertaining a whole crowd, without fearing punishment or retaliation. James seemed to be rather dismayed to see Lily was not impressed.

I can just see Snape "innocently" walking down the corridor, quietly and subtly aiming his wand here and there, wordlessly casting his Levicorpus! spell and leaving various victims hanging in the air ... and probably dropping on their heads when he later released them. It works for me!

Given Lily's comment about James hexing anyone just because he can, I can see James doing exactly the same.

Snape is never shown to be agressive towards fellow-students apart form using bad language

No, he saves his aggression for kids who can't fight back.


I'm not sure what you mean. Does Snape ever attack anyone who can't fight back? Do we see that? James and Sirius do attack Snape when he can't fight back but we never see Snape do that.

Being in the same House, it could be that she simply overheard the discussion between James and Sirius about how careless/thoughtless/impetuous Sirius had been in attempting to set Snape up. (Quinn)

Even then, it was rather careless - besides, Lily seems to know specifically about James's heroism rather than Sirius setting up Snape. I mean had Lily heard Sirius had set up Snape (her friend) in an incident that could have been lethal for him (or James would not have had to save him), one could think she would have said a few words about that when she next talked to her friend (Snape): If not words of sympathy, then at least words of caution ("I hope next time you"ll know better than listen to him").



mona amon - Jan 14, 2009 8:03 am (#936 of 2988)  
Doesn't the text say he was clearly unpopular? The people there seem to be a mostly from the OWL exam, so it would be a mix of Houses from Snape's year. Whatever. (Mrs Brisbee)

Yes it does say he was clearly unpopular.

This being Hogwarts, if the kids around the lake are a representative sample of the whole school, then he would have been unpopular with three-quarters of them just because he was a Slytherin. Add to that the fact that he was a greasy-haired oddball, and that he was being humiliated by the coolest kids in the year, and we have sufficient reason right there for his unpopularity with that crowd.

If Snape was flinging the word Mudblood at muggleborns, hexing people with dark-arts curses, and spouting DE agenda to such an extent that most of the school clearly despises him, how is it that Lily is still his friend? Why did she not break off with him earlier?

I'm not sure why you say this. Snape hung around with the DE wannabes. I don't see any evidence that this was secret between Snape and Lily. I'm not sure why you say the Mauraders don't know this, or the rest of the school.

But maybe no one knew that the people he hung out with were DE wannabes (except Lily who could have got inside knowledge from things Snape told her). I do not think they would have openly flaunted the fact before Dumbledore and the other teachers.

I don't see any evidence that the Marauders were aware of Snape's activities, whatever they may have been, apart from his being 'upto the eyeballs in the Dark arts'. If they were aware of him using the M-word and wanting to be a DE, I do not see why they never mentioned it. Surely it would have come out sometime, either when they were attacking him, or when Lily stepped in and found fault with James (he is quick to remind her that he would never call her a mudblood, when she says 'you're as bad as him'. Why not mention the other stuff, if he knew about it?), or at least when Lupin and Sirius were given a chance by Harry to explain their view of the Worst Memory incident.

ETA: I don't know what could justify such behaviour in my eyes (perhaps nothing) but I certainly don't see anything (the various reasons given by various posters included) that could even remotely excuse James for ever forgetting himself so much and ever humiliate in such a way a fellow human being, enemy or not. I don't think Snape deserved it for whatever he had done, but even if he did, things like that simply should not happen. Being on the good side does not give you licence to do bad things, quite on the contrary, I think. (Julia)

Well said, Julia!  

EDIT 2: And good post#935!



TomProffitt - Jan 14, 2009 8:48 am (#937 of 2988)  
Does Snape ever attack anyone who can't fight back? Do we see that? --- Julia H.

Snape does this frequently as a teacher. He habitually baits Harry, Ron, and Hermione until one of them gets cheeky or worse and he then dishes out detentions or takes away points.

However, that really doesn't tell us a thing about Snape and James as students.



Solitaire - Jan 14, 2009 12:05 pm (#938 of 2988)  
Mrs. Brisbee said: "Mudblood" is an agressive word. It implies that the person it is flung at should be at the very least stripped of all rights, and at worst tortured and murdered along with their family.

Mona responded: That's carrying it a bit too far


No, Mona, I do not think Mrs. Brisbee is carrying it one bit too far. Jo herself has drawn parallels between the Death Eaters and Hitler's henchmen, and between the Muggle-borns and those persecuted by the Nazis. What else did the Nazis do to Jews, Gypsies, and other "undesirables" but ship them off to death camps and eventually destroy them? As the DEs seemed to have similar sentiments about Muggles in general, I think Mrs. Brisbee's comment is spot-on.

We can agree to disagree on root causes for the hatred, Mona, because I believe that something infintely deeper than "because he exists" has caused James's hatred of Snape. And yes, Mrs. Brisbee, the text says that "Snape was clearly unpopular." That was a direct quote from the Pensieve scene.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 14, 2009 12:32 pm (#939 of 2988)  
"Mudblood" is an agressive word. It implies that the person it is flung at should be at the very least stripped of all rights, and at worst tortured and murdered along with their family.

That's carrying it a bit too far, I feel.
- Wow!

I find it VERY disturbing that people don't seem to have any problem with, and are actually trying to justify, the use of such violent hate speech. Words reflect thoughts and lead to actions.

Only Lily was aware of this, being his close friend. Certainly James and the other Marauders did not know anything about it. - I don't think so. The adult Sirius refers to Snape's group of friends as people "who nearly all became death eaters".

James, however, had all the advantage in the world: advantages of personality, of family, of wealth and status, of abilities, of looks, of human relationships. - Why do people assume James was good looking? Harry is described as being James's doppelganger "but with deliberate mistakes" - and Harry is a scrawny kid with glasses and uncontrollable hair.

Also, the "plant left in the dark" description of Snape is after 5 years of being at Hogwarts for at least 75% of the year. So I don't see how it can be blamed on his home life.

I should have said Snape is never shown as physically aggressive. - What difference does it make? Aggressive in thought is aggressive in deed.

I think intent matters. I doubt that the general populace sees their hexing as serious because it doesn't come with the implied desire to do intentional harm that aspiring to be a Death Eater suggests, or calling someone "a filthy little Mudblood" does.

On "Intent matters": I don't know. When I see someone beating up another person...
- Yes, but we're not talking about the real world. We're talking about a fictional world where people can fall off a building and only have a broken wrist - and even that is something that can be healed almost instantly. In a world where even serious injury is little more than a momentary inconvenience, people have a different view of "intent to harm".

ETA: Dryleaves, if that is the case, clearly this little life lesson did not affect Snape's consideration of others. We know he continued to "harm" others himself.



Dryleaves - Jan 14, 2009 12:48 pm (#940 of 2988)  
In a world where even serious injury is little more than a momentary inconvenience, people have a different view of "intent to harm".

But in the Worst Memory scene Snape is harmed. If language can harm, so can violence, even if the physical injury can be cured in an instant.



wynnleaf - Jan 14, 2009 1:29 pm (#941 of 2988)  
No, Mona, I do not think Mrs. Brisbee is carrying it one bit too far. Jo herself has drawn parallels between the Death Eaters and Hitler's henchmen, and between the Muggle-borns and those persecuted by the Nazis. What else did the Nazis do to Jews, Gypsies, and other "undesirables" but ship them off to death camps and eventually destroy them? As the DEs seemed to have similar sentiments about Muggles in general, I think Mrs. Brisbee's comment is spot-on. (Solitaires)

JKR drew the parallels between DEs and Nazi's, but what's going on here is posters equating one word - "mudblood" - with advocating the most horrific of DE actions. JKR did not draw that correlation. Ron commented in COS about what the word entailed and he certainly didn't take it anywhere nearly that far. He only said it meant that some pureblood wizards thought they were better than muggleborns. Surely if it instead meant that the user advocated torture, killing, or removing muggleborn rights, Ron would have given at least some indication.

I find it VERY disturbing that people don't seem to have any problem with, and are actually trying to justify, the use of such violent hate speech. (Quinn)

Perhaps you could quote someone attempting to "justify" the word mudblood. Actually, I don't think anyone on this forum tries to justify it. I think instead what is going on is that posters who are saying that using the word "mudblood" did not necessarily equate to advocating the torture and death of muggleborns, or at least removing all their rights, are now being told they are "justifying" violent hate speech. JKR simply did not equate the word with anything more than a very hateful racial slur. Sure, the Death Eaters used the word, but that doesn't make the word itself an indicator that the user supports torture and death. One might as well assume, in a real world example, that anyone using racial slurs advocates killing and torture of the slurred racial group. It simply isn't true and fortunately JKR doesn't make that point.

Aggressive in thought is aggressive in deed. (Quinn)

Thank goodness free countries don't have thought police, because that is indeed the rationality in such a step -- that thinking something equates to doing it.

In any case, as Tom has several times pointed out, Snape being verbally aggressive in being sarcastic or even belittling to his students tells us nothing whatsoever about whether he was aggressive toward fellow students while in school.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 14, 2009 2:59 pm (#942 of 2988)  
JKR simply did not equate the word with anything more than a very hateful racial slur. One might as well assume, in a real world example, that anyone using racial slurs advocates killing and torture of the slurred racial group. It simply isn't true - Wow... Just.... WOW!! I am absolutely speechless. I am without speech.

I think instead what is going on is that posters who are saying that using the word "mudblood" did not necessarily equate to advocating the torture and death of muggleborns, or at least removing all their rights, are now being told they are "justifying" violent hate speech. - That's because they are. If people truly don't feel that that's the case, then I can no longer continue to participate in this discussion.



Julia H. - Jan 14, 2009 4:34 pm (#943 of 2988)  
Nobody is justifying the use of hate language here. Not even for Snape. (I, personally, have experienced hearing offensive remarks concerning my nationality so I am not totally ignorant of what it means and the lives of the older generations in my family were very seriously affected by prejudice based on nationality.) But we should not forget that we are talking about adolescents and yes, kids copy the language of adults or of each other not necessarily knowing the full implication of what they are saying. Harry used the Sectumsempra spell without knowing what it would do. He also tried Levicorpus on Ron without knowing what would happen. I know that a spell is not the same as hate language but this, too, implies that the feeling of responsibility (for our words, for example) is not fully developed at this age yet.

Snape uses the M-word against Lily but I don't think it means he wants her to be tortured and killed etc. When he understands that she is danger, he is willing to do anything to save her. Yet, he has called her Mudblood. Draco is another example that shows how much easier it is to use hate language than actually kill. He cannot kill Dumbledore and he is unwilling to identify the Trio, yet throughout his teenage years he has used hate language against them and has joined the DE's as well. The force of the group you belong to also counts at this age very much - unfortunately the M-word seems to be a part of the Slytherin identity and it is possible that for some it does not mean anything more than that. The young DD even makes specific plans against Muggles mainly because he is attracted to a specific person and yet he will become the defender of Muggle rights when he comes to his senses. Using hate language is a dangerous path and it can lead one far away in the wrong direction but when kids do that, they do not necessarily think of or understand what they are really saying.

But in the Worst Memory scene Snape is harmed. If language can harm, so can violence, even if the physical injury can be cured in an instant. (Dryleaves)

Dryleaves, if that is the case, clearly this little life lesson did not affect Snape's consideration of others. We know he continued to "harm" others himself. (Quinn)


Precisely. It is because being harmed does not teach people not to harm others. On the contrary.

I know words can hurt and harm but it would be a strange conclusion if we found words more harmful than deeds. Why does the use of the "Mudblood" word imply a stronger desire to torture and eliminate someone than actually torturing a person and - at least temporarily - depriving him of his dignity and some of his human rights just "because he exists"? Is it because it is not race-oriented but personal? Does it really make it any better? Tricking someone into going to the hiding place of a werewolf, a place of mortal danger, does not imply that the person wants someone to die a most painful death or at least to seriously harm him for the rest of his life? Sirius's trick is often dismissed by saying he did not really thought that Snape might actually die, or that he at most wanted to frighten him or by saying Sirius was a thoughtless, irresponsible teenager, that's all. Did he not know at least as much about werewolves as Snape knew about Voldemort? They were all thoughtless and irresponsible.

Yes, but we're not talking about the real world. We're talking about a fictional world where people can fall off a building and only have a broken wrist - and even that is something that can be healed almost instantly.

It seems we only talk about the real world when it comes to Snape's sins, but not when it comes to the Marauders. It is difficult.

Why do people assume James was good looking?

In comparison with Snape anyway. But it does not really matter, he has enough advantage even without that.

Also, the "plant left in the dark" description of Snape is after 5 years of being at Hogwarts for at least 75% of the year. So I don't see how it can be blamed on his home life.

I did not blame it all on his home life. Apparently, not even Hogwarts gave him what he needed. (Knowing what I know about Slytherin House, I am not surprised.)



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 14, 2009 7:17 pm (#944 of 2988)  
Umm. *awkward silence* I have nothing to contribute here, just a follow up regarding James attacking Severus in Worst Memory because he wanted to punish Severus for trying to get Remus in trouble.

It was suggested by Quinn C. that I go to PoA Shrieking Shack scene and this is all I could come up with (forgive me but I do like my canon so, although it would make it easier if the person making the claim would cite the canon to which they are referring, I will quote the entire passage):

'Severus was very interested in where I went every month,' Lupin told Harry, Ron and Hermione. 'We were in the same year, you know, and we - er - didn't like each other very much. He especially disliked James. Jealous, I think, of James's talent on the Quidditch field... anyway, Snape had seen me crossing the grounds with Madam Pomfrey one evening as she led me toward the Whomping Willow to transform. Sirius thought it would be - er - amusing to tell Snape all he had to do was prod the knot on the tree trunk with a long stick, and he'd be able to get in after me. Well, of course, Snape tried it - if he'd got as far as this house, he'd have met a fully grown werewolf - but your father, who'd heard what Sirius had done, went after Snape and pulled him back, at great risk to his life... '

Given the above, I can understand James was angry because he risked his life to save Severus, and this might cause him to want to punish Sev for being so insistent on following them. It also seems that if Severus saw Madam Pomfrey escorting Remus to the Willow, it would suggest Remus's Head of House or DD already knew about whatever he was "up to". So I can see that James would be resentful.

Edit: I should probably add that I don't personally feel this was the motivation for Worst Memory attack. To me, they were just bored and that's how bullies pass the time.

I have been wondering how Severus's Head of House had no idea he was getting involved with DE's. I guess Sluggy focuses on the rising stars and paid no attention what was going on with those under his charge.

One last thing, regarding what was attempted on Mary Macdonald... It is remotely possible no one knew about it but Lily and Mulciber's friends he bragged to. Here's the canon:

'I only came out because Mary told me you were threatening to sleep here.' - The Prince's Tale

Mary is in Gryffindor and could have been friendly with Lily, telling her in confidence what a nasty Slytherin boy tried to do to her. Any thoughts?



Steve Newton - Jan 14, 2009 7:42 pm (#945 of 2988)  
I just listened to the worst memory chapter tonight. When I listen I usually don't pick up as much as when I read but I wonder, why did the scene start during the exam? The conversation outside would start just as easily without showing it. Talking about questions and ragging on Peter.



wynnleaf - Jan 14, 2009 8:05 pm (#946 of 2988)  
JKR simply did not equate the word with anything more than a very hateful racial slur. One might as well assume, in a real world example, that anyone using racial slurs advocates killing and torture of the slurred racial group. It simply isn't true (me)

Wow... Just.... WOW!! I am absolutely speechless. I am without speech. (Quinn)


Although I would prefer to drop this issue, given the nature of Quinn's comments I suppose I have to respond. I shall attempt to prove my point. In the USA at least, and as I understand it some other western and European countries as well, many people from ethnic and racial groups regularly use very strong slurs toward each other as a sort of casual rudeness/humor. Humorists in various ethnic groups do exactly the same thing and yet are often greatly loved within their own ethnic group. Some might call this a "benign" use of racial slurs. I don't think it's actually benign, because I can't help but feel that it creates the perception among people outside of the racial or ethnic group that the slur really isn't so bad after all. But one thing I certainly think: those people aren't advocating the loss of rights for their own ethnic group, nor are they advocating torture and murder of their own ethnic or racial group. Period.

Between that seemingly benign (although possibly not benign) usage of racial slurs and the use of racial slurs by extremists who seek evil with deadly intent against the race or ethnic group, there is a spectrum of a myriad of reasons why people use such slurs. In general, at the very least they use them to insult and demean, but that is a far cry from torture and kill.

As regards Snape's use of "mudblood" and the comparison of the Marauders willingness to actually torture, publicly humiliate, and deprive someone of their rights, and especially of Sirius' willingness to do something that might end in someone's death, I completely agree with Julia's post.



Solitaire - Jan 14, 2009 8:55 pm (#947 of 2988)  
He only said it meant that some pureblood wizards thought they were better than muggleborns. Surely if it instead meant that the user advocated torture, killing, or removing muggleborn rights, Ron would have given at least some indication.

I think we did have plenty of indication, Wynnleaf. Snape calls her Mudblood. What was the official position of Voldemort--the leader of the DEs? It seems to me that stripping them of their magical lifestyle was the least they could have expected, had he prevailed back then. What did we hear Draco, the son of a prominent DE, continually say about Mudbloods in CoS? He was practically salivating in hopes that a Mudblood would die. What's more, he hoped it would be Hermione Granger. I seriously doubt Draco came to this feeling about Muggle-borns all by himself. His attitude was groomed in him at his father's knee, I think.

In the Magical World--among those who would follow the teachings of Salazar Slytherin (and after him, Voldemort)--labeling someone as a Mudblood is relegating him or her to a group that those who were in control at the time of Lily's youth--and again in DH--view as the enemy. It sounded to me, by what was happening when the kids infiltrated the Ministry, that the very best that Mary Cattermole and others like her could have hoped for was an all-expenses paid trip to Azkaban. That's if they were lucky. I suspect a little "kiss" was waiting for others.

I believe there is evidence aplenty that Mudbloods were in for a very bad time of it.



wynnleaf - Jan 14, 2009 9:17 pm (#948 of 2988)  
I seem to be having an excruciatingly difficult time explaining this.

I did not say Draco was not in favor of death for muggleborns. Nor did I say that LV and Death Eaters weren't in favor of that as well.

What I am saying is that we can see through Ron's explanation of the term that the word was not solely used by people who wanted to kill and torture muggleborns. If it was only used in that context, Ron would have said so.

For instance, Phineas used the word and yet we have no indication that he was in favor of LV or the Death Eaters. Sure, Phineas almost certainly considered himself above muggleborns and he used the word as a slur. But neither Dumbledore's portrait or Snape acted as though Phineas had just demonstrated that he was now cheering for the Death Eater side of the war.

The argument seems to be: if the chief bad guy and his followers use a bad racial slur, every use of that word indicates that the user is following the chief bad guy.

If that's what the word meant, JKR wouldn't have had Ron describe it as he did. As we discussed recently (can't recall which thread) JKR used Ron often to explain facts about wizarding culture. In the COS example, Ron is explaining to Hermione and to the reader what the term meant and the types of people that used it.

One cannot take the fact that LV and Death Eater supporters are shown using the term and leap to the conclusion that Ron was in fact deluded and the term was actually only used by LV supporters, and that therefore use of the word was a clear indication to others that the person was a Death Eater or a DE wannabe.

Phineas is an example of someone who was apparently not supportive of LV, and yet used the word because he seems to have been a bigot. Bigots aren't synonymous with torturers or murderers.



Solitaire - Jan 14, 2009 9:50 pm (#949 of 2988)  
the term that the word was not solely used by people who wanted to kill and torture muggleborns.

The word Jew doesn't mean anything offensive to me or to most of the people I know, other than some of my friends are Jewish and elements of their culture and faith are a bit different from mine. HOWEVER, to the Nazis and a great many others, the word Jew referred to a group of people they felt had no right to exist ... and they systematically went about exterminating the entire Jewish population of Europe.

Jo has said that her terms Mudblood and Half-blood came from terms used by Hitler to denote the number of Jewish parents, grandparents, etc., one had. Even if she hadn't said it, those with any knowledge of the Holocaust would have figured it out on their own. If Jo equates those terms with designations of Jews--and we know the ultimate intended fate for Jews at Hitler's hands--then it must follow that Mudbloods in the Wizarding World might look forward to the same kind of treatment at the hands of some Purebloods as the Jews received from Hitler's regime.

Was everyone who insulted Jews and threw racial epithets at them planning to kill them? No ... but Snape was a DE in Voldemort's inner circle, and we know Voldemort's sentiments. It isn't that you are having difficulty explaining yourself. I understand you ... I just disagree. I'm sorry, but I cannot see it any other way.



TomProffitt - Jan 15, 2009 3:41 am (#950 of 2988)  
I think wynnleaf is correct.

I am 45 and grew up in the American south. I have heard at least 5 different terms that at one time or another were considered appropriate for referring to African Americans. What was acceptable at one point in time would become recognized as a slur later on. However, not everyone catches up with "Political Correctness" as fast as everyone else and I've heard decent folks, like my grandmother, use a word that they shouldn't have and mean nothing by it and I've heard people use a term that was supposedly acceptable and find a way to put enough vitriol into it so that it may as well have been a slur.

I think that Phineas's use of the term "mudblood" shows that it has been around longer that Voldemort and that we can easily conclude that not everyone who uses the term is in favor of the worst depredations of Voldemort. That said, they are still probably prejudiced.

I think Snape's use of the term in SWM indicates only that he is prejudiced. I don't think that we can assume this means he was at the time in favor of a genocidal policy.

By Snape's later actions, becoming a Death Eater and passing on a prophecy in hopes of currying favor from Voldemort should indicate two things to us, though. One, that by the time he was 21 he should have had a good grasp in general of Voldemort's aims, particularly as it related to "Mudbloods." And two, he wasn't particularly opposed to these aims as he continued to seek Voldemort's favor.

All of that said, I don't think use of a slur automatically indicates full support of all the excesses associated with the worst who use it.


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Julia H. - Jan 15, 2009 5:44 am (#951 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 15, 2009 6:53 am
Phineas preceded Dumbledore as Hogwarts headmaster and, if I understand it well, he also preceded Armando Dippet. That means he is at least two "headmaster-generations" before Dumbledore and he still uses the M-word. (I am making the assumption that the portrait behaves as its living original did.) Apparently, the word was used long before Voldemort's time. I am sure it was always a degrading word but it is possible that it was only due to Voldemort that it became associated with killing Muggle-borns. "Mudblood" is quite likely to have been a term to denote people of lower social standing at one time, similar to those used in feudal societies with reference to peasants (vs. aristocrats), for example. In a healthy wizarding society, the word should have become dated, archaic, extinct, as differences of birth should have counted less and less over time. But it was kept alive mainly by those who insisted on perceiving themselves better because of their ancestry. People like Sirius's parents, for example, who did not even become DE's. Voldemort began to use the word in a new sense, making it not only an offensive one but a dangerous label for Muggle-borns but the new shade of meaning (as well as the ideology behind it) takes time to be generally known.

I can see a similarity with the word "Muggle" as well. Wizards have been using this word for centuries, denoting, I think, a group that many (if not most) of them regard as inferior. In DH (and possibly before), Voldemort is using this word as a dangerously derogatory term:

She would have us all mate with Muggles... or, no doubt, werewolves..."

Here, I think the de-humanization of Muggles is quite clear. Of course, good people also use this word but one reason why it takes more time to catch up on the possibly racist connotations of the word is that Muggles are totally excluded from the wizarding society, and they don't know about being labeled and threatened as Muggles, and wizards do not feel the degrading nature of the "Muggle" label first-hand. (Notice the difference between "Muggle" and "Squib": both denote non-magical people, the only difference between them is birth, ancestry.)

Muggle-born wizards are wizards, parts of the wizarding world, so the dangers of the "Mudblood" word are realized by wizards earlier than the dangers of "Muggle". But it is possible that it came with Voldemort's rise and Lily's generation that Muggle-borns started to consciously and openly reject the label. When Snape apologizes to Lily, he seems to be apologizing for using a very rude term but he does not seem to realize that Lily associates this word with something more than rudeness (i.e, direct threat) and Lily certainly does not tell him. Yes, Snape will become a DE and he is on the wrong path already but I don't think he wants Lily to be killed or tortured at any point in his life, which probably means he is not fully aware of Voldemort's intentions or what they imply. JKR says Snape is insecure (and she does describe him as insecure) and wants to be part of something strong, he even hopes to impress Lily that way, which indicates direct misconceptions about Voldemort and his agenda. Having initial misconceptions does not mean he will not be further corrupted when he actually joins but I think it is a gradual process, and here Snape is not at the bottom yet. (For one thing, a fully-fledged DE would not apologize to any Muggle-borns.) It seems the 16-year-old Snape does not find the "Mudblood" word as a derogatory term different from his own "Snivellus", which I am sure he perceives as absolutely degrading and humiliating.

Given the above, I can understand James was angry because he risked his life to save Severus, and this might cause him to want to punish Sev for being so insistent on following them. (Shadow)

Yes, but Sirius, who betrayed Lupin's secret to Snape and made the whole incident possible, is not hanging upside-down next to Snape; in fact, he is participating in punishing him.

Mary is in Gryffindor and could have been friendly with Lily, telling her in confidence what a nasty Slytherin boy tried to do to her. Any thoughts?

All we know is Lily asking Snape if he knows what Mulciber tried to do and Snape acknowledging that he knows and says "it was a laugh". It is not indicated whether he was there or only heard the story from Mulciber and is now repeating his words. If Mary was Lily's friend and she told her what had happened, and if she had seen Lily's other friend (Snape) there, she could have mentioned seeing him to Lily, and then Lily would not ask Snape if he knows. Several scenarios are possible, including the one that Lily herself saw what was happening and she saved Mary (that would be in character with her) and that is why Mulciber only "tried" to do something and then later she asks Snape whether he knows.



mona amon - Jan 15, 2009 6:17 am (#952 of 2988)  
Good points Tom. I completely agree with all of them (including the part about Snape's later actions), and also with Wynnleaf's points.

"Mudblood" is an agressive word. It implies that the person it is flung at should be at the very least stripped of all rights, and at worst tortured and murdered along with their family. (Mrs Brisbee)

That's carrying it a bit too far, I feel.(Me) - Wow!

I find it VERY disturbing that people don't seem to have any problem with, and are actually trying to justify, the use of such violent hate speech. Words reflect thoughts and lead to actions. (Quinn)


I'm afraid, Quinn, that I'll have to disturb you still further, because I stand by what I said. I agree with you that it's hate speech. I completely disagree that if someone (especially a kid) uses this hate word, it automatically follows that he understands the full implications of the term, he understands and endorses the complete agenda of the group which uses the term, and is automatically guilty of all the crimes brought about by that agenda.

If this were so, why not just throw everyone who uses the term into Azkaban without giving it further thought?

What did we hear Draco, the son of a prominent DE, continually say about Mudbloods in CoS? He was practically salivating in hopes that a Mudblood would die. What's more, he hoped it would be Hermione Granger. (Soli)

Draco talks a lot, but later events show that when it comes to reality, Draco cannot bring himself to kill someone, and he hates to watch people getting killed and tortured. So much for words and actions being the same.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 15, 2009 7:12 am (#953 of 2988)  
I think Snape's use of the term in SWM indicates only that he is prejudiced. I don't think that we can assume this means he was at the time in favor of a genocidal policy.-- TomProffitt

Snape isn't just using a slur, though, in quiet, peaceful times. He is habitually using a slur five years into Voldemort's ascent to power, when people are dying, when people are afraid to say Voldemort's name, when the Death Eaters are a known entity, and when he hangs with the Death Eater wannabe gang. Now top that off with his inventing jinxes to use on other students, and his love of the Dark Arts.

Even if I were to grant that Snape is so utterly oblivious that he can't see his behavior as harmful, many are claiming that his behavior has no effect on what his fellow students think of him, as if all the other students must be completely oblivious also, as if they could never perceive Snape's actions as threatening, or understand anything going on in the Wizarding World, and if they don't like him it's not because of anything Snape chooses to do! I absolutely do not understand this argument.



wynnleaf - Jan 15, 2009 7:57 am (#954 of 2988)  
Snape isn't just using a slur, though, in quiet, peaceful times. He is habitually using a slur five years into Voldemort's ascent to power, when people are dying, when people are afraid to say Voldemort's name, when the Death Eaters are a known entity, and when he hangs with the Death Eater wannabe gang. (Mrs Brisbee)

As I've mentioned before, I think the actual timing of what the public really knew and understood about LV and DEs is not clear. Were these war times? Or were they the years leading up to a possible war, when -- as in the rise of other nasty leaders -- the general populace might hear rumors of the evil intent of the rising leader, but they are just rumors, nothing is known for certain, and some people think the rising leader might be not so bad and is just a different political view, nothing to be fearful of.

We actually have no mention of publicly known deaths by LV and DEs until after Lily and the rest had joined the Order. So to say that "people were dying" at DE's hands when Snape was in school is not necessarily true -- or at least it wasn't probably publicly known. After all, in addition to having no record of publicly known deaths prior to the Marauders joining the Order, we have evidence from Sirius that people in the WW didn't actually know the extent of LV's activities or plans.

Voldemort did not "rise to power" in the sense of taking over the Ministry or the WW during that war. What he did was gradually increase the scope of his evil intent and actions, to the point where the Order was formed and began to have serious and deadly actions with the DEs, almost all of which seem to have occurred in the last couple of years before LV's downfall. But that doesn't appear to have occurred back when Snape and other Slytherin friends were using the "mudblood" word around school.

At the point Snape was in school, I'm sure many families were starting to get rather nervous of LV and his DEs (the DEs had been around for years, well before LV, by the way). I'm not sure why or when people started saying "he who must not be named". One gets the impression that no one had ever called LV "Voldemort" yet he'd been active in society, even seeking a job at Hogwarts, while using the name. So if he was accepted enough in society to freely enter Hogwarts and apply for a job, it seems odd that he was feared so much that people didn't say his name. Personally, I think the history of LV between his taking on the name "Voldemort" and the actual start of all-out hostilities with the WW and the Order is pretty sketchy and unclear.

My point is that while Snape was in school there appear to be some kids who felt extremely suspicious of LV and DE, but the public did not generally know exactly what LV stood for at that point (removal of rights, torture and death to muggleborns). Therefore the use of the word "mudblood" at that point need not have had the extreme associations you mention at that point.

If Death Eaters and the word "mudblood" did have such extreme associations, it is shocking that Lily remained friends at all with Snape as soon as he become friends with people who might become DEs. And James' not using "because he supports Death Eaters!" as a reason to attack Snape is equally surprising, especially when it would have behooved him to give a good excuse to Lily for his attack on Snape rather than "because he exists".

Does anyone have a real case -- real evidence -- that while Snape, Lily and the Marauders were in school, there was an active war going on, that LV and DEs were publicly killing and/or torturing muggleborns, and so on?

Yes, DD knew that LV was evil and LV's growing menace would be enough to warrant DD's comment in the first chapter of PS/SS about having nothing to celebrate the last 11 years. But what evidence do we have that the WW considered LV and the DEs a threat to the lives of muggleborns prior to Snape, Lily and the rest leaving school?



mona amon - Jan 15, 2009 8:14 am (#955 of 2988)  
Snape isn't just using a slur, though, in quiet, peaceful times. He is habitually using a slur five years into Voldemort's ascent to power, when people are dying, when people are afraid to say Voldemort's name, when the Death Eaters are a known entity, and when he hangs with the Death Eater wannabe gang. (Mrs Brisbee)

We can only judge by other characters' reactions, just how bad or threatening they thought it was. When Kreacher refers to Hermione as Mudblood in OOTP, all Sirius does is throw him out of the room. And in DH, when the war is in full swing, Harry forbids Kreacher to call anyone "Mudblood' or 'blood traitor', but doesn't seem terribly shocked.

In Snape's schooldays, if it was considered so threatening, why doesn't anyone report him to Dumbledore or any other teacher? Why does Lily wait so long to break off a friendship with one who was threatening people like her? Why doesn't she mention it in the 'I don't like your friends' conversation? Why do the Marauders never say a single word about it?

many are claiming that his behavior has no effect on what his fellow students think of him, as if all the other students must be completely oblivious also, as if they could never perceive Snape's actions as threatening, or understand anything going on in the Wizarding World, and if they don't like him it's not because of anything Snape chooses to do!

Speaking for myself, I'm claiming that there was no 'behaviour', apart from his hanging around with DE wannabes and wanting to be one himself, and it's not such a stretch to imagine that DE wannabes managed to keep their aspirations secret. As you say, there was a war going on, and Hogwarts was in the hands of someone who was on the anti-Voldemort side.

(Cross posted with Wynnleaf.)



Julia H. - Jan 15, 2009 8:20 am (#956 of 2988)  
Even if I were to grant that Snape is so utterly oblivious that he can't see his behavior as harmful, many are claiming that his behavior has no effect on what his fellow students think of him, as if all the other students must be completely oblivious also, as if they could never perceive Snape's actions as threatening, or understand anything going on in the Wizarding World, and if they don't like him it's not because of anything Snape chooses to do! (Mrs Brisbee)

I did not claim that Snape could not be disliked because of his behaviour. I only said if harmful, threatening behaviour (verbal or physical) was the criterion to decide whether someone was popular or not, the Marauders should be similarly disliked (I did not even say "equally", only "similarly"). I understand they did not attack anyone for being Muggleborn but aggression is aggression under whatever pretext. James and Sirius at school are not Order members fighting DE's, they are students bullying other students, not Mulciber and Avery, but Snape and Bertram Aubrey. The fact that some people are cheering at a student being publicly tortured and humiliated (even if he is heavily disliked and with reason) does not imply (to me at least) that these cheering people reject violence, torture and aggressive behaviour. (Take Harry, for example: He hates Snape, he knows his past and he adores his father's memory, yet, far from cheering, he is revolted by seeing Snape tortured and humiliated, because he rejects every form of torture and humiliation.) So no, I don't believe that the ones who cheer when certain people torment certain other people reject aggressive behaviour as such.

Some looked apprehensive, others entertained.

I wonder if those who look apprehensive are the ones who embrace DE ideology and approve of Snape or the ones who truly reject torture and aggression. As for the others: They are entertained. There was a time when the execution of a criminal happened in front of a large audience - anyone could go and watch. I doubt that it was always or even typically a sense of justice that took the onlookers there, rather that it was a form or entertainment.



Solitaire - Jan 15, 2009 8:21 am (#957 of 2988)  
Draco talks a lot, but later events show that when it comes to reality, Draco cannot bring himself to kill someone, and he hates to watch people getting killed and tortured. So much for words and actions being the same.

The Draco we see later is very different from the way Draco was earlier. In CoS, he was not talking about killing Hermione anyway. He was hoping she would be killed ... and I personally believe he meant it.

IN truth, we are never going to come to an agreement about this. If you are someone with friends and family who lived (or died) through the Holocaust--or any kind of ethnic persecution, which is sadly alive and kicking today in parts of our world--you simply approach all of this with a mindset that sees something very different than a mere ethnic slur. What is more, I think Jo intended us to see more than mere ethnic slurs. I've already stated my reasons for believing this, and so far, I've not seen anything that has made me change my mind.



mona amon - Jan 15, 2009 8:36 am (#958 of 2988)  
He's a different Draco only because he has had to confront the reality of the ideology that he has been mouthing. And I sincerely believe that if someone had actually got killed, Hermione or anyone else, he would have been just as horrified as he was when Voldemort killed Charity Burbage.

I'm not a big fan of Draco. I'm just going by what we are shown in the books.



wynnleaf - Jan 15, 2009 9:12 am (#959 of 2988)  
Solitaire,

I really don't understand your example of the use of "Jew" during WWII. The implication in your comparison of the word to the use of "mudblood" is that the use of the word "Jew" was so derogatory and had such connotations of desiring the death and destruction of them as a people, that anyone using the word during that time would be using it as a racial slur and considered to support the Nazi intent for the Jewish people. In other words, according to the logic of your argument, if an average citizen in Germany during WWII, or just prior, had referred to someone a "Jew", their neighbors would all assume they were in favor of taking away Jewish rights, death camps, etc.

Perhaps my knowledge of history is all wrong, but as far as I know, the word "Jew" did not have such connotations, just because the Nazis hated and wanted to destroy them as a people.

Today it is, as far as I know, not considered a slur at all, except perhaps through tone of voice. My daughter attends a university with almost 1/4 to 1/3 Jewish students (if you know of the university, you might guess which one I mean), and almost all of her circle of friends are Jewish. They use that word themselves and certainly no slur is intended.

So I fail to see how a comparison to the use of the word "Jew" during WWII can tell us that when Snape used the word "mudblood" in school it necessarily meant that those around him would see it as supportive of death and so on for muggleborns. In fact, the word "mudblood" appears within the book to be always a strong slur, whereas the word "Jew" is most often not a slur at all.

I guess this is getting off the track of Snape, but over all, the arguments that his use of the word "mudblood" indicated for all and sundry that he supported a dangerous and deadly group out to kill muggleborns is not, in my opinion, really supported by the evidence presented.



tandaradei - Jan 15, 2009 12:23 pm (#960 of 2988)  
IMO, arguments over Snape so far seem to parallel arguments I've heard over the Austrian Rolfe the messenger boy in The Sound of Music (Liesl's near-boyfriend). Rolfe woos Liesl but suddenly becomes too "important" for such things once he's found his acceptance in the Nazi party. Near the end of the movie, it could be said Rolfe appears to do the inexcusable, ratting them out. But it could also be said Rolfe is a growing boy making bad decisions; and if he had, Snape-like, later given up his life in penance for the cause of the Von Trapps, that this action should be seen as less hateful or hurtful. Whichever way to you call that? Here's how IMDB narrates Rolfe's final scene:

...[cut]...As Captain Von Trapp moves closer, Rolfe tries to act big, but still, doesn't call attention to them. We think it is because, inside, he really doesn't want to do this to the family of the girl he loves. Because Liesl pleaded him not to. Because he knew he wasn’t a Nazi. But as soon as Captain Von Trapp says, "You'll never be one of them," after pulling the gun from Rolfe's hand, Rolfe makes up his mind to prove Von Trapp wrong. Rolfe gives him a stern look and screams, "Lieutenant! Lieutenant! They're here!!" And he betrays the Von Trapp family. Apparently, he didn't love her enough to keep his mouth shut, and not rat them out. After this, Liesl gets over Rolfe, and gets on with her life in Swizterland. ...[cut]...
italics added.

Now: did Rolf not love Leisl enough to keep his trap shut; or was he goaded past what might be expected from an older teen, and not held too responsible for his words?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 15, 2009 1:46 pm (#961 of 2988)  
Given the above, I can understand James was angry because he risked his life to save Severus, and this might cause him to want to punish Sev for being so insistent on following them. (Shadow)

Yes, but Sirius, who betrayed Lupin's secret to Snape and made the whole incident possible, is not hanging upside-down next to Snape; in fact, he is participating in punishing him. - Julia H.


Yes, and I wasn't clear (as usual I leave gaps in my train of thought a lot). I agree, Julia. I have a few points as to why Remus being the reason for the attack doesn’t work for me. For those who are interested, here they are:

There is no canon to support it. I know the series pretty well and didn’t remember anything said to that effect anywhere, let alone in PA. For instance, in Frosty Christmas, when Harry is talking to Remus at the Weasley’s, Remus could have said something like “your father felt it was wrong that Severus was trying to get me in trouble” or “it was partly my fault”. This would be a typical statement coming from Remus, but there’s nothing.

I find it hard to believe James wouldn’t have initially been in cahoots with Sirius in the Whomping Willow prank. Knowing what we do canon-wise, they were very close and getting into trouble *together*. James simply got cold feet.

Was it truly a “risk to his life”? James could easily have transformed and done what he usually did, which was control the werewolf as a stag.

The point of the statement you quoted above was *as speculation* coming from a James-supporter, I can see how this would be inferred. But, for the above reasons, it doesn't work for me.



TomProffitt - Jan 15, 2009 2:21 pm (#962 of 2988)  
I find it hard to believe James wouldn’t have initially been in cahoots with Sirius in the Whomping Willow prank. Knowing what we do canon-wise, they were very close and getting into trouble *together*. James simply got cold feet. --- me and my shadow 813

I don't think that this necessarily follows.

My feel is that James matured, grew up, and learned to moderate his ways, while Sirius did not. I think a lot of things that Sirius says about James are colored by the fact that Sirius never really grew up and he sees James as if James had held back to Sirius's level of maturity.

Off the top of my head I don't know where to go hunting in canon to support this. My main reasons for having that view fall into James being the one who stopped Severus while Sirius nearly 20 years later was unrepentant, James overcame enough of what he and Sirius got up to that he was named Head Boy, James got married and became a parent while Sirius, so far as we know never had so much as a steady girlfriend.

Accepting the interpretations of James's guilt in the "Werewolf Incident" from the victim who didn't possess the maturity to not blame Harry for it is an extreme position and, I think, requires extreme evidence to hold up.

Remus and Sirius 'fessed up to an awful lot in the Shrieking Shack, I feel reasonably certain that if Snape's version of James's complicity were true the two would have admitted to that as well.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 15, 2009 2:39 pm (#963 of 2988)  
My feel is that James matured, grew up, and learned to moderate his ways, while Sirius did not. - Tom P.

But the Whomping Willow incident happened in their third or fourth year (I tend to think fourth as it is stated it takes a few years to become an Animagus). Yet in James's fifth year (Worst Memory) he is clearly (to some of us including Lily) still not grown out of it.

Remus and Sirius 'fessed up to an awful lot in the Shrieking Shack, I feel reasonably certain that if Snape's version of James's complicity were true the two would have admitted to that as well.

And they fessed up a lot in the fire conversation with Harry in OOTP. Sirius said he and James (and Wormtail) were idiots and basically said that Remus was right for making them feel guilty. And, still, nothing is said about the Worst Memory scene being even partly due to Remus who, again, would usually jump at the chance to take the blame.

I do agree, Tom, that it basically comes down to perspective. As DD so aptly put it in The Prince's Tail *you see what you want to see*.

(edited to add stuff)



TomProffitt - Jan 15, 2009 4:11 pm (#964 of 2988)  
I guess, to add on my line of thought here, that what I was trying to say was that James was more mature (in some ways) than Sirius at the time of SWM. It may not seem like much of line to some, but I think James drew a line between bullying and humiliating his long time rival and actually putting his life at risk.

Stray thought.

What are the differences and similarities between what happened to Snape in the Worst Memory and when Crouch transfigured Malfoy and "bounced" him about.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 15, 2009 4:23 pm (#965 of 2988)  
Tom, I assume you mean Mad-Eye/Crouch, and I'd say there are similarities we could address there... I will post some soon...

Also, I do have stuff to say about Sirius's personality but will post it on the Sirius thread soon.



Steve Newton - Jan 15, 2009 4:35 pm (#966 of 2988)  
Every time I read 'SWM' I think that I have slipped into reading a personal column.



TomProffitt - Jan 15, 2009 5:21 pm (#967 of 2988)  
I never can decide if that's a worthwhile abbreviation or not, but I get awfully tired of typing out "Snape's Worst Memory" or some other long winded (and typing) description.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 15, 2009 5:27 pm (#968 of 2988)  
Oh, I get it now, Steve : /

heh heh



Julia H. - Jan 15, 2009 6:07 pm (#969 of 2988)  
Tandaradei, the comparison with Rolfe is interesting but I see some important differences (apart from the fact that we don't see Rolfe change back to good.)

Of course, we find out much less about Rolfe than about Snape. So, for example, while we know Snape has been attracted to Lily and has been friends with her since their childhood and we find out that he truly loves her, we don't know the same about Rolfe. I think Rolfe is ambitious and it is even possible that his attachment to Liesl is originally nothing else but a chance to rise socially - at least until he finds "another way" and then she is not so important any more. But it is also possible that Rolfe loves Liesl originally (even if not enough) and realizing that he won't be allowed to marry her (although Liesl does not reject him), he tries to find a way to power so that he could be closer to her socially. Then when he realizes that she is on the other side, he has to choose... Or it is possible that Rolfe joins because he agrees with the ideology and then (again) he has to choose.

Anyway, in the decisive moment, Rolfe knows (I guess) if he calls out, Liesl might be dead in the next minute right there in front of his eyes and yet he decides (though after some hesitation) to shout. I guess the moments when Snape should have kept his mouth shut for the sake of Lily are in the Worst Memory Scene and when he gave the Prophecy to Voldemort. In the Worst Memory Scene he is angry and provoked and he is in the victim position: A parallel with Rolfe would be a real parallel if Lily was hanging upside down and Snape called him a Mudblood then. As it is, he is hurting himself, too, not only her, by refusing the only help he is getting and (probably because the next moment he is too shocked to run away or to prepare for another attack) the torment continues. I think it is exactly what Snape says in Occlumency:

Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked so easily...

Later, when he tells Voldemort the Prophecy, he is doing something very bad but the parallel with Rolfe does not fully work because Snape does not know that it is Lily who is in danger. Rolfe knows that he has to choose between his (former) love's life and his own new "career" (for lack of a better word) and in the end, he chooses the latter. When Snape learns that it is Lily he has got into mortal danger, it turns out he loves her enough to choose her life rather than a DE career and to risk his own life. I suppose Rolfe would have to take some risk, too, if he did not betray Liesl, i.e., the risk that someone else might notice him (although I don't remember the scene clearly so I don't know what the chances are but it is probably possible). So while Rolfe faces a very sharp, unambiguous choice (keep your mouth shut or get your love killed), Snape makes a bad choice "blind": It is only after doing the wrong thing that he realizes whose life is being risked.

(Since we are talking about parallels, the motif reminds me of Weber's opera Der Freischütz, in which Max in his desperation makes a deceptive deal with Evil to be successful and to win the woman he loves but the last one of the magic bullets he shoots is directed by the Evil One - towards the girl.)

About James and the Prank: We don't have canon support to prove that James participated in the Prank. I can certainly see why Snape would believe it - James appears to be doing everything with Sirius, his sudden appearance may be suspicious, too, Snape's experience does not indicate he is a benevolent guy and Snape apparently does not have the benefit of getting a decent explanation from the Marauders while it is not too late. But the Marauders deny it when they talk to Harry, and there is no direct proof. What they say, of course, is as much subject to our personal interpretation as anything else a character says or experiences through his / her subjective filter.  

But I tend to think that Snape is right when he thinks James saved him primarily to save his friends. I can believe this because James seems to be a person who is willing to do a lot for his friends but is never shown to be particularly generous towards others and we see how much he "values" Snape. He did draw a line between bullying / torturing and actually getting someone killed but since bullying or torturing also harms people, it is possible that he was simply drawing the line between something they could get away with and something they could not get away with. It is also possible that he realized murder would harm his friends' souls in the long run and he wanted to save them from that. So I don't think he would have been sorry for Snape but he did not want his friends to be murderers (as Harry stopped Sirius and Lupin from killing Pettigrew: not because of Pettigrew but to prevent a murder committed by the other two).

The observation that James might not have been risking his life, at least not more than usually, is interesting. Of course, he did not want to transform while Snape was there but he could have done it still if Lupin had got too close - after all their regular job was to keep Lupin in control.



Solitaire - Jan 15, 2009 6:44 pm (#970 of 2988)  
You're probably right, Wynnleaf. I was thinking of the term Mischlinge, which was, I believe, where Jo came up with the term Mudblood. Those who used it ... well, we know their meaning and their intent for all Jews. I do not think anyone who simply thought of Jews as human beings like the rest of us would have used such a derogatory term as Mischlinge. Why would they, considering its meaning?

I guess I wonder how a term as derogatory as Mudblood could have rolled off Snape's tongue so easily, unless he used it frequently. Based on their exchange, Lily seemed to think he did ... or, at least, that is how it looks to me.



Istani - Jan 15, 2009 7:05 pm (#971 of 2988)  
since we see so many Slytherins using the term 'Mudblood'' it was probably common vocabulary in the Slytherin common room and that could also be a reason why Severus (who wanted to belong, as JKR once stated) used it. I don't see him using it with the intention he wants all Muggle-borns tortured and killed. Most likely he wasn't thinking clearly at all when he used it. People who are suffering pain and/ or humiliation tend to lash out for no sensible reason at all.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 15, 2009 7:42 pm (#972 of 2988)  
Tom Proffitt,

Well, I thought about the Mad-Eye/Crouch attacking Draco scenario and how it compares with the Severus-James scenario.

First off, I do tend to see similarities between school-age James and school-age Draco. I was reminded of Draco in Severus's Hogwarts Express memory where James has that haughty air and they are described as "rowdy" boys, and certainly James was rude to Severus before Sev even knew James existed. Plus James's comment about being in Slytherin echoes Draco's comment about Hufflepuff.

I also see this similarity when James enjoyed (in Worst Memory) in drawing a crowd when humiliating a student. This reminds me of lots of scenes with Draco but, as an example: the one directly related to the Crouch scene, as Draco publicly humiliates Ron and his family.

Given the above, and given that I consider James to be causal in their problems, I'd say if Severus turned James into a ferret I'd find it amusing. If it was the other way around, I would not.



tandaradei - Jan 15, 2009 8:06 pm (#973 of 2988)  
hmmm, Julia you're right. I thought the parallels were tight but they are not. I guess the one thing I was looking at was that Rolfe was goaded in a way by Von Trapp, and was lashing out at that IMO when he shouted; and I thought James was goading Snape rather viscously, and Snape lashed out but unfortunately at Lily (close to what Istani has just said).

In my current mindset I do think James and Sirius the most in the wrong; however, I do think one must take age into account (maybe I think this so much because I'm in my mid-fifties; the teens is the time of hormone-introductions, and I now wonder why most going through that introduction aren't crazy as a mere matter of form; this is also why I can see the later James as being a reformed Dr. Jekyll, to his earlier Hyde.)

As to the problem of bad words (Mudbloods, etc), I have little new to contribute; except maybe to say that what matters most IMO is the condition a person is in, when he/she uses such language. I've seen a "thank you" drip with poison in the way its expressed, so .....



mona amon - Jan 15, 2009 9:54 pm (#974 of 2988)  
You're probably right, Wynnleaf. I was thinking of the term Mischlinge, which was, I believe, where Jo came up with the term Mudblood. Those who used it ... well, we know their meaning and their intent for all Jews. I do not think anyone who simply thought of Jews as human beings like the rest of us would have used such a derogatory term as Mischlinge. Why would they, considering its meaning? (Soli)

That's interesting, Soli. I do not know much about it but I think the main difference is that, although they are both derogatory terms, Mischling was invented by the Nazis (as a term to call someone) for purposes of identification, in order to deprive them of their rights and worse, which is the same thing that Voldemort started doing to muggleborns after he had got control of the Ministry in the 2nd war. However, 'Mudblood' as a derogatory term for muggleborns was not the invention of Voldemort, and was probably around for ages.

I think that would give different shades of meaning to the two, a difference in the way they are perceived. A person who is called a Mudblood by someone will feel themselves the victim of an irrational hatred, but not necessarily that they are threatened with deprivation of rights, torture and murder.

EDIT: We have no certain evidence that Severus was running around flinging the name at Muggleborns, the way he did to Lily. What Lily says is "But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus". 'Call' in this case seems to mean 'to refer to' rather than 'to say the name loudly'.



Solitaire - Jan 15, 2009 10:58 pm (#975 of 2988)  
We really don't know how long Mudblood would have been in the lingo, do we? That Phineas (in his portrait) uses it means little to me, because his portrait could have picked it up from more recent generations. Then again, it could well have been coined by none other than Salazar Slytherin himself. I've read at least one interview in the past in which Jo has compared her terms Mudblood, Half-blood, and Pure-blood to the terms Mischlinge and Aryan, and discussed both sets of terms in connection with "ethnic cleansing." For me, that does connect the term with the issues of loss of rights, torture, and murder.

In DH, wasn't Mary Cattermole about to be sent to Azkaban for being a Muggle-born in possession of a wand? Weren't Muggle-born kids required to "register"? Didn't Slytherin build the Chamber of Secrets and "install" the Basilisk for the purpose of ridding the school of Muggle-borns? You see, those things all sound a lot like there was intent to strip Muggle-borns of their rights and eventually torture and kill them ... and it wasn't exactly a new thing.



mona amon - Jan 15, 2009 11:41 pm (#976 of 2988)  
In DH, wasn't Mary Cattermole about to be sent to Azkaban for being a Muggle-born in possession of a wand? Weren't Muggle-born kids required to "register"?

Yes, that's what I said, more or less, but who do we know, other than Salazar, who was persecuting muggleborns before Voldemort started doing it in DH? I wonder if it was Salazar who started the whole blood-prejudice thing.



Julia H. - Jan 16, 2009 4:26 am (#977 of 2988)  
I guess the one thing I was looking at was that Rolfe was goaded in a way by Von Trapp, and was lashing out at that IMO when he shouted... (Tandaradei)

When I watched that movie, I did not think Von Trapp was goading Rolfe but I see what you mean. It is the kind of thing Dumbledore tells Draco when Draco wants to kill him so badly and yet he can't do it. The teenage Snape could have done with something similar from a wise adult...

I do think one must take age into account (maybe I think this so much because I'm in my mid-fifties; the teens is the time of hormone-introductions, and I now wonder why most going through that introduction aren't crazy as a mere matter of form...

Since you've mentioned age and hormones, I will also mention that I don't really see James wanting to defeat Snape the future DE, rather I see him wanting to destroy Snape the man (boy). (Obviously, not in the sense of "killing Snape".) James is the alpha-male, who considers Snape the inferior male who does not submit and does not acknowledge his superiority. It starts even before James notices Lily, probably because the fight is not only for a specific woman but for "hunting territory" and dominance as well. (It is only speculation but possible that later, James regards Lily as "Gryffindor territory" - and she is described as pretty - yet an ugly little Slytherin keeps appearing by her side.) Anyway, the "Snivellus / Snivelly" name, the pink soap bubbles into Snape's mouth, the way James is glancing towards the girls, asking Lily to go out with him if she wants him to leave Snape alone, the taking off the pants thing, IMO these all point very aggressively in one specific direction. 16-year-old Snape is humiliated in his masculinity, in front of the girl he loves and in front of a lot of other peers, male and female.

That Phineas (in his portrait) uses it means little to me, because his portrait could have picked it up from more recent generations. (Solitaire)

OK. Marvolo Gaunt, Voldemort's grandfather, calls Ogden filthy little Mudblood before Voldemort's birth. It is quite possible that not only the word but the whole phrase goes back to Salazar and is part of the rather bleak Slytherin heritage.



TomProffitt - Jan 16, 2009 5:23 am (#978 of 2988)  
me and my shadow 813, In reference to the Draco as a ferret scene, I was thinking more of Draco in the role of Snape and the way HRH reacted to Draco's humiliation. Harry & Ron acted the role of James & Sirius while Hermione was more of a Lily or maybe a Remus.

I was also thinking of how Crouch, supposedly a teacher at the time, was treated after doing something to Draco which was not far off from what James & Sirius did to Snape. Albeit, Crouch had a marginally better reason for his actions than James, but being in a position of authority should have been held to a higher account.

That difference, the consequence of the actions we see applied to Crouch/Moody is what makes me believe that the vilification of James and Sirius over "Snape's Worst Memory" is excessive when taken in with the "Slap Stick Humor" of the series.



Julia H. - Jan 16, 2009 6:45 am (#979 of 2988)  
I was also thinking of how Crouch, supposedly a teacher at the time, was treated after doing something to Draco which was not far off from what James & Sirius did to Snape. Albeit, Crouch had a marginally better reason for his actions than James, but being in a position of authority should have been held to a higher account. (Tom)

Hm... I think the comparison can have still more layers because Crouch, at that moment, appears to be a teacher punishing - though in an excessive and unacceptable way - a student who has just done something wrong. (I suppose that is what you mean by "a marginally better reason".) Something similar seems to be some people's interpretation of the role of James (and Sirius?) in the Worst Memory. However, in retrospect, I don't think that was really Crouch's motivation. He turns out to be a DE, who is willing to kill the student he was supposedly defending and who has no moral scruples despite having impersonated a man of strong principles. I think one of his goals is deception - acting like Moody (though I'm not sure the real Moody would really have done the same but that question belongs on another thread) - and another goal is simply enjoying the torture of the son of a DE who walked free, while he (Crouch) was in Azkaban.

That difference, the consequence of the actions we see applied to Crouch/Moody is what makes me believe that the vilification of James and Sirius over "Snape's Worst Memory" is excessive when taken in with the "Slap Stick Humor" of the series.

But it makes analysis really hard when Snape is always judged according to real-life standards, while other characters' wrong-doing is simply a source of humour. Once I tried to put the Duelling Club snake (appearing in a fairly humorous scene) into the context of a school in which fighting dragons is part of a student contest, in which keeping students unconscious below water for an hour is also a part of an inter-school contest, but it turned out, in the case of Snape, we can only talk about reality. Snape cannot do anything without being interpreted in the worst possible light: When he uses the M-word, he probably wants to torture and kill (even though he is being tortured at the moment) but when he says "Don't use that word", it is not really a sign of his change. The fact that he cries over his unhappy life does not count but oh well, he should have taken James's picture, too, that would be improvement. Everybody on the good side is acting according to what Dumbledore told them but Snape's loyalty to him is a sign that he does not know what is right on his own. Then when he is wronged, tormented with grave consequences, it is just the humour in the books and yet the consequences of that scene are not regarded as humour but as Snape's failure.

In the ferret-scene, it is easier to see the "Slap Stick Humor" until I realize that the perpetrator is a DE. Still, this scene is humorous originally at least. But Snape's Worst Memory, IMO, is never presented as anything humorous. Draco, for example, does not seem to suffer long-lasting harm. In the case of Snape, we know he loses Lily after the incident and that he is for ever a bitter person. Even the title of the chapter (and the scene) - Snape's Worst Memory - tells a lot. Dumbledore says "some wounds run to deep for the healing" specifically in the context of Snape's feelings about James. After Harry sees the Worst Memory, we see how Snape reacts (I can't find it humorous) and we see how Harry reacts - he is harmed by the experience, too. So I don't think the Worst Memory is simply a source of humour in the series.



TomProffitt - Jan 16, 2009 7:22 am (#980 of 2988)  
Snape cannot do anything without being interpreted in the worst possible light: .... --- Julia H.

I used to do what you are talking about here, I'm trying to overcome it.

Part of the difficulty in figuring just how to interpret some of this stuff is that the story itself seems to flip back and forth between earnest hard reality and slapstick humor; almost in mid-scene.

I've never liked Snape, because I've always believed that you can tell a persons true character by the way they handle the little things and not the big ones.

Also, I hold adults to a higher standard than children/teens, and the difference in maturity/responsibility gets lost a lot in the series. For me I have higher expectations of behavior in Snape, Remus, Sirius, and Dumbledore than I do in Harry, Ron, and 16 year old James. Knowing how I behaved at comparable ages and what I grew into I'm willing to cut kids, including Draco and young Snape a lot of slack.

Snape was 20 or 21 when he sold the prophecy to Voldemort, that's a huge difference to me in the character's ability to understand the full depth of what he's doing compared to 16 year old James and Sirius.

That's a lot of factors to juggle when trying to understand what's at the core of a character. In the end, for me at least, Snape comes out looking worse because I expect Snape to already have learned life's lessons and I realize that James (and Harry and Draco) were still learning them.



Julia H. - Jan 16, 2009 10:12 am (#981 of 2988)  
In the end, for me at least, Snape comes out looking worse because I expect Snape to already have learned life's lessons and I realize that James (and Harry and Draco) were still learning them. (Tom)

Yes, Snape always comes out looking worse.  One of the reasons why I like the character is probably that I can see how he is learning his lesson (the same can't be said about James, for example). He is learning it late, with difficulties and at enormous cost but he is learning it. In my reading at least.  



TomProffitt - Jan 16, 2009 10:21 am (#982 of 2988)  
[Snape] is learning [life's lessons] late, with difficulties and at enormous cost but he is learning it. --- Julia H.

I agree. He makes tremendous progress by the end of the series. That's the real tragedy of the Severus Snape character, isn't it, to have finally learned it twenty years (or more) too late for his love and friendship, and too late to do anything except to die to make it right.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 16, 2009 2:58 pm (#983 of 2988)  
Snape cannot do anything without being interpreted in the worst possible light: .... --- Julia H.

I used to do what you are talking about here, I'm trying to overcome it. - Tom Proffitt


That's all we wanted, Tom. The first step is admitting you have a problem

; )



TomProffitt - Jan 16, 2009 3:38 pm (#984 of 2988)  
Snape cannot do anything without being interpreted in the worst possible light: .... --- Julia H.
I used to do what you are talking about here, I'm trying to overcome it. - Tom Proffitt [me]
That's all we wanted, Tom. The first step is admitting you have a problem --- me and my shadow 813


While we're on the subject I see the same done for some of Snape's adversaries. It seems that we fans pick our favorite characters and can't help but interpret the ones we like in the most favorable way and the ones we dislike in the most unfavorable.

Objectivity is difficult, but it something I think is worth pursuing in all things.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 16, 2009 4:07 pm (#985 of 2988)  
Absolutely, Tom. I hope you received that with the humor that was intended.

I guess I've always rooted for the underdog and don't go out of my way to feel sorry for rude, spoiled "pampered princes". I'll give James supporters the benefit of the doubt that he *might* have done a bit of reflecting when Lily had an influence on him. He might have become the man that some say he was when he was killed.

To me, however, it seems more likely that no one would speak ill of James to his orphaned son. How cruel would that be? James was in the Order because he hated the Dark Arts and he fought bravely for his cause. Edit: I'm sure James was in the Order because he wanted to finish Vold off. Please don't bite my head off for this comment.

Sirius had nothing bad to say about James, Remus made excuses for everyone but himself, and the Order members might not have known him any more intimately than Hagrid knows Kingsley. Just my opinion and I know it should be on the James thread :]

Edit: this is off topic, but the statement that objectivity is important doesn't ring true for me. Our subjective experience is what makes us human and discounting our emotional reaction to me is dangerous ground to tread upon.



tandaradei - Jan 16, 2009 4:40 pm (#986 of 2988)  
Perhaps he was talking more about seeing other sides.

I now think that was one of Jo's main "assignments" in the series: getting us to empathize in places where we should anyway, but are too lazy to see. Edited to add: I think we sometimes form opinions, then see only what supports those opinions, and thus don't see (or maintain ignorance) of things we should have seen (for our betterment) but are to lazy to acknowledge.

In the last 5+ decades, I've thought ignorance to be the main reason why people "see things in their worst light"; and I did in this series regarding Snape (!), and it is indeed humbling. (& this is rather permanent humble-pie part, inasmuch one of my co-workers was & is a diehard Snape fan ... so, do you think she'll ever let me forget????)

I've been wanting to do this re-readalong especially now, just to try to find that other Snape.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 16, 2009 5:22 pm (#987 of 2988)  
tandaradei,

That seems right and I would agree this series is an exercise in expanding one’s point of view, but I don’t see JKR’s point being the value of objectivity. Hermione was the voice of objectivity in HBP about Draco and in DH about the Hallows and clearly Harry’s subjective “gut feelings” were of greater value. Had the “devil’s advocate” voice of reason won him over, it's possible he would not have finished Vold.



poohnpiglettt - Jan 16, 2009 5:39 pm (#988 of 2988)  
"I was thinking how Crouch was treated...after doing something to Draco which was not that far off from what James and Sirius did to Snape"

I see the two incidents as very different. Of all the non-murder/crucio scenes in the book of conflict or sparring among characters, the Worst Memory scene struck me as one of the worst (and I don't give Snape a free pass--the "I see no difference" remark to Hermione is also near the top of my list). The main difference to me is that the attack on Snape was without provocation. At least Malfoy was seemingly about to curse Harry. While I don't condone violence at least I can understand it if it is a reaction to something that is happening and it occurs in the "passion" of the moment. I would have a very different outlook on the WM scene if, for instance, Snape had been about to curse someone or even if he had verbally attacked someone. I still wouldn't like it but I could at least understand what had caused it.

Edited to check quote. Still not sure if I got it exactly right but posting from my iPhone so I had to memorize then write.



TomProffitt - Jan 16, 2009 5:59 pm (#989 of 2988)  
Edit: this is off topic, but the statement that objectivity is important doesn't ring true for me. Our subjective experience is what makes us human and discounting our emotional reaction to me is dangerous ground to tread upon. --- me and my shadow 813

Objectivity is not the assertion that "all sides have merit," but rather "evaluate the merit of all sides before making your conclusions." Usually our first subjective reactions are correct, but sometimes we are mistaken, this is a game Rowling likes to play in the series. (Snape, Dumbeldore, Harry's parents, Scabbers, Remus, Draco, Krumm, Grawp, and on and on) An emotional response to an action, situation, or event is a valid bit of evidence, but that alone doesn't guarantee the wisdom to see the truth.

My initial emotion subjective views of Severus Snape were very negative. I had to objectively evaluate other information to understand how Harry could value and respect Snape in the epilogue. If I accept only my subjective emotions I would never have understood Rowling and come to the conclusion that she was an idiot and ruined her series in the epilogue. What a waste that would have been.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 16, 2009 7:24 pm (#990 of 2988)  
My initial emotion subjective views of Severus Snape were very negative. I had to objectively evaluate other information to understand how Harry could value and respect Snape in the epilogue. If I accept only my subjective emotions I would never have understood Rowling and come to the conclusion that she was an idiot and ruined her series in the epilogue. What a waste that would have been. - Tom P.

Thanks for writing that because I haven't been on this forum since DH came out. I find this way more effective than any internal exercise in objectivity could give me. Of course I was aware how many "Snape-haters" there were in the world but I always felt it was very obvious that he would end up a hero. This has more to do with my being a romantic, about him and Lily, than anything he did as a teacher, of course.

But I am the opposite of you in that if JKR hadn't written book seven exactly as it is I would have come to the conclusion that she was, well, extremely inconsistent for lack of a better term.

I generally agree with your definition of objectivity but I personally value emotion over thought. I will most likely come around regarding James. That's why I don't value rhetoric because most likely my "position" will evolve with time. To each his own; your process seems to be working for you just fine!


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wynnleaf - Jan 16, 2009 7:56 pm (#991 of 2988)  
Tom,

I do appreciate your comments about objectivity. I was thinking today that your efforts at being objective truly are noticeable!

I probably seem like someone whose opinion is set in stone, but actually I've changed a great deal over the years of the books. Throughout the first 3 books I felt Snape was probably on the good side, but assumed he was the mean nasty fellow who would be on the right side (he was almost too obviously nasty to be on the bad side - literary logic for this sort of writer), but always and only hateful. Some people see him that way now, but my opinion changed the more I saw in the character.

After POA, I really loved Lupin and was thoroughly disappointed in GOF when Lupin was nowhere to be seen. I was glad to see him back in OOTP, but then was disappointed with some of the way he acted toward the end. You see, the Worst Memory scene was the point of my changing my view of Snape and what I felt JKR was going to ultimately show us about his character. And when Lupin and Sirius basically said, "yes we did wrong, but hey, we were just teenage idiots," that kind of bothered me. I felt they were more trying to excuse it, even as they claimed to take responsibility.

But HBP was the huge turning point for me. In fact, it was because my opinions on the characters changed so drastically that I felt kind of driven to find other fans to discuss the books, and that's when I started coming frequently to the Lexicon Forum. At just the moment when many readers assumed the very worst about Snape, I was certain he was still on the right side. And I figured that if JKR had gone to so much trouble to make Snape seem that bad and evil, then she was practically bound to do an about face and show us a completely other set of "facts" before the end. So of course, I had to search for what those "facts" could be.

After HBP forced me to determine that I'd read Snape all wrong, I started looking much more "objectively" (to use your term, Tom), at characters such as Lupin, Sirius, and James. I used to like them quite a bit. I still can't help but like Lupin, but my opinions of their characters did a radical shift. Not because they'd treated one of my favorite characters badly, but because I started looking more objectively at their characters, the way JKR actually talked about them in interviews, what and who discussed the characters in the books, what they actually did and I began to feel that I'd been quite wrong about them as well.

Dumbledore was my most difficult switch, since I've gone back and forth on him. I loved him through HBP. But when I first finished DH I did not like him at all and felt much of what he did was inexcusable. Later, I've tried to see him as a flawed person, but a person who still had responsibilities that forced him to make some very unpleasant choices in order to win a war that Voldemort (not Dumbledore), seemed determined to bring to the steps of Hogwarts.

Even though I'm sure I come across as quite close minded, my actual progression as a reader and fan has seen quite a number of profound changes in opinion over the years.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 16, 2009 8:26 pm (#992 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 16, 2009 9:26 pm
Well said, wynnleaf. I remember when I first came to the forum in fall 2005. There was a raging debate going on and I was getting upset and you pretty much said "hey, we're here to argue -- it's okay!"

As you mention above, I do recall seeing a shift in your point of view. I was aware of them because you started talking about Severus more in tune with how I was feeling.

Okay, back to Severus. For those who are interested in talking about obsessive love, I think initially there were all indications that his feelings for Lily were obsessive and "selfish". When she is upset about her sister being mad they read her letter to DD, Severus doesn't care how Lily feels. There are the references to him basically stalking her, then looking at her greedily, wanting her for himself, not wanting to share her.

Ultimately, the Dark Arts had more of a pull on him than his feelings for her. This reminds me of an "addict" boyfriend who cannot get his priorities in order -- another indication of an obesessive personality?

Edit: I just noticed - Tom P. - we are both "INFJ" people. Yet, so very different. Well, go figure.



mona amon - Jan 16, 2009 10:44 pm (#993 of 2988)  
There are the references to him basically stalking her, then looking at her greedily, wanting her for himself, not wanting to share her.

Me and My, he was only nine years old. And he was not stalking her. He was hiding in the bushes because he was too timid to approach her. 'Greedily' can be interpretted in any way the reader wants. And who on earth wants to share the girl that they love with some other guy?

I feel that his love for her was perfectly normal. In fact, much more normal than one would expect of a kid like Sev.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 16, 2009 11:05 pm (#994 of 2988)  
I've said before Snape's love was obsessive and selfish. I don't think he ever really knows Lily as a person, more as a thing to possess.

I think we also see evidence later of his possessiveness when he shows jealousy that Dumbledore is paying attention to Harry. Snape just doesn't like to share his toys!

(Hey, if I'm objective and I still object to Snape's actions, I still get to post here, right? Meh, not sure it's worth it to ever mention Snape's name anywhere on these boards, so my actually coming to the Snape thread on purpose usually feels like a mistake.)



mona amon - Jan 17, 2009 3:00 am (#995 of 2988)  
Hmm, I don't think I'm very objective. I'm always hunting for evidence to prove my point. While the way I percieved the characters did develop as the series progressed, only my feelings about Draco underwent a radical change (I hated that kid until DH). And to a smaller extent, Dudley.

Meh, not sure it's worth it to ever mention Snape's name anywhere on these boards, so my actually coming to the Snape thread on purpose usually feels like a mistake. (Mrs Brisbee)

Mrs B, I don't know why this is- do the Snape fans out-number the non snape fans? Or are we a more vociferous lot? But I have noticed that people who don't like Snape often feel out-shouted or beleaguered on the Snape thread, which is a pity...



Dryleaves - Jan 17, 2009 3:34 am (#996 of 2988)  
I agree that you could say that Snape is "selfish" and not thinking about Lily's feelings, but when he is described as "greedy" he is a child. I think he gradually moves away from this selfishness and thinks more about her than about himself, but then he is an adult.

I have been wondering about the word "greedy", though, because when Harry watches Lily (and I think when Lily watches Harry), the word used is "hungry". I read DH just before my second child was born and re-read it when breast-feeding her, so I can't help getting biological connotations here, but I'm not sure that is the way the word is supposed to be interpreted.  But I just can't see Snape's feelings about Lily as particularly abnormal for a child. I don't get the impression that he is ever raised to think about other people, either; that the egocentrism of the child is perhaps challenged for real for the first time when he meets Lily.

The addiction analogy is a little interesting, though, because just as people can be willing to give up their love and their children to get what they are addicted to, love is also one thing that can motivate people to get out of an addictive behaviour.

I interpret his jealousy towards Harry more as insecurity than actual possessiveness. It is not so much that he does not want to share, but that he needs an over-kill confirmation that DD cares about him as well.

Mrs. Brisbee, I think it is perfectly possible to be both objective and object to Snape's actions, so I can't see why you should not post here.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 17, 2009 2:31 pm (#997 of 2988)  
Me and My, he was only nine years old. And he was not stalking her. He was hiding in the bushes because he was too timid to approach her. 'Greedily' can be interpretted in any way the reader wants. And who on earth wants to share the girl that they love with some other guy? - mona amon

I guess I see his loneliness and (possibly) friendlessness at that age as part of it. Latching on to a young, pretty witch (probably the only one in town) when you live at Spinner's End with a bad home life doesn't seem abnormal at all. My feeling is probably lots of people who become "obsessive" types come from similar situations because when they do receive attention or affection they latch on to it and refuse to let go. This is a perfectly normal response to a painful existence. And, I suppose, children would naturally be possessive of things. For me, however, it does have indications of "obsessive" love and I speak my opinion from experience.

I do see Severus's feelings towards the Dark Arts and his not wanting to listen to Lily about his DE friends similar to someone getting involved in a drug. Addictive personalities are more prone to this sort of situation, as well as those who had a childhood of loneliness and pain. As in this case, they hear you saying the words but make light of it and your best intentions for them are wasted words.

I agree that you could say that Snape is "selfish" and not thinking about Lily's feelings, but when he is described as "greedy" he is a child. I think he gradually moves away from this selfishness and thinks more about her than about himself, but then he is an adult. - Dryleaves

And she is dead, and he feels responsible. One of my initial posts here lately was pondering whether as adults Severus would have been able to be friends with Lily. I'm not saying he should have been able to get over her, I was just wondering.



wynnleaf - Jan 17, 2009 3:00 pm (#998 of 2988)  
I do agree that Snape was obsessive. He had to have been or he'd never have stuck with the "all for Lily" thing for so many years. He might certainly have continued to serve in defeating LV, but I don't think he'd have continued to so deeply mourn Lily's death and hold her up as his symbol of everything he did if he wasn't generally obsessive.

Still, obsessiveness does not necessarily equate to selfishness. I know. I quite literally live in a large family full of highly obsessive people - all about different things. I have, at one time or another, seen family members with many years obsessions some of which were for an individual, but it didn't mean they didn't truly care for that person, did not truly come to know that person, truly want what was best for that person, etc. In my opinion, as long as there is an actual friendship and no stalking, the obsessive aspect of their relationship was more harmful to the obsessor, not the object of the obsession.

One of the obsessions I watched was quite difficult for the obsessor, as it was for a very bright, popular girl who was a close friend, but who ultimately used this guy's obsession (remember they were also good friends for years) as a way to keep her boyfriend jealous and play her good, but obsessive guy friend off against her popular and jealous boyfriend.

I'm not saying that was what Lily was doing. I'm just trying to point out that the person doing the obsessing can often come to the greatest harm, especially if he truly cares for the person he's obsessing over and isn't stalking the person or giving any unwanted attention.

The "greed" (and I think that's the word used when Snape is 9), can't really mean greed as we think of it, or even the way greed is generally defined.

Greed: excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves.

Surely there's no way we would say that it is "more than one needs or deserves" for a child to desire to know another child who is the only other witch or wizard child around, and who seems bright and fun and happy, especially when young Snape is apparently poor, neglected (therefore mostly unloved), and likely without any real friends at that point.

At that point, Snape certainly wanted to "acquire" Lily's friendship, but really that's about all. He does not appear to have desired anything more between age 9 and when they leave for Hogwarts. So his desire to know Lily as a boy can hardly be truly "greedy" even though that is the word JKR used.

I know a lot is made occasionally over young Snape's attitude toward Petunia. Certainly Lily seemed to care what Petunia thought of her, although she clearly got over that! Regardless of Lily's initial concern at Petunia's attitude toward her, Petunia seems from the first time we see her (age-wise), a highly unpleasant girl, quick to insult young Snape, spy on Lily and her friend, and generally complain and condemn. It's very hard for me to blame young Snape for disliking Petunia from the first. The idea that an 11 year old kid would be concerned and "caring" for his friend because the mean sister isn't acting nice seems rather far-fetched. Eleven year old friendships don't generally have that kind of depth of caring and concern. The most I'd expect to see from an 11 year old is more like "gosh, isn't it too bad your sister is such a jerk to you?" So Snape's attitude on the train when Lily is distressed at Petunia's attitude doesn't seem to me any indicator of Snape's bad character or that he doesn't truly care about Lily. He cares about Lily at that point like most 11 year olds care for each other.

And as I said, we don't learn later that Lily, liberated from the bad influence of supposedly possessive Snape, went back and renewed her friendship with Petunia. Instead, we see that their relationship never got any better and when Petunia sent a vase to the Potters, Lily thought it was horrible and that it was funny when the baby destroyed it.

Edited for typos.



Julia H. - Jan 17, 2009 7:23 pm (#999 of 2988)  
Yes, it's important how we define obsession. Perhaps all deep romantic love is a form of obsession at least for a while - there is a period when one can hardly think of anything else but the loved person. I imagine strong guilt can also result in a sort of obsession - in the sense that you are not free, it keeps occupying your mind and alters your personality. Then there is the sort of obsession Snape has about James - I think it is proof of the never healing wound James caused in Snape (which was more than just taking Lily).

It is highly unlikely that 9-year-old Severus could feel romantic love for Lily but perhaps his "greed" originates in "hunger". I know the word is "greedily", not "hungrily" but I have heard about people experiencing for a while hunger or at least shortage of food becoming "greedy" when they finally have plenty of food, taking more than what they can really eat. I think Snape is emotionally "hungry" and he wants friends, understanding and some happiness - and it seems he does not know how to get these things, that's why he watches her secretly instead of trying to approach her.

Like Wynnleaf, I can also understand that he dislikes Petunia. There is not much to like about her and yes, friendship at this age is often like that: great talks between best friends, excluding others, even brothers and sisters.

As for objectivity: A reader's personal emotions about a novel are very important and then how can you be truly objective when your emotions are involved? However, fairness is possible. I don't think there is anybody who thinks I am objective about these characters. But I'm trying to be fair about characters that I don't like or have mixed feelings about. True, when I think of the Worst Memory, I can only see James in the worst possible light - this was my first reaction to the scene and the more analysis I do, the worse he seems to be. (Perhaps if I saw him repent at any point, it would put him into a different light but it never happens.) However, the James behind the veil seems to be a different character - I think the Priori Incantatem scene at the end of GoF is his shining moment (for some reason we never talk about it) and I am ready to acknowledge that the living James had important good sides as well. Yet, on the whole, I dislike him. But I do like (the adult) Sirius and Lupin despite their faults - perhaps because we don't only see their faults but we also see each of them face his own weakness at certain points and that makes them more human.



Solitaire - Jan 18, 2009 10:31 am (#1000 of 2988)  
we don't learn later that Lily, liberated from the bad influence of supposedly possessive Snape, went back and renewed her friendship with Petunia

I do not believe Lily was ever under Snape's influence. Consider this statement: It's too late. I've made excuses for you for years. None of my friends can even understand why I talk to you.

It sounds to me like Lily continued to maintain her friendship with Snape in the face of criticism of her other friends and her own better judgment ... out of respect for the fact that he was her first Wizard friend. But it also sounds as though she has long been aware that he was involved in activities she held in contempt. Perhaps she was hoping that she might have some influence over Snape ... but she has finally realized that she never will.



Orion - Jan 18, 2009 2:37 pm (#1001 of 2988)  
Soli, sorry for your loss. You wrote that you can relate to DD very well because for you he is a father figure. It’s really interesting how everybody’s own personal history plays a role in our perception of characters. I see DD in his function as a principaI. And I hate principals! I held him partly responsible for the death of Sirius, and I hold him responsible for the murder of Snape (the Elder Wand business and the enforced “mercy killing”) as well as the gruesome, unacceptable bloodbath at the end of DH.

Why do people like Snape? My theory is that Snape cares. It’s a great thought that there could be a teacher for whom it was personal. A teacher for whom you were important.

I had a snapey teacher in maths. He was sarcastic and hurtful, but he was also terribly indifferent – he looked out of the window when he wrote on the blackboard, and he never smiled or made a personal remark. I was such a Neville at maths – he just gave me the willies. It wasn’t so bad though – a teacher can’t really ruin your life! During the break we all heartily badmouthed him and ate our snacks, and then we were happy again. So I don’t agree with you that a teacher like Snape can mess up a child. It’s only a teacher!

(Today I understand that maths teacher – I counted my students and I have 531 students this year, and I can’t really care for them because I’m no saint and they are too many. I am nice to them but I don’t even know their names. So today I think maybe this teacher was overworked and suffered from burnout.) But back them it was hurtful, his cold indifference.

We were very close to our other teachers, we went to the pub with them and some teachers married students. It was nice that we mattered, we were people for them, not only students. Snape is like that – he doesn’t only take it personally if a student performs poorly in his class, but it goes deeper than that, he has personal issues with some of the students. And what’s more, he is in a secret organization with them! Wow! If I had had the chance to join a secret anti-government-organisation with my teachers, I would have joined on the spot! How exciting! So I have a feeling that the Snape character answers a deep desire of students and adults alike – everybody was a student once – to be more than an anonymous part of the crowd. It may be a rubbish theory, of course.  



Quinn Crockett - Jan 18, 2009 3:02 pm (#1002 of 2988)  
Yeah Snape cares, alright. About Snape.



Solitaire - Jan 18, 2009 3:02 pm (#1003 of 2988)  
My theory is that Snape cares.

I think he is fulfilling his promise to Dumbledore. I can't say I think he actually cares about any students. I find Dumbledore a far more warm, caring person than Snape, despite the comments of others. I find Snape cold-hearted and mean-spirited. In the end, I understand why--at least, in part--he has acted as he has ... but it still does not change for me the fact that he has been mean and nasty.

I have 531 students this year

This is not the place to discuss this--maybe you can email me--but I would love to know how you can even begin to teach so many kids. How can you have any interaction with them?



Julia H. - Jan 18, 2009 3:15 pm (#1004 of 2988)  
Interesting, Orion. Perhaps you have made a connection for me. I think I have mentioned it on this thread that while I was reading HBP, my mental picture of Snape began to be very much like a former teacher of mine (before HBP, he was different). I did not know why, the teacher in question was not snapy after all. They did have some things in common though, I think, even if not what people find most important about Snape. But now you mention it, it is certainly true that this particular teacher-student relationship was definitely personal. I don't think that in itself explains the "similarity" but it makes me wonder still... (It was only after finishing DH that I realized how close Snape and this teacher were in age and how close the time of their respective deaths were.)



Istani - Jan 18, 2009 6:45 pm (#1005 of 2988)  
I'm not a teacher. If I had to chose between the assumingly 'more warm, caring person'- that DD is although he who would nevertheless kill me for the sake of the greater good- and the scathing sarcasms of the one who tried to keep me alive, I would joyfully chose the later. But that's just my opinion..



Quinn Crockett - Jan 18, 2009 7:40 pm (#1006 of 2988)  
But Dumbledore never "killed" anyone - not even literally. Anyone who may have died fighting the same cause as Dumbledore did so willingly and with full knowledge that his/her own death may (in some cases would likely) be a possible outcome. They knew the risks they were taking, which were not anything Dumbledore himself was not willing to make.



Solitaire - Jan 18, 2009 7:51 pm (#1007 of 2988)  
First of all, Dumbledore didn't kill Harry ... or try to kill Harry ... or hand Harry over to be killed. What he did do was attempt to prepare Harry by providing him with as much information as possible to survive. I think you're giving Dumbledore a bum rap.

In the first place, I do not necessarily think Snape had all of the information. He himself had accused Dumbledore of not trusting and confiding certain things in him ... so he was well aware of it. I see things very differently than Snape, who felt Dumbledore was simply raising Harry to be sacrificed. I think that Harry had to believe that he was walking into the forest to face death, and he had to go willingly, in order for things to work out in the way they did. Yes, it was a gamble--What if Dumbledore had been wrong, and there hadn't really been a bit of Voldy's soul in Harry?--but it was the only gamble they had. I think Dumbledore understood how the fragment of soul combined with Lily's blood from the rebirthing would work ... and that is why he chose that course of action.

What's more, Harry didn't have to walk into the forest. He could have chosen to flee and live his life on the run. But he didn't. In that respect, he was truly like Lily. He stepped forward to sacrifice himself and, in doing so, provided protection for those he loved. Even he mentions this to Voldemort: "I was ready to die to stop you from hurting these people ... I've done what my mother did. They're protected from you. Haven't you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? ..."

I'm not sure Snape ever understood Dumbledore's real intent, because Dumbledore couldn't let him know. Harry had to believe he was meant to die. That is just my take on it all.



mona amon - Jan 18, 2009 8:06 pm (#1008 of 2988)  
I agree with you, Quinn.

Istani, I think Snape would also 'sacrifice you for the greater good' if Dumbledore had told him to do it.  

I think both Snape and Dumbledore are similar to each other in this 'caring' business. They both try very hard not to care. In Snape's case this is clearly evident in the Spinner's End scene, when he turns away from Narcissa's tears as if they were 'indecent'. In Dumbledore's case it is evident in his aloofness from most people except Harry.

And both men never moved on from the person they first fell in love with, even though they never saw them again after the age of seventeen.



wynnleaf - Jan 18, 2009 8:44 pm (#1009 of 2988)  
Well, let's put it this way about Dumbledore's care for the students versus Snape.

In the first book, DD, while smiling and apparently wishing only the best, brings an extremely valuable artifact into Hogwarts to hide because he knows that dangerous people are after it. In other words, he sets up a situation which would lure very dangerous types into the school he runs among children for whom he has responsibility. Two children are wounded due to this plan.

Meanwhile, in PS/SS Snape tries to protect Harry, while being insulting and taking two or three points here and there. He helps to save Harry's life at least once.

In COS, DD allows all the kids to stay in school while a Basilisk runs rampant. Whether DD knows it's a basilisk is up for grabs. Is DD, who believes himself to be a genius, less able to figure it out after decades than Hermione after a few months?

Snape does little in this book, so I won't mention much.

In POA DD sends Harry and Hermione back in time, even though he has no knowledge that anything positive happens other than Harry going back in time and casting a powerful patronus. He has no idea whether Hermione will live or die going back in time, but sends her anyway.

Meanwhile, Snape attempts to save the three kids who followed Sirius and Peter, albeit insulting everyone the whole way through.

In GOF, DD -- for reasons always unexplained -- asserts that Harry must continue in the Tournament (we don't know what would have happened to Harry if he hadn't competed). DD is somehow unable to realize that a close associate really is not his close associate, but instead a Death Eater and is teaching the students.

Snape continues to say mean things. Meanwhile, he also rushes to help in his nightshirt when he hears screaming in the night (the egg) and goes off to meet Voldemort at risk of his life to help the cause.

In OOTP DD's actions -- all with the best of good will I'm sure -- cause a man who had been imprisoned for years to be more or less imprisoned again for another year. He doesn't tell Harry info that Harry needs (because he loves him - I'm not being sarcastic), which leads to Harry almost getting killed, several people getting critically injured, and Sirius dead. DD does save the day in the end - kind of.

Meanwhile, Snape is being really insulting and sarcastic, but also spying LV at risk to his own life, giving Umbridge fake veritaserum, keeping Neville from getting strangled, sending the Order to save Harry.

In HBP, DD very kindly shows Harry his next life-threatening mission. Apparently, nobody can search for horcruxes except Harry, which supposedly is because nobody else can know of them -- except Hermione and Ron, who get captured anyway and could easily have spilled the beans, when other Order members who could have helped with the secret horcrux mission (Lupin or Bill for instance), never get caught.

Further in HBP, DD -- for the kindest of reasons I'm sure -- allows Draco to stay on at Hogwarts endangering more lives and almost getting two other kids killed, not to mention bringing in a bunch of Death Eaters who could have killed even more students.  

Meanwhile, Snape in HBP saves Dumbledore, at least two student lives, and perhaps Harry at the end, and dashes off becoming a complete pariah to the good guys, all to help protect someone who hates him. Of course, Snape does stay insulting and sarcastic the whole time.

I won't go into DH, since DD was actually dead.

Now before everyone gets upset, I'm not saying DD was awful and irresponsible, or didn't really care for his student's safety. But when it actually came to practice, DD made a lot of decisions that further endangered students.

Snape, for all his sarcasm and harsh teaching manner, doesn't hurt students and doesn't do things that endanger their lives. Instead, he is fairly consistent about trying to physically protect students.

If you think verbal harshness harms students more than a teacher who makes decisions that put them into grave physical danger, then I suppose that makes Snape worse. In general, I'd rather my own child have a sarcastic, verbally harsh teacher and be alive, than a kind teacher who endangers their lives.



Orion - Jan 19, 2009 12:44 pm (#1010 of 2988)  
Meanwhile, Snape attempts to save the three kids who followed Sirius and Peter, albeit insulting everyone the whole way through. That's our Snape.    



Solitaire - Jan 19, 2009 12:56 pm (#1011 of 2988)  
Yeah, but he was attempting to "save" people who didn't need to be saved. The kids were not in any danger from Sirius and Remus at that point, and they might have gotten back to the castle intact, with Peter--before the full moon came out--had Snape not interfered in the first place. We can only speculate ...

Oh, one other point ... Since Snape had gone to Remus's office to take him the potion, he obviously knew he needed it. Why didn't he bring it along to the Shrieking Shack with him, so that Remus didn't have to transform into a Werewolf? Did he want him to transform, so that he could have the fun of exposing him? I think he may have.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 1:18 pm (#1012 of 2988)  
Of course Snape thought he was saving the kids in POA. Any rational person who didn't know Peter was alive would have thought the same thing. Anyone in the WW, who had all -- including DD -- thought Sirius was a Death Eater, mass murderer, and insane, would assume the same thing. The point is that Snape was out risking his life actively doing something that was supposed to be saving kids, regardless of his motives, insults, and sarcasm.

What if Sirius had been the bad guy after all, and Scabbers was just a rat? Sirius had grabbed Ron to lure Harry to follow him, got the kids down below and killed them both. Lupin follows. Lupin is either a good guy who is following a mass murderer and may need help, or a bad guy helping a mass murderer in which case no adult wizard is around to help stop more murder.

As for why didn't Snape take along the wolfsbane, well, we don't know for certain. Here's what we do know. 1. Snape knew Remus was about the change. 2. Snape didn't want to be bit or attacked himself. 3. Snape wanted to protect Harry.

Therefore, since we know that Snape especially wouldn't have wanted Lupin to harm Harry, we have to assume didn't have bad motives in not bringing along the wolfsbane (which could be counted on to protect Harry from Lupin/werewolf).

But we also know that Snape thought by that time that Lupin was working with the mass murdering Death Eater. So why would he rush off (how do you rush balancing a goblet of liquid?), expecting to politely ask Lupin, the guy in cahoots with a mass murderer, to take his potion so the good guys will be safe from him?

Meanwhile, Snape attempts to save the three kids who followed Sirius and Peter, albeit insulting everyone the whole way through.

That's our Snape.

Absolutely.  



Quinn Crockett - Jan 19, 2009 1:46 pm (#1013 of 2988)  
The point is that Snape was out risking his life actively doing something that was supposed to be saving kids, regardless of his motives, insults, and sarcasm. - Yeah, that hanging around out in the corridor under someone else's invisibility cloak for a good 15 minutes listening in on the conversation was really brave. Yeah it sure is a good thing Snape was there to rescue those poor defenseless kids from the big bad werewolf and the evil mass murderer, huh?



Julia H. - Jan 19, 2009 1:51 pm (#1014 of 2988)  
Wow, Wynnleaf! Good post!

I think Harry needs both Dumbledore's kindness and Snape's determined protection. Dumbledore's kind care sometimes fails: In OotP, he chooses to remain totally distant. I know there is a good reason but it would be much better if Harry knew the reason or at least that there is a reason that Dumbledore cannot help. In DH, Harry finds it particularly painful that Dumbledore never told him about Godric's Hollow, for example. Still, Harry needs Dumbledore as a protective father figure. In the end, he finds out that neither his real father, nor this other idolized father figure was perfect at all.

But I also think Dumbledore needs Snape. It is most evident when Snape saves Dumbledore's life and when he finally kills him. Apart from that, Snape is the one who closely watches Harry and acts when immediate action is needed. Dumbledore admits he has made mistakes that are an old man's mistakes. When he fatally injures himself, it is also a mistake. Finally, when Dumbledore dies, he leaves it to Snape to "clear up" certain things. DD keeps information from Harry all the time. The ultimate secret is that Harry has to "die" by Voldemort's hand. I agree Harry cannot be told he will eventually survive and Snape also has to believe Harry will die. Yet I think what happens is that Dumbledore does not only prevent Harry from knowing the most difficult of secrets before it is absolutely necessary but he also saves himself from having to give Harry the unpleasant information. Of course, it also means he deprives Harry from any encouragement or comfort he, the kind and caring protector, could give him. Instead, Snape (the sarcastic and insulting one) must do this difficult job (as well as the dirty job of spying and becoming Headmaster in the Voldemort regime) and he can do it as he pleases or as he can - with Dumbledore first making sure nobody will help Snape and that Harry will actually want to kill Snape the next time they meet. (Dumbledore is rather similar to the Prince in Measure for Measure.)

Yeah, but he was attempting to "save" people who didn't need to be saved. The kids were not in any danger from Sirius and Remus at that point... (Solitaire)

Yes, but everyone (including Snape and Dumbledore) believes Sirius wants to kill Harry. That is a good enough reason for wanting to save someone.

Why didn't he bring it along to the Shrieking Shack with him, so that Remus didn't have to transform into a Werewolf? Did he want him to transform, so that he could have the fun of exposing him?

If that was what Snape wanted, he would not bring the potion to Lupin's office in the first place. I think it is quite possible that he entered the office, put down the goblet on the desk and was about to leave when he saw the map. Seeing Sirius in the Shack with the Trio could easily make him forget about the potion, after all Sirius seemed to be the more immediate danger. If he thought Lupin was helping Sirius (and he did think that) and was prepared to fight, how was he supposed to imagine giving the potion to a person he was fighting? ("Drink this before you attempt to kill these children or before I attempt to save them. Then we can fight.")

Yeah, that hanging around out in the corridor under someone else's invisibility cloak for a good 15 minutes listening in on the conversation was really brave. (Quinn)

To me it seems he was going there anyway, and it was only by chance he found the Cloak and then he used it, as Harry also used it in numerous tasks that also required courage. Yes, he was listening there, but he was not just going to watch and listen, he was also prepared to act (and he did act).



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 2:07 pm (#1015 of 2988)  
Yeah, that hanging around out in the corridor under someone else's invisibility cloak for a good 15 minutes listening in on the conversation was really brave. Yeah it sure is a good thing Snape was there to rescue those poor defenseless kids from the big bad werewolf and the evil mass murderer, huh? (Quinn)

What exactly is your point, regarding that few minutes of waiting and listening? We already know that Snape is quite brave and willing to risk his life in dire situations, so listening outside for a few minutes can't be because he was a coward. Besides, he does go in after a bit, which he wouldn't do if he was being a coward. We also know that he didn't wait outside because of not caring about Harry's safety. So what exactly are you suggesting?

Since we know that Snape didn't stay outside listening because he was a coward or because he didn't care about Harry's safety (one might argue about whether he cared about Hermione and Ron's safety), then there must be another reason, correct? And since we also know that Snape really did think Sirius was the murderer and responsible for the Potter's Fidelius secret being betrayed, it couldn't be because he doesn't actually give a rip about stopping the murderer.

Well, why would he wait? It could only be because he felt that the kids (at least Harry), were not moments away from death, but were instead being duped by Sirius and Lupin for some other nefarious reasons. We know that Snape was aware that Lupin would soon transform, but he must have realized that Lupin still had some minutes left as a human. We know all of this because we know he wouldn't leave Harry in there without interrupting for any minutes at all unless he thought, having listened briefly, that he had those minutes to spare.

So why did he wait, even realizing that Sirius and Lupin weren't right about to kill Harry? Well, it was most likely to gather evidence against Lupin who he felt was clearly betraying DD (he had betrayed DD, just differently than Snape thought) and giving support to Sirius (he was, but Snape didn't realize yet that Peter was alive and Sirius innocent).



Solitaire - Jan 19, 2009 2:50 pm (#1016 of 2988)  
Everything you have said makes me believe he fully realized the kids were not in danger and Lupin wasn't in cahoots with Sirius. And I still want to know why he didn't take along the potion. IMO, he just wanted revenge, and he didn't care if it meant taking the souls of two innocent men.

Bah, Humbug!



Julia H. - Jan 19, 2009 3:03 pm (#1017 of 2988)  
How could Snape possibly know that Sirius was innocent when the whole wizarding world believed him to be a dangerous murderer and Sirius himself had done a few things to confirm this general belief?



Soul Search - Jan 19, 2009 3:12 pm (#1018 of 2988)  
Snape did know James and Sirius were very close; like brothers. He may not have believed Sirius betrayed James.

Snape, also, was close to Voldemort. Peter had been passing information to Voldemort for a year before he betrayed the Potters. During all that time, no one saw Peter with Voldemort?

He also saw the Map. If he saw Sirius and Remus were in the Shack, he saw Peter was there too.

It is quite possible Snape DID KNOW it was Peter, not Sirius, who betrayed James.



TomProffitt - Jan 19, 2009 3:22 pm (#1019 of 2988)  
How could Snape possibly know that Sirius was innocent when the whole wizarding world believed him to be a dangerous murderer and Sirius himself had done a few things to confirm this general belief? --- Julia H.

It's not to me what Snape knew, but what he cared about.

To me the scene as a whole showed that Snape didn't care whether or not Sirius was guilty, whether or not Ron & Hermione were safe, whether or not Lupin was truly in cahoots with Sirius. What it showed to me was that Snape fullfilled his duty to Lily and Dumbledore by protecting Harry's physical well being (he never really seemed to care about his emotional well being) and then ignored every bit of reason put towards him with the intention of delivering Sirius and Lupin to the Death Eaters for his personal revenge. Certainly he believed them guilty with some reason, but he had no intention of listening to any mitigating evidence, he had made up his mind.

And this is Snape's tragic flaw. He is obsessed by his attraction to Lily, but neglects her well being seeing only his own wants and desires, not hers, until it is too late. He obsesses over protecting Harry to vindicate himself, but never actually tries to know Harry, understand him, and discover his needs as long as he was breathing and not bleeding. And it's the same obsessive behavior with Sirius and Lupin, he will have his revenge and darn the evidence.



Istani - Jan 19, 2009 3:24 pm (#1020 of 2988)  
If Severus had known that the rat was Peter, and if he had known that Peter had betrayed the Potters, wouldn't he have told DD? Wouldn't he have wanted the rat brought to justice (or even kill him) for causing Lily's death with his betrayal? Many people knew that James andd Sirius were like brothers and yet everyone believed Sirius capable of betraying his brother. Even those who used to think fondly of him, like McGonagall, Hagrid, Rosmerta.


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Julia H. - Jan 19, 2009 3:29 pm (#1021 of 2988)  
Soul Search,

Snape did know James and Sirius were very close; like brothers. He may not have believed Sirius betrayed James.

A lot of people, including Dumbledore, knew how close James and Sirius had been. Yet, they all believed Sirius had betrayed James, even though initially they probably had a better opinion about Sirius than Snape had.

Snape, also, was close to Voldemort. Peter had been passing information to Voldemort for a year before he betrayed the Potters. During all that time, no one saw Peter with Voldemort?

Do we know how long it was? I can't recall it mentioned but I may have just forgotten it. Anyway, I'm sure Snape did not see Peter with Voldemort, otherwise he would have told Dumbledore. He knew Pettigrew was close to James and he would have known a Pettigrew working for Voldemort was dangerous for Lily. It seems he only knew there was a traitor in the Order but he did not know who. If Snape had known Pettigrew was the traitor, Dumbledore would have known it, too.

He also saw the Map. If he saw Sirius and Remus were in the Shack, he saw Peter was there too.

This is what he says: "Lying on your desk was a certain map. One glance at it told me all I needed to know. I saw you running along this passageway and out of sight."

He did not study the map long enough to notice everybody. Besides, Scabbers was in Ron's hand or pocket: the Ron dot may have completely covered the Pettigrew dot.

It is quite possible Snape DID KNOW it was Peter, not Sirius, who betrayed James.

I see no evidence for that.

Certainly he believed them guilty with some reason, but he had no intention of listening to any mitigating evidence, he had made up his mind. (Tom)

It may not be that easy to change your mind after 13 years of believing Sirius was a murderer, responsible for Lily's death (among other things), especially that Sirus had been seen with a knife by a student's bed at night, having got inside despite all efforts to keep him out, and having another time attempted to get inside the same place with what everybody thought to be the evilest intention. While listening, Snape heard nothing to prove Sirius's innocence.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 19, 2009 3:34 pm (#1022 of 2988)  
So what exactly are you suggesting? - I'm not "suggesting" anything. I'm saying outright that Snape was not in any way motivated by concern for Harry's (or anyone else's) safety. The ONLY thing motivating Snape was vengeance toward Sirius for something that had happened 20 years prior.

If Snape was really so worried for anyone's safety, he wouldn't just hang around in corridors for any length of time. Sirius was supposed to have been a mass murderer, capable of killing a dozen people with a single spell. But Snape not only doesn't bring any backup for apprehending the wizarding world's public enemy #1 (not even the dementors), he doesn't even attempt to immediately incapacitate Sirius and/or Lupin in any way. And Snape would have had the clear advantage there since he had picked up Harry's cloak.

If Snape was really so concerned about getting evidence of Lupin's collaboration with Sirius, there was no better evidence of this than the map. All Snape would have to have done would be to take the map straight to Dumbledore. But Snape doesn't even take the map with him from Lupin's office.
And by the way, Solitaire makes a good point that Snape didn't take the wolfsbane potion with him either. So, he couldn't have been worried about anyone's safety due to the presence of a werewolf.

The simple fact that Snape listened at the door at all - and the longer he did so, the greater the jeopardy from Lupin, who Snape knew had not taken his potion - rather than immediately do anything to "rescue" the kids is proof that safety could not have been a motivating factor in Snape's actions.

ETA: He may well have been very close and ready to act all the time. - But he didn't act. Very strange for someone who is supposed to have been racing down the tunnel to protect the Chosen One from wicked criminals to just stand around once he gets there.



Julia H. - Jan 19, 2009 3:48 pm (#1023 of 2988)  
I don't have the impression that Snape was listening at the door. I think he was listening inside the room, where he was in a good position to do something any moment.

Lupin broke off. There had been a loud creak behind him. The bedroom door had opened of its own accord.

The door opened and I think it opened because Snape entered. It was probably the moment when he began to listen and he was right behind Lupin's back when he took off the Cloak. He may well have been very close and ready to act all the time.

ETA: Yes, Snape could have taken the map to Dumbledore but instead he hurried to the place where three students were already in the company of a "convicted murderer", as he thought. If he thought that Lupin the werewolf was the bigger danger, then he was doing the right thing when he was standing behind Lupin's back. It is possible that seeing the map, he had no time to think of the potion (how was he to give the potion to a discovered enemy?) but then, as he entered, he may have realized that apart from the danger represented by a murderer and his accomplice, there was also a werewolf present but I don't think he would have had the time to go back for the potion even if he had thought he could somehow make Lupin drink it.

ETA2: But he didn't act. (Quinn)

Well, he did. He did try to capture them. And he would have acted earlier had anyone tried to kill any of the students.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 3:56 pm (#1024 of 2988)  
The idea that Snape actually knew that Peter was alive, had betrayed Lily to her death, and yet didn't care anything about capturing him is, really, in my opinion, incompatible with JKR's primary motivation for Snape. Sure, later when Snape had to play a part as loyal DE and had to accept Peter as a fellow DE, I could see that. But at that moment in the Shrieking Shack, this man who had spent years devoted to whatever it took to protect Harry and take down LV, all for Lily's sake, is going to let her betrayer go free, all so he can get revenge on Sirius and Lupin. Hmm... does this mean that JKR is wrong about Snape's prime motivation?

Okay, and if Snape really was evilly keeping info that Sirius was really innocent all that time, JKR just 1. forgot to tell us, 2. thought it was unimportant (?!) 3. showed us that fact in some secret location and hopes we'll one day figure it out.

Julia is right. Snape was in the room watching and wand ready, so he could even secretly (under the cloak and nonverbal spells), stopped anyone the moment they tried to harm the kids. Further, he could have put the magical binding rope on Lupin at any time. Really, there seems little reason to allow them to keep talking except to hear more incriminating evidence regarding Lupin. Snape certainly didn't need any more about Sirius, as Sirius already stood condemned by the Ministry.

Can anyone offer any reason for Snape to have allowed the conversation to continue other than to gather evidence? What other purpose could it serve Snape?



Quinn Crockett - Jan 19, 2009 5:44 pm (#1025 of 2988)  
Can anyone offer any reason for Snape to have allowed the conversation to continue other than to gather evidence? What other purpose could it serve Snape? - That doesn't make much sense. If Snape knew the kids weren't in any danger because of what he had overheard, then he would also have known that Sirius was innocent and Lupin hadn't been helping him. So, again, vengeance is the only unshakable motive. Snape wanted to make a big dramatic entrance so he could play the alpha role, make the two former marauders beg for mercy, etc.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 5:58 pm (#1026 of 2988)  
That doesn't make much sense. (Quinn)

No, it doesn't make any sense for Snape to have waited around listening -- remember, he knew Lupin was getting very close to changing -- for no other reason than to make some big entrance. Oh, and he wanted lots of begging for mercy so Lupin would be even more likely to change, right?

And JKR forgot to tell all us this, right? Or it's just not important, and that's why she left it out?

And Harry naturally never figured it all out -- or better yet, he didn't think leaving Sirius in prison for 12 years was all that big a deal, so he named his son after Snape anyway.

Or no, Harry didn't figure it out, so even though most of the book is written in Harry's perspective, the readers can figure it all out anyway because JKR really intended us to know that Snape knew about Sirius.

No, JKR didn't want us to know that Snape knew about Sirius, so she hid it. No, that's not it, she forgot to tell us that Snape knew about Sirius. Well, no, she actually wanted to tell us, but of course Harry couldn't know or he'd never name his son after Snape, so if Harry couldn't know, neither could we.

Okay, enough being tongue-in-cheek.

Tell me one reason why JKR didn't tell us this info that actually makes some sort of sense. She had her hero Harry name his son after the man. Does it really make sense that Snape was some horror of a person who left an innocent man in prison for 12 years on purpose?



Julia H. - Jan 19, 2009 6:18 pm (#1027 of 2988)  
What he overheard was only the childhood stories, nothing about Sirius's present intentions or of his innocence and nothing about the truth concerning Pettigrew. Also, Lupin was saying he knew Sirius was an Animagus but he hoped Sirius was entering the castle in some other way because he did not want to tell Dumbledore he had been fooling him. This is pretty confusing when you hear it for the first time, especially when you have your initial suspicion. Lupin had appeared to be caring and protective of Harry (e.g., when Snape found the map in Harry's pocket or when Lupin invited Harry into his office) - and then this supposedly caring person would keep a childhood secret just to keep Dumbledore's good opinion when the secret was endangering the life of someone he had appeared to care about? We may understand why and how but how can Snape understand this, whose defining experience in life is going to Dumbledore, admitting everything bad he had done and risking whatever there was for him to be risked because he wanted to save a person he loved?

Once again about the potion: It was Lupin who in the first place forgot about his potion. Why? Did he want to be dangerous? The only explanation we have is that he forgot about his own condition for the rest of the evening because he had seen something extraordinary on the map. Why isn't it similarly possible that Snape, after seeing something similarly extraordinary on the same map, also forgot about the potion for a while - (it was about Lupin's condition, not his) - when the potion may not have seemed to make much difference anyway if he was to fight the person who was supposed to drink the potion.

BTW, as I read the book, Lupin would have transformed anyway, even if he had drunk the potion. The potion only helped him to remain harmless (not wanting to kill) but he did transform every month.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 19, 2009 6:30 pm (#1028 of 2988)  
Sure Snape could have forgotten the potion. But that doesn't jibe with the explanation that Snape was only motivated by concern for Harry's safety and wanted to protect him from the crazed "mass murderer" and the big bad werewolf. Particularly when, once he got there, Snape stood around and did nothing to intervene.



Solitaire - Jan 19, 2009 6:37 pm (#1029 of 2988)  
this is Snape's tragic flaw. He is obsessed by his attraction to Lily, but neglects her well being seeing only his own wants and desires, not hers, until it is too late. He obsesses over protecting Harry to vindicate himself, but never actually tries to know Harry, understand him, and discover his needs as long as he was breathing and not bleeding. And it's the same obsessive behavior with Sirius and Lupin, he will have his revenge and darn the evidence.

Very nicely stated, Tom. I think you've summed up the situation perfectly.

Why did Lupin forget his potion? I think he had reason. He was seeing someone he'd believed to be dead for 13 years. He was in shock! He probably figured that Peter might try to harm Harry again, since he'd already done it once.

Snape stuck around long enough in Lupin's office to read the map, so he did have his bearings about him, unlike Lupin, who, as I said, was probably still in shock.

He may well have been very close and ready to act all the time.

When Snape pulled off the cloak, no one was in danger ... and if he had been standing in the room listening, once again, he KNEW this. He also heard Lupin state that James was not connected with the prank, either. I'm with Tom and Quinn ... he wanted revenge, and the truth at this point was not his primary concern. He even concocted the "confunded" story to cover his intended actions. He probably figured he could take care of Peter later ... if he even cared.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 6:40 pm (#1030 of 2988)  
Sure Snape could have forgotten the potion. But that doesn't jibe with the explanation that Snape was only motivated by concern for Harry's safety and wanted to protect him from the crazed "mass murderer" and the big bad werewolf. Particularly when, once he got there, Snape stood around and did nothing to intervene. (Quinn)

I have never said that Snape's only motivation in chasing down Lupin, and wanting to capture Sirius, was to protect Harry. Nevertheless, protecting Harry would come first with Snape in an instance where Harry could be in danger, such as Lupin about to transform, or being in the company (captured or duped) of a supposed mass murderer.

And it makes no sense for Snape to rush off intentionally, or knowingly leaving the wolfsbane, when he knew Lupin was going to change very soon and he would have to assume that the coming situation could be volatile and uncertain, unless of course it was simply too impractical to carry it.



Solitaire - Jan 19, 2009 6:43 pm (#1031 of 2988)  
It makes a lot more sense to take it and hope than to leave it there.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 6:48 pm (#1032 of 2988)  
It makes a lot more sense to take it and hope than to leave it there. (Solitaire)

I said that it made no sense for Snape to rush off intentionally or knowingly. Uh, that means that it makes no sense for Snape to 1. intend to leave it or 2. knowingly leave it, unless of course it was truly impractical to take it.

If it was not impractical to take it and he didn't leave it intentionally or knowingly, then the only thing left is that he left it unintentionally and/or unknowingly.

In which case the only thing left to blame him for in not taking the wolfsbane is for an unintended error.

Why do you think he didn't take it?

He wanted Lupin to transform around everyone? Why? For what purpose would he want them all to be exposed to that danger? And why doesn't JKR ever tell us all this?



mona amon - Jan 19, 2009 6:49 pm (#1033 of 2988)  
The kids were not in any danger from Sirius and Remus at that point, and they might have gotten back to the castle intact, with Peter--before the full moon came out--had Snape not interfered in the first place. We can only speculate ...(Soli)

Snape had nothing to do with Peter's escape, since he was completely knocked out at the time. (And knocking him out took only a couple of minutes. That did not delay them significantly). Even if Snape had never come anywhere near them, Lupin would still have transformed when he did, and Peter would have got away. If Peter's escape is anyone's fault, it's Lupin's, for forgetting to take the potion.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 6:52 pm (#1034 of 2988)  
No mona amon, it's Snape's fault for forgetting or neglecting to take the potion to Lupin. Lupin should never be blamed for forgetting -- after all he was too upset seeing Sirius and Peter on the Map. Snape of course, was not shocked or upset to see about-to-transform Lupin running off on the map. Therefore he is culpable for not taking the potion to Lupin, but Lupin isn't culpable for forgetting in the first place.

Or so I suppose is a possible rationale.



mona amon - Jan 19, 2009 6:54 pm (#1035 of 2988)

 



Julia H. - Jan 19, 2009 7:01 pm (#1036 of 2988)  
Snape took a glance at the map, he did not study it any longer than Lupin had. I think his shock was similar to Lupin's. He saw a supposed murderer and saw Lupin going towards him to a place he knew had been their common secret before. There were also three students in the same place, one of them the student Snape was personally protecting.

I don't see the point in leaving behind the potion unless Snape either forgot about it (as Lupin had forgotten about it, too) or thought it impractical to carry when he had to hurry. Lupin was more dangerous without the potion than with the potion and Snape himself was going towards that danger, too. If he wanted to expose Lupin as a werewolf, he need not have left behind the potion. Lupin would have transformed anyway and since he had not remained in his room, anyone could have seen him anyway but with the potion he would have been like an ordinary wolf, not a werewolf.

It makes a lot more sense to take it and hope than to leave it there.

Perhaps, but then it would have made more sense for Lupin as well to drink his potion first before going to discover Pettigrew. It would have made more sense for Sirius, once out of prison, to send an owl to Dumbledore informing him about Pettigrew, rather than trying to get into Hogwarts to kill him. Do people always behave in the most sensible way in a situation full of stress, especially when they have to make a decision from one moment to the other?

I agree, Wynnleaf and Mona. Cross-posted! LOL!



Solitaire - Jan 19, 2009 8:29 pm (#1037 of 2988)  
I think his shock was similar to Lupin's. He saw a supposed murderer and saw Lupin going towards him

I don't think Snape was shocked. He doesn't shock that easily. He was expecting what he found. He was also a skilled enough Wizard that he could have taken the potion with him, had he wanted to do so. But he didn't. Here was his chance to get rid of two people he hated, handed to him on a platter. He took it.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 8:34 pm (#1038 of 2988)  
So, Solitaire, why did Snape leave the wolfsbane? To what purpose did he want Lupin to transform into a dangerous werewolf?

Oh, yes, and still the question of why JKR didn't let us know this.



Solitaire - Jan 19, 2009 8:48 pm (#1039 of 2988)  
Revenge.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 19, 2009 8:57 pm (#1040 of 2988)  
Oh, yes, and still the question of why JKR didn't let us know this. - I don't see that as much of an argument since everything JKR does let us know comes from either what people choose to say directly to Harry, or what Harry observes or overhears. Snape is not going to say, "I'm here for revenge" but his behavior clearly indicates this anyway. And what he does say is, "How I wished I would be the one to find you!" and Lupin says, rhetorically, "Is a schoolboy grudge worth sending an innocent man to prison?" which more or less confirms revenge as his motive.



wynnleaf - Jan 19, 2009 9:04 pm (#1041 of 2988)  
Solitaire, I didn't see how that answered my question. I assumed already that you meant that Snape was somehow out to get revenge. But how??? How does Snape get revenge by Lupin changing into a full-fledged werewolf and injuring/infecting or possibly killing Snape, students including Harry, or others?

How exactly does this give Snape revenge?

And what about Harry? Does Snape not care if Lupin harms Harry?

And if the explanation is complex and convoluted, how did Snape think it all through in those split seconds?

Snape sees Lupin and others on the map. Snape puts down the wolfsbane and thinks, "that will show him! He'll be sorry! Let him go ahead and change into a full-fledged werewolf! He'll kill or infect his best friend Sirius! Ha! The children and Harry - so what! And I won't be harmed! I'll go down and watch."

Snape is happy for Lupin to turn into a full-fledged werewolf because he'll get revenge when.... when what? When Harry is killed? When the werewolf attacks Snape? Uh, what, exactly?

Quinn, I repeat yet again: I have never said Snape only wanted to protect Harry. Yes, he'd want revenge on Sirius and Lupin too. But so what? If Sirius was an evil mass murderer and Lupin his cohort, why shouldn't Snape want revenge?

But the real question, Quinn, is that you're basically saying that Snape knew that Sirius was innocent and that Lupin was not in cahoots with a Death Eater and murderer. That's what I'm wondering why JKR never tells us or Harry this. That's what I'm asking about.

If Snape knew Sirius was innocent and Lupin not in cahoots with a DE, why didn't JKR tells us?



Quinn Crockett - Jan 19, 2009 9:26 pm (#1042 of 2988)  
But the real question, Quinn, is that you're basically saying that Snape knew that Sirius was innocent and that Lupin was not in cahoots with a Death Eater and murderer. That's what I'm wondering why JKR never tells us or Harry this. That's what I'm asking about. - Oh! I see now.

No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that Snape didn't care anything about that. He could have waited to hear the rest of the explanation, but he couldn't be ... bothered. He was interested in settling his old score, first and foremost. That it happened to work out for the ministry and for his promise to Dumbledore was only gravy.

ETA: Yeah, and what Soli said too.



Solitaire - Jan 19, 2009 9:33 pm (#1043 of 2988)  
How does Snape get revenge by Lupin changing into a full-fledged werewolf and injuring/infecting or possibly killing Snape, students including Harry, or others?

I don't think Snape had any intention of being bitten. He was a powerful Wizard, and I am sure he could have defended himself and anyone else, had the need arisen. Back at the time, I believed he wouldn't have cared whether these three kids were bitten or not. Frankly, if it hadn't been for his promise to Dumbledore, I still kind of think that. Snape's revenge on Lupin was allowing Lupin to transform, so that he could out him and get him sacked. I know ... it's only my opinion.



mona amon - Jan 20, 2009 12:27 am (#1044 of 2988)  
If that's what he wanted, why didn't he just purposely 'make a mistake' while brewing the Wolfsbane potion and expose him much earlier?

Actually when he really wants to do it (expose Lupin), he goes ahead and does it. That he does not do it earlier, I assume is because till then (till he lets it slip to the Slytherins) he respects Dumbledore's orders about it. I see absolutely no evidence of a sudden change of attitude when he takes a glance at the map and sees, as he imagines, Lupin the accomplice running off to meet mass murderer Black at the Shrieking Shack.

Yes, I agree that his whole attitude is "revenge, sweet revenge". But, he definitely believes that Sirius and Lupin are in this together. He wants to catch Lupin redhanded. After that he will be sacked anyway, not to mention sent to Azkaban.

(Edited)



Julia H. - Jan 20, 2009 6:55 am (#1045 of 2988)  
I still don't know how Snape was to give the potion to a murderer's accomplice he was just going to catch red-handed. "Here is your potion, Lupin, drink it, good, now the ropes." For all he thought, he might have caught Sirius and Lupin in the act of killing or trying to kill someone - giving Lupin the potion could hardly have been his first priority then.

Another thing I don't know why Snape would have left the potion behind for any other reason than thinking it would not make much difference or forgetting it. Exposing Lupin's secret: To start with, he did not have to take the potion to Lupin's office in the first place. He could just have been happy that Lupin had forgotten it. Some of the posts imply Snape left behind the potion because he wanted Lupin's secret to be revealed. This is what Lupin says:

"The potion that Professor Snape has been making for me is a very recent discovery. It makes me safe, you see. As long as I take it in the week, preceding the full moon, I keep my mind when I transform... I'm able to curl up in my office, a harmless wolf, and wait for the moon to wane again."

It means even if Lupin drinks the potion, he transforms every month. I.e., Lupin's secret is discovered whether he drinks the potion or not, as long as he transforms in front of other people, that is when he is not locked up in his office. The only difference is that Lupin can keep his human mind if he drinks the potion, but without it, he can't. So Lupin is exposing his own secret when he waits for the full moon in the company of others.

I'm saying that Snape didn't care anything about that. He could have waited to hear the rest of the explanation, but he couldn't be ... bothered. (Quinn)

To be frank, Snape, like everyone else in the wizarding world, has believed for 13 years Sirius to be a murderer (etc.) The situation in which he does not want to listen to the rest of the explanation is rather tense. (For example, it was much easier for Dumbeldore to listen to Sirius's explanation when Sirius had been captured, was alone and was clearly not dangerous at the moment.) There is a similar scene in DH: Snape wants to tell McGonagall something but she does not listen, instead she sends an apparently lethal spell towards him. I have not seen many posters condemning McGonagall for not listening patiently to what Snape wants to say. It is a difficult situation and McGonagall believes Snape to be a murderer and now she has to protect students and to make a sudden decision. So the two scenes:

McGonagall has believed it for a year that Snape is a murderer. One person (on the good side) was the witness to that. Snape has also pretended to be a DE for a year.

Snape has believed for 13 years that Sirius is a murderer. There were lots of witnesses. Sirius has been acting like a murderer since his escape.

Before, McGonagall and Snape were colleagues for many years and they worked together in the Order.

Earlier, Snape and Sirius were enemies for years, Snape had good reason to believe the teenage Sirius wanted to kill him.

McGonagall believes Snape wants to hand over Harry to Voldemort.

Snape, as, again, everyone else in the wizarding world, believes Sirius wants to kill Harry (that is why the Dementors have been ordered to guard Hogwarts).

Harry and another student are present under the Invisibility Cloak.

Harry and two other students are present.

Snape wants to tell McGonagall something.

Sirius and Lupin want to tell Snape something.

McGonagall does not listen, instead he attacks Snape, appearing to want to kill him.

Snape does not listen, instead he tries to capture Sirius and Lupin.

McGonagall is wrong about Snape's motivation.

Snape is wrong about Sirius's and Lupin's motivation.

It is understandable that McGonagall does not listen to Snape.

It is wrong that Snape does not listen to Sirius.



wynnleaf - Jan 20, 2009 7:15 am (#1046 of 2988)  
Julia, Solitaire and Quinn,

If I understand it, the idea behind Solitaire and Quinn's opinions is that Snape did know that Sirius was innocent and therefore his only reason for wanting to capture Sirius or Lupin was for revenge for their treatment of him in school.

Please correct me, Solitaire and Quinn, if you don't think Snape knew Sirius was innocent.

The big problem with that is that if you think Snape knew Sirius was innocent, it also follows logically that Snape knew Peter was alive and was therefore quite willing to allow the real betrayer of the Fidelius Charm -- the person who really led LV to the Potter's house to kill Lily, to go free. Oh, and also that even though Peter was a Marauder just as much as Lupin, that didn't bother Snape either.

In other words, you're saying he wanted revenge on Lupin, the werewolf/Marauder, but not Peter the Marauder/betrayer-of-Lily.

As for how leaving the wolfsbane would somehow further his revenge on Lupin, that just doesn't make any real sense. Lupin would turn into a werewolf either way. Assuming Snape knew Sirius was innocent and therefore knew Lupin wasn't in cahoots with a mass murderer, why would Snape rather have a dangerous werewolf around than a non-dangerous werewolf?



PeskyPixie - Jan 20, 2009 11:05 am (#1047 of 2988)  
I've given up trying to get caught up on this thread (over five hundred posts behind!), so I will read up on the last fifty posts or so and get involved once again. Life just isn't the same without my beloved Snape thread.  



Quinn Crockett - Jan 20, 2009 2:09 pm (#1048 of 2988)  
For all he thought, he might have caught Sirius and Lupin in the act of killing or trying to kill someone - Except, clearly he didn't think that because he just stood around under Harry's invisibility cloak doing nothing. And by the way, if he was SO worried that someone might be killing someone, seems pretty strange that he would even stop to collect the cloak in the first place rather than race down the tunnel to stop the killing.

Wynnleaf, I answered you the first time you asked so nicely.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 20, 2009 2:18 pm (#1049 of 2988)  
Nothing to add about the PoA argument.

I noticed something interesting: Mr. Weasley says in HBP Elf Tails, ‘Well, all I can say is that it was a lucky day for the Weasleys when Ron decided to sit in your compartment on the Hogwarts Express, Harry.’

This contrasts strongly with Severus’s “luck” when he decided to follow Lily into James’s compartment and *inadvertently* walked into a rude boy with nothing nice to say.

I’d like to point out what Severus must have felt when James said “... Like my dad.”

Crushing for young Sev.



wynnleaf - Jan 20, 2009 2:24 pm (#1050 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 20, 2009 2:59 pm
Okay, Quinn, please bear with me because I *think* I'm getting what you mean, but I'm not certain.

You don't think Snape knew that Sirius was innocent. You think that when he went down to the Shack he just wanted to capture and get revenge on Sirius and Lupin as well, since Lupin was acting in an incriminating way by virtue of appearing to support Sirius. That is, you don't think Snape knew or cared whether Lupin was truly supporting a mass murderer, only that Lupin had just given Snape the appearance of a "legitimate" excuse to tie him up and accuse him of crimes.

Is that it?


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tandaradei - Jan 20, 2009 2:44 pm (#1051 of 2988)  
You guys are going too fast for me!!!!

As to Snape and the potion ... ever hear the 007 "Shaken, not stirred?" How many times has Snape harassed Harry for not precisely doing such things??? To run with a goblet of magical potion of extremely delicate nature would be "shaking, not stirring" that potion in my book, and its highly unlikely that Snape would ruin one of his creations willingly.

It could well be, that Snape would be unable to take that potion anywhere what would require running, etc.



Julia H. - Jan 20, 2009 5:02 pm (#1052 of 2988)  
Except, clearly he didn't think that because he just stood around under Harry's invisibility cloak doing nothing. (Quinn)

You think he was doing nothing, I think he was standing ready to do something as soon as needed. Once he was there, he could decide whether there was time to watch but while he was in Lupin's office, he may well have thought he had to hurry.

And by the way, if he was SO worried that someone might be killing someone, seems pretty strange that he would even stop to collect the cloak in the first place rather than race down the tunnel to stop the killing.

He could put on the cloak while running, or just before entering, it can't have taken more than a moment.

We, readers, of course, can easily determine for ourselves what would have been the most logical or best action for the various characters making a quick decision but the novel reflects real life in this regard: People do not always make the best decisions, they may sometimes misinterpret the circumstances or forget about something. HP is full of such moments e.g,:

Lupin should have remembered it was the full moon and he would soon transform. He should have rushed to Dumbledore or to McGonagall with the map in his hands instead of running to the shack.

Sirius should not have tried to kill Pettigrew at all, instead, he should have tried to clear his own name and let Hogwarts know about Pettigrew as soon as possible.

In OotP, Harry could have remembered that Snape was another Order member and still in the castle when he wanted to know what had happened to Sirius or he could have asked Dobby to try to find out something or he could have remembered that Sirius had given him something to communicate with, instead of going into Umbridge's fire.

It would have been a good decision if McGonagall had listened to Snape in the Sacking of Severus Snape chapter instead of chasing him out of the castle.

Regulus could have tried to contact Dumbledore and told him about the Horcrux instead of trying to act almost totally alone.

And so on...

But of course, forgetting something or perhaps making a bad decision is inexcusable when it comes to Snape.



TomProffitt - Jan 20, 2009 5:53 pm (#1053 of 2988)  
My take on Snape at the conclusion of POA.

The potion, why Snape left it behind. I don't know. I don't think that it is good evidence however you view Snape's character, his reasons for leaving it behind are as many and as reasonable as those for Remus forgetting about it.

Snape's motives. In this scene Snape sees the opportunity to win revenge against Sirius and Remus. Snape is only interested in collecting evidence against them and is willfully ignoring any evidence in their defense. Snape is not interested in the truth, he has heard enough to get him what he wants.

Notice the change in relation to how he deals with Remus. Prior to this scene Snape did not have any credible evidence against Remus. He put forward his best objection against Remus from the very start and had it rejected by Dumbledore. Now in this final scene Snape gathers more evidence against Remus and intends to take both Remus and Sirius to the Dementors (I think I called them Death Eaters in an earlier post) and bypass Dumbledore, thus avoiding any chance for them to get a reprieve.

These are no the actions of an altruistic man.



wynnleaf - Jan 20, 2009 7:02 pm (#1054 of 2988)  
Well, Snape is given to over-the-top threats. When he had the chance later to take Sirius to the dementors, or even just to the Ministry, he didn't. He took him to the castle and to DD.

The problem is that when Snape was conscious and on the scene, no credible evidence was really being offered. No one was saying "Peter's alive," and without that primary piece of evidence, Sirius was guilty. That's basically it. If Peter was dead, Sirius was guilty. If Peter was alive, Sirius was innocent. But nobody was telling Snape "Peter's alive," they only kept on about things that actually made Lupin and Sirius seem all the more guilty. Snape heard Sirius talk about being perfectly okay with nearly getting Snape killed years before. He heard Lupin talk about keeping crucial evidence from DD all year and protecting Sirius' secrets over that year (even though Lupin was keeping the secrets for his own sake, not Sirius).

And if Sirius and Lupin were lying about the innocence, then Snape had no business standing around letting them chat any more than he did, while Lupin might transform or attempt to attack Snape.



tandaradei - Jan 20, 2009 7:11 pm (#1055 of 2988)  
I thought it interesting that in later books Snape never gives evidence to Voldemort or any DEs concerning Remus, at any level, that could have hurt him; while reading those books, I'd thought Lupin the most vulnerable to some simple ploy of Snape's, should he have wanted some ultimate revenge against Lupin (even if Snape was on the right side, he could have let some information go, that would have gotten other DEs on the right track.)

It was one of those very nagging off-things that kept me from total absolute belief that Snape had to be an Ultimate DE (just like the evidence of the Foe-Mirror in GoF).

Yet I agree with you still, here! To me, the humor of it all, with Snape "losing it" just wouldn't be as funny, if we were to be thinking of Snape in this part of the story, as really trying to do the right thing. Harry et al eat their chocolate with great satisfaction, which they wouldn't have had, if there were any question as to who appeared to be in the right, and who in the wrong.

Too, I now think DD was a bit callous in smirking (??) over Snape's great apparent disappointments at the end of this book ... now that I realize how important Snape was to DD. Did DD try to straighten things out, letting Snape know the truth in bits and pieces; or did just maintain silence to force Snape & Sirius to shake hands in GoF???



wynnleaf - Jan 20, 2009 7:50 pm (#1056 of 2988)  
Actually, even the first time I read the book, when I wasn't particularly a Snape supporter and hadn't yet looked very closely at Lupin, I still never thought that scene with Snape losing his temper was particularly meant to be funny. I think it looks funny if the reader is kind of seeing Snape like we see Umbridge or another character where we are always wanting to see them get their comeupance (how do you spell that?).

The problem even when I first read it was that after reading about the Prank, I saw Snape as actually having a legitimate gripe against the Marauders and even Sirius still seemed to consider the Prank okay, so Snape disliking them was no longer some silly school-boy rivalry to me. Once a disagreeable character, who dislikes some "good guys" is shown to have a decent reason for disliking them, his anger at them no longer seems laughable, at least to me.



Solitaire - Jan 20, 2009 8:23 pm (#1057 of 2988)  
I still do not understand why Snape has a gripe against Lupin. Lupin couldn't help being a Werewolf, he didn't laugh at or take part in the events in the Pensieve scene, and he didn't know about the prank. Nor did James know, although he sprang into action when he found out. He wasn't willing to let even his worst enemy run into a Werewolf ... unlike Snape, who would have happily handed Lupin and Sirius over to the Dementors.



mona amon - Jan 20, 2009 10:18 pm (#1058 of 2988)  
He wasn't willing to let even his worst enemy run into a Werewolf ...

We don't really know that. All we know is that he didn't want his friends to get into trouble.

Snape's gripe against Lupin was that he was a Marauder, part of the gang who bullied him. He has other reasons for hating all the marauders, besides the Werewolf Prank.

Snape's motives. In this scene Snape sees the opportunity to win revenge against Sirius and Remus. Snape is only interested in collecting evidence against them and is willfully ignoring any evidence in their defense. Snape is not interested in the truth, he has heard enough to get him what he wants. (Tom)

I completely agree with you, Tom, and Tandaradei (?). Snape is simply not noble in this scene, and that's what makes it so funny. The view of him nobly rushing off to save the kids is completely mistaken. He doesn't even know they are there, till he actually gets there. It is pure, vindictive rage, and I did find it amusing to see him thwarted.

Too, I now think DD was a bit callous in smirking (??) over Snape's great apparent disappointments at the end of this book ...(Tandaradei)

I thought he was at first, after reading the last book. Now I feel he was laughing at the same thing I'm laughing at. Whether he was the betrayer of Lily or not, Snape was taking an insane delight in the fact that Sirius was going to be kissed, an attitude which Dumbledore would not have sympathised with. Nor do I. So his disappointment is very funny.



Solitaire - Jan 20, 2009 10:22 pm (#1059 of 2988)  
He has other reasons for hating all the marauders, besides the Werewlf Prank.

What are his other reasons for hating Lupin? I do not think it is suggested anywhere that Lupin did any bullying. He certainly didn't seem amused in the Pensieve incident. Guilt by association?



mona amon - Jan 20, 2009 10:25 pm (#1060 of 2988)  
Well, yes. A kid simply hates everyone in the gang, whether they are actively bullying them or not. Of course, as an adult Snape should have realised certain things, but being Snape, he does not.  



Solitaire - Jan 20, 2009 11:04 pm (#1061 of 2988)  
Edit: That just doesn't sound to me like a valid reason, Mona. It must have been obvious, even to Snape, that Remus wasn't joining in and hexing him.



mona amon - Jan 21, 2009 12:36 am (#1062 of 2988)  
No, but he probably thought he was sitting back and enjoying the fun. A child of that age would not realize that Lupin was actually feeling very uncomfortable about it, since he says and does nothing. Snape should have tried to get over it as he grew up, especially when Lupin tries to be friendly with him when he joins the Hogwarts staff. But alas, he does nothing of the sort.



Dryleaves - Jan 21, 2009 2:59 am (#1063 of 2988)  
It must have been obvious, even to Snape, that Remus wasn't joining in and hexing him.

I think that from Snape's point of view Lupin was giving the other Marauders his silent approval. In fifth year Lupin is a prefect, but choses to protect his friends instead of doing his duty. It is possible to despise people for that. And as adult Snape has no adult distance to these events, he maybe assumes that nobody else has moved on either.



wynnleaf - Jan 21, 2009 7:06 am (#1064 of 2988)  
When a person with a vested authority in a matter sits back and does nothing while something clearly wrong is going on under his nose, it's giving silent consent.

Lupin was a prefect and he sat back and did nothing. That's silent consent to bullying and humiliation, even if Lupin didn't actually like what was going on.

Further, in Lupin and Sirius' comments in Career Advice in OOTP, Lupin makes it clear that there were numerous times when he should have stopped the other Marauders, but didn't. Apparently, Lupin was made prefect to help stop the Marauders in all their misbehavior, not just their actions toward Snape, yet he didn't stop any of it.

There are only a limited number of prefects in the school. When Lupin is the prefect on hand, yet refuses to do his job in protecting other students, then what he is doing is not only giving silent consent, he is helping to deprive other students of their rightful protection.

This makes Lupin very culpable.

By silently appearing to approve the Marauder's actions, Lupin is really just as bad as the rest, only in a different way. Kind of (no, not exactly) like a policeman who consciously neglects his duty and stands by watching while two thugs mug someone.

This appears to be the situation after 4th year when Lupin was made a prefect. Prior to 5th year, Lupin may well have taken part in attacks on Snape. Snape comments about being ganged up on "four to one", so that would presumably include Lupin, although really the silent apparent support of a prefect makes him part of the "ganging up" even if he doesn't actively participate.

Further, for what it's worth, the very first Marauder in the Map to insult Snape is Lupin. Of course, the Map is not really them, but presumably it's got their basic personalities. So there we see Lupin from a Map probably made in 5th year or later, quick to verbally insult Snape.



Solitaire - Jan 21, 2009 8:06 am (#1065 of 2988)  
You know, it's interesting to see how often Snape is excused for his bad attitudes and behavior because he was unpopular, friendless, etc. Yet we know from Lupin that he himself didn't have many friends and always feared losing the few he had, and that was the reason he didn't stand up to them. Do I excuse him for that? No, he was a prefect and should have done better. He was probably not any more effective than Ron in that capacity.

If we are to take the Pensieve scene as the general way of things with Snape and the Marauders--and it is Snape's memory which shows describes Lupin's reactions--then I think we must apply it in all directions ... and say that Lupin probably didn't take part in any of the mutual hexing. That behavior does not fit with anything we have seen of him, as far as I am concerned. But this is Snape's thread, so I'll stop here.



wynnleaf - Jan 21, 2009 8:24 am (#1066 of 2988)  
Yet we know from Lupin that he himself didn't have many friends and always feared losing the few he had, and that was the reason he didn't stand up to them. (Solitaire)

Why would Lupin not have friends? Did anyone in school, besides his Marauder friends, know that he was a werewolf? No, they didn't. Are we told he had no friends? No.

In fact, when you think about it, Lupin was likely not ostracized as a werewolf until much later as an adult.

Prior to going to Hogwarts, Lupin might have hung around either muggle or wizarding kids. Would they know he was a werewolf? No. The muggles certainly wouldn't know. And the wizarding kids didn't know either, or they'd have carried that knowledge with them to Hogwarts when they got older. Nor were most of their parents likely to know, or they'd have told their kids when then kids went to Hogwarts, or complained to the Board of Governors or whatever.

Point is, the fact that Lupin's being a werewolf was a secret while he was at school shows us that the kids before he started school and the kids during school did not know he was a werewolf. Therefore, as a generally likeable fellow, he had no reason to not have a normal number of friends.

It is true that prior to attending Hogwards his parents might have kept him from playing with other kids in some fear that something would happen, or his secret would get out. So he might not have had friends before Hogwarts.

Edited to add POA quote:

I was happier than I had ever been in my life. For the first time ever, I had friends, three great friends. (Lupin in POA)

But he wasn't ostracized at Hogwarts and there's no reason he wouldn't have plenty of friends while there, although his closest friends were the Marauders.

So the fact that Snape probably had few friends (the Slytherin "friends" don't seem to be much real support), is not anything like Lupin who had no reason to not be well-liked.

The only reason I might see for Lupin to be disliked would be if other students didn't actually like his not carrying out his prefect duties and allowing the Marauders free reign and perhaps even joining in earlier on.



wynnleaf - Jan 21, 2009 9:14 am (#1067 of 2988)  
By the way, when looking up the POA part where Lupin described how the Marauders became animagi, I found this comment by Lupin:

Your father and Sirius here were the cleverest students in the school, and lucky they were, because the Animagus transformation can go horribly wrong – one reason the Ministry keeps a close watch on those attempting to do it. (Lupin in POA)

Of course, the Marauders were clearly quite clever, but is Lupin accurate when he calls them "the cleverest students in the school"? Well, no, not exactly. Clearly Slughorn didn't think they were the most clever in potions. And Sirius himself thought that Snape was the most knowledgeable in curses. In Harry's time, Harry is the most knowledgeable of his year in curses and is generally much better at DADA than Hermione. We see Snape acting very Hermione-ish in the Worst Memory scene and writing very long answers on the DADA exam.

It appears that Lupin's comment about Sirius and James most likely applies to things like transfiguration and spells, which we see in their ability to become animagi and the work on the Marauders Map. But Lily and Snape were more likely the top students in potions, and Snape probably had the most knowledge of dark arts and therefore DADA as well, so between his Hermione-ish academic devotion to the subject as well as his practical knowledge, he was likely the best or equal to the best at DADA.

Lupin's comment is not a lie. But it is biased because of his deep friendship with Sirius and James. He saw them as the cleverest and that's how he interprets them when he tells the story. It doesn't make Lupin's comments accurate. I think we have to keep that in mind any time we have any of the Marauders or Snape commenting directly about each other. They are all biased in their assessments, even at times when, like Lupin, they aren't being emotional and they are trying to tell the facts as they see them.



Julia H. - Jan 21, 2009 1:06 pm (#1068 of 2988)  
Well, Snape is given to over-the-top threats. When he had the chance later to take Sirius to the dementors, or even just to the Ministry, he didn't. He took him to the castle and to DD. (Wynnleaf)

Yes, that's interesting. Snape still does not know Sirius is innocent and he captures him but he does not take him straight to the Dementors (as he threatened to do), instead, he takes him to the castle (as the others were taking Pettigrew).

Why does Snape hate Lupin? I agree that Lupin does not seem to have taken part in the actual hexing. But he must have often stood by (watching or not watching). Snape knew all the time that Lupin was a Marauder, that he was on Sirius's and James's side, that he belonged to the gang. Pettigrew was also standing by, apparently watching with delight whatever happened to Snape. When you are being hexed and even if you are returning the hexes, it is difficult to carefully observe the precise attitude of the onlookers. If there was a laugh, did Snape register it every time (while being hexed) whether it was Pettigrew or Lupin or both? I doubt. He knew all these boys belonged to the gang and the mere presence of two other gang members must have meant additional threat from Snape's point of view. Even if Lupin never cursed Snape, his presence was support for James and Sirius (and as others said, he was a prefect, too.) The insults on the map indicate that Lupin probably disliked Snape as well as the other Marauders did, so his passivity did not originate in any sympathy for Snape but in the fact that he disliked these attacks. Snape could probably realize Lupin shared James's and Sirius's opinion of him even if Lupin did not express it with curses. He may have seemed to express it with passivity since Snape did not know Lupin well enough to understand the real reason why Lupin did not stop the others. When Snape says "four on one", I think he says it because that is how he perceived it: There were four of the Marauders when he was attacked.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 21, 2009 3:25 pm (#1069 of 2988)  
We don't actually know that Lupin was made prefect to keep the marauders under control. This is simply a passing comment made by Lupin himself in a moment where he and Sirius are both chiding each other's teenaged selves. I think it far more likely that Lupin was made prefect as a boost to his self-esteem, similar to the reason Ron was given the post. Regardless, during the worst memory, Lupin could not possibly have been the only prefect among such a large group of 5th year students, yet only he is blamed for not intervening.

We do know, however, that Lupin didn't have any friends. He tells us straight out that the marauders were the first friends he had ever had. Whether or not they were his only friends (apart from Lily) isn't mentioned. But a sickly boy who is mysteriously absent every few weeks and who wears shabby robes is not likely to be the first one invited to the dance, is he? I would say that Snape was actually in a slightly better position when he arrived at Hogwarts, since he at least had one good friend before he got there.

As for Lupin's comment about James and Sirius being the best in everything, this does not seem to be a singular, biased opinion, as it was shared by others like McGonagall and Flitwick - and I would say borne out by their ability to secretly teach themselves to become animagi.
Clearly Slughorn didn't think they were the most clever in potions. - Why clearly? Did he say so? Did they even take NEWT potions with Slughorn?

I actually wonder whether Slughorn would have expressed such appreciation for Snape's potions abilities if Snape hadn't been standing right there. Did Slughorn know about Snape's Death Eater past? We know he was afraid of being hunted. Could some of his admiration be out of fear? I'm not saying Snape wasn't talented. But Slughorn's comments about Lily have just always struck me as being genuine, whereas when he is speaking to Snape it's more in the same tone as when he's trying to recruit a new Slug Club member.



Julia H. - Jan 21, 2009 3:51 pm (#1070 of 2988)  
I think it likely that Lupin's own personality (affected by his condition) made it difficult for him to find friends - although he did manage to make friends when he got to Hogwarts. The reason for the latter may have been the House system: Once you are sorted, you tend to find friends in your house and that narrows down your choice but also gives some chance to those who are otherwise friendless. So, as Snape was somehow accepted by other Slytherins (in spite of his shabby clothes, half-blood status and difficult personality) because of being a Slytherin, Lupin was also accepted by Gryffindors and he, quite like Snape, desperately tried to cling to these people. (I see no evidence for Lupin's shabby robes at this age, because he still had parents and we don't know that they were poor - but it is not really important.)

But Slughorn's comments about Lily have just always struck me as being genuine, whereas when he is speaking to Snape it's more in the same tone as when he's trying to recruit a new Slug Club member.

Actually, Slughorn often tried to recruit people he appreciated into his Slug Club. Having said that, I am not at all sure that Snape was ever a member of the Slug Club - he was talented but Slughorn tended to choose people who were likely to become successful - and talent is not enough for that. However, what reveals Slughorn's true attitude towards Snape to me is his reaction when he hears Snape killed Dumbledore - this one seems to be entirely genuine:

"Snape!" ejaculated Slughorn, who looked most shaken, pale and sweating. "Snape! I taught him! I thought I knew him!"



Quinn Crockett - Jan 21, 2009 4:09 pm (#1071 of 2988)  
Ah. Yes, a good point about Slughorn's reaction, Julia.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 21, 2009 7:18 pm (#1072 of 2988)  
"Snape!" ejaculated Slughorn, who looked most shaken, pale and sweating. "Snape! I taught him! I thought I knew him!" - Julia H.

This is the quote I was thinking of when I posted a while back about why Slughorn did not know Severus was a DE-in-training. Not only does he seem unaware of it during Severus's school years, it seems he has no idea Severus even went on to become a DE! Do we have another example of a person (who matters) who does not know of Severus's past?



wynnleaf - Jan 21, 2009 8:12 pm (#1073 of 2988)  
Regarding my comment about Sirius and James being the most clever, and Slughorn's comments, my primary evidence that Slughorn didn't see them as super clever at potions is that he doesn't ever mention James to Harry. I think with Slughorn's personality, if he'd seen anything above average in James' potions efforts (even in 1st through 5th year), he'd have said so to Harry.

Snape's very superior ability at potions is independently clear from the HBP potions book where we see his notations, many of which must have been written in 5th year (levicorpus, the trial and error of which is detailed in the notes, was popular throughout the school by later in 5th year), producing better results than the writer of the text.

As for Lupin having friends, it is quite correct that he said the Marauders were his first friends. That makes sense as they were his dorm mates. However, I don't think that Lupin ever claimed that they were his only friends. Later, as an adult, Lupin was known by the ministry to be a werewolf and perhaps he had to let employers know (we don't know), so that info could have gradually eroded adult friendships. We really don't know.

But there's no reason beyond getting sick for a few days each month that Lupin appeared any different from any other kid (Lupin is not known to have been from a poor family), and as he was pleasant as well, he probably had other friends if he wanted them.



Solitaire - Jan 21, 2009 9:05 pm (#1074 of 2988)  
For the first time ever, I had friends, three great friends.

I think he meant three great friends who knew he was a Werewolf and still remained his friends. THAT is what I mean. Lupin would have learned at a very early age that people did not want to be around him once they knew what he was ... they feared him. Why else would his "furry little problem" have been kept a secret?

Truthfully, I've always thought Lupin's life paralleled those in our Muggle society who become HIV-positive as children and must struggle for acceptance and the right to simply lead their lives in as normal a manner as they can.

This is not Lupin's thread, however, so any further comment should be taken there.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 21, 2009 9:13 pm (#1075 of 2988)  
there's no reason beyond getting sick for a few days each month that Lupin appeared any different from any other kid (Lupin is not known to have been from a poor family), and as he was pleasant as well, he probably had other friends if he wanted them. - Interesting that this same basic argument - that of "being different" - is given for why Snape supposedly had no friends.



Dryleaves - Jan 22, 2009 1:50 am (#1076 of 2988)  
Regardless of what the reasons for making Lupin a prefect were, I think he would still have prefect duties, and in the case of the Marauders bullying Snape, at least, he did not fulfill them. I can understand why he did not. After all it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your friends, and Lupin felt very vulnerable when it came to friends. I think that he, already as a child, took for granted that no one would want to be with him because he was a werewolf and I can imagine that he did not actively seek contact with others, but was happy when others contacted him.

However, I can also understand how Lupin's inaction made Snape think of him as an accomplice of the Marauders. The fact that Lupin had authority and a duty to act, but still did not do that, may have increased this notion. What Snape accuses Lupin of in POA is basically that he is likely to help his old friend Sirius Black, even if Black (as far as everybody knows at the time) is a dangerous criminal.



wynnleaf - Jan 22, 2009 7:35 am (#1077 of 2988)  
Interesting that this same basic argument - that of "being different" - is given for why Snape supposedly had no friends. (Quinn)

Quinn, I don't think it's much of a comparison. On the one hand, we've got Lupin whose only "difference" is that he gets ill once a month. Otherwise, he'd seem no different from anyone else, and with a generally pleasant temperament, there's no reason he wouldn't have numerous friends. On the other hand, you've got Snape who was a half-blood in a house were being pure-blood is really important, poor - which is easy for others to pick up on when they're all living together, even if they do wear uniforms - and was not a particularly socially adept person anyway as we see in the scenes of him as a child.

Lupin would have learned at a very early age that people did not want to be around him once they knew what he was ... they feared him. (Solitaire)

I'm going to answer this on the Lupin thread.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 22, 2009 2:21 pm (#1078 of 2988)  
Interesting that this same basic argument - that of "being different" - is given for why Snape supposedly had no friends. (Quinn)

Quinn, I don't think it's much of a comparison.
- Gee, I wonder how it is that I knew you were going to say that.

There is absolutely NOTHING to indicate that either boy was mostly friendless. Oh wait, actually there is. Lupin tells us he didn't have any friends before he got to Hogwarts. And his behavior, his consistently choosing not to do anything that he fears would jeopardize the few friendships he does make (even well into adulthood) bears that out. Whereas Snape's lack of school friendships is based on nothing more than people projecting that image onto the character.



mona amon - Jan 22, 2009 8:01 pm (#1079 of 2988)  
I agree. I never saw Snape as alone and friendless. He had Lily's friendship for five years. And acceptance from the Slytherins and friendship from some of them.

ETA: Does anyone find it weird that he was hanging out with Bella in school? They don't act very much like old school friends in Spinner's End.



Solitaire - Jan 22, 2009 8:28 pm (#1080 of 2988)  
In school, I suppose Bella would have been trying to recruit Snape to Voldemort's cause, so she might have turned on the charm ... whatever her brand of it looked like. By the time we see them in Spinner's End, Bella makes a sort of "slip of the lip" that seems as if she is not in quite as good graces with Voldy as she once was. Also, there is definite hostility ... could it be jealousy of Snape's apparent elevation in rank within the DEs?


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me and my shadow 813 - Jan 22, 2009 8:31 pm (#1081 of 2988)  
Yeah Solitaire, apparently she was beautiful, so 'turning on the charm' probably meant just not opening her mouth to speak!



Solitaire - Jan 22, 2009 8:44 pm (#1082 of 2988)  
I'm sure old Bella knew how to turn on the charm just as well as she knew how to spew hatred. Of course, we didn't get to see much charm ... but I'm guessing she was as "oily" as Lucius could be when she wanted something.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 22, 2009 8:45 pm (#1083 of 2988)  
I agree that by the time the two see each other in Spinners End, Bella is mostly outraged that Snape, who she feels has usurped her position, should enjoy being so highly placed when he has done nothing to deserve it. I don't agree that Snape needed to be "recruited". From the scant information we're given, Snape's group of friends seemed to be of the same mindset about the Dark Arts and other common interests as he was. I don't see that he was "recruited" into the Death Eaters. In fact, if Lily's comment is any indication, Snape was all too willing to go when the time came.



Solitaire - Jan 22, 2009 8:49 pm (#1084 of 2988)  
You're probably right.



wynnleaf - Jan 22, 2009 8:49 pm (#1085 of 2988)  
On the other hand, when faced with the evidence about Lupin, Lily couldn't see the obvious. She couldn't figure out that Peter was Death Eater material. And she was fooled by her boyfriend (who one would assume she was supposed to know well), about his run ins with Snape. She seems rather clueless in understanding others, as far as I can tell.

Some of her conversations with Snape clearly point out some friendships he had with people that became DEs. On the other hand, not even Lily directly accused Snape of using Dark Arts himself, only laughing at them. Plus she really seems to have no particular notion of why he'd be so interested Death Eaters, if at the time he actually was so interested in them. We are told by JKR that it was because he wanted to be part of something powerful to impress Lily. I don't get the impression that Lily sees that aspect of Snape's interest in Dark Arts at all. Of course, I could be wrong because we're not shown too much of their interactions, but my impression is that Lily really had no idea the extent of Snape's attachment to her.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 22, 2009 9:03 pm (#1086 of 2988)  
What makes you think Lily wasn't just protecting Lupin, which is far more likely? It was none of Snape's business what Lupin and the others were doing and Lily knew that Snape only wanted to make Lupin's life miserable. Good for her for standing up to her "friend".

I get tired of the double standard argument. Lily wasn't the only one to "couldn't figure out" that Peter was a death eater. Even the great and powerful Dumbledore had no idea; and Saint Severus, who should have been able to above anyone, couldn't identify Peter as the spy. We don't say Sirius was "clueless in understanding others" when he admits that he had never heard of Snape being a death eater, even though it's a matter of public record that Snape was. No, we say Snape must have been really slick about it not to have been found out. Gimme a break....



wynnleaf - Jan 22, 2009 9:17 pm (#1087 of 2988)  
My point was that many assume that because Snape and Lily were friends, we can trust Lily's assessment of Snape. Yet Lily was not able to assess James completely, given his ability to hide things from her even while they were dating, nor Peter, who was apparently another friend. Peter was not DD's friend, nor Snape's. I wasn't trying to say that anyone and everyone should be good at figuring out all the other characters. My point was that Lily isn't necessarily that great at being right about her other friends. Why should we assume she had any real understanding of Snape?



mona amon - Jan 22, 2009 10:34 pm (#1088 of 2988)  
In school, I suppose Bella would have been trying to recruit Snape to Voldemort's cause, so she might have turned on the charm ... whatever her brand of it looked like. By the time we see them in Spinner's End, Bella makes a sort of "slip of the lip" that seems as if she is not in quite as good graces with Voldy as she once was. Also, there is definite hostility ... could it be jealousy of Snape's apparent elevation in rank within the DEs? (Soli)

Yes, that could be the reason for Bella's coldness to Snape, but what about Snape's attitude to her? He is so very soft and sympathetic to Narcissa (even before she starts shedding tears on his chest), and so very sarcastic to his old friend Bella. They seem to have drifted very far apart since their schooldays.

I don't agree that Snape needed to be "recruited". From the scant information we're given, Snape's group of friends seemed to be of the same mindset about the Dark Arts and other common interests as he was. I don't see that he was "recruited" into the Death Eaters. In fact, if Lily's comment is any indication, Snape was all too willing to go when the time came. (Quinn)

A fascination with the dark arts does not automatically make you a DE. If he had been sorted into a different house, I won't be surprised if his unfortunate talent could not have been chanelled into a more positive direction. He could have become a healer at St. Mungo's, specialising in dark arts injuries. He could have become a DADA expert.

Anyway, I don't understand why you say that Snape wasn't recruited. Every single DE must have been recruited at one time or another, including Bella. Why should Snape alone have been born a full fledged DE or somehow automatically turned into one?



Quinn Crockett - Jan 23, 2009 1:01 am (#1089 of 2988)  
A fair point, Mona. What I mean by "recruited" is that I don't agree that Snape was preyed upon by the DE organization because he was some poor misunderstood/misguided loner/outcast who was easily seduced by the Dark Side.



Istani - Jan 23, 2009 5:20 am (#1090 of 2988)  
'Does anyone find it weird that he was hanging out with Bella in school? They don't act very much like old school friends in Spinner's End.' Mona

I'm a little bit confused here. According to the Black Family Tree Bella was born in 1951. How could she have been Severus' school friend? I know, in GOF Sirius listed her as one of many who Severus hang around with and who all became Death Eaters.



Julia H. - Jan 23, 2009 5:29 am (#1091 of 2988)  
Nitpicking: According to the Lexicon, Bella was born in 1951. That's nine years older than Snape, so if the Lexicon is correct Bella and Snape could hardly have been at school together. Do we know that they were?

I agree that Snape, like others, must have been recruited somehow and his growing up in Slytherin and having Slytherin friends had a lot to do with that. Whether he was "seduced" by the Dark Side - I don't know. (It depends on what we mean by that. I don't really think it took Bella's charms to recruit him.) IMO he was pretty much abandoned by the good side (yes, I know he had Lily for years and yet I think so) and he accepted the "invitation" of the Dark Side, which he did not have to do and should not have done. That he must have been in a way misguided is indicated to me by the fact that being a DE ultimately ruined his life "from within" and that he had to realize working for Voldemort meant working against what he valued most.

Edit: Crossposted with Istani!  

Oh, yes, Sirius mentions her. But it's strange that he says "the Lestranges" - they were not a married couple then (and Bellatrix is his cousin, so he does not know her as a "Lestrange" in the first place).



Swedish Short-Snout - Jan 23, 2009 11:32 am (#1092 of 2988)  
I don't think it's strange that Sirius says "the Lestranges". He says in OotP that he hasn't seen her since he was about fifteen, and that he doesn't see her as his family. It would have been a lot stranger if he had said "my cousin Bella and her husband".

Perhaps Sirius listed Bella as one of Snape's friends because they belonged to the same gang, even if they never were at school together.



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 11:47 am (#1093 of 2988)  
I had posted here with speculation about Bella and her husband ... but when I looked at it closely, my times were all crazy, and my theory couldn't have been correct. So ...

Bella couldn't possibly have been at Hogwarts with Snape. Even if she was born December 31, 1951, and entered at age 12 in 1963, she would have been out in June or July of 1971, right? Snape would not have entered Hogwarts until the fall of 1971.

I suppose it is possible that Bella's husband, Rodolphus Lestrange, could have been a few years younger than she and might have been a 6th or 7th year when Snape entered. Another possibility is that Rabastan Lestrange could have been the younger brother, perhaps in the same year as Lucius Malfoy. Narcissa would still have been at Hogwarts with Snape for a couple of years, as well.

If the younger Slytherins were spending time with their older siblings on holidays, they would certainly be seduced by the idea of being in Voldemort's "inner circle," don't you think? And it would not be out-of-line to assume that they might return to Hogwarts with exciting tales that would tempt Snape and his Slytherin peers.

Okay, my head is fuzzy, and maybe I'd better stop. This is all speculation, of course.

Edit: Perhaps Sirius listed Bella as one of Snape's friends because they belonged to the same gang, even if they never were at school together.

I think this is entirely likely. Also, I think Sirius had emotionally distanced himself from Bella and Narcissa, so that he no longer considered them "family."



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 1:56 pm (#1094 of 2988)  
IMO he was pretty much abandoned by the good side (yes, I know he had Lily for years and yet I think so) and he accepted the "invitation" of the Dark Side, which he did not have to do and should not have done. That he must have been in a way misguided is indicated to me by the fact that being a DE ultimately ruined his life "from within" and that he had to realize working for Voldemort meant working against what he valued most. - Julia H.

Misguided is definitely the word I would use for Severus for several reasons:

He was strongly (obsessively?) attracted to a young girl who embodied everything that is “good” and “right” in the world. He wasn’t an evil child that we can see. There is no canon to show he tortured bunnies, despite watching his abusive father

He probably had decided that Slytherin was for him because it was the house his mother was in. (I know folks have posted that Eileen probably was not in that house, but I don’t see why). Or perhaps he was in contact with a few wizards and witches and that’s where he got his information

We have no canon to show that Severus was studying or even interested in the dark arts before he attended Hogwarts.

We have no canon (that I can think of) to support that Severus ever used Unforgivable Curses on anyone besides DD on his orders. He specifically put *for enemies* next to Sectumsempra. To me this curse is no different than someone having an unlicenced gun in their home in case of intruders. He used it on James (in a controlled manner despite his rage) in defence, not on an innocent “victim” which is how I see a true DE’s mind working

Even when he “lost” Lily to James, there is no canon that he wanted revenge on her, which is how many “dark” people feel justified in relieving their pain. They just blame the one rejecting them

Once he realised (at the age of approximately 20) that his actions would put the only person he ever cared for at risk, everything changed and he never looked back

He was definitely bitter and angry (at himself) and riddled with jealousy. Regret coupled with guilt, especially in a circumstance such as this, has to be the most crippling combination I can think of. Obviously he was incapable of "moving on", but to me that is not a trait I would classify as "bad".



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 2:30 pm (#1095 of 2988)  
We have no canon to show that Severus was studying or even interested in the dark arts before he attended Hogwarts.

What about this comment by Sirius in GoF, Chapter 27: "Snape's always been fascinated by the Dark Arts, he was famous for it at school. ... Snape knew more curses when he arrived at school than half the kids in seventh year." How would they know he knew curses if he wasn't using them on people from the start? And how would he know them if he wasn't doing a considerable amount of study and practice before the age of eleven? Or do we just disregard this comment because it was made by Sirius, and we consider him unreliable?



Quinn Crockett - Jan 23, 2009 2:33 pm (#1096 of 2988)  
IMO he was pretty much abandoned by the good side - It's definitely the other way around. It was Snape who did the abandoning.

There is no canon to show he tortured bunnies, despite watching his abusive father - No, he only shot spells at flies and dropped a tree branch on someone he didn't like.

We have no canon to show that Severus was studying or even interested in the dark arts before he attended Hogwarts. - Actually, we do. "He came to Hogwarts knowing more dark curses than most 7th years". Snape was described as being "famous" for his interest in the dark arts.

He specifically put *for enemies* next to Sectumsempra. To me this curse is no different than someone having an unlicenced gun in their home in case of intruders. He used it on James (in a controlled manner despite his rage) in defence, not on an innocent “victim” which is how I see a true DE’s mind working - Okay, I'm going to be good and just not say anything about thinking it's okay to have an "unlicensed gun". I'll just pretend I didn't even see that. "Sectumsempra was always a specialty of Snape's". Sounds to me like Snape fired off his "unlicensed gun" at more than just "intruders" and more than a few times for it to be instantly recognizable 20 years later.

Once he realised (at the age of approximately 20) that his actions would put the only person he ever cared for at risk, everything changed and he never looked back - What changed? The only thing that changed about Snape was that he was now following Dumbledore's orders instead of Voldemort's. Snape, himself didn't change one whit. He was still the same hateful, spiteful, sneaky, vengeful, bullying little so and so he always was. It's pretty hard to "look back" when you haven't gone anywhere.

He was definitely bitter and angry (at himself) and riddled with jealousy. - I see no evidence that Snape ever once took responsibility for a single thing he ever did, let alone that he was "angry at himself".

ETA: Cross-posted with Solitaire.



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 2:42 pm (#1097 of 2988)  
"Sectumsempra was always a specialty of Snape's"

It sounds as though he used it pretty often--at least as often as Harry used Expelliarmus! I should think--if it was known as his "specialty."



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 2:57 pm (#1098 of 2988)  
"Snape's always been fascinated by the Dark Arts, he was famous for it at school. ... Snape knew more curses when he arrived at school than half the kids in seventh year."

I have just as much skepticism about what Severus has to say about Sirius as I do with this type of statement. I would find it hard to believe that Sirius did not know curses when he arrived at school, given the household he grew up in. They are both unreliable when it comes to assessing the other.

How would they know he knew curses if he wasn't using them on people from the start?

Perhaps because Gryffindor and Slytherin seem to take a few classes together and that Severus always raised his hand whenever asked about curses. And/or, he was defending himself from James from the start.

No, he only shot spells at flies and dropped a tree branch on someone he didn't like.

The branch fell on Petunia exactly in the same way that Harry reacted to Dudley at the zoo. (and lots of people kill flies)

I guess if you think it's okay to have a gun for the specific purpose of shooting people...

I am not capable of firing a gun. I do understand it is currently someone's right to defend themselves by "bearing arms". We only see Severus defending himself with Sectumsempra which he specifically labels *for enemies*, not *for fun*

"Sectumsempra was always a specialty of Snape's"

Again, coming from the Marauders. A speciality of Snape's in order to defend himself? A speciality of Snape's when James came at him?



Steve Newton - Jan 23, 2009 2:58 pm (#1099 of 2988)  
In the worst memory chapter doesn't Lupin say that Snape never missed a chance to curse James?



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 3:30 pm (#1100 of 2988)  
And/or, he was defending himself from James from the start.

Somehow, I do not believe that he would have gotten a reputation for knowing a lot of Dark curses only by using them on James. Having a "reputation" suggests his use of Dark curses was pretty widely known ... which suggests that he may have used them widely.

We only see Severus defending himself with Sectumsempra

Lucky he knew Sectumsempra, because there was no other way of defending himself ... like, say, using Expelliarmus! Then again, perhaps all he knew were Dark curses ... or maybe the only ones he ever used in front of people were Dark curses.



legolas returns - Jan 23, 2009 3:34 pm (#1101 of 2988)  
He also used it as an attack e.g on the death eater who was going to curse fake Harry.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 3:43 pm (#1102 of 2988)  
Lucky he knew Sectumsempra, because there was no other way of defending himself ... like, say, using Expelliarmus!

LOL Solitaire. I dunno, I'd say kids think 'fight fire with fire'. I don't think James was playing fair so why should Severus? I see James as causal. That's the perspective from which I view this scenario. I'm trying to ease up on James and it's happening little by little. But, JKR gave us scenes (and I know we cannot know *for sure* that the The Prince's Tale Pensieve scenes are what "actually" happened, yadda yadda yadda) for a reason. What we get from his enemies the Marauders is that Severus was up to his ears and knew a ton of curses, etc., etc.. What we get from Lily, however, and I view her as the voice of fairness, is that James was victimising people for no apparent reason and how she reacts when Severus was targeted by James and Sirius before Severus even knew they existed.



legolas returns - Jan 23, 2009 3:54 pm (#1103 of 2988)  
I got the impression that Snape would react to any form of attack-he would not cower like his mother did to his fathers abuse.

Pertunia laughed at his clothes and he caused the branch to fall on her. I don't think he was the kind of guy that would soak up any sort of teasing/bullying without reacting.

He reacted very quickly to James/Sirius.



wynnleaf - Jan 23, 2009 4:09 pm (#1104 of 2988)  
"Snape's always been fascinated by the Dark Arts, he was famous for it at school. ... Snape knew more curses when he arrived at school than half the kids in seventh year." (Sirius)

Interesting. How many curses does the average 7th year know? Harry, supposed to be quite advanced in DADA by the end of 6th year, knows about 6 or 7 curses. Hogwarts does allow the teaching of curses, after all. So let's say a 7th year, strong in DADA, might likely know as many as 6 or 7 curses tops. Snape, if he knew more than half the 7th years, probably knew about half a dozen. Hogwarts approved curses are in the textbooks. We know that Snape used upper level textbooks, most likely his mother's, so it wouldn't be surprising that he'd read upper level DADA texts.

How would people know he knew them if he wasn't going around cursing people? Well, maybe like the way Petunia knew he knew about dementors even though she personally never saw Snape with a dementor. He talked about dementors. He may just have easily talked about knowing curses as well. Maybe in DADA?

If he was out using them all the time, surely Lily would have said something about it when she was criticizing him. The worst Lily can think of is to comment on his bad friends, Snape laughing at dark pranks, and his using "mudblood".

The branch falling on Petunia was almost certainly accidental magic. Fly killing is nothing. Flies in the house are pests. One might as well state that slapping mosquitoes is a sign of bad character.



Julia H. - Jan 23, 2009 4:26 pm (#1105 of 2988)  
The branch fell on Petunia because Snape was angry with her and he was angry with reason. Petunia did not deserve to have that branch fallen on her but it was accidental child magic, exactly like Harry's in the Zoo or with Aunt Marge. That does not make Harry evil. IMO this kind of anger is similar to what any of us may feel (and I'm sure most of us do feel) at times, only we don't have magical power to "make things happen" but wizards do and as children, they cannot control it. Actually, Harry blows up Marge when he has already studied two years at Hogwarts and it seems he is expected to control his magic - but I still can't blame him for being angry.

Curses: There are many ways to demonstrate you know about curses (including flies and class-discussion). I seem to remember that Hermione knew about the Killing Curse before Fake-Moody showed them the curse in class but it does not mean she had killed anyone. It is never mentioned that Snape attacked his fellow students, except for James, but we know James also attacked him, so I do see it as a way of self-defence. Yes, Expelliarmus would have been a nicer option but Snape is definitely not the only Hogwarts student who uses curses in fights, so that does not make him worse than Harry or the Weasley twins or James, for example.

Sectumsempra as Snape's specialty: If the spell he used on James in the Worst Memory was Sectumsempra, then it was an absolutely mild, controlled version, since James was laughing the next moment and nothing indicates that the spell caused any real harm. If that was his specialty... well, the choking with the soap bubbles was probably worse by far.



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 4:48 pm (#1106 of 2988)  
It is never mentioned that Snape attacked his fellow students, except for James, but we know James also attacked him

Of course, we do not, since it is Snape's memory, and not James's, that we are viewing. I find it interesting that James uses Levicorpus-- Snape's own personal spell--on Snape. Perhaps he wanted to let Snape know how it felt to be hung up in midair ... so that he would stop using it on others. Before saying that there is no canon to support that this happened, think: How did James learn this spell? He must have either seen Snape perform it ... or had Snape perform it on him.

the choking with the soap bubbles was probably worse by far

I suppose having soap bubbles come out of one's mouth might be considered worse than being slashed across the face by Sectumsempra! ... for some.



TomProffitt - Jan 23, 2009 4:50 pm (#1107 of 2988)  
It is never mentioned that Snape attacked his fellow students, except for James ... --- Julia H.

Not to be picking on Julia, but it amazes me how a quote from the books can be interpreted about one character in the worst possible light and a quote about a different character is then interpreted in the best possible light. There is nothing rational going on in this argument. It's like politicians spinning sound bites for the news.

Of course, I think much of this goes both ways, it's not my intention to single out one group or another.

- a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy cried in a corner ... --- OP US ver. p.592

That sentence fragment is the sum total of all of our canon showing that Snape's father was an abusive husband. That is a huge stretch. Does JKR say in an interview somewhere that he was abusive, because there are so many possible explanations for that sentence other than an abusive father it boggles my mind? We don't even know that those are Snape's parents. I also find it hard to believe that a muggle could abuse a witch, especially the witch who is the most likely teacher for Severus's unusual skill with curses at age 11.

I think people have decided how they want to see the characters and are only accepting the evidence that supports that vision and disregarding everything else.



legolas returns - Jan 23, 2009 4:52 pm (#1108 of 2988)  
The soap and hanging by the leg incident seem to be all about humiliation Snape.

I am not convinced that the spell used on James was Sectumsempra. The first time Harry used it he caused a lot of damage to Malfoy. I am sure that if Snape used the spell he would use it with the same level of intent/hatred and should have caused a lot more damage. I don't think he would have been holding himself back. If he wrote it down in his textbook in 6th year then he probably had only just learned or perfected it. If he knew it in 5th year he would not have written it down.

The spell that Snape uses on Harry at the end of HBP sounds a lot like a kind of whiplash type thing. There was little damage to Harry but he was completely stunned and could not focus.



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 4:54 pm (#1109 of 2988)  
I am not convinced that the spell used on James was Sectumsempra. The first time Harry used it he caused a lot of damage to Malfoy.

The difference is that Harry didn't even know what the spell did. Snape knew ... and he would have known how to control it, too ... so that it caused just enough damage, but not too much to get him into trouble.



legolas returns - Jan 23, 2009 4:57 pm (#1110 of 2988)  
If he was that concerned about being a good little boy then why didn't he just stupify James?

Harry knew it was something that you only used on enemies. He tried simple things first and used the curse in desperation. Admittedly he waggles his wand around rather than controlling it. Snape held his wand still. Why did he write it down in 6th year if he already knew the spell and had been using it for the last 6 months? That would have been pointless.


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wynnleaf - Jan 23, 2009 5:03 pm (#1111 of 2988)  
If the spell Snape used in the Worst Memory scene was Sectumsempra, we can surely use James' own reaction: he's roaring with laughter moments later. Would James really have preferred to be choking?

How did James learn levicorpus? We don't know. But we can be pretty certain that the Marauders didn't know it was Snape's spell, because when Harry asked Lupin about it in HBP, Lupin said it was a really popular spell at school and he had no idea where it came from.

‘Oh, that one had a great vogue during my time at Hogwarts,’ said Lupin reminiscently. ‘There were a few months in my fifth year when you couldn’t move for being hoisted into the air by your ankle.’

‘My dad used it,’ said Harry. ‘I saw him in the Pensieve, he used it on Snape.’ He tried to sound casual, as though this was a throwaway comment of no real importance, but he was not sure he had achieved the right effect; Lupin’s smile was a little too understanding.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but he wasn’t the only one. As I say, it was very popular ... you know how these spells come and go ...’

‘But it sounds like it was invented while you were at school,’ Harry persisted.

‘Not necessarily,’ said Lupin. ‘Jinxes go in and out of fashion like everything else.’

I think that makes it quite clear that as far as Lupin knew, lots of people used it and it could have been invented long before they even came to Hogwarts. So actually, we don't know that the Marauders learned it from Snape or someone else. Obviously someone learned it from Snape and passed it along, but the Marauders? No particular evidence they learned it from him.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 5:05 pm (#1112 of 2988)  
That sentence fragment is the sum total of all of our canon showing that Snape's father was an abusive husband. - Quinn C.

To me Lily's delicately put inquiry to Severus in The Prince's Tale is also indicative, showing her concern about his home life. I don't see why JKR would spend too much time driving the point home, I think we can get it from these two small bits.



Julia H. - Jan 23, 2009 5:19 pm (#1113 of 2988)  
It is never mentioned that Snape attacked his fellow students, except for James ... --- Julia H.

Not to be picking on Julia, but it amazes me how a quote from the books can be interpreted about one character in the worst possible light and a quote about a different character is then interpreted in the best possible light. (Tom)


I'm not sure what you mean. It is mentioned that Snape cursed James in the seventh year. We are shown an incident in which Snape is attacked, and it is strongly indicated that it was not a single incident. Yes, it is possible that Snape attacked other people, too, apart from James, or took part in fights with other people during those seven years, however, we are not shown that it was anything typical. It is certainly not mentioned that he was cursing people all over the place all the time - anyway, how could he have got away with that? James and Sirius used curses on Snape - we saw that. If they could do that without being inherently evil, then why would Snape be any worse if he was doing the same on them? You see, I am not saying Snape was all good. It is just that he does not seem to have been doing anything that others (supposedly good people) did not do as well. Snape knew curses. Right. Hermione, too, knew about the AK. Snape cursed James (we don't know what curses he used). James and Sirius used Petrificus Totalus and Impedimenta on Snape. Hermione used Petrificus Totalus on Neville. Harry and his friends used curses on Draco and his friends at the end of GoF. Snape used Sectumsempra (?) on James but a second later James "roared with laughter". The bubbles for Snape, however, were "making him gag, choking him" and he did not laugh the next moment. The curses Snape knew and - possibly - used, as well as Sectumsempra as his specialty, have been mentioned as evidence that Snape was somehow "born to be a DE", as evidence that he could not be misguided when he joined the organization. I see no evidence that Snape knew or used any curses differently from the way these other students knew or used them - perhaps others can find the evidence.

It is interesting that some posters are ready to believe that Lily knew Snape was already going to be a DE just because she said so when she was angry with him, yet the fact that she never accuses him of attacking and cursing people all over the place and without reason - even though she specifically tells him what she finds unacceptable about him - does not seem to count. I'm sure if Snape had been known to be this very aggressive guy with all those dark curses, Lily would have told him. So either he was not or Lily did not find it a problem.



TomProffitt - Jan 23, 2009 5:38 pm (#1114 of 2988)  
Julia, in regards to "best possible light for Snape" I refer, among other things, to his spell that cut James in "Snape's Worst Memory." It could have been a full powered Sectumsempra that missed (or mostly missed), we don't know. Some people automatically interpret this as restraint, I was not singling out you, you just had the closest quote to copy.

I've seen similar things regarding other characters. I don't know if you've read the "Harry's 'ship uniting the Houses" thread, but it was filled with similar drivel. Basically, "For my theory to work this is how we must interpret Pansy's character, so poo on your evidence, I like my theory and won't question it."

As all of this relates to Snape I think a lot of people can't or don't want to accept that Snape was basically a vile, ill-tempered, self-centered jerk who managed to do something incredibly heroic. We don't like our heroes to be more flawed than good, but that's what we have with Snape, and I think that it was intention on Rowling's part.

I can accept Snape as a hero, but I think it absurd to assume that because he was a hero in the end nothing else he ever did was really bad, he had excuses, and bad things would have happened anyway so it wasn't really his fault. Piffle, Snape was as slimy as his hair and it didn't stop him from being a hero.



legolas returns - Jan 23, 2009 5:39 pm (#1115 of 2988)  
Lily questions Snape on how he can be friends with people that are doing Dark Magic. Snape think that they are just messing around and does not seem to get the fact that the things they are doing are unacceptable. He obsesses over MWPP wrongdoing. Lily makes allowances for Snape until he calls her a Mudblood.

If you look at the OWL potions book the things written in the margins start off innocently enough and as the book progresses they become "less friendly". I wonder if Lily was a positive influence and over time the influence wears off e.g further into the book is later in 6th year/7th year. There is no mention that up to the end of 5th year Snape is involved in any serious wrong doing.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 5:41 pm (#1116 of 2988)  
We don't like our heroes to be more flawed than good, but that's what we have with Snape, and I think that it was intention on Rowling's part. - Tom P.

Agreed. Both with Severus and James.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 23, 2009 6:10 pm (#1117 of 2988)  
The branch falling on Petunia was almost certainly accidental magic. - Whether it was "accidental" magic or not is irrelevant. What it shows is that Snape's instinctive reaction was to harm.

Fly killing is nothing. Flies in the house are pests. One might as well state that slapping mosquitoes is a sign of bad character. - Which is precisely the attitude people like Umbridge had about Muggles and Muggleborns. That they are mere "pests" in the house of the Wizarding community and there isn't a single thing wrong with getting rid of them.

The branch fell on Petunia because Snape was angry with her and he was angry with reason. - What reason is that? Because she was watching him and her sister from behind a bush? Why shouldn't she look out for her little sister? This weird little boy they've never seen before, dressed in women's clothes and a man's jacket who comes from a shady part of town. More importantly, why does Petunia deserve Snape's anger for watching from afar, but when he does the very same thing we're supposed to feel pity for the poor, friendless little outcast?

That sentence fragment is the sum total of all of our canon showing that Snape's father was an abusive husband. - Exactly, Tom. Lily asks about the fighting. Lots of couples argue and it is upsetting for children who hear it. But that does not equate "abuse".

As all of this relates to Snape I think a lot of people can't or don't want to accept that Snape was basically a vile, ill-tempered, self-centered jerk who managed to do something incredibly heroic. I can accept Snape as a hero, but I think it absurd to assume that because he was a hero in the end nothing else he ever did was really bad, he had excuses, and bad things would have happened anyway so it wasn't really his fault. Piffle, Snape was as slimy as his hair and it didn't stop him from being a hero. - I'm not sure I can even accept him as a hero, but I do absolutely agree with the rest of what you say, Tom.



TomProffitt - Jan 23, 2009 6:23 pm (#1118 of 2988)  
Lily asks about the fighting. Lots of couples argue and it is upsetting for children who hear it. --- Quinn

My parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They love each other very much there is no abuse going on at all. It still upsets me very much when they get mad at each other.



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 6:24 pm (#1119 of 2988)  
Wynnleaf: But we can be pretty certain that the Marauders didn't know it was Snape's spell, because when Harry asked Lupin about it in HBP, Lupin said it was a really popular spell at school and he had no idea where it came from.

Haven't you always said Lupin wasn't a reliable narrator? Then again, just because Lupin didn't know who invented Levicorpus! doesn't mean James didn't.

We are shown an incident in which Snape is attacked, and it is strongly indicated that it was not a single incident.

Who strongly indicates it? Other things in that scene indicate to me that Snape has probably been just as guilty of hexing and attacking others.

she never accuses him of attacking and cursing people all over the place and without reason

But many of you have said that Lily apparently didn't realize James was cursing people, either. Isn't it possible that Snape could have been just as bad and she didn't realize that? The other kids who were present in the Pensieve scene did not seem bothered by what happened to Snape. In "The Prince's Tale," Lily herself says that she has been making excuses for Snape "for years." Excuses for what? She also says her friends can't understand why she even talks to him. Do they perhaps know something of which she is unaware?

I think there is more than one way to interpret some of these scenes, and because my interpretation is different from someone else's doesn't mean it's wrong.



wynnleaf - Jan 23, 2009 6:35 pm (#1120 of 2988)  
The branch falling on Petunia was almost certainly accidental magic. (wynnleaf)

Whether it was "accidental" magic or not is irrelevant. What it shows is that Snape's instinctive reaction was to harm. (Quinn)


Therefore you clearly feel that Harry's instinctive reaction was to harm Aunt Marge? Perhaps so, but if this doesn't say anything bad about Harry, why is it bad about Snape?

This weird little boy they've never seen before, dressed in women's clothes and a man's jacket who comes from a shady part of town. (Quinn)

Quinn, you seem to be thinking of when Petunia first met Snape. That wasn't when the branch fell. The branch fell later, after Snape and Lily were friends and they were off having a chat by themselves. Snape was telling Lily about the WW and Petunia was spying.

"Who's spying now?" he shouted. "What do'you want?"

Petunia was breathless, alarmed at being caught. Harry could see her struggling for something hurtful to say.

"What is that you're wearing, anyway?" she said, pointing at Snape's chest. "Your mum's blouse?"

There was a crack: A branch over Petunia's head had fallen.

No protecting her little sister from the boy she'd "never seen". No, Petunia already knew who Snape was and that he and Lily had become friends. Harry realizes (even if the reader doesn't) that Petunia's desire is to say something hurtful, not to protect her sister. Snape responds to being insulted.

Does all accidental magic mean that the child intended the action? Not exactly. How many times does anyone imagine or kind of wish they could do something harmful which in real life they'd not really follow up on with action? Plenty. Only with accidental magic, it can really happen.

Lots of couples argue and it is upsetting for children who hear it. But that does not equate "abuse". (Quinn)

Of course, this is true. However, very, very, very few spouses actually "cower" from their spouse. That is the way it is described in OOTP - "cowering". The definition of cower is "to cringe in fear". Not at all typical of a spouse unless they actually do fear the other person.



wynnleaf - Jan 23, 2009 6:44 pm (#1121 of 2988)  
Haven't you always said Lupin wasn't a reliable narrator? Then again, just because Lupin didn't know who invented Levicorpus! doesn't mean James didn't. (Solitaire)

I consider Lupin unreliable because of his tendency to skew the truth intentionally, not because I think his memory is faulty. If he is not in a discussion where he might wish to skew the truth, I'm quite willing to believe it.

Are you implying that Lupin's memory is faulty on top of his sometimes covering the truth? Is he then even less reliable than I thought?

Solitaire, it is you who believes Lupin completely. Why not now?

James could well have learned the spell from Snape, but he wouldn't necessarily know Snape invented it.

But more, you said that maybe James used it on Snape to show him how other people really didn't like it. Since Lupin says that lots and lots of people were using it (it was such a popular spell), I suppose then that James was running around levicorpusing people right and left in order to show them how bad it made people feel and that they shouldn't do it any more.



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 6:54 pm (#1122 of 2988)  
I do believe Lupin completely. I also believe James knew Snape was the inventor of this spell, even though Lupin may not have known ... or may have forgotten. The fact that neither Lupin nor James knew about the prank beforehand tells me that the Marauders did not always tell each other everything.

No, I believe Snape was the one using Levicorpus on people. If Lupin didn't know that it was Snape's spell, he might not have realized that it was Snape who was doing it. Snape was probably a master of the nonverbal spell by that time, and I believe Levicorpus was a nonverbal spell.



Julia H. - Jan 23, 2009 7:11 pm (#1123 of 2988)  
It could have been a full powered Sectumsempra that missed (or mostly missed), we don't know. (Tom)

Yes, that's possible. Snape also makes a mistake with Sectumsempra in DH, as an adult, although other times he seems to be good with spells. That would indicate he was not very practised in Sectumsempra.

I can accept Snape as a hero, but I think it absurd to assume that because he was a hero in the end nothing else he ever did was really bad, he had excuses, and bad things would have happened anyway so it wasn't really his fault.

I don't think I have ever said that. Now I'm only saying he does not seem to be doing worse things at school than other students who are not generally considered evil.

Whether it was "accidental" magic or not is irrelevant. What it shows is that Snape's instinctive reaction was to harm. (Quinn)

I would say his reaction was anger. But either way, we can say the same about Harry.

What reason is that? Because she was watching him and her sister from behind a bush? Why shouldn't she look out for her little sister?

But that's not when the branch falls on Petunia. It is when she insults Snape about his clothes. Snape gets angry. So would I.

More importantly, why does Petunia deserve Snape's anger for watching from afar, but when he does the very same thing we're supposed to feel pity for the poor, friendless little outcast?

I did not say she deserved Snape's anger for watching from afar but I understand that Snape dislikes her. As for anger, we can't really help that, can we? Does being angry make you evil?

About Snape's parents: We don't even know they were Snape's parents. Yes, it could be just the average man with the hooked nose in the neighbourhood. The little boy may not even be Snape. Or they may be Snape's parents arguing and little Sev crying, all in a very untypical situation. I just don't see why JKR would bother to include that scene then. BTW, do we have any more evidence that the boy shooting down flies was Snape? Or perhaps he was Snape but the scene was not typical at all...

We are shown an incident in which Snape is attacked, and it is strongly indicated that it was not a single incident. (Julia)

Who strongly indicates it? (Solitaire)


The narrator: The wild anticipation on Pettigrew's face. The frown on Lupin's face. They both know what is going to happen. James does not tell Sirius "let's attack Snape", he says: "This'll liven you up, Padfoot... Look who it is..." Sirius: "Excellent... They all know what is going to happen. We also know Snape was a special case for James.

Other things in that scene indicate to me that Snape has probably been just as guilty of hexing and attacking others.

Just as guilty but not more guilty. That's all I'm saying. He was like the other boys who were engaged in various fights.

But many of you have said that Lily apparently didn't realize James was cursing people, either. Isn't it possible that Snape could have been just as bad and she didn't realize that?

We know Lily realized James was hexing people because she told him so. Later James stopped hexing people at random for the fun of it, however, he did not stop hexing Snape, and it is indicated that Lily did not know because James was not hexing Snape in front of her. (At the time she was already in love with James and may have been inclined to believe in James's change.) However, some of you seem to be saying that Snape was using curses on fellow-students all the time, he was using Sectumsempra and Levicorpus on them all the time, that it was generally known and that is why some students laughed at him - is it possible that Lily did not know about something such large-scale?

Yes, she made excuses for Snape but I think she has told him why she had to make excuses. Take the conversation about Mulciber between Lily and Snape. She is telling him to stop being friends with people who do evil things. Would she be saying that if Snape was doing similarly evil things? Would she not rather tell him to stop doing such evil things?

No, I believe Snape was the one using Levicorpus on people. If Lupin didn't know that it was Snape's spell, he might not have realized that it was Snape who was doing it.

So you mean, it was always Snape somewhere nearby when people were hanging upside down, only Lupin never made the connection? James, of course, did, so once he tried the spell on Snape to "punish" him. (With what Lily says, James must have done a lot of punishing, what was he at Hogwarts?) Of course, the people who laughed knew it as well, only poor Lupin had no idea...

BTW, I've just noticed in the Worst Memory Scene, James shouts: All right, Snivellus? Later he says: All right, Evans? but in a different tone.

Does that mean anything?

EDIT: No, Harry only wanted her to shut her big fat mouth and his accidental magic made that happen. (Quinn)

Perhaps Snape, too, only wanted Petunia "to shut her big fat mouth and his accidental magic made that happen".



Quinn Crockett - Jan 23, 2009 7:12 pm (#1124 of 2988)  
Therefore you clearly feel that Harry's instinctive reaction was to harm Aunt Marge? - No, Harry only wanted her to shut her big fat mouth and his accidental magic made that happen. Of all the truly harmful things Harry could have done, even accidentally, to Marge (fling all the kitchen knives at her, for example), he does something that does not cause Marge any pain. Only fear and/or humiliation.

How many times does anyone imagine or kind of wish they could do something harmful which in real life they'd not really follow up on with action? Plenty. Only with accidental magic, it can really happen. - Yeah, that's exactly what I just said. That Snape's immediate reaction, his first instinct, was to harm.

Petunia already knew who Snape was and that he and Lily had become friends. - Yeah. She knew he was that weird little boy with greasy hair and mismatched clothes and a man's coat from down in the shady part of town, the one who had a rather unpleasant influence over her little sister.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 7:12 pm (#1125 of 2988)  
James could well have learned the spell from Snape, but he wouldn't necessarily know Snape invented it. - wynnleaf

And I'd say if James knew it was Severus's invention he probably wouldn't use it - wouldn't care to *endorse* it if you know what I mean. It was 'in vogue' so I assumed he picked it up from somebody else using it. What irks me about the scene (among other things) is the very embarrassing, very private undergarments being exposed.

I acknowledge that we don't have a lot to go on (intentional, I am sure). I am trying to put myself in James's shoes, as it is easier for me to do so with Severus. When I do look at James's motivation, I see priviledged boy (same for Sirius) taking pleasure in passing the time by humiliating a complete stranger on the Hogwarts Express, and then again, out of boredom, in 5th year.

What occurred between those two points we won't know unless JKR has mercy on us and fills in the blanks. I can see, if James really was falling for Lily by the third year or earlier as Severus suspected (and dreaded), then all cursing, hexing and general hostility has a motivation right there and no one is right or wrong. But I still feel strongly that, on that very first day on the train, there was no excuse for James and Sirius to act as they did except that they were jerks.

Edit: I think I am addressing Solitaire -- I am still having trouble with the idea that the Worst Memory (WM) was Severus's so that makes it biased. I am *grudgingly* willing to go along with the idea that Harry as narrator will be a filter. But JKR makes it plain that Pensieve memories are like recordings. How would James's Pensieve memory of WM be any different? This point is frustrating for me...



Julia H. - Jan 23, 2009 7:22 pm (#1126 of 2988)  
If Snape's memory in the pensieve is biased, then how biased will be almost everything we find out about Snape through Harry's eyes in the whole series?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 7:25 pm (#1127 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 24, 2009 12:33 pm
Hear Hear, Julia. Don't get me started : |

(edit: reading back posts today and just had to correct my grammar!)



TomProffitt - Jan 23, 2009 7:47 pm (#1128 of 2988)  
I am *grudgingly* willing to go along with the idea that Harry as narrator will be a filter. But JKR makes it plain that Pensieve memories are like recordings. How would James's Pensieve memory of WM be any different? --- me and my shadow 813

When we enter the pensieve to look at Snape's memories the narrator is following Harry and relating what Harry thinks and feels about them. Harry's thoughts and feelings are meaningful to Harry, but that doesn't mean that he has interpreted things correctly. Just as Harry viewed the confrontation between Riddle & Hagrid and jumped to the conclusion that Hagrid openned the Chamber Harry could be making mistaken conclusions in the scenes were he views the pensieve.

So, while we know how difficult it is to tamper with a memory, this doesn't mean Harry was correct in thinking Snape inadvertantly wandered near the Marauders during Snape's Worst Memory. I think Harry was correct in this instance, but he could have been mistaken.

So, to sum up, the pensieve memory is not a biased recording, but we are not in the pensieve, Harry is telling us what he saw in the pensieve.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 8:03 pm (#1129 of 2988)  
Thank you Tom. What you just described is what I have very grudgingly, somewhat accepted in reference to Pensieve memories. Your example of the Hagrid thing is appropriate in one sense, but I'm still not convinced.

Moving on, what I cannot understand is, had James given Harry the WM out of his own brain, how would there be any different information or content in the unfolding of the events? We are not privvy to Severus's thoughts, because he is not talking. We hear the Marauders because they are talking. The entire experience as it is presented to the "viewer" is external, not internal! The viewer, granted, then makes subjective judgments.

The Pensieve is not biased. Harry might be, but, like a videotape in a supermarket showing someone shoplifting, it exists and no one can change the tape. They can only change the interpretation of what occurred on the tape. Any help on this?



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 8:08 pm (#1130 of 2988)  
Whether it was "accidental" magic or not is irrelevant. What it shows is that Snape's instinctive reaction was to harm. (Quinn)

I would say his reaction was anger. But either way, we can say the same about Harry. (Julia)


Harry's instinctive reaction was to harm? I do not think so. I think his instinct in most cases was to protect himself. He didn't even try to harm Voldemort during any of their confrontations. If Harry had known what Sectumsempra! did, he would never have used it. He was immediately remorseful and afraid, because I cannot see him wishing to hurt even Draco. Harry and Snape are not the same in this respect.

Regarding the Snape/Petunia incident ... how do we know that's accidental magic? Lily's sailing out of the swing was intentional. I think it's possible that Snape wanted that branch to fall on Petunia. Harry, on the other hand, didn't really intend for Aunt Marge to blow up; he just wanted her to shut up, a very different thing.

Just as guilty but not more guilty. I agree with that. What I do not agree with is that he is any less guilty. I feel it was more or less a two-way street. In fact, after what happened on the train (James's doing), I wouldn't doubt it if Snape did do something to him ... which could have precipitated the "war" between them.

I doubt it was always Snape who was performing Levicorpus! However, I do believe he was the initial perpetrator of the spell. I suspect he practiced it, as Harry did with Ron, on unsuspecting kids. We do know that it was the Prince's spell. Eventually, other kids would have gotten to know it ... maybe they even figured it out in the Pensieve scene. Before that, however, I think it was only Snape using it, and I think James figured it out.

And I'd say if James knew it was Severus's invention he probably wouldn't use it - wouldn't care to *endorse* it if you know what I mean.

In HBP, Chapter 28, The Flight of the Prince, Snape screams the following at Harry: "You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them--I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you'd turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father would you?" It sounds to me as though James did give Snape a taste of his own medicine with his own spells.

How would James's Pensieve memory of WM be any different? This point is frustrating for me...

Because people see things differently ... focus on events differently. Talk to witnesses of an accident or crime. Often their accounts vary wildly. It does not mean any of them are lying ... perhaps they were focused on different things. When I mentioned that we have not been able to look into James's Pensieve, I was not referring to that particular memory anyway. I was thinking that James might have other memories that showed the hostility between him and Snape in a different way, that's all.

I think Tom makes a good point, also, about the Pensieve memory.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 23, 2009 8:18 pm (#1131 of 2988)  
Harry is viewing "Severus's memory". Yet, while Severus is busy writing furiously on parchment in OWL exams, Harry is free *in Severus's version of this memory* to meander about the Great Hall, study his father, study his father's exam paper (which Severus could not physically see at that point in time), view all kinds of things which "Severus's memory" would not possibly be able to record if it is the way you are describing, like different people viewing a car accident. I am still lost here.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 23, 2009 9:13 pm (#1132 of 2988)  
I think what Solitaire means is that all we have to go on regarding how James treated Snape are the memories that Snape chose to give to Harry. James might have chosen memories that would lead to a different conclusion about his antagonistic relationship with Snape. Unfortunately, as it stands, all we have to go by is what other people say about it. And as most of those people's stories jibe with each other, I would say that paints a more accurate picture of what was really going on than Snape's own "but he started it" version of events.



wynnleaf - Jan 23, 2009 9:49 pm (#1133 of 2988)  
The problem is that almost all of the comments from "other people" are actually not only from James' close friends, but people who joined him in most of his actions while at school. Therefore, they have a vested interest in presenting anything he did there in the best of light, because it reflects better on themselves to do so.

Dumbledore actually says rather little about James' character-wise, and not all as rosy as people assume. 1. James and Snape had a rivalry similar to Draco and Harry. 2. James saved Snape's life. 3. James, like Harry, wouldn't have killed Peter as he cringed and begged, unarmed on the floor of the Shrieking Shack. 4. James was committed to bringing down Voldemort. 5. In DH Dumbledore comments reflect the idea that DD felt James had a lot of misbehavior for which he didn't get caught.

McGonagall mainly calls James and his friends a gang and says they were into a lot of trouble.

Hagrid liked James.

And we have the detention files showing James and Sirius in trouble quite a bit.

Nobody else really comments on James. The stories that "jibe" are mainly Lupin and Sirius stories.

Then we've got Snape's comments of rulebreaking, which is backed up by Lupin, Sirius, McGonagall, the detention files and DD. We've got Snape's comments about ganging up 4 against 1, etc. The primarly backup we've got for that are the memories, DD's comments about Snape's injuries being too deep for healing,

The only storiy we've got of Snape being aggressive toward the Marauders come directly from Lupin and Sirius, and really that's only about Snape "never missing a chance to hex James" which seems to be in 7th year. No one else backs up Snape being aggressive to the Marauders, nor are we ever shown anything else that backs it up like detention records or the like. Not even James, in his explanation to Lily for why he's hexing Snape, mentions that it's because Snape attacks him. All of the stories about Snape being aggressive toward the Marauders come from Lupin and Sirius.

Really, that's about it.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 23, 2009 10:12 pm (#1134 of 2988)  
Wynnleaf, what on earth is your point? That every character who knew James only spoke well of him so they themselves wouldn't look bad?

And which character will satisfy your requirement as "back up [for] Snape being aggressive to the Marauders"? You've declared Lily a poor judge of character even though she was Snape's best friend, so she's out. Sirius and Lupin were not only first-hand witnesses to any incidents they refer to, the are also the only ones who were at school with Snape who weren't either dead or still active as Death Eaters.

Snape himself is outraged that Harry, like James, dares to use Snape's "own spells against [him]." Well, James couldn't have used Snape's spells against him unless the spells were already out there in circulation. So either Snape had used the spells on James first, or Snape had used them on other people and they had become adopted by others, including James. Either way, that's a pretty strong indication that Snape would have been the "aggressor" on multiple occasions.

And big deal about the detention records. Snape specifically selected those for James and Sirius. He wasn't likely to pull out his own files and say, "Here, copy those" now was he? That doesn't mean he didn't have any. You think he didn't get detention for being out of bounds after hours during the prank episode? I would be very surprised.



Solitaire - Jan 23, 2009 10:53 pm (#1135 of 2988)  
No one else backs up Snape being aggressive to the Marauders
Then again, no other peers are ever consulted.

nor are we ever shown anything else that backs it up like detention records
Once again, Snape is the one who chooses which records are seen.

Dumbledore actually says rather little about James' character-wise, and not all as rosy as people assume.
... although he did choose James rather than Snape as Head Boy, which suggests that he saw something special in him.



mona amon - Jan 24, 2009 12:21 am (#1136 of 2988)  
Voldemort was also chosen as head boy, so that's not a big deal.

Whose fault is it that we do not see James's pensieve memories or Snape's detention records? JK Rowling's, of course. Since she didn't show us James' side of it, I can only assume that she wanted us to see things from Snape's point of view, along with the unbiased pensieve memories for support. If James' memories could show us something radically different from what we have seen, she would have surely given us at least a glimpse of them.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 24, 2009 12:36 am (#1137 of 2988)  
True, Mona. But Voldemort was not chosen as Head Boy by Dumbledore. When Dumbledore was headmaster and had the opportunity to choose Head Boy, he chose James over Snape. Snape was not even made Prefect.



mona amon - Jan 24, 2009 12:51 am (#1138 of 2988)  
I don't know what exactly we're trying to prove. Teachers don't choose someone as head boy because they like him more than any other student. They choose him because they feel he is best suited for the post. If someone is chosen as head boy it doesn't mean he's the greatest guy in the school. Only that he was able to project a certain image that convinced every one he was the best for the post.

I can't see anyone choosing poor Sev as head boy even if he were the only boy in the school, so if the competition is between James and Snape as head boy, I don't think that's saying anything much for James.  



Quinn Crockett - Jan 24, 2009 2:22 am (#1139 of 2988)  
Well, I'm not sure Ron was best suited for the post, yet he was made prefect. Anyway, I was responding to the idea that if James was nothing but a fat-headed troublemaker and general nogoodnik that Dumbledore would never have made him head boy out of all the other potential candidates. But I agree that Snape wouldn't have been head boy material even if he had been the only boy around.



mona amon - Jan 24, 2009 4:15 am (#1140 of 2988)  
Yes, James does seem to have cleaned up his act enough to convince the teachers and Lily that he had become a more responsible, mature sort of kid. He also had two important qualities for a head boy, popularity and self-confidence.

Anyway, big deal. Take Dudley for instance. The author wants to show us that his attitude towards Harry underwent a complete change, and gives us a very convincing scene to show us this. If instead of that, we had merely been told that he became head boy of Smeltings, and were given a scene where Piers Polkiss tells Harry what a great guy he had become, how many of us would have become more sympathetic to Big D?



TomProffitt - Jan 24, 2009 5:27 am (#1141 of 2988)  
Anyway, big deal. Take Dudley for instance. The author wants to show us that his attitude towards Harry underwent a complete change, and gives us a very convincing scene to show us this. --- mona amon

We are shown the last act of James's life. He chose to meet Lord Voldemort unarmed in effort to protect his wife and child, an act that he had to have known would end in his death. This act shows both love and courage, the two qualities JKR tells repeatedly that she admires more than any other. What more endorsement can we have?



rambkowalczyk - Jan 24, 2009 7:02 am (#1142 of 2988)  
One of the reasons we are not given an abundance of information about James at least in Snape's memories is because he is trying to convey to Harry that he had a relationship with Lily (as opposed to a Death Eater obsession with a pretty girl). Unless it related to Lily, James was irrelevant.

In a broad general sense we are given Snape's point of view because this is what Harry needs to see in order to believe Snape's (and Dumbledore's) final message. Therefore in this context we do not see James POV about Snape.

Whether Snape hexed other students as much as James is deliberately kept quiet. The book gives no factual instances of this, but it is strongly implied by Snape's behavior as an adult. It is not unreasonable to assume that Snape hexed as a teenager, but as an adult switched to hurtful remarks.

My own personal opinion is that Snape didn't hex random students but only those who have hexed him in the past or those who watched and did nothing.

Previously on this thread was the question why did Snape hate Lupin. It seems natural to me that Snape would hate him precisely because he did nothing. He saw Lupin's cowardice and maybe it reminded him of himself because he did nothing when Mulciber attacked Mary.



TomProffitt - Jan 24, 2009 7:51 am (#1143 of 2988)  
I am still lost here. --- me and my shadow 813

I believe that if we were to see James's pensieve memory of Snape's Worst Memory we would see exactly the same thing we saw with Snape's. The key is not who's memory it is, but which character we are observing the memory through. In almost all cases in the series, that's Harry.

In my opinion, the reason we don't get James's memories from Rowling is not that James's character was either unimportant or intended to only be represented by his childhood bullying of Snape, but because he didn't give anything important to Harry to advance the plot. Harry needed to realize that he needed to have Voldemort kill him in order for the "Harrycrux" to be destroyed.

James didn't possess any memories that would bring Harry to that point in the plot. Snape was the one with those memories. Further, for Harry to trust those memories Snape had to give him all of his memories that would show to Harry why Snape had always been loyal to Dumbledore.

Again, what happened to James from Snape's worst memory to his death is completely irrelevant to this process. I think most readers, and Harry, would have liked to have had a better understanding of James's character as an adult, but it wasn't crucial in any way to the plot.

Did James fail to grow from age 15? I would think that he grew significantly, but it didn't matter to the plot very much one way or another. And Snape? It was critical to the plot that he grew and that we know that he did.



Solitaire - Jan 24, 2009 8:48 am (#1144 of 2988)  
Ramb: In a broad general sense we are given Snape's point of view because this is what Harry needs to see in order to believe Snape's (and Dumbledore's) final message. Therefore in this context we do not see James POV about Snape.

Tom: Harry needed to realize that he needed to have Voldemort kill him in order for the "Harrycrux" to be destroyed ... James didn't possess any memories that would bring Harry to that point in the plot. Snape was the one with those memories. Further, for Harry to trust those memories Snape had to give him all of his memories that would show to Harry why Snape had always been loyal to Dumbledore.


I would say these are very neat and accurate assessments. If Snape had merely told Harry he'd loved Lily and he'd killed DD on DD's orders, Harry wouldn't have bought it, given his own personal experience with Snape and the events he witnessed on the tower. Snape's memories were the only corroborating evidence he had.



wynnleaf - Jan 24, 2009 9:48 am (#1145 of 2988)  
And which character will satisfy your requirement as "back up [for] Snape being aggressive to the Marauders"? You've declared Lily a poor judge of character even though she was Snape's best friend, so she's out. Sirius and Lupin were not only first-hand witnesses to any incidents they refer to, the are also the only ones who were at school with Snape who weren't either dead or still active as Death Eaters. (Quinn)

I never said that we can't trust what Lily says in terms of basic facts, only that she's not necessarily an excellent judge of character. Similarly, I have no problem trusting Lupin's memory, but he has a known history in the book for skewing or hiding facts to keep other people's goodwill, so we should always consider that Lupin might hide facts that reflect badly on himself and/or his group of friends.

Suppose as a mom I learn that a couple of my kids are always getting into fights with another kid at school. Suppose that for some reason (I'm trying to make this comparable to a reader reading the HP books), the only people who are giving me info about the other kid's being the one to start a lot of the fights are my kids telling me that when they are trying to explain why they got into fights with the other kid. Suppose that, for some unexplained reason, I haven't been able to see discipline records for the other kid, only my kids, which show they have indeed been misbehaving a lot. Suppose I know that my kids, as opposed to the other kids, have two really excellent secret tools for sneaking around, making it really, really easy for them to misbehave without getting caught. Suppose I know that my kid's teacher refers to my kid's group as a "gang".

Now I also know some things that aren't great about the other kid. I know he hangs out with some kids who are into pretty