Severus Snape

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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:38 pm

Julia H. - Jan 26, 2009 7:29 am (#1201 of 2988)  
Snape may see throughout his life that other people are at fault for every ill that befalls him, and I see that as his fundamental problem.

Where exactly do we see him at all saying others are at fault for what has ever happened to him?

He needs to man up and acknowledge his wrong choices, and how his actions have harmed others.

He does a lot to atone for his wrong choices. Yes, we could say he should do this or that but as a matter of fact, he does a lot, if not exactly what certain readers would want him to do. Instead of counting all the things he does not do, why not once look at the difficult things he does as atonement? Wanting to atone for anything only makes sense if one is aware that he has something to atone for. Not everybody who is remorseful gets to atone for their guilt, but remorse and the acknowledgement of one's guilt is a prerequisite to any kind of atonement.

To me his actions demonstrate a care for only his feelings in the matter, and a total disdain for Harry's. What is important to Snape is that his secrets aren't found out by Harry.

I don't know, if I found a student of mine reading my diary, my emails or going through my handbag or my purse, I would not care about his feelings at all even though I'm not Snape and I have no comparable secrets. When Harry looked into that Pensieve, he was fully aware that he was going to watch something Snape did not want him to see. If, as a result, his feelings were affected differently from what he expected, it was not Snape's responsibility. Snape had made it clear Harry was not to watch whatever was in the Pensieve.

Even though Occlumency lessons would not be needed for Harry if not for Snape's choices, and everyone thinks it is imperative that Harry have these lessons, for Snape that pales in contrast to the importance of his hurt feelings.

Snape has been teaching Harry for months and Harry has learned next to nothing and has never practised as Snape told him to. After that, Harry does not simply look at a random memory of Snape's but at the one that is especially painful to Snape. (Remember, Snape did not stop giving Harry lessons when Harry accidentally broke into his mind.) Now Snape feels he can't go on with these interactive lessons anymore. Even if he tried, the results would not be likely to improve. There are situations in which you just can't go on with something. Harry has crossed a line and Snape, in his anger, tells him never to go back to his office. Of course, it is never tested how seriously he means that. Harry never tries to approach him saying he is sorry and asking him to continue with the lessons that he, Harry has never taken seriously. In fact, Harry seems to be satisfied with not having to learn Occlumency in the future as if it was what he originally wanted.

To me the whole thing demonstrates just how far Snape needs to go to reach a point where he is aware that it isn't all about Snape and Snape's feelings.

Snape has no right to have feelings, does he? He has no right to be hurt, to be outraged when something like that happens to him, does he? How far is he to go exactly? Do we expect him to be nice and understanding right on the spot when Harry has been watching his memory for quite a while and could have realized long ago it was nothing that he should see and could have stopped watching? Do we expect Snape to bear it humbly when Harry is just about to watch how his own father was going to take off his teacher's underpants?

Given the fact that Harry did not only start watching but was watching for quite a while, it is not very surprising that Snape's idea about Harry's feelings is that he must have been having fun.

EDIT: Wynnleaf, I used "excuse" not to mean "explain" but to mean "convince yourself that you are not really or not so much guilty". I think when Lupin says he did not want to lose Dumbledore's good opinion, he explains why he acted the way he did, but when he convinces himself that Sirius does not really get into the castle as an Animagus, he excuses his behaviour. Having said that, of course, I may have been using this word in the wrong way.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 26, 2009 7:38 am (#1202 of 2988)  
I fail to see how something that Snape is never shown to do could be his fundamental problem. Snape does say that Sirius tried to kill him. In fact, Sirius did attempt to send Snape into the werewolf's path, even if ( if ) Snape bore some responsibility for acting on it. Snape certainly didn't attempt to get himself killed, after all.-- wynnleaf

That's kind of my point, that regardless of what Sirius does or doesn't do, Snape should be owning responsibility for his own actions. He chooses to blame James, Sirius, and Lupin 100% for the event, never acknowledging (until perhaps the Prince's tale) that he had some sort of part he chose to play in in. Again, it is the blame game. They did it all, not me!! not me!!

And beyond that, I can't see where Snape is ever seen to be blaming others for his own mistakes. Snape does blame some for their own mistakes, but not for his mistakes.

Like blaming Dumbledore for failing to keep Lily safe? I think it just a reflex with Snape to land on someone to blame when some ill happens.

One might as well say that if an owner of a store turns his back on a customer and the customer shoplifts and takes an item that doesn't belong to him, the shop lifter isn't guilty. Instead the store owner is guilty for giving the shoplifter a chance to steal.

I don't think this is a good analogy. The problem is that Snape is hiding something horrible that has to do with Harry. He doesn't want Harry to know what it is. At the same time he treats Harry abhorrently, sowing hatred and distrust. Snape knows this, and whether Harry steals or doesn't steal, Snape's actions in that regard remain the same.

Unless of course the store owner was Snape and the customer was Harry. Then it would be Snape's fault, because everything is Snape's fault.

This is the problem I have, this idea that 100% of the blame must belong to someone else other than Snape, and if only we can blame this other person than Snape is blameless. Harry was wrong to do what he did. So what? When does Snape starting to take responsibility for his own actions come into it? Snape needs to realize that he created this poisonous relationship, that his needs are not the greatest most important thing in the world, that Harry might want to know why these horrible things are happening to himself, etc. That it needs to be all about blaming Harry for his woes is the problem, as far as I'm concerned.

Snape has no right to have feelings, does he?-- Julia H.

Well, only if you believe that there are exactly two settings in the feeling department: None, and Completely Selfish.

Personally, I think there can be many gradients in between. However, that's just my opinion, and you are not required to feel the same. We will always have a fundamental difference about Snape, though, if our view on what people can possibly feel are so radically different.



Solitaire - Jan 26, 2009 7:43 am (#1203 of 2988)  
One might as well say that if an owner of a store turns his back on a customer and the customer shoplifts and takes an item that doesn't belong to him, the shop lifter isn't guilty.

No one, including me, said Harry wasn't guilty. In fact, I said the following: "As to whether or not it is acceptable for Harry to look in anyone's Pensieve--even Snape's--without permission, I think the answer is no. " Given the importance of the memory to Snape, however, I believe he was relatively careless with it.

Edit: I just realized ... my picture's back! Does this mean that we can now renew our memberships? I guess I'd better check ...



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 7:53 am (#1204 of 2988)  
This is the problem I have, this idea that 100% of the blame must belong to someone else other than Snape, and if only we can blame this other person than Snape is blameless. Harry was wrong to do what he did. So what? (Mrs Brisbee)

And here is where I see the problem. The "So what?"

Snape is supposed to take the blame for anything he's involved in, regardless of other's blame. Others blame isn't even important at all. It's like "so what" about Sirius tricking Snape -- it was more Snape's fault. So what about the Marauder's bullying. So what about Harry going into Snape's memories.

How exactly was Snape supposed to act in the pensieve situation that would be acceptable?

Describe it. He comes in, finds Harry well into his most private memories, watching as he's humiliated by the Marauders, and as Snape calls Lily the name that ends their friendship. He's extremely upset.

What is the "right" response that any other person would make when they discover someone reading their private journal describing the most humiliating and distressing moments of one's life? Really, I can hardly think of anyone other than practically a saint who would walk in on something like that and not get very, very angry.

Snape, clearly no saint, gets angry. Because he doesn't have the saintly reaction, but instead a completely normal anger, we're to believe this is evidence of how truly awful he is.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 26, 2009 8:04 am (#1205 of 2988)  
Snape is supposed to take the blame for anything he's involved in, regardless of other's blame. Others blame isn't even important at all. It's like "so what" about Sirius tricking Snape -- it was more Snape's fault. So what about the Marauder's bullying. So what about Harry going into Snape's memories.

I think this is because you have an all-or-nothing attitude towards blame that I just don't share-- please correct me if I am wrong. But "Snape is supposed to take the blame for anything he is involved in" and "Other's blame isn't important at all" seem to indicate that you believe it is 100% one person's fault, or 100% the other's. I was not trying to say that at all. I am saying that Snape is responsible for his actions regardless of how much or how little others are to blame in any incident, and that it is a mark of maturity to accept responsibility for one's actions. Since this is Snape's thread, I am primarily interested if Snape is owning up to his responsibility for his actions. Other people are responsible for their own actions, but that in no way changes that Snape should be responsible for his. That's what my "So what?" was in reference to.



Julia H. - Jan 26, 2009 8:08 am (#1206 of 2988)  
Like blaming Dumbledore for failing to keep Lily safe? I think it just a reflex with Snape to land on someone to blame when some ill happens.

He only says "I thought you were going to keep her safe" - it may be just disappointment rather than blaming Dumbledore. (I guess he did indeed trust Dumbledore's ability to protect Lily.) Even if he is blaming him, that is something he says in extreme distress and shock. He is not the only one to blame the world for the loss of his loved one at the moment of pain and mourning. I know it is his responsibility, in fact, but it does not mean Snape cannot have feelings that normal humans often have and this kind of reaction is a common reaction of mourning people at a certain stage of mourning. After Sirius's death, in his sorrow, Harry blames Snape because he can't bear blaming himself. That does not mean that Harry always blames others for his mistakes. Snape never again alludes to blaming anyone else for Lily's death, not even Voldemort.

Well, only if you believe that there are exactly two settings in the feeling department: None, and Completely Selfish.

Completely selfish because he is angry that someone has watched that particular memory of humiliation and shame? Completely selfish if you are not patient and understanding in such a moment? Completely selfish because when you are hurt, you do not immediately start thinking about the possible feelings of the one who has just hurt you, especially when you think that the person has been having fun while hurting you? If you don't think a person is allowed to be hurt and angry in this moment, then our opinions about what a person is allowed to feel are indeed radically different. Or perhaps is it only Snape, who is not allowed to feel angry in this humiliating moment?

Since this is Snape's thread, I am primarily interested if Snape is owning up to his responsibility for his actions.

In this particular scene, Snape's responsibility is leaving the door open and only telling Harry to go, instead of putting him out of the office. The rest is Harry's responsibility and I don't see why Snape should not have the right to be angry or why he should "own up to this responsibility" by immediately excusing Harry's part of the blame.



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 8:22 am (#1207 of 2988)  
In the pensieve scene, the only responsibility Snape has is being remiss in not hiding the pensieve or perhaps not making sure Harry was gone from the room and the room locked. In other words, his "responsbility" lies in that he didn't distrust Harry enough.

Other than that, Snape didn't do anything wrong in putting his memories in the pensieve and he did nothing wrong in leaving the room. He didn't make Harry go into the pensieve.

The wrongdoing in this case was entirely Harry, while the worst I can say for Snape is that he made an unintentional mistake in leaving the memories and the pensieve ungaurded.

Are you saying that, due to this unintentional mistake, he should not be so angry at Harry intentional wrongdoing?

I don't see Snape blaming Dumbledore. He doesn't say "it's your fault she's dead", he says "I thought... you were going... to keep her safe." Whereupon DD makes the rather asinine comment that Lily put her faith in the wrong person, just as Snape had put his faith in LV to spare her, when it's patently obvious that Snape didn't put his faith in LV to spare her, or he wouldn't be right there in front of DD at that moment.

But if Snape truly blamed DD, why not rail at him? Why not berate him? Snape certainly has the ability to berate people and he is one of the few people who is willing to argue with DD. Yet he is not angry with DD, which he would be if he actually was saying that he thought DD was to blame. No, the blame Snape clearly puts on himself and he's near to suicidal with it.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 26, 2009 8:35 am (#1208 of 2988)  
In this particular scene, Snape's responsibility is leaving the door open and only telling Harry to go, instead of putting him out of the office. The rest is Harry's responsibility and I don't see why Snape should not have the right to be angry or why he should "own up to this responsibility" by immediately excusing Harry's part of the blame.-- Julia H.

Again, fundamental difference in our views. For you, if Snape takes any responsibility, he is "immediately excusing Harry's part of the blame". I do not agree with that premise at all, that taking responsibility for one's own actions means that others are not responsible for their own. It is simply not that one person is 100% to blame and the other is completely blameless to me. In fact, it is so far from my viewpoint that I just don't understand this mindset.

In the pensieve scene, the only responsibility Snape has is being remiss in not hiding the pensieve or perhaps not making sure Harry was gone from the room and the room locked. In other words, his "responsibility" lies in that he didn't distrust Harry enough.-- wynnleaf

I've said numerous times that Snape's problem is that he sows hatred and distrust, long before we ever get to the Pensieve scene. He is so wrapped up in worrying about his own feelings that he doesn't consider Harry's, or treat Harry with the consideration Harry is due. This poisonous relationship Snape built is the reason for much of their discord, and Snape has a moral obligation to recognize that. I don't ever see him doing so, however.



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 8:44 am (#1209 of 2988)  
Harry didn't go into the pensieve because he was angry at Snape, but because he wanted info. He went into DD's pensieve out of pure curiousity. Snape could have been as nice as Dumbledore and Harry would still have gone into the pensieve and Snape would still have been furious to find him there.

On the "who gets the blame" idea, I certainly do think Snape should get a lot of blame -- but for specific things.

Snape deserves a lot of blame for joining the Death Eaters and Voldemort.

He deserves a lot of blame for taking the prophecy to LV, because he should have known it was at least likely that LV would try to attack someone due to that prophecy.

He deserves blame for his being insulting and sarcastic to the students. I don't see that as nearly as much blame as the Death Eater parts, because frankly, I and many others I've known (including my kids) have actually enjoyed teachers whose manner is much like Snape's. He doesn't usually take points of unfairly, or assign undue homework or detentions. It's just that he does it with a sarcastic sort of manner. And he is inexcusably insulting sometimes.

Snape does bear some blame for hanging out with a particularly bad crowd at school, laughing at their dark jokes, and using the word "mudblood". I don't see it as any greater blame, however, then I see in the Marauders hexing people a lot and bullying. I see those as being far less wrong than the Marauders in the "Worst Memory" Scene or in Sirius' attempt to send Snape into the path of a werewolf, or in the Marauders monthly fun which jeopardized the safety of the whole community. Yes, Snape's bad crowd of friends ultimately went on to do horrible things. But in school they are not shown to be anywhere as harmful as the Marauders.

I have yet to see any real evidence, beyond the biased comments of Lupin and Sirius, that Snape did much of anything to be blamed for in the Snape/Marauder enmity, other than perhaps attempts to get back at them for their bullying.

I do not give Snape much blame for almost getting killed or bitten by Lupin/werewolf, because 1. we know Snape wasn't stupid, but was in fact quite intelligent 2. we know Snape already suspected Lupin was a werewolf and therefore 3. Sirius' "trick" must have been quite convincing for Snape to go down that passageway, even knowing that Sirius couldn't be trusted.

I don't blame Snape for sneaking around trying to get a gang of bullies expelled who he thought, rightly, were up to a lot worse things than the hexing and rulebreaking that was already making them known as some of the most rulebreaking kids in the school's recent history (from POA comments of teachers). In fact, the Marauders were "up to" things that could easily have gotten them expelled had they been known. Snape didn't know exactly what they were doing, but he was sure they were doing worse than what they were already getting caught for, and he was right.

I do blame Snape for his loathing of Harry from the start. I also, however, understand it to an extent (that's not the same as excusing it), especially because after Snape's initial insults and unfairness -- which were completely uncalled for -- Harry basically played to Snape's assumptions, at least within Potions class and within his interactions with Snape.



Julia H. - Jan 26, 2009 9:04 am (#1210 of 2988)  
For you, if Snape takes any responsibility, he is "immediately excusing Harry's part of the blame". I do not agree with that premise at all, that taking responsibility for one's own actions means that others are not responsible for their own. It is simply not that one person is 100% to blame and the other is completely blameless to me. In fact, it is so far from my viewpoint that I just don't understand this mindset.

I don't understand yours either. (I did not start calculating anyone's blame and I don't think I said what you seem to be accusing me of saying but I certainly do not see any wrongdoings on Snape's part in this scene.) Perhaps you could tell me what would be an acceptable reaction on Snape's part right after catching Harry watching his memory. So far you have seemed to blame him for getting angry and called him selfish for being occupied with his own humiliation and anger (his own feelings) at a moment when he is being hurt. (I don't know if anyone agrees but I think it is further humiliation for Snape to have Harry seeing that memory, which at the moment is added to the original humiliation he suffered from the Marauders.) Now you seem to be saying Snape does not have to excuse Harry either. So he is not expected to excuse Harry and he is not allowed to be angry. In what way should he take responsibility for leaving that door open once? Even if he is responsible for the relationship between them in general, how should he react now, at this moment, that is acceptable but does not entail some super-human goodness or self-discipline?



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 9:24 am (#1211 of 2988)  
I too would like to know.

How exactly should Snape have acted when he walked back into that room and saw Harry in his very humiliating and distressing memories?

No, no, don't just tell me what he shouldn't have done. Tell me what he should have done, without being too saintly for any normal person to expect.



mona amon - Jan 26, 2009 9:31 am (#1212 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 26, 2009 6:35 pm
I'm afraid evil old me was having great fun reading this present discussion. I especially enjoyed Wynnleaf's description of one of Dumbledore's comments as 'asinine'.  

My opinion is, Snape is never ever shown blaming others for his own mistakes, not once.

He's also never ever shown acknowledging or blaming himself for his own mistakes, not once.

I think some of you are focussing on the one and completely ignoring the other.

ETA: Just to clarify, I do not think the bullying by the Marauders, the werewolf prank, the pensieve scene belong to the category of Snape's mistakes. Those are the mistakes of others, and he has a right to blame them for it, though we don't actually see him doing it.



Julia H. - Jan 26, 2009 9:38 am (#1213 of 2988)  
He's also never ever shown acknowledging or blaming himself for his own mistakes, not once.

But he tries to atone for his worst mistakes. That should count for something. Doesn't it mean he blames himself or that he acknowledges his guilt?



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 10:06 am (#1214 of 2988)  
Who does Snape blame for Lily's death if not himself? He never seems to be after LV for revenge. Yes, he knows LV killed her, but we never see him voice a desire for vengence. If he truly blamed DD, he'd have been angry and hateful toward him for Lily's death. In fact, I would expect to see Snape exact some sort of retribution for whoever he does blame. And I mean real retribution. He'd want them to pay. And who does he make pay? I mean, who does he really, really make suffer for Lily's death? Himself.



legolas returns - Jan 26, 2009 10:46 am (#1215 of 2988)  
I would be curious to know what Snape would have thought about Harry's opinion of his Father after he went into the pensieve? This we will never know..



Quinn Crockett - Jan 26, 2009 12:20 pm (#1216 of 2988)  
Here is what I have observed over the course of the most recent series of posts:

1) Snape's supporters seem to be really caught up in the details of specific incidents and either unwilling or unable to see the larger picture.

2) Snape's supporters seem to be operating in absolutes, believing the detractors feel he must be "perfect" before they will recognize any contribution he might have made, and that he must take "all the blame" or "everything is Snape's fault".

I find this to be particularly interesting because that's not what the detractors are saying at all.

Anyway...
But he tries to atone for his worst mistakes. - By doing what, exactly? What specifically does Snape do that is so far and away above anything anyone else did to rid the world of Voldemort?



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 12:40 pm (#1217 of 2988)  
Anyway... But he tries to atone for his worst mistakes. - By doing what, exactly? What specifically does Snape do that is so far and away above anything anyone else did to rid the world of Voldemort? (Quinn)

And there's the flip side. Nothing Snape did counts at all. If you can even ask "what did he do?" you certainly never got that particular "big picture" that JKR was writing about, especially when the whole ending of the story has Harry deciding that the things Snape did (all that stuff that somehow didn't count), was enough to have Harry naming his son after Snape and naming him the "bravest man I ever knew". If you don't get what would make JKR have Harry say that and if you don't really get why JKR has Harry so completely impressed by what Snape did that he'd name his child after him, and you don't get why this has to be the grand finale of the epilogue, the "surprise ending", then you really don't get the big picture of that aspect of the story.

If JKR intended Harry, and therefore us, to think that all that Snape did was nothing more than anyone else did, she wouldn't have written the ending, Harry's final statements, and the Albus Severus name as she did.

I hardly see the point in answering "what did he do", because we all know what he did. You either see that as pretty amazing or not. Clearly JKR intended Harry, and therefore the reader, to be rather impressed. If readers aren't impressed, they don't think Snape was "the bravest man" that Harry had known, and they don't think Snape deserved to have Harry's son named after him, then perhaps we should blame JKR for not getting it across well enough.

Not everyone is ever going to get the same interpretation out of every book. But I think it's pretty clear that JKR intended that last page to be the final word on Snape. She considers courage to be the ultimate virture and at the end she has Harry name Snape as the highest standard of that virtue. But if what Snape did was no more than anyone else, then JKR is simply dead wrong.



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 1:18 pm (#1218 of 2988)  
I want to clarify before anyone else answers. I'm not trying to say "if you don't see it my way, you just don't get the book." But it is really clear that JKR does see a big deal in what Snape has done. You can interpret what he did all sorts of ways perhaps, but it's really pretty obvious that pulling the Snape card with Harry's change of perspective right at the end as the surprise ending makes it a Big Thing. And having Harry call Snape the "bravest" when courage is in JKR's opinion, the greatest virtue, is a Big Thing. And having Harry name his child after Snape is another Big Thing. And the fact that all this is placed right in the last page is, in a literary sense, a Big Message. JKR isn't trying to say that what Snape did was just "pretty good", but that it was some kind of epitome of, well, something good, something worth doing and being.

You may not agree. But if you don't agree, I think your argument is with JKR, not with just my individual reader's interpretation.



Julia H. - Jan 26, 2009 1:26 pm (#1219 of 2988)  
Well said, Wynnleaf.

1) Snape's supporters seem to be really caught up in the details of specific incidents and either unwilling or unable to see the larger picture.

I thought we were discussing details here. I am quite ready to discuss the larger picture as well, only the discussions lately happen to be about specific scenes - or so they seem in the beginning. What I have observed is this: We are discussing something that is not about a particular fault of Snape's or maybe an incident in which someone else is to blame (as well) and then some posters always get back to "but Snape was an aggressive DE-in-the-making" or "but Snape behaved horribly to Harry" and it is simply impossible to discuss anything else about Snape but the precise extent of his guilt over and over again. He was tortured as a student and someone might wonder how it affected him? 'Oh, but he was to be a DE, anyway, he must have done something to deserve it.' Of course, saying the scene may have affected his personality and his life, even wondering the immediate and the long-term consequences is the same as vilifying poor James. Harry peeks into his worst memory? 'Oh, but it was Snape who let him do it, and anyway, he is so horrible to Harry, what right does he have to complain?' He gave his life in more than one ways to atone for his guilt? 'Oh, but he was not really remorseful. We know what the only possible sign of remorse can be and that is - whatever it is - something Snape does not do.' He was loyal to Dumbledore through and through? 'Oh, it was not really loyalty, just immaturity.' We are specifically told in the books that Snape "strayed inadvertently"? 'Oh, no, he must have been following the Marauders intentionally, the Narrator is simply wrong here, I know what I know, and therefore he deserved what he got (what else could those boys have done?), Snape should be more careful next time.' Someone is interested in Snape's personal problems for a change? 'You are looking for excuses for him.' Well, not necessarily.

Being caught up in details may perhaps mean that we often cite canon as evidence, and I don't think it is bad.

2) Snape's supporters seem to be operating in absolutes, believing the detractors feel he must be "perfect" before they will recognize any contribution he might have made, and that he must take "all the blame" or "everything is Snape's fault".

I don't think we are operating in absolutes. We do recognize Snape's mistakes and his guilt. I think it is the other side who tend to find the blame with Snape whatever scene we are discussing and who tend to find excuses for anyone who wrongs Snape in any way. Also, when we look at two absolutely comparable situations, like Harry blowing up Marge for insulting him and Snape dropping the branch on Petunia for insulting him, it turns out that practically the same thing is understandable when Harry does it and everyone is sure he did not mean to harm Marge but Snape, yes, he wanted to harm Petunia, it shows his aggression etc. I find this rather typical. Of course, I may just be caught up in details, actually comparing the two scenes, instead of just letting my intuition tell me that there must be some all important, hidden difference and Snape is doing something wrong (as always) while Harry is not.

Everyone has their own interpretation but the above is what "the larger picture that Snape supporters somehow don't get" seems to be to me.

But he tries to atone for his worst mistakes. - By doing what, exactly? What specifically does Snape do that is so far and away above anything anyone else did to rid the world of Voldemort?

Wynnleaf has already answered this, I only want to point out how interesting it is when I say Snape atoned for what he had done, your argument is that he did not do anything that others did not do as well. Without wanting to discuss whether I agree with this or not, let me ask how and why it nullifies Snape's atonement that others also fought against Voldemort. Does that make his bravery or his sacrifice or the value of his personal atonement any less?



rambkowalczyk - Jan 26, 2009 2:28 pm (#1220 of 2988)  
Also, when we look at two absolutely comparable situations, like Harry blowing up Marge for insulting him and Snape dropping the branch on Petunia for insulting him, it turns out that practically the same thing is understandable when Harry does it and everyone is sure he did not mean to harm Marge but Snape, yes, he wanted to harm Petunia, it shows his aggression etc. I find this rather typical.

I think this is an excellant example of how we give a free pass to Harry and not to Snape. The argument against Snape was that Harry was only trying to shut Aunt Marge up whereas Snape was trying to hurt Petunia. But if all Harry wanted to do was shut her up, then why didn't duct tape appear on Marge's mouth instead of blowing her up. No in both instances anger towards someone using hurtful words caused emotional magic.

One could argue that in the case of Marge being blown up is a case of comic relief and perhaps we aren't meant to take it so seriously whereas there was nothing particularly funny about a branch hitting Petunia.

But the way the Dursleys treat Harry is somewhat comical in the sense that if it were to really happen, the Dursleys would be reported to Child Services for abuse. And yet in book 6, Dumbledore chastises them for their neglect of Harry. So if the Dursleys are in trouble for putting Harry in the closet or feeding him through a cat door are in trouble then Harry should be in trouble for blowing up Marge.

The difference however is that Harry expected to be in trouble for what he did whereas Snape would deny that what happened was emotional magic.



Julia H. - Jan 26, 2009 3:00 pm (#1221 of 2988)  
One more sentence about "operating in absolutes": I also noticed that the argument of "sharing the blame" usually comes up when we discuss a scene in which Snape is the victim.



TomProffitt - Jan 26, 2009 4:16 pm (#1222 of 2988)  
On the whole pensieve thing,

I don't think that Snape did anything wrong in leaving the memory out where Harry could get to it.

I guess he shouldn't have been surprised that Harry took a peek, but that has to top my list of most stupid and irresponsible and unethical actions by Harry, with the possible exception of using Sectum Sempra on Draco. My goodness, Snape was already being insufferably horrible to Harry before that, how could Harry possibly think that it would be worth the risk?

I think Snape would have been thoroughly within his rights to take as many points from Harry as he wanted (if Gryffindor still had any at this point, I don't recall) and to put him in detention for the rest of the year (although I guess Harry was already getting that from Umbridge, I guess Harry could have gotten double detentions or something). Harry earned it.

What Snape did not have a right to do was to give up on attempting to teach Occlumency to Harry and to intentionally sabotage Harry's classwork in retribution, and particularly not to do it publicly.

Snape's errors weren't before Harry messed up, they were afterwards.



Julia H. - Jan 26, 2009 5:03 pm (#1223 of 2988)  
What Snape did not have a right to do was to give up on attempting to teach Occlumency to Harry and to intentionally sabotage Harry's classwork in retribution, and particularly not to do it publicly.

I agree he did not have the right to sabotage Harry's classwork in retribution. However, I do not quite agree that he did not have the right to stop giving Harry Occlumency lessons. I'm a teacher and I don't know what exactly gives a teacher legal right to stop teaching a course they have already started (perhaps nothing). Yet, I think everybody - even sinners like Snape - must have the right to refuse to do or to continue a job that, according to their own assessment, harms their dignity. IMO, for Snape to continue the Occlumency lessons with Harry would have been exactly that: further compromising his dignity after already suffering serious humiliation.

(BTW, a different topic, but I find it noteworthy that Snape does not give Harry detention while Umbridge is there.)



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 26, 2009 5:17 pm (#1224 of 2988)  
To me a good exercise in The Big Picture would be to take a step back and picture yourself trying to pull off the Double Agent thing as well as Severus did. The man was multitasking in a way that no other character other than DD could possibly fathom pulling off.

I am not able to research the books, so off the top of my head are some of Severus's "deeds" which show what he did. Severus multi-tasking:

Do "Anything" to help DD keep Harry safe

PLUS

Book One: Watching over Quirrell, Fill in the Blank

Book Two: Heir of Slytherin fiasco, Fill in the Blank

Book Three: Be on the lookout for Black, make monthly potion to keep Lupin from transforming, teaching for Lupin, Fill in the Blank

Book Four: must now keep his cover with Karkaroff around as well as Fill in the Blank

Book Five: perform tasks for Order of the Phoenix, Fill in the Blank

Book Six: Unbreakable Vow, heal DD, torment over having to kill DD, kill DD

Book Seven: be Headmaster under the watchful eyes of DE’s and the Order, do exactly as DD's Portrait instructs him without getting "caught" from either side, Fill in the Blank

Like I said I wish I could come up with more off the top of my head, but you get the drift. Try to do all that and be in a "good mood".



Quinn Crockett - Jan 26, 2009 6:08 pm (#1225 of 2988)  
And there's the flip side. Nothing Snape did counts at all. - Precisely the absolutism I was referring to earlier. This is NOT what I said. I asked what did Snape do that made his contribution any greater than anyone else's?

If JKR intended Harry, and therefore us, to think that all that Snape did was nothing more than anyone else did, she wouldn't have written the ending, Harry's final statements, and the Albus Severus name as she did. - Yes, and as I said before, for me this is a very big weakness in her writing. She needs to show me why, not just tell me what conclusions I am supposed to draw.

Book One: Watching over Quirrell - And this is something only Snape could do?

Book Two: Heir of Slytherin fiasco - Snape didn't have anything to do with anything that happened there - except that the trio stole ingredients from him.

Book Three: Be on the lookout for Black, make monthly potion to keep Lupin from transforming, teaching for Lupin - Everyone was on the lookout for Black. And when Snape found him on the map he failed to report it. He did make the potion for Lupin, begrudgingly. But that's not really related to Voldemort's downfall. Anyone could have filled in for Lupin.

Book Four: must now keep his cover with Karkaroff around - They didn't know Voldemort was back until the end. And even then, he openly showed his tattoo to Fudge. Making Voldemort believe he had stayed at his post was what saved him.

Book Five: perform tasks for Order of the Phoenix - I would like to know what these were. We're never told this though so it's all down to speculation and conjecture.

Book Six: Unbreakable Vow, heal DD, torment over having to kill DD, kill DD - I don't think the torment counts for anything in the bringing down of Voldemort, but on the rest I would say, now we're getting somewhere!

Book Seven: be Headmaster under the watchful eyes of DE’s and the Order, do exactly as DD's Portrait instructs him without getting "caught" from either side - Fair enough.

But when we consider that Xeno Lovegood openly opposed Voldemort's regime - in print - even after Voldemort had taken over the ministry; or how Neville, not only organized a resistance practically right under Voldemort's nose, but also got right up in Voldemort's face and told him where he could stick it, it's very difficult for me to consider Snape "the bravest" even though clearly that's what the author intended.



TomProffitt - Jan 26, 2009 6:31 pm (#1226 of 2988)  
Like I said I wish I could come up with more off the top of my head, but you get the drift. Try to do all that and be in a "good mood". --- me and my shadow 813

I don't care about Snape's mood, I care about the way he fails to treat many people with respect. Such as Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville. Snape is as big a bully to those as four as James Potter ever was to him, at least Severus had the option of responding in kind to the Marauders, but the students had no power to respond in kind to him.

McGonagall isn't exactly an "up person," but she manages to treat her students with respect. Snape should have been able to do that at the very least.

I'm not saying that Snape should have been brightness and sunshine, but that he should have been able to treat his students fairly and with respect. His inability to do that until what would have been Harry's seventh year shows that he had not completed "his atonement and reform" for lack of a better phrase.

I understand shades of gray when it comes to ethics, but sometimes wrong is just plain wrong and Snape was wrong far too often for me to hold him in high esteem.



Istani - Jan 26, 2009 6:51 pm (#1227 of 2988)  
I asked what did Snape do that made his contribution any greater than anyone else's? Quinn

I don't know if I'm a total idiot to believe that Snape being a double agent/ spy wasn't exactly what I'd call an easy job. We saw Voldemort punishing Death Eaters who had failed to meet his expectations and if I remember correctly he used Draco to state an example on someone he wasn't pleased with. Of course I could be wrong to assume that Severus was in extreme danger whenever he showed up at Voldemort's side for a slip of tongue- hell, even wrong thought could have landed him in mortal peril. He risked his life every time he went back to his Lord- and you call that nothing because he wasn't nice to Harry? I am truly wondering what kind of almost saints some of you are or if I'm just a depraved human being for I understand what motivates Severus Snape and agree to it.



tandaradei - Jan 26, 2009 6:56 pm (#1228 of 2988)  
You guys write too fast! I can't even keep up!! I'm about 40 posts behind still!!!!

Nonetheless I wanted to post this because of ideas in the preceding 60+ posts before those, and hopefully it won't be too much out of context. It has to do with Snape and remorse ... and my wondering over it -- like what actions comprised it??

Here's Steve Vander Arks own words in his Lexicon:

remorse
Once a wizard has split his or her soul, only genuine remorse will allow that soul to be put back together. According to Secrets of the Darkest Art, ‘you’ve got to really feel what you’ve done …’ This is a horribly painful process, but it is the only way (DH6, esp. DH36).
What an interesting twist. No matter how numerous or terrible a person’s crimes, then, true repentance is always possible and with that repentance will come restoration. This is a deeply religious theme, common to various faiths and belief systems. What would have happened if Voldemort had taken the opportunity to change his heart when Harry offered it to him? Perhaps we see a hint of this with Grindelwald, whose final actions in the tower of Nurmengard seemed to show a changed man. He sacrificed himself rather than tell Voldemort what he knew. Perhaps, somewhere on the other side of the Veil, Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore will meet as friends once again.”
The Lexicon, p. 263

Well, Steve chose to use Grindelwald instead of Snape as his key example of remorse; but I'm thinking Snape would have been a much more interesting study of Jo's views. Like Grindelwald, I believe too that Snape died within the "good fight," both spurred by remorse and IMO cleansed by it, and thus achieving 'restoration'; but I still think Snape could have been as irascible as ever. Am I wrong?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 26, 2009 7:26 pm (#1229 of 2988)  
I was being cheeky when I used the term "good mood" as I totally agree that Severus is unpleasant in most cases that we witness him in socially. I cannot speak for other Severus-supporters of course, but I would classify him as being borderline anti-social in his behaviour. This is not "bad", it is what he is. To me it is not black or white, being a happy, pleasant, well adjusted member of society or a "bad" person.

Yes he was a horrible teacher. He was placed in the position of Potions Master in order to fulfill his promise to DD and to himself. No one was keeping him there. DD did not ask him to take the Vow. This makes me believe that Severus was there for himself, not in a "selfish" manner but, as DD said, *what good would you be dead?* if regret was truly Severus's motivation which I believe it was.

"Is this something only Snape could do?" - Quinn C.

No but he was charged with it. With the above suggestions, I was trying to point to the enormous amount of juggling he had going on at once (multi-tasking). I wasn't trying to point to any individual skill unique to him, although he mastered many.

Regarding Karkaroff, the DE's showed up at the World Cup in the beginning of the book. We know that DD was always expecting Vold, if not his followers, and in chapter 27 out of 37 in GoF (way before the "end") we have Karkaroff cornering Severus about the Dark Mark getting clearer. Plus, the whole Egg and the Eye chapter, prowling the halls when Harry was under his Invisibility Cloak. Severus had a lot of "watching after Harry" to do that goes unnoticed.

Edit: I'll try to be more clear about my feelings regarding GoF and Karkaroff. If Severus was "sucking up" to Draco since day one the kid entered the school, I'd imagine he'd be watching what he said and did around a fellow DE, as well as watching what that DE was saying and doing. That takes quite a bit of energy.

Couple that with the DE's at the World Cup, trying to figure out who put Harry's name in the Goblet and, obviously, trying to keep Harry safe which is partially Severus's responsibility.

Making Voldemort believe he had stayed at his post was what saved him.

I will re-emphasize that I personally am pointing out, not what saved his bum or whether or not he "deserved" saving, but how much he had going on at once.

I don't have a lot to say about CoS right now as I am way overdue for a re-read.

edited for clarity and additions



wynnleaf - Jan 26, 2009 7:34 pm (#1230 of 2988)  
And there's the flip side. Nothing Snape did counts at all. - (wynnleaf)

Precisely the absolutism I was referring to earlier. This is NOT what I said. I asked what did Snape do that made his contribution any greater than anyone else's? (Quinn)


That's conveniently retelling what you said in a somewhat different manner than you actually said it. Here's what you actually said and what I was responding to:

But he tries to atone for his worst mistakes. (me)

By doing what, exactly? What specifically does Snape do that is so far and away above anything anyone else did to rid the world of Voldemort? (Quinn)


Note this: I said Snape was trying to atone and you said "by doing what?" And then you said he did nothing more than anyone else. The strong implication was that no matter what he did, it was only doing what everyone else did and therefore didn't really count in atoning for his mistakes. That's why I said that you were basically saying that whatever Snape did didn't matter, because you didn't admit it as atoning for his mistakes.

Severus had the option of responding in kind to the Marauders, but the students had no power to respond in kind to him. (Tom)

Well, to give the kids their due, they didn't have the authority to respond to Snape, but they certainly did get back at him in ways that he couldn't "pay back". Think about it. They stole from his stores, set off intentional explosions in the classroom, and knocked him unconscious.

McGonagall isn't exactly an "up person," but she manages to treat her students with respect. (Tom)

Like when she made Neville sit outside the portrait door even though a supposed killer was roaming the halls, all because he lost the list of passwords -- and he didn't even lose them, did he? And even if he had lost them (which he didn't), it's clear the poor kid had a real memory problem. So even though everyone was supposed to be extra careful, Neville had to sit in the halls and wait for other people to come along and let him in, because McGonagall thought this was an appropriate punishment. But since we don't get to see McGonagall with the spiteful tongue Snape has, this probably is excused as unimportant.

Snape is definitely harsh, sarcastic, and manages to add an insult into much of what he said, but that really is the bulk of his wrongdoing after Harry comes to Hogwarts. When I compare this to all that he did do (and what does it possibly matter that someone else could conceivably have done some of his tasks, when he was the one doing them?), I tend to think that the admirable part -- after Snape turned away from LV -- far outweights the biting and sarcastic classroom manner.


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mona amon - Jan 26, 2009 9:37 pm (#1231 of 2988)  
Like Grindelwald, I believe too that Snape died within the "good fight," both spurred by remorse and IMO cleansed by it, and thus achieving 'restoration'; but I still think Snape could have been as irascible as ever. Am I wrong? (Tandaradei)

He's also never ever shown acknowledging or blaming himself for his own mistakes, not once. (Me)

Who does Snape blame for Lily's death if not himself? (Wynnleaf)


I have no doubt at all that Snape felt remorse. He must have deeply regretted becoming a Death Eater and carrying the prophecy to Voldemort. But he's never shown to openly acknowledge, confess or face his guilt, or to apologise to the person his actions affected the most. So it's difficult to decide exactly how much remorse he feels, what he's feeling remorseful about, etc.

Take Lily's death for instance. The direct cause of it is the fact that Snape told Voldemort about the prophecy he had overheard. That was the first action in the chain of events that led to her murder. However, he got back on the right track while there was still time, and was in a position to help save her. In other words, he managed to rectify his initial mistake. Lily need not have died because of him. But other people made other mistakes, and Lily ended up dead.

We will never know how much Snape blamed himself, how much he (justifiably) blamed the others. The important thing here of course is not who has to bear the greater blame. It's more to do with 1) facing what you have done, 2) repenting, and then 3) moving on. Since Snape never, I believe, properly does step one, he cannot properly do step two, and #3 is quite out of the question.

But he tries to atone for his worst mistakes. That should count for something. Doesn't it mean he blames himself or that he acknowledges his guilt? (Julia)

If we take all that Snape did as a loyal follower of Dumbledore, it certainly makes up (and more) for whatever evil he did as a DE. So it certainly is an atonement. But was he doing it to atone? I get the feeling he was supremely uninterested in things like atonement, forgiveness, moving on, etc. And no, I do not think that doing the things he did (difficult, self-sacrificing and courageous though they were) automatically mean he was blaming himself or that he was acknowledging his guilt. Dumbledore gives him a job to do, and he agrees. But whether he does it to atone, or to ease his conscience, or to have a purpose in life or for some other complex reasons we will never know.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 26, 2009 10:24 pm (#1232 of 2988)  
I totally agree that Severus is unpleasant in most cases that we witness him in socially. - But we're not talking about whether or not Snape is good company. We're referring to the way he treats - or more accurately mistreats people. The fact that he abuses his position at every conceivable opportunity is beyond merely being a "horrible teacher". It is an indication that he has absolutely no regard for the people he is abusing. And having no regard for certain people is what the death eaters are all about.

Snape is definitely harsh, sarcastic, and manages to add an insult into much of what he said, but that really is the bulk of his wrongdoing after Harry comes to Hogwarts. - No. The "bulk of his wrongdoing" is in deliberately needling Harry about his dead father when Snape knows perfectly well that he, Snape, is at least partly responsible for the father's death.

His inability to do that until what would have been Harry's seventh year shows that he had not completed "his atonement and reform" for lack of a better phrase. I understand shades of gray when it comes to ethics, but sometimes wrong is just plain wrong and Snape was wrong far too often for me to hold him in high esteem. - Exactly.

And I agree with Mona as well. Well stated. Regarding this:
But whether he does it to atone, or to ease his conscience, or to have a purpose in life or for some other complex reasons we will never know.
For me this is where Rowling fails. Because we should know. She has strung us along through seven books and then basically decides that because her protagonist tells us Snape has atoned we are automatically supposed to agree. This just isn't good enough for me. And frankly, I find it to be a huge copout.



TomProffitt - Jan 27, 2009 3:38 am (#1233 of 2988)  
Snape is definitely harsh, sarcastic, and manages to add an insult into much of what he said, but that really is the bulk of his wrongdoing after Harry comes to Hogwarts. --- wynnlweaf

I think this is completely wrong. If Snape and Harry were equals, that's all it would be, two people insulting each other. But they weren't equals, Snape had authority over Harry.

Snape instigated the bad blood with Harry by mocking him and insulting him on his first day of class. He baited Harry and Harry's new friends until he had excuse to take points from them. It was a pattern he continued for the next six years, using his position of authority to belittle Harry while Harry could not defend himself with out threat of punishment. This is bullying, the very thing James is so roundly castigated for, and it is more abhorrent from a teacher delivered to a student. Never forget for an instant the marked difference between a feud among peers and a feud between an adult and a child. I'm astounded that something Snape did for six years can be glossed over.



Julia H. - Jan 27, 2009 8:02 am (#1234 of 2988)  
I'm astounded that something Snape did for six years can be glossed over. (Tom)

I don't think it is glossed over, but whatever Snape was as a teacher, I don't understand how it can be denied (even on this basis) that he was atoning for what he had done, participating in the fight for Voldemort and trying to protect Harry's life. Perhaps others could have done some or much of what he did and I'm aware that others also took part in the fight but that does not make Snape's contribution and atonement null and void.

As for Snape's bravery: Acknowledging that Snape was very brave does not detract from others' courage, although some posters seem to think that. How was Snape's courage more than that of others?

1) I'm not denying that others did dangerous jobs as well, but Snape faced Voldemort, for years, again and again, on a regular basis, absolutely alone, in a situation in which the smallest mistake, even a stray thought, a momentary lack of concentration could have meant certain death for him - and there would have been nobody nearby to get him out of trouble. And no, Snape was not sent back to Voldemort to save his own life. We know he took a great risk by going back to Voldemort at the end of GoF - he could have easily died that night. (If it had been about protecting Snape's life, he could have simply stayed inside a tower at Hogwarts. But it was not about protecting him, it was about protecting others.)

2) Besides physical courage, Snape had great moral courage, of which we have already talked about. Killing Dumbledore and accepting the consequences for himself, like becoming a pariah in the wizarding world, with chances that the truth about him might never come to light, living in Hogwarts during the last year of his life, between the Carrows and his old colleagues, who now all thought him to be a traitor and a murderer, and still fighting for the cause of these people, are tasks that very few people could and would do and actually Snape alone did.

And no, I do not think that doing the things he did (difficult, self-sacrificing and courageous though they were) automatically mean he was blaming himself or that he was acknowledging his guilt. Dumbledore gives him a job to do, and he agrees. But whether he does it to atone, or to ease his conscience, or to have a purpose in life or for some other complex reasons we will never know.

Dumbledore gives him a job that is becoming increasingly difficult. Yes, he agrees. But it is not the average job that people usually do for a living. It is not only difficult, not only dangerous, it also means he has to give up more than "just" his life, practically everything that other people may find their lives worth living for and he still continues doing the job.

To atone or to ease his conscience: Both atoning and wanting to ease his conscience mean he feels guilty and is remorseful. Why would he want to ease his conscience if he did not have a guilty conscience?

Or to have a purpose in life: If he did all of the above just because that was where he found his life-purpose, that would be truly admirable. You know I don't think suffering and sacrifice can be someone's life-purpose without either a reason (like remorse and self-punishment) or a further purpose that makes the former meaningful (like the greater good, for example).

His inability to do that until what would have been Harry's seventh year shows that he had not completed "his atonement and reform" for lack of a better phrase. (Tom)

Snape died in the process of "atonement and reform". Is that enough to complete his atonement and reform? We don't know how far he could have progressed if he had had the chance to live as long as DD lived.



Solitaire - Jan 27, 2009 10:47 am (#1235 of 2988)  
I'm astounded that something Snape did for six years can be glossed over.

I think, Tom, that whenever the subject is raised, the focus is simply redirected to all of the good things Snape has done and how he has saved Harry's life. Or the example of James's bullying is brought up--even though James has been dead and gone for ten years by the time Harry enters Hogwarts and should have no bearing on Snape's treatment of students in the present--and that debate is off and running once again. That is the pattern I've observed.



wynnleaf - Jan 27, 2009 11:37 am (#1236 of 2988)  
I felt that JKR made it pretty clear that "redemption" within the series had to include remorse. She has Harry say to LV, at the very end, that he needed to be remorseful. JKR says in interviews that she meant to show at the end that Snape was redeemed. I don't think, in JKR's HP world, redemption and lack of remorse are compatible. Therefore, Snape's actions must be intended by JKR to show his remorse, or he cannot be "redeemed" by her standards within the story.

In looking at Snape as a teacher, my opinion is that Snape's main problem is that he's sarcastic and insulting. That's obviously quite wrong. Is that unfair? Of course. It's wrong for anyone, and unfair when it's a teacher toward students.

However, when I look at each instance of Snape's interactions with students and look at what the students (mostly Harry) consider to be unfair, or scenes in which the reader assumes Snape is being unfair, a great deal of the time his actions are not actually unfair (points taken, detentions, homework, etc), even though the remarks he makes at the time are at best snide and sometimes quite insulting. The famous instance in OOTP where readers often assume Snape destroyed Harry's potion sample is not actually presented that way on the page. Harry brings up the potion, turns away and then hears a smash while Draco laughs. He turns and sees Snape gloating with pleasure and Snape says "whoops" and gives him a zero. Harry goes back to put more potion in a flask, but Hermione has gotten rid of it. Harry is furious, but we never see him, Hermione or the narration actually say that Snape pushed it over the edge. The immediate assumption for the reader is that Snape is so mean that he must have pushed it over, but nothing actually says that he did so. Harry, of course, couldn't even see it. It's simply an assumption. Was Snape gloating with pleasure because of Harry's bad luck? Or because he tipped it over himself? We don't know, because we aren't shown and we're not even shown that Harry thinks Snape turned it over. The assumption follows based on the reader already believing that Snape would do anything to hurt Harry.

I certainly agree that Snape says some cruel things. And I very much agree that he had no business insulting James to Harry's face. I have no problem with him thinking those things about James (arrogance, rulebreaking, etc), nor with him saying so to DD in The Princes Tale, but it is very wrong to say those things to Harry, regardless of Harry's behavior.

I agree that Snape is snide in general, sarcastic in general, and prone toward malicious comments toward Harry and his friends.

On the other hand, much (no, not all ) of what Harry views as unfairness on Snape's part, particularly as regards points taken, detentions, etc., is not necessarily unfair. Nor are many of the things for which Snape accuses Harry. When Snape accuses Harry of lying, he almost always is lying. When Snape thinks Harry has created an explosion, Harry did intentionally create the explosion injuring other students. When Snape thinks Harry has broken various rules, most often Harry did exactly that. And Harry does act unnecessarily disrespectful. I don't blame Harry for disrespect sometimes, like when Snape insults James, but Harry is disrespectful other times as well.

Snape treated Harry badly to begin with and then Harry began to play to Snape's bad expectations. Harry was breaking rules, stealing, doing sloppy work in class, copying off of others, not paying attention, being disrespectful, lying, etc. -- and almost always just in Snape's class or under Snape's watch.

Did Snape start that cycle? Yes, indeed, he started it by his unfair immediate loathing of Harry and by his words and actions in the first class. Did Harry show Snape that Snape was wrong? No, he basically confirmed Snape's bad opinion of him, insofar as how Harry acts around Snape and in Snape's class.

If Snape had been a mature adult and acted as a teacher should -- even after making such a horrid start with the first class -- he could still have possibly changed the cycle over time. But he didn't. Snape continued making his attitude toward Harry obvious and Harry kept right on acting, in Snape's sight, exactly as Snape expected.

The whole thing keeps going because Snape was immature, loathed Harry, and was so caught up in his hatred of James that he wouldn't stop and see his own fault in what was going on. But this was not a case, after the first class, of a teacher being grossly unfair to a student who was doing nothing out of line and who was innocent of all wrongdoing.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 27, 2009 12:57 pm (#1237 of 2988)  
whatever Snape was as a teacher, I don't understand how it can be denied (even on this basis) that he was atoning for what he had done - Like Tom, I am astonished that Snape's abominable behavior toward Harry and co. is consistently glossed over in favor of Snape's supposed "atonement".

Once again, Snape's treatment of Harry and his friends has nothing whatsoever to do with however successful Snape might or might not have been "as a teacher". But it has absolutely everything to do with how successful or serious he was in "atoning".

The mere fact that Snape mocks Harry the first time they meet as "our new celebrity" knowing perfectly well all the while why Harry was celebrated by the wizarding community - AND knowing that he, Snape, had played a role in it - is not the behavior of someone working to atone for anything. It is the behavior of someone who feels no sense of responsibility, however small it might actually be in mathematical terms. That Snape continued to treat Harry and his friends as scapegoats for all the wrongs - both real and imagined - committed against him for the next six years pretty much negates anything Snape might have actually been doing with "atonement" as his motivation.



wynnleaf - Jan 27, 2009 1:06 pm (#1238 of 2988)  
The mere fact that Snape mocks Harry the first time they meet as "our new celebrity" knowing perfectly well all the while why Harry was celebrated by the wizarding community - AND knowing that he, Snape, had played a role in it - is not the behavior of someone working to atone for anything. It is the behavior of someone who feels no sense of responsibility, however small it might actually be in mathematical terms. That Snape continued to treat Harry and his friends as scapegoats for all the wrongs - both real and imagined - committed against him for the next six years pretty much negates anything Snape might have actually been doing with "atonement" as his motivation. (Quinn)

While I understand what you are getting at here, I still say that JKR does intend for Snape to be showing his remorse and atonement through his actions. Because JKR has made it quite clear that Snape is "redeemed" by the standards of the book and since, in her HP world, that has to include remorse -- well, there you have it. Whether you see it or not, or believe it or not, JKR practically had to have meant Snape to be showing remorse and a desire to atone.

Still, I do get what you are saying. You are saying that if he really felt the remorse he's supposed to have, wouldn't he have treated Harry differently?

While I understand the argument, I still think that it is well within the irrational behavior of most humans to do things that don't add up. It seems to me quite believable that a person can be truly remorseful for their actions in putting people into danger that resulted in their deaths, and yet still loath and act nastily toward their child. It doesn't follow logically, but in my opinion it is quite a human thing to do, especially given someone who is flawed psychologically to begin with.

Edit: "flawed psychologically" isn't really the right phrase, I think, because in my own mind it implies a psychological problem from birth, which I do not think is true of Snape. He is, however, full of emotional problems well before he begins to deal with this remorse.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 27, 2009 2:13 pm (#1239 of 2988)  
Snape instigated the bad blood with Harry by mocking him and insulting him on his first day of class. - Tom P.

James instigated the bad blood with Severus by mocking him and insulting him on his first day of class

If we inserted James for "Snape" and Severus for "Harry" in the above sentence, suddenly folks have excuses for said instigator. I make this point not to compare with James's wrong doing again but to show that Severus's problems with Harry stem from that day on the Hogwarts Express with James. Is it "right"? Not according to "healthy" behaviour.

Yes, absolutely Severus mistreats the students. Yes, he cannot let go of his humilation, jealousy, shame, rage. He should not be a teacher. He's not a "good" guy with a white hat. So what? I guess I know a lot of people who are not capable of upholding civilised conversation, border on being rude to just about everyone, yet I can understand them because I know *why*.



TomProffitt - Jan 27, 2009 2:44 pm (#1240 of 2988)  
I don't think we can change anyone's opinion here, but I had a thought today at work. I'm curious as to what people believe is the key part of "Snape's Worst Memory" that made it the worst. A lot of bad things happened for Snape that day, but which single thing was the worst for Snape?

I know what I believe to be the key event, but I'd like to see what others think. I'm wondering how it will breakdown in the so called pro- or anti- groups.

I think that the key event was Snape calling Lily "Mudblood" and symbolically ending their friendship.



legolas returns - Jan 27, 2009 3:09 pm (#1241 of 2988)  
I was going to agree TomProffit that it was the Mudblood incident. I am sure that there had been many other humiliations for Snape in his time at Hogwarts but what could be worse than you best friend side with your sworn enemy and laugh at you in front of a large group of people. You loose someone that is willing to stick up for you and stand up to some of the most popular people in the year when you are not popular yourself. I am not saying that they would have remained friends forever if he had not called her a mudblood. There may have been another later incident that could have driven a wedge between them. She compares James and Snape and calls them equally arrogant when Snape is just trying to be impressive. She later goes on to marry James enforcing the bitterness that Snape may have felt.



wynnleaf - Jan 27, 2009 3:26 pm (#1242 of 2988)  
Right in that scene, what was the worst part for him? Certainly his calling her a mudblood would be the trigger, but I think what probably really, really hurt, because it drove home what he'd caused, was her calling him Snivellus. It was a hated name, created by James, and it indicates not only her rejection of him as a friend, but her willingness to side with and join those who humiliate and hate him.

One might say that his use of "mudblood" said the same to her -- I suppose Lily would say that. But "Snivellus" was a name created just for him, so it was completely personal and was used very deliberately by Lily.

One thing that always struck me about that scene is that once Snape makes the "mudblood" comment, he never says a single other thing, not to James, Sirius or Lily. I think he was too overwhelmed by what he'd done and the effect of it.



Julia H. - Jan 27, 2009 4:56 pm (#1243 of 2988)  
I think, Tom, that whenever the subject is raised, the focus is simply redirected to all of the good things Snape has done and how he has saved Harry's life. (Solitaire)

To me it seems this last time, for example, we were talking about Snape's remorse and atonement. Then somebody practically said Snape did nothing special that could be called atonement, because he only did what others did or would have done as well. I, personally, did not understand, how whatever others did or did not do could affect Snape's actions being interpreted as atonement or not. After that the "Snape as a horrible teacher" argument came up, being used (if I understood it) as evidence that Snape felt no remorse and consequently atoned for nothing at all because the only possible atonement or sign of remorse would have been if he had treated Harry decently. In answer to this, I pointed out what Snape actually did could not be (IMO, at least) regarded as nothing, so yes, I directed the conversation back to the good things he did, because the original question was if Snape did anything at all that could be regarded as atonement. If I wanted to express my opinion concerning the question the discussion was about, i.e., that even if Snape did not atone in the fullest and best possible way, I cannot deny he atoned (and actually died atoning) for the wrong he had done, I had to direct the conversation towards the good things. We can discuss Snape the teacher but in this particular discussion we were discussing his atonement.

Some posters were focusing on what Snape did not do but I agree with Wynnleaf that Snape - atoning and being nasty to Harry at the same time - seems to be quite realistic. I can see a stereotypical image of a remorseful person being tragically sad and humble etc. But it is a static image. When you have to go on living your life, it is impossible to always be in the same mood, to always feel the same single thing. Snape was remorseful and was willing to atone but he may have also been guilty, loathing or self-loathing, unhappy, desperate, disappointed, hurt, dissatisfied, impatient, wallowing in sad memories, longing for something, ashamed, defiant, nervous, doubtful, resentful, angry and so on. Yet, when the time came to fulfil his promise, he did what he was able to do (and he was apparently more willing to face Voldemort than to face Harry) and it was actually quite a lot. So while certain posts keep saying he could not atone because he was horrible to Harry, I will redirect the conversation towards the good things Snape did because my opinion is that these things were atonement.

Regarding the Worst Memory: I also agree that the "worst" part was the "Mudblood" part and losing Lily. However, I don't think that makes the original humiliation any better (i.e., the memory would have been quite bad even without Lily's participation). But it seems to me that even the humiliation part was made worse by far because Lily was there and James had the opportunity to further taunt Snape by asking Lily to go out with him in direct association with Snape being tortured or released (etc.) and it was this kind of torment that provoked Snape so that he shouted that word in his anger and humiliation. And then of course, Lily ended up siding with James by calling Snape "Snivellus" (yes, I know she told him off, too). So in essence, I think the kind of humiliation Snape suffered in front of Lily is strongly connected to the "Mudblood" word, which is not only the worst part but also the direct consequence of what happened before.

One thing that always struck me about that scene is that once Snape makes the "mudblood" comment, he never says a single other thing, not to James, Sirius or Lily. I think he was too overwhelmed by what he'd done and the effect of it. (Wynnleaf)

That's how I see it, too. What struck me is that Snape does not even do anything to defend himself: James lifts the spell finally and Snape says Mudblood. Lily answers calling him Snivellus, then James and Lily quarrel, Lily leaves, James and Sirius talk, and after that Snape is hanging upside down again. During this time he could have gripped his wand to defend himself, or he could have left, or he could have even attacked James, but no, Snape apparently says and does nothing until he ends up hanging upside down again and the torment continues.



TomProffitt - Jan 27, 2009 5:04 pm (#1244 of 2988)  
Julia H, and everyone, the reason I changed the topic to "What was the worst part of Snape's Worst Memory" (and I'd like to here more responses, please) is that I realized we were getting more frustrated and further apart. Each reacting and allowing ourselves to be misunderstood. A vicious cycle. I think I've had enough of that and it's time to move on even though I'm very tempted to add more on the subject.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 27, 2009 5:55 pm (#1245 of 2988)  
I've been back-reading threads and found an old post of mine about JKR from Oct. 25, 2005:

I was thinking she was referring to Lily's defending Snape in 'worst memory'. If so, that would indicate we'll find out about their friendship/history in book 7. And her mentioning that both 'significant things' are very important in what Harry has to do could be about forgiving Snape and/or them saving eachother's lives or something. - me

I definitely feel the "worst" in that memory is his regret over using the word "mudblood" and losing Lily forever.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 27, 2009 6:51 pm (#1246 of 2988)  
Tom, I think most of us will probably agree that the author means for the "worst" of the memory to be that Snape used the "m word" against his one true friend. But I would say that, even if he hadn't said that particular word, he still rejects her. He still shouts, "I don't need help from ... her!" He doesn't say, "Lily, just stay out of it" or something along those lines. He completely denounces her even without his added bigotry.

Snape was remorseful and was willing to atone but he may have also been guilty, loathing or self-loathing, unhappy, desperate, disappointed, hurt, dissatisfied, impatient, wallowing in sad memories, longing for something, ashamed, defiant, nervous, doubtful, resentful, angry and so on. - But this is just projection on the part of the reader to make the character sympathetic.

I guess I think of "atonement" in the same way I think of people working toward a life of sobriety. They count the time they have been sober only from the last time they had a drink (or smoked or whatever). And every time they have a drink, they're back to square one and they have to reset the calendar, so to speak. They don't get "sobriety credit" for the amount of time they weren't drinking before that. The amount of time they've been sober starts over.

Snape falls off the atonement wagon every single day.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 27, 2009 7:07 pm (#1247 of 2988)  
He completely denounces her even without his added racism. - Quinn

And the reason for that is (drum roll, please)...

'Lily, whose furious expresssion had twitched for an instant as though she was going to smile...'

I bit infuriating having your best friend -- who you are in love with -- not only witness your being humiliated by the guy who is trying to win her over (the guy who humiliated you from the very first day of school before school even began session) not only see your horrible grey undergarments, not only have this all happen publicly with a crowd of people to watch for entertainment, not only all that...

you see her smile at the spectacle that is you.

How would you feel, Quinn? Could you keep your cool?



Istani - Jan 27, 2009 7:21 pm (#1248 of 2988)  
...he still rejects her. He still shouts, "I don't need help from ... her!" He doesn't say, "Lily, just stay out of it" or something along those lines. He completely denounces her even without his added bigotry. Quinn.

Quinn, pray, tell me how you would react in a similar situation of humiliation?



wynnleaf - Jan 27, 2009 7:28 pm (#1249 of 2988)  
Snape falls off the atonement wagon every single day. (Quinn)

So does everybody who wishes to "atone". That is, no one who is attempting to atone for anything particularly major become perfect, especially not perfect in relation to the area of their greatest weaknesses. So practically everyone who tries to atone in areas of their great weaknesses finds themselves daily failing in various ways. If you think that atonement means perfectly turning your back on something, than atonement is mostly impossible, at least as far as atoning for things in areas where you have a major weakness.



TomProffitt - Jan 27, 2009 7:34 pm (#1250 of 2988)  
... bigotry. --- Quinn

Y'all are focusing on the wrong word.

... completely denounces her ... --- Quinn

That's the relevant part of Quinn's statement. Of course he had reason to be angry and humiliated, that's not the point Quinn is making. And we all know Snape had reason for what he said, that doesn't preclude it from being either bigoted or something Snape would regret doing.

The point is what Quinn finds relevant to Snape and what Quinn took to be Snape's take on what was the worst. This is what I asked people to put forward so that we could understand people's differences.



tandaradei - Jan 27, 2009 7:38 pm (#1251 of 2988)  
Not to make too much a comment on the current subject, I would like to add some other recovery ideas.

Most folks in recovery say the attitude should be of "progress, not perfection." Perfectionism is what gets many of us into our addictive messes to begin with ("our best thinking got us there.")

Too, the co-founder Bill said to think of this image when someone falls away. Say you're going to the post office and its icy and you fall down. Well, its best to get up and continue on ... after all, you're still progressing towards the goal, despite your lapse.

And then there's the comment in Scriptures regarding faults: "Forgive ... not Seven Times, but Seventy-Seven Times," meaning, I would think, to think in different terms than that of strict observances of faults in some kind of required balance-system.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 27, 2009 7:49 pm (#1252 of 2988)  
That's the relevant part of Quinn's statement. Of course he had reason to be angry and humiliated, that's not the point Quinn is making. And we all know Snape had reason for what he said, that doesn't preclude it from being either bigoted or something Snape would regret doing.

Yes, thank you, Tom.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 27, 2009 7:50 pm (#1253 of 2988)  
Tom, I understand your point and I am just as interested in discussing differences in order to learn commonalities as you are. However, I have no interest in discussing black and white thinking.

The analogy of sobriety having to start from square one each time doesn't work for me in general or when applied to Severus. His goal is to keep Harry safe in honour of Lily's sacrifice, as well as so Harry might fulfill the prophecy and finish Vold for good. If he is "mean" to Neville in Potions class, how is that back to square one regarding his goal?



Quinn Crockett - Jan 27, 2009 8:00 pm (#1254 of 2988)  
I admit that the sobriety thing might not be the best analogy, particularly since I don't know as much about it as I thought I did. I apologize.

If he is "mean" to Neville in Potions class, how is that back to square one regarding his goal? - Because in order to "atone" Snape must first recognize that his actions and attitudes do not occur in a vacuum. They have a direct and lasting influence on real people's lives. While it's all well and good that he does what Dumbledore orders him to do, Snape never shows any hint of comprehension that the whole reason he's in the situation he is in is because he disregarded the real people, the real lives his actions were affecting. In that case, to my mind the attempts at "atonement" must be demonstrated on a simpler level. Being respectful and considerate in day to day dealings, even with people you might not like or actually respect. Not abusing one's position and maintaining boundaries.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 27, 2009 8:32 pm (#1255 of 2988)  
In that case, to my mind the attempts at "atonement" must be demonstrated on a simpler level. Being respectful and considerate in day to day dealings, even with people you might not like or actually respect. - Quinn

He's mean, yes but I disagree with the above.

At the end of PoA when Severus is ranting and raving about Harry setting Sirius free, Fudge says, "Fellow seems quite unbalanced." To which DD replies, "Oh, he's not unbalanced. He's just suffered a severe disappointment."

To me that sort of represents the two "sides" we've got going on here. Some view Severus as Fudge does, others as DD. That's me, anyway.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 27, 2009 8:49 pm (#1256 of 2988)  
Snape falls off the atonement wagon every single day. (Quinn)

So does everybody who wishes to "atone".


This simply isn't true. There are myriads of people - both real and fictional - who recognize where their lives have gone wrong and make a complete and 100% turnaround. They totally abstain and refrain from anything that might lead them back down their abandoned path and they never look back.



Solitaire - Jan 27, 2009 9:28 pm (#1257 of 2988)  
... or, when they do slip and cause hurt, they stop, acknowledge their mistake, and ask forgiveness of their victims. Oftentimes, simply acknowledging that we've hurt someone and asking for his forgiveness has a profoundly healing effect on both people involved.

I once heard someone describe atonement as at onement ... or the state of being at one, or in harmony. Does that definition of atone apply here?



mona amon - Jan 27, 2009 9:52 pm (#1258 of 2988)  
Snape falls off the atonement wagon every single day. (Quinn)

But LOL, he has to atone for being a loyal servant of Voldy, is what I thought. As far as I can make out, you do not think that is so important, and what he really has to atone for is his treatment of Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville, and he fails miserably at this every single day. (ETA: I had not read your clarification in #1254 before posting this)

For me this is where Rowling fails. Because we should know. She has strung us along through seven books and then basically decides that because her protagonist tells us Snape has atoned we are automatically supposed to agree. This just isn't good enough for me. And frankly, I find it to be a huge copout. (Quinn)

Actually, I do not think Harry tells us that Snape has atoned (in your sense of the word). I mean it cannot be assumed from his remarks. This is what he says, 'Albus Severus,' Harry said quietly...'you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.' We see here a complete acceptance of Snape's Slytherin-ness, his recognition of Snape as a true headmaster of Hogwarts, and a great admiration for his heroism. And of course there's an implied forgiveness, because he wouldn't have named his son Severus if he hadn't forgiven Snape.

Obviously Harry does not give a hoot about how Snape treated him. But that does not mean he thought he had somehow 'changed' or 'atoned' in that way. That part of Snape's personality was to him probably just an unimportant detail in the big picture.

Dumbledore gives him a job that is becoming increasingly difficult. Yes, he agrees. But it is not the average job that people usually do for a living. It is not only difficult, not only dangerous, it also means he has to give up more than "just" his life, practically everything that other people may find their lives worth living for and he still continues doing the job.

To atone or to ease his conscience: Both atoning and wanting to ease his conscience mean he feels guilty and is remorseful. Why would he want to ease his conscience if he did not have a guilty conscience? (Julia)


Answering the last part first, I think there's a difference. For example, a man makes a lot of money by dishonest means. He eases his conscience by donating liberally to charity. but if he had, instead, really faced his guilt and repented for whatever he had done, and then done something to make up for it, that's different, isn't it. But I'm not saying that's what Severus did. What do we know about what he really felt, anyway? I just do not agree that a person's thoughts and feelings can be accurately gauged from his actions.

Or to have a purpose in life: If he did all of the above just because that was where he found his life-purpose, that would be truly admirable. You know I don't think suffering and sacrifice can be someone's life-purpose without either a reason (like remorse and self-punishment) or a further purpose that makes the former meaningful (like the greater good, for example).

Here I think we are beginning to agree (a little ). I do find everything he did very admirable, for whatever reason he did it. I find it even more admirable if he didn't do it just to atone for his sins ('OK, now that I've done all this admirable stuff, we're quits'). I don't agree that suffering and self-sacrifice (there's more to it than that. There's also the genuine kick he got out of outsmarting Voldemort and being such a valuable servant to DD) need a particular reason other than the laws of Snape's nature, and yes, if these laws dictated that he put his whole heart and soul into accomplising what DD tells him to do, then he is truly admirable.

EDIT: Whew, I've been typing out this post the whole morning with constant interruptions, and I see I've cross-posted with a lot of people!



Dryleaves - Jan 28, 2009 3:01 am (#1259 of 2988)  
I once heard someone describe atonement as at onement ... or the state of being at one, or in harmony. Does that definition of atone apply here? Soli

I think that depends on what you think should be in harmony. There is a harmony as Snape helps in the fulfillment of the prophecy he once handed to Voldemort, and Voldemort is defeated and Harry survives.

They totally abstain and refrain from anything that might lead them back down their abandoned path and they never look back. Quinn

In a way Snape actually does this. He was once a Death Eater, but he stops dealing in dark arts, he works against Voldemort, etc.

Snape never shows any hint of comprehension that the whole reason he's in the situation he is in is because he disregarded the real people, the real lives his actions were affecting. Quinn

I see what you mean, but I am not sure that atonement has to be that wide a concept. You can atone for a certain crime. For example, if you steal, you may regret what you have done, do your time in prison and refrain from ever stealing again in the future, and in that way you have atoned for stealing, you have changed and are no longer a thief. But you may still have other flaws. Snape certainly has. I think moving away from the Death Eaters, who believe in pure-blood supremacy and who want to escape death, etc, means moving closer to other people in a way, but of course Snape has still a long way to go.

Obviously Harry does not give a hoot about how Snape treated him. But that does not mean he thought he had somehow 'changed' or 'atoned' in that way. That part of Snape's personality was to him probably just an unimportant detail in the big picture. Mona  

Yes, so it seems.

BTW, Tom, nice avatar, but isn't Bucky a rather snapish creature? But I suppose being a cat counts as a mitigating circumstance.  



TomProffitt - Jan 28, 2009 4:58 am (#1260 of 2988)  
I think what Quinn and I are saying (and others) as opposed to some other folks rest just on what Severus Snape is atoning for.

I don't assert that being a Death Eater and setting people up to be murdered is what Snape needs to atone for. That's just the start of what he needs to atone for. To me if you're doing x-number of things wrong and only seek to atone for one of them, then you aren't really seeking atonement.

What makes the sequence of memories in the Prince's Tale work is if each memory is a trigger showing Snape recognizing in each incident his own error. If Severus could have made a more positive introduction to Lily & Petunia. If he hadn't dropped the branch on Petunia. If Severus hadn't spied on Petunia's letter. If Severus had been able to laugh off the insult to Slytherin like Sirius rather than take offense. If Snape hadn't desired Slytherin perhaps he could have been in the same House with Lily. If Severus had paid more attention to what his friends were doing rather than competing with the Marauders.... and it goes on in each scene, where finally Dumbledore is telling those errors to him, misjudging Harry, putting Harry into detention all of the time.  

For me, Snape's final atonement at the end of the series only works if Severus views The Prince's Tale as an apology instead of an explanation. You can't have remorse without accepting fault. Is Snape the only one at fault in these scenes? Hardly, and in many of them there isn't much fault at all, but it is the recognition that he, Severus, had had the ability to make better choices through out his entire life that could have created very different and potentially better results. Severus could have been friends with Petunia. He cold have been friends with James and not rivals. He didn't have to be in Slytherin. He didn't have to be a Death Eater. He could have been a mentor to Harry.

And as the end came near Dumbledore paid him the ultimate compliment. "What about my soul?" Dumbledore wasn't worried about Severus's soul because he knew that he was on the path towards redemption.

But the trick has to be Severus recognizing his own mistakes no matter how small and no longer fixating on the errors of others. As long as Severus still blamed Harry for James's actions, as we see all through HBP, Snape hasn't reached his goal.

This is why, for me, the Worst of Snape's Memory has to be what Snape did, because if it's not, Snape's not working on atonement he's working on revenge. Snape had legitimate reasons for anger, but you can't find forgiveness for yourself until you are willing to offer it to others.

ETA: I like to laugh at Bucky, that's why he's my avatar. Bucky isn't exactly objective, which is what I strive for in all things.


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mona amon - Jan 28, 2009 5:19 am (#1261 of 2988)  
Very good post, Dryleaves, as usual.  

One thing that always struck me about that scene is that once Snape makes the "mudblood" comment, he never says a single other thing, not to James, Sirius or Lily. I think he was too overwhelmed by what he'd done and the effect of it. (Wynnleaf)

I completely missed that. Thanks for pointing it out, wynnleaf.



Mrs Brisbee - Jan 28, 2009 6:49 am (#1262 of 2988)  
... or, when they do slip and cause hurt, they stop, acknowledge their mistake, and ask forgiveness of their victims. Oftentimes, simply acknowledging that we've hurt someone and asking for his forgiveness has a profoundly healing effect on both people involved. --Solitaire

Exactly. I'm not looking for perfection, what I'm looking for is some indication that Snape knows that he needs to be on some wagon that he could fall off of, and actually cares. I don't get that from his treatment of others.

For me, Snape's final atonement at the end of the series only works if Severus views The Prince's Tale as an apology instead of an explanation. You can't have remorse without accepting fault. Is Snape the only one at fault in these scenes? Hardly, and in many of them there isn't much fault at all, but it is the recognition that he, Severus, had had the ability to make better choices through out his entire life that could have created very different and potentially better results. Severus could have been friends with Petunia. He cold have been friends with James and not rivals. He didn't have to be in Slytherin. He didn't have to be a Death Eater. He could have been a mentor to Harry.-- TomProffitt

Very good post, Tom. I think that is how it was intended, but it seems very few people come to that conclusion. The epilogue does muddy things if we take it to mean that Rowling believes Snape is the best thing since sliced bread. My eight-year-old daughter was confused by that part, and asked me why Harry would name his child after Snape (she didn't have trouble with Albus), and why Harry thought he was the bravest (for the first I had to say I didn't know, and for the second I had to say that Snape was brave, but certainly not braver than everyone else). I think it does leave a strange moral for children, that Snape is the greatest and it is him they should be trying to emulate.

I would love to hear from Rowling herself what she was trying to convey with Snape in the epilogue.



wynnleaf - Jan 28, 2009 8:14 am (#1263 of 2988)  
Snape could have been friends with Petunia??? No one else is! Good grief. Snape gets blame for not being nicer to Petunia? What about Lily? Does she get any blame for not having made up with her sister? Maybe Petunia would have been nicer to Harry. Does Harry get blame for not being nicer? What about DD? He could have been nicer to Petunia when he just dropped off Harry with only a letter.

Nicer to James?? How exactly are we ever shown that Snape could have been nicer to James and it would have made any difference? James didn't start in on Snape because Snape hadn't been nice. He started in on him because he wanted to be in Slytherin. And Snape could have not been in Slytherin? Most kids don't seem to even know that they can request a different house.

Sure, there are certainly things Snape could and should have done differently, but that's just kind of over the top, don't you think?

Okay.. back to the remorse and atoning thing.

I've said repeatedly, but only Quinn answers this... JKR seemed to show quite clearly that redemption has to have remorse. JKR stated plainly that she was showing Snape as redeemed. Therefore it stands to reason that JKR was showing us Snape's remorse in The Prince's Tale, because without his remorse, he wouldn't be redeemed.

Now I understand that some readers might not see the remorse in The Prince's Tale. But those of you that don't think Snape had remorse -- do you at least agree that JKR intended him to have remorse?

As for remorse and atoning. In my opinion, real remorse is remorse that moves a person to change. However, if we judge real remorse by whether a person changes in all the bad ways or whether the person changes completely, then I think no one will be considered truly remorseful.

Actually, I think it's pretty common for we humans to judge the remorse of others not by whether or not they attempt to atone or whether or not they change, but by whether or not they attempt to change the things we want to see changed. Further, for many people words speak a lot louder than actions. Snape can protect Harry for years even at risk of his own life, but that doesn't count in the realm of remorse to some. A verbal apology is the most important to some.

Snape quite obviously turns away from Voldemort. He clearly stops those actions and he never again truly serves LV. He works very hard to rectify the situation he helped to cause (I'm speaking of prior to the Potter's deaths when he worked to help protect them). After the Potter's died, he worked very hard to keep Harry alive and to bring Voldemort down. He changes not only his actions, but he also changed some of his attitudes, now desiring to protect people who he doesn't like, people who hate him and distrust him, whereas before he was only willing to protect this one person, Lily, who he loved.

So he does show great "turning away" from the wrong that he'd done.

What he doesn't do is go to Harry and beg his forgiveness or act nice to him.

So is being nice to Harry and begging his forgiveness all Snape needs to do?

Now let me flip this around.

In POA, Lupin willfully and knowingly hid information which, as far as he knew, increased the life threatening danger to literally hundreds of school kids (not just a baby and his parents). Suppose that what Lupin and everyone else had thought about Sirius had been true - Sirius was the Death Eater traitor, a mass murderer, etc. Now suppose because of Lupin's hiding of info, several children, like Ron for instance, had actually been killed.

What would convince readers of Lupin's remorse? In the books, Lupin's actions were exactly the same. He just turned out to be lucky and the supposed mass murderer wasn't really a threat to the kids after all. But suppose he hadn't been lucky. Would the remorse that Lupin shows at the end of POA, his explanation about not wanting DD to be disappointed in him, his sorrow, naturally greater because people would actually have died, would all this be enough to show that Lupin really was remorseful? Would readers forgive him?

What would Lupin need to do to atone for the deaths, due in part to his hiding of information? Would his words of remorse and his resignation at the end of POA be enough?

Oh, sure, he could still come back when the Order got re-established and be a heroic Order member. But I'm talking about when the first time reader first completed POA. Would Lupin be forgiven by the reader?

See, the way I read people's love for Lupin, I think if POA had ended with mass murderer Death Eater Sirius having killed Ron and maybe other kids, and then run off to help LV, and Lupin had been very, very sorry and resigned his post, well, I think readers would have forgiven him, primarily because -- in spite of cowardly withholding info that could have helped protect the kids -- he was so supportive and encouraging to Harry, and now he was so sorry, that readers would forgive him.

But would he really have done much of anything to atone? Or as much as Snape did in his remorse for betraying the Potters? No.

I think that deep down people wanted to see Snape directly remorseful to Harry because he always showed his loathing of Harry and Harry is the protagonist of the story. We the readers are, in a way, standing with Harry's point of view. Therefore there's this feeling that nothing else is as important than how a character treats Harry.



mona amon - Jan 28, 2009 8:39 am (#1264 of 2988)  
I think that deep down people wanted to see Snape directly remorseful to Harry because he always showed his loathing of Harry and Harry is the protagonist of the story. We the readers are, in a way, standing with Harry's point of view. Therefore there's this feeling that nothing else is as important than how a character treats Harry.

And it always surprises me that they can feel so bad for Harry about the way Snape treats him and not share Harry's complete forgiveness and understanding of him in the end, his lack of remorse about the way he treated him notwithstanding.



rambkowalczyk - Jan 28, 2009 8:42 am (#1265 of 2988)  
It looks like we all agree that calling Lily a Mudblood is what made this Snape's worse memory.

Snape could have been friends with Petunia??? No one else is! Good grief. Snape gets blame for not being nicer to Petunia? Nicer to James?? How exactly are we ever shown that Snape could have been nicer to James and it would have made any difference? wynnleaf

I think you are misinterpreting Tom's ideas. What Snape finally sees at the end of his life was that he had a choice in how to react. It may be true that being nicer to James and Petunia may not have changed Petunia nor James. But what Snape sees was that his obsession with revenge is what separated him from Lily and ultimately made him the most miserable person on earth.



mona amon - Jan 28, 2009 8:48 am (#1266 of 2988)  
Snape's obsession with revenge? I do not see it anywhere in the books. He holds on to his grudges, he's happy when he thinks he's getting revenge, but we don't see him being actively vengeful.



TomProffitt - Jan 28, 2009 8:49 am (#1267 of 2988)  
wynnleaf, I think you missed my point entirely.

For Severus Snape to show remorse he has to see the fault in himself, from the biggest things to the smallest things. I do not believe that Snape could have done much of what I suggested in my post, the key is for him to recognize his own part in his past.

My post was in no way intended to cast blame for these things on Snape alone and I thought that I had made myself clear on that. In many of those incidents there was very little that Snape could realistically have done to change things, but he was not blameless. To be truly remorseful you have to accept all of your own faults. I think we are showed this in The Prince's Tale.

Conversely if The Prince's Tale is merely a litany of wrongs that others have done to Snape, then Snape is not showing any remorse in those scenes, only regret for what has happened to him. Regret is not remorse.

Was the dislike between Petunia and Snape only Snape's fault? Of course not. Was the rivalry between James and Severus only Snape's fault? Of course not. Was Snape's failure to be the mentor Harry needed only Snape's fault? Of course not. But, could Snape have done things differently in his relationships with those three people to make them better and potentially more positive? Yes, I think he could have. And I believe that for Snape to be truly remorseful it is necessary for him to recognize that.

"Look at how I've been wronged. It caused me to do bad things I wished I hadn't." That's not remorse, that's making excuses.

I don't believe Snape did that in those memories he showed to Harry. He was telling him, "These are the key moments in my life where if I had been a better person, perhaps I could have made things better." That's remorse.



mona amon - Jan 28, 2009 9:21 am (#1268 of 2988)  
Was the rivalry between James and Severus only Snape's fault? Of course not.

I wouldn't call it rivalry. I'd call it bullying. And it wasn't Snape's fault at all.

Was Snape's failure to be the mentor Harry needed only Snape's fault? Of course not.

This time I'll say yes, it was completely Snape's fault.

could Snape have done things differently in his relationships with those three people to make them better and potentially more positive?

Definitely not with James.

"Look at how I've been wronged. It caused me to do bad things I wished I hadn't." That's not remorse, that's making excuses.

Something we never see Snape doing.

ETA: I think it does leave a strange moral for children, that Snape is the greatest and it is him they should be trying to emulate. (Mrs Brisbee)

I think it's Harry she wanted the kids to emulate, along with his forgiving nature, not Severus.



wynnleaf - Jan 28, 2009 9:46 am (#1269 of 2988)  
Tom,

Sorry to have misinterpreted you. I went back and read your post again and I think I understand. It was your setting up all those "ifs" that made it sound like an "if..., then..." kind of thing to me. As though "if" Snape had handled all these relationships better, things would have been different. While I certainly think that's true of his relationship with Harry, I definitely don't think it's true regarding Petunia or James.

I don't believe Snape did that in those memories he showed to Harry. He was telling him, "These are the key moments in my life where if I had been a better person, perhaps I could have made things better." That's remorse. (Tom)

Yes, I think that The Prince's Tale is a tale of remorse and atonement. It's not just a "why you can believe you have to die" or "why I did what I did" sort of story. I don't think it can be intended that way, or JKR wouldn't consider Snape to have been redeemed.

I do think it's very important that in giving Harry his memories, Snape does not solely give him memories that will make Harry do what he needs to do and go give his life for the cause. Why would he be giving Harry all of these memories, particularly ones that show his own culpability (although we may differ on which ones show Snape culpable), were he not seeking to show his remorse?



mona amon - Jan 28, 2009 11:13 am (#1270 of 2988)  
"Look at how I've been wronged. It caused me to do bad things I wished I hadn't." That's not remorse, that's making excuses. (Tom)

After reading Wynnleaf's post, I realise I may have misread this. But just to be clear, Tom, are you saying that Snape showed remorse in the memories or not?



TomProffitt - Jan 28, 2009 11:49 am (#1271 of 2988)  
mona amon, yes, definitely.

I think that the memories we see in The Prince's Tale are evidence of Snape's remorse.

What I was also saying was that why many other things about them are true, such as evidence of why Snape's relationship with James was so bad. However, the focus of the memory , from Snape's point of view, has to indicate a certain amount of acceptance of some responsibility on Snape's part for it to be remorse.

The best example of this is with James Potter. James did somewhere between little or nothing (like Petunia) to make it possible for Severus and James to get along. When James says "Who'd want to be in Slytherin?" Sirius was able to make a joke about it. Severus was not. Could Severus have found a way to laugh it off avoid the conflict with James? It doesn't seem very likely and we'll certainly never know, but for it to be evidence of Snape's remorse I think there has to be a bit of Snape accepting the possibility that maybe he could have done something to avoid the terrible feud between the two. On the other hand, to me at least, if there is none of that in there, then the only reason for Snape to have included that would have been a "Look how bad I had it" plea, which would counter the other pleas of remorse.

I don't think it's really an apology if you feel compelled to say, "But ... " in there somewhere.

ETA: I guess what I'm really arguing is how we interpret the remorse. I think if at any point we say one aspect of it wasn't any of Snape's fault at all it stops being remorse.



wynnleaf - Jan 28, 2009 12:08 pm (#1272 of 2988)  
Tom, I don't think that every single thing that Snape puts in those memories has to indicate remorse. I agree that overall he's giving Harry a picture of what he's done and that he is remorseful about it and why he'd worked so hard to protect Harry as a kind of atonement.

But that doesn't mean that each and every memory is a "what I'm remorseful about", because some memories may be there to set up or explain later events.



Julia H. - Jan 28, 2009 1:15 pm (#1273 of 2988)  
Snape was remorseful and was willing to atone but he may have also been guilty, loathing or self-loathing, unhappy, desperate, disappointed, hurt, dissatisfied, impatient, wallowing in sad memories, longing for something, ashamed, defiant, nervous, doubtful, resentful, angry and so on. (Julia H.)

- But this is just projection on the part of the reader to make the character sympathetic. (Quinn)


What I am trying to convey is that no one can feel only one emotion (e.g. remorse or even mourning) all the time for years. People are bound to have other feelings, other moods. Even if you are remorseful, you will have other feelings such as the above or different ones. I don't think it is only a reader's projection that (as far as basic psychology goes) Snape works like other human beings and I have yet to see a human being who could concentrate exclusively on one type of emotion for years all the time without ever feeling anything else.

I don't think Snape has to feel remorse for every single mistake he has made in his life to really change and to really atone - like not being nicer to Petunia as she was insulting him or not being able to laugh at what James said on the train. To start with, I don't think his reaction was worse than what children often say to each other at this age. If I had to go through stages of remorse for everything that I could have done better in my childhood, frankly, I don't know what I would do. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody behaves sometimes less admirably than they could. We are never shown in the HP universe that others have to feel remorse for similar mistakes: James and Sirius for treating Snape the way they did, Lily for not being forgiving when Snape apologized, Fred and George for the numerous tricks they played on Percy, etc.

I think everybody, including Snape, is allowed to make mistakes, after all, we can learn from our mistakes. Snape usually pays for his mistakes but he either does not learn from them or reaches the wrong conclusion. Probably even making the "Mudblood" comment to Lily may have been a mistake to learn from, but Snape, after losing Lily, drifts even closer to the dark side, instead of realizing that simply using a word typical of those people had cost him a lot. As a result, being a Death Eater will cost him even more. (Quinn says Snape rejected Lily's help even without that word but perhaps Lily could have still forgiven him if he had simply said "I don't need her help" - if they were friends at least.) All in all, what I want to say is that it is important to feel remorse and atone for the serious mistakes (like using the the M-word, becoming a DE, delivering the prophecy, not caring about the lives of those he did not love).

I agree that giving those particular memories to Harry indicates remorse. Of course, it is easy to say the memories were just explaining the circumstances, since the circumstances are there and in the memories we don't see the mind of the Snape who has given them to Harry, wanting Harry to see them, only the actions of the younger Snape, who was making the mistakes. But why would he want Harry (of all people) to understand him, to understand more than just Dumbledore's message, if he did not realize he had made serious mistakes and if he did not want Harry to know he had regretted his mistakes and had done what he had done to atone?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 28, 2009 1:42 pm (#1274 of 2988)  
I don't think it is only a reader's projection that (as far as basic psychology goes) Snape works like other human beings and I have yet to see a human being who could concentrate exclusively on one type of emotion for years all the time without ever feeling anything else. - Julia H.

Yes and it is part of Severus's character that he is a loner, very private, "unreadable". He has honed these traits in himself, coupled with *IMO* being naturally introverted and bookish.

I am hesitant to get into a debate about what qualifies as "atonement" or redemption. This is a very personal subject. It seems I have a "loose" interpretation compared with this forum.

To me, "curmudgeons" are far more trustworthy people than those who try to be polite for the sake of "manners". Even DD's comment to the Dursleys about the mead in HBP irked me, as well as his "manners" to the Carrows on top of the tower. Why should we be "polite" and have "manners" in the face of misery? I am not saying Severus is excused for his behaviour toward his students. He should not have been teaching and was incapable, it seems, to control his knee jerk reaction to being "rude". But should that keep him from making things right within his own soul? Not to me.

Edit: I was thinking of the film "Constantine" and was wondering if anyone read the graphic novels and how we might compare him with Severus. He seemed to be quite rude as well. And on a path to redemption... Anyone?



Quinn Crockett - Jan 28, 2009 2:15 pm (#1275 of 2988)  
Now I understand that some readers might not see the remorse in The Prince's Tale. But those of you that don't think Snape had remorse -- do you at least agree that JKR intended him to have remorse? - It doesn't matter to me what the writer intended. She needs to put it out there for me to read and clearly understand her meaning as an organic part of the story.

I remember when OP first came out and we readers all saw the Worst Memory for the first time. In an interview given around that time Rowling talked about Lily flirting with James, even while she railed against him. I remember thinking, "Huh?" and having to go back and read the scene again. Even after all this time, I still don't see what the author obviously intended for me to see there. But since that interview I've noticed that many people who originally felt as I did have completely retconned their own initial response to the scene and now take what Rowling apparently intended - but did not actually clearly write - there for granted.

Snape's obsession with revenge? I do not see it anywhere in the books. - ?!?!?
He holds on to his grudges, he's happy when he thinks he's getting revenge, but we don't see him being actively vengeful. - We see it every exchange he has with Harry. We saw it in the shrieking shack. We see it when he comes to Grimmauld Place. Vengeance doesn't only come from the tip of a wand.

I don't think it's really an apology if you feel compelled to say, "But ... " in there somewhere. I think if at any point we say one aspect of it wasn't any of Snape's fault at all it stops being remorse. - Wordy mcword word!

Snape usually pays for his mistakes but he either does not learn from them or reaches the wrong conclusion. - Then he couldn't possibly be remorseful. The main ingredient in "remorse" is acknowledging your own culpability. If Snape doesn't learn it's because he doesn't see where he went wrong in the first place - or he simply doesn't care. Either way, without acknowledging his own faults, he can't possibly be remorseful.

Quinn says Snape rejected Lily's help even without that word - No, I said he denounced her. Meaning he rejected her as a person.

But should that keep him from making things right within his own soul? - I think you're focusing entirely too much on "Snape as Teacher". Snape would have treated Harry and his friends the same way if he had been in Filch's position or one of the castle paintings. You have to look at why Snape treats Harry and his friends the way he does - which, by the way, is far and away beyond merely being "rude".

ETA: Is that better, Shadow?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 28, 2009 2:33 pm (#1276 of 2988)  
You're focusing entirely too much on "Snape as Teacher"....

You have to look at why Snape treats Harry and his friends the way he does - which, by the way, is far and away beyond merely being "rude". - Quinn


Am I? Do I? Perhaps according to you. Is it me or is your language is getting a bit bossy? We are in subjective territory here, Quinn. Please.

Edit: It helps. Thank you, Quinn.



Julia H. - Jan 28, 2009 3:28 pm (#1277 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 28, 2009 5:21 pm
Snape usually pays for his mistakes but he either does not learn from them or reaches the wrong conclusion. (Julia H.)

- Then he couldn't possibly be remorseful. (Quinn)


Misunderstood again. I was talking about the young Snape, who does not learn from his mistakes for quite a long time, not about the older Snape, who feels remorse and atones. I think I gave an example but I may not have been very clear so I'm trying again:

Snape chooses to be in Slytherin. That in itself (in my opinion) is not a truly guilty mistake, nevertheless it is a mistake because (as I see it) it won't do good to him. As a result, he is separated from Lily and becomes influenced by a group whose influence is the least desirable influence at Hogwarts. Yet, at the moment he is not a DE and he is still friends with Lily. He does not realize choosing Slytherin was a mistake. To be frank, I don't think it is very easy to realize that at this moment yet, though it is probably not impossible. Later, this influence becomes manifest in his behaviour: He is hanging out with Mulciber, uses the M-word. Lily gives him a warning, their friendship is in danger, but he does not notice. That is already a moment of serious warning. Then one day when he is angry and humiliated, he happens to insult Lily with the M-word and their friendship is over. At this moment, he has already paid a serious price for his mistakes but instead of realizing that he has to change the direction in which he is going, he makes the ultimate mistake: He becomes a DE and ends up playing a part in Lily's death, i.e. doing something - as a direct consequence of his bad choices - that he does not want to do. The price he is paying now is bigger than ever, or, we could say, the warning he is given is stronger than ever and now he finally stops going down the wrong way.

After that, I am quite sure, he realizes his mistakes and is remorseful about them. We all seem to agree the Worst Memory is the worst to him because of the "Mudblood" word, i.e. because of something he did. Your worst memory being something you did and you should not have done implies remorse. Now Snape knows he made the mistakes discussed above and is learning from them, radically changing his life, his priorities and his goals.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 28, 2009 3:37 pm (#1278 of 2988)  
Misunderstood again. I was talking about the young Snape - Oops! Sorry about that.

He does not realize choosing Slytherin was a mistake. - Well, I don't agree that his mistake was in wanting to be in Slytherin any more than James's was wanting to be in Gryffindor. I agree with Tom that his mistake was in not being able to laugh it off or handle the introduction to James in a way that might have created a more positive outcome. We are shown the direct contrast between the way Snape handles James's barb (snarking and insulting) and the way Sirius handles it (to laugh it off and join in). The latter became James's lifelong friend, the former his arch rival.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 28, 2009 5:01 pm (#1279 of 2988)  
We are shown the direct contrast between the way Snape handles James's barb (snarking and insulting) and the way Sirius handles it (to laugh it off and join in). - Quinn

Does this, in your opinion, make him inferior or lacking in character/integrity/moral fiber? I am curious as this might be part of the core of our misunderstandings. I would like to point out again that I feel James saying "Like my dad" struck a chord in Severus. James having a wizard for a father, worthy of his son's admiration, would *IMO* pain Severus, which is where I see the "slight sneer" coming into play. Just speculation! Smile

introduction to James ...

That wasn't exactly an "introduction". I would assume, as the "rowdy boys" had already had their "introductions" and were having an amicable conversation, that James had been treating Sirius with friendliness. Calling James's comment an "introduction" that Severus reacted to rudely is, to me, not fair.

edited for clarity and to add stuff



Julia H. - Jan 28, 2009 6:12 pm (#1280 of 2988)  
Well, I don't agree that his mistake was in wanting to be in Slytherin any more than James's was wanting to be in Gryffindor. I agree with Tom that his mistake was in not being able to laugh it off or handle the introduction to James in a way that might have created a more positive outcome. (Quinn)

Hm... I was not really talking about the train scene. I think Snape made a general mistake by choosing Slytherin even if this mistake was due to ignorance (in which case it was not a moral mistake) because it was the beginning of a lot of bad influence on him. However, I don't think it was a fatal mistake yet: As a Slytherin, he had more chance to eventually become a DE than others from other houses but he could still have been a Slytherin who did not become a DE in the end.

The "introduction" to James: If that was a mistake a lot of children may make similar mistakes every day. To be fair, James had already been "introduced" to Sirius when the topic of Slytherin came up. James says: "Blimey... and I thought you seemed all right!" It seems they had already liked each other before that. If Snape did not know how to interact successfully with other children, it is not a moral fault: Snape had no siblings and he seems to have had no friends besides Lily. He found it quite difficult to approach her, too, although he wanted it very much. Besides, Lily was a girl. To make friends with other boys, a different strategy and a different style may be necessary. Sirius was sociable, and we know he had a brother and several cousins so he may have been simply more experienced (and probably naturally more "talented") than Snape when it came to interacting with other kids. Snape was yet to learn these strategies (which, in principle, could still be OK) but unfortunately he happened to learn them in Slytherin House, where Lucius Malfoy greeted him on his very first day, in Slytherin House, where he managed to find "friends" one had better not have.

Both atoning and wanting to ease his conscience mean he feels guilty and is remorseful. Why would he want to ease his conscience if he did not have a guilty conscience? (Julia)

Answering the last part first, I think there's a difference. (Mona)


I did not say there is no difference. Of course there is. Yet both entail that the person in question is aware of being guilty, only the solution they try is different. (Now I am strongly reminded of another novel in which easing one's conscience versus atoning is a very important topic but I'd better not start talking about it now.)

I was thinking about the sobriety analogy a bit: Let's take a recovering addict who never drinks alcohol/smokes a cigarette again. Let's say he even works to help others avoid the trap of addiction. He is sober but his years of addiction have left their marks on him: It still shows that he had those years - it may be his health or his personality or his relationship with people or something else. He does not go back to square one but it takes a long time (if it is possible at all) to eliminate those marks.

I would like to point out again that I feel James saying "Like my dad" struck a chord in Severus. James having a wizard for a father, worthy of his son's admiration, would *IMO* pain Severus, which is where I see the "slight sneer" coming into play. Just speculation! (MAMS)

Interesting observation.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 28, 2009 7:11 pm (#1281 of 2988)  
Calling James's comment an "introduction" that Severus reacted to rudely is, to me, not fair.
To be fair, James had already been "introduced" to Sirius when the topic of Slytherin came up.
- Wow, nitpick much? I'm not talking about the precise nanosecond when Snape actually spoke to James or vice versa. That the two shared a train compartment for any length of time should suffice when speaking of their "introduction".

In any case, what Sirius and/or James were or weren't doing doesn't matter. The point is that only Snape can control Snape's behavior and he could have chosen a different way of acting that might have made for a better outcome to those relationships. In addition, prior to James's remark - and I think this is much more important, actually - Snape is completely unconcerned and clueless as to why Lily is so upset about leaving her sister on bad terms. "She's only a -" However he might have finished that sentence, it demonstrates his utter disregard for someone who he feels is unworthy. He shows no compassion for Lily's sense of loss either.

Yeah, but.... Snape had no siblings and he seems to have had no friends besides Lily.
Yeah, but.... James saying "Like my dad" struck a chord in Severus.

ETA: I'm not trying to imply that either, Tom. I agree it takes two to tango. I also think that Snape, like the rest of us, is responsible for his own actions regardless of what others are doing. I get kinda tired of the "but he started it" defense.



TomProffitt - Jan 28, 2009 7:12 pm (#1282 of 2988)  
I agree with Tom that his mistake was in not being able to laugh it off or handle the introduction to James in a way that might have created a more positive outcome. --- Quinn

It takes two to Tango, so to speak. I'm not sure how Quinn means this, but I don't want to imply that it was Severus's fault he and James got off to an instant dislike.

As I see it Sev had some options there to diffuse the situation, whether or not it would have worked we'll never know. And that kind of self-deprecating humor isn't all that normal for an eleven year old, probably the only reason it worked for Sirius was because he and James had already started a friendship before the issue of Houses came up.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 28, 2009 7:24 pm (#1283 of 2988)  
Tom, I could not have said it better.

Quinn, would you please do us all a favor and describe how you'd react if you were in Severus's shoes in 1)the "introduction" train scene and, 2)the Worst Memory. Inquiring minds want to know. And "Can't answer 'cause I'd never find myself in that situation" would be a cop-out. Use that clever brain of yours and try to see it from 11 year old Sev's perspective. Then try to imagine your fifteen-year-old self with your nickers exposed for all to see. Come on, it might be fun! ; )



Quinn Crockett - Jan 28, 2009 7:40 pm (#1284 of 2988)  
Well, as a matter of fact, Shadow, something very similar has actually happened to me - and by the way I wasn't wearing any knickers. My response to it was to make a joke about the person being so obsessed with wanting to see my ... euphemism ... that they could no longer restrain themselves.



wynnleaf - Jan 28, 2009 7:46 pm (#1285 of 2988)  
I have to agree with Tom. The kind of self-deprecating humor that might have diffused that situation is generally beyond 11 year olds.

In fact, my older kids have attempted on numerous occasions to teach this kind of response to the younger ones around that age -- because it is often at about that age that such arguments tend to regularly break out, what with one kid making disperaging comments and the other trying to form a comeback.

As far as I could tell from the train station comments, Sirius didn't seem personally focused on being in Slytherin. It's just that his family had all been in there. Sirius is a kind of natural rebel, the kind to buck the status quo, and he'd just been making a friend in James. It was easy for him to go along with James and keep his new friendship.

James comment to Snape, on the other hand, was a direct negative comment to a desire that Severus had expressed. Basically James was saying, "your opinion stinks" are some such. Eleven year kids aren't that good at coming up with the diplomatically perfect comeback for that.

As far as I can see, realistically the best Snape could have done was to not answer James at all, after which he'd probably have to simply quit talking about Houses at all. James had already chosen to insert himself into another conversation specifically so he could put down another person and show himself to be the best person. Snape could have tried to continue to talk to Lily about Houses, but most likely James would have simply kept on inserting in his rude comments.

As far as I can see, a realistic eleven year old would be most likely answer back in a similar way, or the quiet timid types would possibly attempt to avoid the whole issue and keep silent. It would be the extremely rare kid -- even then it would be one probably brought up with a lot of wisdom given him on how to handle such situations -- that would know how to deal with it.

Quinn, I already knew your thoughts on JKR wanting to show Snape's remorse. Without saying "Quinn don't answer this one" (sounded pretty rude, you know), I was really hoping others that don't see Snape's remorse would answer. You were the only one to answer, as far as I could tell.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 28, 2009 8:01 pm (#1286 of 2988)  
Now I understand that some readers might not see the remorse in The Prince's Tale. But those of you that don't think Snape had remorse -- do you at least agree that JKR intended him to have remorse? - It doesn't matter to me what the writer intended. She needs to put it out there for me to read and clearly understand her meaning as an organic part of the story. - wynnleaf and Quinn

I was writing my response when I saw wynnleaf's recent post. It's obvious at this point I feel that JKR was intending us to come away feeling compassion or to empathise with Severus. Or, at the very least, contemplating how a man such as Severus "deserves" compassion.

I'd be happy to respond to what I believe is an artist's *intent*. Someone, I think it was Steve, said that an artists's work must stand on its own. I agree but I feel JKR is in an unusual position as her interviews are considered "canon". Had Tolkien (sp?) been alive to do so perhaps he would and we'd have another facet to LOTR.

I do not agree that everyone could or should or is "supposed to" come away with the same conclusions. For me, an artist puts shocking information in front of people and dares them to question how it makes them feel. That's sort of the whole point. It's not preaching from the top, it's questioning by the individual. Not to be melodramatic but JKR has succeeded in her task. We are living proof of that. I'll probably be editing this soon.... to be continued



Quinn Crockett - Jan 28, 2009 8:06 pm (#1287 of 2988)  
Had Tolkien (sp?) been alive to do so perhaps he would and we'd have another facet to LOTR. - Well, actually he was constantly rewriting that saga until his death - at which point his son took over using his father's notes.

I imagine later editions of HP will incorporate some of the "canon" mentioned in interviews - like the famous the "wand order" issue was rewritten in later printings of GF.



wynnleaf - Jan 28, 2009 8:17 pm (#1288 of 2988)  
Me and my shadow:

When I asked the question about JKR's intent in showing Snape's remorse, I did not mean that everyone should necessarily view any of her interview quotes as canon. In my opinion, there are numerous things that JKR says about the plot or characters that I don't think she really conveyed in canon. If they conflict, I think canon takes precedence. It's just that in The Prince's Tale, we've clearly got something going on with Snape and his feelings about those memories. The question is what. It's not crystal clear on the page exactly what he thought -- remorse, wanting to make excuses, or just "this is how it happened". But if JKR intended those memories to be Snape showing us his remorse and attempts to atone, I do think that gives more weight to that interpretation, at least as regards authorial intent. If you don't think JKR succeeded, fair enough. In my opinion, she doesn't always succeed in what she tells us after the fact were her intentions. In this particular case, I think she did succeed rather well, and she did certainly convince many readers that Snape showed remorse and a huge attempt to atone.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 28, 2009 8:23 pm (#1289 of 2988)  
Well, that shows you how little I know about LOTR. Never could get into his style of writing but love the films. : >

Quinn, I'm glad in real life you were able to *skirt* the embarrassment of Worst Memory, but you *skirted* my question about the "introduction" scenario...? Care to share how you'd handle it back when you were eleven?

Edit: wynnleaf, I am extremely satisfied with how JKR wrote The Prince's Tale, from the perspective of one who always felt Severus was on the "right side" -- post-DE days, of course.

I would agree that I, too, have felt frustration regarding interviews-as-canon, specifically regarding the Slytherins returning to fight at the end of DH.



Solitaire - Jan 28, 2009 9:28 pm (#1290 of 2988)  
I rather doubt Snape was ever the type to see humor in any situation. I do not think the Snape household was the abode of humor. Of course, I don't expect much humor ever appeared in 12GP, either. Still, Sirius did have Cousin Andromeda and Uncle Alphard ... and I'm betting Uncle Alphard had a sense of humor.

My point is that I do not think Snape would have been capable of humor at age 11, because I do not think he has ever had any experience with it.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 28, 2009 11:28 pm (#1291 of 2988)  
Care to share how you'd handle it back when you were eleven? - Dude, I barely remember being 11, let alone what my personality was like. Why don't you tell us what you what do in Snape's place.



TomProffitt - Jan 29, 2009 3:26 am (#1292 of 2988)  
I think arguing that there was no better way for Snape to handle things on the train at age 11, or not many better ones, hides the point I was trying to make.

The type of remorse that lets a fractured soul repair itself isn't going to be healed if the owner of that fractured soul is still focusing on how some hated individual did him wrong. No matter how well earned, Snape can't heal his own soul if he is still filled with hate for James.



Julia H. - Jan 29, 2009 4:35 am (#1293 of 2988)  
My point is that I do not think Snape would have been capable of humor at age 11, because I do not think he has ever had any experience with it. (Solitaire)

Except perhaps the kind of "humour" when he was being laughed at with his strange clothes and appearance. The little we know about the Snape family implies Snape can't have seen many great examples of handling conflicts at home either. Still, my older child is 11 years old now, and she has a good sense of humour, she has had experience with various sorts of humour, she's got friends, yet she can't solve situations of potential conflict with humour. Experience with humour is undoubtedly important but I think such skills need more than just experience with humour: It is also necessary to have a certain level of maturity and probably the kind of self-confidence that tells you what you are worth does not depend on every random opinion. However, this is precisely the age when peer opinion is enormously important. In fact, I don't see that Sirius solved his possible conflict in the situation by his sense of humour - he solved it by accepting James's opinion that Gryffindor might be more desirable than Slytherin and that is what made them life-long friends rather than any ability to handle the conflict with humour in that particular moment.



mona amon - Jan 29, 2009 5:04 am (#1294 of 2988)  
Could Severus have found a way to laugh it off avoid the conflict with James? It doesn't seem very likely and we'll certainly never know, but for it to be evidence of Snape's remorse I think there has to be a bit of Snape accepting the possibility that maybe he could have done something to avoid the terrible feud between the two. On the other hand, to me at least, if there is none of that in there, then the only reason for Snape to have included that would have been a "Look how bad I had it" plea, which would counter the other pleas of remorse. (Tom)

I really can't imagine Snape giving Harry that memory because he was somehow regretful about the way the relationship with James turned out. Neither do I see it as a "look how bad I had it" plea. It was just a very important memory because he called Lily a mudblood and she ended the relationship, citing his desire to join the DEs as a reason. If he was showing remorse about anything, it would have to be about that, having DE friends, using a racist slur against Lily, joining the DEs.

I do not think anyone feels 'remorse' about the bad way some people treated us in school, even if we feel we were also idiots at that time. What most of us do is forget, forgive and even maybe laugh it off (after we leave school). But according to Dumbledore, Snape's wounds ran too deep for that.

We see it every exchange he has with Harry. We saw it in the shrieking shack. We see it when he comes to Grimmauld Place. Vengeance doesn't only come from the tip of a wand. (Quinn)

We see hatred for the Marauders in your examples. He always takes every opportunity to lord it over Sirius. He is sometimes vengeful, as when he lets it slip to the students that Lupin is a werewolf, or when he gloats over Harry's broken potion sample after the pensieve incident. But what I was saying, in reply to what some one said, was that he was not obsessed with revenge. He's certainly no Edmond Dantès.

Yet both entail that the person in question is aware of being guilty, only the solution they try is different. (Now I am strongly reminded of another novel in which easing one's conscience versus atoning is a very important topic but I'd better not start talking about it now.) (Julia)

Is it a novel in English which I may have read? Just curious.

I've never doubted that Snape must have felt guilty and remorseful about the whole joining the DEs, giving the prophecy to Voldemort thing. What we don't know, since we never see him blaming himself for anything, is how guilty he felt, exactly what he was feeling guilty about, how he faced his guilt, etc. When Dumbledore tells him that Lily is dead, he says, 'wish I were dead'. That shows us the depths of his grief, but tells us nothing of his guilt. If he had instead said "Boo hoo! It's all my fault! Wish I were dead." we'd know he was really taking the blame, (and he'd also have become one of the most boring, melodramatic, characters in the book).

Yes, I think that The Prince's Tale is a tale of remorse and atonement. It's not just a "why you can believe you have to die" or "why I did what I did" sort of story. I don't think it can be intended that way, or JKR wouldn't consider Snape to have been redeemed.

I do think it's very important that in giving Harry his memories, Snape does not solely give him memories that will make Harry do what he needs to do and go give his life for the cause. Why would he be giving Harry all of these memories, particularly ones that show his own culpability (although we may differ on which ones show Snape culpable), were he not seeking to show his remorse? (Wynnleaf)


Yes, I think there's enough information in the Prince's tale to show that Snape regretted joining Voldemort, and that he more than atoned for it by being Dumbledore's man till the end, with all that it entailed.

But since these are pensieve memories without any accompanying gloss or explanation from Snape, we cannot be sure that he was 'seeking to show his remorse'. The only thing he tells Harry is "take it...take it." It could be a desire to finally confess, a desire for vindication, or both. It may be just his way of fulfilling his duty to Dumbledore, giving Harry the vital information along with enough evidence to show that although he was once a DE, now he was loyal to Dumbledore. Like everything else about Snape, his motives in giving Harry all those memories is also open to debate.



Steve Newton - Jan 29, 2009 8:43 am (#1295 of 2988)  
Earlier Quinn said "It doesn't matter to me what the writer intended. She needs to put it out there for me to read and clearly understand her meaning as an organic part of the story."

A point that I heartily agree with. I figure that art must stand independent of the artist. The Venus de Milo is great art and we know nothing of the artist. Knowing more would not make the art better or worse.

But, I digress.



wynnleaf - Jan 29, 2009 12:14 pm (#1296 of 2988)  
I've been looking around a bit on other forums to get some guestimate of other reader's views of Snape being remorseful or being redeemed. Naturally, just because some percent of readers might view Snape as being redeemed or having remorse doesn't make other interpretations necessarily wrong by any means. Nevertheless, I do think that a large majority of people thinking, after reading DH, that Snape was redeemed does seem to indicate that JKR made her case well enough that most people bought into it.

I looked over at the Leaky Lounge and found this poll:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Basically, about 175 people did the poll and about 67% saw Snape as either "mostly" or "fully" redeemed. The 22% that saw him as "partly" redeemed only, felt that he only fulfilled his commitments to DD, the Order and protecting Harry for Lily's sake alone, and that in all other ways he remained unchanged. About 8.5% saw him as unrepentant and therefore unredeemed and that if LV hadn't threatened Lily, he'd have continued as a loyal DE.

Of course with any nonrandom poll, where the participants take part because they are interested in the topic, the results aren't conclusive. However, it did seem to indicate that JKR convinced a lot of people that Snape was redeemed in the end.

While reading that forum I came across an interesting thought.

Some people, as in this forum, were basically saying that without ever seeing on the page any mention of Snape acknowledging his guilt, responsibility for wrongdoing, or remorse, we can't actually say that he felt any. On the other hand, if we use the "it's not written therefore it didn't happen" as something to go by, then surely the same practice should be used by those of that opinion in all HP arguments. Yet we see arguments about how Snape must have attacked the Marauders, how he must have used Sectumsempra or Levicorpus on people while in school, how he must gotten many detentions in school, etc. But we don't see this on the page any more than we see Snape actually voicing remorse.

Of course, I personally don't think one must be limited to only what's on the page. Using clues to logically figure out what probably occurred is legitimate in my opinion, even if we often disagree on what those clues really mean. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that if a poster says "it didn't happen on the page, therefore it didn't happen", then surely that poster should use that argument across the board.



legolas returns - Jan 29, 2009 12:27 pm (#1297 of 2988)  
In terms of knowing how to answer things/deal with situationa at a very young age its interesting to note how Snape deals with Lily's questions about being magical. Lily asks pre-Hogwarts Snape if it matters that she is muggle born, Snape hesitates and then says it does not matter. The hesitation speaks volumes to me and can mean many different things. What he does do is stop Lily worrying.



TomProffitt - Jan 29, 2009 1:52 pm (#1298 of 2988)  
Some people, as in this forum, were basically saying that without ever seeing on the page any mention of Snape acknowledging his guilt, responsibility for wrongdoing, or remorse, we can't actually say that he felt any. On the other hand, if we use the "it's not written therefore it didn't happen" as something to go by, then surely the same practice should be used by those of that opinion in all HP arguments. --- wynnleaf

I try to go by Carl Sagan's axiom, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

So if we assert that James was abusive to Lily, that's a pretty serious claim, so I think it appropriate to expect some pretty serious evidence in the text to back it up. Conversely it is not as big a leap to suggest that Severus used Levicorpus on unsuspecting classmates. Neither is explicitly stated in the text, but one is more extreme than the other, and I think requires a stronger argument than the other. (I'm not arguing pro or con for either of those assertions, just using them as examples)



* *

mona amon, a few posts ago you were under the impression, I think, that I was referring to Snape's Worst Memory when I suggested Snape may have regretted not defusing the situation with James. I was instead referring to the memory of their first meeting on the train we see in The Prince's Tale. I believe it was more than a bit late to salvage the situation at Snape's Worst Memory.

To clear up a few more things I may not have said very well:

I think that kids at age 11 forgive and forget a lot faster than adults. I recall having friends that would be mortal enemies for a few weeks every now and then. It was kind of cold, callous, and immature of me, but I think that's normal for that age. Snape may not have been able to salvage the moment, but there was a possibility for a later reconciliation.

Also, as I further think on that scene the "You'd better be in Slytherin" comment kind of begs for a snarky remark, the remark was not only insensitive to Lily, but possibly something James considered insulting. Seems a bit of a stretch, I know, but Snape may have regretted that comment on different levels.

I also said in an earlier post that Snape may have regretting desiring to be in Slytherin. I do not and did not mean that from the stand point of Slytherin House led him astray, but from the stand point that as an adult Severus would have realized that expressing a desire to be in the same House with his friend would have been seriously considered by the Hat.



Julia H. - Jan 29, 2009 1:54 pm (#1299 of 2988)  
The hesitation speaks volumes to me and can mean many different things. (Legolas)

Yes,it can mean lots of things.

About redemption: Probably everybody who reads this thread can guess that I consider Snape redeemed and I really do so in terms of atonement and remorse and in terms of being forgiven by Harry. We see his atonement, we can conclude that he was remorseful and we find out that Harry forgave him at some point after seeing his memories. However, we never see Snape experience any redemption. The logic of the novel strongly seems to dictate that Harry's forgiveness is as much a prerequisite to Snape's redemption as remorse and atonement. That means Snape cannot experience any redemption while he is alive and we never find out what happens to him when he is beyond the veil. In fact, we do not even know whether he would feel redeemed at all if he survived and learned about Harry's survival and forgiveness and the wizarding world knowing his true allegiance. (It is quite likely that he would continue feeling guilty because of his past.) So - I don't know - speaking about full redemption - is it not necessary that the redeemed person should know about it? Of course, lots of things are possible beyond the veil but we don't really get any hints about what would happen to Snape, do we?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 29, 2009 3:05 pm (#1300 of 2988)  
A point that I heartily agree with. I figure that art must stand independent of the artist. The Venus de Milo is great art and we know nothing of the artist. Knowing more would not make the art better or worse. - Steve Newton

Yes, I recall your statement. However, we are not speaking here about knowing more about the *artist*. I believe we are speaking of backstory. If, in your example, we were told the Venus statue never had arms and was, in fact, not Venus at all but another goddess, that would *perhaps* alter the observer's reaction and feeling. If the Venus de Milo was my favorite sculpture, I would want to know such information and would not find this information to be invalid.

Quinn, if I had been Severus on that train at age 11 I would have run out sobbing. I've changed a bit since then Smile


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Steve Newton - Jan 29, 2009 3:07 pm (#1301 of 2988)  
If its not in the books its not part of the backstory.



legolas returns - Jan 29, 2009 3:09 pm (#1302 of 2988)  
Not even if you read between the lines ?



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 29, 2009 3:13 pm (#1303 of 2988)  
That is working out for you, Steve. If that is a sort of "art law" then that's probably working out well for many critics out there as well. I've always loved the interviews and hearing more of the backstory and will continue to wait eagerly for more so that I can more fully imagine the HP world. It only adds to the experience for me. The Slytherin students being left out of the end of DH is disappointing, but I'll get over it.

Edit: LOL, legolas. I believe that is the proper translation of "intelligence" Smile

The logic of the novel strongly seems to dictate that Harry's forgiveness is as much a prerequisite to Snape's redemption as remorse and atonement. - Julia H.

That is a powerful statement and I wholeheartedly agree!



Steve Newton - Jan 29, 2009 4:47 pm (#1304 of 2988)  
At the end Snape is alone with Voldemort and asks 4 times to leave. He knows that he is in danger and still sticks with the plan. This courage, and self sacrifice, would seem to redeem something.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 29, 2009 5:03 pm (#1305 of 2988)  
Steve, that was a painful scene to witness, eh? I remember on my first read getting sick to my stomach at that moment, let alone what came next.



Steve Newton - Jan 30, 2009 7:46 am (#1306 of 2988)  
This is probably not relevant or important but it took me half an hour to find it so here it is. These are some of my comments from the DH read along about Snape trying to leave Voldemort:

Snape- "Let me find the boy" "...I beg you let me return" "Let me go find the boy" "let me go to the boy"

4 times Snape asks to leave. He knows that he is in trouble but still sticks with the plan.

I guess that if I was of a metaphysical bent I could try to make a point about Snape wanting to return to his own boyhood. I'm not.



wynnleaf - Jan 30, 2009 8:24 am (#1307 of 2988)  
I agree, that was a very painful part to read. In re-reads, I'm struck by Snape's total commitment to trying to get to Harry.



Julia H. - Jan 30, 2009 9:13 am (#1308 of 2988)  
I guess that if I was of a metaphysical bent I could try to make a point about Snape wanting to return to his own boyhood. (Steve)

Wow! I wish you were of a metaphysical bent.  

I agree, that was a very painful part to read. In re-reads, I'm struck by Snape's total commitment to trying to get to Harry. (Wynnleaf)

Yes, and these efforts must seem to be so hopeless in those moments and yet he tries.



wynnleaf - Jan 30, 2009 12:05 pm (#1309 of 2988)  
Yes, and these efforts must seem to be so hopeless in those moments and yet he tries. (Julia)

And he has to know those efforts are practically hopeless. If he didn't know that LV was about to attack him, what is the point of trying so hard to make the Harry excuse go over? He could just wait until LV got done with whatever he was going to say and then Snape could go find Harry. But because he knew LV's plans were going to stop him from getting to Harry, he focused on that alone. It's like he isn't thinking "I'm about to be killed" but "If he kills me, I won't be able to get to Potter".



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 30, 2009 1:29 pm (#1310 of 2988)  
Speculation, of course, but I could imagine Severus being able to read a'la Legilimency of Vold's intentions plain as day, knowing what was coming, hence the 4 times asking to leave.

Yeah, Steve! Not metaphysical, eh? Hm, I wonder what else you could come up with!



tandaradei - Jan 31, 2009 9:55 am (#1311 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 31, 2009 10:42 am
I am going to speak in generalizations, and outdated ones at that. I find this the only way to express myself across a wide swath of Snapomania.

OK, on my original reading I thought Snape a sociopath, but I obviously had to amend my vision drastically: in The Prince's Tale I found evidence of both remorse and IMO redemption; and these concepts are outside of any common definition of sociopathy. Now, yes, many of the words I used in the preceding sentence are fraught with ambiguities (and now in non-acceptable terminology); but I rather think I got a point across, didn't I? In The Prince's Tale Snape showed a heart, and IMO normal abilities at empathy, and some traumatic reasons that might explain later social/interacting defeciencies; and finally, a demonstrated will and desire over time to make things right.

I rather think my ideas of remorse and redemption for Snape, however, are much less specific than what I normally read in these posts. My current vision of Snape has more to do with vague ways of walking: at one time in his life, Snape generally walked along the path of Death Eaters; as a result, this through many elements caused grief in his life; and Snape in remorse "repented" and made a decision to vaguely walk in an opposite direction, away from his original aspirations. And really, I feel uncomfortable getting much more specific than that.

I'd wager that Snape's worst memory was of his blaspheming his lifelong friend (and hopeful lover) Lily. I'd call this a traumatic moment that affected him in later years, very probably in how he wanted to relate to Harry – and that many complex psychological aspects could have gotten imbedded there. Next, Snape probably immersed himself in traveling down a Death Eater's path after that, probably in an attempt to forget it all. These “DE wanderings” probably explain how he caught a part of Trelawny's prophecy. I'd bet Snape hastened to Voldemort with this information, not thinking much on it except that it might help him in his path to becoming a rising DE. I'd bet then, that a series of revelations – including Snape’s prophecy-catch might result in Lily's death – soon compelled Snape to "risk it all" (in terms of his DE aspirations) and bring such vital news to Dumbledore on a windy hill. I'd bet during this time Snape was in a kind of walking limbo in terms of what he wanted in life, unsure which general path to really go down: should he still try things out in DE-land, or run away? Should he do more to protect Lily? After all this I'd bet however, that when he received news of the Godric's Hill disaster his DE aspirations collapsed entirely, as his whole world of how things should be fell into ashes. I’m thinking that at this moment of traumatic stress, and in line with Dumbledore’s reasoning, that Snape basically cursed his old ways now and agreed to trudge along a new one that would basically attack those old ways – and in this decision, I’m thinking we might say Snape had decided to follow a redemptive path.

But as others have pointed out, humans are complex; and I’d bet that while Snape’s decisions were irrevocable in his mind, that his personality nonetheless remained highly reactive to miseries as were most easily seen in his “worst memory,” where the Mauraders and especially James were at the center all that went wrong.



me and my shadow 813 - Jan 31, 2009 3:14 pm (#1312 of 2988)  
Well done, tanda. You have summed up a lot of what I feel about Severus. Regarding your last paragraph, I feel his tendency toward being obsessive, in my opinion, would make him focus and eventually *fasten* on James as being the one responsible for his misery, and then Harry for surviving instead of Lily. If he stopped blaming James for taking Lily away and Harry for taking Lily away then he'd have to blame himself. Which would be a very easy thing to do, of course and would lead his mind straight back to that night in DD's office, wishing he were dead. To me, Severus wishes it a lot more than he'd ever let on. After all, I don't think you can fake a Patronus.

Okay, Quinn. The floor is yours. Tear it to shreds.  



TomProffitt - Jan 31, 2009 3:49 pm (#1313 of 2988)  
me and my shadow 813, I pretty much agree with everything you said there.

I don't believe that our differences lie in what we see as having happened, but what value judgments we place on them. Basically, I feel little sympathy for Snape and still think of him as being "bad" until he finally completes his journey of redemption. Other people seem to be more much more willing to cut him slack while he is on the journey.

I have known too many people who have started the journey and failed to complete it than I do those who have successfully reached their goal. Until Snape reached his goal, which I believe occurred in DH, I'm not willing to give him much credit. This isn't exactly fair of me, but I'm not convinced that Severus deserved much fairness.



Julia H. - Jan 31, 2009 4:55 pm (#1314 of 2988)  
Very well explained, Tandaradei. I find your reasoning absolutely convincing.



severusisn'tevil - Jan 31, 2009 8:03 pm (#1315 of 2988)  
Well done, Tandaradei. I agree completely. And I'm usually the polarized one. Tee hee.



Quinn Crockett - Jan 31, 2009 8:08 pm (#1316 of 2988)  
Okay, Quinn. The floor is yours. Tear it to shreds. - Well, I think Tom covered it well enough. I don't think I can really improve on that. I only differ with Tom in that, as you are already well aware, I am not convinced of that Snape attained his goal.  



mona amon - Jan 31, 2009 9:16 pm (#1317 of 2988)  
Edited Jan 31, 2009 10:41 pm
Good post, Tandaradei!

I rather think my ideas of remorse and redemption for Snape, however, are much less specific than what I normally read in these posts. My current vision of Snape has more to do with vague ways of walking: at one time in his life, Snape generally walked along the path of Death Eaters; as a result, this through many elements caused grief in his life; and Snape in remorse "repented" and made a decision to vaguely walk in an opposite direction, away from his original aspirations. And really, I feel uncomfortable getting much more specific than that.

This is exactly how I feel about Snape's remorse. I cannot agree with people who feel that he was unredeemed because he treated Harry and others badly. That really hasn't got much to do with what he had to atone for. In fact I'd say he became this super-grouch after he was redeemed, not before.

At the same time I find it equally difficult to agree with those who feel he was actively seeking redemption by consciously atoning for his past sins. This is what 'normal' repentant sinners would do, once they have returned to the fold. Snape I feel, was too emotionally damaged to properly go through the process of introspection, acknowledgement of guilt, confession, etc. He makes a dramatic shift from doing the wrong things to doing the right things. But there is not much redemption on a personal level. He remains till the end an emotionally warped and damaged person. That is his tragedy.

EDIT: I am not convinced of that Snape attained his goal. (Quinn)

I'm not convinced he had any goal!



legolas returns - Feb 1, 2009 1:48 am (#1318 of 2988)  
Snape's request to Dumbledore that nobody should know that he was protecting Harry and in particular that Harry should not know set the tone of the rest of his life. The continual threat that Voldemort may/did return also restricted any outward indication of change. Snape was already damaged by the time he made the change from Death Eater to protector. Snape stuck to his task even using his last few seconds of his life to do his duty as he promised. He was a very unpleasant man and treated his students in a terrible manner. For some reason it seems like his life was one continual practice of occulemency even though people were not actively dipping into his mind.



Julia H. - Feb 1, 2009 3:38 am (#1319 of 2988)  
At the same time I find it equally difficult to agree with those who feel he was actively seeking redemption by consciously atoning for his past sins. (Mona)

I think Snape was "actively" remorseful. We don't know whether he went through a process of introspection or just hated himself in general but he was remorseful. I also think he was actively trying to atone for what happened, by which I mean something like "I'll do this in Lily's name and for her memory" but I don't think he expected to be able to really put anything right or to get rid of his guilt - he knew very well he could not change what had happened. He was rather like the second brother in Beedle's tale: He was fighting for Lily a desperate fight with death that he could not win. Therefore I don't think he expected or hoped to be redeemed but that at some point he began to do good things simply because that was the right thing to do. So I don't think he was "seeking" redemption. Nevertheless (IMO) he was redeemed in the end.



TomProffitt - Feb 1, 2009 5:04 am (#1320 of 2988)  
I only differ with Tom in that, as you are already well aware, I am not convinced of that Snape attained his goal. --- Quinn

You know, Quinn, that's really a very significant difference.



Orion - Feb 1, 2009 10:12 am (#1321 of 2988)  
Fifteen posts ago I thought fortunately the posts are getting shorter again and then along comes The Nag.  IMO if we discuss the level of redemption of a fictional character we should accept that maybe he was written that way (behaving like a jerk) because it's hilariously funny to read, keeps the reader in uncertainty about his allegiance and provokes an emotional reaction in the reader. Writers want to irritate the reader because any emotional reaction encourages attachment to the story. That is very important if you want to sell all seven volumes. So even if we want to shake Snape and yell at him, our irritation creates a bond between us and the story. If Snape was more civilized towards Harry he wouldn't necessarily be a better read. Literature is stroppy and no fanfic.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 1, 2009 2:33 pm (#1322 of 2988)  
You know, Quinn, that's really a very significant difference. - True. Like Mona, I'm not convinced that redemption/atonement/restoring balance to the universe or whatever name you want to put on it was ever truly his goal. I just don't see that this ever factored into any of his actions ("Which I do on your orders!"). I certainly don't think he ever really has whatever epiphany is necessary to make the connection between his own actions (or re-actions) and their, from his point of view, undesired consequences.

My own take on the "prince's tale" is that, while the writer surely intended for this section to speak to his redemption, as written it is far too ambiguous for the reader alone to decipher her intentions. The one abiding theme in the entire group of early memories is that Lily is either physically present or referred to, clearly establishing her close relationship with the young Snape. Later, after her murder, we are shown private conversations between Snape and Dumbledore which substantiate Snape's fidelity to Dumbledore personally, and to his word. While admirable, I don't feel that we are ever shown anything to indicate that Snape feels "remorse". Regret, certainly; but never a clear indication of any awareness of his own level of culpability.

In fact, I would argue that Snape's loyalty to Dumbledore is really just another level of revenge against someone who took Lily from him. In Snape's mind, James may have taken Lily from him emotionally, but he could always cling to the hope that one day she might return to him, however unlikely this might be. But Voldemort took Lily from him in body, rendering any potential for reconciliation to absolutely never. I see it as just the same old "schoolboy grudge" taken to the ultimate level.



tandaradei - Feb 1, 2009 3:14 pm (#1323 of 2988)  
One sign of remorse or whatever you want to call it, is when you become an empty cup, willing to have a higher authority dictate some worldview or action for you to follow, in stead of whatever you'd followed before, which apparently didn't work. It's basic to that prayer, "Thy will, not mine, be done," and is not necessarily a decision that can be labelled solely to one religious persuasion.

And the word persuasion is key. Ever hear this, "A man convinced against his will is unconvinced still"? Its the will that's at stake here, responding to some form of persuasion. Perhaps the persuasive power is something one should reject; but however one responds, its done from one's own will.

Obviously, I'm referring to the scene when Dumbledore suggests a path to a suffering Snape for him to follow; it's where Snape hesitates, then accepts what Dumbledore proposes. We know he accepted it because of all that follows. Too, Throughout this canon we know Dumbledore also thoroughly believes Snape had made such a decision.

If redemption is seen as what one earns, then I guess we'd have to look to the very end of Snape's life. If redemption is when one makes a decision to follow some other (higher) authority, then I'd guess we'd have to look at the moment Snape agrees to follow Dumbledore's suggestion.

Remorse or whatever, to me is the spur that leads to such decisions.



wynnleaf - Feb 1, 2009 5:17 pm (#1324 of 2988)  
I also think he was actively trying to atone for what happened, by which I mean something like "I'll do this in Lily's name and for her memory" but I don't think he expected to be able to really put anything right or to get rid of his guilt - he knew very well he could not change what had happened. He was rather like the second brother in Beedle's tale: He was fighting for Lily a desperate fight with death that he could not win. Therefore I don't think he expected or hoped to be redeemed but that at some point he began to do good things simply because that was the right thing to do. So I don't think he was "seeking" redemption. Nevertheless (IMO) he was redeemed in the end. (Julia)

Yes, I completely agree.

I don't think Snape was seeking redemption for the simple reason that I doubt that Snape would have considered redemption even possible. This, by the way, would not particularly inspire him to get over his hatred of self, which in turn would only exacerbate his anger and bitterness.

I do think he was trying to atone, but not so that he could "earn" something, but simply to do it for Lily's sake. In the end, I think he definitely was redeemed, but I imagine that he would be quite surprised to discover his own redemption.

By the way, I can imagine people thinking "Snape doesn't hate himself. He's far too arrogant." Truly, humility or even just lack of arrogance is no prerequisite to self-hatred.



Julia H. - Feb 1, 2009 7:06 pm (#1325 of 2988)  
It is a beautiful description/definiton of remorse, Tandaradei.

If redemption is seen as what one earns, then I guess we'd have to look to the very end of Snape's life. If redemption is when one makes a decision to follow some other (higher) authority, then I'd guess we'd have to look at the moment Snape agrees to follow Dumbledore's suggestion.

It is an interesting question whether redemption is a process / experience or a result, something that is earned, perhaps even without the person knowing about it.

In fact, I would argue that Snape's loyalty to Dumbledore is really just another level of revenge against someone who took Lily from him. In Snape's mind, James may have taken Lily from him emotionally, but he could always cling to the hope that one day she might return to him, however unlikely this might be. But Voldemort took Lily from him in body, rendering any potential for reconciliation to absolutely never. I see it as just the same old "schoolboy grudge" taken to the ultimate level. (Quinn)

That would certainly make redemption impossible. I don't at all see revenge as motivation regarding Snape's loyalty to Dumbledore or his fight against Voldemort. It is simply never shown to be the case and since we seem to agree that the author probably intended Snape to be redeemed (even if we disagree how well she managed to achieve that), it is not likely that there are any hidden clues indicating revenge that some readers just can't figure out.

Also, Snape's Patronus represents Snape's love for Lily. I don't think he would have a Patronus like that if he was motivated by revenge instead of love.

"Which I do on your orders!"

Hm... It seems to me that you are interpreting this Snape-quote out of its context. In itself it might mean lots of things but in the actual context Snape wants to know why Dumbledore does not trust him and Dumbledore says Snape spends too much time with Voldemort,. He calls him a basket that spends so much time dangling on the arm of Lord Voldemort. Snape understands it as meaning he is not being trusted because of something Dumbledore is making him do. In this context, "your order" is not versus "because that is the right thing to do", it simply means "how can you hold it against me when you have ordered me to do it in the first place?"

Besides, the fact that Snape follows Dumbledore's orders does not mean he has no idea about right or wrong. Imagine a soldier who voluntarily joins an army because he knows what that army fights for. For example, in the history of my country there have been several wars for independence, and a lot people joined for the sake of the cause. Even a soldier like that must follow the orders of his commander. Does that mean that he is not fighting for the cause? Of course not. It may be Dumbledore who tells Snape what his jobs are in the war but it is Snape's choice to follow these orders to the best of his ability, trusting that these orders indeed serve the cause he wants to serve. It is also his choice to fight at all and to fight on this particular side, which then entails following Dumbledore's orders.



Istani - Feb 1, 2009 7:40 pm (#1326 of 2988)  
Snape doesn't hate himself. He's far too arrogant Hm, but as it seems his appearance tells us otherwise. Arrogant people would like to look good in order to flatter their self esteem. Snape just doesn't seem to care about his. In most if the scenes we see him, he is described as the greasy haired weirdo with a too big nose. Actually, I think his ignorance to care about his looks, his greasy hair, crooked and yellowish teeth indicates that he has long given up caring about how he himself is viewed by other, which in my eyes doesn't seem to fit to an arrogant personality. Instead, we see a socially awkward man who has never learned to deal with himself or what he has inflicted on others due to the stupid way he had chosen in order to belong somewhere as pathetic and dangerous and downright stupid as it was. But he had turned away from that. He had turned away from Voldemort at great personal risk, and he had gone to Dumbledore on great personal risk. One would have tortured him for even suggesting to keep a Mudblood alive while the other might have handed him over for his atrocities. When you judge about Severus having reached redemption or not please bear in mind that Voldemort was not an easy person to please. We saw that in the graveyard scene when he tortured someone- can't recall the name now- for being less loyal or interrupting his speech. Later, in DH, there was a scene when he made Draco torture a Death Eater he wasn't pleased with. Those of you who questioned his bravery, wondering what he ever did to make his efforts special, I'd like you to bear in mind that meeting Voldemort wasn't a picnic at all. Only one wrong thought and he would have had to face the consequences of his actions...



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 1, 2009 7:52 pm (#1327 of 2988)  
Only one wrong thought and he would have had to face the consequences of his actions... - Istani

At the very least the man must have been stressed out constantly! Good thing for Severus that time and space matter, or else he'd have to be guarding his every thought while in the school. Or perhaps the school enchantments would help with protection. But if he wasn't always a good Occlumense he had to learn fast to stay alive.

I was reading the Lexicon and came across this for PS:

Did Snape know who was casting the curse spell he was fighting? If he knew it was Quirrell, it is hard to believe that he didn't do something about it after the match, either taking care of Quirrell himself or bringing Dumbledore into things. If he didn't know it was Quirrell, certainly Snape, as a staff member of the school, would have sounded the alarm that some unknown person was trying to murder a student. Instead Snape apparently decides to turn this into a one-on-one contest between himself and Quirrell with Harry's life the prize.

Why do you think he wanted to referee your next match?

Did Snape assume that he would be able to defend Harry more easily while trying to referee a complicated game taking place in three dimensions a hundred feet up in the air rather than sitting in the stands, able to watch not only the game but everyone around him? Maybe he wasn't really paying much attention to the game--which would explain the penalty he assigned for no reason whatsoever--and was using the height to be able to watch the crowd for the unknown assailant.

Just another scenario added to the list of Severus Multitasking and it seems in Harry's first year at school trying to prove to DD that he, Severus, could take matters into his own hands.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 1, 2009 8:44 pm (#1328 of 2988)  
"Which I do on your orders!"

Hm... It seems to me that you are interpreting this Snape-quote out of its context. - Not really. Even in context, the subtext is applicable to Snape's role as a whole: He is loyal to Dumbledore and is therefore insulted - in context - that his loyalty should even be implicitly questioned. But on its own, I feel the statement pretty well sums up anything Snape does that happens to benefit "the cause". He does it because Dumbledore tells him to and he has "sworn fealty" to Dumbledore. There is really no greater reason than that.

Regarding the references to "Snape multi-tasking" I see it more as much as Snape the control freak.



Julia H. - Feb 2, 2009 5:28 am (#1329 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 3, 2009 8:55 am
I'd like you to bear in mind that meeting Voldemort wasn't a picnic at all. (Istani)

Exactly. Voldemort severely punished even those who were loyal to him but failed to do what he had ordered them to do. On the night of his return, Voldemort was planning to kill Snape. Snape managed to convince him of his loyalty but I suspect Voldemort's "initial displeasure" with Snape was expressed in the usual manner, i.e., with the Cruciatus Curse. Later, if Voldemort had discovered Snape's true allegiance, Snape would have had to face a most painful death. Snape simply could not afford to make the smallest mistake.

Just another scenario added to the list of Severus Multitasking and it seems in Harry's first year at school trying to prove to DD that he, Severus, could take matters into his own hands. (Shadow)

But it is equally likely that Snape did inform Dumbledore and it may have been the reason why Dumbledore attended the second Quidditch game. Perhaps the plan was that Dumbledore would watch over Harry from his seat while Snape would stay as close to Harry as possible. Also, Dumbledore may have been watching Quirrell, not Harry.

He is loyal to Dumbledore and is therefore insulted - in context - that his loyalty should even be implicitly questioned. But on its own, I feel the statement pretty well sums up anything Snape does that happens to benefit "the cause". He does it because Dumbledore tells him to and he has "sworn fealty" to Dumbledore. There is really no greater reason than that. (Quinn)

Quinn, I'm not sure where you are getting with that. Was Snape doing the wrong thing while following Dumbledore's orders and being extremely loyal to him? Why can he have no greater reason when he chooses to follow Dumbledore's orders at great personal risk? Just following Dumbledore's orders does not seem to be a lot of fun. He had "sworn fealty" to Dumbledore? I suppose he had sworn fealty to Voldemort as well. Yet, he turned away from Voldemort and remained loyal to Dumbledore. Would Snape's remorse or atonement be more genuine if he decided to attempt to assassinate Voldemort on his own? Not only Snape, but Harry and others as well fight against Voldemort following Dumbledore's orders and that is a conscious choice, too. Is that something wrong or immoral?

In DH, Harry is choosing between hunting for Horcruxes and going after the Elder Wand. This is his reasoning: "Dumbledore didn't want me to have it. He didn't want me to take it. He wanted me to get the Horcruxes."

But the idea of Dumbledore's corpse frightened Harry much less than the possibility that he might have misunderstood the living Dumbledore's intentions.

Harry decides to go after the Horcruxes because that is what Dumbledore told him to do. Does that mean there is no greater reason beyond his whole fight against Voldemort?

Regarding the references to "Snape multi-tasking" I see it more as much as Snape the control freak.

Oops!

Snape does everything "only" on Dumbledore's orders. - Bad Snape! No "greater reason".

Snape might perhaps be acting on his own without consulting Dumbledore. - Bad Snape! He is a control freak.



mona amon - Feb 2, 2009 10:08 am (#1330 of 2988)  
I think Snape was "actively" remorseful. We don't know whether he went through a process of introspection or just hated himself in general but he was remorseful. I also think he was actively trying to atone for what happened, by which I mean something like "I'll do this in Lily's name and for her memory" but I don't think he expected to be able to really put anything right or to get rid of his guilt. (Julia)

I don't know...he had other things to be guilty about besides joining Voldemort and causing him to go after Lily, like supressing his compassion and humanity enough to be an eager follower of such an openly evil leader, and we don't see him expressing any remorse about it. I'm not saying he didn't feel any. In fact we do see him gradually becoming more compassionate, 'saving those that he could'. But he just doesn't seem like an actively remorseful person.

If he hated himself so much, why doesn't he just tell (or get Dumbledore to tell) Harry about his role in the death of his parents? To me his 'never never tell, Dumbledore!' implies that while he accepted the role of Harry's protector, he wanted absolutely no emotional connection with him. He seems like a man who represses everything so that he will not have to feel. A sort of occlumency against himself. And it's people like this, who do not properly face their guilt, who feel, as you say, that they cannot really do anything to get rid of it.

at some point he began to do good things simply because that was the right thing to do. So I don't think he was "seeking" redemption. Nevertheless (IMO) he was redeemed in the end. (Julia)

I agree!

but never a clear indication of any awareness of his own level of culpability. (Quinn)

While I don't agree with all your views on this subject , I think I can agree with this.

One sign of remorse or whatever you want to call it, is when you become an empty cup, willing to have a higher authority dictate some worldview or action for you to follow, in stead of whatever you'd followed before, which apparently didn't work. It's basic to that prayer, "Thy will, not mine, be done," and is not necessarily a decision that can be labelled solely to one religious persuasion...[cut]...If redemption is seen as what one earns, then I guess we'd have to look to the very end of Snape's life. If redemption is when one makes a decision to follow some other (higher) authority, then I'd guess we'd have to look at the moment Snape agrees to follow Dumbledore's suggestion.

Remorse or whatever, to me is the spur that leads to such decisions. (Tandaradei)


Very well put. I agree that remorse is what leads to a person switching sides the way Severus did. I feel he is redeemed as soon as he makes the decicion to renounce Voldemort and follow Dumbledore. And his actions from that point till his death constitute his atonement, even if it wasn't his conscious intention to atone.

Severus turns his back on Voldemort and walks down the right path with Dumbledore, never looking back. There's enough remorse and redemption for me right there, even if he did not properly face his guilt.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:52 pm

Julia H. - Feb 2, 2009 10:39 am (#1331 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 2, 2009 11:39 am
Mona, I don't think our views are very different. Perhaps we disagree most about the meaning of "actively remorseful".

Severus turns his back on Voldemort and walks down the right path with Dumbledore, never looking back. There's enough remorse and redemption for me right there, even if he did not properly face his guilt.

For example, I can quite agree with this and indeed with most of what you say.

Yet I would like to comment on these:

If he hated himself so much, why doesn't he just tell (or get Dumbledore to tell) Harry about his role in the death of his parents? To me his 'never never tell, Dumbledore!' implies that while he accepted the role of Harry's protector, he wanted absolutely no emotional connection with him.

If "properly facing his guilt" means 'telling it to Harry', then Snape does not face his guilt "properly" until the end of his life. To me, however, his secrecy implies that he knows very well in his heart that he is guilty (which IMO is also a way of facing it, privately) and he does not want others/Harry to know about it because he is too ashamed and / or because he does not think it can be forgiven. I have said this several times but I'll just mention it again: It strikes me that Snape is able to allow everyone to think that he is the murderer who killed Dumbledore and the traitor who betrayed the trust of his long-time protector and a lot of other people, and is ready to accept everything that such an opinion means: the hatred, the contempt, the isolation, the potential legal consequences and the risk of being killed one day by someone like McGonagall; when in fact he neither "murdered" Dumbledore, nor betrayed the good side. At the same time, he cannot bear letting Harry know his real guilt, even though it is not quite as big a crime as the one he is generally believed to have committed after the end of the HBP year and he could even explain (well, in principle at least) that he regrets it and is trying to atone. So it seems he is able to face the general consequences of being thought guilty (at least when he can see a reason why he should) but he cannot bear his real guilt, the one he is really ashamed of, being known (even when the consequences would not be as grave as the consequences of being thought to be the murderer of Dumbledore).

And it's people like this, who do not properly face their guilt, who feel, as you say, that they cannot really do anything to get rid of it.

I can't quite see the connection at the moment but I will think about it.



mona amon - Feb 4, 2009 5:14 am (#1332 of 2988)  
If "properly facing his guilt" means 'telling it to Harry', then Snape does not face his guilt "properly" until the end of his life. To me, however, his secrecy implies that he knows very well in his heart that he is guilty (which IMO is also a way of facing it, privately) and he does not want others/Harry to know about it because he is too ashamed and / or because he does not think it can be forgiven. (Julia)

I do not think he shows signs of being too ashamed to tell Harry, and there are no indications that he cared about being forgiven. After all, according to Dumbledore, Severus is also concealing 'the best part of him'. To me, not telling Harry is just a symptom of his unresolved, repressed feelings about what he did. Lily is dead. But there's the child, and he tries to swat away the thought of him like an irksome fly. But DD tells him he ought to protect him for Lily's sake. And by telling Dumbledore he'll do it, but don't tell him anything, he's basically saying, "I'll protect him for Lily's sake, but that's all. Don't expect me to care about him." I think his refusing to confess to Harry just shows that he does not want to have anything to do with him, beyond protection.

I don't think our views are very different. Perhaps we disagree most about the meaning of "actively remorseful".

I think we differ in our view about what this character is really like. I feel you give him credit for being a more reasonable, mature character than I do. You portray him as someone who has an active conscience and a strong moral sense, and as someone who has thoroughly looked into himself, and as a result is filled with shame and guilt and self loathing. But maybe I exaggerate. You can always correct me about this.  

To me he's an extremely repressed individual who has turned his back on life and retreated to the dungeons. A warped, bitter man who has decided to put everything he has into helping Dumbledore fight the forces of darkness, but who does not seem to care about improving his own damaged personality. Was he introspective at all? IMO this master occlumens believed more in shutting out troublesome thoughts and emotions than in allowing himself to feel.

But however differently we each view Severus, we both love this character and find him very admirable, and that's why we often agree.  



wynnleaf - Feb 4, 2009 7:00 am (#1333 of 2988)  
Snape does not actually shut down emotions a good deal of the time. In fact, the narration records a great deal of emotion out of Snape. And often Harry (who isn't the most perspective person about reading people), is easily able to read Snape's expressions, tone, mannerism, etc, even sometimes when Snape is, in Harry's view, attempting to hide those thoughts. Snape is not shutting down emotions and instead probably shows them more openly than most characters.

He doesn't have to shut down all emotions in order to fool Voldemort. What he has to do is be able to show LV different reasons for his emotion and trick him in that way. Yes, there are times when he has to shut down emotions, such as with Charity's death, but that doesn't mean Snape routinely shuts down emotions. Snape claims in the occlumency lessons that to defend against LV you have to shut down emotions, but we can also see from his comments that concealing emotion is a weakness he feels for himself.  

The narration does not show him going around throughout classes and the school and around the students suppressing his emotions. He just doesn't do that. And yes, I'd be happy to give loads of examples if you can't find them.

What that means is that this man who goes to LV to lie to him is a very emotional man who must be able to lie about those emotions. He has to be able to sort through his memories and thoughts and show LV different motivations from his real ones, show LV memories that fit what LV wants to see and conceal memories that don't fit.

In my opinion, in spite of however immature Snape may act toward Harry and allowing his hatred of James to color the way he interacts with Harry, Snape must have a very active internal understanding of himself. He simply has to have a good deal of introspection.

Mona amon, I am interested in your phrase

does not seem to care about improving his own damaged personality.

You seem to be considering the desire to improve self as part and parcel with remorse and desire to atone. I don't think it is. Like I said earlier, I really don't think Snape would have considered himself redeemable and therefore I don't see him as actively seeking to change in order to "improve". I see his changes (such as the pureblood ethic or a consideration for the lives of others even if he dislikes them) as coming because of changed attitudes or desires, but not from a conscious desire to become a better person. I wouldn't expect that he would think he could become better.

I do think Snape has an active conscience, but like many people (most, in my opinion), his conscience is focused on those areas which are more important to him. And yes, I think he does have a moral sense, but once again, it's in those areas which have become important to him.



PeskyPixie - Feb 4, 2009 3:19 pm (#1334 of 2988)  
"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?" -Solitaire

Lupin, as a prefect, has every right to stop Sirius and James from bullying Severus. By remaining aware but silent he too takes part in the bullying, and as he is a close friend of both James and Sirius, Snape feels that Lupin allows this incident in order to protect his friends.

I needed to get that out and I doubt I'd remember after reading through over 200 posts! Now I'm going to go back and get caught up.  



severusisn'tevil - Feb 4, 2009 10:13 pm (#1335 of 2988)  
I completely agree, Pesky. I don't like it, that my two favorite characters never really liked each other, but it's true.

And wynnleaf, I agree that Severus's conscience was most active in the areas that were important to him. I would have to say the same thing about myself. However, he grew out of that somewhat. I mean, what about George's ear? He was intending to save Remus, for heaven's sake. The one that he did hate but apparently did not want dead.



Julia H. - Feb 5, 2009 12:07 am (#1336 of 2988)  
Mona,

Wynnleaf has already said a lot of what I could say - I'm trying to only add a few things to explain how I see the character.

I do not think he shows signs of being too ashamed to tell Harry, and there are no indications that he cared about being forgiven.

I don't know if shame is the best word or not but I think he feels guilty and would find it too humiliating to confess it to Harry (and possibly to others). In any case, the "I cannot bear" phrase implies to me that he has an emotional reason for wanting to keep it secret. If he did not care about who knew or who thought what, why would he swear DD to secrecy? If he does not care about being forgiven, it may be because he cannot forgive himself. If you don't think you can be forgiven and (perhaps consequently) you don't care about being forgiven, secrecy is a rather logical step.

Severus is also concealing 'the best part of him'.

The best part of Snape is so closely connected to the worst part of Snape, that it would be difficult to reveal one of them without revealing the other. I also speculate that even without his guilt, the adult Snape would be likely to want to keep his unrequited love for Lily secret as much as he could, especially from a Potter. Dumbledore knows about it but it is only because he witnesses some of the most desperate moments in Snape's life and he understands the underlying reason.

You portray him as someone who has an active conscience and a strong moral sense, and as someone who has thoroughly looked into himself, and as a result is filled with shame and guilt and self loathing. But maybe I exaggerate.

Perhaps you exaggerate a bit but that is not far from how I see him. I think both his moral failure and his moral improvement happen gradually; and Lily's death, or even earlier, Lily's danger, activates his conscience. I see signs of self-loathing and self-punishment with Snape after Lily's death. As for moral sense: He certainly has enough moral sense to try and atone even without hoping to be "redeemed", which I think can only be the result of being aware of his guilt. Another sign of awareness is that when he does talk about what he has done (to Dumbledore), he is straightforward. On the hilltop, he tells DD exactly what he has done without any euphemism or excuses. I know it is a moment of extreme stress but if he "knows" these things then, he must be aware of these things other times as well. We don't know how "thoroughly" he has looked into himself but I don't think it is necessary to do a lot self-analysis to realize his guilt. I can imagine situations in which it takes a lot of introspection to understand that one has done something wrong and not even for the best of reasons - but Snape's guilt is not of this type. The causal relationship between what he did and what happened afterwards is rather obvious.

A warped, bitter man who has decided to put everything he has into helping Dumbledore fight the forces of darkness, but who does not seem to care about improving his own damaged personality.

I agree that Snape is not trying to improve his damaged personality. It just improves as a result of remorse and atonement and doing the right thing. I don't see Snape's remorse as being a recognized guide for him towards personal improvement. It makes him fight the forces of darkness that are in the outside world and his atonement is directed towards others rather than towards personal growth. His atonement includes doing things potentially harmful to his personality (to any personality) and he still does these things and I think he has a purpose (or at least a reason) that is more important than what happens to him, even if it is not a grand dream like the "greater good". What he does, IMO, makes him a better man (one who is willing to take risks for others and to even sacrifice himself for others) but not a happier, more harmonious personality.

There it is, Mona, some aspects of the picture I have of Snape  .



mona amon - Feb 5, 2009 2:34 am (#1337 of 2988)  
Snape does not actually shut down emotions a good deal of the time. In fact, the narration records a great deal of emotion out of Snape. (Wynnleaf)

That is true. If I recall his facial expressions correctly, his face is variously described as twisted with fury, ferocious, anguished, stricken, etched with revulsion and hatred, demented with rage and pain. He screams in terror. He screams in fury. He howls like a wounded animal. He bellows, shrieks, snarls, and weeps. What a range of volcanic emotions is displayed here!

But however emotional he may be, that does not mean he cannot compartmentalise or shut down inconvenient thoughts. He must have done this a lot when he was a DE. Since I do not believe he was truly evil, even at that time, I feel he must have been very good at suppressing his compassion and similar emotions.

In this context I'd like to quote JKR about why Draco can do occlumency and Harry cannot. "But he's also very in touch with his feelings about what's happened to him [Harry]. He's not repressed, he's quite honest about facing them, and he couldn't suppress them, he couldn't suppress these memories. But I thought of Draco as someone who is very capable of compartmentalizing his life and his emotions, and always has done. So he's shut down his pity, enabling him to bully effectively. He's shut down compassion — how else would you become a Death Eater?" I think this can apply to Snape equally well. The more open you are about facing your emotions, the more difficult it is to practise occlumency.

In my opinion, in spite of however immature Snape may act toward Harry and allowing his hatred of James to color the way he interacts with Harry, Snape must have a very active internal understanding of himself. He simply has to have a good deal of introspection.

I feel it's just the opposite. Someone who is introspective and has a good understanding of himself wouldn't react in such an immature way in the first place. I mean, if he's really analyzing his feelings, won't the thought process be something like, 'I hate this kid, but why? He hasn't done anything to me. I'm allowing my feelings for his father to colour my feelings about him.' But what we see him doing is acting on his irrational feelings of hatred for this boy. So I can only conclude that the thought process did not progress any further than 'I hate him'.

You seem to be considering the desire to improve self as part and parcel with remorse and desire to atone.

Not really, just pointing out what I feel are his problems with himself. While I agree that he must have felt remorse (whatever the degree), and that he did atone, whether he was doing so consciously or not, I still say he doesn't show a great degree of self awareness.

I do think Snape has an active conscience, but like many people (most, in my opinion), his conscience is focused on those areas which are more important to him. And yes, I think he does have a moral sense, but once again, it's in those areas which have become important to him.

That does not seem like an active conscience or strong moral sense to me, if it only focusses on some things instead of everything! Not that it matters to me if Severus was lacking a strong moral sense.

Julia, I'm not really 'replying' to your post because we both interpret the character a bit differently. Nothing to really prove or disprove. Just one or two points-

As for moral sense: He certainly has enough moral sense to try and atone even without hoping to be "redeemed", which I think can only be the result of being aware of his guilt. Another sign of awareness is that when he does talk about what he has done (to Dumbledore), he is straightforward. On the hilltop, he tells DD exactly what he has done without any euphemism or excuses. I know it is a moment of extreme stress but if he "knows" these things then, he must be aware of these things other times as well. (Julia)

Why do you think he is 'trying to atone'? Why can't he be doing it just because he feels like doing it? If he does the horrendously difficult job that DD gives him for no other reason than he wants to do it because that is the way he is, isn't it more to his credit than if he was doing it only as some sort of penance to atone for his sins? And what does he tell DD apart from 'I gave the prophecy to the Dark Lord'?

I think I'd better stop now as this post is already too long, but I'd like to discuss some of your points another time.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 5, 2009 11:43 am (#1338 of 2988)  
Ooops! Nothing to see here. Move along.....



Julia H. - Feb 5, 2009 6:12 pm (#1339 of 2988)  
Why do you think he is 'trying to atone'? Why can't he be doing it just because he feels like doing it? If he does the horrendously difficult job that DD gives him for no other reason than he wants to do it because that is the way he is, isn't it more to his credit than if he was doing it only as some sort of penance to atone for his sins? (Mona)

I don't know which is more to Snape's credit... But I find it hard to imagine he just feels like doing all those horrendously difficult jobs because that is the way he is. If I thought he enjoyed the spying and the rest (as other people may enjoy other jobs), I would see a reason there, but I don't see him enjoying it. I find it hard to imagine how someone can just feel like doing such difficult and dangerous things without even enjoying the thrill or I don't know what. I just need a reason and, in this case, atonement is a logical one. Of course, being just extremely devoted to the fight against the Dark Side would be a good reason, but in Snape's case that would also seem to logically lead to atonement: The more important the cause is to him, the more he should feel what he once did against it.

Other than that, I can quote Dumbledore's words to Harry: "You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned --" Dumbledore connects Snape's "return" directly to the remorse he felt. We now know that it did not simply mean turning away from Voldemort because he also agreed to participate in the fight against him. What is it if not "trying to atone", with the immediate reason being remorse? (BTW, Dumbledore says Snape became remorseful when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, not only after Lily's death.)

Another reason why I think Snape tries to atone is that he gives Harry all those memories and not only the ones that are necessary to make Harry believe Dumbledore's message. Most of the memories are about Snape and if he gives them to Harry, he probably wants Hary to understand why he did what he did (and not only the bad things). But why does he want Harry to understand anything about him? I think it is because Snape did not just feel like doing his job, he had a reason, which was related to Harry, and at the end of his life, Snape seems to want this reason to be understood. (By this I am not saying that he has been preparing to tell it to Harry all the time but now, as he is facing death, Snape's priorities regarding his secrecy are probably different.)  

But I am interested to hear why you think it is not atonement but "just the way he is" that makes Snape do the horrendously difficult job .  There is one more reason I can think of and it is a sense of duty. But even that seems to be rooted in atonement and remorse. It is possible that his willingness to atone becomes less important over the years when Snape has already chosen his way and wants to continue in this way because it is the right way... but it still started as atonement.

And what does he tell DD apart from 'I gave the prophecy to the Dark Lord'?

What I mean is not how much he tells him but how he says it.

“Ah, yes,” said Dumbledore. “How much did you relay to Lord Voldemort?”

“Everything --- everything I heard!” said Snape. “That is why ---it is for that reason --- he thinks it means Lily Evans!”

------------------------------------------------

“I have --- I have asked him ---“

He says "I told him everything" and it is for that reason and so on. I don't know, he strikes me as rather sincere about his own part in the whole trouble. He does not try to choose his words to make his guilt seem less significant or to make Dumbledore sympathetic towards him. I don't think it is a conscious decision on Snape's part. What I am saying is that in these moments of unguarded openness about the terror and desperation he feels, he seems to be fully aware that he did something that resulted in something horrible. It is not about having a strong moral sense but the plain acknowledgement of being the reason of something bad that is happening now and that is the basic prerequisite to remorse.



wynnleaf - Feb 5, 2009 8:26 pm (#1340 of 2988)  
"You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned --" (Dumbledore)

In literary logic, the primary things that Harry assumes must be true about Snape at the end of HBP and earlier in the series, have to be reversed in the Big Reveal at the end of DH.

Harry, at the end of OOTP, decides that no matter what, he will never forgive Snape. Of course, literary logic has it that Harry will forgive Snape. And he does.

At the end of HBP, Harry assumes Snape is a traitor and loyal to LV. Of course, we find out Harry was dead wrong.

Harry assumes in HBP that DD's trust in Snape is completely misplaced. Harry is shown to be wrong.

Harry assumes in the discussion with Dumbledore mentioned above that DD has it all completely wrong about Snape. Snape simply doesn't feel any remorse about taking that prophecy to LV. DD has been fooled by Snape. Once again, by literary logic, Harry has to be just as wrong about this as well.

Why does Harry have to be wrong? Well, for one, a good deal of what JKR is doing is showing Harry, and the reader, that appearances can be hugely deceptive. Further, she wants those final plot "twists" to spin her readers around into a different viewpoint. In addition, Harry finds that his big assumption that DD was completely wrong about Snape has to be found, in its turn, to be a completely wrong assumption. If that's to be the case, then all of DD's comments to Harry regarding Snape's trustworthiness, Snape's remorse, etc., have to be found to be correct.

We don't get to drop the one, just because it doesn't suit. DD's either right about Snape, or he's not.

Oh, sure, if you want to pretend it's not literature, and all really happened, then we don't need to consider what JKR was doing, the literary themes, the logic of it, or any of that. You can look at it all like evidence in court and determine that, because Snape never actually said he was sorry or remorseful, he wasn't.

But it's not actually real, so looking at it as a piece of literature is actually important.

DD said Snape was remorseful. Harry thought DD was a fool to believe that. Harry had to be proved wrong.

Snape is "redeemed" at the end by virtue of the protagonist forgiving him and by speaking of him as the high standard of the virtue acclaimed throughout the book (courage), therefore Snape has to be found to be redeemed.

Redemption in the book is tied directly to remorse, specifically spelled out when the "chosen one" gives the most evil villian the chance to be redeemed through remorse.

Therefore Snape has to have been remorseful. Either that, or JKR really messed up the symbols of some of her primary themes.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 5, 2009 8:37 pm (#1341 of 2988)  
Therefore Snape has to have been remorseful. Either that, or JKR really messed up the symbols of some of her primary themes.

And if there is any doubt of JKR's mastery of symbolism, we have a thread or two or three about it! Well done, wynnleaf.  



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 4:39 am (#1342 of 2988)  
I quite believe that Snape was remorseful about Lily. For me the big question has always been whether he was remorseful about anything else. I am simply not satisfied that such a narrow emotion could redeem Snape about everything. In the early books I was convinced that Snape was a jerk who was trying to atone for the bad things he had done-- he just wasn't particularly good at the atonement thing. But when we get to DH I found that he was far, far less; for him it was all about Lily.

Maybe I'm the only one really disappointed with this turn of the character.



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 4:59 am (#1343 of 2988)  
Well, it does seem Lily's death is connected to the worst thing Snape has done. As for whether he is remorseful about joining the DE's in the first place - I find it hard to imagine how his feelings about Lily's death (including his own guilt there) and his feelings about having been a DE could be independent of each other. As Wynnleaf points out, Snape does not explicitly confess his remorse on the pages of the books, yet, his actions, certain feelings he does express and the logic of the novel all indicate the strong probability or even the necessity of remorse. In the end, his atonement goes beyond what directly concerns Lily - behind this atonement, there can also be remorse going beyond Lily's death. Atonement is based on remorse, after all.

As for the "narrow emotion" - whatever exactly this emotion is, it makes Snape do quite extraordinary things. I'm not sure this emotion is indeed so narrow but even if it is, then it must be narrow but very deep. That must count, too. Perhaps remorse can be narrow and deep but also broad and shallow - I think it matters more how far one is willing to go for the sake of atonement, as a result.



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 6:22 am (#1344 of 2988)  
As for the "narrow emotion" - whatever exactly this emotion is, it makes Snape do quite extraordinary things. I'm not sure this emotion is indeed so narrow but even if it is, then it must be narrow but very deep. That must count, too. Perhaps remorse can be narrow and deep but also broad and shallow - I think it matters more how far one is willing to go for the sake of atonement, as a result.-- Julia H.

Indeed, I think narrow and deep describes Snape's feelings, and that was why he was so invaluable to Dumbledore: Dumbledore could count on him to be a complete lackey (I can't think of a better word, except maybe "minion"). Snape's powerful yet narrow feelings of remorse meant he was willing to do anything Dumbledore told him to do in the name of Lily, without questioning the intelligence or morality of it. It was very useful for Dumbledore, and I think it formed the basis of the "trust" that he had for Snape- trust not that Snape was capable of making moral decisions on his own, but rather trust that Snape would unwaveringly follow directions.

It's not something with which I am particularly impressed.

I think Snape does show moral growth after he kills Dumbledore. But I also have the suspicion that Dumbledore wanted him to feel partially responsible for his death, so that Snape would be guaranteed to continue following orders out of remorse, just like he did with Lily.

Yeah, yeah, I expect my opinions to be unpopular.  



wynnleaf - Feb 6, 2009 7:03 am (#1345 of 2988)  
Apparently most agree that Snape felt strong remorse at taking the prophecy to LV.

We know he experienced real change in his feelings about the importance of the lives of others. Originally, he didn't seem to care if some nameless family had died at LV's hands. By Harry's sixth year (at the latest ) Snape didn't want anyone, even people he disliked, to die if he could save them. So we know that his concern about the lives of others changed.

He probably changed regarding the blood purity issue (if he was ever that into it), because JKR gives us the scene where he strongly admonishes the previous Slytherin headmaster (forgetting his name right now), about using "mudblood". Oh yes, I know some don't think that means much, but JKR had to have some point about putting in that scene. I don't think it was just incidental. And remember, The Prince's Tale is supposed to show remorse, even if some readers don't see it.

So what's left for him to be remorseful about or big stuff to atone for?

Really, the only other I can see is his teaching and treatment of Harry. And yes, I'll agree he isn't remorseful about it. In fact, I doubt if he saw anything wrong with it.

But what else is there Snape is supposed to show remorse or atonement about? We don't actually know that he did any other dire deeds under LV.

Back when he was in school, most posters either think there's not much evidence he did anything particularly bad (other than eventually decide to join LV), while other posters are willing to accept the Marauders all changed without much evidence, so if the Marauders didn't have much to have great remorse over or atone for, I certainly don't see Snape needing to show remorse over his school days, since we're not shown that he actually did much of anything bad while in school. Of course, he does have remorse over the Worst Memory scene, what he called Lily, and apparently over his using "mudblood" and probably even his friendships with future DEs.

So I guess what I'm saying is, if you agree he was remorseful about his actions regarding Lily, and you agree that he changed regarding his regard for the lives of others, what other remorse did he need to show?

The only thing I can think of is remorse for how he treated his students, but I don't think he sees much wrong with the way he treated them. And Dumbledore (his mentor), didn't seem to indicate any disapproval of it either. For that matter, neither do other teachers at Hogwarts.



mona amon - Feb 6, 2009 7:10 am (#1346 of 2988)  
But I find it hard to imagine he just feels like doing all those horrendously difficult jobs because that is the way he is. (Julia)

I don't see why not, and this is where we differ. You feel that atonement was his spur and motivation. You are basically saying, I think, that if Severus didn't feel he had to atone for his sins, he would not have done all those horrendously difficult jobs. I feel he would have, because that's the way he is.

If I thought he enjoyed the spying and the rest (as other people may enjoy other jobs), I would see a reason there, but I don't see him enjoying it. I find it hard to imagine how someone can just feel like doing such difficult and dangerous things without even enjoying the thrill or I don't know what.

I too don't believe that he enjoyed it, and in fact it must have been just the opposite. Even just being in Voldy's presence and watching the things that he does is anything but enjoyable, and Snape was very much afraid of him. There is a strong sense of extreme courage and self-sacrifice in what he was doing. And no, I don't believe that he cared about the greater good or that his vision was even broad enough to imagine such a thing. So I conclude that he was courageous and self-sacrificing by nature.

Let me mention here that I think Snape was by nature a follower, not one to do things on his own. As long as he was following Voldemort, he was evil. Once he decided to follow Dumbledore, he was redeemed.

Other than that, I can quote Dumbledore's words to Harry: "You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned --" Dumbledore connects Snape's "return" directly to the remorse he felt.

But we now know the whole story about that from Snape's own memories. Snape came to Dumbledore because he wanted him to save Lily. He agrees to turn traitor to Voldemort and serve DD because he thinks it will help save her. True, he feels remorseful about giving the prophecy to Voldemort, because look what it lead to, but I wouldn't call him truly remorseful until he decides to follow Dumbledore even after Lily's death, when he continued to follow the right path even when he could no longer save her.

But why does he want Harry to understand anything about him? I think it is because Snape did not just feel like doing his job, he had a reason, which was related to Harry, and at the end of his life, Snape seems to want this reason to be understood.

We really don't know whether he had any particular reason other than a need to confess, now that he was dying, and perhaps even the need to vindicate himself. This was his only chance to show the world that he was not an evil cowardly Death Eater who had murdered Dumbledore.

But I am interested to hear why you think it is not atonement but "just the way he is" that makes Snape do the horrendously difficult job.

Because there is no evidence that he's doing it to atone, or out of a sense of duty, or for the greater good or anything. So this is the only alternative. I think he felt 'driven' to do it, because that's the way he is. He had the courage, the self-sacrificing nature, the rare skills that were needed. I do not think he enjoyed it, but he took pride in being able to do it so well, in being Dumbledore's most useful tool in his fight against Voldemort.

Maybe I'm the only one really disappointed with this turn of the character. (Mrs Brisbee)

I was disappointed too, at first. In fact, since I love this character, shocked would be a better word. Before DH I thought he was a poor misguided wretch who had joined the DEs, but returned to Dumbledore as soon as he discovered that the Potters, 'people that he knew' were being targetted by Voldemort. I did think he must have been in love with Lily, but for only a year during their 6th year, and I didn't think it was so important in the redemption process. I was rather horrified when I discovered in The Prince's Tale that he didn't care at all about Harry and James getting killed!

(Cross-posted with Mrs Brisbee and Wynnleaf)



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 8:38 am (#1347 of 2988)  
Mrs Brisbee, I don't see why deeply felt remorse would make anyone a lackey or a minion or unable to make moral decisions of his own. You seem to be saying that there is only one way towards proper redemption - "broad remorse". Snape was remorseful about what he most needed to be remorseful about. The back-story of the character is written in such a way that Lily is in the centre of the worst of what he has done. I think he had to be remorseful about having once been a DE and a follower of Voldemort and about the prophecy. If he is remorseful about Lily, he is remorseful about the prophecy. He gave the prophecy to Voldemort because he was Voldemort's follower. Should we imagine that while Snape is deeply remorseful about the part he played in Lily's death, he still thinks it was OK for him to join Voldemort and be a DE? I agree with Wynnleaf that the scene in which Snape rejects the use of the M-word is intended to show that his whole attitude has changed towards these things.

Actually, I don't think Snape's remorse was truly narrow. It was focused on the worst of what he did, quite naturally. What we find out from the novel strongly implies that his sins were not "broader" than his remorse. In JKR's world, remorse is what could even save the soul of the greatest villain - "Try for some remorse". "Some" remorse would save Voldemort's soul but we actually see Snape do a lot of things as atonement for whatever he needed to atone for, including a great deal of self-sacrifice, and yet his remorse does not seem to be good enough. What would make Snape's remorse "broad"? The only thing I can think of as missing is telling everyone how he was sorry about this and that. Snape is simply not the person to do that but his actions are worth much more than any amount of lip-service.

If we take the opposite type of remorse, the shallow one, however broad it is, will we find a person with better morals? We get Karkaroff, who, in front of the Wizengamot, is loudly sorry about everything he did as a DE, but later has no problem making sure his students are well trained in the Dark Arts and his remorse does not actually lead him to do anything that even resembles self-sacrifice or atonement for anyone's sake. He is the man of broad and shallow remorse.

trust not that Snape was capable of making moral decisions on his own, but rather trust that Snape would unwaveringly follow directions.

It is a moral decision for Snape to follow Dumbledore's orders. Yes, Snape first agrees to do anything in exchange for Dumbledore's help to save Lily. However, Dumbledore fails to save Lily (and it is not Snape's fault) so Snape's original reason to follow his orders does not exist any more. Whatever he decides to do, he won't get Lily back. After that point, it can only be a moral decision for Snape to remain loyal to Dumbledore. It is a moral decision when he first agrees to protect Harry and it is another moral decision to keep his promise 14 years later, when Voldemort returns, and he still keeps to the same moral decision after Dumbledore's death. Being loyal to Dumbledore and following his orders is no less a moral decision for Snape than for Harry.

If Snape could not make a moral decision of his own, what would make him remain loyal to the light side? If he could not make a moral decision of his own, he would not feel it necessary to keep his promise, he would not be able to feel any personal gratitude towards Dumbledore, he would not have anything to fight for once he has lost Lily for ever, he would not agree to sacrifice almost everything he has for anyone else, he would not keep fighting in total isolation for people who hate him and he would not keep thinking about his duty when he knows that he is about to die and that he could at least try to buy his life back from Voldemort by telling him some truly vital information.



mona amon - Feb 6, 2009 8:51 am (#1348 of 2988)  
Very good points, Julia!  



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 9:02 am (#1349 of 2988)  
Mrs Brisbee, I don't see why deeply felt remorse would make anyone a lackey or a minion or unable to make moral decisions of his own.-- Julia H.

Not anyone, just Snape.  

One has to have the ability to make moral decisions in order to make moral decisions. The question is, does Snape do what he does for moral reasons, i.e., is that what he intends, or does it just turn out that way?

If we take the opposite type of remorse, the shallow one, however broad it is, will we find a person with better morals? We get Karkaroff, who, in front of the Wizengamot, is loudly sorry about everything he did as a DE, but later has no problem making sure his students are well trained in the Dark Arts and his remorse does not actually lead him to do anything that even resembles self-sacrifice or atonement for anyone's sake. He is the man of broad and shallow remorse.

I don't think I agree with your definition of remorse. I don't see Karkaroff as remorseful in the least. He cut a deal to get himself out of prison, and wants to avoid anyone who might have an exception to that--particularly Voldemort. I don't see remorse, shallow or deep, entering into it at all.

Edited to add: I would agree that the opposite of remorseful is not remorseful, like Karkaroff. However, I fail to see what this has to do with "narrow remorse"-- only sorry that you hurt someone because you like them-- and "broad remorse"-- feeling responsible for your actions regardless of whether or not the victims were personally liked by you.

It is a moral decision for Snape to follow Dumbledore's orders. Yes, Snape first agrees to do anything in exchange for Dumbledore's help to save Lily. However, Dumbledore fails to save Lily (and it is not Snape's fault) so Snape's original reason to follow his orders does not exist any more. Whatever he decides to do, he won't get Lily back. After that point, it can only be a moral decision for Snape to remain loyal to Dumbledore. It is a moral decision when he first agrees to protect Harry and it is another moral decision to keep his promise 14 years later, when Voldemort returns, and he still keeps to the same moral decision after Dumbledore's death. Being loyal to Dumbledore and following his orders is no less a moral decision for Snape than for Harry.

Not all decisions are made for moral reasons. Does Snape do these things because they are the right thing to do, or does he have another reason?

Because there is no evidence that he's doing it to atone, or out of a sense of duty, or for the greater good or anything. So this is the only alternative. I think he felt 'driven' to do it, because that's the way he is. He had the courage, the self-sacrificing nature, the rare skills that were needed. I do not think he enjoyed it, but he took pride in being able to do it so well, in being Dumbledore's most useful tool in his fight against Voldemort.-- mona amon

I think you are right. He did take pride in doing his job so well. I think I would add ambition to his list of attributes, since he was driven to become the right hand man of both Dumbledore and Voldemort, and showed jealousy when he thought Harry was encroaching on his position with Dumbledore.



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 9:03 am (#1350 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 6, 2009 11:42 am
Thanks, Mona!  

I'm coming to your post now.  

You are basically saying, I think, that if Severus didn't feel he had to atone for his sins, he would not have done all those horrendously difficult jobs. I feel he would have, because that's the way he is. (Mona)

It is a good question but hard to answer. The story is written in one way, we don't really know the 'what if's. I do feel that the hilltop scene was a decisive moment in Snape's life. Of course, if everything had happened differently, he could have had another decisive moment with a similar result - but that is not our present story.  

So I conclude that he was courageous and self-sacrificing by nature.

Hm... hm... I like this.  Yet, I feel he is not a static character in the books but one who makes an important spiritual journey. I can imagine Snape being courageous and self-sacrificing even without his guilt, but once his guilt is a given fact, it plays a role in his decisions. In principle, he could end up making the same decisions as he would without his guilt, but now that he has this terrible guilt, it is a force that influences him. But I can agree that his guilt is only one of the factors influencing him.

We really don't know whether he had any particular reason other than a need to confess, now that he was dying, and perhaps even the need to vindicate himself. This was his only chance to show the world that he was not an evil cowardly Death Eater who had murdered Dumbledore.

Except that he thought Harry was going to die soon and would take his confession to the grave with him, as indeed Harry would have done if he had not survived. The world would not necessarily have found out Snape's true allegiance if it had happened what Snape thought would happen.

Not all decisions are made for moral reasons. Does Snape do these things because they are the right thing to do, or does he have another reason? Mrs Brisbee

I think he does them because they are the right things to do. The idea that he simply wants to be the right hand man of both Dumbledore an Voldemort does not explain everything he does. Where do we see that he wants to be Voldemort's right hand man? As for Dumbledore: If he simply wants to be Dumbledore's right hand man, there is no reason for him to continue fighting after Dumbledore's death. In fact, that would be the perfect moment for him to change into Voldemort's right hand man if he had such ambitions and only ambitions.

However, I fail to see what this has to do with "narrow remorse"-- only sorry that you hurt someone because you like them-- and "broad remorse"-- feeling responsible for your actions regardless of whether or not the victims were personally liked by you.

How do we know that Snape's remorse is like that? On the hilltop sure, but later, when his atonement is extended beyond Lily, why can't his remorse be similarly extended?

EDITED



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 9:18 am (#1351 of 2988)  
As for Dumbledore: If he simply wants to be Dumbledore's right hand man, there is no reason for him to continue fighting after Dumbledore's death. In fact, that would be the perfect moment for him to change into Voldemort's right hand man if he had such ambitions and only ambitions.-- Julia H.

Well, in my opinion, Snape cared about Dumbledore, just as deeply and far more realistically than he cared about Lily. Snape AKs Dumbledore, making Snape feel partially responsible for Dumbledore's death. So Snape will stick doggedly to Dumbledore's final plans for that reason, in an attempt to honor Dumbledore and make his death mean something. Just like he did for Lily.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Edited: How do we know that Snape's remorse is like that? On the hilltop sure, but later when his atonement is extended beyond Lily, why could not his remorse be similarly extended?

As late as the HBP time frame, Snape is saying he does it all for Lily. I do think actual broader remorse did creep up on Snape, especially after he kills Dumbledore.



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 9:21 am (#1352 of 2988)  
Well, in my opinion, Snape cared about Dumbledore, just as deeply and far more realistically than he cared about Lily. Snape AKs Dumbledore, making Snape feel partially responsible for Dumbledore's death. So Snape will stick doggedly to Dumbledore's final plans for that reason, in an attempt to honor Dumbledore and make his death mean something.

But that is not ambition but love. The power that can vanquish the Dark Lord. This time in Snape's soul. Love and self-sacrifice. That's good enough for me.



wynnleaf - Feb 6, 2009 9:23 am (#1353 of 2988)  
I don't really see how we can get around this remorse issue and resolve it.

We can be fairly certain that JKR intends us to believe, through The Prince's Tale, that Snape is feeling remorse. Dumbledore believes he feels deep remorse. Yet some readers reject the evidence, the author's intent, and Dumbledore's opinion because they aren't seeing what, for them, defines remorse.

But I don't actually think Snape saying the words would make some readers believe it.

I used this example before, but I'll reiterate it. Many readers believe in Lupin's remorse at the end of POA for not having been honest with Dumbledore, even though Lupin is not the one that told DD the truth (Sirius did that), and even though Lupin's intentional deceptions could have easily cost children's lives. Why -- without any evidence that he's truly remorseful other than his few comments -- do readers believe Lupin? I believe it's because he's likable and, in spite of much deception, he always sounds so believable.

Similarly, readers buy into the notion that Lupin is sorry for his part in the Marauder's actions toward Snape, even though Lupin has no apparent interest in apologizing to Snape for any of that, nor does he suggest Harry apologize for his actions toward Snape regarding the pensieve. Lupin says they were wrong and berks and that's all it takes. Lupin is remorseful.

Dumbledore says that he is remorseful for his actions that led toward his sisters death. But he only comes clean about this after he's dead and in the spirit world. He concealed the cause of her death all of his life, leading authorities and others to think it was accidental. NO open remorse to anyone. No sorrowful apology to Aberforth who lost his sister. No direct atonement for her death that we can see. And yet most readers believe in his remorse. Why? Well, he sounds good and sorry when he talks to Harry.

So really, I don't think it's anything Snape does or doesn't do. I think the root reason some readers don't believe in Snape's remorse is because he just doesn't say the right words on the page at just the right moment to the protagonist. More than anything though, I think it's because Snape never comes to like the protagonist.

Lupin can be considered remorseful even without apologies to those he harms or came close to harming, simply because he's nice to Harry. Dumbledore can be considered remorseful without ever showing remorse to Aberforth (he got Ab's sister killed remember), or making his guilt known to anyone. But he does like Harry. And in a book, emotionally supporting the protagonist, especially when the book is written from the point of view of the hero/protagonist, is the primary thing it takes to get readers to see a character from the best perspective. Why? Because the reader then sees the character through the protagonist's perspective. Harry believes in Lupin and Dumbledore's remorse, so the reader does as well.

Of course, Harry probably believes in Snape's remorse, but we are never told so explicitly, and we're not even shown it by implication until the last couple of pages. And we're certainly never shown Snape caring for Harry.

So it really wouldn't matter, in my opinion, what Snape said or did unless he also changed and came to in some way care for the protagonist.



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 9:29 am (#1354 of 2988)  
Lupin can be considered remorseful even without apologies to those he harms or came close to harming, simply because he's nice to Harry. Dumbledore can be considered remorseful without ever showing remorse to Aberforth (he got Ab's sister killed remember), or making his guilt known to anyone. But he does like Harry. And in a book, emotionally supporting the protagonist, especially when the book is written from the point of view of the hero/protagonist, is the primary thing it takes to get readers to see a character from the best perspective. Why? Because the reader then sees the character through the protagonist's perspective. Harry believes in Lupin and Dumbledore's remorse, so the reader does as well.-- wynnleaf

**sigh**

No, just no.

I am a reader, and I don't form my opinions of the characters and their motives just because they are nice to Harry. Perhaps you do, but I do not agree with your premise. At all.



wynnleaf - Feb 6, 2009 9:32 am (#1355 of 2988)  
Well, obviously that argument breaks down for readers who don't accept Dumbledore's remorse over his sister's death because he never apologized during his lifetime, even to Aberforth. Because, after all, the only indication we have of his true remorse are his comments to Harry after he had been dead over a year.

I do think there's a sort of double standard for many readers. Why accept Dumbledore's remorse or Lupin's remorse, and yet not think that Snape is remorseful? Especially when it is pretty clear from a literary perspective, the author's perspective, and the perspective of the wise wizard, that it is so?

Why then is Snape held to a higher standard for evidence of his remorse?



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 9:37 am (#1356 of 2988)  
No, the argument breaks down on a whole other level. The assumption that anyone who doesn't see this in a particular way is because they must be choosing to view characters entirely on how nice they are to Harry is somewhat insulting and dismissive. I disagree with your premise entirely.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 6, 2009 9:49 am (#1357 of 2988)  
Maybe I'm the only one really disappointed with this turn of the character. - Nope.



wynnleaf - Feb 6, 2009 9:54 am (#1358 of 2988)  
The assumption that anyone who doesn't see this in a particular way is because they must be choosing to view characters entirely on how nice they are to Harry is somewhat insulting and dismissive. I disagree with your premise entirely. (Mrs Brisbee)

Do you think readers hold Snape to the same standard of remorse that they accept for other characters who do grievous error?

It seems to me to be a good deal higher and there must be some reason for that.



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 11:33 am (#1359 of 2988)  
Nope.-- Quinn Crockett

LOL, care to elaborate?

Do you think readers hold Snape to the same standard of remorse that they accept for other characters who do grievous error?-- wynnleaf

I do hold him to the same standard (Edit: I think I should point out though that my "same standard" is NOT the same as your standard. My opinion on the matter has little to nothing to do with what you talked about in your post ). But I'm not all readers, so I'm not going to speak for everyone else. Everyone who posts here is a reader, and can post their own opinion. I'm not going to assume I know what it is before they say, or why they think that way unless they say.

The way you worded your previous post, it looks like a strawman. I'm not sure why you think "readers" think this particular thing, and it is not inherently true that if a reader thinks X, it must be for reason Y. We are the readers, and we generally post what our opinions are, I would assume, and I think we should go off of what we the readers have actually stated when we argue about what other people think.



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 11:45 am (#1360 of 2988)  
As late as the HBP time frame, Snape is saying he does it all for Lily. (Mrs Brisbee)

He says he is protecting Harry for Lily as opposed to protecting Harry for the possibility of a future life-sacrifice. But not all of his tasks are about Harry and he keeps fighting against Voldemort even after he is told that he won't be able to protect Harry, and, of course, he still won't be able to bring Lily back to life. Since Lily has been dead for a decade and a half now, doing "all" for Lily can only have a symbolic meaning now - Lily has come to represent Snape's atonement, Snape's ideals, the best part of Snape. Doing it "all" for Lily may be just a poetic, personal synonym for what is right.

As for Karkaroff: I don't think either that he is truly remorseful but he speaks about regretting it all. His confesses to general, "broad" remorse but it is shallow remorse at best (or no remorse at all). Why do I think so? We can't see into Karkaroff's mind any more than into Snape's. It is simply that we don't see Karkaroff do anything else than getting himself out of trouble after Voldemort's downfall and trying to keep away from Voldemort when he returns. Snape, however, though (unlike Karkaroff) he never says how sorry he is, fights a very difficult fight against Voldemort and makes great personal sacrifices, which include ultimately sacrificing his life for a lot of other people (not for Lily).


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wynnleaf - Feb 6, 2009 11:52 am (#1361 of 2988)  
Mrs Brisbee,

Since it seems that JKR did a kind of a correlation between Dumbledore and Snape, do you believe in Dumbledore's remorse? Why? Why (assuming you believe in it), would you think DD was truly remorseful about his part in his sister's death even though he didn't admit to it - ever - except after his own death, didn't apologize to the only other person alive who was her blood relation, and actively hid the circumstances from authorities. I'm not trying to go off on analyzing DD, but want to compare why his remorse is more believable than Snape's. DD spends many years working for the downfall of some evil Dark Lords, his association with one being the cause of Arianna's death. Snape also worked for years to bring about the downfall of the Dark Lord after his association with LV brought about the Potter's deaths. But why do you think DD's remorse would be more believable than Snape's? We don't have to see DD change into a nice guy, or a man who likes Harry. He was always generally likable and liked Harry, but that's no evidence of true remorse for what he did regarding his sister's death.

So what standard does DD meet that Snape does not meet?

That's a question I'd be curious to see anyone answer who thinks DD is truly remorseful, but Snape is not.



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 6, 2009 11:52 am (#1362 of 2988)  
He says he is protecting Harry for Lily as opposed to protecting Harry for the possibility of a future life-sacrifice. But not all of his tasks are about Harry and he keeps fighting against Voldemort even after he is told that he won't be able to protect Harry, and, of course, he still won't be able to bring Lily back to life. Since Lily has been dead for a decade and a half now, doing "all" for Lily can only have a symbolic meaning now - Lily has come to represent Snape's atonement, Snape's ideals, the best part of Snape. Doing it "all" for Lily may be just a poetic, personal synonym for what is right.-- Julia H.

Possibly. Like I said, I think a real, broader remorse crept up on Snape. But I don't see it as something he was actively looking for.

As for Karkaroff: I don't think either that he is truly remorseful but he speaks about regretting it all. His confesses to general, "broad" remorse but it is shallow remorse at best (or no remorse at all). Why do I think so? We can't see into Karkaroff's mind any more than into Snape's. It is simply that we don't see Karkaroff do anything else than getting himself out of trouble after Voldemort's downfall and trying to keep away from Voldemort when he returns. Snape, however, though (unlike Karkaroff) he never says how sorry he is, fights a very difficult fight against Voldemort and makes great personal sacrifices, which includes ultimately sacrificing his life for a lot of other people (technically speaking, not for Lily).

Yes, I see your point there, but I still don't think Karkaroff's "remorse" **cough** is the opposite of "narrow remorse". Just the opposite of real remorse.



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 12:03 pm (#1363 of 2988)  
I still don't think Karkaroff's "remorse" **cough** is the opposite of "narrow remorse". Just the opposite of real remorse.

No, I did not mean it as the opposite of narrow remorse but as the opposite of deep remorse (even though seemingly broad). I agree that it can just as well be the opposite of true remorse, like Snape's true remorse.  Or the remorse of words versus the remorse of deeds.

EDIT: Interesting question, Wynnleaf. I like Dumbledore-Snape parallels.

EDIT2: Like I said, I think a real, broader remorse crept up on Snape. But I don't see it as something he was actively looking for. Mrs Brisbee

No, I don't think he was looking for remorse. It probably just came from within and he acted on it. But perhaps that is how it should be.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 6, 2009 3:12 pm (#1364 of 2988)  
I don't think remorse was ever a motivating factor in Snape's actions. He wanted recognition for his talent and abilities - and probably a certain level of power and control over others - and he was eager to please whomever could give these to him. For whatever reason, he saw Voldemort as the one who could fulfill this desire.

When he turns to Dumbledore to protect Lily, he still does not strike me as particularly "remorseful" ("You disgust me!"); only as someone trying to dig himself out of the hole he now finds himself in.



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 4:12 pm (#1365 of 2988)  
If Snape only wants power and recognition, then why is he in a hole at all? Voldemort has made a promise to him to spare Lily. If he could ask that, he must have been in Voldemort's favour enough to ask for power or recognition instead of Lily's life. Why would he bother about James Potter's wife? Especially, why would he risk the favour and recognition he was hoping to get from Voldemort, risking his life as well, and run to DD to ask him to protect Lily? Why would he offer to do anything for Lily's safety, which means neither power, nor recognition to him? Later, as a double agent, he could switch sides any time and go where he could get bigger power and more recognition. There is a period when he is apparently highly valued by Voldemort, while he quite clearly does not get any power or recognition on the good side, except for a few private compliments from DD (like "we sort too soon"). What keeps him there if he wants power and recognition, when with the information he has, he could easily be Voldemort's right hand man in reality? Why does he sacrifice himself at DD's request when there is nothing to gain for him? Why does he die for the people who hate him? And how can he end up a hero, when self-serving ambitions are portrayed in the books as properties of the ultimate evil?



Quinn Crockett - Feb 6, 2009 4:28 pm (#1366 of 2988)  
If Snape only wants power and recognition, then why is he in a hole at all? - That's how people dig themselves into holes (figuratively speaking). They're so focused on themselves and what they want and not paying the slightest attention to what's going on around them that, the next thing they know, they've dug themselves halfway to the other side of the planet.

Snape started digging when he joined the DE's. Then, he took the Prophecy to Voldemort not caring what the potential implications might be. He cared only that it would garner Voldemort's favor for himself. (Dig, dig, dig.) Uh oh! Voldemort wants to kill Lily because he thinks the prophecy is about her! (scrabble, scrabble, scrabble) Help! I can't get out! Dumbledore! Help me!

If he could ask that, he must have been in Voldemort's favour enough to ask for power or recognition instead of Lily's life. - No. That he was able to ask Voldemort for anything - and actually be taken seriously - shows that Voldemort had already given Snape a certain amount of power within the DE organization, and that he had given Snape a certain place; that he recognized in Snape something more/better than the other DE's.

Why would he offer to do anything for Lily's safety - Well, what was the alternative? Sure, he could have said, "Are you out of your freaking mind??" to Dumbledore. But for all he knew that would mean that Dumbledore wouldn't lift a finger to save the Potters. Of course he would agree to "anything" under those circumstances.
There is also the possibility that, under the "rules" of wizard obligation, he simply had to fulfill his promise - that he had no choice but to comply - as we saw with Wormtail in DH.

Why does he die for the people who hate him? - He didn't have to. But he chose to die having people hating him instead of trying to make direct amends with those he wronged.

while he quite clearly does not get any power or recognition on the good side - On the contrary, clearly he does get too much power over the poor students who have to take him for potions. He gets recognition for being the one Order member who can provide true insight into Voldemort's plans. Prior to Voldemort's return, he got recognition in other ways - like Slytherin winning the House and Quidditch cups all those years in a row. Power and recognition doesn't necessarily mean being the Minister for Magic or even Dumbledore.



Julia H. - Feb 6, 2009 5:07 pm (#1367 of 2988)  
That he was able to ask Voldemort for anything - and actually be taken seriously - shows that Voldemort had already given Snape a certain amount of power within the DE organization, and that he had given Snape a certain place; that he recognized in Snape something more/better than the other DE's.

Exactly. If that was all he wanted, why did he risk it at all? To save a woman who did not even love him? Why did he turn away from Voldemort at great personal risk when he had achieved this status among the DE's if power and recognition were his motivations all the time?

Why would he offer to do anything for Lily's safety, (Julia) - Well, what was the alternative? Sure, he could have said, "Are you out of your freaking mind??" to Dumbledore. But for all he knew that would mean that Dumbledore wouldn't lift a finger to save the Potters. Of course he would agree to "anything" under those circumstances. (Quinn)

That is not what I meant. Why did he need to go to DD at all? He had his recognition and his power, supposedly his primary motivation then and in later periods of his life - so what made him fall on his knees in front of Dumbledore and ask him to do anything for him at all? Why take all the trouble? Remember he already has what he really wants and he is not motivated by remorse.

Why does he die for the people who hate him? - He didn't have to. But he chose to die having people hating him instead of trying to make direct amends with those he wronged.

But my question is not answered. Suppose he chose to make these people hate him by AKing Dumbledore (while wanting recognition very badly) - I still don't know what made him die for them when he could have just tried to gain some power instead. And how could he die for people who hated him when he was to gain neither power, nor recognition by that?

On the contrary, clearly he does get too much power over the poor students who have to take him for potions.

Well, that is a really tempting alternative to the power of Voldemort's right hand man for someone whose main motivation is power and recognition.  

He gets recognition for being the one Order member who can provide true insight into Voldemort's plans.

Really? I must have missed a chapter or two. Of course, they accept and use the intelligence he brings and they are kind enough to say "well, Dumbledore trusts him... and we trust Dumbledore". I can't remember reading about more recognition than that.

Prior to Voldemort's return, he got recognition in other ways - like Slytherin winning the House and Quidditch cups all those years in a row.

Do we know that Snape got any recognition for this? It is not even mentioned in the books.(Now I am reminded how little support I got when I, as a reader, expressed a humble opinion that he might deserve some credit for that - but of course it has nothing to do with what is actually in the books.)

Power and recognition doesn't necessarily mean being the Minister for Magic or even Dumbledore.

Yeah, but if you are satisfied with very little power and recognition when you could get much more on the other side, it is hard to believe that power and recognition are the only or main motivation of your actions and choices. (Especially when there are quite convincing alternative explanations.)



Quinn Crockett - Feb 6, 2009 9:15 pm (#1368 of 2988)  
Hey Julia -

I'm going to have to be honest here. I really don't see much point in continuing this discussion. The bottom line is that I think you (and others) choose to imbue the character with qualities that simply aren't there. I also think the author never satisfactorily resolved this character's story arc, and that what was actually written was little more than a literary cop out - specifically, having another character tell us what we are supposed to conclude.



Solitaire - Feb 6, 2009 10:05 pm (#1369 of 2988)  
"You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned --"

What if Snape had learned that Voldemort was targeting Mrs. Longbottom and Neville (or even Molly and Ron)? Would he have gone to Dumbledore then? If the answer is no, it wouldn't have bothered him if some other innocent mother and child were threatened (or killed), then I must ask ... was it really remorse? Again, just asking ...

Dumbledore says that he is remorseful for his actions that led toward his sisters death. But he only comes clean about this after he's dead and in the spirit world. He concealed the cause of her death all of his life, leading authorities and others to think it was accidental. NO open remorse to anyone. No sorrowful apology to Aberforth who lost his sister. No direct atonement for her death that we can see. And yet most readers believe in his remorse. Why? Well, he sounds good and sorry when he talks to Harry.

I think DD knew that Aberforth wouldn't have bought an apology at the time of Ariana's death. The two of them must have made even an uneasy peace at some point, however, given that Aberforth was in the Order of the Phoenix.

I see Dumbledore's adult life--his attempts to help and protect people both before and subsequent to his final encounter with Grindelwald--as his expression of repentance. As in Snape's case, there really is no real reparation he can make for his role in Ariana's death. The most he can do is stop focusing on himself and give his life to helping others. What's more, he does this in a gentle, caring way rather than in a sour and grudging way. Not going into detail about his past mistakes ... well, what would be the point? I do not blame him for not wanting to share everything ... or even anything. Look at how he is often treated.



mona amon - Feb 7, 2009 1:12 am (#1370 of 2988)  
Quinn, just out of curiosity, do you feel she never satisfactorily resolved Snape's story arc, or do you feel that she did resolve it, but in a way that was not satisfactory to you? And what would you have liked to see with regard to the Snape story?

I'm asking because I was quite happy with what she did with Snape in DH, and I'd love to see some other point of view.



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 3:55 am (#1371 of 2988)  
Solitaire, thanks for answering this. I'd like to see the answers of others as well.

I think DD knew that Aberforth wouldn't have bought an apology at the time of Ariana's death. The two of them must have made even an uneasy peace at some point, however, given that Aberforth was in the Order of the Phoenix. (Solitaire)

An "uneasy peace". Hm. Well, they're not at each other's throats, no. On the other hand, DD is in a far, far more powerful position than Aberforth. Yet he talks about Aberforth to a student (Harry, and it's none of Harry's business), as though Aberforth was practically the village idiot. "I'm not even sure he can read" or telling Harry about Aberforth's problems with the goats. Aberforth did help with the Order, but I'd consider that much more to Aberforth's credit that he was willing to work with DD to bring down LV, not to DD's credit because we see no evidence that he did anything to rectify his relationship with his brother.

Comparing this to Snape, I find it interesting that many people think Snape should have apologized directly to Harry. I'm not saying that's incorrect, but really, do people think Harry would have forgiven Snape? Oh, sure, if Snape were some completely other person with a kind and caring temperament who showed his support of Harry. But Snape, being the sarcastic rather harsh person he was... was Harry really likely to believe Snape? A "death-bed confession" takes on a huge aura of truth - even in real life courts. Harry's belief in Snape at that point makes sense. But I don't exactly think Harry would have believed in Snape's regret even if he'd heard it directly from Snape earlier.

And even if Harry would have believed it, I can easily understand that Snape would assume that Harry wouldn't believe it. Snape, after all, thinks (with reason, since Harry tended to confirm it in Snape's presence) that Harry is just like James.

Nevertheless, Snape does work closely with the Order. And prior to the end of HBP, he even sometimes works directly with Harry, such as in the Occlumency lessons.

Anyway, DD's remorse is believed, even though he spoke of Aberforth to others in highly derogatory terms and seems to never have sought Aberforth's forgiveness. It certainly doesn't seem that Aberforth forgave him, even though he did work with the Order.  

I see Dumbledore's adult life--his attempts to help and protect people both before and subsequent to his final encounter with Grindelwald--as his expression of repentance. (Solitaire)

Not sure what canon tells us about DD helping people before he went to encounter GG. Still, you are saying that DD's adult life was in fighting against evil. Snape starts immediately after he acknowledges his fault in endangering the Potters to work against LV. He, of course, works at Hogwarts all of his adult life, because that's the way DD was telling him would be the best way to help protect Harry. Snape also gives huge amounts of his adult life (cut drastically short of course, by that work) in order to combat LV and protect Harry.

As in Snape's case, there really is no real reparation he can make for his role in Ariana's death. (Solitaire)

Of course, he can't bring her back. Nor can Snape bring back the Potters.

The most he can do is stop focusing on himself and give his life to helping others. What's more, he does this in a gentle, caring way rather than in a sour and grudging way. (Solitaire)

These are obviously two people with completely different backgrounds and personalities. Besides that, whatever DD did to atone, he was completely his own master. He got to decide exactly what he wanted to do. He gave himself to no mentor to tell him "work here, do this, take on this role". In terms of the particular work that Snape takes up in order to "give his life to" for his past mistakes, Snape is doing what his mentor tells him would be best for helping the cause -- be a spy, work at Hogwarts, etc. So Snape also devotes his life's work to rectify his mistakes.

By the way, Snape is sour, but we aren't shown that he works in a begrudging way for DD and the Order.

The biggest difference that I see is that DD comes across as "gentle and caring", even though he allows hundreds to die before he goes after GG, even though he uses highly Machiavellian techniques to manipulate people, even though he actually does many things with highly questionable ethics (allowing children to fight? Ron and Hermione as well? Hiding what is practically a lure for evil villains in a school? Allowing a kid to attempt murder in the school while children are almost dying due to the risk?).

Snape, who also makes it his life's work to protect Harry and defeat LV, is not "gentle and caring". On the other hand, once he starts on his life of rectifying his mistakes, we don't see him knowingly endangering others.

So as far as I can tell, the biggest overall differences between the two and in what makes DD's remorse seem more real is that DD appears to be gentle and caring in spite of his Machiavellian methods and his endangerment of others. Whereas Snape is definitely not gentle and caring, in spite of his work to protect others.

Not going into detail about his past mistakes ... well, what would be the point? I do not blame him for not wanting to share everything ... or even anything. Look at how he is often treated. (Solitaire)

I'm not sure why DD should get a pass on this while Snape does not.

DD doesn't apologize to Aberforth, the only living person whom DD's mistake deeply injured. Snape doesn't apologize to Harry, who was deeply injured by Snape's action.

But Snape did not directly kill the Potters and even tried very hard, at risk of his life, to protect them from death after his wrongdoing led them into greater danger than they were already facing as Order members. It's possible, and DD knew this, that DD did kill Arianna directly. And he was at least directly involved in the fight that killed her and directly responsible for bringing GG into their home and at least partly responsible for the fight starting.

Snape does not keep his wrongdoing completely hidden. Instead, he reveals his wrongdoing to someone with the power to bring him before the authorities. In fact, while it wasn't Snape's doing, part of his wrongdoing was brought before authorities. For many, the willingness to submit oneself to a higher authority for accountability is in itself an expression of acceptance of guilt.

DD, on the other hand, hid his wrongdoing from everyone with the exception of Aberforth, who he had harmed and never really sought his forgiveness. As for submitting himself to a greater authority for accountability, DD never did that at all. And we're talking from the point of his first wrongdoing when he was young, to all throughout his life.

All the part about confessing guilt or remorse that many people think is necessary to show remorse? Snape at least confesses to DD. DD doesn't do it to anybody.

The part about asking forgiveness from the one's you've wronged that many feel is necessary for remorse? DD didn't do it.

Net result as I see it? DD is more gentle and appears to be more caring and therefore his remorse seems believable. Snape is harsh and appears to be uncaring, in spite of the protection he gives to Harry and others, and so his remorse seems less believable.



Julia H. - Feb 7, 2009 4:20 am (#1372 of 2988)  
The bottom line is that I think you (and others) choose to imbue the character with qualities that simply aren't there. (Quinn)

I usually try to make it clear what parts of canon my interpretations are based on. If you have any questions regarding that, I will be glad to answer them. To me its seems that you often choose the disregard or dismiss those parts of the book that do not fit your interpretation of the character. For example, in my last two posts I was trying to point out various actions of Snape that IMO cannot be explained if we think that Snape's only motivations were getting recognition and power, as you had seemed to be saying. If Snape only wants power and recognition (without being interested in what is right or without feeling any remorse about what he did), if it is practically the same to him whether he is serving Dumbledore or Voldemort, then I would like to know why he chooses to risk or sacrifice what power or recognition he has or could have at various points in the story, and why he sacrifices even his life for others instead of pursuing his own benefit and selfish ambitions. I am not saying Snape does not want recognition - most people do - and power may well have been his motivation when he joined Voldemort. But to say that it is all that motivates him throughout his whole life, that there is nothing else there ever, no love, no remorse, no conscience, no atonement, no willingness to sacrifice is IMO simply disregarding a significant part of canon which cannot be explained if Snape only ever wants power and recognition.

What if Snape had learned that Voldemort was targeting Mrs. Longbottom and Neville (or even Molly and Ron)? Would he have gone to Dumbledore then? If the answer is no, it wouldn't have bothered him if some other innocent mother and child were threatened (or killed), then I must ask ... was it really remorse? Again, just asking ... (Solitaire)

Well, after knowing Snape and working with him closely for a decade and a half, Dumbledore (who once was "disgusted") apparently thinks so...

I also think it was remorse. It was indeed necessary for Lily to be involved, but as it actually happened, it resulted in remorse.

I also think the author never satisfactorily resolved this character's story arc, and that what was actually written was little more than a literary cop out - specifically, having another character tell us what we are supposed to conclude. (Quinn)

Unfortunately, a lot of the information about the admirable qualities of the living James Potter are also told to us by other characters - is that badly written or unconvincing, too?

Anyway, if you are referring to Harry's conclusion about Snape - well, I reached my conclusion about Snape on the basis of Snape's actions before I got to the Epilogue - and the Epilogue did not change it.



mona amon - Feb 7, 2009 5:48 am (#1373 of 2988)  
Wynnleaf, I just can't see what your parallel is all about. DD was, in a way, responsible for his sister's death. Snape was, in a way, responsible for the Potters' deaths. So far so good. Snape has a duty to confess and apologise to Harry, the Potters' son. DD has to confess to who? Aberforth already knew everything that DD did. We can imagine that he apologised to Aberforth and tried for reconciliation. They do seem to have made it up, at least partly. I feel it was Aberforth who is the unforgiving, unapologetic one in this case. In Snape's case we can imagine no such thing. We know he did not confess to Harry until his dying moments, and never attempted to apologise.

Comparing this to Snape, I find it interesting that many people think Snape should have apologized directly to Harry. I'm not saying that's incorrect, but really, do people think Harry would have forgiven Snape?

Harry's acceptance of the confession or belief in the remorse or forgiveness is completely beside the point. Snape should have confessed and apologised whether Harry forgave him or not, whether Harry was just like James or not, or whatever.

As for submitting himself to a greater authority for accountability, DD never did that at all.

I just don't feel that running to the higher authorities about everything is always (or even often) the ethical or humane thing to do. For instance, my husband is a doctor, and there have been occasions when he and his colleagues have suppressed information about their patients that they perhaps ought to have reported to the authorities. When no one is going to be harmed by not telling, and people will be harmed by telling, then keeping quiet is the obvious choice. The law isn't perfect, and this seems particularly true of the Law in the WW. What would Dumbledore have gained by confessing to the authorities about Arianna's death? He or Aberforth would probably have ended up in Azkaban (GG had fled), and what good would that have done to anyone?

In Snape's case he did not exactly go running to the authorities with a confession. That was not his purpose at all. He ran to the person who he felt could help him. About what happened to him after that, he did not care.

I actually came here to reply to one of Julia's posts from way back...maybe some other time.



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 6:01 am (#1374 of 2988)  
mona amon,

Don't you see that by assuming that DD apologized to Aberforth, you are cutting DD slack that you are not cutting to Snape?

DD didn't have to confess to Aberfort, because Aberforth was there. But we have no evidence that he acted apologetic to Aberforth.

Often posters will say that if Snape was truly remorseful about the Potters, he'd have acted better to Harry, since Harry is the living person who Snape's actions directly harmed.

DD's actions led to Arianna's death. But Aberforth remains alive -- that living person (as Harry is to Snape) who DD's actions harmed. But how does DD act regarding Aberforth? We are shown very little, but all that we are shown is DD making fun of Aberforth and belittling him to a student.

Using the same argument as is used for Snape, if DD truly felt so remorseful, wouldn't he act better toward and about Aberforth?

Assuming that DD apologized to Aberforth or acted better toward him is giving him an assumption of acting in remorse that we don't actually see on the page. You are assuming that it is Aberforth who is unforgiving, based on yet another assumption that DD tried to make amends to Aberforth.

I'm not saying you are wrong about DD. Perhaps he did try to make amends. But we don't know.

I believe Snape was remorseful because he poured so much of his life into atoning for what he did.

The basic arguments I've seen are that we can't know he was truly remorseful if he wouldn't tell anyone he was remorseful and didn't seek to confess to Harry or ask his forgiveness. And that he didn't act better toward Harry, when he helped to bring about Harry's parent's death.

Yet we are not shown that DD told anyone he was remorseful (until a year after he died). We aren't shown that DD confessed his guilt to anyone (he didn't have to confess to Aberforth). We aren't shown that DD asked Aberforth's forgiveness. And we are shown DD speaking quite disparagingly about Aberforth.

So why cut DD the slack that we don't cut Snape? Why assume he asked forgiveness? Why assume his estrangement from Aberforth was Aberforth's fault for not forgiving?

I'm not saying DD was not remorseful. I believe he was. But the same evidence that people often say is absent to support Snape's remorse is also absent to support DD's remorse.



legolas returns - Feb 7, 2009 7:04 am (#1375 of 2988)  
The thing is regardless of whether you cut slack to Dumbledore or Snape it does not make a difference during their lifetimes as they did not satisfy all readers of there remorse. Some people think they are remorseful and others did not.

Aberforth remained bitter and thought that his brother was free to become the greatest wizard of all time when he was free of his sister Arianna. He would not have believed that Albus felt remorse if he said that he was sorry to his face. When Harry told him about the potion and his brothers suffering it caused him to pause and get lost in thought. Up to that point he had suffered his own grief in silence and made the assumption that his brother felt no grief. Albus laughed about his brother but after he died he praised him in a very back handed way "rough, unlettered and infinately more admirable brother.."

Snape would not have said sorry to Harry because he was so convinced that Harry was a Minnie Me James. Harry would not have believed Snape either because he had spent his time going on about how arrogant, big headed and smug James was and he saw the Mudblood incident in the pensive. Harry forgives Snape after/some time after seeing the memories and honours him by partly naming his son after him. Harry is the hero of the story and if he feels that Snape has redeemed himself then that is what the author is trying to bring across. We can all argue until we are blue in the face whether this is enough or not.



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 7, 2009 7:46 am (#1376 of 2988)  
I agree with mona amon's take on this. I'm not sure where trying to prove Dumbledore>Snape or Dumbledore
Harry forgives Snape after/some time after seeing the memories and honours him by partly naming his son after him. Harry is the hero of the story and if he feels that Snape has redeemed himself then that is what the author is trying to bring across. We can all argue until we are blue in the face whether this is enough or not.-- legolas returns

Heh, can, have, will again .

The epilogue causes the problem for me, because I think it a poor message to send the children who read these books. I felt it denigrated the other characters, their strengths, and their contributions, and I have no idea why Rowling wanted to do that.



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 8:55 am (#1377 of 2988)  
Mrs Brisbee,

All I am trying to point out is that many readers are setting a higher standard to decide if Snape is remorseful than they are to decide whether DD is remorseful. The demands, in order to convince many readers that Snape is remorseful, are greater than they are to convince those same readers that DD is remorseful.

I would kind of like people to look at why they are willing to hold DD to such a lower standard. The same readers that appear to require Snape to apologize to Harry, confess his guilt to others, act nicer to the living person who was harmed by the deaths, do not require those same things of DD in order to believe in DD's remorse.

What's the difference? It seems like a major double standard.

Aberforth remained bitter and thought that his brother was free to become the greatest wizard of all time when he was free of his sister Arianna. He would not have believed that Albus felt remorse if he said that he was sorry to his face. When Harry told him about the potion and his brothers suffering it caused him to pause and get lost in thought. Up to that point he had suffered his own grief in silence and made the assumption that his brother felt no grief. (legolas returns)

An excellent point. By the way, this also makes it far more likely that DD did not say anything to Aberforth to apologize, show his remorse, etc. And yet readers are happy to believe DD was remorseful. So why do many of the same readers think that Snape not confessing to Harry, apologizing, or otherwise showing Harry his remorse is evidence that he wasn't remorseful?

Snape would not have said sorry to Harry because he was so convinced that Harry was a Minnie Me James. Harry would not have believed Snape either because he had spent his time going on about how arrogant, big headed and smug James was and he saw the Mudblood incident in the pensive. Harry forgives Snape after/some time after seeing the memories and honours him by partly naming his son after him. Harry is the hero of the story and if he feels that Snape has redeemed himself then that is what the author is trying to bring across. We can all argue until we are blue in the face whether this is enough or not. (legolas returns)

I agree.

By the way, perhaps that's another parallel when we see Aberforth finally start to believe in Albus' remorse when he heard Harry talk about what DD had to say in the cave. Albus didn't say it to Aberforth but when Aberforth hears it second hand he starts to think Albus was remorseful. Similarly, Harry sees Snape's remorse second hand, through the pensieve and believes it.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 7, 2009 9:42 am (#1378 of 2988)  
I am trying to point out is that many readers are setting a higher standard to decide if Snape is remorseful than they are to decide whether DD is remorseful. - I don't think so.

readers are happy to believe DD was remorseful. - Because we are shown his remorse when he drinks the Inferi potion, even though at the time we don't know exactly what he is remorseful about.

It's not Snape apologizing in and of itself that is important. It's that if Snape had apologized to Harry it would have shown definitively that Snape had finally made the connection between his own actions and the consequences they had for others - how his actions had harmed others. It would also have shown that Snape had finally been able to face the reality of his own personal hang ups rather than simply taking out his old grudges on those who had absolutely nothing to do with them. An apology doesn't mean Snape is absolved of responsibility. On the contrary, it means he has accepted it.

The epilogue causes the problem for me, because I think it a poor message to send the children who read these books. I felt it denigrated the other characters, their strengths, and their contributions, and I have no idea why Rowling wanted to do that.[I] - Yes, exactly!

Which partly answers your question, Mona. I am of the "SHOW me, don't tell me" school of storytelling. With the Snape character, Rowling resolves the arc by having Harry tell us what we're supposed to conclude.



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 10:34 am (#1379 of 2988)  
[I]readers are happy to believe DD was remorseful. (wynnleaf)

- Because we are shown his remorse when he drinks the Inferi potion, even though at the time we don't know exactly what he is remorseful about. (Quinn)


We don't actually know -- in terms of it being directly told us on the page -- what exactly DD was talking about in the cave. We assume that he is deeply remorseful about Arianna and perhaps other things, but actually what he says in the cave could apply to a number of things.

He might be feeling guilty about Arianna, about the hundreds of people who died later at GG's hands, maybe Order members who died under his command, maybe the Potters who didn't have the cloak to help them escape. His guilty conscience might be creating hallucinations of things he never even did.

But whatever he was actually talking about when he says that he knew he did wrong, he isn't actually voicing that to anyone intentionally. Harry is really just over hearing it. DD isn't really speaking to Harry. And being haunted by one's wrongdoing, even acknowledging it, doesn't necessarily equate to remorse.

Quinn, I thought you were one saying that Snape had to actually show Harry the evidence of his remorse, or he wasn't really remorseful. Yet DD only had to acknowledge wrongdoing to himself and you are satisfied.

Note, by the way, some of the similarities in DD and Snape's emotions between the Cave scene and two of Snape's scenes, on the hilltop and later on the day the Potters died.

They both say they'll do "anything". Both seem to want the guilt to stop. Both can't seem to bear even thinking about it. Both say they want to die.

Snape, at least, is actually saying this to someone else -- actually making a conscious confession of some of his feelings and his intentions. DD only does it under the influence of a strong potion that seems to cause hallucinations and he doesn't actually mean to tell anyone. Harry just happens to be there.

Still, there are strong similarities in the feelings of both.

But in that cave scene, we aren't actually told what DD is talking about and it is only reader assumptions that make the connection from Kings Cross to The Cave and determine that, yes, DD was really remorseful in life, about his association with GG and Arianna's death.

By the way, Quinn, are you implying that DD did not need to apologize to anyone, or confess his wrongdoing to anyone, in order to convince you of his remorse? As long as you are satisfied that he's remorseful inside what he shows to others is unimportant?



Solitaire - Feb 7, 2009 1:40 pm (#1380 of 2988)  
Wynnleaf, I've responded to your response over on DD's thread, as I feel my post is more about him than Snape.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 7, 2009 1:48 pm (#1381 of 2988)  
The epilogue causes the problem for me, because I think it a poor message to send the children who read these books. I felt it denigrated the other characters, their strengths, and their contributions, and I have no idea why Rowling wanted to do that. - Mrs Brisbee

In order to be provocative, IMO.

If we were shown Severus in the same light as DD then what would be the point? We are being shown the infinite gradient of what regret and redemption can look like. This is realistic to me. DD for me is the epitome of one who tried to live and breathed integrity in every aspect of his life. Severus might not have been so impeccable, evidence being his bitterness towards Hermione and others, and his hatred of Harry. DD and Severus are not supposed to be the same!



Solitaire - Feb 7, 2009 1:55 pm (#1382 of 2988)  
Don't you think the epilogue showed that Harry had grown up and moved on ... had made peace with all of the previous "demons"--or hurts--in his life? Even Draco was civil, which shows hope for the upcoming Wizarding world.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 7, 2009 2:49 pm (#1383 of 2988)  
We assume that he is deeply remorseful about Arianna and perhaps other things, but actually what he says in the cave could apply to a number of things. - Such as? What, that has any bearing on the story, could he have been remorseful about?

about the hundreds of people who died later at GG's hands - Wow, "hundreds"? I don't remember being given a tally on that. Maybe you could cite that passage.

His guilty conscience might be creating hallucinations of things he never even did. - Well, yeah. Exactly. He has a guilty conscience about something - he is without doubt remorseful about something in his past. Whatever that might be (and I think it's pretty clear that it's the dueling incident), it informs his decisions and his attitude toward others. With Snape, we don't ever see even a hint that he might feel even a twinge of guilt over anything he has ever done.

And being haunted by one's wrongdoing, even acknowledging it, doesn't necessarily equate to remorse. - This ... doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to me. One cannot possibly be "haunted by one's wrongdoing" unless they are remorseful about it.

Quinn, I thought you were one saying that Snape had to actually show Harry the evidence of his remorse, or he wasn't really remorseful. - No, what I said was that it would have made it clear.

They both say they'll do "anything". Both seem to want the guilt to stop. Both can't seem to bear even thinking about it. Both say they want to die. - Yeah, I just don't buy this. Dumbledore has been living with his true and profound guilt for over a hundred years. Snape just seems to want someone to get him out of a jam.

it is only reader assumptions that make the connection from Kings Cross to The Cave and determine that, yes, DD was really remorseful in life, about his association with GG and Arianna's death. - No. Dumbledore does actually confess his guilt and remorse to Harry, telling the whole story; and then Dumbledore gave a little gasp and began to cry in earnest. (DH35). He is still remorseful about it, even in death.

Solitaire, I agree. But unfortunately I feel it's at the expense of the "ultimate sacrifice" other characters made. Lupin, Fred, Tonks, Mad Eye, et al



Julia H. - Feb 7, 2009 3:12 pm (#1384 of 2988)  
With the Snape character, Rowling resolves the arc by having Harry tell us what we're supposed to conclude.

Isn't it Harry who informs the reader (by talking to Aberforth) that Dumbledore was speaking about Ariana in the cave? If he did not say it, would we know? We could, of course, assume but we would not know. So it is Harry who actually tells the reader Dumbledore was not "free". The reader will get more evidence later from the dead Dumbledore. Harry also tells the reader that Snape was very brave and he acknowledges him to be a Hogwarts Headmaster. But is either of this new information in the Epilogue? The reader has seen the reasons on the pages of the books why Harry thinks that Snape is so brave or why he considers him a true Headmaster. The real news in the Epilogue is that Harry has forgiven Snape. But readers have seen everything that makes Harry forgive and respect Snape.

It's that if Snape had apologized to Harry it would have shown definitively that Snape had finally made the connection between his own actions and the consequences they had for others - how his actions had harmed others.

I will never understand why saying that you are remorseful is better evidence that you are indeed remorseful than spending years trying to do the opposite of what you are guilty of at great personal risk and sacrifice. Remorse can lead a person to do various things. Remorse does not always result in atonement but serious atonement strongly implies that the atoning person is remorseful. Personally, I think remorse expressed by atonement is more valuable than spoken remorse.

About apologizing: I may be the only one to think so but there seems to be a possibly intentional contrast between apologizing and atoning in the books. I will not bring up Karkaroff apologizing in front of the Wizengamot again but here is another aspect of Jo's "Apology Study":

After the Mudblood incident, Snape apologizes to Lily. Lily refuses to accept his apology. Two things come into my mind:

1. The message of the scene is that apologizing is not good enough. It is too little, it does not help, it is worth nothing. (The same opinion seems to be reflected in Hermione's words in a different situation in DH, when she explodes as Ron returns to them and says he is sorry.) Lily is not impressed by Snape's apology and Snape does not follow up his rejected apology by anything - he ends up a DE. Later, when he is remorseful enough to truly change his life, he does not apologize to anyone. Perhaps he has learned that it does not mean anything. Instead, his actions show that he has changed and that he is sorry for what he did.

2. The rejected apology scene is a memory similarly painful to Snape as the Worst Memory or perhaps it is part of his Worst Memory. He tried to apologize but he was refused. He will not try again because he can't do it again. He can't go to Lily's son saying "I'm sorry" because he remembers the contempt with which Lily refused his apology once - and now his guilt is much greater than it was then. So he keeps his remorse to himself (except that he allows Dumbledore to see it) and tries to atone by doing something rather than by talking about his remorse. I can understand why Dumbledore can understand that so well.

BTW, I agree that Dumbledore had a reason to apologize to Aberforth and that Aberforth does not seem to remember such an apology when he talks to Harry. Dumbledore's remorse seems to be even more secret and private than Snape's. Another difference is that the person Dumbledore apparently did not open up to (regarding his remorse) was his own brother, who was also a participant in the incident. One would think it would be easier to approach him with an apology and an attempt of reconciliation than for Snape to approach Harry with an apology and a confession - but perhaps it was not any easier for Dumbledore after all.

I do think Dumbledore was remorseful but I also think Snape was remorseful as well and I think their remorse is especially valuable because each of them dedicated a significant part of his life to atonement.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 7, 2009 3:39 pm (#1385 of 2988)  
Nice post, Julia. I would like to add something about Severus apologizing to Harry. In The Prince's Tale:

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

'For him?' shouted Snape.

This scene occurring so close to the end of Severus's life indicates to me that Severus had no intention of liking Harry, let alone apologizing. He was strictly focused on his regret regarding Lily and, to me, Harry was the personification of Severus's hatred (James) and loss (Lily). He did not consider Harry at all in the equation of redemption. Harry was a means to an end: making sure Lily did not die in vain. His quest was the ultimate apology to Lily and had nothing to do with Harry as a person. What that says about Severus is a personal matter. I would only be sad about it if Harry had not come to terms with Severus's journey. But Harry did and for me that makes it wonderful.

The series is ultimately a chronicle of Harry's quest, not Severus's, and upon completion Harry embodied true compassion and understanding in a heroic way. To me, that is the true message.  



Quinn Crockett - Feb 7, 2009 4:31 pm (#1386 of 2988)  
Isn't it Harry who informs the reader (by talking to Aberforth) that Dumbledore was speaking about Ariana in the cave? - No. As I cited earlier, it is Dumbledore himself.

I will never understand why saying that you are remorseful is better evidence that you are indeed remorseful than spending years trying to do the opposite of what you are guilty of at great personal risk and sacrifice. - Once again, it's NOT simply saying the words, "I'm sorry." It's recognizing why the words should be said in the first place. I don't really know how to make this any clearer. And, again, Snape's "great personal sacrifice" wasn't any greater than anyone else's, was it? So it has to be about intent. And, again, I see no evidence at all to indicate that Snape was doing anything out of remorse or guilt or compassion or anything other than that he had sworn an oath to Dumbledore to do so.

serious atonement strongly implies that the atoning person is remorseful. - Only if the person is actively trying to atone. I don't see Snape trying to atone.

Later, when he is remorseful enough to truly change his life - This is what I'm talking about. You ascribe this quality of "remorse" to the character when there is no real evidence that it's actually there. His actions do not illustrate remorse. I don't disagree that he feared for the life of someone he cared about. But, as has been pointed out numerous times, the mere fact that, had Voldemort targeted someone else, Snape wouldn't have lifted so much as a fingernail to stop him. And this is to my mind clear proof that Snape was not in the least bit "remorseful" about anything he had done to that point.



Solitaire - Feb 7, 2009 5:09 pm (#1387 of 2988)  
Harry was a means to an end: making sure Lily did not die in vain. His quest was the ultimate apology to Lily and had nothing to do with Harry as a person. What that says about Severus is a personal matter.

Wow, Shadow ... I like that. And I agree ... it is a personal matter. There will never be a consensus on it, IMO. Attempting to force one is unrealistic.

About atonement ... I've always been taught that it involved reconciliation, or the attempt to reconcile, with the one who was wronged. I realize that some definitions simply say it involves making reparation or giving satisfaction. Where the loss of a life is involved, however, it would seem difficult to do this. In the end, it seems that reconciliation with Snape has happened because of Harry. He was the one to put aside the anger and hatred and hostility.

After thinking more about it, I believe that naming their child Albus Severus is done as much to honor Lily's friendship with Snape and his love for her as for Harry's personal feelings about Snape. It is to Harry's credit that he can honor Snape in the end, given their mutual, Snape-induced hostility during Snape's lifetime. JM2K, of course ...



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 5:09 pm (#1388 of 2988)  
He did not consider Harry at all in the equation of redemption. Harry was a means to an end: making sure Lily did not die in vain. His quest was the ultimate apology to Lily and had nothing to do with Harry as a person. (shadow)

I agree. Snape's actions in protecting Harry begin with his remorse for Lily, not for Harry. But don't forget, and we've discussed this before, even though Snape proclaims that it's still all about Lily, that he is only doing stuff for Lily, we know that can't actually be true because he's protecting other people as well, not just Harry.

Isn't it Harry who informs the reader (by talking to Aberforth) that Dumbledore was speaking about Ariana in the cave?

- No. As I cited earlier, it is Dumbledore himself. (Quinn)


But you're wrong. Dumbledore talks about Arianna quite a bit, but he never says anything like "and you remember in the cave? I was talking about Arianna." That's an assumption that has to be made by the reader. Like I said before, we can imagine that DD could have felt guilty about other stuff in the cave, like the people that died at GG's hands, or even just hallucinations about things that never happened, or worst fears like a boggart effect. We are never told that what DD was talking about in the Cave was his feelings about Arianna's death. That's a literary connection that has to be made by the reader. Indeed it is literary logic. But in the same way, Snape's remorse is literary logic as well.

You can't say it all has to be laid out explicitly on the page and then claim that we know DD was talking about Arianna in the cave, because we can't know that without depending on the literary themes and logic which isn't something laid out on the page.  



Quinn Crockett - Feb 7, 2009 5:16 pm (#1389 of 2988)  
You can't say it all has to be laid out explicitly on the page and then claim that we know DD was talking about Arianna in the cave
First of all, I can say whatever I please.
Secondly, I didn't say "it all has to be laid out explicitly on the page". I said the author needed to make it clear. NOT the same thing.


Snape's remorse is literary logic as well - Not really. Dumbledore is shown to be exceedingly upset about something at some point in the story. Later, the author follows this up by having him fully explain what he was feeling at that time. With Snape there is no such discussion, no such allusion, no such indication that Snape ever felt anything apart from either a sense of duty to Dumbledore or the same old hatreds of his old schoolboy grudge. A pretty flat character he turned out to be, actually.



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 5:42 pm (#1390 of 2988)  
Solitaire,

I wanted to address your comment on the Dumbledore thread about the degree of Snape's remorse.

I still have a big question mark over his true remorse, given his initial willingness to sacrifice Harry and James. (Solitiare)


I don't for a moment think that Snape's remorse was exactly the same from the moment he decided to run to DD to his death.

When he first heard that LV was targeting the Potters, I imagine his first thought was simply, "what have I done?!" He first begged LV to spare Lily. Of course, regardless of DD's disgust, this was clearly the first immediate thing to do, since it would be not only pointless to beg for James and Harry's lives, it might ruin any chance of getting LV to agree to something regarding Lily. But Snape wasn't thinking about James and Harry at all. We've discussed this quite a bit. I tend to think it's perfectly natural for a person to primarily consider the life of the person they love, perhaps to the exclusion of all others, when that person's life is in peril.

Anyway, after begging for Lily's life, Snape quickly decided that LV's assurances weren't worth anything.

Why would Snape think that? Wasn't this his lord and master? Didn't he willingly join the DEs? He must have thought highly of LV to join, right? But by the time the Potters were targeted, Snape did not trust LV.

This is important because that means that even before he went to Dumbledore, Snape had already decided that LV was untrustworthy and that his promises to his Death Eaters were meaningless. So he must have already become somewhat disillusioned, or he'd have believed LV about sparing Lily.

Anyway, when he went to DD he wasn't thinking about James and Harry.

But why does this make his remorse questionable? His initial remorse was, I'll grant you, perhaps not as broad as his later remorse.

If Snape didn't think about the deaths of a nameless family (before the Potters were targeted), and if he was not overly concerned with James and Harry dying, we do know that the Snape of HBP would have cared about their deaths -- to the point of even risking his life to save them, as he attempted to do with Lupin in DH.

So if Snape in DH would attempt to save Lupin at risk to his life, then he must have remorse, by that time, of his part in James' death as well. Oh, he still hates James, but if hating Lupin didn't stop him from feeling that he just couldn't stand by and watch him get killed, then he would also have felt the same about James.

Snape's degree of remorse, therefore, must have changed over time. It grew.

He was immediately remorseful that he called Lily a mudblood, but that's because it was Lily. By DH, he didn't want anyone to call anyone else a mudblood.

And then of course, there's what he was willing to do to atone.

At the very first, when the Potter's were first targeted, he was willing to risk his life (as he thought) to go to Dumbledore and take a warning. Within minutes he was willing to promise "anything". However, when Lily died he wanted to give up -- no more atoning, he just wanted to die. Dumbledore said he needed to do more, because there was still Lily's son to be protected. Snape is then willing to stay at Hogwarts and protect Harry. That's not too terribly hard. Until, of course, the end of GOF, when what Snape was willing to do had to grow again. He had to risk possible immediate death and go back to LV.

And then finally, in order to protect someone who had nothing to do with Harry -- Draco -- and to give his mentor a more merciful death, Snape was willing to become a complete pariah to those people he was trying to protect. Ultimately, Snape is willing to die an awful death in order to continue the work to destroy LV, even though the work that Snape had thought he was to do, protect Harry, seemed to have been for naught.

So we see that Snape was willing to increase the degree of atonement over and over again.

Snape's remorse when he first went to DD is not how I measure Snape's remorse. That was clearly only the beginning.

You can't say it all has to be laid out explicitly on the page and then claim that we know DD was talking about Arianna in the cave

First of all, I can say whatever I please.


Well, yes, you can say whatever you please. When I say "you can't say" I generally mean "you can't say thus and such and be following a logical argument."

What you said earlier was:

I am of the "SHOW me, don't tell me" school of storytelling. With the Snape character, Rowling resolves the arc by having Harry tell us what we're supposed to conclude. (Quinn)

And yet you "conclude" that DD was talking about Arianna in the cave. We aren't shown it. It has to be a conclusion drawn from several pieces of information, none of which specifically shows it. yet you claim you can't accept Snape's remorse because we're supposed to conclude it, rather than have it shown.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:58 pm

Solitaire - Feb 7, 2009 5:51 pm (#1391 of 2988)  
Even as Snape ran away from Hogwarts at the end of HBP, he referred to James as "your filthy father." His remorse was all for Lily; His hatred of James was still so strong that it makes me doubt his remorse over James's death. I am not sure how those two emotions can coexist.

I've read all this before, Wynnleaf. Bottom line: I do not believe Snape went to DD because he didn't trust LV. IMO, he only went to DD because he knew Lily would never willingly give up Harry or James to save herself. If he wanted to save Lily, he had to save James and Harry. That was the trade-off.

I still think Shadow has it right: Harry was a means to an end: making sure Lily did not die in vain. His quest was the ultimate apology to Lily and had nothing to do with Harry as a person. And Shadow is right that this is a personal issue that we each see in our own way.

Edit: And yet you (Quinn) "conclude" that DD was talking about Arianna in the cave. We aren't shown it.

We are told by Harry when he is talking to Aberforth, in DH. And I think we understand it still more when DD tells his tale in King's Cross Station. We can't know it back in the cave, because we do not have the info about Dumbledore and Ariana until the next book. But I think it is clear, in retrospect, that he was pleading for the lives of Aberforth and Ariana.



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 5:55 pm (#1392 of 2988)  
I do not believe Snape went to DD because he didn't trust LV. IMO, he only went to DD because he knew Lily would never willingly give up Harry or James to save herself. If he wanted to save Lily, he had to save James and Harry. (Solitaire)

Even if you were right, that does not speak to the issue of whether or not Snape's remorse grew.

Do you think that the Snape who was unwilling to allow a man he hated to be killed (Lupin), would have felt the same way about James? I'm speaking of the changed Snape, not 20 year old Snape.

In other words, by the time of HBP and DH, Snape did care about the lives of others. So he would have to view his past un concern somewhat differently.

And Shadow is right that this is a personal issue that we each see in our own way. (Solitaire)

Well, yes, that's pretty clear. But if everybody on this thread really thought this was purely a personal issue and we didn't want to discuss our differences, we'd be highly unlikely to keep talking about it for so long with a bunch of people who believe so differently.



Solitaire - Feb 7, 2009 6:07 pm (#1393 of 2988)  
if everybody on this thread really thought this was purely a personal issue and we didn't want to discuss our differences, we'd be highly unlikely to keep talking about it for so long with a bunch of people who believe so differently.

On the contrary ... I suspect some posters are lawyers, because they attempt to make everyone see things their way. Alas, many readers bring a lot of personal baggage to the literature they read. It is how so many of us come to identify so strongly with some characters and how we develop such intense dislike (and even hatred) for others. Eventually, some people will get tired and stop posting on Snape's thread. I do not believe I posted more than once or twice on two entire threads. I got tired of the bickering and insistence by some that they were right and anyone who differed with them was wrong.  

But those who like Snape (or like discussing him) needn't despair ... Even though Snape's thread may lie cold for a month or two, some new HP fans will roll in and the whole round will begin again. It's happened before!



severusisn'tevil - Feb 7, 2009 6:11 pm (#1394 of 2988)  
Yes, wynnleaf, thank you. In my own humble opinion, that one piece of evidence is both greatly important and generally overlooked. I would like to ask you directly, Quinn Crockett, if we see him in a rose-tinted light or. . . what was it "imbue him with virtues he does not have" why did he attempt to save Remus? Yes, we know it cost George an ear, but that was not the intention. Why would he try to save Remus when he hated him? Why, when he had potentially much to lose by such an action and nothing to gain (given that everyone in the Order believed him an evil murderer and the DEs believed him loyal to LV.

Because, you see, it is not only Harry that Severus tries to keep alive. He also tries to help Remus Lupin . Not only did he brew the Wolfsbane in PoA, something I doubt will impress you since it was on "DD's orders", but, as Remus himself says, "he could have wreaked far greater havoc on me by sabotaging the potion" (HBP)

So, have at it, Quinn, I'm sure you have multiple reasons that he did it that fit into the "Snape is a power-hungry jerk with no morals and a static, cop-out story arc" logic. With respect, you want to be shown actions of Severus's that demonstrate morals: well, I don't see any better an illustration of morals than trying to help someone you hate. Because if hatred enters the equation, it is difficult to claim that it is simply out of narrow deep devotion or anything of the kind. Then, you truly are doing it because it is the "right and moral" thing to do.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 7, 2009 6:12 pm (#1395 of 2988)  
And yet you "conclude" that DD was talking about Arianna in the cave. We aren't shown it - Then what was Dumbledore crying about at King's Cross? The author makes this VERY clear, in my view. Snape, not so much.

Do you think that the Snape who was unwilling to allow a man he hated to be killed (Lupin) - Not convinced that's what was going on. Snape was certainly trying to protect Harry. If Lupin had been killed the "Harry" on his broom might have fallen to his death. What if that was the real Harry?

ETA: I don't agree that Snape "hated" Lupin. Lupin was a non factor in his schoolboy grudge, his actions in the shrieking shack notwithstanding. He never once mentions Lupin by name, only James or Sirius.

And by the way I'm getting pretty sick and tired of being called out by the Saint Severus camp!! If you disagree with my interpretation of this character that's perfectly fine. But I will not be ordered to provide the reasons for my opinion (I have done that anyway) and I certainly would never demand such a thing of anyone else unless I thought it was so completely out of left field and I wanted to understand why people felt that way.

Not only did he brew the Wolfsbane in PoA, something I doubt will impress you since it was on "DD's orders", but, as Remus himself says, "he could have wreaked far greater havoc on me by sabotaging the potion" (HBP) - You're right. It doesn't impress me because a) it was his freakin' job to brew potions and b) yeah, it was on Dumbledore's orders. Besides, I seriously doubt Snape would ever have done anything that might get him a one way ticket to Azkaban so Lupin was never in any danger on that score.



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 6:23 pm (#1396 of 2988)  
I think any of us can get tired of any particular topic over time and we've gone on and on over the remorse issue for quite some time now.

But as I said, the fact that so many were willing to go so long about it, and trying to convince others (in some cases) of their viewpoint, shows that people actually do want to talk about it. I agree that our personal baggage has a lot to do with what topics and characters interest us. It probably also has a lot to do with why we hold certain views and why many of us argue quite strongly for those views.

In this particular case, I don't really think it's just Snape's character that is driving the discussion, but differing views on remorse and atonement, which to some degree or another affect all of us, because I'm fairly sure that there is no one among us that hasn't been remorseful about something.

Obviously, our differing views are personal and are affected by our individual baggage, our ethical or religious beliefs, our experiences with our own remorse as well as the remorse of others, etc. Often that baggage, those beliefs, and those past experiences are highly important to us, and this could explain why a discussion on the remorse of Snape has continued so long.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 7, 2009 6:40 pm (#1397 of 2988)  
And by the way I'm getting pretty sick and tired of being called out by the Saint Severus camp!! If you disagree with my interpretation of this character that's perfectly fine. But I will not be ordered to provide the reasons for my opinion - Quinn C.

I think folks "call you out" because of your hard line, Quinn. It goes along with the territory. I'm not judging you, just observing. Most people soften their "line" when discussing things, but this seems less like a discussion and more like a debate bordering on a full blown argument. To me this is where "baggage" comes in and is not such a bad thing!

What is baggage but holding a perspective based on past experience? Then, to me the point of art is to ponder it through that "baggage" filter in order to change and grow. Now, if one continually uses the same reactions to dig heels more firmly into the ground of a belief/rationalisation/polarity, it might be counter-productive. But "baggage" makes us who we are and provides us with a foundation. Without it, we'd be like the droid army in Star Wars.  

If I may pose a "for instance": I relate to and sympathise with Severus because of my experiences with people who he reminds me of. I have come to feel sorry for said people and this is reflected in my feelings toward the character.

Perhaps folks who do not sympathise with him also had experiences with people who he reminds them of, and those people are still on their sh*t list. This is really why I said it is personal, not the obvious reason. Could be a brother-in-law who was abusive to your sister or, growing up, a neighbor who all the kids in the area are afraid of.

Just a thought about turning this discussion to something constructive...?

edited for clarity



wynnleaf - Feb 7, 2009 6:49 pm (#1398 of 2988)  
By the way, since the scene where Snape tried to save Lupin's life was brought up, here's a question.

How did DD and Snape know it was George who got his ear injured??

As for whether Snape knew that it wasn't Harry flying with Lupin, it seems most likely that George was injured after Harry had already been identified by his use of Expelliarmus. Not only did several DEs comment that "he's the one" (or something like that), but the news about which one was Harry was clear because LV went after the correct Harry.

Harry and Hagrid get to the Burrow well before Lupin and George. And while Harry was still in the air with the other Order members, prior to using Expelliarmus and IDing himself, he did not see George hit.

So it seems most likely that Snape fired in an attempt to protect Lupin well after the real Harry had already been identified. Which means he wasn't trying to protect Harry when he tried to save Lupin.

And of course Snape detested Lupin. He distrusted him, argued with Dumbledore about hiring him, was insulting of him and tried to get the students to figure out he was a werewolf, which would have forced him to quit. What would he do that for if he didn't loath him?



mona amon - Feb 8, 2009 3:12 am (#1399 of 2988)  
Assuming that DD apologized to Aberforth or acted better toward him is giving him an assumption of acting in remorse that we don't actually see on the page. You are assuming that it is Aberforth who is unforgiving, based on yet another assumption that DD tried to make amends to Aberforth. (Wynnleaf #1374)

But at least there is some room for speculation. In Snape's case we know for certain that he did not do it. But I'm not really sure that those two brothers actually sat and talked about their sister's death. There are signs of something unresolved in the way they hold on to their grief and guilt for almost a century. So perhaps Dumbledore too wasn't so good at facing his guilt and moving on.

However, we are given a direct picture of his remorse, as others have pointed out. First, his ravings when he drinks the inferi cave potion, followed by Harry explaining that scene to Aberforth to make him realise that Albus felt that incident just as strongly as he did. Then we have Albus putting on the cursed ring so that he can say how sorry he was, and finally the scene in Kingcross, where he explains in detail to Harry how remorseful he is about this and other things. Sure he's dead, but it's his soul that's talking to Harry's soul, or whatever, so that should be good enough. It is not indicated anywhere that he felt sorry only after he died.

It's not Snape apologizing in and of itself that is important. It's that if Snape had apologized to Harry it would have shown definitively that Snape had finally made the connection between his own actions and the consequences they had for others - how his actions had harmed others. It would also have shown that Snape had finally been able to face the reality of his own personal hang ups rather than simply taking out his old grudges on those who had absolutely nothing to do with them. An apology doesn't mean Snape is absolved of responsibility. On the contrary, it means he has accepted it. (Quinn)

Well said, Quinn. I can completely agree with this, though I don't agree that there was no remorse. BTW, thanks for replying to my question.

I feel that Snape's remorse was a direct and automatic result of his switching from an evil leader to one who was the 'epitome of goodness'. By doing so he was 'reformed'. He changed from DE to loyal member of the Order of the Phoenix, and that's such a complete change that I feel I am justified in using the term 'reformed'. There is an element of remorse in reformation, because why would a person change unless they felt sorry about following the old path?

Still, we never get to see just how much remorse he felt, or what the remorse was about. We know he was sorry about causing Lily's death. Was he ever sorry about James? Did he realise the full extent of his culpability in being the loyal follower of one who was murdering and torturing people?

Alas, many readers bring a lot of personal baggage to the literature they read. It is how so many of us come to identify so strongly with some characters and how we develop such intense dislike (and even hatred) for others. (Soli)

I don't think all the people who like Snape necessarily identify with him. At least I don't, although I'm most certainly a 'Snapophile'. It's nothing to do with personal baggage. I'm not like Snape, my experiences were nothing like his (except for one or two small things like not being good at sports), and I don't even know anyone like Snape, except for one snarky, mean teacher in school whom I did not like. I love Severus because he is a magnificent creation by his author, grand, heroic, tragic, and convincingly real.



Solitaire - Feb 8, 2009 12:09 pm (#1400 of 2988)  
perhaps Dumbledore too wasn't so good at facing his guilt and moving on.
I think he moved on in spite of his guilt. He may have tried to bury it, but in my mind, there is no doubt that it haunted him--either consciously or subconsciously--or he would not have put on the Resurrection Stone ring or behaved as he did in the cave.



wynnleaf - Feb 8, 2009 2:26 pm (#1401 of 2988)  
However, we are given a direct picture of his remorse, as others have pointed out. First, his ravings when he drinks the inferi cave potion, followed by Harry explaining that scene to Aberforth to make him realise that Albus felt that incident just as strongly as he did. (mona amon)

Harry doesn't know for sure what DD was hallucinating about in the Cave. And at that point, he hadn't even talked to DD about it. It's really exactly what the reader is doing: basically thinking that the cave incident must have been over something DD felt bad about so, since Aberforth tells about a Really Bad thing in DD's past, this simply must be what DD was thinking of. It may be, but it's still an assumption that we have to make. We make the correlation because it's literature and we think it makes literary sense. It does make literary sense, just like it makes literary sense that Snape was remorseful. But it's not actual evidence like one might seek in real life.

If it were real life, suppose you were with a person who was hallucinating and they went on and on about some unknown thing that they felt really bad about. Then you meet their brother a year later and he tells you that 100 years before they were involved in a Very Bad incident. Would you automatically assume "I bet that's what the hallucation was about!" Why? With 100 years of stuff in between would you assume that?

The point is, the reader believes it because it makes literary sense that if JKR showed us DD all upset in a potion induced hallucination, and later in the next book his brother tells us about Arianna's death, then JKR is probably letting us know that DD was having flashbacks about Arianna that night in the cave.

We think it because we believe (rightly) that JKR is trying to make us draw that conclusion. We don't think it because JKR has us learn it for a fact. Harry making that assumption tells us nothing were it not for the fact that it makes such literary sense. Harry, after all, makes a lot of connections that turn out to be incorrect. Like assuming Snape hated Lily, for instance. The reader doesn't believe Harry because Harry is always right and therefore must be correct. The reader believes Harry's assumption (and it's an assumption) because it makes literary sense that JKR would draw a line between the cave hallucinations and Arianna's death.

Yet even though we can be fairly certain JKR wants to use The Prince's Tale to show us Snape's remorse, you reject that literary sequence and themes, because you don't have evidence that goes beyond "literary logic".

If a reader is going to accept literary logic that JKR is showing us DD's remorse for Arianna in the cave, why not accept the same logic that JKR is showing us Snape's remorse in The Prince's Tale?



Julia H. - Feb 8, 2009 2:43 pm (#1402 of 2988)  
Once again, it's NOT simply saying the words, "I'm sorry." It's recognizing why the words should be said in the first place. I don't really know how to make this any clearer. (Quinn)

I agree that recognizing why the words should be said is what counts. I can even accept the opinion that it would have been right if Snape had said those words. But I don't agree that recognizing and accepting your guilt is necessarily followed by saying it aloud and I don't agree that verbalizing one's remorse is the only possible evidence that the remorse exists. I don't even agree that saying that one is remorseful necessarily means the person is indeed remorseful.

"I wish to be of use to the Ministry. I wish to help. ...I am eager to assist in any way I can..." ... "He preferred that we -I mean to say his supporters - and I regret now, very deeply, that I ever counted myself among them -" ... "I give this information as a sign that I fully and totally renounce him, and I am filled with a remorse so deep I can barely -"

I find it quite likely that the contrast between this loudly expressed remorse(?) and Snape's silent remorse is intentional. I don't know, of course, if it is intentional, but I find the contrast very insightful. When the traffic on the road to Damascus is generally heavy, nothing is easier than saying how deeply you regret and how remorseful you are, even if you only want to save yourself. If Snape was not remorseful and did not try to atone, then he had some other reason to fight and to die for the light side, but he still fought and died for the light side and in my eyes it is in itself worth a thousand times more than whatever Karkaroff said or did or thought by way of remorse.

Accepting your guilt is an internal process. It may or may not be followed by saying it aloud. It must be felt. Snape does not say it aloud, and nor does Dumbledore until after his death. JKR chooses not to let the reader look directly into Snape's thoughts but she shows us what Snape has done as evidence of remorse and atonement.

Dumbledore is shown to be exceedingly upset about something at some point in the story.

Snape is shown to be exceedingly upset about something at several points of the story. When he gives Harry his memories - in moments when he quite literally cannot speak any more, nor does he have much time left - it is worth a confession.

And, again, Snape's "great personal sacrifice" wasn't any greater than anyone else's, was it?

I don't want to start a debate about that, so I'm only saying that whatever others did or did not do have nothing to do with Snape's remorse or any other motivation.

You ascribe this quality of "remorse" to the character when there is no real evidence that it's actually there. His actions do not illustrate remorse.

Apparently, I am not the only one to ascribe this quality to the character and I do think his actions illustrate remorse.

I don't disagree that he feared for the life of someone he cared about. But, as has been pointed out numerous times, the mere fact that, had Voldemort targeted someone else, Snape wouldn't have lifted so much as a fingernail to stop him. And this is to my mind clear proof that Snape was not in the least bit "remorseful" about anything he had done to that point.

I suppose now you are talking about Snape on the hilltop. I think at this point he felt remorse about putting Lily into mortal danger, that is all. It is, however, only the starting point. His later actions illustrate much broader remorse as his atonement is becoming broader as well.

And, again, I see no evidence at all to indicate that Snape was doing anything out of remorse or guilt or compassion or anything other than that he had sworn an oath to Dumbledore to do so.

Snape does not simply fight against the Dark side. He fights in such a way that it sometimes seems to be self-punishment. He agrees to do jobs that I sometimes think no self-respecting person would agree to do. I find it absolutely possible that there is an "I deserve it" - type of attitude behind it.

In the HBP-year, Dumbledore has been Snape's boss and mentor and "secret-keeper" for many years. I guess he knows him pretty well. He says Snape was remorseful and that was the reason why he returned. I count that - as well as Snape's actions - as evidence that Snape did feel remorse:

Snape does not tell Harry he is remorseful but the character who knows him best in the whole world of HP says exactly that (and it is never indicated that he is wrong). Also, Snape does various things that can be very well explained as atonement because they are directly related to his guilt and because they are self-sacrificing and self-punishing in nature. He does things that reflect radically different values from what his actions reflected earlier. We see him truly distressed at certain points in his life and we see him being a generally unhappy man - emotions fairly compatible with remorse. At one point he himself points out to his mentor that he has changed, indicating that he understands the importance of this change.

So we are both shown and told that Snape is remorseful. I find the evidence absolutely convincing.



Julia H. - Feb 8, 2009 3:42 pm (#1403 of 2988)  
Now let me play with the idea that Snape's only motivation may have been that he had sworn an oath to Dumbledore, as Quinn suggests.

First of all, I have a question: How do we know that Snape was ever motivated by his promises? Does he ever say or otherwise explain that keeping his word is important to him? Does he ever say "I'll do this because I promised"? After all, we know Death Eaters swear "eternal loyalty" to Voldemort (who himself says that in GoF) and Snape apparently broke this vow. Do not misunderstand me: I do think Snape proves himself to be a man of his word. But how do we know this if not from his actions only? And what evidence can we find that Snape's actions were any more motivated by his promises than by remorse?

Quinn, I hope you don't mind my asking these questions. Of course, I am not ordering you to answer, only expressing my curiosity, which you are completely free to ignore.

Here is the "Snape is only motivated by his promise" scenario, as I see it:

What did Snape promise? To start with, he promised "anything". Why? Because he asked Dumbledore to save Lily. I think most of you will agree that at this point, Snape is only interested in saving Lily. Dumbledore fails to protect Lily. If Snape is only interested in Lily and feels no remorse about his own actions, then he will quite logically feel himself free of his promise, since Dumbledore did not "deliver" his part of the deal (Lily's safety). So if Lily is dead and Snape is not remorseful, he has no reason to feel any obligation now.

Then, for some mysterious reason, Snape makes another promise: To help protect Harry Potter. He wants to keep his word, so he will protect Harry when the time comes. He does not only watch over him during a Quidditch game, he also agrees to be a spy again at great personal risk to help protect Harry. But then he is suddenly asked by Dumbledore to kill him. Why? To help an old man avoid pain and humiliation... Harry is not mentioned. Snape never promised that he would help Dumbledore avoid pain and humiliation. He never promised that, for Dumbledore's sake, or with the purpose of saving Draco's life (he will only promise to watch over Draco later), he would throw away his home, his reputation, his comfortable job, and would endanger his own life and soul and would risk going down history as a cowardly traitor and the murderer of a disarmed, injured, old man, his own protector. Snape's original promise did not include any of that.

Yes, Dumbledore makes him promise it now - but why does he promise? This time, it is not about Lily's life and surely not about any advantage for himself. He does not need to make such a terrible promise and yet he does. He also makes a promise to protect the students of Hogwarts. Supposedly, he will only protect them because he has promised. But again, he does not need to make this promise. He could say, "Wait a minute, in a moment of weakness, I promised to protect Harry Potter, but nobody else. Sorry, it is enough for me."

Still later, Dumbledore tells him to inform Harry that he would have to die. This order has nothing to do with protecting Harry Potter, in fact, it is just the opposite. At this point, he could say "I promised to protect him. I do everything because I promised. Ask someone else to break this bad news to him because it is contrary to my promise to you." But that is not what Snape says. He dies to carry out this order. Why?

Then again, I have a few more thoughts on keeping promises. Being as good as one's word is basically an admirable quality. Snape keeps his promises admirably - but remember, not all of his promises, because he breaks his vow to Voldemort. At this point in his life, he is a traitor, too. That is generally a negative quality. Still, by turning away from Voldemort and breaking his promise of eternal loyalty to him, Snape does the right thing, or, more precisely, he is putting right the wrong that he made that vow to him at all. Breaking his promise now is better than keeping it because the promise involved something bad, immoral. Keeping his promises to Dumbledore is not only admirable because he is keeping his promises, but because what he promised was also right.

Suppose Snape keeps his vow to Voldemort just because he made that vow and he is motivated by wanting to keep his word. Suppose (I am not saying this is what happened), he made that vow without knowing anything about how evil Voldmort was but nevertheless he keeps his vow even when he sees it, because he does not want to break his promise. So he dutifully carries out Voldemort's orders for the rest of his life. Would the fact that he was only keeping a promise absolve him of the guilt of killing or torturing people? I don't think so.

Similarly, even if Snape did "only" what he promised to do by following some of Dumbledore's orders, it does not mean those actions do not have moral values of their own, because they do. Keeping one's promise has an inherent value but promising the right thing is a part of this value. Even if you do only what you have promised, you are responsible for what you do and what you have promised - if it is bad, you share the blame, if it is good, it goes to your credit.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 8, 2009 3:53 pm (#1404 of 2988)  
Harry doesn't know for sure what DD was hallucinating about in the Cave. - First of all, it is your assumption that he was "hallucinating". For Dumbledore, the potion may have acted as a sort of internal pensieve where he was literally seeing what had happened all those years ago as they had actually happened. That was certainly the way I viewed it.

It's really exactly what the reader is doing: basically thinking that the cave incident must have been over something DD felt bad about - But the point is that Dumbledore did "feel bad" although that's putting it rather mildly.

It does make literary sense, just like it makes literary sense that Snape was remorseful. - How so? We have hardly anything to show how Snape actually felt about anything he was actually doing for the Order/Dumbledore. And even when we do see him actually "feel bad" about anything, it's only ever his own selfish sense of loss. Not really the same thing as "remorse".

Yet even though we can be fairly certain JKR wants to use The Prince's Tale to show us Snape's remorse, you reject that literary sequence and themes, because you don't have evidence that goes beyond "literary logic". - I reject it because there is no literary logic to it. It is poorly written if that were truly her intent.

Accepting your guilt is an internal process. It may or may not be followed by saying it aloud. It must be felt. Snape does not say it aloud - Right. Therefore all we have to go on are his actions. And none of his actions ever suggest anything like remorse. Loyalty? Sure. Fidelity? I'll buy that. Duty? Certainly. But remorse? Not at all.

JKR chooses not to let the reader look directly into Snape's thoughts but she shows us what Snape has done as evidence of remorse and atonement. - No, she shows us what he has done as evidence of his loyalty to Dumbledore.

He fights in such a way that it sometimes seems to be self-punishment. - Again you are ascribing a quality that there is nothing to indicate the character possesses. In fact, I would say that Snape enjoys being in such a critical position. He gets to use all those talents he's honed.

Snape does not simply fight against the Dark side - Actually, as far as I can see, he never does any actual "fighting". Except with Sirius and Harry.

He agrees to do jobs that I sometimes think no self-respecting person would agree to do. - Like what, exactly?

I find it absolutely possible that there is an "I deserve it" - type of attitude behind it. - Are we still talking about Snape here? Because when does Snape ever accept responsibility for anything? It's always someone else's fault. Even when he insults his best friend with a bigoted comment, his "apology" (the only one we'll ever see, by the way) is "I didn't mean to." In other words, "It wasn't my fault."

[Dumbledore] says Snape was remorseful and that was the reason why he returned. - Yes, well, Dumbledore also had no idea the Marauders were sneaking out for monthly excursions, let alone that they were Animagi. He was also fooled by Crouch Jr's Mad Eye disguise until literally the last possible moment. He was wrong about Sirius, believing, along with everyone else, that he had been Voldemort's spy. And he apparently had no idea that the Slytherin monster was "a great dirty snake" at first. Dumbledore can be fooled, can be wrong. Has been wrong.

we see him being a generally unhappy man - But he was exactly the same as a boy. Just as caustic and hateful as he was 30 years later. So clearly his demeanor is completely unrelated to any kind of remorse.



Julia H. - Feb 8, 2009 4:39 pm (#1405 of 2988)  
And none of his actions ever suggest anything like remorse. Loyalty? Sure. Fidelity? I'll buy that. Duty? Certainly. But remorse? Not at all.

But why did Snape start it all? Why was he loyal when it was such a difficult job what Dumbledore asked him to do? Why did he think any of what he did for Dumbledore was his duty? And why do you think his actions do not suggest remorse?

Again you are ascribing a quality that there is nothing to indicate the character possesses. In fact, I would say that Snape enjoys being in such a critical position. He gets to use all those talents he's honed.

Well, I also base my interpretation on the HP books. Tell me, please, how do we know Snape enjoys being in that critical position? Does he enjoy killing Dumbledore? Does he enjoy being a pariah among the people he fights for? Does he enjoy being chased away from his home? Does he enjoy risking his life in several ways? What makes you think that? I have given you the reasons why I think Snape is remorseful, and I'm curious about the reasons why you think he actually enjoys these things.

He agrees to do jobs that I sometimes think no self-respecting person would agree to do.

- Like what, exactly?


Like acting like a faithful DE. Like role-playing a cowardly traitor and a murderer for everyone to believe. Like risking Azkaban for a crime he did not commit. Like pretending to be a collaborator with the Voldemort regime among the people he fights for. (And yes, I will use this word to describe what Snape does. You need not agree.)

I find it absolutely possible that there is an "I deserve it" - type of attitude behind it.

- Are we still talking about Snape here?


Yes, because it cannot be easy (let alone enjoyable) to willingly and knowingly put up with people's contempt and hatred directly for something you do with the best of intentions. To put up with a freshly increased sense of guilt when you have finally left behind your truly guilty past. To do something incredibly brave while seeming to be doing something incredibly cowardly. To just risk your life, soul and freedom innocently because someone has asked you to do so. But I am not saying Snape was necessarily punishing himself, only that it may have played a part. But he must have had some reason to do all that.

Dumbledore can be fooled, can be wrong. Has been wrong.

How do we know that he was wrong in the examples you mention? Because we, the readers, find out that he was wrong. However, we do not find out he was ever wrong about Snape. We do not find out Snape (who, as you say, was extremely loyal to him) ever fooled his mentor and his protector.



rambkowalczyk - Feb 8, 2009 6:41 pm (#1406 of 2988)  
What if Snape had learned that Voldemort was targeting Mrs. Longbottom and Neville (or even Molly and Ron)? Would he have gone to Dumbledore then? If the answer is no, it wouldn't have bothered him if some other innocent mother and child were threatened (or killed), then I must ask ... was it really remorse? Again, just asking ... Solitaire

Yes, I think so. Dumbledore in book 5 makes the point that it's easy to do nothing if people you don't know are going to be hurt. (He was talking about the possibility of never telling Harry what he had to do).

Dumbledore was all set to be with Grindelwald until Arianna got hurt. Seeing death up close opened Dumbledore's eyes about what was wrong with Grindelwald's plan. Would Dumbledore have followed (or cooperated) with Grindelwald if nameless people have died? I think it's possible that the answer is yes as there were many intellectuals who supported Hitler because they chose not to believe the truth about what was happening to people they didn't know or care about.

In Snape's case it was Lily's life in danger that made Snape question what was going on. I know you probably don't see it that way. I believe you see it similar to Narcissa. She only wants to save her family but doesn't care much about the rest of the world.

I see a gradual acceptance of Harry in book 5 when Snape starts to teach Harry Occlumency lesson. I think when he sees Harry's memories, he questions his assumptions that Harry is just like his father.

Unfortunately all this gets shattered when he sees Harry at the pensieve. There I think he feels betrayed and all the hurt that he experienced comes back.

enough rambling.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 8, 2009 7:00 pm (#1407 of 2988)  
Like role-playing a cowardly traitor and a murderer for everyone to believe. - Was it really so much of a stretch? I think the main point is that it was all too easy for people to accept his seeming betrayal for a reason. And that reason is because he had never demonstrated remorse for his past. He had never made amends for his past. Again, it's Snape's own behavior he has to blame for this, NOT other people's failure to fully accept him.

Does he enjoy risking his life in several ways? - Again, what ways - plural - exactly? He is a spy. Other than that, what?

Yes, because it cannot be easy (let alone enjoyable) to willingly and knowingly put up with people's contempt and hatred directly for something you do with the best of intentions. - And once gain, it didn't have to be like that. He chose not to make amends with people, not to treat people respectfully or compassionately. If you're going to be a (insert euphemism here) to people all the time, you don't get the luxury of feeling hurt when nobody's too upset about seeing the back of you for the last time.



mona amon - Feb 8, 2009 9:27 pm (#1408 of 2988)  
I think he moved on in spite of his guilt. He may have tried to bury it, but in my mind, there is no doubt that it haunted him--either consciously or subconsciously--or he would not have put on the Resurrection Stone ring or behaved as he did in the cave. (Soli)

What I mean is, he never moved on where the Arianna incident was concerned. A hundred years is a long time to keep feeling guilty about something! And he never allowed himself to fall in love again after the the Grindelwald disaster, when he was only 17. But I agree that in general he did move on, unlike Snape.

We make the correlation because it's literature and we think it makes literary sense. It does make literary sense, just like it makes literary sense that Snape was remorseful. But it's not actual evidence like one might seek in real life...[cut]...Yet even though we can be fairly certain JKR wants to use The Prince's Tale to show us Snape's remorse, you reject that literary sequence and themes, because you don't have evidence that goes beyond "literary logic". (Wynnleaf)

Where do we see anything like the inferi cave incident in the Prince's Tale or anywhere else? If there was something there that showed us with this level of certainity that Snape was aware of and remorseful about his whole DE past, I would have so accepted it.

There's not a single one of us here who does not accept that the literary logic of the inferi cave shows us that Dumbledore was remorseful about the Arianna incident. If we do not find the same thing in the Prince's Tale, perhaps the author had an altogether different intention.

In Snape's case it was Lily's life in danger that made Snape question what was going on. (Ramb)

But the question is, did he ever get around to feeling remorseful about James?



Solitaire - Feb 8, 2009 10:41 pm (#1409 of 2988)  
I think there is a difference between not forgetting and not moving on. Dumbldore never forgot his role in his sister's death and his mistakes with Grindelwald ... but he did move on. He was even able to speak without bitterness about Grindelwald, to hope he had learned to feel remorse, and to think that maybe lying about owning the Elder Wand was his way of trying to prevent Voldemort from seeking it. How satisfying it would have been if Snape had been able to muster some forgiveness for Harry ... for the "crimes" of having been born James's son and having lived when his mother had died.



Julia H. - Feb 8, 2009 11:55 pm (#1410 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 9, 2009 12:29 am
Even when he insults his best friend with a bigoted comment, his "apology" (the only one we'll ever see, by the way) is "I didn't mean to." In other words, "It wasn't my fault." (Quinn)

No, he also says "I'm sorry". But you see, here is Snape apologizing, expressing regret about what he did, the very thing you demand the adult Snape should do as the only evidence you are ready to believe that he is indeed remorseful, and here you don't believe in his apology, you don't find it convincing enough. I don't think JKR could have written anything to make you believe Snape is remorseful at any point in his life. For reasons, you have never explained, you don't believe his actions and his sacrifice can imply remorse. You don't believe he is remorseful when he actually apologizes. You think Dumbledore has been fooled by him into believing he is remorseful, even though we see his loyalty to Dumbledore until the end. I think you have made up your mind and no canon evidence can shake your conviction.

Was it really so much of a stretch? I think the main point is that it was all too easy for people to accept his seeming betrayal for a reason. And that reason is because he had never demonstrated remorse for his past. He had never made amends for his past. Again, it's Snape's own behavior he has to blame for this, NOT other people's failure to fully accept him.

I do not blame people for believing Snape was a traitor but I don't think it was because of Snape's faults. It had to be that way for Dumbledore's plan to work. Snape had been seen to kill Dumbledore and leave with the DE's and when such things happen, it is rather difficult to think of the possible good intentions of the murderer. People were rather shocked at the news, by the way. Hagrid did not want to believe it, Slughorn expressed that now he thought he had totally misjudged Snape so far.

Compare Snape's situation with Sirius's 15 years earlier. Sirius, just like Snape, had been believed by everyone (including his friend, Lupin, and other Order members) to be a murderer and a traitor because there seemed to have been witnesses to his "crime". According to your logic, Sirius must also have behaved in a way that made it all too easy for people to accept his seeming betrayal, again including his own friend.

It is not others' fault that they believe Snape is a traitor, nor is it Snape's fault, who agreed to make a huge sacrifice by agreeing to AK Dumbledore. Regardless whether it was easy for others or not, it must have been difficult for Snape and that was my point.

Does he enjoy risking his life in several ways?

- Again, what ways - plural - exactly? He is a spy. Other than that, what?


I mean he risks his life by spying on Voldemort and by making the other side believe he is a traitor. If Voldemort finds out the truth, Snape is dead. If Order members do not find out the truth, Snape can easily be killed by one of them (which nearly happens). If Voldemort wins, he will likely discover Snape's true allegiance. If the good side wins, Snape might end up in Azkaban. I still don't know whether you think Snape enjoyed any of this and if you think he did, what exactly in canon makes you think that.

Yes, because it cannot be easy (let alone enjoyable) to willingly and knowingly put up with people's contempt and hatred directly for something you do with the best of intentions.

- And once gain, it didn't have to be like that. He chose not to make amends with people, not to treat people respectfully or compassionately. If you're going to be a (insert euphemism here) to people all the time, you don't get the luxury of feeling hurt when nobody's too upset about seeing the back of you for the last time.


But I was not speaking about not treating people respectfully. I was talking about killing Dumbledore and putting up with people's hatred and contempt because of that. It is not about feeling "hurt". It is about giving up everything you have, including your place in the society of respectable people.

Quinn, you are portraying Snape as essentially a bad guy who does not understand right and wrong and who is unable to make moral decisions and who, due to some strange accident, ends up making a few promises to a good guy and, as a result, does good things at great personal risk and sacrifice (though I'm not sure you acknowledge there was any risk or sacrifice in it for him) and finally dies for a good cause just because of those promises. My question to you and to anyone else who is interested in answering is this:

Why would this bad guy with no understanding of morality want to keep his promises when keeping them becomes very difficult and absolutely dangerous for him, even when he loses much more than what he can gain by keeping them? If, due to this complete lack of a moral sense, he cannot make the connection between his own actions and their obvious consequences, then how can he make the connection between giving a promise and the necessity to keep the same promise?

He was even able to speak without bitterness about Grindelwald, to hope he had learned to feel remorse, and to think that maybe lying about owning the Elder Wand was his way of trying to prevent Voldemort from seeking it. (Solitaire)

But only after his death. Snape died looking into Harry's eyes. If Dumbledore can open up beyond the veil (something he could not do in his life), Snape might be able to do the same.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 9, 2009 12:25 am (#1411 of 2988)  
If Dumbledore can open up beyond the veil (something he could not do in his life), Snape might be able to do the same. - Julia

As soon as I read this last bit of your post, I tried to imagine Severus, after death, opening up to someone about his experience from the time he went to DD until his death "nineteen years later". I just can't imagine him opening up, because I see him as ultimately unable to get past what happened to Lily, what he did to Lily. This, I feel, is at the core of why JKR made Severus the way he is, undemonstrative and ambiguous in his remorse. DD was able to open up at King's Cross. Severus I see as, sadly, almost imploding. The one and only person I see him opening up to is Lily, begging for her forgiveness. I assume that is possible in the post-life WW.



Julia H. - Feb 9, 2009 1:06 am (#1412 of 2988)  
The one and only person I see him opening up to is Lily, begging for her forgiveness.

As far as we know, DD opens up to one person after his death. Isn't it enough if Snape can open up to Lily? I can imagine it perfectly. What I meant to say is Dumbledore was even able to speak without bitterness about Grindelwald, to hope he had learned to feel remorse, and to think that maybe lying about owning the Elder Wand was his way of trying to prevent Voldemort from seeking it only after his death. How satisfying it would have been if Snape had been able to muster some forgiveness for Harry... Sure it would have been. But here the living Snape is compared to the dead Dumbledore because Dumbledore did not do the above-mentioned things while he was alive.



Solitaire - Feb 9, 2009 3:30 am (#1413 of 2988)  
Julia, I think this is what people are talking about: Because of Dumbledore's demeanor to people while he is alive, it isn't a stretch to imagine that he had let go of any bitterness toward Grindelwald long ago. Because of Snape's demeanor to Harry while he is alive, it is pretty clear that he still harbored bitterness toward Harry, possibly until that very moment of his death. Even if Snape did ask Lily for forgiveness in death, well, he is the one who committed the transgression against her. It is his inability to forgive Harry (who never did anything to incur his wrath in the first place) that puts him in a different category from DD ... in my opinion. It is Snape's own behavior that renders some people unable to "cut him the same slack as Dumbledore," as someone posted some time ago.



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 9, 2009 4:37 am (#1414 of 2988)  
No, he also says "I'm sorry". But you see, here is Snape apologizing, expressing regret about what he did, the very thing you demand the adult Snape should do as the only evidence you are ready to believe that he is indeed remorseful, and here you don't believe in his apology, you don't find it convincing enough.-- Julia H.

I know you are addressing Quinn, but I wanted to point out that Lily rejects the apology, for the exact same reason some people doubt his sincere remorse. As Lily points out to Severus, he is only sorry about hurting Lily, not about the other people he has harmed by using that word. For Lily, such narrow remorse is not good enough.



Julia H. - Feb 9, 2009 6:00 am (#1415 of 2988)  
I know you are addressing Quinn, but I wanted to point out that Lily rejects the apology, for the exact same reason some people doubt his sincere remorse. (Mrs Brisbee)

The point I was trying to make was not why Lily rejected Snape's apology. This is what Quinn said in post #1378: It's that if Snape had apologized to Harry it would have shown definitively that Snape had finally made the connection between his own actions and the consequences they had for others - how his actions had harmed others... An apology doesn't mean Snape is absolved of responsibility. On the contrary, it means he has accepted it.

As it is, Snape apologizes to Lily early on. That, according to Quinn's words above, should show that Snape has made the connection between his actions and their consequences and that he has accepted his responsibility. Yet, post #1404 by Quinn implies that Quinn does not think Snape's apology is convincing evidence regarding remorse or accepting his guilt.

As you, Mrs Brisbee, point out, Lily does not find this apology good enough either. I suppose even the author may intend the reader to conclude that a verbal apology is not enough to redeem a character, that saying you are sorry is too little, too late. This message seems to be confirmed by Karkaroff's empty apologies and by Hermione's words to Ron when Ron says he is sorry. Yet, some readers say that an apology would be a sure sign of the adult Snape's remorse while his actions are not. Snape is expected to try and apologize after experiencing how his apology was despised and refused at a critical turning point of his life. That this time he chooses to do something rather than saying he is sorry is said to be worth nothing without a verbal apology by the same reader(s?) who will quite agree with Lily that Snape's apology, when he does offer one, is meaningless and empty. I, however, think that fighting for goals that are the direct opposites of what made him originally guilty (fighting against the Dark side instead of on the Dark side, protecting and saving lives instead of helping a serial killer, rejecting the Mudblood-word instead of using it etc.) must indicate remorse and atonement better than words, eloquent or not.

It is Snape's own behavior that renders some people unable to "cut him the same slack as Dumbledore," as someone posted some time ago. (Solitaire)

Yes, I know that. But I don't think it means Snape is not remorseful. As for Dumbledore's demeanor implying he had let go of any bitterness toward Grindelwald long ago: Yes, it is possible. But Dumbledore had more than a hundred years to do that - and it is very probable that over more than a hundred years, Dumbledore does not speak about these feelings to anyone. He does not seem to have apologized to Aberforth. He was able to move on in a way - but I wonder how much time he needed to do it? How much time passed after the tragedy before Dumbledore and Aberforth spoke to each other again? A lot of things can happen during more than a hundred years. In comparison with that, how much time did Snape have to get over his feelings about James and Harry? What would we think of Dumbledore now if he had died at the age of 38?

We don't know whether Snape's feelings towards Harry change in the DH year or not. And yet, I do see a symbolic opening up when Snape sends his secret Patronus to Harry.



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 7:19 am (#1416 of 2988)  
Excellent posts Julia.

I noticed that no one, including Quinn, answered Julia's post on the question of "what if Snape was doing everything just to keep his promises." Julia went through a point by point post where she kept asking things like "Why did Snape make this promise?" "after Lily was dead, why make yet another promise to protect Harry?" "why make a promise to protect Draco and do a mercy killing of DD?" "why, once DD said Harry had to die (after Snape had promised to protect him), did Snape go ahead and give the info to Harry?"

Nobody bothered to answer those questions, at least as far as I saw.

In fact, a Snape who has no motivation other than to protect Lily would have been out of it all after her death.

A Snape whose only motivation after her death was to keep her son alive would have no use for risking the loss of everything he had (job, home, etc.) to promise to protect another child and make sure an old man died without pain.

A Snape whose only motivation is to keep Harry alive would have no reason to try to keep Lupin alive even after Snape would have known that the fake/Harry with Lupin wasn't the real Harry. (Quinn said Snape was only protecting Lupin because it might be the real Harry with Lupin) How do we know that's not Snape's motivation? Because the DEs had identified the real Harry through his use of Expelliarmus, calling out to each other that he was the one, and LV had flown after Harry to try and get him. If Snape's only motivation was to keep a promise to protect Harry, he had no reason to try to protect Lupin, a man he disliked.

If Snape was only concerned with keeping promises regarding protecting Lily's son, he had no reason to change his attitude to the point where he was no longer willing to stand by while anyone died if he could save them. What in the world produced that change if he wasn't remorseful about anything in the past?

If Snape is no longer willing to allow anyone to die if he can save them, then that must mean that Snape learned to care about the lives of others, even people he loathed, like Lupin. So that must surely mean that Snape regrets his part in James' death, even though he still loathed him. It makes no sense that someone would care that much about the importance of other's lives in his 30's, yet not give a rip about having helped bring about the death of someone when he was 20.

All of these points have been made in the last day or so by Julia or myself and have received, as far as I can tell, no real answer. Of course, I might have missed someone's answer and, if so, please let me know.

Quinn did try to say that Snape wasn't really concerned about Lupin, but was only trying to protect Lupin so he could take care of the false Harry who was really George. But as I've shown, the real Harry had been identified by the Death Eaters.



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 7:27 am (#1417 of 2988)  
A separate thing that I don't understand is some posters going back time after time to the fact that Snape wouldn't have gone to DD if LV had targeted some other family, as though that's evidence that Snape -- even years later -- had no remorse.

Snape certainly isn't a static character. I don't think anyone believes that. So why is it that people think Snape only caring about Lily when he first went to DD is somehow evidence that he never regretted anything other than putting Lily in danger? Or that he wasn't ever remorseful?

And if Snape only regretted Lily being killed, why did he change regarding not wanting others to die if he could save them?



Istani - Feb 9, 2009 9:18 am (#1418 of 2988)  
Great posts, Julia and wynnleaf. You always know so much better how to put in words what I would also like to say.



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 9:29 am (#1419 of 2988)  
We make the correlation because it's literature and we think it makes literary sense. It does make literary sense, just like it makes literary sense that Snape was remorseful. But it's not actual evidence like one might seek in real life...[cut]...Yet even though we can be fairly certain JKR wants to use The Prince's Tale to show us Snape's remorse, you reject that literary sequence and themes, because you don't have evidence that goes beyond "literary logic". (Wynnleaf)

Where do we see anything like the inferi cave incident in the Prince's Tale or anywhere else? If there was something there that showed us with this level of certainity that Snape was aware of and remorseful about his whole DE past, I would have so accepted it. (mona amon)


But we are never told for certain (only Harry's assumption), that the cave incident had anything to do with Arianna. The reader simply assumes it makes literary sense, and therefore believes it anyway without any proof on the page. But some of those same readers will not use literary logic to accept that all of Snape's actions and emotion has anything to do with JKR trying to show us his remorse, saying instead that the reader needs some definite proof in the form of specific words.

There's not a single one of us here who does not accept that the literary logic of the inferi cave shows us that Dumbledore was remorseful about the Arianna incident. If we do not find the same thing in the Prince's Tale, perhaps the author had an altogether different intention. (mona amon)

Oh?? Please explain how JKR would say that Snape was redeemed as well as make it clear in DH that remorse is needed for redemption, and yet somehow intend us to believe that Snape is redeemed without remorse.

Of course it's her intention to show us his remorse. You might not agree that she did it very well, but either she intended to show us his remorse, or she is utterly contradicting her whole themes of redemption and remorse to call Snape redeemed without even intending us to believe in his remorse. DH had it's quirks and flaws, but JKR wasn't that far off the mark.



mona amon - Feb 9, 2009 9:48 am (#1420 of 2988)  
I think there is a difference between not forgetting and not moving on. Dumbldore never forgot his role in his sister's death and his mistakes with Grindelwald ... but he did move on. He was even able to speak without bitterness about Grindelwald,...[cut]...(Soli)

I can understand not forgetting a sister's death especially when you may have been the accidental cause of it. But to keep beating yourself up about it even a hundred years later seems pretty neurotic to me. He may have forgiven Grindelwald. He never forgave himself.

Yet, some readers say that an apology would be a sure sign of the adult Snape's remorse while his actions are not. Snape is expected to try and apologize after experiencing how his apology was despised and refused at a critical turning point of his life. That this time he chooses to do something rather than saying he is sorry is said to be worth nothing without a verbal apology by the same reader(s?) who will quite agree with Lily that Snape's apology, when he does offer one, is meaningless and empty. (Julia)

I think what some readers are saying is that neither verbal apologies or actions alone will convince them of Snape's remorse. They'd only have been convinced if JKR had made it somehow clear to them that he was remorseful. So how is she supposed to convince us? That's her problem as an author, not ours. My own opinion about it is that she did not fail in getting her intentions about this character across to us. She wrote him to be remorseful in a certain general way. She showed us as much of his remorse and as much of his moral journey as she had intended for him. The rest simply wasn't there.

Julia went through a point by point post where she kept asking things like "Why did Snape make this promise?" "after Lily was dead, why make yet another promise to protect Harry?" "why make a promise to protect Draco and do a mercy killing of DD?" "why, once DD said Harry had to die (after Snape had promised to protect him), did Snape go ahead and give the info to Harry?"

Nobody bothered to answer those questions, at least as far as I saw. (Wynnleaf)


Actually Wynnleaf, these questions keep coming up, and people keep answering them. My own answer was "because that's the way he is (and of course that's very much to his credit), but not necessarily because he was remorseful or trying to atone."

If Snape is no longer willing to allow anyone to die if he can save them, then that must mean that Snape learned to care about the lives of others, even people he loathed, like Lupin. So that must surely mean that Snape regrets his part in James' death, even though he still loathed him. It makes no sense that someone would care that much about the importance of other's lives in his 30's, yet not give a rip about having helped bring about the death of someone when he was 20.

I can't agree that trying to save Lupin means he was remorseful about James. It only means that he now has a 'saving people thing'.

EDIT: Cross posted with your latest, Wynnleaf. I will now go back to read it.


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wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 10:00 am (#1421 of 2988)  
Actually Wynnleaf, these questions keep coming up, and people keep answering them. My own answer was "because that's the way he is (and of course that's very much to his credit), but not necessarily because he was remorseful or trying to atone." (mona amon)

I don't see this as an answer because saying "that's the way he is" doesn't explain what is the way he is, or why being that way ( what way?) causes him to take on all of these promises, have a "saving people thing", etc.

"Because that's the way he is," without explanation, just sounds like "well, he did it because he did it" without explaining why. And the question really is why?

For instance, you say Snape had a "saving people thing". How can you have a saving people thing, which must mean that you care about the lives of others, yet not care about having gotten people killed in the past? It's like you're saying "he cares about saving others" at the same time as saying "he doesn't care about having not saved others".



Solitaire - Feb 9, 2009 11:02 am (#1422 of 2988)  
Dumbledore had more than a hundred years to do that ... In comparison with that, how much time did Snape have to get over his feelings about James and Harry?

The difference is that Grindelwald started the argument that resulted in the death of Ariana, whether he actually cast the spell that did it or not. Harry didn't do anything to Snape to cause Snape to hate him! That was Snape's own doing!

Dumbledore had reason to hate Grindelwald and hold a grudge against him ... assuming he did. I'm not even sure that hatred was part of what DD felt. I think it may have been remorse at Ariana's death and self-hatred that he had not been willing to see what others around him saw in Grindelwald.

Snape, on the other hand, never had a legitimate reason to hate Harry. And please ... do not throw James at me. Let's not go there again. Harry was not James, and he had done nothing to Snape to create Snape's hatred of him. Snape made the choice to treat Harry with contempt from the moment he saw him ... and he never wavered during the six years when Harry was under his tutelage.

I can't even begin to compare Snape to Dumbledore in this area.



Julia H. - Feb 9, 2009 11:20 am (#1423 of 2988)  
And yet, it was James that Snape could not get over and James had done a lot to make Snape hate him.

But I don't want to start this topic again either.

Actually, it seemed to me, we were not talking about getting over the hatred either Snape or Dumbledore may or may not have felt. I thought we were talking about how they handled their own guilt over a period of time. If you speak about Snape and Harry, the appropriate parallel is not Dumbledore and Grindelwald but Dumbledore and Aberforth.



Solitaire - Feb 9, 2009 11:34 am (#1424 of 2988)  
Whatever James did to Snape, that was James ... not Harry. Snape had no reason to hate Harry. Period. He just chose to beat him up emotionally for 6 years.

And what I am talking about is the comment someone made about cutting Snape the same slack as Dumbledore. I do not believe we can say that Albus didn't apologize to Aberforth, just because we did not see it. Knowing his character, I feel he did ask forgiveness, and I base my belief on everything I've seen. I see Dumbledore as a man of peace and reconciliation. Yes, it is only my supposition, and others may disagree, as is their right. I do not understand the stance, but I certainly respect it.

We can, however, say with absolute certainty that Snape didn't apologize to Harry, either for contributing to the death of his parents or for treating him badly for 6 years. We know this.

Harry, however, did forgive Snape for everything bad that Snape had ever done to him. I also think he learned some of this ability to forgive and move on from Dumbledore: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." Again, JM2K ...

Edited



Julia H. - Feb 9, 2009 12:40 pm (#1425 of 2988)  
I do not believe we can say that Albus didn't apologize to Aberforth, just because we did not see it.

We do see Aberforth talk to Harry about Dumbledore as if he had no idea how Albus had felt about Ariana. That may at least question an apology. But even if there was some reconciliation (which we do not know about), it may have taken place any time over more than a hundred years. What we do know is that Dumbledore as a man of peace and reconciliation is at least a hundred years (the lifetime of several generations) ahead of Snape with his guilt and family conflict and reconciliation and wisdom. That was all I wanted to say in the post that enraged you so much.



Solitaire - Feb 9, 2009 1:07 pm (#1426 of 2988)  
I beg to differ. We do know that there was some level of reconciliation, or I doubt Aberforth would have joined Albus's Order of the Phoenix. The fact that he did join his brother's organization tells us that there was some sort of reconciliation. We also know that Aberforth and Albus continued to communicate before Albus's death. Albus is the one who told Aberforth what the mirror was. Albus also tells Harry that he sometimes frequents The Hog's Head, Aberforth's tavern. I doubt he would have dared show his face if he and Aberforth had not made peace.

Since this is Snape's thread, any further discussion of Albus and Aberforth really should be on one of their threads.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 9, 2009 1:23 pm (#1427 of 2988)  
Snape's so called apology to Lily is completely empty and meaningless. He is not accepting responsibility for his behavior. "I didn't mean to" = "It wasn't my fault". As opposed to "I never should have said those things" or simply "I was wrong" "I was a (insert epithet here)."

Any time an "apology" includes a "but" or a "I didn't mean to" when referring to something they actually said, what they really mean is "I didn't mean for you to hear that." "I didn't mean to say it to your face."

But even if Snape hadn't said the horrible "M word" to Lily, the fact remains that he completely denounces her in front of everyone. "I don't need help from her!!" The insult is already there, even without the bigotry.

And yes, I'm sure it was very easy for people to believe Sirius was the spy because of his reputation as a trickster, a trouble-maker, a rebel. He was also exceptionally talented and came from a pure-blood, Voldemort supporting family; just the sort of person Voldemort would be interested in. Even the one person who knew him best (after James), Remus Lupin, believed it, possibly for those very reasons.

And yet, it was James that Snape could not get over and James had done a lot to make Snape hate him. - Right. It was JAMES. James Potter, whose murder Snape had a significant role in.

As Solitaire has pointed out several times (and so did Molly Weasley, even) Harry is NOT James. Harry had NOTHING to do with whatever Snape thought James owed him. Snape was a (epithet) to Harry, plain and simple over a schoolboy grudge that Harry couldn't possibly in a million, trillion years have had anything to do with. Snape created that poisoned relationship all by himself.



Julia H. - Feb 9, 2009 1:35 pm (#1428 of 2988)  
Solitaire, Snape and Harry also communicated. Snape died giving vital information to Harry. Aberforth joined the Order and fought against the Dark side. We know that, but no more. Snape and Harry also fought on the same side. If we only heard it mentioned (without the details) that Snape had given Harry private lessons, we might easily conclude that there must have been some kind of reconciliation between them, when in fact there was not. But that was not my point. My point was whatever agreement Albus and Aberforth may have reached, they had an incredibly long time to reach it. We will never know what Snape would be like at the age of a hundred and more because he died at the age of 38 for the same cause that Dumbledore had lived for.

Harry had NOTHING to do with whatever Snape thought James owed him.

It is not worth shouting so loud because that's something that nobody debates. The differences are elsewhere.

Snape's so called apology to Lily is completely empty and meaningless. He is not accepting responsibility for his behavior.

Karkaroff's apologies, although much better worded, are just as meaningless (and probably much less sincere), IMO. That is why I think it goes to Snape's credit that ultimately he proves his remorse with actions rather than with words.

And yes, I'm sure it was very easy for people to believe Sirius was the spy because of his reputation as a trickster, a trouble-maker, a rebel. He was also exceptionally talented and came from a pure-blood, Voldemort supporting family; just the sort of person Voldemort would be interested in. Even the one person who knew him best (after James), Remus Lupin, believed it, possibly for those very reasons.

Sirius and James, on the other hand, believed Lupin to be the traitor. I seems then, it is very easy to be suspected - even by your friends - if you are just a bit different. What can you expect from others when you are seen to be "murdering" someone?



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 1:41 pm (#1429 of 2988)  
We do know that there was some level of reconciliation, or I doubt Aberforth would have joined Albus's Order of the Phoenix. The fact that he did join his brother's organization tells us that there was some sort of reconciliation. (Solitaire)

We don't "know it". You can assume it based on your personal opinion of what DD would or wouldn't do. JKR did not show us that at all. What she showed was Aberforth had joined the Order, which could just as easily be to his credit and doesn't necessarily mean DD confessed any wrongdoing to him or apologized. Aberforth, after all, did not know that DD was remorseful about it. You might like to imagine that DD apologized and Aberforth discarded that apology at least in part, but that's not told to us in the book.

Personally, I think it more typifies DD's Macheavellian behavior to not tell anyone in life about personal things like his remorse. That would be an interesting topic for DD's thread.

Quinn, should we assume you know that ALL CAPS is the same as shouting??



Quinn Crockett - Feb 9, 2009 1:54 pm (#1430 of 2988)  
Quinn, should we assume you know that ALL CAPS is the same as shouting?? - Sorry, I forgot. I was just trying for extreme emphasis. Not shouting. Sorry  

Sirius and James, on the other hand, believed Lupin to be the traitor. I seems then, it is very easy to be suspected - even by your friends - if you are just a bit different. - "Being different" had nothing to do with it. The spy was "someone close to the Potters". Therefore they were all suspicious of each other. But actually, I don't think we know what James thought about it. We do know that Lupin and Sirius suspected each other because they each admitted it to one another. But the point was that, yes, Sirius's reputation and general demeanor would have made all too easy for people to believe his treachery. Just as it was all too easy for them to believe Snape had betrayed Dumbledore solely on the say so of a single eye witness. Note that no one actually saw Snape do the deed, but were immediately convinced it was true. Only Hagrid remained dubious - until he saw Dumbledore's actual body,.



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 2:08 pm (#1431 of 2988)  
Just as it was all too easy for them to believe Snape had betrayed Dumbledore solely on the say so of a single eye witness. Note that no one actually saw Snape do the deed, but were immediately convinced it was true. (Quinn)

They were trusting Harry and Harry wasn't making an assumption or a deduction. He literally saw Snape kill DD -- no guesswork. As soon as people heard that Harry had stood right there and watched Snape kill DD, it is unsurprising that they'd believe him a traitor regardless of what they might have thought of him before.

Even the readers did that. Lots of people that really liked Snape before HBP were convinced he'd become a traitor. You didn't have to dislike him first to believe it.

For that matter, if -- um (I'm picking at random) -- Percy had zapped DD instead, we'd think he was a traitor. Or if (even more random), Flitwick had killed DD, many readers would start wondering what they'd missed all along for Flitwick to have turned out a traitor.

Seeing somebody directly kill someone tends to be convincing regardless of their past.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 9, 2009 2:26 pm (#1432 of 2988)  
As soon as people heard that Harry had stood right there and watched Snape kill DD, it is unsurprising that they'd believe him a traitor regardless of what they might have thought of him before. - Not so. Hagrid was the only one who considered that there must be some kind of explanation for what happened - got it right, in fact when he said, "Dumbledore must have told Snape to go with the Death Eaters." And Hagrid is the only person who wholly and without question supported Dumbledore and by extension Snape. Therefore the choice to believe Harry or not was based on their prior feelings about Snape.

In fact, during the discussion afterwards, when Harry reveals why Dumbledore trusted Snape, everyone sort of comes out of the closet about how foolish they Dumbledore was. "We all wondered..." McGonagall says. "I mean... with Snape's history... of course people were bound to wonder..." "And Dumbledore believed that?" said Lupin incredulously. (HBP 29)

Everyone had secretly harbored their suspicions about Snape's so called repentance. Only Hagrid seems to have truly believed in him.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 9, 2009 2:42 pm (#1433 of 2988)  
Do none of the "Anti-Saint-Severus" (or whatever we are calling the camps these days) -- do none of you guys believe that in Worst Memory, Severus saw Lily about to laugh at his horrible predicament and reacted? Do you not think it possible that he could have been peering through his robes that were over his head? Do you think for a moment that he would have hung there upside down in front of two archnemeses and not wanted to know what was coming next? All it would have taken is reaching a hand over a few inches and moving the robe away from his eyes. Do you truly believe Severus would not keep an eye on them while hanging there?

Seeing Lily's reaction to his being harassed and humiliated is the motivation for his lashing out at her and calling her Mudblood. I can't see it happening out of the clear blue sky.



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 2:43 pm (#1434 of 2988)  
Quinn, I fail to see how Hagrid thinking that maybe Snape was actually involved in a plan with DD (he was right), should somehow be evidence that others quickly believed Harry because Harry actually saw Snape kill DD.

Hagrid is the first person Harry mentioned it to and he didn't come right out with "I saw Snape AK Dumbledore with my own eyes." So naturally Hagrid would have doubts at first. It wasn't until he saw DD actually dead that he believed Harry.

The other people, up in the hospital, were either already clued in that someone had murdered DD, or they were just learning from Harry that he'd witnessed it all.

In any case, no one says "I suspected him all along because he was such a mean fellow, was mean to Harry, and unpleasant to his students." They comment on his Death Eater past as to why they'd continued to wonder about DD's trust in him.

I'm forgetting... why is this supposed to be important?? I'm losing track of the discussion.

Like I said, they'd have all thought anyone was a traitor once they learned that Harry had seen the person AK DD. There's not many excuses for killing someone in cold blood, after all.



Solitaire - Feb 9, 2009 3:09 pm (#1435 of 2988)  
I guess I read different versions of the books than you folks. It's been said, more than once lately, that there will never be reconciliation of beliefs about characters on this thread ... and it's true. What I believe is absolutely upheld by the text, IMO. I'm finished trying to explain myself or justify my beliefs about this.

Edit: I'm no longer responding to or reading any posts on this thread.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 9, 2009 3:11 pm (#1436 of 2988)  
Solitaire, are you responding to my post or wynnleaf's?

Edit: Yes, Solitaire (in case you change your mind and sneak a peek  ) we all feel that what we believe is upheld in the text. That is how JKR wrote it - ambiguous - purposefully. There is no right or wrong, for me anyway, but point of view plain and simple.

When folks talk about atonement, etc., my response is that it's between Severus and Lily. If she forgives him then he might be able to forgive himself and move on.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 9, 2009 3:51 pm (#1437 of 2988)  
Quinn, I fail to see how Hagrid thinking that maybe Snape was actually involved in a plan with DD (he was right), should somehow be evidence that others quickly believed Harry because Harry actually saw Snape kill DD. - What? It's not. What are you talking about? I don't get it...

I'm saying - again - that people were ready to believe Harry because they already had their own private doubts about Snape's "repentance". They didn't believe he had truly repented - had no reason to since, even from what we've been privy to, his behavior never changed in 25 years.

Hagrid, who did believe in Snape's repentance (because he never doubted Dumbledore about anything), is the only one who didn't believe Harry's eyewitness account.

The discussion started because Julia said, basically, that it must have been hell for Snape having everyone hating him and thinking him a traitor. I responded that it wasn't any kind of a stretch for them to believe it because he'd never done anything to make them think such a brutal act of betrayal was beyond him.

It's important because no, I don't think if anyone else had done it that people would have been so quick to say, "I always knew that about him/her". If it had been say, Flitwick, or anyone like that, I think people's first reaction would likely have been as Hagrid's was - that there must have been something else to it. But with Snape, not so. They didn't question his actions because his reputation, his current behavior, his current general demeanor all fit. They were not surprised. Why? Because no one believed he had repented. Had he actively made amends, changed his attitude, been willing to laugh at himself on occasion, etc people might have at least believed he had changed. But he apparently did none of those things so no one did believe it.

do none of you guys believe that in Worst Memory, Severus saw Lily about to laugh at his horrible predicament and reacted? - No I don't. But even if that were the case, that is no excuse for lashing out with hate speech. Particularly toward someone you supposedly "love".



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 9, 2009 4:01 pm (#1438 of 2988)  
But even if that were the case, that is no excuse for lashing out with hate speech. Particularly toward someone you supposedly "love". - Quinn C.

This question is not aimed at Quinn, but has no one called someone they "love" an awful name? Really and truly? Wow, there are a lot of saints on this thread!  I can list a few dozen times off the top of my head calling various boyfriends/partners horrible names in the heat of anger, and have been called the worst of the worst derogatory names! Yes I was enraged by it, but it didn't end the relationship in any of those cases.

I'm not trying to be devil's advocate, I'm just feeling it was not completely unrealistic given it is Severus at age 15.



Julia H. - Feb 9, 2009 4:29 pm (#1439 of 2988)  
"Being different" had nothing to do with it. The spy was "someone close to the Potters". Therefore they were all suspicious of each other. (Quinn)

I don't think it has much to do with Snape's remorse but a change of topic might be interesting anyway: They were not all suspicious of each other. If they had been, James would never have asked any of his close friends to be his Secret Keeper, but in fact he was ready to accept two of them. Sirius would never have suggested that Pettigrew should be the Secret Keeper if they had all been suspicious of each other. Sirius suspected Lupin, who was absolutely likeable, gentle and their loyal friend of many years. Of course, he was also a werewolf. But Lupin's behaviour and his earlier track of trustability had nothing to do with this suspicion. His being "different" may have had something to do with it but it is true that we don't know it for sure. However, nobody seems to have suspected Pettigrew. In fact, the way Sirius - in retrospect - describes Pettigrew's character prior to Pettigrew's becoming a Secret Keeper, it is quite surprising that nobody thought he could be the traitor. (Of course, it is easy to be wise afterwards.)

Sirius is "suspected" only when Pettigrew has openly accused him and when he seems to have killed a lot of people, including Pettigrew. Then everyone, Lupin among them, believe he is a traitor and a murderer. Before that, nobody seems to have suspected Sirius. Afterwards, even his friend believes he has committed those crimes and I don't think Lupin has been wondering it for years whether Sirius was really a friend or not. (I wonder Dumbledore did not have any methods to find out the truth...) It seems eye-witnesses have at least as much to do with this general belief concerning Sirius's "crime" as any qualities Sirius may or may not have.

Likewise, in the case of Snape, when one directly witnesses the murder of someone very close to him and when others hear someone quite close to them tell about the witnessed murder of another person quite close to them - after this shocking experience/news, it is hard for anyone to consider the potential viewpoints of the "murderer". But Hagrid finds it hard to believe at first. And we must not forget Slughorn, who seems to be more shocked by the news about Snape than by the news about Dumbledore. In fact he says the same words ("I thought I knew him!") that Lupin uses when he talks about having known Sirius, the "murderer". The use of the same line points out the similarities between the situations of these two men (Sirius and Snape).

Both are mistakenly believed to be traitors and murderers. There are differences, of course, one of which is that Sirius was trapped by an evil trick in this situation, while Snape chose to make this sacrifice for a reason. But the reactions of others are quite similar. I don't think people were wondering whether Sirius was loyal to them for years and yet they believe he is a traitor when there are eye-witnesses. The same thing happens to Snape.

The discussion started because Julia said, basically, that it must have been hell for Snape having everyone hating him and thinking him a traitor. I responded that it wasn't any kind of a stretch for them to believe it because he'd never done anything to make them think such a brutal act of betrayal was beyond him.

I hope I did not say "it must have been hell for Snape"  and it does not matter whether it was a stretch for others or not. I think I said Snape sacrificed his reputation and his place among respectable people in society and it must have been difficult. It must have been difficult and cruel even if he had not expected love from any one particular person. It must have been difficult regardless why others believed it. It must have been especially difficult because he was believed to be the murderer of someone he really respected and cared about. I even suppose it must have been difficult to endure whatever compliments or rewards or other despicable "honors" he received from Voldemort for killing Dumbledore, while he, Snape, was secretly mourning him. I was talking about Snape's point of view, not of others.

Good point, MAMS, about Lily's smirk. And yes, they were teenagers.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 9, 2009 5:10 pm (#1440 of 2988)  
I said Snape sacrificed his reputation and his place among respectable people in society and it must have been difficult. - But there was no sacrifice. The reputation he had was already that he was not to be trusted; that he was perfectly capable of betraying Dumbledore and/or the Order in the blink of an eye.

Snape, was secretly mourning him. "Mourning"?? Wow, really? Yeah, that certainly was a secret, alright. So secret that we don't ever even see it. I think it's just another quality you've given the character, decided he should be feeling, rather than it actually being there.

I was talking about Snape's point of view - But that's just it. We don't know Snape's point of view. You and others have simply ascribed a series of emotions and complexities to the character that are not reflected in any of his actions.

"Derogatory names" are not at all the same thing as hate speech. And personally, if anyone used hate speech against me, regardless of the circumstances, you can bet dollars to doughnuts that that would be the immediate end of any association we might have had. I cannot imagine anyone, even in a blind rage, referring to their African friend or partner using "the N word" without that having that be the end of the relationship.

And that's exactly what Snape does to Lily - he uses the wizard equivalent of "the N word". He doesn't just call her a "derogatory name". He uses hate speech. Worse, he denounces her in full view of a crowd of onlookers using this hate speech. Being 15 is absolutely no excuse for this. 15 is well beyond old enough both to know exactly what the word signifies for those it is used about, and to expect certain consequences of using it.

He wasn't the least bit sorry he had used the word, only sorry he had used on Lily. Or, perhaps more accurately, only sorry now that he saw the consequences of it and didn't like them one bit.



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 5:30 pm (#1441 of 2988)  
I cannot imagine anyone, even in a blind rage, referring to their African friend or partner using "the N word" without that having that be the end of the relationship. (Quinn)

Then you are severely deluded about what actually goes on. In fact, many, many people within the African American community use the word quite a lot, often in fun, and often quite casually, which I know sounds amazing, but it is true. So yeah, people use "hate language" toward people they actually like and it doesn't end the friendship.

Funny, I was actually thinking of using that as an example even before I saw your post.

By the way -- and I know JKR wasn't thinking about this for the book, but still -- in real life, when those "hate language" words are used, they can be used between people who are both in the same disparaged group, but if someone else came along from another group, they couldn't get away with using the same word.

I thought about that after HBP came out, because we had learned that Snape was not a pureblood. I figured he knew Lily quite well and that she probably knew he wasn't a pureblood either. So back then I never expected her to drop the friendship because of that word, because she'd have known he wasn't "pure" either. In fact, I thought her "blink" when he said it was because she was thinking "what? You're not a pureblood!"

Edit: I had to add this. I just talked to my high school age son who quite readily acknowledged the truth of my comments about people from the African American community using the N word a great deal to their friends - even their white friends! Go figure.



Quinn Crockett - Feb 9, 2009 6:35 pm (#1442 of 2988)  
Then you are severely deluded about what actually goes on. In fact, many, many people within the African American community use the word quite a lot, often in fun, and often quite casually, which I know sounds amazing, but it is true. So yeah, people use "hate language" toward people they actually like and it doesn't end the friendship.

No, you are the one who is "severely deluded" if you actually think that example is in any way parallel to what Snape did to Lily. But you and your son are certainly welcome to come to my neighborhood and test your theory. I would recommend keeping the car running, though.



wynnleaf - Feb 9, 2009 7:51 pm (#1443 of 2988)  
No, you are the one who is "severely deluded" if you actually think that example is in any way parallel to what Snape did to Lily. (Quinn)

Hmm. If you look again at the last couple of posts, you will note that you were the one that made the parallel between the N word and "mudblood". You made that point in such a strong way, as though you were absolutely correct that in real life no one would accept such a word and remain a friend, that I felt compelled to point out that it was absolutely wrong.

Of course, it was you who drew a parallel between the use of the two words.

But you and your son are certainly welcome to come to my neighborhood and test your theory. (Quinn)

You imply that I said I or my son use the word. Well, take another look at my comment. If I were to do exactly as I said in my comment, I and my son would show up and (assuming a large population of African Americans), I would simply get to know a lot of people and just observe, same as I do in reality. I hope I wouldn't have to "keep the car running" just to see how other people often act toward one another.

I have lived in several areas of the US and am currently in one with a hugely diverse population. I know of at least several ethnic or racial groups who use the worst "hate language" words to each other quite often and even to friends. You may not know any such people, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

As for the "mudblood" word and the parallel, take yet another look at my words.

By the way -- and I know JKR wasn't thinking about this for the book, but still -- in real life, when those "hate language" words are used, they can be used between people who are both in the same disparaged group, but if someone else came along from another group, they couldn't get away with using the same word. (wynnleaf)

I said I knew JKR wasn't thinking of that real life aspect of hate language. But I didn't know that back in HBP and OOTP and therefore had wondered if she would include that aspect (people using it to each other within a group) before she finished the series. Of course, she didn't.

You ought to read what I said a lot more closely.



mona amon - Feb 9, 2009 9:17 pm (#1444 of 2988)  
But we are never told for certain (only Harry's assumption), that the cave incident had anything to do with Arianna. (Wynnleaf)

Wynnleaf, it's not about what we are told, it's about what we are made to feel by this scene and other subsequent scenes which are connected with it. And you haven't answered my question. Where in the Prince's Tale or elsewhere do we get the literary equivalent of Dumbledore's cave scene for Snape? If there was anything like that I'd accept that Snape was completely remorseful, without being actually told.

Oh?? Please explain how JKR would say that Snape was redeemed as well as make it clear in DH that remorse is needed for redemption, and yet somehow intend us to believe that Snape is redeemed without remorse.

That's easy to answer for me, because I do believe there was remorse. As I keep trying to explain, there is an implied remorse in the act of reformation. Changing from DE to loyal member of the OOTP is a huge change, and a person does not not reject their old way of life to follow a radically opposite way unless they are sorry about it and want to do things differently.

But that is as far as she (JKR) went with Snape. She shows us someone who was reformed, and consequently remorseful. She does not show us any active remorse, or making connections between his actions and their consequences. By active remorse I mean introspection, acknowledging and facing your guilt squarely, confession, and so on. We are never shown that Snape did any of these things. If he had really gone through this process, he wouldn't be such a bitter, vengeful person, holding on to his schoolboy grudges for dear life. In understanding the level of his own guilt, he would realise that a lot had been forgiven him, and that he in turn ought to forgive those who had wronged him.

I don't see this as an answer because saying "that's the way he is" doesn't explain what is the way he is, or why being that way ( what way?) causes him to take on all of these promises, have a "saving people thing", etc.

"Because that's the way he is," without explanation, just sounds like "well, he did it because he did it" without explaining why. And the question really is why?


I explained this all somewhere, but now I can't find the post. Anyway, people do not usually have a motive for every good thing that they do. If we do good, generous or forgiving things, we usually have no more motivation than "because I felt like doing it." Does everything have to have a reason? Do Harry, Ron and Hermione do all the difficult things that they did during their mission because they had some hidden motive like remorse or something else? No! They did it because fate put them in a certain situation, and their own characters and personalities, 'the way they are' in short, made them act in certain ways.

It's the same with Snape. He had a courageous and self-sacrificing nature. Once he had decided to follow the right leader, he needs no other motive for following his orders than the laws of his own nature.

I think to say that remorse is the reason that he did everything that he did (with the implication that he would not have done it if there was no remorse) is to give Severus a lot less credit than he deserves.

I see it as the moral (or one of the morals) of Snape's story. Brave, good, loyal and heroic deeds can be done even by warped, bitter characters who have not fully faced or resolved their past lives.

For instance, you say Snape had a "saving people thing". How can you have a saving people thing, which must mean that you care about the lives of others, yet not care about having gotten people killed in the past? It's like you're saying "he cares about saving others" at the same time as saying "he doesn't care about having not saved others".

How about, "he cares about saving others now, but doesn't care about those he harmed in the past."



Quinn Crockett - Feb 9, 2009 9:34 pm (#1445 of 2988)  
Hmm. If you look again at the last couple of posts, you will note that you were the one that made the parallel between the N word and "mudblood". - That's right, I did. Because Snape used it in the same way as a White Supremacist would.

You made that point in such a strong way, as though you were absolutely correct that in real life no one would accept such a word and remain a friend, that I felt compelled to point out that it was absolutely wrong. - No, it isn't "absolutely wrong". And the fact that you would even attempt to put a positive spin on it I find incredibly disturbing and, frankly, offensive.

You imply that I said I or my son use the word - No, Wynnleaf. I imply that you don't really have any idea what you're talking about and that you need some real world experience on the matter.

I think I'm going to join Solitaire on the sidelines, now, since I feel this conversation has now officially crossed into the realm of ... Yeah, I just need to get out of here.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 9, 2009 10:53 pm (#1446 of 2988)  
I think to say that remorse is the reason that he did everything that he did (with the implication that he would not have done it if there was no remorse) is to give Severus a lot less credit than he deserves.

I see it as the moral (or one of the morals) of Snape's story. Brave, good, loyal and heroic deeds can be done even by warped, bitter characters who have not fully faced or resolved their past lives. - mona amon


Well put. I was trying to say as much when speaking of "gradients" and "ambiguity" of our anti-Vold characters. I'd guess at this point we can all acknowledge some correlations between several very different people in the series. To me it's like expecting the same level of "decency" from a spiritual monk and an ex-con. It would be nice but it's probably not going to happen. DD had his warped years, of course, but his constitution is a far cry from the path Severus was drawn to. I am reminded of someone I knew who was in Riker's Island and came out, had a chance to better himself. He was far from pleasant usually, because he had a long hard road with a lot of guilt.



wynnleaf - Feb 10, 2009 5:03 am (#1447 of 2988)  
You imply that I said I or my son use the word - (wynnleaf)

No, Wynnleaf. I imply that you don't really have any idea what you're talking about and that you need some real world experience on the matter. (Quinn)


Just for the record, for Quinn and anyone else reading, I work in human services and have worked in the inner city area of South Central Los Angeles, in Jackson, Mississippi, and live and work currently in Atlanta which has become one of the most ethnically and racially mixed areas in the US. And yes, I have a great deal of real world experience on which to base my earlier two posts.

I did not say that such hate language is okay, nor that it isn't considered really horrible by people in those racial groups, when used against them by other races. What I said is that people within racial groups sometimes -- and in the case of the N word, quite a bit -- use the same terms toward each other without the same horrible connotation. I have thought perhaps it was an unhealthy thing for people to do with hate words against their own race. I discussed it with my husband last night, as he teaches at a college level about cultural trends, and he felt that it was possibly both a conscious and unconscious desire among some to disempower or kind of "denature" those words, by using the hate words about their own race, within their own race. But that's just guessing.

mona amon,

Your recent post seems much more fully explained, in my opinion, than most of your other ones on the remorse issue -- maybe because you were not addressing why Snape isn't remorseful, but instead how he is remorseful, only in, as you say, "an implied remorse in the act of reformation". I did not understand, prior to that comment, that you considered Snape remorseful at all.

It's the same with Snape. He had a courageous and self-sacrificing nature. Once he had decided to follow the right leader, he needs no other motive for following his orders than the laws of his own nature. (mona amon)

I think to say that remorse is the reason that he did everything that he did (with the implication that he would not have done it if there was no remorse) is to give Severus a lot less credit than he deserves. (mona amon)


I agree that he didn't do it all solely out of remorse. And I agree that a good deal of what he did is because it's actually in his character to do it. But I also think JKR was trying to show that he truly did have remorse for his previous actions. I assume you don't think that his grief had anything to do with remorse, but I think it did. Further, I think that you can't separate his doing things because it's in his character with his remorse. For instance, if a person has a saving people thing, there may not be a specific motive behind each person they save and they might not really think too much about it, but there is a reason they value life that much. And if a person truly values the lives of others enough to risk their own life to save people, not just in a moment of crisis and adrenalin, but in a planned and considered risking of their life, then I don't think that same person would be without regret or remorse about deaths they helped to bring about.



Julia H. - Feb 10, 2009 9:19 am (#1448 of 2988)  
He gets recognition for being the one Order member who can provide true insight into Voldemort's plans. (Quinn)

But there was no sacrifice. The reputation he had was already that he was not to be trusted; that he was perfectly capable of betraying Dumbledore and/or the Order in the blink of an eye. (Quinn)


How interesting... The first of your comments supported the argument that Snape only wanted and actually did get recognition, for example, providing true insight into Voldemort's plans. The second of your comments explains that Snape had nothing to lose regarding reputation - and I must think by extension regarding recognition - as he was already considered to be a sort of traitor.

Anyway... your second comment above only proves that you cannot imagine the difference between being able to walk freely among people, having a respectable social position, being part of a community, feeling at least relatively safe when you are at home (which is Hogwarts in Snape's case) and having to leave your home (running at a moment's notice), spending all your time either alone or among people who are your enemies, pretending all the time to be "someone else", knowing that from now on you are an outcast, risking the possibility of being recorded in history for ever as a traitor and a murderer, not to mention the additional "safety risks" now.

Yes, Snape's loyalty was doubted by several people. Others, however, believed in his loyalty. Dumbledore did. Hagrid did. Slughorn did. Unlike you, I don't think Snape got much recognition from Order members (except Dumbledore), apart from the fact, however, that even Order members who said they only trusted him because of Dumbledore, were ready to believe the intelligence Snape was bringing to them and alerted him when they were attacked, which seems to imply implicit trust. Still, this is not the main point. Even as a totally solitary, friendless and generally disliked person, he had a lot to give up. Among other things, he gave up the entire second chance he had been given by Dumbledore.

"Mourning"?? Wow, really? Yeah, that certainly was a secret, alright. So secret that we don't ever even see it. I think it's just another quality you've given the character, decided he should be feeling, rather than it actually being there.

Dumbledore is one of the very few people Snape personally cares about. He is upset when Dumbledore fatally injures himself and wishes he could have done more for him. You yourself acknowledge Snape's extreme loyalty to Dumbledore. Snape agrees to AK Dumbledore only when Dumbledore asks him to help him avoid pain and humiliation, which means Snape practically sacrifices himself to a large part because he cares for Dumbledore. Dumbledore seems to be playing this card very consciously so he apparently realizes that this is the way he can convince Snape. Also, Dumbledore is the only one who really knows and understands Snape and his motivations. Dumbledore is the one who trusts and protects Snape even when others do not. Dumbledore has been the only living person we know (apart from Lily) whose trust and good opinion is really important to Snape. Dumbledore is Snape's mentor and guide, and the relationship between them has often been compared to a father and son relationship. These are things that generate care and love. People normally mourn when a person so close to them dies and I really can't think of any other living person who was even nearly as close to Snape as Dumbledore for about 15 years.

You probably find it too much to suppose that Snape's psyche shares the same basic qualities that all other humans share, like the ability to feel pain or loss and the ability to mourn. I think readers' knowledge and experience about basic human psychology and biology is necessarily involved in our interpretations of literary works. It is shown that Snape is concerned about Dumbledore, it is shown how important a part Dumbledore plays in Snape's life, it is shown that he wants to help Dumbledore when Dumbledore personally needs his help. It seems to be quite easy to conclude that Snape cares for Dumbledore. Therefore, when Dumbledore dies, mourning is a natural emotion for Snape just as much as it would be for anyone else who loses someone equally close to them.

You and others have simply ascribed a series of emotions and complexities to the character that are not reflected in any of his actions.

If you need canon support that AK-ing Dumbledore and leaving Hogwarts with the enemy was a very difficult thing to do, here is this line:

... his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning house behind them...

The image of a yelping, howling dog stuck in a burning house is a very powerful image. It speaks about despair, terror and pain, about feeling entrapped and suffocating. It is normal for authors to convey meaning through such images (similes, metaphors and others) and it is the reader's job to interpret them. In this case, Snape's emotions are described by means of this image.

Not that I think it means much to you. Since you simply think the narrator is wrong when the narrator states that Snape "strayed inadvertently", while you know it for sure that he was in fact following the Marauders, I'm not sure you are willing to interpret such images at all. But apparently I am the only one who, in your opinion, should not draw conclusions about characters' emotions (or perhaps about one character's emotions) on the basis of what is written in canon.

I may not be correct but you seem to be quite OK with conclusions like "James must have changed from a bully into a decent fellow because otherwise Lily would not have married him" (although we are never explicitly shown that change); or "there must have been some reconciliation between DD and his brother", even though we see how bitter his brother remains and we also see how closed and secretive Dumbledore usually is and of course the reconciliation itself is not shown; or "Snape must have been following the Marauders intentionally and the narrator must be incorrect to say otherwise"; or "Snape must have done everything only because he wanted to keep his promises", although it is not explicitly explained on the page; or "Sirius must have been thought to be a likely traitor otherwise people would not have believed so easily that he was a murderer" although such suspicions are never even alluded to, in fact, in PoA certain characters actually say how little they would have thought Sirius would ever go over to the Dark side; or that "the teenage Snape must have attacked people all about the school", although it is never mentioned that he was attacking anyone except James; or that "Snape got recognition at Hogwarts for the various Quidditch and House victories of Slytherin", although it is never even mentioned in the books. I could continue but the post is already too long. These are all conclusions by various posters (some of them yours), not facts that are shown on the page. However, when I draw my conclusions, and give canon evidence to support them, your answer is basically that I ascribe emotions and motivations to the character that are not there. You seem to think, for example, that AK-ing Dumbledore and seemingly becoming a traitor was not really difficult for Snape - although something like that would be difficult for anyone - because he had been suspected to be a traitor anyway. How that negates that Snape had to give up a lot is never explained but I suppose it is one of those cases where Snape's actions do not suggest that he was going through any hardship and the consequent feelings, as I conclude.



Julia H. - Feb 10, 2009 9:54 am (#1449 of 2988)  
I can always explain what makes me conclude that a certain emotion or motivation is there. But I still don't know what evidence - I mean evidence in accordance with the standards you seem to be demanding from me - makes you think Snape was motivated by wanting to keep his promises only or at all, for example.

Frankly, Quinn, I don't know what counts as evidence with you. You did mention things that could be evidence if only they were in the books, but I still don't know how you decide what conclusions are correct and what are not. You think I am wrong when I base my interpretations on the character's actions. In your opinion, Snape's remorse would be shown for sure, only if he apologized. But it is also your opinion that when he does apologize, it is meaningless. The narrator is wrong ("strayed inadvertently") although it is never indicated that it is so. You probably disagree that Snape cared for Dumbledore because it is shown "only" by actions, same as his remorse. But when Dumbledore says, quite confidently, that Snape is remorseful, you say he is wrong, although it is never shown that Dumbledore is ever wrong about Snape and we have a reason to suppose that Dumbledore knows more about Snape than what Harry (through whose eyes we see most of the plot) ever finds out. If you perhaps accept that Snape may have cared for Dumbledore, then you will have to deny that the death of a person he cared for causes him to mourn, as it usually happens to people. We do not see directly into Snape's mind, but we do get quite strong hints about his emotions - the simile, for example, that I mentioned in my previous post, describing his emotions when he leaves Hogwarts. I do not hope you accept it as evidence though. Then when the main character thinks Snape is redeemed, you seem to think he, the narrator, the author, a lot of readers are all wrong.

It could all be, but I really wonder now: What is it exactly that you base your interpretations on?



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 10, 2009 1:24 pm (#1450 of 2988)  
However, when I draw my conclusions, and give canon evidence to support them, your answer is basically that I ascribe emotions and motivations to the character that are not there. - Julia

I'd be happy to have a discussion with you about *subjective* analysis of emotions and how we feel Severus was psychologically motivated.  I agree with your last two posts, Julia and hope you will not be discouraged by disagreements.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:03 pm

Julia H. - Feb 10, 2009 3:56 pm (#1451 of 2988)  
MAMS, it would be great to analyse Snape's emotions and psychological motivations!  (It could also be a healthy change of topic now.) Since I have said quite a lot about my viewpoint, it would be interesting to read about your interpretations now. Or do you have a favourite topic within the "Snape's emotions" category to start with? There is probably a lot to discover from his childhood home life to his relationship with Dumbledore (for example).

She shows us someone who was reformed, and consequently remorseful. She does not show us any active remorse, or making connections between his actions and their consequences. By active remorse I mean introspection, acknowledging and facing your guilt squarely, confession, and so on. (Mona)

Again, I don't think our viewpoints are very different. Reformed, consequently remorseful is what I'm saying as well. However, I don't understand how it is possible to be remorseful without making connections between his actions and their consequences and without any sort of introspection. What does a remorseful person who does not make connections between his actions and their consequences and does not acknowledge his guilt to himself think or feel? What does his remorse consist of? Why does he change?

As for confession, I think that is part of atonement (but I don't think it is the only possible kind of atonement) rather than of remorse because I think remorse is basically an internal process, which may or may not be followed by atonement, and remorse does not necessarily lead to any positive changes in character (it can also lead to suicide, for example). But we may just have different definitions for this word.

I think to say that remorse is the reason that he did everything that he did (with the implication that he would not have done it if there was no remorse) is to give Severus a lot less credit than he deserves.

I don't want to give him less credit than he deserves but I think even if we suppose he would do the same things without his guilt, once his guilt is there, it is part of his motivations, which can still be complex and I actually think they are complex (only now we are happening to discuss the remorse motivation). Once he is guilty, it goes to his credit if he is remorseful and wants to atone. But by atonement I don't mean (in this case) any attempts to understand and improve himself, rather that he tries to put right that part of his guilt which is the most difficult to put right and he is ready to make any self-sacrifice for that. It still means he has a self-sacrificing and courageous nature, since (IMO, at least) atonement is possible in several ways. Snape happens to be better at sacrificing himself than at making confessions and apologies - and I actually like that.

I see it as the moral (or one of the morals) of Snape's story. Brave, good, loyal and heroic deeds can be done even by warped, bitter characters who have not fully faced or resolved their past lives.

I certainly agree with that.  



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 10, 2009 10:10 pm (#1452 of 2988)  
I have been fascinated by the Spinner's End chapter ever since I laid eyes on it. We had talked about this a few years ago on some thread, imagining what it would be like to grow up on Spinner’s End. Here is some canon:

Spinner's End seemed a “poor recommendation” as Harry viewed Petunia's expression in The Prince's Tale

Dirty, smelly river with rubbish-strewn banks

Relic of a disused mill, the chimney towering over the street of Spinner’s End, so it was very close to the smoke

Rows and rows of dilapidated brick houses – a Muggle dunghill, broken streetlights

Adding yet more subjectivity… the Pensieve memory of Severus’s father yelling at his mother.

We might conclude the mill was the cause of the polluted river; we don't know from The Prince's Tale if the chimney was in use at that time. This is a working class neighborhood; Petunia's reaction to Spinner's End implies it was the sorry side of town.

Severus's description suggests he was a neglected child or at least wearing handed down, shabby clothing which insinuates they were poor. The description *given to us by Harry* who was himself neglected, seems to make note of how bad off Severus was. Harry wore Dudley's handed down clothes but not quite on this level of piteousness.

To me this pre-Hogwarts life set him up to be predisposed to secrecy, outward pride to compensate for lack both in the material and the paternal sense, and probably a rich fantasy life (as in watching Lily greedily before, and waiting a while before meeting her).



mona amon - Feb 11, 2009 5:29 am (#1453 of 2988)  
Reformed, consequently remorseful is what I'm saying as well. However, I don't understand how it is possible to be remorseful without making connections between his actions and their consequences and without any sort of introspection. What does a remorseful person who does not make connections between his actions and their consequences and does not acknowledge his guilt to himself think or feel? What does his remorse consist of? Why does he change? (Julia)

There are different levels of remorse. If Severus makes the switch from DE to loyal follower of Dumbledore, it may be because he feels something like, "Wow, I never knew till he killed Lily how evil he was. I wish I'd never joined his gang. Hereafter I'm going to fight him with everything in my power." That shows a huge change, with its accompanying remorse. It also shows he had certain excellent qualities, since he's willing to do everything in his power to fight LV. However if he had felt something like, "How could I have been so evil as to follow him for so many years?" that would mean he is looking more at himself than Voldemort as the cause of his mistakes. In other words, he is taking a lot more responsibility for the evil that he did.

So why do I think he did not do this (take full responsibility)? As I mentioned in my previous post, someone who can have such an unforgiving attitude towards those who have done him harm obviously does not realise that he is a sinner too, perhaps worse than those that he has a grudge against.

I don't want to give him less credit than he deserves but I think even if we suppose he would do the same things without his guilt, once his guilt is there, it is part of his motivations, which can still be complex and I actually think they are complex

I wasn't trying to prove that you can't do all those difficult things and be remorseful at the same time. I just didn't care for the idea that remorse is the only thing that would cause a person to do great things. And I also don't agree that doing great things shows how completely remorseful one is- or something like that.

Now on to Spinner's End.



wynnleaf - Feb 11, 2009 6:53 am (#1454 of 2988)  
As I mentioned in my previous post, someone who can have such an unforgiving attitude towards those who have done him harm obviously does not realise that he is a sinner too, perhaps worse than those that he has a grudge against. (mona amon)

Actually, I think it is quite possible, because people are so very flawed and easily able to believe and act on contradictory things at the same time. While there are certainly some actions or beliefs that are truly incompatible, I find, in real life, if I try to judge someone in a way that is like: "you must not really believe x or you would never continue to do y," I would have to decide that very few people really believe or hold to most of the ethics or morals which they claim.

For instance, while most people would say it is wrong to lie, most people will still lie, given a pressing reason, or they act in some ways that are dishonest, or they conceal truth which should not be concealed. People who say that forgiving others is extremely important, still find that there are people that they can't seem to forgive.

So I find it very realistic that a person could have great remorse over his joining an evil dark lord's group and delving so much into dark arts, great remorse over following a blood purity group and their ethics (if he did believe in blood purity), and great remorse for getting two people killed, and still hate a man who bullied him for years while getting away with it (at least in terms of becoming lauded as Head Boy while still attacking Snape on the side), and still hate a man who also bullied him for years, who almost got him killed as a teen and is unremorseful about it as an adult.

I can also believe that a person would be extremely remorseful about following the dark lord, following a blood purity ethic, and caring so little about the lives of others that he took that prophecy to LV not caring who would be harmed until Lily was targeted. And yet at the same time thoroughly disliking the son of Lily when he (in Snape's opinion, and Harry does act this way around Snape), acts and looks exactly like his bullying, arrogant, and rulebreaking father who married Lily and (in Snape's opinion) destroyed Snape and Dumbledore's efforts to save Lily by arrogantly trusting in bad friends even with warnings.

See, I think Snape mistakenly sees in Harry the exact faults that James had and he considers those faults of James as things that helped get Lily killed. Arrogance, trusting in untrustworthy people, assuming he knows better than everyone else, and so on. So he hates Harry not just because he looks like James. He loathes Harry for the faults of James, not just because James was nasty in school, but because James' arrogance, etc., made him choose another of his nasty friends (I'm thinking Snape's viewpoint here), to be a secret keeper when the Very Best secret keeper was offering to help AND the spy (Snape) had advised that one of those friends might be a traitor.

I also see why he'd loath Harry more and more over time, even while he'd be very remorseful about joining LV, etc.

Loathing Harry isn't just "He looks like James. I hate James. Therefore I hate Harry." Snape's hatred of James wasn't that simplistic. We can hear it in what he talked about, most especially during the Shrieking Shack scene. That's where we see exactly why James' arrogance is so despicable to Snape. Because James disdained the spy's report that one of his friends was a traitor, and disdained the offer of a much safer secret keeper, and Lily died when the "friend" of whom James was so arrogantly certain, betrayed them.

Think about POA, when Snape caught on to Harry having gone to Hogsmeade. He is so angry at Harry's "arrogance" which he likens to James. Why does he call Harry arrogant? Because everyone was working so hard to keep Harry safe and Harry went to Hogsmeade anyway, arrogantly sure (in Snape's opinion) that he knew better than all the adults working to protect him.

So I think Snape's remorse and also loathing both James and Harry are easily possible. It's not rational and it is contradictory, but it is very human.

As far as a degree of remorse -- did Snape take responsibility for his earlier actions -- well, I think changing your actions and directly trying to stop the effects of your previous actions, is taking responsibility for them.

If Snape only took the news to DD, that's not taking responsibility. If, after Lily died, Snape only mourned Lily, that's not taking responsibility.

In my opinion, "taking responsibility" isn't a matter of saying "I was a bad person and did wrong", but turning around and changing who you are and changing the effects of what you did. That's real responsibility. I often find it true even on the simple level of children. They would love to just be able to say "I'm sorry, I did wrong." and that's that. But I find that words are very often used to get out of things, especially if they sound sympathetic enough.

As Julia pointed out, Snape found his words of remorse to Lily accomplished nothing (whether or not they were the right kinds -- I don't think Lily would have accepted "how could I have been so evil?" any more than what Snape did say). Lily would only have accepted change, which Snape was not prepared to do.

Later, his remorse takes the form of change. He had already learned that words accomplished nothing.



HungarianHorntail11 - Feb 11, 2009 9:36 am (#1455 of 2988)  
Snape liked being respected and listened to. He had more of a problem with that aspect of the secret keeping situation. He was angry because James had so little regard for him that he dismissed Snape's warnings. As far as being remorseful, I didn't really get the feeling he was remorseful about having joined the DEs. I always got the feeling he got in over his head and paid a steep price for it. Kind of like the child who apologizes not because he felt badly for doing wrong but because he was caught.

I just don't think there was a whole lot of growth there. More a series of knee-jerk reactions and DD was there to take full advantage. If there had been, I think he'd have had a better death by Jo's hand.

EDIT: Mrs. Brisbee, I don't think any of them deserved death. I do think that the manner in which they die may reflect how Jo feels about the character. Snape did not die a hero's death.



Mrs Brisbee - Feb 11, 2009 10:13 am (#1456 of 2988)  
HungarianHorntail11, although I agree with your assessment of Snape, I don't think we can go by the "quality" of a character's death to assess their value. I don't think anyone who crossed paths with Voldemort got the death they deserved.



wynnleaf - Feb 11, 2009 11:13 am (#1457 of 2988)  
I do think that the manner in which they die may reflect how Jo feels about the character. Snape did not die a hero's death. (HH)

I understand why you might think that. I believe a lot of readers were extremely disappointed with the way in which JKR had Snape die. Many were expecting him to die, but expected something better for him and JKR made it really ugly.

From the many comments I've read by other fans away from the Lexicon Forum, I think most expected Snape to either be discovered by LV and killed, or die in the process of, yet again, trying to protect Harry. JKR kept Snape under his "cover" as a spy the entire time. He never breaks cover and therefore LV never found him out.

She needed him to die in a way that he'd still be alive enough to pass along a kind of "deathbed" statement directly to Harry, so he couldn't be seen to get in the way of an AK, or something like that. And she wanted it tied to LV's search for the mastery of the elderwand, so it had to be LV.

Once you've got those parameters -- needs to be killed by LV, can't be killed with a wand, must live for a bit to pass on info to Harry, must be seen by Harry at time of death, must never break cover for LV -- it almost necessitates a death that seems almost pointless.

Did it convey JKR's real feelings about Snape? Some people think it does and many Snape fans are convinced JKR hates the character. In my opinion, she has a very ambiguous fascination with the character -- a sort of love/hate view of him -- and I don't think his death reflects her feeling about him as much as plot requirements.



Julia H. - Feb 11, 2009 1:43 pm (#1458 of 2988)  
Spinner's End:

You will probably know but I will still mention that there is an interesting essay in the Lexicon about the possible location of Spinner's End. It does not only try to locate the place somewhere in Britain but it also gives us further details of what the house and its neighbourhood may look like, based on the data we already have. I cannot tell how realistic the conclusions are but I definitely find the essay fascinating.

The description of the place and of Snape's clothes and general appearance obviously suggests poverty. We get a realistic picture of muggle poverty, which is probably intentional, but the fact remains that Severus's mother is a witch. I know there is Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration, but I still think a witch could make things a little bit better than that for her son (and the family). So it is either neglect (besides genuine poverty) or some special problem with Eileen that prevents her using magic properly. It may have something to do with Tobias's dislike of magic perhaps.

Anyway, Snape seems to be lonely and it seems he can't wait to get away from home - which is a sure sign that something is terribly wrong in that home.

I wonder how he sees his parents: Does he think of his mother as a victim? Or is he proud of her witch mother? Is he afraid of his father or is he ashamed of him? Has he ever hoped to get love from him? Actually, I think a lot of Snape's problems may originate in his lack of a father figure he can respect and his lack of an appreciative father figure. As other kids, he, too, would probably need a father who encourages his goals and appreciates his talents and shares his interests. He does not have one.

I like the idea about pride as compensation and a rich fantasy life. (The latter could to some extent explain how he can later become fascinated with things he should not be fascinated with or how he can imagine Lily would like him if he became a part of something "powerful and impressive".) Another thing Harry observes is that Snape is probably ashamed of his poverty or of his appearance. He is certainly sensitive to insults concerning those.

I suppose he goes to a Muggle school, where he has to keep his magical talents secret, but (besides being poor and neglected) he is probably "weird" enough to be generally shunned and / or ridiculed by others. He certainly does not know how to make friends in the proper way. He also seems to be longing to truly enter the world of wizards.

Snape did not die a hero's death. (HH)

I did think the same at first but now I see it a bit differently. What happened in the Shrieking Shack was not a duel but an execution. Snape died a horrible death and it was by no means a glorious death. He did not die fighting in battle, that is sending curses towards his enemy, trying to kill Voldemort or some other evil guy. He used no weapons at all and did not even try to defend himself in any way. In fact, he was begging and flattering Voldemort, and as he was mortally injured, he fell on his knees in front of his executioner, with that horrible cage around his head and in terrible pain.

However, I think "heroic" can be more than just "glorious". Snape knew he was going to be killed and yet he was sticking with his duty and Dumbledore's plan. Instead of thinking about his own fate only, he was thinking about the task he was responsible for. As he was dying, he had the strength and the will to complete his mission and to make sure Harry had all the means he needed to vanquish Voldemort. I think it is heroism, and the fact that there was no glory in it to encourage or to comfort him adds to this heroism in a way, in my opinion.

It seems Snape has to give up everything he can possibly give up on his way towards redemption and forgiveness (except his magical powers but nevertheless the use of his wand). At this last stage, he has to give up his life and, after that, his well-guarded secrets. He dies, thinking he is sending the boy he once vowed to protect to his death. He dies, knowing everyone thinks the worst of him. His only comfort is the knowledge that he has done his duty and, of course, that final look into Lily's eyes. It has to be that way for the author to complete Snape's punishment, atonement and his tragedy - but the same events also show us the true extent of his dedication, loyalty and, I think, self-sacrificing heroism.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 11, 2009 4:26 pm (#1459 of 2988)  
Actually, I think a lot of Snape's problems may originate in his lack of a father figure he can respect and his lack of an appreciative father figure. As other kids, he, too, would probably need a father who encourages his goals and appreciates his talents and shares his interests. He does not have one. - Julia

I think we covered the much-overlooked reaction when James says "Like my dad" on the Hogwarts Express and the next line is a retort from Severus that, to me, was triggered by jealousy about James's having an admirable father. This, to me, is *huge* and possibly what all the other jealousy was piled on top of.



Michael Franz - Feb 11, 2009 5:12 pm (#1460 of 2988)  
Here's something I can't figure out. In PoA, the Trio stun Snape, and Hermione is instantly appalled that "we attacked a teacher!" But, instead of telling the Minister that Harry et al. should be arrested for attacking him, Snape says the Trio must have been Confunded. Does he really believe that? Why doesn't he think that Harry has just decided to do what he's no doubt spent three years fantasizing about?



Steve Newton - Feb 11, 2009 6:07 pm (#1461 of 2988)  
I figured that Snape was protecting Harry. This would seem to fit no matter which side he was on since even if evil he had to do what Dumbledore wanted.



Istani - Feb 11, 2009 7:47 pm (#1462 of 2988)  
Actually, I think a lot of Snape's problems may originate in his lack of a father figure he can respect and his lack of an appreciative father figure. As other kids, he, too, would probably need a father who encourages his goals and appreciates his talents and shares his interests. He does not have one. Julia

Though there is definitely some truth in that I do believe that not all of his problems are because of a lack of an appreciative father figure since there are a lot of single mothers who do actually manage to raise their kids quite well. Therefore I think that Severus' problem is that neither his father nor his mother have really cared for him. It was said he looked like a plant kept in the dark and that indicates neglect, probably from both sides. That is not the proper upbringing for a child and in comparison to Harry, who also had a miserable childhood, Severus had probably never experienced much love in his youth (whereas Harry had this his early days, given we are right to assume Lily and James loved their son) The point I'm trying to make here is, that with such a background he had probably never learned how to make friends. And later in his life- in my opinion it makes sense that he never tried to be a social and agreeable person because of the guilt on his shoulders and the task he had to do.

I imagine that spying on Voldemort was not a very pleasant job to do. Severus would have to be very careful to let not even slip a single thought of what he felt in the presence of the one who killed Lily, and if he had actually become such a generally remorseful, kind, acknowledging all his previous flaws person, he might not have stand meeting Voldy on a regular basis or whenever he was called.

There are many more things I would like to say but in regards to Lily I'm really wondering if their friendship was ever any better than what was portrayed in the books... to me it always seemed as if she was patting a stray's head of course we are best friends, Sev and quickly wiped her hands afterwards... never accepting him just like she never accepted him apologizing.

And what else could he have done? I mean, doesn't it count that he was willing to camp in front of the lion's den just to talk to her?

He had been humiliated by James only hours ago and he knew the Marauders were constantly breaking the rules, and yet he waited there for Lily. I consider that quite remarkable.

The latter could to some extent explain how he can later become fascinated with things he should not be fascinated with or how he can imagine Lily would like him if he became a part of something "powerful and impressive" Julia

Actually, I blame the part of wanting to belong to 'something powerful and impressive' as typically male teenage idiocy. Come on, girl, who would want that?



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 11, 2009 8:30 pm (#1463 of 2988)  
I agree, Steve. Underlying all that Severus does in the series, whether you like him or loathe him, is his agreement to keep Harry safe. I wondered a while back why he would want to get Harry suspended in that scene if he was charged with protecting him. However, the answer is because DD imparted to Severus that Harry was protected when under the roof of #4 Privet Drive, IMO. Sev didn't know why or have to know why, but I think he was informed of Harry's protection during the summer break. Now, getting handed over to the MoM for accomplice to Sirius's escape, there Harry would no longer be under anyone's protection. JM2K

Back to little boy Severus: to me it is clear that Severus had serious problems with his father. Why else would we be shown how inferior he considered Muggles? Had he felt anything positive or warm toward his father he would not have had such a marked prejudice against them. I think it is important to note that when Sev *almost* says to Lily on the train 'She's only a-' Muggle, just afterward we are shown James and his pride over his wizard father who was a brave-hearted Gryffindor.

Getting to Hogwarts seems like a dream Severus has held onto in his neglected life. I'd agree that he was likely struggling to deal with Muggle school and obviously wasn't looking the part of a well-adjusted young boy, playing football/soccer or even joining a "nerdy" club. I doubt he had any friends until Lily. Again just speculating.

After trying to get over the devastation of the Hogwarts Express ride -- being snickered at in front of Lily, almost being tripped, and getting the nickname that stuck with him and endured throughout his Hogwarts academic life -- to top it all off Lily is Sorted into the House of his new antagonists. I suppose Lucius patting him on the back when he sat at Slytherin's table was a welcomed change. And the plot thickens...



Julia H. - Feb 11, 2009 11:57 pm (#1464 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 12, 2009 12:49 am
Istani, I agree that Snape was neglected by both his parents and that was a much bigger problem than just being neglected and disliked by one. Not enough motherly love and care prevents him from learning to trust other people, from being able to show love and to build healthy relationships with people. But I think he was at least able to identify with his witch mother somewhat - but not with his father. (He mentions his mother to Lily the first time he speaks to her.)

What I was thinking about was that Snape may have been longing for, even "looking for", a wizard "father" (not consciously, of course), who he could respect and whose appreciation would be possible to win and worth winning. Little boys need encouragment and appreciation from their fathers independently of what they may get from their mothers and they will typically find the first role-models of their lives in their fathers. This is totally missing in the case of Snape - even though he has a living father. Older kid and pureblood prefect Lucius patting him on the back on his first day at Hogwarts (and after his first meeting with James) may have a serious significance because of that. Voldemort may also seem to be this powerful wizard father figure to him. (Voldemort does seem to act like a powerful and demanding "father", punishing and rewarding his followers personally. Of course, this is an absolutely negative father figure but Snape does not have a better ("real") father to compare him with. He will be tragically disappointed.) In the end, Dumbledore will be the real father figure Snape finds and I think the way he comes to care for Dumbledore and his need to deserve and to keep Dumbledore's trust and good opinion may suggest that Snape has always had feelings for a father, only there was no true recipient for these emotions during the first twenty years of his life. It may also be one of the reasons why he is worried about losing Dumbledore's trust or why it may be difficult for him to believe that trust really exists.



wynnleaf - Feb 12, 2009 3:29 am (#1465 of 2988)  
Little boys need encouragment and appreciation from their fathers independently of what they may get from their mothers and they will typically find the first role-models of their lives in their fathers. This is totally missing in the case of Snape - even though he has a living father. (Julia)

I wouldn't call the role-model missing, but extremely negative. If the hints we're given are actually hints - not random - then Snape's father was an angry, at least verbally abusive man who, as young Severus says, didn't like much of anything. And does Severus ultimately pick up on that as a negative role-model? Yes, I think so, at least to an extent. He learns anger almost as a default response to any stress or frustration, and he tends toward being very critical of his students.

Many kids with a very negative or non-existent real-life father model do often look for a better father figure as they get older and gravitate toward those relationships, and Snape does this as well, first with LV and then DD. He may have initially looked toward Slughorn, especially as a budding potions prodigy, and I do think Slughorn probably liked Snape and had him in the Slug Club. Still, Slughorn doesn't have the role model strength that Snape was drawn to. I think JKR's comment was more correct that Snape's insecurities moved him to seek something, or someone, strong enough to give him security.



Julia H. - Feb 12, 2009 6:34 am (#1466 of 2988)  
Good point, Wynnleaf, about Snape picking up on the negative role-model his father provided. But I don't think the nine- or ten-year-old Severus would consciously accept his father as a role-model. He would probably not think anything like "I want to be / do anything like my father" - the very idea Shadow noticed with James. It is also important that Severus does not seem to have experienced the feeling that his father was proud of anything that he did or knew or was able to do. It seems to me that after experiencing and understanding his father's rejection, he also rejected his father (as a father and as a Muggle). But of course, he could still "learn" behaviour patterns from him (and some things may have been genetically determined, too).

Interesting point about Slughorn and potions. I agree that Slughorn probably liked Snape but I think he may have been too preoccupied with all kinds of future and current celebrities to really notice that Snape was like "a plant kept in the dark" or to do anything about it. BTW, Snape seems to be poor enough to receive some money from the Hogwarts fund like Tom Riddle had before him. Now if I just imagine Snape walking into Slughorn's richly furnished, elegant and comfortable office with the necessary forms in his hand... They seem to be worlds apart despite Slughorn's probable sympathy and their shared talent and interest in potions and all. But I also agree that Slughorn, as a "father figure", could not seem to be able to give Snape security.



mona amon - Feb 12, 2009 8:18 am (#1467 of 2988)  
Actually, I think it is quite possible, because people are so very flawed and easily able to believe and act on contradictory things at the same time. While there are certainly some actions or beliefs that are truly incompatible, I find, in real life, if I try to judge someone in a way that is like: "you must not really believe x or you would never continue to do y," I would have to decide that very few people really believe or hold to most of the ethics or morals which they claim.

For instance, while most people would say it is wrong to lie, most people will still lie, given a pressing reason, or they act in some ways that are dishonest, or they conceal truth which should not be concealed. People who say that forgiving others is extremely important, still find that there are people that they can't seem to forgive. (Wynnleaf)


Wynnleaf, I agree that a lot of people are like that, but that is because they've set their moral or ethical standards unrealistically high and are not able to live upto them. They are not being altogether honest with themselves about their moral standards. Snape does not set any moral standards for himself that we know about.

So I find it very realistic that a person could have great remorse over his joining an evil dark lord's group and delving so much into dark arts, great remorse over following a blood purity group and their ethics (if he did believe in blood purity), and great remorse for getting two people killed, and still hate a man who bullied him for years while getting away with it (at least in terms of becoming lauded as Head Boy while still attacking Snape on the side), and still hate a man who also bullied him for years, who almost got him killed as a teen and is unremorseful about it as an adult.

I agree he had remorse about joining an evil group (because he changes his loyalties completely and starts fighting against the evil group), and if he ever had the blood purity thing he certainly regretted it ("Don't use that word!"), and he obviously regretted getting Lily killed. Any remorse about James has to be imagined by those who want to. There's nothing in the book that I can see to support it. I'm also not so sure about how much he regretted the dark arts. And well, the knowledge certainly proved useful.

In my opinion, "taking responsibility" isn't a matter of saying "I was a bad person and did wrong", but turning around and changing who you are and changing the effects of what you did. That's real responsibility.

I agree, but the change should include forgiving others and letting go of your grudges. A repentant person who does not do that just hasn't done the necessary work, IMO, even if he is truly remorseful about some things.

Anyway if Snape was this completely remorseful character who had done all the necessary introspection, accepted his guilt, was remorseful even to the extent of having regrets about James, what do you find in him that's 'dark'? (This question is for Julia too ) Surely not the way he bullies Harry and co. I don't find that dark at all, I find it hilarious. When Snape taunts Harry about his dead father and godfather thus, "James Potter and Sirius Black. Apprehended using an illegal hex upon Bertram Aubrey. Aubrey's head twice normal size. Double detention."' Snape sneered. 'It must be such a comfort to think that though they are gone, a record of their great acheivements remains..." That has to be one of the most outrageous and most funny lines in all children's literature, with the possible exception of the line about Peter Rabbit's father getting put into a pie by Mrs. McGregor.  



wynnleaf - Feb 12, 2009 9:49 am (#1468 of 2988)  
mona amon,

By no means do I think Snape completed all of the process of complete remorse for everything he did wrong, forgiveness for all he'd ever hated, etc. On the other hand, neither have I. So I just don't see that as something he had to have done to be acknowledged as remorseful in an overall sense.

What exactly do you think he should have been remorseful about, for which you doubt he had any remorse?

I think we'd all agree he's not remorseful about how he treats Harry, but in my opinion, I don't think he even recognized it as wrong, nor did, apparently, Dumbledore or other teachers act as though Snape treated his students in any particularly wrong way. Yes, he is wrong to loath Harry and he's not remorseful about that.

I do think there's a difference between his harshness toward Harry in class and as a teacher, versus insulting James to Harry's face. I doubt he's much to blame for not seeing what's wrong with his style in class, but he's much more at fault for insulting Harry's dad to his face.

However, James is another story, I think. Of course, he continued to hate James, but that in no way precludes his having remorse over having gotten James targeted by LV. As I have said, I think it's incompatible to be unable to watch while people die (even people you dislike) without attempting to save them if possible, while having no regrets about getting another person killed who didn't otherwise have to die. I don't think Snape was sorry James was dead -- that is, if James had died in something completely unrelated, Snape would in no way be sorry about it. But I don't see how he couldn't have remorse for his part in getting James killed.

Still, apart from following an Evil Dark Wizard, (possibly) taking on a blood purity belief, taking the prophecy to DD, his part in the Potter's deaths, what else do you think Snape should be remorseful about?

I don't necessarily think he should be sorry about his interest in Dark Magic, especially since JKR never showed us what was bad about it over and above other potentially harmful magic. Certainly he should be remorseful about his willingness to harm others -- if he did, which we don't know.

The degree to which Snape should be remorseful about his teaching style is highly debatable, because he's practically a quintessential old style British teacher, before the trends to more modern teaching styles. And without (I assume) any training, or any apparent disapproval from his administrator, I don't see that he should be remorseful about that style of teaching.



tandaradei - Feb 12, 2009 9:53 am (#1469 of 2988)  
Thanks, Michael Franz, for that question (about Snape not accusing Harry @ end PoA; so many posts to catch on!); and thanks for all those answers ... another question to file away.

Folks here are putting Dumbledore up as Snape's Father Figure. If so, I wonder how Snape handled DD's demand on him, which would apparently would have become, erm, fratricide.



wynnleaf - Feb 12, 2009 12:10 pm (#1470 of 2988)  
Folks here are putting Dumbledore up as Snape's Father Figure. If so, I wonder how Snape handled DD's demand on him, which would apparently would have become, erm, fratricide. (tandaradei)

As I see it, if you've already had a highly disfunctional real father, then future father figures are likely to be accepted even if they aren't really ideal, as long as they treat you much better than the original and offer safety and acceptance. Of course, LV -- if Snape was drawn to the father figure aspect -- was horrible, but he likely did offer Snape more in the way of acceptance and power (a type of safety). DD certainly wasn't horrible and he was clearly some kind of mentor, but I never feel that DD understands the emotional needs of people under his "authority" (authority of varying sorts), and therefore often does things that wreak havoc with people's emotions and doesn't appear to recognize he's doing it. I'm thinking of having Sirius practically incarcerated in his very Dark childhood home when the man had been in prison for 12 years and on the run and living in caves for two more. DD's talk with Harry in OOTP, immediately following Sirius' death is kind of appalling in it's lack of understanding for someone's emotions -- going on criticizing Sirius a mere hour or two after Harry watched him murdered. Similarly, I think he often had no real thought for what he was asking Snape to go through emotionally. What is "splitting the soul" that Draco would be deeply harmed (I agree that he would) by murdering DD, but somehow Snape is going to come through unscathed, just because he can justify it as a mercy killing??? We never see any acknowledgment from DD that he was asking Snape to do something horrendously difficult and that would be devastating to most people. Given how DD made the "request" (didn't really give any alternatives other than Draco becoming a murderer), it didn't sound like he really thought much at all how it would affect Snape.

So how would it have affected Snape? Remember that JKR mirrored the description of Harry's intense self-disgust and self-hatred when he had to pour the cave potion down DD's throat, with Snape's disgust and hatred. That made it clear (from a literary sense), that Snape felt great self disgust and hatred at having to AK DD.

Then afterward, when JKR once again mirrored Snape's emotions, this time to the trapped dog howling in fear and pain in the burning house through which we can see Snape's immediate reactions of feeling trapped and in fear and emotional pain.

So there we have Snape's reactions to AKing DD, all in the mirroring imagery JKR used: self hate, self-disgust, an intense feeling of being trapped and in fear and emotional pain.


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Julia H. - Feb 12, 2009 12:32 pm (#1471 of 2988)  
I agree, but the change should include forgiving others and letting go of your grudges. A repentant person who does not do that just hasn't done the necessary work, IMO, even if he is truly remorseful about some things. (Mona)

I wonder what you mean by should. Do you mean "it would be morally right" or that "without it there is no change"? I'm asking this because I agree that it would be morally right if he could do all that. But I don't think there is no change without that because Snape changed in other ways. I think even though he did not let go of his grudges, he was remorseful and that caused him to reform.

Anyway if Snape was this completely remorseful character who had done all the necessary introspection, accepted his guilt, was remorseful even to the extent of having regrets about James, what do you find in him that's 'dark'? (Mona)

Hm...  To start with, I don't think Snape was spending nights weeping about James's death. But I think he regretted having ever caused anyone's death, having ever helped Voldemort in any way - and that included James. If James had suddenly been found alive, I don't think Snape would have wanted to cause his death again. But he did not forgive James. Regarding that, I agree with Dumbledore, who said "some wounds run too deep for the healing". Snape had a wounded soul and that could not be healed at will. But I do think Snape regretted what he did.

Regarding what I find in Snape that is dark: I think Snape is a profoundly unhappy man, who cannot find real hope in his life. He has a life purpose, it is true, but whatever he does, whatever he achieves, I don't think he hopes to get rid of his guilt or to be able to really put anything right. I think he is tormented by his past, by his guilt and probably by many horrible memories - not only from the "old times" but also new ones from his spy days. His soul is burdened with unhappy, "dark" feelings and he cannot open up to other people. I could continue, but perhaps this is enough to explain what kind of things I find "dark" in Snape.

I don't think he has to regret his Dark Arts knowledge. The question is how he uses this knowledge.

As for remorse, I like Tandaradei's definition. Snape realized that his old ways were bad and he regretted them. He became an "empty cup" and was ready to change, accepting the guidance of someone he thought to be wiser and better, someone who could lead him onto a better path. And he never looked back.

I don't find that dark at all, I find it hilarious.

What I cannot find fault with Snape for is his Quidditch rivalry with Gryffindor / McGonagall. I think that it is absolutely funny and entertaining.  

Folks here are putting Dumbledore up as Snape's Father Figure. If so, I wonder how Snape handled DD's demand on him, which would apparently would have become, erm, fratricide. (Tandaradei)




wynnleaf - Feb 12, 2009 3:20 pm (#1472 of 2988)  
Regarding what I find in Snape that is dark: I think Snape is a profoundly unhappy man, who cannot find real hope in his life. He has a life purpose, it is true, but whatever he does, whatever he achieves, I don't think he hopes to get rid of his guilt or to be able to really put anything right. I think he is tormented by his past, by his guilt and probably by many horrible memories - not only from the "old times" but also new ones from his spy days. His soul is burdened with unhappy, "dark" feelings and he cannot open up to other people. I could continue, but perhaps this is enough to explain what kind of things I find "dark" in Snape. (Julia)

Yes, this is the way I see Snape as dark. I don't see Snape, by the time Harry meets him, as a "dark wizard" in the sense of practicing dark magic. Of course, he knows a great deal about dark magic. So does DD, but Snape probably knows more, because (whatever dark magic is), he'd done some of it -- likely more than sectumsempra. Still, by the time Harry is there, the most interest Snape shows in Dark Magic is, according to Hermione, described with the same kind of interest and thoughts that Harry displayed when talking to the DA -- that is to say, the attitude one should have in fighting it.

Snape is initially drawn to the Dark, goes to LV in a search for the power and security that Dark Magic would give, but later when he is finally teaching DADA, he talks about how dangerous and ever changing it is and how you have to constantly be on the alert around it. Snape continues to use his knowledge of Dark Arts, but as far as we know he uses it only to save people's lives, to further his work as a spy, and to train students to fight it. So what does he think of Dark Arts now? It brought about death to two people he cared for, both Lily and finally to DD (the ring and its curse). We see no evidence that he continued to love it; more evidence that he was actively fighting it.

By the time of the series, the darkness of Snape is, in my opinion, more his pain, bitterness, and regret.

A year or so ago, another Snape fan found this Randall Jarrell poem, of which these later verses remind me of Snape. This is how his darkness seems to me by the time of DH when he is alone, likely expecting to die eventually, surrounded by death and torture, and consumed by the grief/remorse of Lily and Dumbledore's deaths.

The last verses of Randall Jarrell's "90 North"

I reached my North and it had meaning.

Here at the actual pole of my existence,

Where all that I have done is meaningless,

Where I die or live by accident alone—

Where, living or dying, I am still alone;

Here where North, the night, the berg of death

Crowd me out of the ignorant darkness,

I see at last that all the knowledge

I wrung from the darkness—that the darkness flung me—

Is worthless as ignorance: nothing comes from nothing,

The darkness from the darkness. Pain comes from the darkness

And we call it wisdom. It is pain.



Julia H. - Feb 12, 2009 4:58 pm (#1473 of 2988)  
Beautiful. Very appropriate.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 12, 2009 8:38 pm (#1474 of 2988)  
I agree with you both. I don’t feel that Severus ever expected to be happy again after losing Lily. He went down the dark path because those with nothing to lose tend to be reckless.

To me, since he was surrounded by Slytherin kids (nothing personal Pesky) and according to canon had already begun to make excuses for their trying to perform dark magic, the boundaries were becoming less and less defined for Sev as to what was acceptable. His hatred toward James probably amplified his interest in dark magic because, just like Harry wanting to *get* Draco, this would be the most effective way to show his strength -- if he couldn't do it on the Quidditch field then he'd do it this way. He was blinded by hatred and jealousy and had a House full of kids egging him on to join them. And when Lily drew the line for him, he figured at that point there was nothing to lose and, I’d imagine, those Slytherin kids were there to say “forget her, we’re your real friends.”

The predisposition toward secrecy, fantasy and (lack of) something to be proud of would be the cocktail needed for this young wizard to apply his considerable academic talents to the dark arts.



Dryleaves - Feb 13, 2009 1:05 am (#1475 of 2988)  
Beautiful poem, Wynnleaf.

On Snape and his father: I find it so heartbreakingly sad when the child Severus says about his father "He doesn't like anything, much", when we know what a bitter and unhappy person the adult Severus will later become.  



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 13, 2009 10:36 am (#1476 of 2988)  
Dryleaves, I agree. I would also comment that the *inner* darkness he feels is reflected in a person's environment -- in Severus's case I find it worthy of note that he remained in the dungeons even after getting the DADA position and it's master's lofty quarters.

I'm trying to go in a chronology with his emotions/subconscious, and feel that Sev's de-volution, its motivation and influences in Hogwarts has been well established.

Since no canon exists for evidence of his DE days and acts back then except for the night on the hilltop I'll continue there:



"forlorn and cold in the darkness"; upon seeing Severus and his desperation, "his fear infected Harry"


Looking "mad", we can gather from the description that Severus has reached rock bottom with making excuses for whatever tasks Voldemort has/had charged him with now and prior to the Prophecy. His fear of DD is magnified by guilt, fear of punishment by the "right side". DD's mercy not punishment, as always, proves to be the healing salve.


He has already exposed his love for a Muggle-born to Vold by this point, a great risk in itself for a DE, it would seem. He does not realise that Vold agreed to the request to spare her life, nor does he understand the mammoth implications and consequences of having provided the impetus for Harry to receive the unique protection. I also find it interesting that, with Severus taking such a risk revealing his feelings for Lily, there must have *already* been some kind of "friendship" or kinship between Sev and Vold, for it is the one act of mercy we see coming from Vold. Giving Wormtail his hand was merely a "tracking" device that would turn on and kill its owner if he revealed the least bit of mercy, even despite the old magic of life-debt Wormtail owed Harry.


It wasn't easy for Severus to want to save James at that point in his life. I am still a bit convinced that he had obsessive tendencies toward Lily and would have been alright with James and Harry out of the picture so that he could go to Lily as a hero, saving her life and "nothing he could do" about her husband and child, and that then they might resume their relationship. DD "guilts" Sev into saying he wants them all saved; however reluctant at first this agreement was, I believe it was another stepping stone toward the right path of redemption.


The "irksome fly" reaction speaks volumes. This little black-haired fly will land on Severus a few more hundred times!


He is suicidal; it would be the easy way out. Some would say the "coward's" way to end the pain. He chooses life in order to redeem himself and to one day feel worthy of Lily's forgiveness.

More later... any thoughts?



Julia H. - Feb 13, 2009 3:12 pm (#1477 of 2988)  
DD's mercy not punishment, as always, proves to be the healing salve.

I agree that Snape must expect to be captured at least. When his wand flies out if his hand and he falls on his knees, saying "Don't kill me!", he is practically surrendering to Dumbledore. Since he is so much preoccupied with thoughts of Lily and his request, it may come quite as a surprise to him when he realizes that he is not a prisoner after all - but I wonder when exactly this happens. (In principle, even when he says "Anything", it can still mean that he will be a cooperating prisoner, for example.)

I would like to know how the scene between DD and Snape continues. They must talk some more because they have to agree about Snape becoming a spy, which could logically start with Snape telling DD everything he already knows. But I'm not sure this conversation can continue on the hilltop, so maybe they will go to ... DD's office at Hogwarts? Once in a safer place and talking, Dumbledore can learn more about Snape's motivations - which is something he should be interested in before he trusts him with any work for the Order. This would explain why he will be later so sure about Snape being remorseful at this point. I also think that a longer conversation with Dumbledore, who has just promised to protect Lily and is willing to help rather than punish, could increase feelings of shame and remorse in Snape. Another topic that is likely to be mentioned between them is Snape's Occlumency skills, since spying on Voldemort is rather hopeless when he just reads his followers' minds on a regular basis - unless, of course, someone can defend himself against it. By this time Snape must have learned Occlumency (unless he learns it that very night from Dumbledore, which sounds less likely to me), and it is also an interesting question why and how. It has been discussed and one possible explanation is that he has already been trying to resist Voldemort's intrusion into his mind.

He does not realise that Vold agreed to the request to spare her life...

I'm not sure he does not realize it - but I think he knows it would be dangerous if Lily and Voldemort met face to face at all. He obviously considers Voldemort capable of breaking his promise to him and he knows Lily well enough to guess Lily would try to fight for her family. This is the same Lily who got angry about the branch falling on Petunia as well as about the attack on Mary and who tried to defend Snape, too, when he was tormented by James. Besides, he has just found it out that Lily has already defied Voldemort three times.

I am still a bit convinced that he had obsessive tendencies toward Lily and would have been alright with James and Harry out of the picture so that he could go to Lily as a hero, saving her life and "nothing he could do" about her husband and child, and that then they might resume their relationship.

Even if he would have liked something like that, by going to Dumbledore, he pretty much gave up this possibility. Although he was interested in saving only Lily, he must have realized that Dumbledore would want to save / warn the whole family.

I also find it interesting that, with Severus taking such a risk revealing his feelings for Lily, there must have *already* been some kind of "friendship" or kinship between Sev and Vold, for it is the one act of mercy we see coming from Vold.

Interesting thought that this "one act of mercy" has played such an important role in Voldemort's defeat... But I have never thought there was "friendship" or anything similar between Voldemort and Snape. My guess is that Voldemort regarded this favour as a reward for Snape bringing the Prophecy to him, and it mainly shows how important this piece of information was to him. It probably also shows Snape must have suddenly become a much more important DE than he had been before. It is significant that Snape (unlike Lucius) leaves Voldemort and chooses Lily over him just when he seems to be rising in power and influence.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 13, 2009 9:24 pm (#1478 of 2988)  
But I'm not sure this conversation can continue on the hilltop, so maybe they will go to ... DD's office at Hogwarts? - Julia

Certainly possible, but I found it a wonderful added flavour to the scene that within the drowning sound of wind, DD flicked his wand and ‘…silence fell on the spot where he and Snape faced each other.’ Could be they were as good as soundproof and invisible!

By this time Snape must have learned Occlumency (unless he learns it that very night from Dumbledore, which sounds less likely to me)

I agree and would venture to say the skill is innate, just as Harry was incapable of it, Severus, and his predisposition to secrecy and other stuff mentioned, would be a born Occlumense.

He does not realise that Vold agreed to the request to spare her life... (me)

I'm not sure he does not realize it - Julia


Good point. He might not think it enough that Vold said ‘Okay’.

Even if he would have liked something like that, by going to Dumbledore, he pretty much gave up this possibility. Although he was interested in saving only Lily, he must have realized that Dumbledore would want to save / warn the whole family.

I agree he might subconsciously have wanted DD to step in but I think your statement about his emotional state on the hilltop is accurate; he was absolutely desperate and probably wasn’t thinking beyond hearing DD assure him she’d be hidden and safe. He seems in that scene to be most reluctant to agree to James and Harry.

‘Keep her – them – safe.’

Oops. Yeah, them safe... that’s what I meant!  

So I’m not completely convinced but I’m not judging Severus at all for my observations of “obsessive” tendencies. Given where he came from and who he is inherently, I cannot blame him.

I wanted to add to the discussion that it seems we rarely see Severus out in the day. Except for Quidditch, I am having trouble finding him out and about in the sunshine! Poignant, I think, always in darkness, as I mentioned before the environment reflecting the inner life. And there's a line from The Prince's Tale when he and Lily are sitting under the trees, the shadows and light and them facing each other sitting cross-legged (another symbol to me of the criss-cross, being entwined together). The line mentions he 'looked better in the half-light'. Another split for Severus, the half-blood, the half Slytherin half brave man who might have done well in Gryffindor, and on and on.



Julia H. - Feb 14, 2009 3:10 am (#1479 of 2988)  
Could be they were as good as soundproof and invisible! (MAMS)

Yes, that is certainly possible. But it still does not seem to be a comfortable place for a longer conversation.  

He might not think it enough that Vold said ‘Okay’.

Basically what happened was that Voldy did mean to keep his promise - but only as long as Lily would "agree" to his conditions.

I agree he might subconsciously have wanted DD to step in but I think your statement about his emotional state on the hilltop is accurate; he was absolutely desperate and probably wasn’t thinking beyond hearing DD assure him she’d be hidden and safe.

I can very well imagine the teenage Snape having wild fantasies about one day saving Lily's life in some heroic way, winning her admiration and proving to be worthier of her than James, with Lily actually realizing that. Now, however, there are two possibilities I can think of: He is either able to calculate the possible consequences beyond saving Lily's life - and in this case, if he thinks about any future relationship between himself and Lily, he must also realize that going to DD will mean saving James as well as Lily, and also that he won't really be able to appear to be a hero with DD knowing what he did; or he is far too desperate and terrified to think about anything else but saving Lily and that includes the safety of James and Harry as well as any personal dreams he may have had about Lily. My guess, on the basis of Snape's general behaviour, is the latter. The former, however, would include a conscious choice between

A) Voldemort's promise, which would mean saving Lily and getting James out of the way at the same time but include the risk of Voldemort not keeping his promise

and

B) Dumbledore's protection, which would most likely be extended to Lily's family as well, meaning Lily would still be James's wife in the future, however, she would be more likely to survive than if she was left to just Voldemort's mercy.

He seems in that scene to be most reluctant to agree to James and Harry.

‘Keep her – them – safe.’

Hm... my reading is not 'reluctant' but that he slowly realizes that Dumbledore expects him to want to save James and Harry, too, and to include them in his request. (If he thinks he is a prisoner, it must be surprising that DD starts lecturing him on morality instead of taking him to the aurors as soon as possible. Snape seems "to shrink a little".) Then when he understands that this is what DD wants him to do, he obediently switches to "save them all", meaning probably 'do anything, just save her, and I'll agree to any conditions, just save her'. At this moment, the latest, he realizes that saving Lily will include saving James, while DD makes a point of Snape actually pronouncing that he wants DD to save them all. That may be a necessary gesture before DD asks Snape the decisive question in the end - "What will you give me in return?"

Good observation about the "half-light".



mona amon - Feb 14, 2009 6:05 am (#1480 of 2988)  
However, James is another story, I think. Of course, he continued to hate James, but that in no way precludes his having remorse over having gotten James targeted by LV. As I have said, I think it's incompatible to be unable to watch while people die (even people you dislike) without attempting to save them if possible, while having no regrets about getting another person killed who didn't otherwise have to die. I don't think Snape was sorry James was dead -- that is, if James had died in something completely unrelated, Snape would in no way be sorry about it. But I don't see how he couldn't have remorse for his part in getting James killed.

Still, apart from following an Evil Dark Wizard, (possibly) taking on a blood purity belief, taking the prophecy to DD, his part in the Potter's deaths, what else do you think Snape should be remorseful about? (Wynnleaf)


I actually think this is part of Snape's problem. He didn't do anything blatantly evil like torturing or killing anyone. Even his part in the Potters' deaths could be seen as accidental in the sense that he had absolutely no intention of bringing about their deaths. Having nothing as concrete as murder or torture or such things to repent about, I think it's possible that Severus never realised the full extent of his culpability. I think he should be remorseful that he was evil enough to join Voldemort and continue to serve him eagerly even after he discovered how bad he was. I think he just regretted having joined him, because he suddenly realised that Voldemort was evil, and he didn't like evil anymore. This is difficult for me to explain, the difference being so subtle. In the one case the focus is on Voldemort's evil-ness. In the other, it's on his own.

This is what I feel Severus should be remorseful about, not dark arts or James' death (in the sense of spending nights crying over James, as Julia puts it), or how he treated his students. I do not get the feeling that he ever made this connection- "I was so evil and I was given a second chance. I have no right to judge others."

I agree, but the change should include forgiving others and letting go of your grudges. A repentant person who does not do that just hasn't done the necessary work, IMO, even if he is truly remorseful about some things. (Mona)

I wonder what you mean by should. Do you mean "it would be morally right" or that "without it there is no change"? (Julia)


Both. I feel a person cannot be completely remorseful if he hasn't made this change, because he hasn't really understood what he has to be remorseful about. But that doesn't mean he hasn't made any change. In fact, in Severus's case, he made a change from 'evil' to it's complete opposite.

Regarding what I find in Snape that is dark: I think Snape is a profoundly unhappy man, who cannot find real hope in his life. He has a life purpose, it is true, but whatever he does, whatever he achieves, I don't think he hopes to get rid of his guilt or to be able to really put anything right. I think he is tormented by his past, by his guilt and probably by many horrible memories - not only from the "old times" but also new ones from his spy days. His soul is burdened with unhappy, "dark" feelings and he cannot open up to other people. I could continue, but perhaps this is enough to explain what kind of things I find "dark" in Snape. (Julia)

These are part of the things that I too find dark in him, but a lot of these are symptoms of incompletely resolved feelings about his past. I was going through the games thread just now, where I'm several posts behind, and I came across this very appropriate quote, "Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery." (Dumbledore to McGonagall in the end of GoF when she suggests that Harry should go to the hospital wing.)

Great current discussion, but I'm in a rush!  



Julia H. - Feb 14, 2009 8:05 am (#1481 of 2988)  
These are part of the things that I too find dark in him, but a lot of these are symptoms of incompletely resolved feelings about his past. (Mona)

Snape does seem to have "incompletely resolved" or even completely unresolved feelings about his past. As for the causal relationship, I think it may also be the other way round - his unresolvable guilt (the fact that he cannot bring back the dead and cannot forgive himself) may be the reason of certain unresolved feelings about his past. I don't think being remorseful and atoning necessarily includes acceptance or recovery, rather that it is a process of several steps. I find it possible that recovery would come later (if ever) than actual remorse, after perhaps a certain critical point in the atonement process. For example, after Voldemort's death and after having completed the task of protecting Harry, Snape could perhaps move on (slowly) towards acceptance or forgiveness or towards finding a way to live with his guilt in a less self-destructive way.

Changing from 'evil' to it's complete opposite must be serious "soul work" in itself. But remorse does not automatically and immediately provide any kind of recovery and I am not surprised that this kind of guilt is impossible to get rid of. In fact, I would find it a bit suspicious if after some great moments of regret and remorse, one could quickly move on to acceptance and recovery and the wisdom necessary for forgiveness because:

A) If the person is so ready to become this harmonious type of personality, then what made him follow evil in the first place? Discovering and regretting the evil he did does not in itself solve the original problems Snape had, but now bigger problems are added to them. Knowing that you were looking for the solution to your problems in the wrong place does not mean these problems cease to exist or that they will suddenly become easier. A healthy soul may have a healthier attitude in this situation. (But how does a healthy soul get into a situation like this? By accident perhaps.) Snape is a deeply wounded soul.

B) Also, quick recovery and acceptance implies (to me) the ability to quickly forgive one's own guilt. So the fact that Snape cannot become instantly good and forgiving and accepting and that he actually seems to be stewing in his own juice for many years would seem to suggest deeper and more difficult remorse to me than the ability to quickly resolve his emotional problems.



wynnleaf - Feb 14, 2009 9:10 am (#1482 of 2988)  
I think he should be remorseful that he was evil enough to join Voldemort and continue to serve him eagerly even after he discovered how bad he was. I think he just regretted having joined him, because he suddenly realised that Voldemort was evil, and he didn't like evil anymore. (mona amon)

First, we don't know when he "discovered how bad he was". It may be that Snape joined up, was sent on various spying missions, ended up hearing the prophecy, took it to LV, and only found out when LV decided to target a family that LV himself, not just a few rogue DEs, was killing people and was perfectly willing to kill anyone mentioned in such a prophecy.

You have to remember that many young people recruited into terrorist groups aren't told "join us and kill people", but are often given the impression that any murders of innocents they've heard about are the result of a fringe group, not the central leadership of the terrorist organization. I'm not talking about terrorist groups who consider the deaths of others in bombings and such to be some sort of bizarre "mercy" for them and their own suicide deaths leading them on to a glorious afterlife. Do note though, that even for those groups, the innocent dead are often considered to have died mercifully because they died for a great cause. Terrorist groups often recruit the disenfranchised and people who, as JKR said, are very insecure and looking for something powerful to belong to. The idea isn't to recruit the "evil" young people who just love to kill and torture for fun, but to recruit people who are desperate for something and to convince them that they'll find it in the group.

I don't necessarily see Snape entering the DEs as a sign that he was any more evil than many other "good guys" -- for instance, the Marauders. His understanding that the DEs and LV would offer him security and a power that would make him feel strong enough to overcome whatever inadequacies he felt was obviously dead wrong. And he discovered the truth about LV.

I suppose I reserve the word "evil" for an intentional desire to do great harm to others without regard. I doubt that Snape joined for those reasons and indeed, we get no evidence that he ever joined in during DE murders and so on; rather, we get evidence that he didn't. Certainly if he had desired to harm others, he had plenty of opportunity to do so.

Also, quick recovery and acceptance implies (to me) the ability to quickly forgive one's own guilt. So the fact that Snape cannot become instantly good and forgiving and accepting and that he actually seems to be stewing in his own juice for many years would seem to suggest deeper and more difficult remorse to me than the ability to quickly resolve his emotional problems. (Julia)

I completely agree.

Back on Snape and Dumbledore prior to the Potter's deaths...

That was a fascinating discussion Julia and shadow. Did you think about the fact that DD asked Snape/spy to join the faculty at Hogwarts before the Potter's deaths? He must have gotten to know Snape rather well by then and he must have been quite convinced that Snape was the sort of person who he could trust around hundreds of innocent children.

Based on the hilltop description (leaves off the trees and blowing wildly), it's late fall or early winter, which fits with JKR's comment that the Potters went into hiding just after Harry's christening. So Snape spied for DD through the winter, spring, and summer and then started teaching at Hogwarts in September, just before the Potters were killed.

Dumbledore must have seen much more in Snape than simply a Death Eater who didn't want this girl he'd been infatuated with to die. DD must have seen a lot more, because he clearly felt Snape was worthy of teaching at Hogwarts and in more than the "one year appointment" that the DADA position had effectively become. Snape may have even been immediately made Head of Slytherin, as Slughorn seems to have retired before LV fell and we're never told of anyone else on the staff being Slytherin. So DD must have trusted Snape quite a lot after just a few months of working with him as he spied.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 14, 2009 9:37 am (#1483 of 2988)  
Wow, wynnleaf, you read my mind -- I was just researching the timeline of Severus at this point in his life. Here's what I came up with:

Late autumn or early winter of 1979 Sybill gives the Prophecy at Hog's Head. Severus brings it to Vold, he interprets it, Severus gets a "promise" from Vold to spare Lily, Sev goes to DD for help as we see them on hilltop

According to Lexicon Severus begins teaching September 1981 and the Fidelius Charm is placed on the Potters on October 24th.

It is worthy of note that the next memory after the hilltop is while Severus was already teaching at Hogwarts. Can you imagine Severus trying to teach a class on the day of November 1st or whenever he got the news? Could be one of the reasons why he hates teaching so much, probably never wanted to be in that position anyway but, alas, he did say he'd do "anything".

I agree he could have become Head of House right away, and with all that responsibility I cannot imagine, given the state he was in on the hilltop and in DD's office, that he didn't go to that dungeon and have a mini breakdown. But, as we are given an example of with There was a long pause, and slowly Snape regained control of himself, mastered his own breathing we see a man who is determined to keep emotions in check. I guess the exception is when he's around Harry!

edited for spelling



wynnleaf - Feb 14, 2009 10:46 am (#1484 of 2988)  
Late autumn or early winter of 1979 Sybill gives the Prophecy at Hog's Head. Severus brings it to Vold, he interprets it, Severus gets a "promise" from Vold to spare Lily, Sev goes to DD for help as we see them on hilltop (shadow)

Yes, Sybil's prophecy was prior to Harry's being born and then Snape goes to DD when Harry was about 4 months old. He spies for DD for about 9 months, then starts teaching at Hogwarts, and two months later the Potters die.

Imagine Snape at Hogwarts his first year. He's spying for DD, so he's going through the immense pressure of deceiving LV, while at the same time teaching kids, many of whom are the children of DEs. He's also teaching some kids who would have known him while he was a student at Hogwarts. In fact, some of the kids would have been first or second year during the Worst Memory scene and might have heard about it -- even if they hadn't, he'd probably assume they had. Upper level kids would very likely have heard the "Snivellus" name, if not from directly hearing it, then from older siblings. Once again, even if they hadn't, Snape would probably assume they'd heard it. Plus, on top of all that, when he first started he was in great fear for Lily's life.

Then two months later, she dies and he's practically suicidal at first, and at the very least intensely depressed afterward.

I think Snape's first year teaching was almost a nightmare for him.

Trying to find some way to get authority and respect from the upper level kids would be a huge challenge, especially from the Gryffindor kids. I think it likely that Snape adopted that old-school harsh manner right off, both in an attempt to manage students and get their "respect", as well as in reaction to his own stressful life "on the edge".



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 14, 2009 12:07 pm (#1485 of 2988)  
I'd say it was a total nightmare. The idea that there were kids there that knew him must have been a horror, coupled with his constant hysteria that Lily would be killed. As Julia pointed out, Lily was not docile and Severus must have known that she would fight a fierce battle if and when Vold showed up.

I'd also like to mention I think DD definitely became the father Severus always wanted. I am touched by, in The Prince's Tale, how furious Severus gets because DD did not call him to tend to the cursed hand sooner. He loves DD, IMO.

I'd like to explore the possibilities of what Severus might have been doing while a DE. I personally do not think he killed anyone. He seems too indignant when he thought that DD was implying his, Sev's, soul is worth less than Draco's. I can imagine he performed some truly dark stuff though, partly because without him going that deep into the dark arts we wouldn't have him as such a profoundly redemptive character.



Julia H. - Feb 14, 2009 3:14 pm (#1486 of 2988)  
Interesting observations.

Late autumn or early winter of 1979 Sybill gives the Prophecy at Hog's Head.

This is surprising. I can't recall reading about when the prophecy was given and I somehow assumed that it must have been early summer 1980 - before Harry was born but still at the end of the previous school-year because Dumbledore was looking for (sort of) two new teachers, supposedly for the next school-year. It means it took about a year for Voldemort to solve the meaning of the prophecy.

I will come back to the rest of this discussion as soon as I can. Now I would like to mention something that has just struck me, in connection with the "remorse discussion":

I spun him a tale of deepest remorse when I joined his staff, fresh from my Death Eater days, and he embraced me with open arms... (Snape to Bella in HBP)

It is interesting that in this one context Snape mentions the word remorse, referring to himself. Of course, he is talking to Bella, but other readers have pointed out that in this scene Snape practically lies as little as possible. This account of his return to the good side seems to be especially accurate. Only the phrase "spun a tale" seems like a lie to me... This may be quite close to Snape acknowledging himself to be remorseful.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 14, 2009 3:26 pm (#1487 of 2988)  
Julia, the Prophecy could have been given as late as "late spring" 1980 because all we have to go on is it was a cold night.

Edit: Just to make it easy here is a clip from the Lex Timeline:

This interview had to have taken place sometime after July of 1979 in order for it to apply to Harry's birth in 1980 [[Y0]], and [Dumbledore] describes it as a "cold, wet night" (OP37). So it was likely made in the winter or early spring of 1979-1980

I like your insight into the Spinner's End quote. It would seem the less lying the better when weaving a tangled web!



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 15, 2009 1:16 pm (#1488 of 2988)  
Regarding what Severus was capable of as a DE -- or at least what he was ordered to do and had to do it -- I wonder about Emmeline Vance and Charity Burbage. What did he contribute to Vance's death, and what was he thinking as Charity pleaded with him... He was probably wishing it could be Bellatrix hanging there instead.



Julia H. - Feb 15, 2009 2:42 pm (#1489 of 2988)  
Oh, yes, the cold night.  

Dumbledore must have been busy if he was interviewing candidates at night.

I'd like to explore the possibilities of what Severus might have been doing while a DE. (MAMS)

It is interesting. I think we have enough circumstantial evidence that Snape was not a murderer. Among other things, the very fact that Voldemort sent him to spy on Dumbledore suggests that Snape (while officially a Hogwarts teacher) would not be missed at other kinds of jobs and that he had done sufficiently little for Dumbledore not to know about him or not to realize that he was a DE. (I think it would even have been wise for Voldemort to send to Dumbledore someone who did not have a Dark Mark yet. If so, Snape may have received the Mark after and for bringing the Prophecy...) If Snape, as a DE, was sent to spy on Dumbledore and to accept a job at Hogwarts that Voldemort himself had cursed, it implies that he may not have been very important to Voldemort. Of course, as a person, nobody was, but regarding usefulness, there must have been more important and less important DE's. I also suspect that, to Dumbledore, Voldemort did not send anyone who knew too much and who could have given Dumbledore vital information if caught and interrogated. It seems Snape did not realize that Lily and James could be the couple who had defied Voldemort three times, which also suggests that he did not know much about these fights. On the other hand, we know about the spying and about Snape being a Dark Arts expert...

Since Snape did not get the DADA position at Hogwarts, he had every reason to be afraid of Voldemort's "displeasure", especially when he was to tell him that he had failed because of his own mistake. The Prophecy may have been the means to divert Voldemort's attention from his failure... and it probably worked. I guess that after bringing the Prophecy, Snape's status must have changed - so much that Voldemort was actually willing to grant him his request.

Imagine Snape at Hogwarts his first year. (Wynnleaf)

Yes. Amazing. It is a good observation that while many students may have actually known him and remembered him, even if they did not, Snape probably assumed that they did remember his Worst Memory and the "Snivellus" nickname. Of course, his colleagues may also have remembered a few things...

If he was made Head of Slytherin at once, he had to get authority there, too, (even with the older kids) replacing Slughorn...

Teaching: I noticed that Hogwarts teachers - at least those who taught the compulsory subjects - had quite a lot of classes. Snape teaches double class periods to the students of two houses at the same time. That means (at least) four class periods per week for every year from one to five. That's twenty. Then there are the NEWT classes for the select few - my guess is that there is one class per year every week but with double periods (so that they have time to brew those complicated potions), that means four more class periods. That is twenty-four classes per week at least (if there are no years in which students take more than one double period of potions per week). Add to that the marking of the home essays, the Head of House jobs (whatever they are...) and the spying on Voldemort, which is not exactly a flexible hours job either, since Voldemort may order him back to report or to receive new orders whenever he wants to (in Snape's "free time" at least). All this under the stress of the fear for Lily's life - until her death.



wynnleaf - Feb 15, 2009 4:56 pm (#1490 of 2988)  
It seems Snape did not realize that Lily and James could be the couple who had defied Voldemort three times, which also suggests that he did not know much about these fights. (Julia)

I hadn't thought about that before, but you're right. If Snape had much first hand knowledge, or even regular info about DE and Order confrontations, he'd have known that James and Lily had confronted LV and DE's on several occasions. Order members, after all, weren't running around in hoods and masks and anyway, we know DEs and LV could recognize them, as LV was able to figure out which couples had "defied" him three times. Snape, on the other hand, apparently didn't have this knowledge, or even a good guess at who likely couples might be, or he'd have realized right off that Lily and James could be targeted.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 15, 2009 10:29 pm (#1491 of 2988)  
Good insights, Julia.

I guess that after bringing the Prophecy, Snape's status must have changed - so much that Voldemort was actually willing to grant him his request.

I believe you're right -- grant his request to not kill a filthy Mudblood.

I do think Severus must have witnessed a great deal over the years, and this could have had quite a numbing effect on a person who, in my opinion, probably never took pleasure in hurting people. Yes he took pleasure in making Harry's life difficult but we've covered all the motivations for that. He was an awful teacher, obviously one who was not there out of choice. I know many forumers would scoff at that but I think he was someone who, as a sensitive child, overreacted to situations and, as a tormented teen being called Snivellus, got caught up with a bad crowd of cult-like quality and found a place to belong. In order to belong, he would take on their belief system. Severus's prejudice against Muggles, as we see it towards Petunia, probably stemmed from resentment towards his father coupled with ridicule he must have received (dressed as he was, etc.) in Muggle school before Hogwarts. Once a prejudice against Muggles was ingrained, it wasn't much of a stretch for him to have the Mudblood concept impressed upon him, IMO.



Julia H. - Feb 16, 2009 2:48 pm (#1492 of 2988)  
Can you imagine Severus trying to teach a class on the day of November 1st or whenever he got the news? (MAMS)

It must have been on that day since the news apparently travelled very quickly among wizards and witches, and Hogwarts is a big place with a lot of people (including Dumbledore and McGonagall). I don't know how much teaching could generally be done at Hogwarts, given the excitement over Voldemort's disappearance. McGonagall, for example, spent the whole day in the shape of a cat outside the Dursleys' home, so she can't have taught many classes either. But I think it would be interesting to know - or at least to guess - what may have happened that day at Hogwarts and how Snape spent those parts of the day when he was not in Dumbledore's office. For example, did he learn the news directly from Dumbledore or did he hurry to Dumbledore's office having already heard what had happened? Of course, Snape was devastated, but Hogwarts around him may have been celebrating (supposedly giving some respectful thoughts to the Potters and to the Boy Who Lived). I suppose Snape was expected to resume teaching whenever the other teachers did so he probably needed the ability to master his emotions.

Any thoughts?



legolas returns - Feb 16, 2009 3:03 pm (#1493 of 2988)  
I would have thought that Snape would present a completely "normal" face to the world. The only person he would show his true feelings to would be Dumbledore. He would just have been his usual grumpy self to everyone else. If he was upset in front of the authorities or teacher they may think that he was upset over Voldemorts demise. If he met Death Eaters he would have displayed the expected emotions.



Dryleaves - Feb 16, 2009 3:15 pm (#1494 of 2988)  
I wonder what the situation was like at Hogwarts. I can imagine that there must have been quite a lot of celebrating, but there was also Slytherin House, where some of the students were affected by Voldemort's downfall in a different way.

I assume Snape had to act normal. When you think of it, the Halloween feast held every year at Hogwarts must be really horrible to Snape as it must remind him of Lily's death.

(By the way, I checked the date November 1st 1981 on a site where you can check what day of the week it was, and according to that it was a Sunday. But it's a Tuesday in the book, isn't it? Or am I mistaken?)



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 16, 2009 3:34 pm (#1495 of 2988)  
Dryleaves, this is from the Lex:

When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts...

So the story starts on a Tuesday. We know that this Tuesday is in 1981 from the Black Family Tree that Rowling made public in early 2006, which notes that Draco Malfoy was born in 1980. Since Harry is the same age as Draco, we know that he was also born in 1980, which confirms the year that is implied in book two. Our Tuesday, then, is in the year 1981.

The specific date is problematic. Canon is very hazy on this subject. It's either October 31 or November 1. The actual "real world" calendar of 1981 isn't much help, since in 1981 October 31 was a Saturday and November 1 a Sunday. We'll talk about this problem a little more as we go through this chapter.

So I guess it goes under the category of "suspension of disbelief"?



Julia H. - Feb 16, 2009 4:09 pm (#1496 of 2988)  
Yes, I suppose Snape had to act normal and that he probably wanted to act normal ("normal"). But it must have been difficult.

If he met Death Eaters he would have displayed the expected emotions. (Legolas)

I don't think many DE's would display the "expected emotions" in that situation, not even in front of each other. They may not even have wanted to be seen together very much. They were either on the run or pretending to have been Imperiused.

Interesting about the dates.  



wynnleaf - Feb 16, 2009 5:24 pm (#1497 of 2988)  
If I recall correctly, in JKR's world Sept. 1, the first day of school, is always on Monday.

As for Snape hiding his emotions, I doubt if he'd be able to do that right away. He's really not good at hiding his emotions. He might be fine at giving LV the idea that his emotions stem from different things than is true, but Snape is very, very often emotional in front of others.

And why should he hide the fact that he's upset? After all, for the kids of DEs, they'd assume he was upset at LV's downfall. For everyone else, they might wonder why he was so upset, but so what? Snape could be quite upset and quite emotional and not be telling everyone "I'm devastated because Lily is dead."

My read on Snape is that anger is his default emotion for almost any stress form of stress. Yes, he cries with grief on occasion, but my guess is that when he had to be out in public in the days after Lily's death, he was really, really angry at everyone for anything at all.

By the way, anger as a default emotion is very common for people coming from homes with a great deal of anger, shouting and arguing.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 16, 2009 8:50 pm (#1498 of 2988)  
Interesting, wynnleaf. My read on Severus is that as an adult, with the exception of Harry/Marauders and the Bellatrix scene, he is extremely well practiced at hiding his emotions. This to me would go along with his excellence in Occlumency and why so many times we read that his expression was "unreadable". The only time (that I can think of) where we see Severus get emotional when it's not regarding his past trauma (i.e., Harry/Marauders/Lily) is in the Spinner's End chapter. And Bellatrix antagonised him into it with her comment 'Particularly in present company!'. I've just always seen Severus as the opposite of emotional: the "unreadable" Occlumense and masterful double agent. And that is why even before book 7 came out, whenever he did get enraged, it was so obviously about the Marauders and Lily. The Bella thing was to me an exception because it served so many purposes for driving the plot. Hope that makes sense  



Julia H. - Feb 17, 2009 12:23 am (#1499 of 2988)  
"Angry" or "unreadable"? We certainly have evidence of Snape handling his emotions in both ways. Perhaps "unreadable" is more typical when Snape has at least some time to prepare or to control himself. A new trauma may be different. Snape in Dumbledore's office, when he is making a terrible sound like a wounded animal, seems to have just found out the news about Lily's death. I think Lily's death is probably the greatest trauma of Snape's life - though the job of killing Dumbledore may be an equally severe trauma. I think the fact that Snape masters his own breathing and controls himself before giving an answer to Dumbledore's suggestion implies that he wants to be in control, in full possession of his own will, when he commits himself to this new task. Later, he may well appear to be generally angry and exceptionally irritable to others, but it does not really reveal his real emotions to those who don't know about them. It may stand out somewhat in the general spirit of celebration but Snape may have been known to be stressed and irritable before as well.

BTW, do we know that he does not learn to be generally "unreadable" only after this trauma? Up to the moment of Lily's death, do we ever see him control his emotions? Of course, spying has already given him extensive Occlumency practice... OK, perhaps we do know.  Later, Snape says weak people cannot control their emotions. I'm sure he does not want to be or to appear weak. But, as a teenager, Snape does not seem to be in control of his emotions at all. So I think there must be a moment in his life when he comes to regard self-control not only as a spy's job, but as an asset, a strength in everyday life. In the end, he will be both a master Occlumense and a man of erupting emotions.



Dryleaves - Feb 17, 2009 6:45 am (#1500 of 2988)  
BTW, do we know that he does not learn to be generally "unreadable" only after this trauma?

So I think there must be a moment in his life when he comes to regard self-control not only as a spy's job, but as an asset, a strength in everyday life. Julia


There are some blank years between the turned-down apology and the hilltop scene and I would guess that he learns much of his self-control then, when he is a Death Eater. Maybe the Worst Memory is a turning point for him, where he has been very vulnerable and exposed and let himself call Lily “mudblood”? Maybe it is then he finally decides that he does not want to be weak? (I do not think he wanted to be weak earlier either, but that he maybe made some kind of conscious decision after this event.)

I think anger is more a way of expressing feelings for Snape than a mode of hiding them, though it is probably a way of expression that works with Voldemort (for example it is probably only a good thing for Snape to show Voldemort his dislike of Harry Potter). It is probably as Wynnleaf says, that this is a common reaction for a person coming from a home with much arguing and fighting. Already as a child Snape often responds with anger. But anger also seems to me as a relatively “safe” way to express your emotions if you do not want to seem weak. It shows that you are affected, of course, but it may at the same time be defensive and, if it is extroverted, may turn the feelings away from yourself.

Snape is both very good and very bad at hiding his emotions, I think. Harry and the Marauders really seem to be his limit.  Still, it may also be the situation and what it demands that matters. At the few occasions we actually see him together with Voldemort he is very much in control of himself.

If I recall correctly, in JKR's world Sept. 1, the first day of school, is always on Monday. Wynnleaf

I should have guessed there was a magical calendar!  


I think it must have made it even more difficult for Snape and that it was likely to create more guilty feelings in him - even though he knew it happened at Dumbledore's request and against his own will. On the other hand, Dumbledore's request was such a big request that IMO the average colleague or employee cannot normally be asked to do something like that. Only someone close to Dumbledore could be addressed with this kind of request, or perhaps a professional "healer" - and Snape had just saved Dumbledore's life, so he may be regarded both as a "son" and a "healer" to Dumbledore. Then again, I think it was too big a request to ask even someone like that because proximity only made the request easier, not the task.

EDIT: Very well said, Wynnleaf. That is exactly how I see what Snape has to go through just to do what DD asked him to do.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:26 pm

mona amon - Feb 17, 2009 7:00 am (#1501 of 2988)  
I find him terribly emotional, as I've explained in this post. He must have had to exercise a great deal of self-control to practice occlumency, and hence his impatience when Harry fails to do so in the occlumency lessons.

The specific date is problematic. Canon is very hazy on this subject. It's either October 31 or November 1. The actual "real world" calendar of 1981 isn't much help, since in 1981 October 31 was a Saturday and November 1 a Sunday. (Shadow)

Lily and James were killed on 31 October 1981. We know this for sure from the tombstone inscription and the monument to the Potters in Godric's Hollow. So the day the story starts would be 1 November. If as Wynnleaf says, the first of September is always a Monday, then I guess the magical calender works differently from the muggle calendar! Or Jo just did not anticipate that obsessed fans like us would actually be looking up real world calendars to see if November 1 1981 was really a Tuesday.

Snape does seem to have "incompletely resolved" or even completely unresolved feelings about his past. As for the causal relationship, I think it may also be the other way round - his unresolvable guilt (the fact that he cannot bring back the dead and cannot forgive himself) may be the reason of certain unresolved feelings about his past. I don't think being remorseful and atoning necessarily includes acceptance or recovery, rather that it is a process of several steps. I find it possible that recovery would come later (if ever) than actual remorse, after perhaps a certain critical point in the atonement process. For example, after Voldemort's death and after having completed the task of protecting Harry, Snape could perhaps move on (slowly) towards acceptance or forgiveness or towards finding a way to live with his guilt in a less self-destructive way. (Julia)

This is of course possible. If he cannot forgive himself, that could make him an old crumudgeon. My difficulty in accepting this is that we are not given a single bit of evidence to support this. Not one single mea culpa from him.

I agree with you that Voldemort's defeat could have been the turning point for Snape, but alas it was not to be.

Also, quick recovery and acceptance implies (to me) the ability to quickly forgive one's own guilt. So the fact that Snape cannot become instantly good and forgiving and accepting and that he actually seems to be stewing in his own juice for many years would seem to suggest deeper and more difficult remorse to me than the ability to quickly resolve his emotional problems.

I don't agree. I feel there is no connection between the ease with which one forgives oneself and the quality of one's remorse. If you can forgive yourself easily and move on, it's only the sign of a healthy mind, not necessarily of shallow remorse.

You have to remember that many young people recruited into terrorist groups aren't told "join us and kill people",...[cut]...(Wynnleaf)

Yes, but I was not talking about why he signed up. Once he was there, he must have realised what LV was up to. We know that he "watched people die". We know that he had buried his feelings of compassion so deep that he did not care one jot that LV was going to murder an old schoolmate and and his son.

I suppose I reserve the word "evil" for an intentional desire to do great harm to others without regard.

This definition would exclude a lot of people who aid and abet evil. I cannot agree. The Severus before he learnt of Lily's danger seems sufficiently evil to me.

It seems Snape did not realize that Lily and James could be the couple who had defied Voldemort three times, which also suggests that he did not know much about these fights. (Julia)

I think JKR said in an interview that they refused to join LV three times, and that counts as defying. I'll try to look it up.

Cross posted with Dryleaves!



rambkowalczyk - Feb 17, 2009 7:06 am (#1502 of 2988)  
I always thought that one of the things that Snape did on Nov 1 was to advice Lucius and others to turn themselves in or at least claim it was the Imperious Curse.

Although being numb with grief makes it seem less likely.



Julia H. - Feb 17, 2009 9:32 am (#1503 of 2988)  
Maybe the Worst Memory is a turning point for him, where he has been very vulnerable and exposed and let himself call Lily “mudblood”? Maybe it is then he finally decides that he does not want to be weak? (I do not think he wanted to be weak earlier either, but that he maybe made some kind of conscious decision after this event.) (Dryleaves)

I don't think it either that Snape wanted to be weak earlier. But I guess there was a "moment" when he realized that "wearing your heart on your sleeve", failing to control your emotions, allowing yourself to be provoked is a form of weakness and, as you say, it makes you vulnerable. Then he learned to control his emotions - but, as we very well know, he did not always succeed.  

I should have guessed there was a magical calendar!

Oh!  

Not one single mea culpa from him. (Mona)

True... of course, it has plot reasons, too, but, as we have discussed, Snape has had bad experience with apologizing. And when he finally makes his confession to Harry, he can only give him his memories, he (literally) can hardly speak.

I know it is not "mea culpa" but (forgive me for repeating myself) I still find my "recent discovery" ( ) concerning Snape's mention of his remorse in the Spinner's End chapter interesting. It comes so close to Snape consciously acknowledging himself to be remorseful...

I feel there is no connection between the ease with which one forgives oneself and the quality of one's remorse.

I feel we define "remorse" differently. In my opinion, forgiving oneself is the end of remorse. I am not saying it is necessarily a bad thing - but it is not remorse any more. I agree that a healthy mind can be more forgiving towards oneself but the type of guilt also counts. It is different when the guilt is something like Harry's in connection wit Sirius's death - in a way he "caused" Sirius's death but definitely not through any wrongdoing, not even through neglect. In this case, it is perfectly healthy to get over the guilt, and remorse is not even necessary (unless Harry is remorseful about not listening to Hermione). It is also different when the guilt is not permanent - when you can reverse the result of your action or when time (or even someone else) puts it right. Snape's guilt is not of this kind. Quickly moving on in his case would seem to indicate superficial remorse to me.

I think JKR said in an interview that they refused to join LV three times, and that counts as defying.

Oh, what a disappointment! (Why did Voldemort ask a Muggle-born and an apparent "blood-traitor" to join him three times?)

I always thought that one of the things that Snape did on Nov 1 was to advice Lucius and others to turn themselves in or at least claim it was the Imperious Curse. (Ramb)

Interesting idea. But I don't think he even gave a thought to Lucius and the others that day.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 17, 2009 10:33 am (#1504 of 2988)  
I think Lily's death is probably the greatest trauma of Snape's life - though the job of killing Dumbledore may be an equally severe trauma. I think the fact that Snape masters his own breathing and controls himself before giving an answer to Dumbledore's suggestion implies that he wants to be in control, in full possession of his own will, when he commits himself to this new task. - Julia

The canon which has him mastering his breathing is when he finds out about Lily's death, not regarding his task to kill DD. Is that what you meant? In that scene he is "sardonic" and then in the forest scene his gets angry when they discuss Harry and DD holding their secrets back from Sev. To me, I still see Severus capable of controling outward expression *except* when it has to do with his past trauma, and that includes Lily's death and anything to do with Harry in present time. There is a big difference between annoyed and cutting, his normal adult personality (which is the valve he uses to keep a lid on things) and "losing control" as with Sirius and Harry.

The scene where he kills DD is a perfect example of how good he had to become with this: he basically kills the man he's come to consider his father, in front of the people he's come to detest. And his face is still a study in mixed readings. I recall we had lots of debates as to what those facial features implied... it could have gone either way as, of course, we had very solid "camps" regarding the "Snape: Evil or Not?" thing. And, of course, in that situation JKR was at critical mass with deliberately ambiguious writing...

For me the above concept is why we understand just how infuriating Harry and Sirius are to Severus, because the wound that cannot be healed is his "button" that, when it gets pushed, there is nothing that can hold the floodgates from opening in his heart. Bella's torment was, to me, for other reasons I went into before.

Edit: Severus is also an INTJ I believe (if you're into those sort of tests). My experience is these thinking introverts are the ones second-most-likely to "go postal" (INTP perhaps being more likely, again as far as this criteria goes).

I do not for a second believe they are not extremely emotional and sensitive. I just believe they internalise it until provoked, in Severus's case as an adult he learned to master and control outward expression. Until the "button" is pushed!  Which is why I said a few weeks back I could imagine him imploding in the after-life if he is not able to communicate with Lily.



wynnleaf - Feb 17, 2009 11:03 am (#1505 of 2988)  
I like Julia's ideas about remorse.

I know I quote definitions often, but dictionaries do, after all, attempt to define words by their "real world" definitions -- definitions as most view them.

Remorse is interesting. Remorse actually comes from a Latin word meaning "to bite" or "biting". Merriam Websters calls it "a gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs". The Free Dictionary says it is "Moral anguish arising from repentance for past misdeeds; bitter regret."

It's easy to think of remorse and regret like the same thing and to some it may be. I think of true remorse as much deeper and distressing, like in the definitions above. That kind of remorse, especially if what you are guilty of cannot be fixed or made better with time, isn't something a person would get over or heal from very quickly at all.

I would expect it to be nearly impossible for Snape to forgive himself or heal for the bitter, gnawing distress from he had done.

Very interesting point, Julia, about Snape at Spinners End. Many have pointed out that Snape does very little lying at Spinners End, probably because it is much easier to maintain a cover if he mostly tells the truth.

‘And you overlook Dumbledore’s greatest weakness: he has to believe the best of people. I spun him a tale of deepest remorse when I joined his staff, fresh from my Death Eater days, and he embraced me with open arms – though, as I say, never allowing me nearer the Dark Arts than he could help.

If Snape is lying here, then the main thing he's lying about is his own remorse, because all of the rest of it is true, other than the timing, since, as we know, Snape went to DD prior to the fall of LV. Indeed, it is Dumbledore's willingness to believe the best of Snape that helped motivate him to continue to use Snape as a spy after Lily's death and earlier to hire Snape as a teacher. Snape is saying that DD believed the best of him because of his remorse. Snape actually lies very rarely except in his duties as a spy. Is he consciously lying about his own remorse? I don't think he would do that.

To me, I still see Severus perfectly capable of controling any outward expression *except* when it has to do with his past trauma, and that includes Lily's death and anything to do with Harry in present time. (shadow)

Take a look at other times when Snape is not under a huge amount of stress and you'll see that even Harry can read Snape's feelings rather well - even when he's trying, Harry thinks, to hide it.

Three separate quotes from Occlumency Lessons in OOTP:

Harry stood up again, his heart thumping wildly as though he had really just seen Cedric dead in the graveyard. Snape looked paler than usual, and angrier, though not nearly as angry as Harry was.

‘What did you say?’ Snape asked quietly and Harry saw, with deep satisfaction, that Snape was unnerved.

They glared at each other. Harry’s scar seared again, but he did not care. Snape looked agitated; but when he spoke again he sounded as though he was trying to appear cool and unconcerned.

The first one is an example of Snape's "tells", of which he has several and they occur a lot -- his face getting pale or livid, clinching his hands, etc. The next two are great examples of Snape unable to show that he's unnerved or agitated, even though he's trying to hide it. And Harry's not the greatest at reading expressions, yet even he can see Snape's emotion.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 17, 2009 11:35 am (#1506 of 2988)  
Yes, it has nothing to do with stress. I has to do with a "trigger button" which takes little or nothing at all to get pushed. The above example you gave occurred because it has to do with Harry. This is what I was attempting to convey. His "button" is the past trauma of Marauders/Lily and of course Harry representing it.



Julia H. - Feb 17, 2009 2:17 pm (#1507 of 2988)  
The canon which has him mastering his breathing is when he finds out about Lily's death, not regarding his task to kill DD. Is that what you meant? (MAMS)

I was referring to Dumbledore's suggestion that Snape should help him protect Harry. I just mentioned Dumbledore's death as another trauma similar to Lily's death, but I was talking about the day when Snape heard about Lily's death.

Good examples of emotions expressed by Snape's face. I also like this example from the Christmas Party scene in HBP, when Harry studies the expressions of Filch, Malfoy and Snape:

And why was Snape looking at Malfoy as though both angry and...was it possible?...a little afraid?

But almost before Harry had registered what he had seen, Filch had turned and shuffled away, muttering under his breath; Malfoy had composed his face into a smile and was thanking Slughorn for his generosity, and Snape's face was smoothly inscrutable again.

But back to the scene just after Lily's death: Snape's emotions are described in details. This is a scene in which he loses all control of himself (like a wounded animal) and yet, when Dumbledore tells him what he can do now - something with his life, about Lily, about his own guilt -, he controls his emotions, controls himself before he agrees. But his face is still described as ferocious, anguished. The promise he is making is not "only" about protecting Harry against Voldemort when it becomes necessary. It also involves the necessity of interacting with Lily's and James's son in the future, the necessity to one day look into Harry Potter's Lily-eyes, in the full knowledge of his guilt.

About remorse: I think we have what can be JKR's definition of remorse, as Hermione found it in the book about Horcruxes.

Ron: "Isn’t there any way of putting yourself back together?" Hermione: "Yes, but it would be excruciatingly painful… Remorse. You’ve got to really feel what you’ve done. There’s a footnote. Apparently the pain of it can destroy you.

So, according to this definition, remorse is excruciatingly painful so that it can even destroy the person.

In the context of this definition, the following exchange between Dumbledore and Snape can actually show that Snape is indeed remorseful, even if he does not say it:

“Is this remorse, Severus?”

“I wish…I wish I were dead…”

Snape wishes to be dead. If remorse can "destroy" one, it probably means it can kill one. When Dumbledore says

Weren’t you hoping that Lord Voldemort would spare her?”

Snape’s breathing is "shallow", which may be some emotional reaction to Dumbledore's words.

"Pain" is also mentioned: Snape seemed to peer through a haze of pain... There is also the above-mentioned ferocious, anguished face. Of course, the wounded animal simile is also about pain.

All in all, the symptoms of remorse, according to the definition in the books, can be found in this scene with reference to Snape.

If Snape is lying here, then the main thing he's lying about is his own remorse, because all of the rest of it is true... (Wynnleaf)

I think the "lie" part here is the "I spun him a tale" phrase. The rest of it is apparently true. Snape, of course, wants the "remorse" bit to seem like a lie because then everything else should be OK with Bella. If the "remorse" part was really a lie here, then the "I spun him a tale" part would be true, which would mean Snape is fooling Dumbledore rather than Voldemort (Bella), but we know where his true loyalties ... hm... lie.  



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 17, 2009 2:49 pm (#1508 of 2988)  
To me there is an enormous difference between getting a pale and twisted face and losing control in a fit of rage, as he did with Sirius in OOTP / with Harry on numerous occasions. The former is the evidence of controlling an emotional outburst, the latter, losing that control. Severus, to me, became the master of control. The thinker, secretive and introverted, this combination creates a very powerful mind and a very dominant ability to push emotional reactions down. He is only impulsive when around Harry or the Marauders. To me, he was not born this way, as we see him casual with Lily in most of The Prince's Tale. To me, he began learning this emotional control in Hogwarts, probably through studying Occlumency and then possibly through Vold's DE training.



wynnleaf - Feb 17, 2009 3:09 pm (#1509 of 2988)  
MAMS,

I agree that Snape had, eventually, to learn to control his emotions at least when it was extremely important for him to do so. However, I think there's plenty of evidence in the book to show that Snape's natural tendency is toward being quite emotional.  

Of course he's a lot more emotional in the highest stress circumstances of Lily's death, or in the Shrieking Shack and other such moments.

If I recall (not having glanced back today), I think we were discussing how 21 year old Snape would have reacted in the days and weeks following Lily's death. Would he control himself and show no emotion after his first outburst? I don't think so. There's not a huge reason to suppress it, in part because others would not be aware of why he was being so strung out emotionally so it wouldn't make anyone suspicious of his having loved Lily, and also because I think Snape's emotions often take the form of anger which wouldn't generally alert anyone as to the reasons for his emotional lows.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 17, 2009 3:30 pm (#1510 of 2988)  
I agree with your statement in the context of the discussion why would he bother to hide his anger on November 1st. DD probably called him to his office in order to avoid Severus hearing it from someone else and getting caught off-guard. As I said, he cannot control himself regarding Lily or the Marauders, and certainly this was the low point of his life, although not his worst memory, and we’ve covered the reasons for that.

I do see Severus’s trauma around losing Lily (the first time...) as almost a mild version or precursor to what is common in abused children who compartmentalise bad memories. I feel that what happened with Lily and James was a profound wound and trauma, just as DD implied – too deep to heal. This, to me, would cause Severus to fragment away from emoting spontaneously as Harry can, and as I imagine Severus could as a child. I feel this is also why he cannot distinguish between Harry and James.

I have thought of the Pensieve as possibly a mechanism for compartmentalisation, for although its main purpose seems to be viewing other’s memories, it could (and was) used to store memories of one’s own. Even simply taking out a memory and putting it into a vile, as Harry did with dying Severus’s, seems plausible for compartmentalisation. I’ve wondered if Sev and even DD used the device for their traumatic memories, then putting them back into their mind when they were prepared and ready to revisit them. Just a thought.

edited for clarity...



Julia H. - Feb 17, 2009 4:29 pm (#1511 of 2988)  
I do see Severus’s trauma around losing Lily (the first time...) as almost a mild version or precursor to what is common in abused children who compartmentalise bad memories. I feel that what happened with Lily and James was a profound wound and trauma, just as DD implied – too deep to heal. This, to me, would cause Severus to fragment away from emoting spontaneously as Harry can, and as I imagine Severus could as a child. I feel this is also why he cannot distinguish between Harry and James. (MAMS)

I wholeheartedly agree.

Regarding Snape's emotions after Lily's death: He breaks down in front of Dumbledore. (Dumbledore has now seen him in two highly emotional, "off-guard" moments in his life: On the hilltop and now. I think this probably plays a part in Snape's continuing attachment to Dumbledore as a father figure.) After that, on the first day, Snape probably does not care much what others think of his mood, still I guess he will control himself in front of others if he feels like crying again. If there is no teaching, he may even stay away from others (unless, as a Head of House, he must attend the celebrations, while the Headmaster is busy and the Deputy Head is away). In the coming days, he must teach and do his usual duties. That will require some self-control. I can imagine that he will do his best to control his emotions (medium level irritability may not count) but I can also imagine that he will not always succeed and then he will just explode with anger.



wynnleaf - Feb 17, 2009 8:18 pm (#1512 of 2988)  
I do see Severus’s trauma around losing Lily (the first time...) as almost a mild version or precursor to what is common in abused children who compartmentalise bad memories. I feel that what happened with Lily and James was a profound wound and trauma, just as DD implied – too deep to heal. This, to me, would cause Severus to fragment away from emoting spontaneously as Harry can, and as I imagine Severus could as a child. I feel this is also why he cannot distinguish between Harry and James. (MAMS)

Since Julia also agreed with this, I wonder if both of you could expand on these ideas for me, because I'm trying to be sure I understand what exactly you're agreeing on.

In particular, please explain what you mean about how Snape's compartmentalizing is related to why he cannot distinguish between Harry and James.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 17, 2009 9:34 pm (#1513 of 2988)  
I’ll try my best to explain my opinion. When a trauma occurs that is too much to handle, there is an emotional compensation in order to deal with it. This is the “norm” and everyone has different degrees of this from past negative or hurtful experiences. To me, the more sensitive the person the less of a trauma it takes to be affected. And in this case, the trauma was over the course of years, peaking with the Worst Memory. After that, I feel that Severus’s emotional system was never the same.

Another way to say compartmentalise would be "to refuse or be unable to deal with the emotions stemming from an event". As mentioned, I would consider this case as "almost a mild version or precursor" to a more acute case, which would be similar to assassins who are programmed with trauma, torture and agression in order to be subconsciously triggered, with a single word, into a murderous rage without warning. The film "Zoolander" was a spoof (in poor taste, IMO) on this very real phenomenon.

So to me he Sever-ed a part of himself in order to deal, the part that could have healed the wound, namely grief for his own loss, which explains why he went full-tilt into the DE’s. He could be someone else and think something else and focus on something that was basically the opposite of grief and guilt: hate and blame.

His emotions were damaged when he lost Lily. He had opened up to this person from an early age, the only person we know of that he confided in besides DD. There is no way that he spoke with Lucius or other Slytherins about his feelings. He must have been devastated when Lily was gone, and felt he only had himself to blame for it. He compensated with a form of compartmentalisation.

As an adult I feel he remained in an emotional “arrested development” and could not differentiate between James and Harry because he had not moved on from that point in time emotionally, due to the trauma. Rather than dealing with it, it remains frozen in time only to get activated around those who trigger it. Time and time again, Severus acts like a furious boy stomping his feet when he is around either Harry or Sirius, and it seems he could kill Sirius with his bare hands. And this is why his promise to keep Harry safe is so incredibly and excruciatingly painful for him. When he is around Harry it is like being a teenager facing James. In his mind he has literally not left that point in time. I think that his mental capacity grew like wildfire in his condition, while the emotional capacity was imprisoned.

In his every day life, Severus feels most comfortable expressing what I would call “low-grade hostility”. In our world a lot of people use sarcasm, and I’d view it in the same manner. It is a way of dealing with unconscious aggression that can be used without being out of the realm of social acceptance.

Once again.... I hope that makes sense.



mona amon - Feb 19, 2009 5:06 am (#1514 of 2988)  
Not one single mea culpa from him. (Mona)

True... of course, it has plot reasons, too, but, as we have discussed, Snape has had bad experience with apologizing. And when he finally makes his confession to Harry, he can only give him his memories, he (literally) can hardly speak. (Julia)


Plot reasons- only uptil the end of DH. After that the author would have to come clean about it. I can't accept bad experiences with apologising as an excuse, but anyway I'm not talking about apologising right now. I'm talking about Snape saying, I was guilty or it's equivalent, at least to Dumbledore or even in an inferi-cave type scene like we get with Dumbledore. As for being hardly able to speak in the end, I'm using the "this is not real life, this is a book" argument. The author could have given him breath enough to say anything she wanted him to.

I know it is not "mea culpa" but (forgive me for repeating myself) I still find my "recent discovery" ( ) concerning Snape's mention of his remorse in the Spinner's End chapter interesting. It comes so close to Snape consciously acknowledging himself to be remorseful...

I went back and re-read your post. As you say, it would be in Severus's interest to lie as little as possible, but we also know that he's not telling Bella the whole truth. "I spun him a tale of deepest remorse when I joined his staff, fresh from my Death Eater days, and he embraced me with open arms..." Actually no part of this is really true, and we know it. We know he came to DD with a desperate plea to save Lily, not with a tale of deepest remorse. And far from embracing him with open arms, DD first put him through some tests, to see if he was the real thing.

In my opinion, forgiving oneself is the end of remorse. I am not saying it is necessarily a bad thing - but it is not remorse any more. I agree that a healthy mind can be more forgiving towards oneself but the type of guilt also counts.

Why should it be the end of remorse, as long as one is genuinely sorry? After that the sensible thing to do is to look forward, not back, and stop beating yourself up because it serves no useful purpose. As for the type of guilt, fortunately for Snape he came out of the DE fold in time, before he had done anything seriously evil.

I actually do not think that his guilt itself was that great. But whatever it was, I feel he did harm to himself (Not to society. He had definitely repaid his debt to society many times over by the time of his death.) by refusing to acknowledge it and face it.

I liked the way you analysed Severus's remorse about Lily's death in this post .In this scene we see him being clearly remorseful and grief-stricken about Lily's death. This is what I'm missing when I say that we are not given any evidence that he was consciously guilty about other things than Lily.

Oh, what a disappointment!

Too early to be disappointed. Although I'm pretty sure it's not something that I could have made up, I haven't been able to find the quote yet.

Once again.... I hope that makes sense. (me and my shadow)

It does to me. Good post. But I'm not sure the compartmentalising of his emotions happened only because of the trauma of Lily's rejection. I think, for a sensitive child like Severus, it could have begun to happen very early in life, due to the insecurity of having parents who argue all the time.



wynnleaf - Feb 19, 2009 5:39 am (#1515 of 2988)  
The author could have given him breath enough to say anything she wanted him to. (mona amon)

Why do you think she didn't want him to do so? Do you think she didn't want us to believe in his true remorse?? And yet she wanted him to be seen as redeemed?? Because we know she did want that - for him to be seen as redeemed. Did she want him seen as redeemed, without having direct remorse, even after her having laid out in DH exactly how necessary remorse is?

Or do you just think she made a mistake when she didn't have him voice direct "I did wrong" statements in DH?



wynnleaf - Feb 19, 2009 7:18 am (#1516 of 2988)  
To add to my questions above...

JKR said, in later interviews, that many of the Slytherins came back with Slughorn to fight in the battle of Hogwarts. She said they only left to get reinforcements. But we have absolutely nothing in the text to indicate that those were their motivations in leaving, nothing to show they had any desire to fight against LV, nothing to show they were on the side of the Light, nothing to show that any of the Slytherin students had any goodness in them at all. There were no bits and pieces that might make us even suspect those students were opposed to LV. After the Battle of Hogwarts, there was nothing in the chapters to indicate anything that might lead us to believe JKR wanted us to think highly of the Slytherin students. Nothing.

Then she said in interviews that they came back and fought. This was (coincidentally?), after there had been a lot of fan commentary on how JKR had all the Slytherin students go bad, all ran to LV's side or were cowards, none helped the good side in the Battle of Hogwarts, none turned out good even though JKR in early interviews had said all of the Slytherin students weren't bad.

I find it very hard not to suspect that JKR was, in her interview comments, engaging in a little "revisionist" history with her own book, trying to change it after the fact. Personally, deep down, I can't help but feel that she intentionally wrote all those Slytherin students running out on Hogwarts and not a single one turning out good.

However, that's not the same with Snape. JKR had clearly planned from the beginning that Snape would be shown to be "redeemed". The final words of the series have Harry proclaiming him the high standard of JKR's favorite virtue, courage. She made it clear in DH that remorse was essential to a character being redeemed. And then she showed in the Prince's Tale deep grief, bitter regret, turning away from his past, changing in his view of the importance of the lives of others, changing in not wanting anyone to use the "mudblood" word, giving his life to change the effects of what he'd done, etc. And all of this stemming from Snape's love. JKR's theme here was pretty clear: love can bring about redemption. And remorse was an essential step along the way.

So when JKR didn't write Snape directly saying something like "I did wrong. I'm so sorry," I think it's worth asking if this was intentional or if it was a mistake. If it's intentional, why didn't she do it? Is it because she didn't see Snape's remorse as genuine? Or not enough? Or not as strong as Dumbledore's remorse? If so, why make Snape's redemption the culminating redemption of the series, if his was so much weaker than others? Or was it because JKR really didn't see spoken confession with quite the importance that some readers see it?

It's perfectly natural that many readers wouldn't agree with JKR on all of her perspectives. I certainly don't agree with all of them. And for those who strongly feel that spoken confession of some sort was necessary to really believing in Snape's remorse, then JKR may not have convinced them. But I strongly doubt that it is because JKR intended Snape's remorse and redemption to be weaker than other characters, especially as she gave so much special attention to it, capping off the entire series with its confirmation.



mona amon - Feb 19, 2009 8:04 am (#1517 of 2988)  
Wynnleaf, I wholeheartedly agree with you about the Slytherins. As for Severus, I believe that everything she wrote about him (or left out) was completely intentional. I'll be back to elaborate when I have more time.



Julia H. - Feb 19, 2009 8:04 am (#1518 of 2988)  
In particular, please explain what you mean about how Snape's compartmentalizing is related to why he cannot distinguish between Harry and James. (Wynnleaf)

After that the sensible thing to do is to look forward, not back, and stop beating yourself up because it serves no useful purpose. (Mona)


Very different topics, but they remind me of the same details:

One of the reasons why Snape cannot "distinguish" between James and Harry and one of the reasons why he cannot stop "beating up himself" is probably the fact that he physically cannot move away from the source of his trauma / guilt. (Actually I think Lily's death is not only a source of guilt but another trauma for him and the effects of the two traumas accumulate.) Except for a relatively short time, he lives at Hogwarts, in a place full of memories of James and Lily, of budding DE's, in the place where everything started to go wrong. He has vowed to protect Harry and regardless whether he believes Voldemort will return or not (though why would he not believe when Dumbledore tells him so?), he knows it for ten long years that Harry Potter will definitely come to Hogwarts one day and he will have to be there to meet him. Then Harry arrives and becomes a living reminder of Snape's bad choices, guilt, loss and traumas. He should perhaps confess his guilt to him, but it would be like confessing it to James and/or Lily. If Lily, his childhood friend, refused his apologizes for the Mudblood word with such contempt, what could he expect from the son of Lily and James (who had tormented and humiliated him before Snape had done any harm to him), if he confessed him what part he had played in the death of his parents?

Getting contempt and rejection from Lily was probably far worse than being humiliated by James but that does not mean the latter was not very bad. No matter whether Snape looks at Harry as Lily's or James's son (and he apparently can't look at him as "just Harry"), on the basis of his experiences with the parents, he cannot expect understanding or forgiveness. Still, seeing Harry as James and getting all the contempt and hatred in the world from him, is probably easier than getting any of it from Lily's son. Perhaps the more he identifies Harry with James, the less he needs to identify him with Lily. In accordance with Snape's guilt, Harry should hate him and despise him (and Snape makes it sure that he does), but once it must be, then it is easier to take it as coming from James and James "only", rather than from James's and Lily's son, because Lily's son is half Lily, while James is only James. So Snape "buries" the trauma of the Worst Memory and Lily's rejection as well as Lily's possible (imagined?) reaction to what he did in the mutual hostility with Harry, who is "a hundred per cent James".

For most of the books, Snape's life is about making up for his guilt. Even while there is no Voldemort, there is Dumbledore, who is very good at finding ways for Snape to atone but does not seem to be the kind of person to help him move away from his guilt or from his teenage trauma. He expects him to deal with Harry, as a permanent reminder of traumas and guilt, the way he can, and do the work of atoning by protecting Harry and helping the wizarding world get rid of Voldemort.

Mona, I understand you agree that Snape is remorseful (not only sorry) about Lily but you don't see whether he is remorseful about anything else... In my eyes, his guilt about Lily is linked to his having been a DE. I can't imagine that he is not tormented by his regret of joining Voldemort; on the one hand, because it resulted in harming Lily and on the other hand, because, as a changed person, he has to go back among the DE's and see what they are doing to people (e.g. Charity). I find it quite possible that JKR regards Snape's remorse about his past as general remorse whose symbol is Lily; just as his atonement, which (as you say) pays back his debt to society, goes beyond Lily and the Potters while its symbol is still Lily.

Since everything Snape is guilty about is closely related, since we see that he is quite capable of feeling remorse and that he does feel remorse, and since his atonement is eventually for the whole wizarding world, not only for Lily, since he does not only protect Lily's son, but also helps the good side independently of Harry's safety, rejects the Mudblood word even though it is not used in connection with Lily, saves or protects people not connected to Lily, I don't think we need to see separate assertions about each component of Snape's guilt from either Snape or from JKR. It can be inferred.

Why should it be the end of remorse, as long as one is genuinely sorry?

Because remorse is painful.

But whatever it was, I feel he did harm to himself...

I agree. But he probably did not care...



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 19, 2009 10:24 am (#1519 of 2988)  
Perhaps the more he identifies Harry with James, the less he needs to identify him with Lily. - Julia

This a profound insight and to me very true. I'd say we could find places in canon where Severus avoids eye contact with Harry and/or that looking into his eyes creates a more extreme emotion in Sev.

(Actually I think Lily's death is not only a source of guilt but another trauma for him and the effects of the two traumas accumulate.)

I agree, just for the record. I think the emotional damage was done by the "first loss" and that he was then a man ill-prepared to try and handle the death of her. So he probably "mastered his breathing" a few thousand times, after that initial memory we saw.

mona, thanks. I completely agree Severus's emotional problems could stem from pre-Hogwarts and pre-Lily. As mentioned previously, as a child he was possibly predisposed to fantasy and secretiveness and this is consistent with those who come from "broken" homes.

edited for additions.



wynnleaf - Feb 20, 2009 7:31 am (#1520 of 2988)  
I'd say we could find places in canon where Severus avoids eye contact with Harry and/or that looking into his eyes creates a more extreme emotion in Sev. (MAMS)

While I agree with much of the discussion above, I don't think this particular comment is as true as one might think. As I recall, the opposite is more true -- that is, Snape doesn't appear to avoid eye contact with Harry at all, although he does seem to get angry when he looks at Harry. Still, my impression is that Snape doesn't avoid looking at Harry's eyes, even though they look just like Lily's eyes.



Julia H. - Feb 20, 2009 8:32 am (#1521 of 2988)  
I think the emotional damage was done by the "first loss" and that he was then a man ill-prepared to try and handle the death of her. (MAMS)

I agree. I think Snape may be ill-prepared in several ways. Of course, it is always difficult to lose someone you love and it probably does not help if it's the only person you love. But IMO it is not only the previous trauma that makes it much more difficult to handle (or to accept) the loss, it is also guilt (any kind of guilt) connected to the death of the loved person. Snape has both the trauma and the guilt.

I am not sure I know where we are in the chronology, but I would like to discuss / explore the possibilities concerning the time after Voldemort's downfall. What we have to go by is mainly what Harry sees in the Pensieve about Karkaroff's trial. It implies that Snape's DE past comes to light at some point. Does it happen only after Voldemort's downfall, when Karkaroff may not be the only DE to give the Ministry information? Or does Dumbledore (Snape) come forward with this information after or before Voldy's disappearance? Is Snape tried like Karkaroff or does Dumbledore's testimony prevent a trial altogether? How does that all affect Snape? How is his Hogwarts teacher status regarded by others (colleagues, parents etc.) after this discovery? Is it a topic discussed perhaps in the Prophet? How much protection does he need / get from Dumbledore? How does he go through it all while mourning Lily and struggling with remorse at the same time?



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 20, 2009 9:46 am (#1522 of 2988)  
I'd love to explore the 1981-1992 DE days and what Severus might have had to do, act and relay back to DD, what it might have been like regarding dealing with those like Lucius (pretending to be "normal"). I'll post when I gather my ideas but would love to hear from you guys.

wynnleaf, I can see your point above. It might be one of those things that, even though it hurts to do it, he cannot help himself, seeing those eyes. I have to say when I read the 'look at me' line I feel like I'm getting stabbed in the chest, so imagine what it must be like for him. (yes, I know he is not real...  )



wynnleaf - Feb 20, 2009 6:06 pm (#1523 of 2988)  
Snape after LV's first downfall...

What do we know?

We know the Wizengamot heard evidence from DD about Snape at some point prior to Karkaroff's trial.

Sirius, who was imprisoned just after the Potter's deaths, had not heard any hint that Snape had been a DE. Nor did he apparently have any hint that Snape was serving DD.

Fudge, at the end of GOF, seemed unsurprised that Snape had a Dark Mark.

Fudge in POA seems to respect Snape, at least insofar as not being at all surprised that Snape would be out trying to capture Sirius Black.

Gossip runs all over Hogwarts. If lots of parents had known that Snape used to be a DE, or that he'd ever spied for DD, then most likely the kids would know as well. Even if only a few ever took the knowledge to school, it would have gotten around. Harry was told by older students that Snape was really interested in the DADA position, but no rumors about having been a DE.

Mad Eye Moody had heard about Snape being a spy before Karkaroff's trial. He appeared to have heard DD's evidence, however doubtful he found Snape's changing sides.

What I'd surmise from all of that is:

1. Snape was never tired publicly.

2. The Wizengamot was probably not told about Snape before LV's downfall. LV had spies in the Ministry (one reason DD never wanted to work directly with them), and DD wouldn't want to risk Snape losing his cover.

3. Therefore it is more likely that DD told the Wizengamot about Snape, perhaps in some kind of closed session and the information was also shared with the auror department (do they call it Magical Law Enforcement??).

4. While I don't think DD would have told the Ministry about Snape prior to LV's downfall, he may have told those aurors that were also members of the Order, of which Moody would be one.



Steve Newton - Feb 21, 2009 4:36 am (#1524 of 2988)  
Since Dumbledore gave evidence in favor of Snape he must have been arrested and, perhaps, on trial.



wynnleaf - Feb 21, 2009 9:08 am (#1525 of 2988)  
Since Dumbledore gave evidence in favor of Snape he must have been arrested and, perhaps, on trial. (Steve)

Not necessarily. DD could have brought forward evidence before Snape was ever even accused, in order to circumvent just such an occurrence. Or, he could have been accused by a DE on trial and then DD brought the evidence in order to keep him from being brought to trial.

The Wizengamot clearly doesn't always act according to any particular set protocol. Sirius was sent to prison with no trial at all, while Harry was brought before the full Wizengamot for underage magic.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:30 pm

mona amon - Feb 21, 2009 9:43 am (#1526 of 2988)  
he physically cannot move away from the source of his trauma / guilt. (Julia)

That's important, I agree. In fact I'd like to analyse this aspect of it in a seperate post- he cannot leave Hogwarts, he cannot physically 'leave' Voldemort or the DEs. It's really sad.

Perhaps the more he identifies Harry with James, the less he needs to identify him with Lily. In accordance with Snape's guilt, Harry should hate him and despise him (and Snape makes it sure that he does), but once it must be, then it is easier to take it as coming from James and James "only", rather than from James's and Lily's son, because Lily's son is half Lily, while James is only James. So Snape "buries" the trauma of the Worst Memory and Lily's rejection as well as Lily's possible (imagined?) reaction to what he did in the mutual hostility with Harry, who is "a hundred per cent James".

Julia, are you quite sure he could feel all this? He may not have the emotional range of a teaspoon, but he's a male character after all.

Mona, I understand you agree that Snape is remorseful (not only sorry) about Lily but you don't see whether he is remorseful about anything else... In my eyes, his guilt about Lily is linked to his having been a DE.

I actually do believe that he was definitely remorseful about becoming a DE. Perhaps as I reply to Wynnleaf my ideas about Severus's remorse will become more clear.

Why should it be the end of remorse, as long as one is genuinely sorry? (Me)

Because remorse is painful. (Julia)


In that case I feel people should feel remorse only in the beginning. I really see no use in unnecessary pain. First remorse. Then reformation. Then atonement. And then just live happily ever after.

And for those who strongly feel that spoken confession of some sort was necessary to really believing in Snape's remorse, then JKR may not have convinced them. But I strongly doubt that it is because JKR intended Snape's remorse and redemption to be weaker than other characters, especially as she gave so much special attention to it, capping off the entire series with its confirmation. (Wynnleaf)

Well, first of all I'd better say that I do believe Severus was remorseful about joining Voldemort and becoming a DE, and not just because he set into motion the events that led to Lily's murder, but because he started hating Voldemort and everything that he represented, just as much as Dumbledore or Harry or any of the other good guys ever did.

Still, he obviously hasn’t done all the work, as he has a whole lot of unresolved issues about his past. I do not get the feeling that he ever acknowledged (or even realised) that he had caused indirect harm to others by being such an eager follower of a conscienceless tyrant.

I'm sure it was JKR's intention to portray him this way. It would not have been difficult at all to show us his full, conscious remorse, if that is what she had wanted for him. Even his redemption is in a sense incomplete because he dies without any reconciliation with his fellow human beings. I believe this is because she wanted him to be a truly tragic character, not merely a melodramatic one. In literature redeemed characters are appealing because of the feel good factor. But their remorse and redemption is usually not very interesting.

JKR was brought up I think in the tradition of the Anglican church, and I cannot help feeling that must have influenced her ideas about remorse (as it must have influenced mine; I realised that just now while writing this). In the gospels as well as in the words of the Communion Service, remorse and redemption are closely linked with reconciliation with one's fellow human beings. "As we forgive them that trespass against us" is in the same sentence as "forgive us our trespasses" and "and are in love and charity with your neighbours" follows closely on the heels of "ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins".

Severus reminds me of the guy in the parable who was forgiven a huge debt by his master but was later found throwing a fellow servant in prison because he could not repay to him some small amount. This is of course a bit simplistic, and I'd like to explore the complexities in some other post.  



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 21, 2009 11:16 am (#1527 of 2988)  
I'm sure it was JKR's intention to portray him this way. It would not have been difficult at all to show us his full, conscious remorse, if that is what she had wanted for him. Even his redemption is in a sense incomplete because he dies without any reconciliation with his fellow human beings. I believe this is because she wanted him to be a truly tragic character, not merely a melodramatic one. In literature redeemed characters are appealing because of the feel good factor. But their remorse and redemption is usually not very interesting. - mona

I completely agree that JKR was extremely careful about what she *didn't* reveal about Severus's inner feelings. Just as careful as the wording of the Prophecy if not moreso. When I think of an emotional character I think of Hagrid. But Severus is not wearing his heart on his sleeve like that. We have absolutely no idea what really goes on in his mind and heart, and that is how it had to be in order for us all to get what we needed from the character and our personal "moral" of the story. He has similarities to Scrooge but if he had been like that simplistic and *complete* turn-around then who would have been interested? Which brings me to the remorse topic.

Regarding Severus's remorse, I haven't chimed in because, for me, it is not a question. I know folks doubt he is remorseful because he is not kind or respectful to the students. But to me the man still embodied remorse sufficiently enough for Dumbledore to brush off Sev's wanting dementors to suck Sirius's soul, calling Sev's display of venomous rage simply "disappointment", and to insinuate in GoF that Sev belonged in Gryffindor.

Perhaps Severus never got high enough out of his miserable state to be respectful to the students. But even Dumbledore did not *know* how much and how long Severus's love endured for Lily ( "After all this time?" "Always" ) and yet he was giving this man the concessions he required in order to continue his path of redemption. Severus was not trying for sainthood. He was trying to straighten out a wrongdoing in order to make peace with himself and with Lily.

I am reminded of the extreme case portrayed in "Dead Man Walking" where the man on death row lied to the nun the whole time. Even when she found this out she still went to his execution in order to be a proxy for God's support of him on earth.

I'll be posting later regarding the chronological discussion  



Julia H. - Feb 21, 2009 5:00 pm (#1528 of 2988)  
Since Dumbledore gave evidence in favor of Snape he must have been arrested and, perhaps, on trial. (Steve)

Not necessarily. DD could have brought forward evidence before Snape was ever even accused, in order to circumvent just such an occurrence. (Wynnleaf)


Yes, it may have happened in either way. Of course, we are not told, though as external (not conclusive) evidence, we do have the fact that JKR gives us the information about Snape's DE past and Dumbledore's evidence by showing us Karkaroff's trial, not Snape's. What I find plausible is that Dumbledore had the power / influence and may have had the will to prevent such a trial. He may have wanted Snape to avoid being tried not only for Snape's sake but also because of the Prophecy. It seems Dumbledore wanted the existence of the Prophecy to be kept secret and an in-depth interrogation with Snape could lead to unpleasant questions in this direction. Also, the way we see the trials in the Pensieve, the final decision seems to depend to a great extent on the council's feelings about the accused one. I feel at least that the verdict in favour of Bagman was due to Bagman being liked by people rather than to anything more objective. Snape, with his general appearance and his secrecy, may not have been likely to win the benevolence of the Wizengamot during a trial. Dumbledore, however, may have been influential enough to persuade the Wizengamot to accept the evidence he gave without publicly trying (arresting?) Snape. A closed session is also possible. After all, Dumbledore had several important titles in the wizarding world. He was also the head of the Order of the Phoenix, where several aurors worked as well, accepting Dumbledore as their commander.

Of course, we do not know which way it happened. But we know that Karkaroff mentioned Snape's name in front of a lot of people (probably including journalists) and Dumbledore also repeated his views on this subject in front of all these people. That makes it likely that Snape's past was generally known of (though it is possible that it got less attention among some more shocking news then) but: He does not seem to have been accused of anything else but joining Voldemort and the people who heard about his past also heard that he had been a spy for the light side before Voldemort's downfall. Still, Snape being a Hogwarts teacher must have been a sensitive issue for a while.

Julia, are you quite sure he could feel all this? He may not have the emotional range of a teaspoon, but he's a male character after all. (Mona)

LOL! Actually, I did not find that particular emotion too complex.  It is subconscious anyway.

First remorse. Then reformation. Then atonement. And then just live happily ever after.

Hm. I'm not sure Snape does numbers 2 and 3 in this order. He never gets to number 4.

I think atonement must be the result of a more or less conscious decision but remorse is more difficult to control You either feel it or not. If you do, you cannot put an end to it at will, or according to a plan.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 21, 2009 5:47 pm (#1529 of 2988)  
What I'd surmise from all of that is: …

wynnleaf, I’d agree with your speculations in all four points.

Still, Snape being a Hogwarts teacher must have been a sensitive issue for a while. - Julia

I cannot imagine what it would be like to become a spy and not know if and when your former “cult leader” will show up. Vold thought Severus from as early as book one the DE 'who I believe has left me forever... he will be killed, of course.' But even the ten years before Harry comes to Hogwarts must have been like time standing still. His commission was to keep Harry safe whenever that time came that Vold returned. It could have been when Harry was a grown man and wouldn’t require as much looking after, as he would have been informed when he was old enough to hear the truth. Or it could have been before Harry even got to the school. Severus must have been on constant patrol and espionage regarding the movements of ex-DE's and on the lookout for strange magical occurrences.

On top of that, these issues to deal with: the students who would remember him as Snivellus, the children of DE’s who he’d have to play the role with, the children of aurors who he would perhaps need to be extra neutral around, I can’t even keep it all straight! And, on top of that, he teaches many classes, he is possibly Head of House with those duties (whatever they are), also the possibility of at least one teacher, McGonagall, as an Order member, aware of his former status. These issues, to me, would enhance his need to disconnect from emotion and focus on organising and (I hate to use the word again) compartmentalising these separate “lives”. It seems that Severus excels at this type of mental focus.

Making the pact with Dumbledore on the night after the murder, that passage speaks volumes as to what was going on inside Severus: ‘Very well. Very well. But never – never tell, Dumbledore! This must be between us! I cannot bear… especially Potter’s son… I want your word!’

Even at his most anguished, his pride and fury regarding James permeates through.



Steve Newton - Feb 22, 2009 7:30 am (#1530 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 23, 2009 10:04 am
wynnleaf, my often faulty memory says that Dumbledore says that he gave evidence in favor of Snape. To me that suggests a formal setting.



Choices - Feb 22, 2009 11:13 am (#1531 of 2988)  
Happy Birthday Alan. Thanks for being such a perfect and appealing Severus Snape (IMO) :-)



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 22, 2009 11:45 am (#1532 of 2988)  
Steve, that makes sense. Perhaps they held a private session in order to hear Dumbledore's testimony and all proceedings were consequently halted? (that's my attempt at law jargon)



wynnleaf - Feb 23, 2009 7:04 am (#1533 of 2988)  
mona amon,

While it is of course true that JKR's version of remorse must be informed to an extent by her own background (and she has been in the Church of Scotland for some time), it does not seem to me that she follows that particularly carefully.

Severus reminds me of the guy in the parable who was forgiven a huge debt by his master but was later found throwing a fellow servant in prison because he could not repay to him some small amount. This is of course a bit simplistic, and I'd like to explore the complexities in some other post. (mona amon)

Yes, I'm quite familiar with that parable. But in HP, there is no higher person by whom Snape has been forgiven. JKR speaks of people basically redeeming themselves through remorse and atonement. Dumbledore is not a stand-in for divine judgement and mercy, as he is himself quite flawed and has had to deal with his own remorse and atonement issues. JKR has said directly that DD is not meant to represent God, but nevertheless I tend to think that she worked out some of her own personal issues in that area, her own frustration with death, destiny, etc., in Harry's responses to DD in DH.

Personally, I have thought even before DH that the HP series does not focus much on direct apology and direct forgiveness. People simply get over their anger or hurt feelings or wrongdoing to others, try to put it behind them, and hope that their friends accept that, which they generally do. So you don't see, even within the Trio, much direct apologies or direct voicing of forgiveness.

JKR did not set up in DH confession, apology, or forgiveness as integral to her "redemption" of characters. Remorse was the main thing.

Of course, many of us may personally believe that confession and forgiveness are central to that process in reality. But this is not reality, it's literature. In many belief systems, if this were the Real World, a good many of the "redeemed" characters would be held in question, if not each one of them. The point is, one brings one's own system of belief to this issue if it were Real Life. But it's not real life and the character's "redemption" is in a literary light, and doesn't necessarily fit in even with JKR's church background of redemption. I can't naturally speak to her own belief, because we don't know that, but if we're speaking of the belief systems of the churches, then the "redeem yourself" model just doesn't fit.

Conclusion? JKR isn't using her church background's view of redemption, therefore one need not assume that forgiving others is necessary for the literary redemption of the characters.

As I see it, in a literary sense, the only thing truly necessary for the redemption of the characters is for the reader to see them as "redeemed" in the context of the book. And generally, for the reader to see it, the protagonist has to see it. That's especially true in this case because the story is told almost exclusively from the protagonist's viewpoint. The last pages of the book are, in part, meant to show us that Harry forgave Snape and he's therefore redeemed in the eyes of the book. I think that's meant to convince the reader, just as practically everything else Harry sees from his point of view is supposed to be convincing to the reader, at least until overturned by later events, of which there are none at The End.

Everyone cannot be convinced. That's obvious because we all have different views on what is needed for this redemption to occur.

Mona amon, in the comparison to the parable about the servant forgiven a huge debt, but holding a small debt over the head of someone else, what exactly did you see as the huge thing that Snape had been forgiven, versus the very small thing which he refused to forgive?

I think we have to remember that Snape truly believed (and he may have been right, for all we know), that Sirius together with James actually tried to get him killed, and that Sirius as an adult didn't have any remorse over it (that last was true). Add to that all the other bullying and that Snape thought that it was through James' arrogance and disregard for warnings that the Secret Keeper gave the secret to LV. In the end, I don't see that "debt" as particularly small in comparison.

Further, I very much agree with MAMS and Julia, that Snape's attitude toward James isn't just one of being unforgiving. I don't think he could have just accepted that James was flawed yet still should be forgiven, just done a bit of "work" to forgive James, and gotten over it. In other words, I don't think it was just a choice he could make -- forgive or hold a grudge. I do agree that James - the thought of him, or Harry looking like him -- was a "trigger" for Snape. I would guess that it would have taken a lot of professional counseling to get Snape to the point where he could see James in so normal a way that Snape could forgive him.



Julia H. - Feb 23, 2009 11:01 am (#1534 of 2988)  
Interesting analysis, Wynnleaf.

Snape is not forgiven until Harry forgives him. I think, according to the logic of the novel, forgiveness for Snape means exclusively Harry's forgiveness and he does not get it until after his death.

It is true that Dumbledore does not hand Snape over to the aurors after the hilltop scene, but it does not mean Snape can walk free of his debt. (Nor does he ever seem to expect to walk free.) He pays his debt back to Harry and the wizarding community by protecting Harry and by fighting against the Dark Side, eventually giving up his life in the fight. He pays his debt in a better, more useful way than he could pay it by spending whatever long time in Azkaban. He is only forgiven after paying his debt and after the end of his life. That means he never actually experiences being forgiven while he lives (nor does he ask for it), though he does experience being given help when he turns to Dumbledore for help.

I would guess that it would have taken a lot of professional counseling to get Snape to the point where he could see James in so normal a way that Snape could forgive him. (Wynnleaf)

I agree.

Severus must have been on constant patrol and espionage regarding the movements of ex-DE's and on the lookout for strange magical occurrences. (MAMS)

The ex-DE's may have been difficult to watch in the early days. Those who managed to stay out of Azkaban by pretending to have been Imperiused and who apparently did not expect Voldemort to return must have been careful, especially in the beginning. Snape never claimed that he had been Imperiused. That may have meant that openly associating with him for someone who did claim to have been Imperiused could seem to be somewhat risky (by perhaps creating the wrong impression). Then again, since Snape had been acquitted as someone who had rejoined the good side in time, that impression may not have been so bad after all. But the fact that Snape apparently enjoyed the full trust of Voldemort's most powerful enemy may have put former DE's on their guard even if they were not unwilling to see him. That is what I imagine as logical possibilities in the beginning. In the later years, they clearly did not care about being very careful, since Lucius apparently was not too shy to be openly anti-Dumbledore.

As for the look-out for strange magical occurrences... Dumbledore was clearly on the look out (he did discover that Voldemort was hiding in Albania) and I wonder how much he shared with Snape or how much Snape participated in making these discoveries. After all, this task could count as protecting Harry, and Snape was a Dark Arts expert, and he worked with Dumbledore closely. Of course, if Dumbledore wanted Snape to be a spy once again in the future, he had to be careful not to spoil this possibility, but, as we see with the Quirrell case, it was still OK to give Snape any jobs short of openly confronting Voldemort (which would probably have been impossible to explain away).



wynnleaf - Feb 23, 2009 11:52 am (#1535 of 2988)  
He pays his debt in a better, more useful way than he could pay it by spending whatever long time in Azkaban. He is only forgiven after paying his debt and after the end of his life. (Julia)

Very, very pertinent point. Nobody forgave Snape his debt. Instead, DD gave him the opportunity to attempt to repay it (insofar as that was possible, since one can't bring back the dead).

As for DD and Snape's activities after LV's first downfall, I expect Snape was helping in various ways.

After Harry was at Hogwarts, but before LV's return, we see Snape helping to keep Quirrell under observation and apparently bringing back some info to DD about Lucius and the diary after the end of COS.

If DD was so willing to use Snape to keep watch on Quirrell, then it's likely that he was using his expertise as a spy and possibly Dark Arts expert prior to Harry coming to Hogwarts. What DD likely did not do is use Snape in his investigations of Tom Riddle, because I think DD made it fairly clear that he was keeping all of that information to himself. On the other hand, he could have used Snape to investigate activities of Death Eaters and keep an "ear to the ground" regarding rumors of LV's location, possible return, etc. Snape is in DD's confidence to a greater degree than other Order members and, apparently, to a greater degree than the other staff members including McGonagall. Minerva, after all, didn't seem to have any info that anyone might be actively after the Stone.



legolas returns - Feb 23, 2009 1:12 pm (#1536 of 2988)  
I know it probably didn't happen but I am having fun imagining it in my minds eye. Imagine Snape being told to stick on an invisibility cloak and hang around in the street watching Harry at the begining of OOP. I would love to see his expression and imagine what he would say. It would be priceless . He would probably be too busy with Death Eaters and so the task would not be given to him.



Julia H. - Feb 23, 2009 2:44 pm (#1537 of 2988)  
Snape is probably too busy with Voldemort.  Otherwise I think if he was told to do that he would do it like the other things - even if he did not like it. He followed Harry all over Hogwarts in his "free" time in PS.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 23, 2009 4:42 pm (#1538 of 2988)  
...it's likely that he was using his expertise as a spy and possibly Dark Arts expert prior to Harry coming to Hogwarts. What DD likely did not do is use Snape in his investigations of Tom Riddle, because I think DD made it fairly clear that he was keeping all of that information to himself. - wynnleaf

I agree and would say this is the reason it took DD so long to know about, investigate and try locate the horcruxes. He was on his own and would probably have remained so if not for his fatal injury. Only then do I believe he needed to confide this most important information to Harry and somewhat, at the end, Severus.

I also agree with Julia's statement that Severus going, for example, to Albania would have been risking getting caught. He could plausably have told Vold he magically knew and went "to find his master" but I personally feel DD would not have sent Severus to Albania. It is fascinating to think what would have happened if Severus had gone, found Vapormort and allowed him to possess him in order to get Vold to DD...

I think it is plausable that Severus was in contact with DE's who were not claiming to have been Imperius-ed. If DD's testimony about Severus was not made public, the DE's might have assumed Severus was merely trying to stay out of prison and DD had mercy on him.

Snape is in DD's confidence to a greater degree than other Order members and, apparently, to a greater degree than the other staff members including McGonagall. Minerva, after all, didn't seem to have any info that anyone might be actively after the Stone.

There were other incidents, in OOTP and HBP, that clued me in to *no one* being a confidante of DD's in the Order or otherwise. I'd have to research exact examples, but I agree even Minerva was not kept up to speed.

As far as before Harry arrived at Hogwarts, I would speculate that Severus was keeping watch on #4 Privet Drive (it couldn't have been left solely in Mrs Figg's hands) when DD could not, or he might have had that as a beginning task to test Severus' trustworthiness and skills. I would also guess DD found out rather quickly what a good Occlumense Severus was and ordered him to cease any obstructing of thought. This must have made Severus quite unnerved at first, before he came to trust DD. I would imagine DD was exercising some Occlumency of his own.

edited



wynnleaf - Feb 23, 2009 4:57 pm (#1539 of 2988)  
I would also guess DD found out rather quickly what a good Occlumense Severus was and ordered him to cease any obstructing of thought. (MAMS)

There I disagree MAMS. If DD was into Snape's mind much at all, I think he'd have known how important Lily remained to Snape over the years. Yet in The Prince's Tale, it seemed that DD was surprised to the point of tears to learn of how deeply Snape still cared about her.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 23, 2009 5:05 pm (#1540 of 2988)  
I don't think DD used Legilimency on Severus after DD came to "trust him completely". I do think in the first months and perhaps years he did, particularly in certain situations.

By the way, I thought it was Severus who was at tears in that scene...



Julia H. - Feb 24, 2009 12:20 am (#1541 of 2988)  
I think it is plausable that Severus was in contact with DE's who were not claiming to have been Imperius-ed. If DD's testimony about Severus was not made public, the DE's might have assumed Severus was merely trying to stay out of prison and DD had mercy on him. (MAMS)

Interesting idea... DE's who did not claim to have been Imperiused were either in Azkaban or in hiding. (Snape seems to be a unique exception to me.) Contacting them was probably difficult and dangerous though, of course, it could be useful to watch the ones in hiding in case any of them were in contact with or looking for Vapormort. It is another question whether they wanted to be found by Snape or not... DD's testimony must have become public knowledge, given that all the people present at Karkaroff's trial had heard it, and I suppose none of them swore to secrecy on this subject. We know how much Barty Crouch Jr. hated DE's who walked free and he may not have been alone with this feeling. Later, Snape explained it to Bellatrix (and likely to Voldemort) why he had never tried to find Vapormort, so I don't think he had done anything that could be passed off as such an attempt.

I don't think DD used Legilimency on Severus after DD came to "trust him completely". I do think in the first months and perhaps years he did, particularly in certain situations.

Somehow I don't like the idea that Dumbledore may have been using Legilimency on any of his own people. It is Voldemort's method. I would like to think that Dumbledore had enough knowledge of people and of human psychology to be able to decide who could be trusted. In the hilltop scene, he does not seem to be using Legilimency... Later, if he was not sure Snape could be trusted without Legilimency, he could not be sure either whether Snape was using Occlumency against his Legilimency or not. I hope Dumbledore did not make the same mistakes as Voldemort... DD's trust based on a deeper understanding of human nature rather than on Legilimency may have been one of the striking differences for Snape between Voldemort and Dumbledore.

By the way, I thought it was Severus who was at tears in that scene...

Perhaps you are thinking of two different scenes. DD was at tears in the "Always" scene as he was asking "After all this time?" regarding Snape's love for Lily.



Dryleaves - Feb 24, 2009 2:30 am (#1542 of 2988)  
As far as before Harry arrived at Hogwarts, I would speculate that Severus was keeping watch on #4 Privet Drive (it couldn't have been left solely in Mrs Figg's hands) when DD could not, or he might have had that as a beginning task to test Severus' trustworthiness and skills. me and my shadow

This made me wonder how much Snape knew about Harry's life before Harry came to Hogwarts. My impression is that he did not know any details and that for example some of the information he gets during the Occlumency lessons is new to him. What do you think?

I agree that Dumbledore would not use Legilimency on Snape. Dumbledore says that he trusts Snape, and the use of Legilimency seems more like a sign of distrust to me.



Julia H. - Feb 24, 2009 4:24 am (#1543 of 2988)  
I think JKR said in an interview that they refused to join LV three times, and that counts as defying. (Mona)

Mona, I'm sure the idea is not your invention , however, we also have this:

Head boy an' girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst'ry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get 'em on his side before...

(Hagrid in PS, talking about the Potters' death.)

Now, who are we supposed to believe? Hagrid or JKR?  

Of course, Hagrid can be wrong, but what is the point of putting this particular piece of "wrong information" into the book (especially when it is not corrected on the pages later and, as a mistake, does not seem to serve any specific purpose)?

This made me wonder how much Snape knew about Harry's life before Harry came to Hogwarts. My impression is that he did not know any details and that for example some of the information he gets during the Occlumency lessons is new to him. (Dryleaves)

Good point. I think it makes a lot of sense to have other people watch over Harry, besides Mrs Figg. But Snape could not do it alone either, especially during school-years, so there should be half of the Order taking turns like in OotP. On the other hand, Snape does not seem to know a lot about Harry's childhood in OotP. It is another question how seeing baby Harry would affect Snape. After all, baby Harry cannot be so similar to the James Snape knew...



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 24, 2009 10:17 am (#1544 of 2988)  
I don't have a bunch of time right now, but a few responses I'd like to elaborate on later:

Re: The "Always" scene, it says "his eyes were full of tears." I read it as Severus's eyes were full of tears, which to me is a more powerful statement as we have seen DD teary but never once Severus in such an emotional state.

Re: Legilimency, I do not think DD is a fool. He "trusts" people unless given a reason not to. When they are criminals he gives them second chances. But I cannot imagine he would allow an ex-DE come into the school and be around all those "mudbloods" without knowing all there was to know about him at the start. DD is merciful but he is also thorough. To me, just as Harry had felt he was being X-rayed by DD on occassion, I feel DD has subtle ways of performing this usually invasive magic. I know the X-ray term was used regarding Abe as well, and it could just be the eyes, but I doubt it.

Re: Imperiused / imprisoned DE's, from the Lex (I can't do it off the top of my head) here is a list of them:

Azkaban: Bella and the LeStrange brothers; Karkaroff; Rookwood; Dolohov

Claiming Imperius: Avery, Lucius

Unknown Status or Location: Carrows; Gibbon; Crabbe; Goyle; Jugson; Mulciber; Nott; Rosier elder; Rowle; Selwynn; Yaxley (I think we found out something about him/her...?)

That's a lot of DE's who are unaccounted for, and they couldn't all have been unreachable by a man like Sev, IMO.

Re: Severus watching over Privet Drive, I think just because Sev did not know Marge had a dog or about the bicycle thing doesn't mean he wasn't watching. I like to think this was a way for DD to get Severus used to this new "irksome fly" he was charged with protecting.  

Head boy an' girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst'ry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get 'em on his side before...

(Hagrid in PS, talking about the Potters' death.)

Now, who are we supposed to believe? Hagrid or JKR?


LOL! I'd say we could all come up with a few examples of when Hagrid says the *opposite* of what actually was true.



Orion - Feb 24, 2009 10:30 am (#1545 of 2988)  
Who did the tears belong to?  To Dumbledore, really! It's clear from the sentence, IMO. And why not? He is, after all, as you point out, Shadow, in tears more often than Oprah. I always found his reaction a bit sentimental, to be honest. He doesn't give a damn about Snape, so there's no need to weep crocodile tears.

Really, can you imagine Snape hanging out in Privet Drive? The neighbours! "Whisper, whisper, there's a filthy goth outside, tut tut, the youth of today!" Snape gives the impression, in PS/SS, of seeing Harry for the first time.

"It is another question how seeing baby Harry would affect Snape." Yes, indeed, how? Not at all?! Not all men get all soft when they see a baby. There are lots of gruesome cases of child abuse or even murder every year, sometimes by the biological fathers, more often than that by the new partners. A scientist has found out that the risk of getting killed within the first three years of your life is 30 percent higher if your mother has a new partner. Sorry, this is off topic. I guess I take the newspapers too much to heart.



wynnleaf - Feb 24, 2009 11:29 am (#1546 of 2988)  
I searched for that quote about trice defying. Here it is.

MA: What about the three times-- The thrice-defying of Voldemort?

JKR: Of James and Lily?

MA: Of Neville's parents. Well, James and Lily, too.

JKR: It depends how you take defying, doesn't it. I mean, if you're counting, which I do, anytime you arrested one of his henchmen, anytime you escaped him, anytime you thwarted him, that's what he's looking for. And both couples qualified because they were both fighting. Also, James and Lily turned him down, that was established in "Philosopher's Stone". He wanted them, and they wouldn't come over, so that's one strike against them before they were even out of their teens.



Julia H. - Feb 24, 2009 11:56 am (#1547 of 2988)  
I'd say we could all come up with a few examples of when Hagrid says the *opposite* of what actually was true. (MAMS)

I just don't see the literary point of Hagrid being wrong about something without any consequences and without the truth ever coming out in the books. (The interviews are not part of the book. It is difficult to accept something as "true" on the basis of an interview when the opposite is indicated in the books without even a hint there that it might not be true.)

That's a lot of DE's who are unaccounted for, and they couldn't all have been unreachable by a man like Sev, IMO.

OK, I'm convinced, regarding Snape being in contact with DE's.  But I don't think the DE's unaccounted for could go free without either "proving" somehow that they had not really been Voldemort supporters or expressing their regret and remorse and giving information like Karkaroff. Neither of those made it especially desirable for them to be in contact with former "colleagues". Of course, Snape could still do his best to contact them. He does seem to know later that many DE's did not try to find Vapormort.

(At the end of GoF, Harry mentions the names of Macnair, Avery, Nott, Crabbe and Goyle, and Fudge says they were all "cleared" or "acquitted".)

I like to think this was a way for DD to get Severus used to this new "irksome fly" he was charged with protecting.

I agree that it is a good idea. I think Snape would go and watch over Harry in Privet Drive if that job was given to him. I am just not sure DD actually had this idea - or maybe it was not a truly successful one. At least Snape does not seem to have got used to Harry before Harry arrived at Hogwarts.

Yes, indeed, how? Not at all?! Not all men get all soft when they see a baby. (Orion)

I did not think of such things. I was just wondering if knowing Harry when Harry could not look like the teenage James (Snape never saw the baby James, after all) could have resulted in Snape being able to eventually see Harry as a person different from James - unless Snape seeing Harry as James was altogether a psychological defense mechanism which did not even depend on the (otherwise existing) physical and other similarities between James and Harry. Just a thought... I like the idea of Snape secretly watching over little Harry but I can't help feeling if he saw his life, his second-hand, overlarge clothes, the lack of love around him, the bullying by Dudley, it should have influenced his attitude towards Harry. (I know the question is how... )

Also, James and Lily turned him down, that was established in "Philosopher's Stone". (JKR)

Now I need to look for the part where it was established...  



wynnleaf - Feb 24, 2009 12:40 pm (#1548 of 2988)  
I just don't see the literary point of Hagrid being wrong about something without any consequences and without the truth ever coming out in the books. (The interviews are not part of the book. It is difficult to accept something as "true" on the basis of an interview when the opposite is indicated in the books without even a hint there that it might not be true.) (Julia)

Honestly, I don't know what JKR was talking about in that quote above. Oh, I certainly understand the idea that "defying" LV might mean just escaping him or capturing a henchman, but she also said, "Also, James and Lily turned him down, that was established in "Philosopher's Stone". He wanted them, and they wouldn't come over, so that's one strike against them before they were even out of their teens." What in the world is she talking about "that was established in "Philosopher's Stone"?? That makes no sense. I just searched through PS and couldn't find anywhere that it's stated that LV had asked them to join up. If someone else knows what she's talking about, I'd be interested to know.

I think this was just one of those things that JKR just said off the cuff and it never happened in the books. Better to focus on her other comments about defying LV meaning escaping him, fighting DEs, and so on, because at least we know that fits with being in the Order.

As for Snape and Harry prior to PS, I just don't think Snape had ever seen him. If he had been one watching over Privet Drive, I'd think he would have noticed that Harry was not particularly liked, much less spoiled by the Dursleys. I tend to think Snape's comment about Harry being a celebrity would not have been made if Snape had known how Harry grew up. Snape was expecting Harry, even as a first year, to be the arrogant, self-satisfied kid that he felt James had been. I don't think he'd have thought that if he knew much about Harry's life with Petunia and Vernon.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 24, 2009 1:56 pm (#1549 of 2988)  
I am more interested in Severus’s inner emotional life and his psychology than what exact tasks he might have had, but I think the tasks are relevant in that they could contribute to his emotional tone by the time Harry arrived. This is how I envision Severus watching over #4PD:

Severus apparates, at night / in darkness only so as not to stand out (I cannot imagine Severus *ever* donned Muggle clothing again after childhood and I think Mrs Figg keeps watch well enough during the day). It seems unlikely that anything would occur during the day (as witnessed by the shock of dementors in broad daylight) and I see this as a task given to Sev perhaps during the time prior to becoming a professor. I do think DD would want to have Sev get used to the idea of watching over James’s son, for as seen in The Prince’s Tale he is nearing hysteria that he must protect “Potter’s son”. This would need to be tested, to see if he is even capable of it, before proceeding with any real interaction with Harry, IMO.

Re: Hagrid’s comment and the possibility of what James and Lily’s *thrice defiance* could have been, I haven’t been keeping up on that part of our discussion. I was simply pointing out that Hagrid is used as a vehicle to point out things that are incorrect. I’d have to think about my opinion regarding James and Lily, but for me it doesn’t really matter either way. My only gripe would be how James “hated the dark arts” and that always irked me as his being a bit hypocritical… But I don’t care to go into that anymore  



Julia H. - Feb 24, 2009 2:40 pm (#1550 of 2988)  
But I cannot imagine he would allow an ex-DE come into the school and be around all those "mudbloods" without knowing all there was to know about him at the start. DD is merciful but he is also thorough. To me, just as Harry had felt he was being X-rayed by DD on occassion, I feel DD has subtle ways of performing this usually invasive magic. (MAMS)

I've been thinking about this a bit. I think DD was convinced that Snape was trustable when he took him into the school. I just hope he did not get convinced by using Legilimency. Legilimency may work on Harry but not necessarily on a superb Occlumens. Voldemort was apparently too sure of his own Legilimency skills to think that anyone could hide anything from him. (He was probably aware of the existence of Occlumency.) Yet, Snape does not seem to be the only one among those Voldemort "trusted" who could do Occlumency. At least Snape suggested that Draco had been taught Occlumency by Bellatrix.

When Draco, an underage student, used Occlumency against Snape, Snape could not "read his mind" (that was a "Muggleism", I know ). That may imply it cannot be very difficult to defend your mind against Legilimency once you know how to do Occlumency. That Snape did realize that Occlumency was being performed (something Voldemort apparently did not realize in connection with Snape) may either show the difference in magical powers/skills between Snape and Draco or could be explained by the simple fact that Snape knew what he was looking for (a specific plan) had to be there in Draco's mind and if he could not see it, Draco must have been doing Occlumency.

Back to Dumbledore: If Snape was a good Occlumens (good enough to deceive Voldemort), Dumbledore may not have been any safer "reading" his mind. He could order Snape to stop closing down his mind, but Snape would obey only if he had nothing to hide. So I think Dumbledore must have had better ways to understand Snape's true allegiance. I think, for example, Dumbledore himself knew enough about guilt, true remorse and mourning to recognize these things when he saw them. I imagine it could be the "similarity" between Snape and Dumbledore's own younger self at some point that made it easy for him to get to know Snape for what he really was.

Otherwise Dumbledore was not infallible - he could be wrong even despite his Legilimency skills. I have been wondering, for example, why Dumbledore never found out who the traitor was. Even if he only knew that it was someone close to the Potters, it would have been wise to "X-ray" Order members, who were - in some ways - all "close", some of them very close to the Potters. A traitor in the Order could do a lot of harm anyway. Did DD try to investigate? If he did, did he use Legilimency? Veritaserum? Could he be fooled by Pettigrew?

I think, with regard to Snape's emotional development, a Dumbledore who is understanding without using Legilimency would be a much more likely and effective father figure for Snape to be attached to than someone whose methods resemble Voldemort's.

I see this as a task given to Sev perhaps during the time prior to becoming a professor.

I thought Snape became a professor before the Potters' death.

BTW, Harry was also protected by Dumbledore's magic based on Lily's blood in Petunia.

I was simply pointing out that Hagrid is used as a vehicle to point out things that are incorrect.

In this particular scene, Hagrid is telling Harry (and the reader) the truth about Harry and his parents.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:32 pm

me and my shadow 813 - Feb 24, 2009 2:48 pm (#1551 of 2988)  
I see this as a task given to Sev perhaps during the time prior to becoming a professor.

I thought Snape became a professor before the Potters' death.


You are absolutely right, my error. I do see Severus being "put through his paces" before being 1)permitted in the school and 2)as a DE, being trusted with Harry Potter's life.



Julia H. - Feb 24, 2009 3:01 pm (#1552 of 2988)  
I do see Severus being "put through his paces" before being 1)permitted in the school and 2)as a DE, being trusted with Harry Potter's life.

Yes, that would make absolute sense.  Already as spy with Voldemort still around, he must have proved his trustability. I can imagine - alas, nothing is written about that!  - that Voldemort and his followers may have been working on various plans to find the Potters before they found Pettigrew, and Snape, as a spy, may have helped to thwart some of these plans. In any case, Snape probably had been put through some loyalty tests before he became a Hogwarts professor. I also think that Dumbledore took the time to get to know him and his motivations thoroughly.

Then he was at Hogwarts for ten years before Harry came... But even the "Quirrell case" could be a test (exam?) of Snape's skills, determination and willingness to protect Harry.



wynnleaf - Feb 24, 2009 3:18 pm (#1553 of 2988)  
On Dumbledore using legilimency on Snape prior to LV's first fall...

I'd think it highly likely. MAMS has a point that early on DD had to be able to really see Snape, especially since he knew that Snape could deceive LV. If Snape could deceive LV, what would prevent him from instead deceiving DD? Later, after LV's first downfall, DD had plenty of evidence of Snape's loyalty, but not at first. It certainly appeared that Snape was risking his life to go to DD and warn him about LV targeting the Potters, but how would DD know it for certain?

There are other reasons to think DD used legilimency with Snape.

DD was the spymaster and Snape, the spy. One of Snape's biggest challenges was to deceive LV. He couldn't just keep him out through occlumency -- nothing so blatantly obvious. Instead, he had to allow LV into his mind and then deceive him.

Dumbledore seems to have been a very good legilimens. I would think a responsible spymaster would have worked with Snape to make sure Snape could deceive LV. We've never been told how Snape learned occlumency. He probably had a strong natural talent for it, but even so, he'd need someone to teach him and he'd need to be able to learn with someone who could safely realize, without telling LV, when Snape became a highly skilled occlumens. Sure, someone else could have taught Snape the basics, but who would work with him to become a master? LV, so that he could spy on DD? Perhaps. But even so, DD would need to be certain Snape could deceive LV. Besides, DD clearly thought at first that Snape could teach Harry. That seems at least a slight indicator that he was aware of the kinds of methods Snape would use in such a teaching situation, which would be true if he'd worked with Snape on occlumency.

It seemed to me that in the scene of DD's death, he was conveying his plea to Snape through legilimency as well as his "Severus, please" plea. Further, in the scene where DD was telling Snape that Harry had to die, he kept his eyes closed. Since JKR used DD's eyes a great deal in order to describe his feelings and demeanor, I felt it was significant that she had him keep his eyes closed at that point. After all, Snape was being deceived, as was Harry and the reader.

I think those two scenes are hints or clues that Snape and DD were well used to using legilimency and occlumency between each other. When DD was in that crisis situation on the tower, he knew that he could look directly at Severus and, even at a point of crisis, Snape would read his thoughts. And at that point where he needed to deceive Snape about Harry having to die, he knew he couldn't do it if Snape could see his eyes.

I'm guessing -- just for fun, we certainly can't know! -- that DD worked with Snape as a young spy to hone his occlumency skills to the point where even the best legilimens couldn't read his thoughts. But to get to that point, Snape would have to allow DD in, at least back when he was young. Later, they could still "read" each other when necessary.



legolas returns - Feb 24, 2009 3:21 pm (#1554 of 2988)  
Characters in the book seem to think that Dumbledore was automatically trusting of people but I agree that this was not so. He gave people a chance to prove themselves or kept a special eye on people e.g Riddle. I am 100% convinced that he would have to have a demonstration from Snape particularly if he was a known Death Eater. He did let him know that Lily and James were being targeted but I am not convinced that this would be enough. He could have still carried on in his old ways after telling Dumbledore this. There must have been further meetings between the hilltop and the study scene.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 24, 2009 3:24 pm (#1555 of 2988)  
I am eager to contribute **at length** to this fabulous discussion, but I'm at work and am already making silly errors in my haste to not be a total work-slacker  So until later... wynnleaf, legolas and Julia, great posts everyone!



Julia H. - Feb 24, 2009 3:44 pm (#1556 of 2988)  
MAMS has a point that early on DD had to be able to really see Snape, especially since he knew that Snape could deceive LV. If Snape could deceive LV, what would prevent him from instead deceiving DD? (Wynnleaf)

I agree that Dumbledore first had to see how much he could trust Snape. My point is that if Snape could deceive LV using Occlumency, what would prevent him from deceiving Dumbledore in the same way? That is why my conclusion is that Dumbledore had to use slower, more complicated, more difficult and more reliable methods to really get to know Snape and to really see that he was trustable.

The idea of interactive Legilimency - Occlumency sessions between Snape and Dumbledore for the purpose of practising and establishing an extra communication channel between them sounds fascinating. It also sounds fun, at least the way I imagine it.  ... Did Snape learn his methodology of Occlumency teaching from Dumbledore?  

He gave people a chance to prove themselves or kept a special eye on people e.g Riddle. (Legolas)

Yes, but did Dumbledore use Legilimency on Riddle? If he did, couldn't he have given evidence that it was Riddle who had opened the Chamber, not Hagrid? Or did Riddle manage to keep that memory secret despite Dumbledore's Legilimency?

There must have been further meetings between the hilltop and the study scene.

Absolutely.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 24, 2009 5:40 pm (#1557 of 2988)  
I almost forgot...

Who did the tears belong to? To Dumbledore, really! It's clear from the sentence, IMO. - Orion

To me it's clear it is Severus. He was, after all this time, still in anguish.   I am sure if we asked JKR who was at tears, she would grin slyly and say "well... who would you like it to be?"



mona amon - Feb 24, 2009 8:09 pm (#1558 of 2988)  
Sorry for not replying for so long. My computer conked out and even after I got it back I didn't have any internet for a whole day!

So you don't see, even within the Trio, much direct apologies or direct voicing of forgiveness. (Wynnleaf)

You could be right. I'll try to watch for this during the read-along. The direct apologies I remember are Sev saying "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" to Lily and DD putting on the ring to say sorry to Arianna.

But in HP, there is no higher person by whom Snape has been forgiven. JKR speaks of people basically redeeming themselves through remorse and atonement. Dumbledore is not a stand-in for divine judgement and mercy, as he is himself quite flawed and has had to deal with his own remorse and atonement issues. (Wynnleaf)

I was thinking of Dumbledore, actually. He sees Severus has reformed, and takes him back, gives him a purpose in life and a chance to lead a normal life. I feel he takes it upon himself to forgive Severus, and does not deliver him to the authorities. I think you and Julia are saying that he also wanted something in return. But he was merely testing him, seeing how far this young man was willing to go in order to save the one that he loved.

He is only forgiven after paying his debt and after the end of his life. (Julia)

But what about DD, as I said in my previous paragraph? Dumbledore is the only person he opens up to and makes a full confession. Consequently he's the only one he recieves forgiveness from.

In many belief systems, if this were the Real World, a good many of the "redeemed" characters would be held in question, if not each one of them. (Wynnleaf)

But who are the other redeemed characters?

I know I'm analysing Severus's remorse based on my system of beliefs (that reconcilliation is part of redemption), but I don't see anything in the book that contradicts it. I really feel that she meant him to be a incomplete character in many ways. Severus didn't do the work necessary to get full redemption on a personal level, and has to suffer the consequences.

We see as much of Severus's remorse and redemption as happened almost from GoF, when we see DD telling the Wizengamot that Severus was "no more a Death eater now than I am", further reinforced in HBP when Harry finds out that Severus was the evesdropper who carried the prophecy to Voldemort, and DD tries to explain that he was completely remorseful. The real interest and tension (at least for those of us who believed in Snape's loyalty from the beginning) was, is he going to be reconciled with Harry and others? And the answer turned out to be no.

The last pages of the book are, in part, meant to show us that Harry forgave Snape and he's therefore redeemed in the eyes of the book. I think that's meant to convince the reader, just as practically everything else Harry sees from his point of view is supposed to be convincing to the reader, at least until overturned by later events, of which there are none at The End.

Yes, in the end Harry not only forgives Snape, but recognises and acknowledges his excellent qualities. He is redeemed in Harry's eyes. But that does not mean she intended Severus to be a complete turn-around character. As I said before, tragic incompleteness and imperfection is what I feel the author intended for him. No apology, no forgiving or forgiveness (at least when he was alive), no funeral, no recognition from anyone other than Harry. I see this as one of the main tensions of the plot, the way Severus is supremely capable of the great things. Lamentably incapable of doing the small things.

Mona amon, in the comparison to the parable about the servant forgiven a huge debt, but holding a small debt over the head of someone else, what exactly did you see as the huge thing that Snape had been forgiven, versus the very small thing which he refused to forgive?

The huge debt that he was forgiven is his joining the DEs and becoming an eager servant of Voldemort. But he himself refused to forgive anybody, as far as I can see. He went through his short life with a grudge against all mankind.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 24, 2009 8:17 pm (#1559 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 24, 2009 9:36 pm
This made me wonder how much Snape knew about Harry's life before Harry came to Hogwarts. My impression is that he did not know any details and that for example some of the information he gets during the Occlumency lessons is new to him. What do you think? - Dryleaves

I agree that Sev didn’t know details, didn’t even necessarily “see” Harry or “view” the inner goings on at #4PD. I imagine it as the nighttime equivalent of Cat Minerva sitting on the garden wall. There would be nothing more than watching the house and its surroundings for any peculiar magical occurrences. Like in those films when a crucial witness has 24-hour cops sitting outside their home for protection.

Of course, Snape could still do his best to contact them. He does seem to know later that many DE's did not try to find Vapormort. - Julia

I’m probably being thick here but how would MoM be able to prove someone was a DE without them being caught doing something illegal? For instance, Mulciber would have some explaining to do as he is apparently famous for Imperius-ing people. But someone like Crabbe, maybe he was not even a “known” DE but assumed guilty by association. With a bit of questioning he could be off the hook and, if Severus apparated into Crabbe’s home knowing he was neither in Azkaban nor claiming to have been Imperius-ed, Sev could 1)use Legilimency on him without his knowing and 2)not commit one way or the other about his own status (being that Crabbe is a bit thick himself  )

Also, James and Lily turned him down, that was established in "Philosopher's Stone". (JKR) - wynnleaf

Now I need to look for the part where it was established... - Julia


I believe it is: “Don’t be a fool,” snarled the face. “Better save your own life and join me… or you’ll meet the same end as your parents… They died begging me for mercy…”

BTW, Harry was also protected by Dumbledore's magic based on Lily's blood in Petunia.

Absolutely, hence a squib being the main “security guard”  

One of Snape's biggest challenges was to deceive LV. He couldn't just keep him out through occlumency -- nothing so blatantly obvious. Instead, he had to allow LV into his mind and then deceive him. - wynnleaf

Yes, there must have been a very high level of mind games being played by Sev there, and it could have been taught to him by DD. We don't know what else Sev employed, but it seems he credits Occlumency for fooling Vold, as he says in OOTP, “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.”

That is why my conclusion is that Dumbledore had to use slower, more complicated, more difficult and more reliable methods to really get to know Snape and to really see that he was trustable. - Julia

I absolutely agree there were many layers and levels of tests going on, to me Legilimency, early on, being one of them. As mentioned, Legilimency is very subtle, even using it just as a "lie detector" rather than intrusively reading Sev's thoughts, and possibly DD was better at it than Vold?

Yes, but did Dumbledore use Legilimency on Riddle? If he did, couldn't he have given evidence that it was Riddle who had opened the Chamber, not Hagrid? Or did Riddle manage to keep that memory secret despite Dumbledore's Legilimency?

I think DD did not have close contact with Riddle at that time. I also think DD, not being Headmaster, would feel it wasn't his place to do so.

Edit:

The huge debt that he was forgiven is his joining the DEs and becoming an eager servant of Voldemort. But he himself refused to forgive anybody, as far as I can see. He went through his short life with a grudge against all mankind. - mona amon

I went back and read your very good post, mona. To me, however, this last line is an overstatement. We see Severus being rude to students and there is no excuse for it, he is simply miserable IMO. We know why he is beyond rude to Sirius and, to a certain extent, Remus. We can forget about Wormtail and Bella and Umbridge, for rudeness to them is entertainment for us all.

Beyond these obvious examples, I do not find Severus as against all mankind. I find him perfectly capable of discussing things with DD on a most civilised level, we hear no complaints from Minerva regarding Severus's attitude, or from Hagrid or Flitwick or Sprout or Narcissa or Mad-eye or Arthur or Molly or even Slughorn. Maybe I am forgetting something, can you cite when Severus was rude to an unassuming adult beyond the obvious "victims"?



mona amon - Feb 24, 2009 11:03 pm (#1560 of 2988)  
To me, however, this last line is an overstatement.

Quite possible, m and m shadow! But I don't completely retract it. I'll be back sometime to explain further.



Julia H. - Feb 25, 2009 2:17 am (#1561 of 2988)  
I was thinking of Dumbledore, actually. He sees Severus has reformed, and takes him back, gives him a purpose in life and a chance to lead a normal life. I feel he takes it upon himself to forgive Severus, and does not deliver him to the authorities. I think you and Julia are saying that he also wanted something in return. But he was merely testing him, seeing how far this young man was willing to go in order to save the one that he loved. (Mona)

My point is that Dumbledore does not forgive Snape's debt in a way that Snape can now be free. (I am not sure he has even the authority to forgive him.) There is nothing to indicate that Dumbledore only wants to test Snape. Yes, Dumbldore tests Snape but only to see whether Snape is worthy of being helped and he finds that Snape is because Snape is willing to do more to help save Lily, even to save the whole family if that's what it takes. However, help does not mean that Snape is not indebted any more. There is nothing to indicate that Dumbledore does not mean it dead seriously that Snape owes him / society / the good side something for what he did, especially if he is not sent to Azkaban. And, as the story unfolds, Snape repays his debt fully. So Snape is not forgiven, only given a better chance than Azkaban to repay his debt in a way useful to society. Dumbledore gives him a second chance but he gives nothing for free and my impression is that Snape probably wants to repay his debt to Dumbledore as much as to Lily's memory. He certainly never asks Dumbledore (or anyone else) for forgiveness, much less for free forgiveness. Initially, he asks Dumbledore to save Lily (not to forgive him) and he is willing to take the risk of being imprisoned or killed. Dumbledore decides that Snape could pay in a better way and Snape will spend the rest of his life focusing on his debts and his duties. Harry does not forgive Snape "for free" either. He forgives him because Snape has paid his debt.

There would be nothing more than watching the house and its surroundings for any peculiar magical occurrences. (MAMS)

Yes, that sounds plausible. If Snape sees nothing of Harry and the Dursleys, just watches the neighbourhood looking for strange magical occurrences, then he is still unprepared enough to meet Harry face to face in PS, while the Dursleys' house and its surroundings may even reinforce the idea for him that Harry will be brought up to be a "pampered little prince" there, just like James. (I wonder when he sleeps though.)

I believe it is: “Don’t be a fool,” snarled the face. “Better save your own life and join me… or you’ll meet the same end as your parents… They died begging me for mercy…”

I don't see how that proves that Voldemort ever asked the Potters to join him. He is only "asking" (in a way) Harry now because that would be the easiest way for him to get the Stone. Voldemort is talking about Harry's parents' death, and we know the reason why he killed them had nothing to do with whatever they had or had not done. He would surely have killed Bellatrix in the same way if the Prophecy had been about her. To Harry, he is only saying "I killed your parents but you can join me and live". (Of course, he does not mean it.)

But someone like Crabbe, maybe he was not even a “known” DE but assumed guilty by association.

I don't know how he could be assumed guilty by association, but Karkaroff may not have been the only one to give the Ministry names. For example, when someone (e.g. Lucius) claimed to have been Imperiused, he may have been asked if he could remember recognizing anyone else among Voldemort's followers. I don't put it beyond Lucius to mention Crabbe and Goyle to the Ministry and then to secretly advise them (just in case Voldmort might still return one day) to say they had been Imperiused, too, or that they had had no idea what they were really doing (which might even be true in their case, LOL).

I agree Snape could visit Crabbe to try to collect information from him - though I don't really think Crabbe knew anything that could be really useful. Lucius would be more interesting (and more difficult) to watch.

As mentioned, Legilimency is very subtle, even using it just as a "lie detector" rather than intrusively reading Sev's thoughts, and possibly DD was better at it than Vold?

Hm... Voldemort is known to be a master Legilimens. I don't think Legilimency is really a safe and sure method on anyone who can do Occlumency. Trying to check up on your spy in the same way the other side fails to check up on him ... I don't know. Of course, it could happen... Still, I like to think that DD had truly subtle methods, methods that had more to do with wisdom and a deeper knowledge of human nature than just arrogantly (even if subtly) breaking into someone's mind, which - I think - would remind Snape uncomfortably of Voldemort and I do hope he came to see the difference between being Voldemort's servant and being Dumbledore's man through and through.

I think DD did not have close contact with Riddle at that time. I also think DD, not being Headmaster, would feel it wasn't his place to do so.

Well, if that was the way to discover a murderer and to save innocent Hagrid... he should not have worried about whose job it was.

Beyond these obvious examples, I do not find Severus as against all mankind.

I agree.



Dryleaves - Feb 25, 2009 4:39 am (#1562 of 2988)  
Still, I like to think that DD had truly subtle methods, methods that had more to do with wisdom and a deeper knowledge of human nature than just arrogantly (even if subtly) breaking into someone's mind ~Julia

I agree. Even if I can see why Dumbledore would use Legilimency on Snape in the beginning, I'd like to imagine that his trust of Snape is built on something else. And Legilimency would not be fool-proof either, as there is Occlumency. If you check your boyfriend's e-mails and messages, you don't trust him. If you found nothing suspicious, would you trust him then?

I think it is important that there is a difference between DD and Voldemort and that the relationship between Snape and DD is of another kind. DD is not stupid, but to use other methods than Legilimency would get him another type of 'servant', who would probably be far more loyal. The one whose mind is constantly violated will eventually try to hide things.

It is possible, of course, that DD taught Snape Occlumency and that they could have a mind-reading relationship based on mutual understanding. (Still a lot of married couples or long-time friends have a similar thing in the Muggle world; and at many of the occasions when Harry thinks Snape must be reading his mind, I think any teacher could have reached the same conclusions as Snape. I suppose I'm just generally sceptical about Legilimency...   )



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 9:30 am (#1563 of 2988)  
Yes. I will add I believe it is an important addition to consider that Severus was drawn to Vold because he was looking for a father figure. One more powerful than James's "brave dad". So in this profound psychological motivation, I agree that the core difference between DD and Vold is that Severus did not feel "violated" by DD. I feel that in the beginning, Severus would have agreed to *not keep secrets* from DD and, in the beginning, DD would *check up* on this promise with things such as a "lie detector" test like Legilimency. For even after 15 years, DD still understands Severus is the basket dangling on Vold's arm. Complete trust by then, *yes*. But a person willing to be a double agent might have had other motivations than grief over a loved one, until proven otherwise. I am sure DD used "polite conversation" to extract a lot, too, as we saw with young Tom at the orphanage...

Dryleaves and Julia, I believe as you both do, that DD is a man of highest integrity and would not intrude upon Severus's thoughts of pain and suffering as a child (at home and with Lily) unless he was invited into those thoughts in conversation with Severus. But I do not feel that DD would just take Severus's word for it that he was being truthful from the start. Since we are told, and shown, DD's possibly mastery of this very subtle form of "lie detection" I think he used it for Harry's sake. I also think he used human contact to discover Severus's integrity. And, I agree, their loss and guilt is what connected them and made the "trust bond" so great.

Re: being skeptical about Legilimency, I feel we are shown in Spinner's End how it can be used for "positive" results. It is possible that, had Narcissa not been fed wine that night, Severus might not have been able to find out Draco's task. Legilimency to me is like any other form of magic: intent is everything.  



mona amon - Feb 25, 2009 9:52 am (#1564 of 2988)  
Still, I like to think that DD had truly subtle methods, methods that had more to do with wisdom and a deeper knowledge of human nature than just arrogantly (even if subtly) breaking into someone's mind (Julia)

I too agree with this. I think Dumbledore was a pretty good judge of character, at least he knew who was good and who was bad instinctively, though he may misjudge how they may react to certain situations. I feel he must have known he could trust Severus early on, without resorting to something as invasive as legilimency.

and at many of the occasions when Harry thinks Snape must be reading his mind, I think any teacher could have reached the same conclusions as Snape. (Dryleaves)

This is what I felt about it as well. I also think that the occasions when he felt X-rayed by DD were really muggle-type mind reading and not legilimency.

Beyond these obvious examples, I do not find Severus as against all mankind. I find him perfectly capable of discussing things with DD on a most civilised level, we hear no complaints from Minerva regarding Severus's attitude, or from Hagrid or Flitwick or Sprout or Narcissa or Mad-eye or Arthur or Molly or even Slughorn. Maybe I am forgetting something, can you cite when Severus was rude to an unassuming adult beyond the obvious "victims"? (Shadow)

To say he had a "grudge against all mankind" is probably an exageration, but Severus comes pretty close to it. The people whom he seems to like can be counted on the fingers of one hand- Lily, Dumbledore and the three Malfoys! As for him being rude to an unassuming adult, I think the way he treats Nymphadora at the beginning of HBP is a good example, especially since we now know that he never 'had a thing' about Tonks, LOL!

Julia, I'll reply about the forgiveness thing in my next post.

(Cross posted with Me and My Shadow)



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 10:00 am (#1565 of 2988)  
I think the way he treats Nymphadora at the beginning of HBP is a good example, especially since we now know that he never 'had a thing' about Tonks, LOL!

I had a feeling that would be an example and personally I cannot see where that is "treating" Tonks wrongly. He was insinuating he did not approve of Remus, for obvious reasons to her as well, I am sure. It was not rudely stated.

As far as his liking the Malfoy's, I doubt he "liked" Lucius after the age of 21. I think he found Narcissa's composed and (usually) civilised manner welcome. To me he was extra-nice to them as part of his role as a DE, and he had no "beef" with Narcissa. He certainly would be nice to her in order to find out why she comes to Spinner's End, which is the only time we see an exchange between them.

It is possible, of course, that DD taught Snape Occlumency and that they could have a mind-reading relationship based on mutual understanding. - Dryleaves

But teaching him simply Occlumency seems counter-productive to such a relationship and understanding. I think this is another example of what I am trying to get at. I think that there is a major difference between walking up to someone and using Legilimency, and the situation that Severus found himself in with DD in the beginning. In any event, afterwards I see "mutual" Legilimency as becoming a form of Telepathy.

In the beginning of their "alliance", I do not see Legilimency as invasive when both people are agreeing to give and take complete trust in order to save the world! As Severus described, it is not mind reading. It can be as subtle as picking up on someone's eye movements. If there are no "signs" of lying, Legilimency would not be required. Perhaps I am seeing a broader term for this method of "reading" a person's true intent.

edited for clarity & typos



Orion - Feb 25, 2009 10:31 am (#1566 of 2988)  
It has been discussed before why Snape jumps down Tonks' throat in HBP. IMO it's because she suffers of the same "madly in love" syndrome with Patronus change as he does and he treats her with the same loathing as he treats himself. As if he was saying "look what love did to me, what has become of me - are you really so stupid?" I think it's self-loathing that he takes out on a completely bewildered person, combined with tension and anxiety because of DD's task. Poor Tonks. Maybe she would have been sympathetic if she had known.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 10:40 am (#1567 of 2988)  
Yes, I'll agree with that. He might even have been alluding to "new Patronus" that her last one was a better suited mate... I mean, "It looks weak" is obviously, um, true physically about Remus. Perhaps the "old one" was about a nice young auror...  or am I forgetting what it was prior to the wolf?



Julia H. - Feb 25, 2009 11:09 am (#1568 of 2988)  
I like Orion's approach to the Tonks-scene. It is not typical of Snape to be rude without a reason.  Besides, if Snape understood Tonks's love for Lupin, then Tonks, for him, "belonged" to Lupin, and he did not like Lupin, as we know. If he also noticed that Tonks was not simply "madly in love" but was suffering from apparently "unrequited" love, that would remind him both of his own unrequited love (with the Patronus change) and of the difference in popularity between himself and - yet again - a Marauder. While his undying love had never been returned, here was a Marauder who was able to reject this strong, "mad" love (mirroring his own) and Tonks was actually continuing to love that Marauder despite the rejection and the "weakness" he probably really perceived in Lupin.

It is possible that, had Narcissa not been fed wine that night, Severus might not have been able to find out Draco's task. (MAMS)

I'm not sure what you mean. I think Snape knew what Draco's task was even before Narcissa's visit. I think he gave his promise to Dumbledore before taking the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa.

The one whose mind is constantly violated will eventually try to hide things. (Dryleaves)

Very well put. I think it may have happened to Snape even before he made the great realization about Lily and the Prophecy, and it probably happened to quite a few DE's. We see in DH how they all avoid looking at Voldemort (except for Snape).

I am sure DD used "polite conversation" to extract a lot... (MAMS)

I imagine their conversation(s) soon after the hilltop scene may have been especially interesting in this regard. I guess Snape had to give a detailed account of his "DE days", how he had joined, what he had done, etc., and Dumbledore must have been observing how Snape was feeling about these things then.

...or am I forgetting what it was prior to the wolf?

I don't think we know...



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 1:18 pm (#1569 of 2988)  
I will respond in detail later, but would like to add that I do not see a huge difference between DD "persuasively extracting" Pensieve memories and using "lie detection" on a *willing* Severus. I am sure Sev realised the huge risk that DD was taking, not just his own risk.

About using Legilimency on Riddle regarding Hagrid in CoS, I would say why not a Pensieve memory? I haven't read that book in a while (it's my least favourite) but to me it is the same reason why Legilimency had not been performed -- because we would not have a plot. We would be missing an entire book as well as a few major storylines. I am not trying to be stubborn, it's just my opinion.

I'm not sure what you mean. I think Snape knew what Draco's task was even before Narcissa's visit. I think he gave his promise to Dumbledore before taking the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa. - Julia

I believe they had their suspicions (DD and Sev) but he found out about Draco's plan using Legilimency on Narcissa and when he looked out the window this was the symbol of peering into her mind.



Julia H. - Feb 25, 2009 1:48 pm (#1570 of 2988)  
About using Legilimency on Riddle regarding Hagrid in CoS, I would say why not a Pensieve memory? (MAMS)

Because in the case of a Pensieve memory, the person whose memory is to be watched has to hand over that memory. For Legilimency, eye-contact is enough.

I believe they had their suspicions (DD and Sev) but he found out about Draco's plan using Legilimency on Narcissa and when he looked out the window this was the symbol of peering into her mind.

I don't know if I am the only one but to me the discussion between DD and Snape is not about suspicions but about a known plan of Voldemort's.

“I refer to the plan Lord Voldemort is revolving around me. His plan to have the poor Malfoy boy murder me.”

Snape sat down in the chair Harry had so often occupied, across the desk from Dumbledore. Harry could tell that he wanted to say more on the subject of Dumbledore’s cursed hand, but the other held it up in polite refusal to discuss the matter further. Scowling, Snape said,

“The Dark Lord does not expect Draco to succeed. This is merely punishment for Lucius’s recent failures. Slow torture for Draco’s parents, while they watch him fail and pay the price.”

“In short, the boy has had a death sentence pronounced upon him as surely as I have,” said Dumbledore. “Now, I should have thought the natural successor to the job, once Draco fails, is yourself?”

There was a short pause.

“That, I think, is the Dark Lord’s plan.”

------------------------------------------------

"Ultimately, of course, there is only one thing to be done if we are to save him from Lord Voldemort’s wrath.”

Snape raised his eyebrows and his tone was sardonic as he asked, “Are you intending to let him kill you?”

----------------------------------------------------

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

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

The only part that Snape thinks (but does not know) is that he is probably meant to be Draco's successor to the job, i.e., the real murderer. The rest of Voldemort's plan (Draco's job) is discussed as a known fact.



legolas returns - Feb 25, 2009 2:03 pm (#1571 of 2988)  
The more emotional sometone is the easier they are to read. When Harry was livid Snape could read him very easily. Admittedly Harry is probably not the best example but as he learns later to "tune out" Voldemort he is calmer.

I was thinking that Snape was in a very aggitate state when he met Dumbledore. His emotions would be raging and I don't know whether he would have the state of mind to supress things. Dumbledore said that he knew whether people were lying to him or not. In such a state of distress a lie would be easy to spot. Dumbledore would probably not need to use Legilemency against Snape. I am sure that as a student a friendship and later permenant breakup would be noted by Dumbledore particularly between a Slutherin and a Gryffindor student. He understood the power of love.

Dumbledore spent the time getting to know people, their motivations and drives. I am sure after spending time talking to Snape and getting to know him he would have no need of Legilemency. Snape was probably well versed in what it was as a result of being a Death Eater. He would probably be able to repel anyone.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 2:03 pm (#1572 of 2988)  
About using Legilimency on Riddle regarding Hagrid in CoS, I would say why not a Pensieve memory? (MAMS)

Because in the case of a Pensieve memory, the person whose memory is to be watched has to hand over that memory. For Legilimency, eye-contact is enough.


To me, in the case of the death of a student, I imagine a Pensieve memory would be demanded by Hogwarts and legal type MoM. This is the same thing as *why didn't Abe want to see a Pensieve memory about Ariana's death*. It would have ruined the plot, IMO. The case of DD utilising Legilimency on Severus is not a main crux of the plot, but to me would be an acceptable part of backstory.

Regarding Draco's task, I never felt that Vold actually confided in Severus. I felt it was Severus's and DD's skill that led to the scene you quoted above, and that Spinner's End sealed the deal.



Julia H. - Feb 25, 2009 4:16 pm (#1573 of 2988)  
Whether Voldemort has confided in Snape ... Snape does not only tell Narcissa and Bella that he has been told, he also talks to Draco in a way that makes it obvious that he lets Draco know that he knows. I think it would be somewhat risky to be "boasting" in this manner about knowing a great secret that he is not supposed to know. If the information reaches Voldemort, Snape is in serious trouble. Anyway, even if DD and Snape found out about Draco's job without Snape being directly told by Voldemort (which would be quite normal, given that Snape is a spy ), they still seem to be pretty certain that it is indeed what Draco is preparing to do.

Back to our chronology and Snape's emotional motivations: I think this is where the Patronus change could be discussed as well. Many readers seem to agree that Snape's Patronus becomes the doe (i.e. starts representing Lily) after Lily's death (although Snape loves her already before that). The change itself is the result of an emotional crisis, but I think this result - Snape's Patronus suddenly becoming the same as Lily's - must have an emotional effect on him, too. Imagine the surprise: He is generally mourning Lily and feeling guilty about her and for some reason he produces a Patronus one day - and he sees that it is a new Patronus. We don't know whether he knows at once that it is the same as Lily's Patronus was. Perhaps it is Dumbledore who tells him. He finds it out somehow and it may be quite a shock, IMO.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 4:28 pm (#1574 of 2988)  
Interesting post, Julia, for two reasons:

Re: Spinner's End, I will try to make a link to discussions we had back in 2005-06 about that scene and why Severus would risk saying he already knew of the plan.

Re: Severus's Patronus "changing", I have thought he only used one while in the Order as it is implied that they are the ones who really use them and I even imagined that DD invented the charm/concept. So, to me, Sev's Patronus would never have changed because he would have already lost Lily by the time he is part of the Order and DD teaches it to him. That is just my opinion, of course.  



Julia H. - Feb 25, 2009 4:54 pm (#1575 of 2988)  
So, to me, Sev's Patronus would never have changed because he would have already lost Lily by the time he is part of the Order and DD teaches it to him. (MAMS)

It makes a lot of sense. If only Umbridge did not use a Patronus in DH...  

This is how I interpret the Patronus-phenomenon: I think everybody must have a Patronus, which is a guardian spirit and probably belongs to the person. However, you have to learn how to invoke it. In PoA, Lupin says it is very difficult magic. Still, student DA members all (?) learn it eventually in OotP. Death Eaters and Dark Wizards are apparently not very much interested in their Patronuses (if they know about Patronuses at all), since a Patronus protects one against dark things. Still, Umbridge uses one... ( again). Since the shape of a Patronus seems to somehow relate to the wizard / witch and since it can even change, I assume the shape in which the Patronus appears is not the "true shape" of a Patronus, rather something exclusively for the human's eyes. We never find out whether the Patronus Charm is ever part of the official Hogwarts curriculum. Therefore, it is quite possible that Snape does not "know" his own Patronus until after Lily's death, although he can also "meet" the Patronus at some point between the hilltop scene and Lily's death. So when one's Patronus becomes the same as another person's Patronus - I wonder if that implies some communication or understanding between the two Patronuses in question. I.e., could Snape's Patronus be in some magical communication with Lily's Patronus via the similarity (supposing the Patronus does not die with the human it belongs to....)?

EDIT: Snape learning he Patronus Charm only after Lily's death seems a bit less likely when I think of that happy thought necessary to produce a Patronus. How can he learn it if he has never known it, in that state of mind?



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 5:24 pm (#1576 of 2988)  
Still, student DA members all (?) learn it eventually in OotP. - Julia

As a quick response until I get home, I do not think any of the students would have learned a Patronus had Remus not taught it to Harry. At the hearing and in the OWL's all adults are astounded that he could conjure a "corporeal" one.

I think it possible that they are advanced magic that very few wizards bother attempting and, if DD is not responsible for inventing it, I think he is responsible for the Order-generation (James, Sirius, Lily, Remus) knowing of it. And I feel he taught it for secretive messengering primarily.

It makes a lot of sense. If only Umbridge did not use a Patronus in DH...

IMO Umbridge found out about it by watching someone else conjure one, for not everyone uses non-verbal spells.

I think everybody must have a Patronus, which is a guardian spirit and probably belongs to the person. However, you have to learn how to invoke it.

I feel that just as everyone in our world might indeed have a "guardian", that not everyone in the WW believes in such things.

I like your ideas about "twin" Patronuses, I think Dryleaves brought it up once. I'd love to expand on my feelings about it later tonight ...  

Regarding your "edit", I think we know people who use past memories for conjuring their Patronus, not just present ones. Severus's memories are not all like the Worst Memory. I'd say he could use the one when they are on the grass, but I'm sure there were others.  



wynnleaf - Feb 25, 2009 7:52 pm (#1577 of 2988)  
If I understand statements in canon correctly, we know that the patronus was a well known form of protection, in that Madam Bones speaks openly about it to Harry in the Wizengamot scene in OOTP. However, according to JKR in interviews, it was Dumbledore who invented the use of messages sent through patronus.

The reason for the message/patronus system is that DEs simply could not conjure a patronus. JKR did say that. She didn't say why - perhaps they are just too Dark to produce one. However, other wizards and witches could conjure one it they had the skill.

That being the case, Snape could not afford to ever use his patronus where a DE could possibly see it. It appears in the Prince's Tale that Dumbledore was seeing Snape's patronus for the first time, and that he had not known in the past that it was a doe.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 25, 2009 9:29 pm (#1578 of 2988)  
Julia, I was looking around old threads for our discussion about why Bella wouldn't tell Vold of their visit to Spinner's End even if Severus had lied about knowing the plan... and I'm still looking but found this...I thought you'd get a kick out of this post's first paragraph  click here!

I think it would be somewhat risky to be "boasting" in this manner about knowing a great secret that he is not supposed to know. If the information reaches Voldemort, Snape is in serious trouble.

Here is the passage, since we all love our canon!  

'The Dark Lord has forbidden me to speak of it,' Narcissa continued, her eyes still closed. 'He wishes none to know of the plan. It is... very secret. But - '

'If he has forbidden it, you ought not to speak,' said Snape at once. 'The Dark Lord's word is law.'

Narcissa gasped... (etc)

'There!' she said triumphantly to her sister. 'Even Snape says so: you were told not to talk, so hold your silence!'

Here we have Severus's collateral: that Narcissa is implicating herself and Severus covers himself by discouraging her from continuing. If anything should have gone wrong on this night, Severus would simply say "Narcissa came to me trying to wiggle out of this plan you set for Draco. I merely played along in order to get as much treachery out of her as possible, and pass it to you." We even speculated that Sev could throw Bella in for good measure, as we felt at that point that Vold had no real appreciation for her anyway, since they failed to get the Prophecy.

Regarding Patronuses in general, I have always thought they were of use when dementors were on the loose, and to pass messages between Order members. I don't recall any other specific time they were used.

It seems that some wizards who are not in the Order are aware of them, but I think those who use them are few and far between. If DE's cannot produce Patronus Charms then it is even more probable that Sev did not use it prior to going to DD. It is also evidence that Sev was never truly "one of them", and that producing one shows one's soul is not tainted. It is possible that he learned how to use it prior to Lily's death.

wynnleaf, I hadn't thought DD never saw Sev's Patronus before the "Always" scene, just not in a very long time and was surprised it hadn't changed, being that Sev refrained from using one around anyone in the Order, who would recognise it immediately. This seems to mean that DD was surprised that Severus had never had a memory happier than the one he initially used. In other words, it's been downhill from that point.

edit:
Back to our chronology and Snape's emotional motivations: ...We don't know whether he knows at once that it is the same as Lily's Patronus was. Perhaps it is Dumbledore who tells him. He finds it out somehow and it may be quite a shock, IMO. - Julia

It is interesting to consider. Does the Patronus form change when the memory changes with which to conjure it? This isn't the Patronus thread but I am curious about the connection with others' form/animals. For instance, DD's was a phoenix but we do not know what this connects with (GG? or Ariana?). Ron's is a Jack Russell Terrier yet it has nothing to do with Hermione, whom he loves by the fifth year of the DA lessons. What is the connection between the form/animal and the happy memory? Any thoughts?

As I mentioned earlier, by the point where Vold is Vapormort and the dementors are (I assume) not at large there seems to be no real reason to cast a Patronus, for these seem to be the only uses that we see (other than the doe showing the way to the Sword).

Re: twin Patronuses, I think Severus having the same one as Lily would give him great comfort as well as sadness, and he would feel close to her in this way. I think, by this point in our chronology, Severus will focus all of his energy into hating Sirius Black and hating himself, alternating. We might be able to skip to Harry's first year, keeping in mind there are ten years of ongoing build-up to their meeting and to Severus's real start to the task.



Julia H. - Feb 26, 2009 3:57 am (#1579 of 2988)  
If anything should have gone wrong on this night, Severus would simply say "Narcissa came to me trying to wiggle out of this plan you set for Draco. I merely played along in order to get as much treachery out of her as possible, and pass it to you." We even speculated that Sev could throw Bella in for good measure, as we felt at that point that Vold had no real appreciation for her anyway, since they failed to get the Prophecy. (MAMS)

I don't think Snape would want to get Narcissa killed by Voldemort. (Bella may be different.) I understand that Snape could get away with it if Voldemort found it out that he knew something he was not supposed to know. But it is still very dangerous. There is no guarantee that Voldemort would not kill / imprison him (as well). I think Snape would take this risk for a reason but not without a reason. Telling Narcissa that Voldemort told him about the plan when in fact he did not can have only one purpose that I can see: to make Narcissa speak about the plan (after dutifully silencing her to make Bella happy perhaps). However, Snape does not try to make Narcissa mention any details of the plan. Nor does he really need to, since he already knows pretty much about it. Therefore this cannot be the reason why he takes the additional risk of Voldemort perhaps finding out that Snape knows what he should not know. If he wants information from Narcissa without words, he can do Legilimency. Since Narcissa is eager to let Snape know what the plan is, she would probably let him "read" her mind without any resistance. In this case, saying Snape knows about the plan is not necessary again. Of course, it is possible that Snape found out about Draco's plan without being told by Voldemort, but then he is taking an unnecessary risk by advertising this knowledge among these people (even if he has ideas how to get out of it eventually).

Patronuses: Even canon information (without the interviews) seems to be contradictory. Several people are very impressed that Harry in his fifth year can produce a full Patronus, yet many students Harry teaches in the DA learn it with apparently not more difficulty than most spells. I see the reason why DE's don't use it but I find it hard to explain why Umbridge, who has experience with Dark Magic, still uses it - or how she learns it if it is only for Dumbledore's people. Just seeing someone produce a Patronus and "stealing" the trick would be difficult because even if the spell is said aloud, the necessary happy memory is not.

I think we know people who use past memories for conjuring their Patronus, not just present ones. Severus's memories are not all like the Worst Memory. I'd say he could use the one when they are on the grass, but I'm sure there were others.

I tend to think Snape's happy memories were connected to Lily. However, when you are actively mourning someone, even the happy memories become unhappy ones because they only remind you of your loss. Even in "normal" situations, it takes a while before you can feel the memories about your lost loved one to be happy memories again. (It comes with acceptance.) In Snape's case, guilt and traumas further complicate his emotions, therefore it probably takes quite a long time for him to have any truly happy memories about Lily, and the Patronus Charm needs a very powerful happy memory.

It appears in the Prince's Tale that Dumbledore was seeing Snape's patronus for the first time, and that he had not known in the past that it was a doe. (Wynnleaf)

I have always thought DD had known that Snape's Patronus was a doe, only he had not seen it for years maybe and then he was touched when he saw that Snape's Patronus was still exactly the same, i.e. that it was still representing the same strong love for Lily.

Does the Patronus form change when the memory changes with which to conjure it? (MAMS)

I don't think the shape of the Patronus depends on the memory. It seems it depends on the person the Patronus belongs to, that it represents something essential about the person. I don't think it necessarily directly represents a connection between two people. Snape's, Harry's and Tonks's do but Dumbledore's seems to represent Dumbledore's interest in life and in "life beyond life" (it could be connected to Ariana, but I think there is more to it) and Ron's terrier is similar to Sirius's animagus form: they are both faithful friends. Cho's (swan), Luna's (hare) Ernie's (boar) and Minerva's (cat) seem to just represent certain qualities of these people.

I think Severus having the same one as Lily would give him great comfort as well as sadness, and he would feel close to her in this way.

I agree. It probably gives him strength, too, early on and also later, for example, in the months of his isolation or even after regular visits at Voldemort's. I also think that the ability to produce such a beautiful Patronus and the simple fact that the most essential thing about Snape is love can be interpreted as describing the deepest, true nature of Snape's soul.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 26, 2009 10:19 am (#1580 of 2988)  
Telling Narcissa that Voldemort told him about the plan when in fact he did not can have only one purpose that I can see: to make Narcissa speak about the plan (after dutifully silencing her to make Bella happy perhaps). - Julia

To me, Severus’s purpose and strategy instantly became demonstrating he was closer to Vold than Bella or anyone. (we see this by some of his remarks). “Confiding” that Vold told him about the plan is the ultimate demonstration of this, after his speech about why the Dark Lord “trusts” him and after silencing Narcissa according to their “law”.

However, Snape does not try to make Narcissa mention any details of the plan. Nor does he really need to, since he already knows pretty much about it. Therefore this cannot be the reason why he takes the additional risk of Voldemort perhaps finding out that Snape knows what he should not know. If he wants information from Narcissa without words, he can do Legilimency.

He does not need to “make” Narcissa mention any details because he feeds her wine and performs Legilimency, IMO. He takes the additional risk for my reasons above, that by saying he already knew of the plan instantly got him "ultimate" respect, as no one else knew of it. Bella would not know the plan if not for Narcissa ("he...lately, we...") so this is a perfect scenario to dig in that he is above all DE's. He wanted the words for the “performance”, but he did not need them to extract the information. Even without the Vow (which Severus of course did not expect) the scene made for great theatre and that is how it needed to be for Severus’s role as “best” DE to be cemented.

Just seeing someone produce a Patronus and "stealing" the trick would be difficult because even if the spell is said aloud, the necessary happy memory is not.

Umbridge uses it when she is surrounded by dementors. I would imagine someone like the late Madam Bones would be charged with teaching it to her. Again, I don't see many wizards using the Patronus whatsoever. If there were there wouldn't be as great a horror about dementors in the WW, if everyone could shield themselves.

I tend to think Snape's happy memories were connected to Lily. However, when you are actively mourning someone, even the happy memories become unhappy ones because they only remind you of your loss. Even in "normal" situations, it takes a while before you can feel the memories about your lost loved one to be happy memories again. (It comes with acceptance.) In Snape's case, guilt and traumas further complicate his emotions, therefore it probably takes quite a long time for him to have any truly happy memories about Lily, and the Patronus Charm needs a very powerful happy memory.

While I understand your point about the trauma, I am not sure of what you are getting at. Do you feel that Severus’s Patronus couldn’t occur for years, or that it occurred and went away and came back changed?

I also think that the ability to produce such a beautiful Patronus and the simple fact that the most essential thing about Snape is love can be interpreted as describing the deepest, true nature of Snape's soul.

I felt that since Severus, Harry and Tonks (when she is depressed about Remus) all reflect another person they lost, that this must indicate something as opposed to the others which are the reflection of the person themselves. We don't know whether Luna's represents her mother or not.... In Severus's case I wonder how this reflects his soul, and/or what his Patronus was prior to a doe.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:37 pm

legolas returns - Feb 26, 2009 1:40 pm (#1581 of 2988)  
His patronus before it changed was a bat .



Julia H. - Feb 26, 2009 3:36 pm (#1582 of 2988)  
I would imagine someone like the late Madam Bones would be charged with teaching it to her.

Quite possible but I still see Umbridge as rather dark. If she can learn to produce a Patronus, then why not the DE's?

While I understand your point about the trauma, I am not sure of what you are getting at. Do you feel that Severus’s Patronus couldn’t occur for years, or that it occurred and went away and came back changed?

No, I was just thinking that perhaps it could be a bit more likely that he learned the Patronus Charm before Lily's death than shortly after it. But I am also making the assumption that learning it is generally more difficult (therefore the happy memory should be stronger) than producing it after one has learned it. I know there are emotional situations when one is simply unable to produce a Patronus despite practice and experience but I still think in most cases it is easier to do something you have known and practised for a while than learning the same thing for the first time.

I can imagine, before Lily's death, a possible happy thought for Snape is the idea that he can save Lily. I know it is not the typical happy thought and I know he is probably stressed about her and about the task of spying on Voldemort, still it is possible that after meeting Dumbledore on the hilltop and finally getting home to Spinner's End, his first emotion was a huge, almost happy relief accompanied by hope - Dumbledore had promised to keep Lily safe and that was a definite achievement at that moment. In addition, Snape had successfully carried out his plan despite his fear of Dumbledore, who eventually allowed him to help keep Lily safe (instead of giving him to the aurors) and so on. So I guess the memory of this feeling (while Lily was alive) could have been the happy memory. Just a thought... After Lily's death, he may manage to produce a Patronus more easily if he is already familiar with the technique.

I think it is amazing that in the DH year, in spite of his isolation, Dumbledore's death, the task of having to send Harry to his death, all the bitter experience around him at the school, Snape is still able to produce a Patronus. Where does he take the happy thought or the strength to evoke any happy memories? I find it possible that his relationship with his Patronus is especially strong and maybe the Patronus itself is the happy thought. Another possibility is that (unknown to the reader) certain positive changes are taking place in his soul (acceptance? forgiveness? letting go of anger in preparation for the next great adventure?) which balance the negative emotions resulting from what he is going through. Sorry for running way ahead.  

In Severus's case I wonder how this reflects his soul...

I think it reflects that love is at the depth of it, that another person is in the centre of his universe rather than himself, that he is guided by something selfless (outside his self). I also think that the doe represents qualities ("light") that Snape has got but suppressed into the depth of his soul, showing the opposite ("darkness") to the world.

His patronus before it changed was a bat. (Legolas)

LOL, that makes me see an interesting image. In a certain children's series, there is a character whose magical "guardian animal" is an absolutely cute little bat and now, in my mind's eye, I can see something similar as Snape's original Patronus.  



legolas returns - Feb 26, 2009 4:10 pm (#1583 of 2988)  
If you go back to the circumstances in which Harry produces a patronus at the end of DH Luna tells him to think of something happy. She tells him that they are still alive and doing their best to stop Voldemort. Harry feels total despair and struggles to make a Patronus but he manages to get the full Patronus by using will power. He and his friends are still fighting giving him a chance to get rid of Voldemort finally and forever. A future without Voldemort is a happy thought even though he feels such grief.

I can see something similar happening to Snape. He would be really frightend that Lily was going to die but he was saving her by going to Dumbledore for help. This he would see as something really positive and he was doing something for the person he loved.

Lily died and Snape was grief stricken. He eventually agreed to help look after Harry for Lily's sake. He would still be devastated that she died but by looking out for Harry it would be something that she would be happy that he was doing. So although there was great sadness there was a happy thought.

In the memory Snape had fufilled his promise faithfully to protect Harry in Lily's name thus reinforcing the positive thought he felt. He could concentrate on a job well done.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 26, 2009 9:10 pm (#1584 of 2988)  
Julia and legolas, I like what you have both said about how Severus could muster a very happy memory despite all the misery. For some (and in my experience) when a loss occurs the memory of that person laughing with you or even just looking into your eyes would make you happy. In this case, we have the intermingling of extreme guilt for contributing to her being "hunted" and killed, combined with the loss of her in the Worst Memory. These things would surely make the task of a happy thought near impossible. I agree that he must have used will power, as legolas pointed out could occur.

Regarding when Severus first used the Patronus Charm, I imagined it would be DD teaching it to him in a very similar scene to Remus and Harry in PoA "The Patronus" chapter. There is when DD would see the doe for the first and probably last time. It is possible this "training session" occurred prior to her death, but I do not think his Patronus was ever anything else than a doe. As said in "The Patronus" chapter (here's the canon!) it's highly advanced:

'...well beyond Ordinary Wizarding Level'

'Many qualified wizards have difficulty with it.'

I do not think Severus would have been exposed to the Patronus before DD because it is not taught before OWL's, he was possibly too interested in the Dark Arts, and likely would not be going for NEWT's in DADA (which is where such a charm might be taught at the school). After that, I cannot think of where he would be informed of the charm until going to DD.

Off topic, but to sum up:

I would say that Harry's ability to teach the DA was out of their collective will power and enthusiasm, as well as Harry's special gifts.

I think Umbridge is another example of "suspension of disbelief"... that scene of her surrounded by dementors could not have worked without the Patronus to protect her. And the scene needed those dementors. Any thoughts?



Dryleaves - Feb 27, 2009 2:49 am (#1585 of 2988)  
Just some random thoughts on Patronuses...

His patronus before it changed was a bat. (Legolas)

LOL!  Now I can see a little silvery-white bat flying through the night. It looks very “anti-bat” to me.  

I made a very brief research on bats and mythology (of course there were loads of different myths and conceptions about bats from all over the world) and was reminded of the Aesop fable where the birds and the beasts are at war against each other. When the beasts ask the bat to join, he claims to be a bird, and when the birds ask him to join their side he says he is a beast. Therefore, the bat has no friends. The bat of the fable seems like a coward, but in the case of Snape, this is the role he is forced to perform, making his actual enemies believe he is their friend and his actual allies believe he is their enemy, and he himself ends up very isolated. In this case the bat would be a symbol of ambiguity (neither bird nor beast; BTW Snape is also a half-blood) and isolation.

I think it is amazing that in the DH year, in spite of his isolation, Dumbledore's death, the task of having to send Harry to his death, all the bitter experience around him at the school, Snape is still able to produce a Patronus. Where does he take the happy thought or the strength to evoke any happy memories? I find it possible that his relationship with his Patronus is especially strong and maybe the Patronus itself is the happy thought. (Julia)

After having made an even briefer research on deer, I found the legend of St Giles (not to confuse with St Sev  ), who lived as a hermit with a female deer as his only companion.  

In this case, we have the intermingling of extreme guilt for contributing to her being "hunted" and killed, combined with the loss of her in the Worst Memory. These things would surely make the task of a happy thought near impossible. I agree that he must have used will power... me and my shadow

I agree a lot of will power would have been needed. Maybe he also used a memory that was relatively untainted by guilt and loss. Of course no memory truly could be that to him, but maybe some of the early memories, before their Hogwarts years, would be easier to use, as they would not be equally intermingled with the things that led to the loss and the guilt, him and Lily being in separate houses, the Marauders, his Slythrin friends, etc.

On Umbridge’s Patronus, it says in the book that it “glowed brightly because she was so happy here, in her element, upholding the twisted laws she had helped to write”. This seems very unlike the view of the Patronus generally given in the books and the quality of the happy memory needed to produce it. Could really a thought like that truly protect you from evil things?

Here is a quote, originally from a chat on Bloomsbury.com, but I found it on Accio Quote:

Samantha: Was snape the only death eater who could produce a full patronus

J.K. Rowling: Yes, because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses.

So on the one hand JKR says that Snape was the only DE who could produce a Patronus, but on the other hand she says that the reason for this is that the DE:s do not need to. Maybe this means that it would not be impossible for them to produce one, but that they never bothered to learn how to?  And Umbridge is not a DE, but I admit she seems quite dark...



mona amon - Feb 27, 2009 5:36 am (#1586 of 2988)  
I had a feeling that would be an example and personally I cannot see where that is "treating" Tonks wrongly. He was insinuating he did not approve of Remus, for obvious reasons to her as well, I am sure. It was not rudely stated. (Shadow)

I like Orion's approach to the Tonks-scene. It is not typical of Snape to be rude without a reason. Besides, if Snape understood Tonks's love for Lupin, then Tonks, for him, "belonged" to Lupin, and he did not like Lupin, as we know. If he also noticed that Tonks was not simply "madly in love" but was suffering from apparently "unrequited" love, that would remind him both of his own unrequited love (with the Patronus change) and of the difference in popularity between himself and - yet again - a Marauder. (Julia)


He wasn't being rude, he was being deliberately mean and hurtful, which is worse. And no one, not even Severus, is mean without any reason. But taking out your own misery on an innocent person just because they happen to have the smallest connection with the Marauders, or because they seem to be suffering from unrequited love just as he was, just doesn't seem like a justifiable reason to me.

To me it all goes to show his unforgiving nature, which in it's turn shows incomplete remorse. I'm not saying, wow, look how he is with Tonks. That shows what a bad character he is and cancels out all the good things he did. I'm trying to show that these are all symptoms of not having properly acknowledged his own mistakes and being fully and consciously remorseful about them.

For after all, who is a remorseful person? One who acknowledges the fact that he was once a jerk, and is truly sorry about it. And a person who does this is certainly not going to continue holding grudges against those who once behaved like jerks to him.  

My point is that Dumbledore does not forgive Snape's debt in a way that Snape can now be free. (I am not sure he has even the authority to forgive him.) There is nothing to indicate that Dumbledore only wants to test Snape. Yes, Dumbldore tests Snape but only to see whether Snape is worthy of being helped and he finds that Snape is because Snape is willing to do more to help save Lily, even to save the whole family if that's what it takes. However, help does not mean that Snape is not indebted any more. There is nothing to indicate that Dumbledore does not mean it dead seriously that Snape owes him / society / the good side something for what he did, especially if he is not sent to Azkaban. And, as the story unfolds, Snape repays his debt fully. So Snape is not forgiven, only given a better chance than Azkaban to repay his debt in a way useful to society. Dumbledore gives him a second chance but he gives nothing for free and my impression is that Snape probably wants to repay his debt to Dumbledore as much as to Lily's memory. He certainly never asks Dumbledore (or anyone else) for forgiveness, much less for free forgiveness. Initially, he asks Dumbledore to save Lily (not to forgive him) and he is willing to take the risk of being imprisoned or killed. Dumbledore decides that Snape could pay in a better way and Snape will spend the rest of his life focusing on his debts and his duties. Harry does not forgive Snape "for free" either. He forgives him because Snape has paid his debt. (Julia)

Well, first of all, since Severus's request was to keep Lily safe from Voldemort, Dumbledore was surely going to do it anyway. Then he must have probed further and fully realised that this young man had no intention of going back to his old DE ways. And at whenever time he realised this, I think he would have decided not to deliver him to the authorities, even if he had not agreed to work as his spy, and that is forgiveness.

After Lily's death, he doesn't tell him,"protect Harry, or it's Azkaban for you". Instead he cleverly uses the word 'Lily's son' as a lure, making it seem like he was doing something for Lily, giving him a purpose in life. At this stage I do not think Dumbledore would have realised just how useful Severus was going to be to him. moreover, he had no idea when Voldy would return. It could have very well been fifty years before he needed anything from Severus. He was giving him a chance to lead a normal life until then.

Then in GoF, when they know that Voldemort is definitely returning in full strength and power, DD does not remind him about any debt. He just wants to know whether he's going to stay with him, or flee like Karkaroff.

In short, what I'm saying is that Dumbledore does forgive Severus unconditionally. It is Severus who, to his credit, decides to do something for DD in return.

Nice bat analogy, Dryleaves!  



Julia H. - Feb 27, 2009 7:12 am (#1587 of 2988)  
For after all, who is a remorseful person? One who acknowledges the fact that he was once a jerk, and is truly sorry about it. And a person who does this is certainly not going to continue holding grudges against those who once behaved like jerks to him. (Mona)

I don't think remorse necessarily ensures a perfect character. Snape's remorse is reflected in atonement and I think it definitely improves his character but it does not make him perfect or a "saint". It is still an achievement for him. Remorse can drive some people to commit suicide or to become alcoholics. Not all remorse is followed by atonement or any improvement of character (besides recognizing one's guilt). Snape's character changes considerably and in important ways. He could still improve, of course, but it is more realistic like this. To get rid of all of his faults would be indeed huge work but it is not something that simply follows from true remorse. Besides, not all his faults and grudges are related to his guilt. He could have grudges against the Marauders and he could feel bitter about seeing mad unrequited love in someone else even if he had never joined the DE's and even if he had no major guilt to be remorseful about. Remorse does not automatically heal the wounds he would have even if he was not guilty at all and these wounds (traumas) influence his character / behaviour with or without remorse.

And at whenever time he realised this, I think he would have decided not to deliver him to the authorities, even if he had not agreed to work as his spy, and that is forgiveness.

After Lily's death, he doesn't tell him,"protect Harry, or it's Azkaban for you".


I basically agree with this, with the exception that it would necessarily mean forgiveness for Snape. Snape does not ask to be forgiven. Later he decides to repay his debt willingly. If Dumbledore just let Snape go away ("You disgust me"), it would not be forgiveness, at least not the kind that Snape could experience as forgiveness. It could even mean he is not significant enough to be punished - even if Dumbledore's intention was different. Of course, Dumbledore is not asking anything "in return" for saving Lily. It is indication that Snape should do something more - precisely a reference to his debt. He could refuse "to pay", but I think Dumbledore would feel contempt rather than forgiveness.

After Lily's death, it is not "help me or it's Azkaban", but the task Dumbledore offers to Snape is definitely a way of repaying his debt. I see Dumbledore as the one who shows Snape how he can repay his debt - not to him (Dumbledore) - but to society, to Lily, to Harry. Snape does not go free and I don't think he would be - psychologically - free of his debt if after Dumbledore's offer he just walked out of Dumbledore's office and Hogwarts for ever. Dumbledore can be forgiving but he cannot forgive Snape his debt and Snape does not expect him to.

One more word about Snape and Draco's task: Shadow, I see what you mean as Snape's reason for saying Voldemort has told him the secret. However, I still think it is quite possible that he was indeed told about the plan (he was probably really a very important "DE" at that time) because Snape suspects that Voldemort wants him to do "the job" when Draco fails, and I don't think he would think that if Voldemort had kept the whole plan secret from him.

Now I can see a little silvery-white bat flying through the night. It looks very “anti-bat” to me. (Dryleaves)

Great image, Dryleaves, I can see it, too!  

Now let's try to imagine the surprise when Snape says "Expecto Patronum!", expecting his usual little bat, and suddenly there is a beautiful doe in front of him.

Also, great research on bats and deer! Neither bird, nor beast... Perfect!  

Umbride's Patronus must be a twisted thing.

When Harry tells Voldemort about Snape's Patronus, Voldemort does not ask what a Patronus is.

I do not think Severus would have been exposed to the Patronus before DD because it is not taught before OWL's, he was possibly too interested in the Dark Arts, and likely would not be going for NEWT's in DADA (which is where such a charm might be taught at the school). (MAMS)

I think interest in the Dark Arts is perfect motivation to study NEWT level DADA. But I agree that it is questionable whether Snape could learn the Patronus Charm at school. If the spell was indeed Dumbledore's invention for the benefit of the order (the "secret" must have got out of their hands later), it is not likely that it would be taught at Hogwarts in those years. We don't even know whether it is necessarily taught in Harry's time. If the charm is not taught at school, Snape is not likely to know what Lily's Patronus is, so it is probably Dumbledore who tells him.



mona amon - Feb 27, 2009 9:13 am (#1588 of 2988)  
I don't think remorse necessarily ensures a perfect character. (Julia)

But who's asking for perfection? I just feel that a truly and consciously remorseful person would be very wary of judging or blaming others, since he once was a blameworthy person himself. Having recieved forgiveness, he would be more charitable about forgiving others, even if their faults are different from his own. And someone who does not do this is not 'imperfect' (because who is perfect, anyway?), but hasn't fully acknowledged that he himself was once a jerk.

He could have grudges against the Marauders and he could feel bitter about seeing mad unrequited love in someone else even if he had never joined the DE's and even if he had no major guilt to be remorseful about. Remorse does not automatically heal the wounds he would have even if he was not guilty at all and these wounds (traumas) influence his character / behaviour with or without remorse.

Severus's wounds don't heal because he cannot forgive the Marauders. Perhaps it would be more understandable if the Marauders were the reason he lost Lily's friendship, but this is not the case. The author has taken pains to show that Lily dumped Severus solely because he refused to listen to her about the Dark Arts and dangerous friends.

Yes, while most people let go of their grudges after a while, some people continue to hold on to them. But major guilt calls for major remorse. Remorse may not heal one's wounds at once, but acknowledging that you are culpable, I feel, will make you automatically realise that those who inflicted those wounds are no worse than you.

Snape does not ask to be forgiven. Later he decides to repay his debt willingly. If Dumbledore just let Snape go away ("You disgust me"), it would not be forgiveness, at least not the kind that Snape could experience as forgiveness.

There are different types of forgiveness. I'm specifically talking about acknowledging that a person has reformed, and not making them pay for their past misdeeds. Dumbledore does this at some point, regarding Severus.

If Dumbledore had just let Severus go away, he would have no idea whether he had really changed or not, and that is why he tests him, to see if he is worthy of forgiveness or not. This, IMO, is the reason he asks Severus, "And what will you give me in return?". He is not saying "you owe me a debt, better pay me back" (How does he know that Severus is even capable of doing anything to repay him in that sense? He knows nothing of his talents at this point.) He is saying, "how far are you willing to go? Have you truly changed, or are you going back to Voldemort, now that I'm going to keep Lily safe?"~something like that.

Of course Dumbledore cannot forgive him for everything that he did. Lily's death, for instance, is something that he'll have to forgive himself for. No one else can do that for him, though a confession to Harry would probably have helped. Dumbledore forgives him for joining the DEs and becoming a willing servant of Voldemort.



Julia H. - Feb 27, 2009 11:09 am (#1589 of 2988)  
I just feel that a truly and consciously remorseful person would be very wary of judging or blaming others, since he once was a blameworthy person himself. (Mona)

And yet, you yourself have said you think Snape is remorseful.

Having recieved forgiveness, he would be more charitable about forgiving others, even if their faults are different from his own.

But this is another point where we differ, as you know. I don't think Snape received forgiveness. We see him once asking for forgiveness but he is rejected. If Lily could forgive him at that moment, I would say, yes, Snape has experienced receiving forgiveness, given just for forgiveness' sake, "free of charge". But it does not happen. Later, Snape does not ask for forgiveness, and what Dumbledore does is helping him repay his debt. This help is important, of course, but it does not make Snape free of his debt. He is not free until the end of his life and he receives true forgiveness (from someone who can forgive him) when he has already paid.

Severus's wounds don't heal because he cannot forgive the Marauders.

The way I see it is that he cannot forgive the Marauders because his wounds don't heal. According to Dumbledore, some wounds run too deep for the healing. This is clear enough. I find it too simple to just expect Snape to forgive one day so that his wounds could heal at last. The wounds do not heal and it means they still hurt. Not exactly the ideal circumstances for forgiveness. Snape's "grudges" are in fact traumas and the difference is that while you can get rid of the former if you really try; for the latter, one needs professional help and even then healing may take a very long time if it happens or if it is completed at all.

I'm specifically talking about acknowledging that a person has reformed, and not making them pay for their past misdeeds. Dumbledore does this at some point, regarding Severus.

I really don't see that happening, at least not until Snape proves himself reformed and repeatedly willing to pay.

If Dumbledore had just let Severus go away, he would have no idea whether he had really changed or not, and that is why he tests him, to see if he is worthy of forgiveness or not. This, IMO, is the reason he asks Severus, "And what will you give me in return?".

My point, exactly. If Dumbledore wants to see whether Snape is worthy of forgiveness, then he does not forgive him unconditionally. Therefore if he just let him go away, it would not be forgiveness. "Forgiveness" (as far as Dumbledore is in a position to forgive Snape) comes if he proves himself worthy of it. At the beginning, it is only a chance for forgiveness at some later point. Dumbledore then gives him a full second chance but Snape does not receive it for free.

Lily's death, for instance, is something that he'll have to forgive himself for.

I don't think it is a matter of decision. I can imagine people who can easily forgive themselves for something like this. (I don't know, of course, but I find it absolutely possible that, after Voldemort's death, Lucius will readily forgive himself for everything, as soon as he is out of trouble, and will quickly move on to living happily ever after.) Other people cannot. If it was entirely up to Snape to forgive himself for Lily's death, he would have much less reason to atone at all. In the world of HP, it is Harry Potter who has the right to truly and entirely forgive Snape, and he does. But only when Snape has paid his debt.

There may be various types of forgiveness. Here the original point in question was whether Snape was forgiven his debt or not. Debt is either forgiven or paid. Snape repays his debt, therefore he does not experience that his debt is "forgiven" (which would imply that he does not pay). Dumbledore can be benevolent and willing to help when he sees that Snape is worthy of help or forgiveness (and we can even consider Dumbledore forgiving for this), but Snape must be worthy of it first and even then Dumbledore does not give, he probably cannot give Snape forgiveness that in itself would free Snape from his debt.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 27, 2009 2:04 pm (#1590 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 27, 2009 3:04 pm
I really don't see the big deal about what Severus said to Tonks.

Regarding this "remorse" debate, I will repeat what Julia and I have both said: that Severus is not supposed to be like "Scrooge" who suddenly starts handing out coins and turkeys to everyone when he realises what his life has become. I truly love this character because he is flawed, he is "reality in a book" for me. I would not be interested in him being 100% kind to everyone, for he does not feel like being kind. He feels miserable and the only thing that keeps him going is the memory of a lost love who he contributed to losing *twice*. I feel exactly as Harry does and there is a huge difference between *condoning* the behaviour and understanding it perfectly and feeling true empathy for him.

I agree a lot of will power would have been needed. Maybe he also used a memory that was relatively untainted by guilt and loss. Of course no memory truly could be that to him, but maybe some of the early memories, before their Hogwarts years, would be easier to use, as they would not be equally intermingled with the things that led to the loss and the guilt, him and Lily being in separate houses, the Marauders, his Slythrin friends, etc. - Dryleaves

I personally think the memory of the two of them sitting beneath the trees cross-legged, facing each other would be a perfect example of happiness for him. And like I said, I am sure there were others that were similarly sweet.

A quote of JKR: How did snape keep his patronus secret from the rest of the order?

J.K. Rowling: He was careful not to use the talking Patronus means of communication with them. This was not difficult, as his particular job within the Order, ie, as spy, meant that sending a Patronus to any of them might have given away his true allegiance.

I really don't think Severus would have much use for a Patronus. If he casts one, I can see it being when he is in the dungeon alone so he can commune with it.

Back to chronology, I can imagine him having to steel himself in order to perform the duties he has agreed to in everyday life. To me many things changed his personality profoundly. It is apparent to me that he was a lively and animated young boy, even up to the 5th year of Hogwarts. His entire personality changed, and this is an important point. He lost a lot of himself when he lost Lily. He turned into a DE. I wonder if he knew he had changed, and I wonder if he cared.

By the way, the Lex has the Whomping Willow incident (September 1975) happening after the Worst Memory (June 1975).

I've been looking for a quote on Leaky and happened upon this...thought it would be nice to include in our discussion... from Alan Rickman: "I think at heart Snape is basically quite an insecure person, he’s always longing to be something else that people will really respect like a black magician not just a school master. That's why he envies the more popular and successful boys like Harry. He does have a positive side though, even though Harry's a thorn in his side he doesn't let it worry him too much."

Okay found the quote I was looking for: 'It's not mentioned in the books, but in an interview with JK Rowling after the book was released, she did say that Lily would probably have returned his feelings if he had not dabbled in the Dark Arts. She also goes on to say that Severus dabbled in the Dark Arts because he wanted to show off to Lily, and let her see that he was a powerful wizard, worthy of her love.'

Any thoughts?

edited for clarity and added stuff



mona amon - Feb 28, 2009 1:09 am (#1591 of 2988)  
I really don't see the big deal about what Severus said to Tonks. (Shadow)

I don't see it as a big deal, but symptomatic of Severus's problems with himself. It was definitely mean and hurtful.

And yet, you yourself have said you think Snape is remorseful. (Julia)

Regarding this "remorse" debate, I will repeat what Julia and I have both said: that Severus is not supposed to be like "Scrooge" who suddenly starts handing out coins and turkeys to everyone when he realises what his life has become. (Shadow)


I never got down to reading the Scrooge book  but I think I understand what you mean, and I'm basically saying the same thing. I think this remorse debate is going around in circles, so all I have to do is copy and paste from one of my previous posts to explain what are my feelings about Severus's remorse-

Well, first of all I'd better say that I do believe Severus was remorseful about joining Voldemort and becoming a DE, and not just because he set into motion the events that led to Lily's murder, but because he started hating Voldemort and everything that he represented, just as much as Dumbledore or Harry or any of the other good guys ever did.

Still, he obviously hasn’t done all the work, as he has a whole lot of unresolved issues about his past. I do not get the feeling that he ever acknowledged (or even realised) that he had caused indirect harm to others by being such an eager follower of a conscienceless tyrant.

I'm sure it was JKR's intention to portray him this way. It would not have been difficult at all to show us his full, conscious remorse, if that is what she had wanted for him. Even his redemption is in a sense incomplete because he dies without any reconciliation with his fellow human beings. I believe this is because she wanted him to be a truly tragic character, not merely a melodramatic one. In literature redeemed characters are appealing because of the feel good factor. But their remorse and redemption is usually not very interesting.

We see him once asking for forgiveness but he is rejected. If Lily could forgive him at that moment, I would say, yes, Snape has experienced receiving forgiveness, given just for forgiveness' sake, "free of charge". (Julia)

He was asking forgiveness for the wrong thing. Lily makes it very clear to him that calling her a mudblood was not the issue. If he had at that point, or a little later, gone up to her and apologised for having called anyone a mudblood, said he was no longer going to associate with his DE wannabe friends, and that he had no intention of joining Voldemort, I'm sure she would have forgiven him.

Anyway, forgiveness is never given free of charge. That's grace, and I actually feel there was a tragic absense of grace in Severus's life. But that's for another post. Forgiveness is usually given only when the person who is doing the forgiving either completely understands the circumstances under which the misdeed was committed, or feels that the person has changed and will no longer do that misdeed.

Dumbledore then gives him a full second chance but Snape does not receive it for free.

Once he sees that Severus has changed, I think he does give him a second chance, for free. Doesn't belief in a person's reformation, trust and acceptance, and protecting that person from the lawful consequences of his misdeeds count as forgiveness? I cannot recall a single instance where Dumbledore tells him he owes him a debt or tells him he'll accept him back only if he pays something.

Here the original point in question was whether Snape was forgiven his debt or not.

But what do you feel is Severus's 'debt'? If I know this maybe I'll understand your point better. No one has the power to forgive a person everything. I feel Dumbledore forgave Severus for once being an evil Death Eater and trusts him to the extent of letting him loose among his precious students, something Sirius thought he'd never do. He was forgiven, as far as Dumbledore was concerned, very early on. He might need forgiveness from others, but still the fact remains that he has experienced forgiveness for something big.

The way I see it is that he cannot forgive the Marauders because his wounds don't heal. According to Dumbledore, some wounds run too deep for the healing.

Dumbledore does not realise this at first. He must have got it only after Severus came storming up to him to tell him that Harry had been snooping in his memories, and that he refused to teach him any more. I'd love to have seen that conversation! Anyway, he must have realised that some wounds run too deep for healing because there are people like Severus who cannot forgive. It's probably not his fault. Dumbledore doesn't blame him, and neither do I. I'm just explaining my view of this character.

If everyone's getting bored of this remorse business, I'm willing to agree to disagree.

Sorry no time to edit.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 28, 2009 1:51 am (#1592 of 2988)  
Still, he obviously hasn’t done all the work, as he has a whole lot of unresolved issues about his past. I do not get the feeling that he ever acknowledged (or even realised) that he had caused indirect harm to others by being such an eager follower of a conscienceless tyrant. - mona

He absolutely has unresolved issues. Refer to his death scene! This is not, to me, disputable. Regarding your next statement, I feel this is worth exploring for various reasons. From a memory:

‘Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?’

Snape hesitated. His black eyes, eager in the greenish gloom, moved over the pale face, the dark red hair.

‘No,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t make any difference.’

He is smitten. He possibly already has a prejudice, yet he holds back because of her. Where might his prejudice stem from? His father, presumably, the man who might not be accepting after all of witches and wizards, or is simply not a good man. This is possibly the root cause, amplified while he is in Slytherin.

Was he “such an eager follower”? What evidence do we have... We hear DD ask Severus, “How many men and woman have you watched die?” Yet DD would have known of Severus’s more vicious deeds, more than watch, and they are not brought up. And he was sent at age 20-ish to apply for a job that was cursed by Vold himself. Severus does not seem to be an inner-circle or “eager” DE according to canon.

Causing “indirect” harm is, to me, not appropriate to the situation. If one was once part of the IRA, does one now owe something to all the families representing the “other” side? I simply do not believe the same criteria can be placed for each situation of redemption. In this case, as I have stated before, consessions are made for this man’s personal suffering in proportion to his oath of personal sacrifice and commitment to the future of the cause.



Julia H. - Feb 28, 2009 3:42 am (#1593 of 2988)  
Edited Feb 28, 2009 5:59 am
Well, first of all I'd better say that I do believe Severus was remorseful about joining Voldemort and becoming a DE, and not just because he set into motion the events that led to Lily's murder, but because he started hating Voldemort and everything that he represented, just as much as Dumbledore or Harry or any of the other good guys ever did.

Still, he obviously hasn’t done all the work, as he has a whole lot of unresolved issues about his past. (Mona)


I don't think our views are very different. Perhaps where we differ is that Snape having unresolved issues about his past does not affect my view of his remorse, while it seems to affect yours. I simply think these are two different things.

I do not get the feeling that he ever acknowledged (or even realised) that he had caused indirect harm to others by being such an eager follower of a conscienceless tyrant.

This is subtlety that could only be resolved if we got a direct look into his thoughts. Since we don't have that, to me the circumstantial evidence is quite enough: Snape does not simply turn away from Voldemort but, at some point, he dedicates his life to fighting against him. We know he is capable of feeling remorse and we see him remorseful. Since all these things are connected, it is quite possible that he has the kind of realizations you mention, but it is equally possible that the author thought if was enough for him to acknowledge (by actions) that it had been absolutely wrong to join Voldemort without pondering too much the indirect harm besides the direct one.

If he had at that point, or a little later, gone up to her and apologised for having called anyone a mudblood, said he was no longer going to associate with his DE wannabe friends, and that he had no intention of joining Voldemort, I'm sure she would have forgiven him.

I was not talking about Lily's motivation or about what could have been but about the fact that Snape did not receive forgiveness unconditionally (or, if you like, without first proving himself worthy of it). Nor does he receive it from Dumbledore.

Anyway, forgiveness is never given free of charge. That's grace, and I actually feel there was a tragic absense of grace in Severus's life.

But in your post #1586, you said this: In short, what I'm saying is that Dumbledore does forgive Severus unconditionally.

That is what I disagree with. BTW, there is forgiveness given free of charge and it is an important quality in the Christian belief system. Unconditional forgiveness is probably given as a result of love - personal love, religious love etc. Snape, as you perhaps agree, does not receive it.

Why is it important? You compared Snape to the man whose huge debt was forgiven and yet he cannot forgive smaller debts to others. My point is that his huge debt, which I see to be the same as you, I think, (The huge debt that he was forgiven is his joining the DEs and becoming an eager servant of Voldemort. ) is not forgiven to him free of charge. In other words, whatever Dumbledore gives him, he is not released from his debt. (BTW, I am not sure about eager because we do not know anything about the degree of his eagerness.)

To stay with the analogy, several things can happen to a man in huge debt:

- He can give up everything he has, hoping it will be enough to repay his debt (like Regulus).

- He can be made to do slave work with chains on his legs until he dies or until the debt is paid (Azkaban).

- He can be given, as help, an honourable job so that he can work and pay - in this way, he will probably do more useful and better work than the one in chains, and it is likely that has to be seen as worthy of such trust (Snape's second chance).

- Someone else can pay his debt, in which case the debt will be transferred to this person in some form or other. (I'm not sure it is translatable to the case of "conscience debt", though we may perhaps say that even Dumbledore's help made Snape further indebted, in another way, of course.)

- The person can just be left alone to struggle with his debt or perhaps to accumulate more of the same kind of debt. (That would happen if Dumbledore let Snape go away free but without help.)

- The person to whom this man owes this huge debt can - for whatever reason - forgive this debt and officially free the man from what he owes without payment. (Something like that may happen if Lucius can indeed walk free after the second war.)

Why is it important? Snape does not walk free, he works to repay his debt. He receives help and trust to be able to do it but he does not experience being forgiven in the sense of being "released". If he refused Dumbledore's chance, he would still be indebted, not forgiven (even if he was not sent to Azkaban, Dumbledore could not forgive him in the name of society). In fact, he wants to repay his debt.

However, what you seem to expect from Snape is precisely the ability to forgive unconditionally, on the basis that he also received forgiveness. However, his experience is precisely that forgiveness is not given free of charge. Neither James, nor Sirius ever shows himself "worthy" of Snape's forgiveness in the sense of understanding / acknowledging their mistakes, the (direct or indirect) harm they caused to him, neither of them ever tries to approach him with a willingness to make peace with him. It would be great if Snape could forgive them but, as I said, there are traumas preventing it, and neither Snape experiences unconditional forgiveness, nor does anyone ever try to "earn" Snape's ("conditional") forgiveness if only by acknowledging that they had harmed him.

Anyway, he must have realised that some wounds run too deep for healing because there are people like Severus who cannot forgive. It's probably not his fault. Dumbledore doesn't blame him, and neither do I. I'm just explaining my view of this character.

We all are.  I think it is important, regarding these wounds, that they cause rather than result from Snape's inability to forgive.



Julia H. - Feb 28, 2009 3:57 am (#1594 of 2988)  
I really don't think Severus would have much use for a Patronus. If he casts one, I can see it being when he is in the dungeon alone so he can commune with it. (MAMS)

That's exactly what I imagine he did.

It is apparent to me that he was a lively and animated young boy, even up to the 5th year of Hogwarts. His entire personality changed, and this is an important point.

Very good observation. It would be interesting to discuss it in more details.

'...Lily would probably have returned his feelings if he had not dabbled in the Dark Arts. She also goes on to say that Severus dabbled in the Dark Arts because he wanted to show off to Lily, and let her see that he was a powerful wizard, worthy of her love.'

If I remember well, once we were looking for Snape's "tragic failure", the one that a tragic hero should have. This mistake could be another likely candidate... The quote shows that school-boy Snape had no idea about the full implications of the M-word if he thought Lily could be impressed if he became a powerful dark wizard.

"He does have a positive side though, even though Harry's a thorn in his side he doesn't let it worry him too much."

I wonder if AR is talking about movie-Snape specifically... I guess this quote is before DH, and it may be possible that he doesn't let it worry him too much is a cryptic reference to Snape protecting Harry despite everything (which Rickman may have known early on).

He is smitten. He possibly already has a prejudice, yet he holds back because of her. Where might his prejudice stem from? His father, presumably, the man who might not be accepting after all of witches and wizards, or is simply not a good man. This is possibly the root cause, amplified while he is in Slytherin.

It is absolutely likely, but I think there may be several aspects here.

To start with, Snape may not know whether being Muggle-born matters at Hogwarts or not. He can only say what he thinks, and he decides to reassure her. However, later he suggests she should be in Slytherin as well. That implies he truly does not think a Muggle-born witch could have problems there.

Another aspect I can see is that Snape's hesitation after Lily's question may mean he has had similar thoughts himself. He is half-blood, not Muggle-born, but he lives in a Muggle environment, apparently on the periphery of the wizarding world. In some respects, his situation is similar to Lily's (I understand there are differences, of course). Therefore he might have wondered, too, whether it mattered to be brought up among Muggles in a Muggle way and in poverty (no Quidditch, no free practice of magic, no vault in Gringotts, no friends among the "real" wizards etc.). So I think this reassurance (meaning basically, 'it is only magical talent that counts') may be an answer to his own doubts as well as to Lily's.



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 28, 2009 12:42 pm (#1595 of 2988)  
The quote shows that school-boy Snape had no idea about the full implications of the M-word if he thought Lily could be impressed if he became a powerful dark wizard. - Julia

Yes, tragic flaw, deep dark irony. Had he only possessed the self-confidence to believe what was actually happening (Lily liking him for him) was enough and was real, that he didn’t need to try so hard. How many millions of times has this cliché been played out in relationships? The fact that James and Sirius were sitting on the train, in we can imagine their “cool” manner of self-confidence and priviledge, must have eaten him up inside and fueled his mission to “impress” Lily with his spellwork.

I perceive the young boy we are shown in memories pre-Hogwarts as introverted and shy but, once he felt comfortable with Lily, becoming more able to assert himself “romantically” for lack of a better word. Harry decides that Severus is ‘oddly impressive… brimful of confidence in his destiny.’ It seems the only thing Severus exudes confidence in is his wizardness. I would also speculate that she intimidates him so much that he cannot imagine her truly liking him for him, given his unkept appearance and possibly his being deeply neglected : “He doesn’t like anything, much” could easily be referring to himself.

I agree with your last paragraphs about why he would not know if he himself would be prejudiced against. This in itself could be part of why he joined up with future-DE’s at school. Some people feel they are safer with the bullies than standing alone. If only he had stayed with Lily… But she had her own amazing brand of courage, and to me we are being invited to consider the many different forms of courage that are humanly possible.



legolas returns - Feb 28, 2009 12:50 pm (#1596 of 2988)  
Would things be different if this was the text?

"-to call me Mudblood? But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?"

"Because I really love you!"-Snape



me and my shadow 813 - Feb 28, 2009 6:37 pm (#1597 of 2988)  
I would venture to say that Severus is as much a part of the Prophecy as Harry, Vold and Lily. He appears to be the initiator of the horror; he becomes the designer of the solution.

If we are talking about magic and love/energy as the most “real” dynamics in the WW, then I will go out on a limb to say I feel Severus was “meant” to hear the Prophecy and he was “meant” to be the one to provide the conditions with which Lily could save Harry’s life. He was given a choice and he took the Prophecy to Vold. That seems like the worst action possible but it was a greater scheme and Severus unconsciously stepped into his part of Vold’s downfall by bringing the Prophecy to him. If not for the Prophecy being overhead and conveyed to Vold he might still be out there.

I will try  to be linear and clear in my thought process on this…

Severus falls in love with Lily and, unbeknownst to him, his feelings are not completely unrequited; he is predisposed to a fascination with the dark arts; like a sort of ‘beauty and the beast’ situation, Lily comes into Severus’s life and was the light shining on the plant in the dark;

His insecurities and traumas, combined with his Housemates’ influence and his continuing study of the dark arts (partially to win Lily away from James), culminate in him losing her and he is left with a circle of ‘friends’; he welcomes their acceptance and their philosophies;

The realm from which Prophecy comes, the same realm that had provided Severus with the opportunity for a life with Lily, now watches as he takes his focus away from his broken heart and onto the black road of hate. A few years later, this ‘newbie’ DE is – out of the blue – given the task of applying for a job at Hogwarts that he was probably too young to acquire. Coincidentally, an interview is being conducted for the Divination position, despite Dumbledore’s desire to discontinue the subject. And, coincidentally, at the very moment Severus arrives at the other side of the door, the un-gifted applicant suddenly recites the Prophecy. And, coincidentally, the part of the Prophecy that would reveal more of Severus’s role in the undoing of his master will never reach Vold's ears.

As a dutiful DE, he takes the Prophecy to Vold. But the fates have other things in mind for Severus. He is now in the position of making the choice to save her and once he makes that choice he goes to Dumbledore for help. He does not trust his master; he is now changed once the ‘light’ is again affecting his life.

Okay, done rambling...



Julia H. - Mar 1, 2009 3:52 pm (#1598 of 2988)  
It seems the only thing Severus exudes confidence in is his wizardness. (MAMS)

It is very important in Snape's life. He is confident in his magical talent(s) but not in anything else.

I would also speculate that she intimidates him so much that he cannot imagine her truly liking him for him, given his unkept appearance and possibly his being deeply neglected...

It seems to me that Snape is simply not used to being accepted or liked or important and therefore he wants acceptance very much but perhaps he does not really believe that he can really be liked for himself, especially by someone so wonderful as Lily. Even though they have been friends for years, his feelings about her change as they are growing up, and it is a great question whether Lily would come to love him in a different way, whether he could be the "only one" for her, when there are so many other boys, more handsome, more confident, more popular ones.

Of course, poverty and his general appearance do not help, but the root of the problem is probably that he did not learn it from his parents in his early childhood that he was "lovable". He keeps comparing himself to others and the comparison is apparently not really flattering - except when it comes to brains and magical talents.

When he receives acceptance, he will be extremely loyal. Lily accepted him as a friend when they were children, and he will love her for all his life. He probably receives some kind acceptance in Slytherin House. He does not seem to have any really good friends there, still he wants to "belong" to them because he needs a place to belong. (I see his relationship with Lily and with Slytherin students as a case of "conflicting loyalties".)

Not enough confidence that one could be loved and accepted may also lead a teenager into"low-quality" friendships and relationships.

When Dumbledore understands him and accepts him despite his recent past, he also accepts Dumbledore as his guide and his mentor and I feel he wants very much to be worthy of Dumbledore's trust and his acceptance when the time comes to "pay" for the second chance he got from him. When he kills Dumbledore, he gives up this second chance for Dumbledore's sake. It seems deserving the second chance is more important to him than keeping it.

An important change in Snape's personality after Lily's death is that he will never look for friends again. He will have Dumbledore, but in Dumbledore he will find his "father" rather than a friend who is his equal. Of course, he has Hogwarts, where he can belong, but he does not try to get close to anyone. His general style is like a huge warning sign: "Do not approach! You will not like me if you do."

MAMS, interesting thoughts about Snape and the Prophecy.  



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 2, 2009 10:27 am (#1599 of 2988)  
Julia, your last two paragraphs are the perfect transition into discussing Severus on the day of Harry's first Potions class. I am sure Severus was preparing, steeling himself, for the time when he would have to find out for himself what DD told him all those years ago: that the boy has Lily's eyes.



Julia H. - Mar 2, 2009 11:02 am (#1600 of 2988)  
Let's move on then.  But before we get to the first Potions lesson, there are a few more things in the chronology:

At some point, Dumbledore and Flamel decide to move the Stone to Hogwarts. Since Hagrid picks it up on Harry's birthday, the magical defences must be put in place around that time.(Dumbledore may keep the Stone in his pocket for a day or two but not much longer.) Earlier than that Dumbledore chooses the people who will participate in building up the defence system and (I think) he tells each of them to design a magical obstacle. Snape is part of that team. Naturally, he chooses to use potions but he also writes a Muggle-style(!) puzzle to accompany them. He may know that Death Eaters and Pureblood maniacs are more likely to want to steal the Stone and they will be less likely to solve the Muggle-style riddle. Or he does not think much of the intelligence of his earlier DE "colleagues" in general. Or he consciously decides to use Muggle "knowledge" (heritage?) from his (pre-Hogwarts?) childhood - the time of his lost innocence - in the fight against the Dark Side.

The team must be back at Hogwarts in the middle of the summer. Hagrid is probably full of the news of meeting Harry Potter at last... The teachers may well be asking questions, and Snape may hear some of what Hagrid has got to tell. I wonder if Snape hears the "he looks just like James but his eyes are exactly like Lily's" part. I agree that he must be steeling himself for the beginning of the new school-year.


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legolas returns - Mar 2, 2009 12:35 pm (#1601 of 2988)
I always found it interesting that next to Hogwarts Gringotts is seen as the most secure magical place. How did Dumbledore know that the vault was going to be broken into?

Fluffy was in place at the start of term (1st September). Snape did not get bitten until Halloween (end of October) when the Troll was let into the castle. Quirrell says that he took a look at Halloween to see what was guarding the stone. This means that he did not know what protection was in place but I would imagine he had been asked to do a level of protection just before that. The Mirror of Erised was not moved until Christmastime. Snape challenges Quirrel if he knew how to get past Fluffy in the New Year. It was 10 weeks before exams that Quirrel found out how to get past fluffy.

There is nothing in the books to suggest that Hagrid and Snape were on speaking terms. Hagrid generally only came into contact with teachers at Dinner time and when he was bringing stuff into the castle. Hagrid was on friendly terms with the Maurauders and he liked HRH. He was not very magical, was expelled, very likely to get drunk and emotional. These things would not endeer him to Snape.



Julia H. - Mar 2, 2009 1:51 pm (#1602 of 2988)
I think Hagrid is on speaking terms with most teachers. Not necessarily with Snape, though Hagrid seems to respect (like?) Snape, or at least to think he is to be trusted. They are even similar in the sense that both have had problems with the law. Hagrid was, of course, innocent, while Snape was not innocent but at least repentant. Both of them got a second chance from Dumbledore and are at Hogwarts because of that. I suppose their respective pasts are known by at least some people.

Hagrid tells HRH which teachers participate in the protection of the Stone so he knows. Fluffy may be placed on the trapdoor without the teachers' knowledge, but Hagrid may still be there when the other protections are put up since he has brought the Stone from the bank. Some teachers (McGonagall, for example) may know Hagrid has just met the Boy Who Lived and may ask Hagrid to tell them about Harry. If it happens when other people are present (as several teachers may be interested in Harry), Snape may hear some of the conversation even if he does not want to. Of course, it does not necessarily happen that way, but I think it is possible.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 2, 2009 1:53 pm (#1603 of 2988)
But before we get to the first Potions lesson, there are a few more things in the chronology: - Julia

Great posts legolas and Julia, and thank you for keeping me on the linear path. Will respond soon... **off to assemble my thoughts**



legolas returns - Mar 2, 2009 1:55 pm (#1604 of 2988)
Oops we seem to have gone off on one. Never mind .

I would have thought the Snape would have overheard Hagrid talking about baby Harry and his lovely green eyes. Eyes that were identicle to Lilys.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 2, 2009 8:26 pm (#1605 of 2988)
Snape is part of that team. Naturally, he chooses to use potions but he also writes a Muggle-style(!) puzzle to accompany them. He may know that Death Eaters and Pureblood maniacs are more likely to want to steal the Stone and they will be less likely to solve the Muggle-style riddle. Or he does not think much of the intelligence of his earlier DE "colleagues" in general. - Julia

Interesting… I never thought of a riddle being “Muggle” but a trait of Ravenclaw. We have had the sphinx in book 4 and we now know Ravenclaws have to solve a riddle at their common room entrance. Of course your observance is valid but I would venture to speculate that Severus and Filius worked on it together…? I can’t recall offhand if Hagrid said the riddle was also contributed by Sev. I would like to think this was another sign of “teamwork”, but perhaps I am being optimistic. I certainly agree that Severus would feel confident the riddle would prevent DE’s making it past the poison!

I wonder if Snape hears the "he looks just like James but his eyes are exactly like Lily's" part.

I think he does. Hagrid was probably brimming with joy after his shopping day with Harry, let alone the story about the Dursleys and the “large rock way out to sea”.

There is nothing in the books to suggest that Hagrid and Snape were on speaking terms. - legolas

I agree that there is no reason to think Hagrid and Severus had casual chats but as Julia said I feel Hagrid respected him. I also agree with Julia’s suggestion there could have been a meeting about the Stone with Heads of House (and the Keeper of the Keys of course) regarding security measures. This could be when Severus hears Hagrid tell an animated tale about the Dursley’s (too bad he can’t tell anyone about Dudders’s piggy tail) and his describing Harry’s appearance to eager listeners, complete with detailed resemblances to James and Lily. We know DD told Severus about Harry’s eyes on the night / day after the murders so I’m sure he isn’t thrilled to hear it from Hagrid ten years later ('Great! the eyes haven't changed...'), let alone that he is his father in miniature. It must eat Severus’s insides to shreds. Of course, he probably sat there silently, expressionless.

A quote : ‘Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose and sallow skin.

It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell’s turban straight into Harry’s eyes – and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry’s forehead.’

Their first glimpse of each other. I cannot help be reminded of my recent post about the fate-like connections between Severus and Harry regarding the Prophecy. Yes, Vold was ‘facing’ Harry and that is what caused the pain. Yes, the scene is predominantly written in order to allude to Severus being the culprit in our tale. But still, JKR writes in layers and to me there are many, many layers, in this case about their eyes meeting at the exact same moment that Vold caused the pain in Harry's scar.

Then, a few lines down : ‘Harry watched Snape for a while but Snape didn’t look at him again.’

To me it indicates that, even from a distance, Severus had had his first of many experiences with reliving looking into Lily’s eyes. And, actually, if Sev hadn’t heard anything from Hagrid, it makes this moment all the more intense, catching a glimpse of “mini James” with those bright green eyes from across the room.

edited for clarity



mona amon - Mar 2, 2009 9:18 pm (#1606 of 2988)
Was he “such an eager follower”? (Shadow)

I am not sure about eager because we do not know anything about the degree of his eagerness. (Julia)


There's nothing to show that he was in any way disillusioned with his Dark Lord, despite the fact that he was in his employ for long enough to realise what he was up to.

Until DH I thought he must be a misguided sort who came to his senses as soon as he realised (after he had handed him the prophecy)that Voldemort was killing innocent people. In DH I found I was mistaken about this.

The way he runs to Voldemort with the prophecy, either out of genuine concern for his master (this is what DD thinks), or to earn brownie points for himself, or to make up for having goofed about getting the job, also shows a certain degree of enthusiasm, IMO.

If one was once part of the IRA, does one now owe something to all the families representing the “other” side? (Shadow)

I know nothing about the IRA, but if one was once part of a terrorist organisation, I think one does owe something to all the families who were harmed by that organisation. Perhaps the cosequences are far too abstract and indefinite to be atoned for individualy and definitely, but at least acknowledgement should be made for harm done, to yourself. One should realise what a jerk one was. Only then can healing take place. If one does not admit this, one will have to go through life feeling always vaguely guilty. This is what I believe happened to Severus.

I don't think our views are very different. Perhaps where we differ is that Snape having unresolved issues about his past does not affect my view of his remorse, while it seems to affect yours. I simply think these are two different things. (Julia)

Yes. I just cannot believe that one who has been truly introspective and faced every aspect of his rather shady past cannot accept the fact that others were only as bad as he was, at the most. Severus, as far as I can see, continues to blame and hate others in a way that makes me very doubtful of his having ever admitted to himself that he was once a jerk. These are so connected that I find it impossible to think of them as two different things.

there is forgiveness given free of charge and it is an important quality in the Christian belief system.

As far as I know, and I could be wrong, the emphasis is on not asking for justice or restitution. There is no mention of any case where the person is completely unrepentant. It does make sense to forgive even completely unrepentant people in the sense of 'letting go', freeing yourself from the negative thoughts associated with them, but that's really something one does for one's own self and not for the sake of the unrepentant person.

As far as I can make out, Dumbledore asks only that Severus should have changed his ways. He does not ask for any payment. The Marauders too have changed. They are either dead or no longer bullying Sev. It wouldn't be difficult for the average person to forgive them.

I think it is important, regarding these wounds, that they cause rather than result from Snape's inability to forgive.

But the wound always has to come first. That's the logical sequence. If you are not harmed, what is there to forgive?

Doesnt Dumbledore's inclusion Of Severus in the Stone Protection Plan mean that he has forgiven him? **Vain attempt to link my post to the present discussion **



wynnleaf - Mar 2, 2009 9:48 pm (#1607 of 2988)
The way he runs to Voldemort with the prophecy, either out of genuine concern for his master (this is what DD thinks), or to earn brownie points for himself, or to make up for having goofed about getting the job, also shows a certain degree of enthusiasm, IMO. (mona amon)

We don't actually know when he learned that his master was going to be out killing anyone. After all, LV kept his killings a secret for some time. And all the people mentioned through the series that were known publicly to have been killed by LV or his DEs, were all killed in the last year of LV's first war. So at the time Snape heard the partial prophecy and took it to LV, he may not have known that LV advocated killing people.

Yeah, I know, everyone likes to assume that the whole wizarding world knew of it, but we're not actually shown that in canon. Even a very Dark wizarding family like the Blacks wasn't really aware of all LV intended to do. DD knew, yes, but he also knew or suspected about some of the killings LV had kept secret. Was it generally known that LV was a killer? Certainly it wasn't known at the time LV came looking for a job at Hogwarts. When did it become know? We don't know. People known publicly to be killed by LV and the DEs prior to Harry's birth aren't mentioned.

As far as I know, and I could be wrong, the emphasis is on not asking for justice or restitution. There is no mention of any case where the person is completely unrepentant. (mona amon)

In terms of human forgiving others, there is no mention of the person needing forgiveness having to do anything, even request forgiveness. Forgiveness is not the same as becoming compassionate or understanding toward the other person. Think of a material debt. If someone forgives you a debt it means you don't have to repay it. Nothing about repaying part, or good intentions, or feeling sorry, or apologizing for having gotten into debt. It's just done by the injured party. Like in the parable about the king forgiving the person a huge debt. He does it out of mercy, not because he was getting anything out of it. Forgiveness is not forgiveness if it demands something in return. Then it is simply another form of payment of a debt.

Snape is never forgiven in canon except by Harry after Snape's death, and even there it's implied.

It is true that Snape is not shown forgiving the Marauders. Nor do they forgive him, nor do they ask forgiveness or apologize.

It is true that someone who clearly sees the extent of their own fault should, hopefully, reach the point in being somewhat more charitable toward the faults of others, realizing that they themselves have done wrong as well.

Is Snape more charitable toward the faults of others? Well, he certainly never acts directly nice toward Sirius or Lupin. However, given the fact that Snape really thinks Sirius tried to kill him and never was sorry about it --- well, let's put it this way, Snape treats a person who he considers his would-be murderer with nothing more than sarcasm. He does not attempt to injure, much less murder Sirius. Yes, he does try to capture him etc. while Sirius is considered by all to be a mass murderer, death eater, and the betrayer of the fidelius charm that protected the Potters. But afterward, did Snape demand the "debt" that a would-be murderer deserves? That's debatable. What does a would be murderer deserve?

What about Lupin? Does Snape attempt to get revenge on Lupin? Some might say so, after he exposed Lupin. On the other hand, Lupin was a clear danger to students and clearly broke Dumbledore's trust. And in spite of plenty of reader speculation we don't actually know if Snape exposed Lupin because of the real danger he represented, or because he had a grudge against him for his part in Marauder nastiness.

What about after POA? Did Snape try to exact revenge from Lupin? No, not really. He was a bit sarcastic about him, but did he try to hurt Lupin -- a guy who had participated in bullying and who he thought in on a trap to kill him -- in the manner that he'd have felt such a person actually deserved? Hard to say. He does, after all, try to protect Lupin later.

What about James? Did he forgive James? Well, he did try, ultimately, to protect James' life. Is this the way a person exacts payment for a debt from one who Snape believed was in on a trap to get him killed? Snape didn't think James was ever trying to save Snape's life. He thought James only wanted to save his friends and Snape got "saved" in the process. Sure, Snape tries to protect James because DD told him he had to in order to work to protect Lily.

Snape sees the wrong done to him by the Marauders as attempted murder -- not just a bit of mild schoolboy hexing.

Snape did not attempt to murder James. He didn't particularly care that James might get killed (James didn't care much for Snape's well-being either -- beat him up "because he exists"). But did Snape try to kill James? No. He rather quickly agreed to attempt to protect James' life. He does this to protect his friend Lily -- somewhat like James (in Snape's view) saves Snape's life in order to protect his Marauder friends.

Snape, of course, continues to loath the Marauders.

Can you cease to seek true vengence and not demand repayment for a debt (forgiveness) and still despise the person who has harmed you???

I consider this a very interesting question which I haven't actually answered for myself.

Mona amon, personally I think you seem more interested that Snape cease to hate the Mauraders, rather than that he cease to seek payment for the "debt" they owe him.

I think this gets at the crux of exactly what we think Forgiveness is. Is it canceling a debt without exactly payment? Or is it getting rid of your dislike of the person? Do you have to develop positive feelings for the person?

Suppose we use the idea that forgiveness is canceling a debt and no longer seeking payment.

Some people might feel that Snape's actions toward Harry are seeking revenge on James. Personally, I don't think that's why Snape treats Harry badly. I don't think the attitude is "I'll show James. I'll abuse his son." I think it's much more that Snape can't stop feeling that Harry is exactly like James, who he continues to loath, and therefore he loathes Harry as well, not in order to "get back" at James, but he acts toward Harry in reaction to him.

Here's a partial example from real life. I know someone who looks exactly as his father did as an adult. He dislikes seeing himself in the mirror because he immediately feels a kind of "fight or flight" feeling whenever he sees his own image, because his own image looks exactly like his father's image.

He doesn't hate himself. His "fight or flight" impulse is not toward himself. He's not reacting to himself. He is reacting to his father when he sees himself.

That's sort of like I see Snape doing with Harry. He looks at Harry and reacts as though he's seeing James.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 2, 2009 10:14 pm (#1608 of 2988)
Some thoughts on mona's post. While I was busy writing notes, wynnleaf posted so I'll go back to that now...

The way he runs to Voldemort with the prophecy, either out of genuine concern for his master (this is what DD thinks), or to earn brownie points for himself, or to make up for having goofed about getting the job, also shows a certain degree of enthusiasm, IMO. - mona

I do not see the above as eager about Wizard Supremacy. IMO there had to be thousands of SS followers who were not “staunch” proselytisers and perhaps that is the reference I am attaching to the term “eager”. To me there are followers who go along because they are not fitting in anywhere else, because their talents are coveted and courted by a group and it makes them feel important, because they yearn for personal power, because they yearn for a “parental” figure to lead them into something that does all of the above.

To me, Severus was like an extremely intelligent/sensitive version of Crabbe&Goyle in that he heard stuff as a child and went along with what a Malfoy spewed out in the Slytherin common room. To me Severus was not eager to kill Mudbloods but was hungry for recognition and acceptance until, like Draco, something smacked him back into reality.

Perhaps the cosequences are far too abstract and indefinite to be atoned for individualy and definitely, but at least acknowledgement should be made for harm done, to yourself. One should realise what a jerk one was. Only then can healing take place. If one does not admit this, one will have to go through life feeling always vaguely guilty. This is what I believe happened to Severus.

It is possibly what happened to Severus. I feel his guilt stemmed exclusively from his personal experience and had nothing to do with the world. I personally do not have a problem with this as far as Severus’s healing is concerned. I know you were all having an “atonement” discussion and, for me, that is very personal to go into. I will say I truly feel it is evaluated on an individualised basis and one person’s “check list” of good deeds is different than another’s. I have studied of out-of-body experiences when people have died, come back to life and so on. A large percentage of these people recall going through a period of “judgment”. They mostly say the judging is a *self-evaluation* of your life as a whole and if you accomplished what you feel was right. I know this isn’t the usual forum for such a discussion, but it is pertinent to, and a concept of, JKR’s world.

You state above that Severus did not admit (to himself or anyone else?) that he was a jerk and the result is his feeling “vaguely guilty”. I feel he admitted it to himself and perhaps to DD. To me what the outside world gets is the result of grief while he resolves the consequences of his guilt. He was mean to Neville. He wasn’t nice to Tonks. He despised Sirius, and Harry by association. He was doing the best he could. Harry forgave him. I think Lily would forgive him. I even think James would forgive him. That makes them all “better people”? Okay. Perhaps in spirit he will be able to forgive James.

Doesnt Dumbledore's inclusion Of Severus in the Stone Protection Plan mean that he has forgiven him? **Vain attempt to link my post to the present discussion

No attempt needed. You are here to make sure this thread doesn’t turn into a love fest.

edited



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 2, 2009 11:40 pm (#1609 of 2988)
Thoughts on wynnleaf's post...

Even a very Dark wizarding family like the Blacks wasn't really aware of all LV intended to do. DD knew, yes, but he also knew or suspected about some of the killings LV had kept secret. Was it generally known that LV was a killer?

I tend to agree that, although the ideology was supported by some – the majority? – of the pure-blood WW, that again there is the parallel of the SS doing things, in the name of that support, which was not openly revealed until the support no longer was needed, when the strength of their force reached “critical mass”.

Regarding Severus’s knowledge of what was occurring/planned, I’d imagine he saw torturing, heard of killing, perhaps witnessed a few. I would tend to think it was like any other cult: that the members have knowledge revealed to them as “seen fit”. If a person was very good at potions, they could be told to produce 10 gallons of poison by the end of the week and have no information beyond that. This is a very common phenomenon in “cells” of espionage and terrorism, and I believe we got a glimpse of that in HBP. In Severus’s case, perhaps he was not inventing poisons but most likely curses.

I also believe those who were in such a cult, but did not actually qualify as “elite”, would go along with the elitist ideals for obvious reasons until 1) they were beyond persecution or 2) they could get out (of course it does not escape us that the leader of this and the SS cults did not “qualify” for their own elitist criteria). Whether the above is the case with Severus I am not sure… in other words, was he having doubts before Vold interpreted the Prophecy?

Regarding the Marauders, I feel an overwhelming sense of pity toward Severus’s experience with them. I do not feel pity for James or for Sirius. We are given equally small bits on each of their upbringings and we must conclude from that information. James's and Sirius's backgrounds to me do not warrant pity. Sirius came from a horrible family but he seems to have a “screw it and screw you” attitude. James came from older parents that he seems to admire, and apparently had no worries we are shown whatsoever.

Who should have forgiven whom first? They are all accountable for hanging on to blame, however I do not place as much responsibility on reactionary people. I would hold the initiator responsible as causal and, therefore, for admitting guilt. And there I will hold Sirius accountable. That Severus cannot pry his mind far enough to distinguish Harry from James is a wound too deep to heal, according to DD.



Julia H. - Mar 3, 2009 5:05 am (#1610 of 2988)
Edited Mar 3, 2009 5:49 am
Interesting… I never thought of a riddle being “Muggle” but a trait of Ravenclaw. (MAMS)

It is in fact a logical puzzle and Hermione says not many wizards are good at these things... The Ravenclaw door puzzles seem to be of a different kind.

Of course your observance is valid but I would venture to speculate that Severus and Filius worked on it together…? I can’t recall offhand if Hagrid said the riddle was also contributed by Sev. I would like to think this was another sign of “teamwork”, but perhaps I am being optimistic.

I've thought the "teamwork" aspect here was that everyone designed and prepared his own magic for the same purpose before the given deadline and, of course, everyone did their best for the common goal. I consider Snape quite capable of making the logical puzzle on his own. (Ravenclaw riddles are different anyway...)

There's nothing to show that he was in any way disillusioned with his Dark Lord, despite the fact that he was in his employ for long enough to realise what he was up to. (Mona)

Sure, but there is nothing to show either how Snape became a DE - was he "eager" (still hoping maybe that he could impress Lily) or did he just "drift" along with his perhaps more eager housemates, while still wallowing in sad memories, caring nothing for more meaningful purposes?

It could be either way. Actually we don't even know how long he was in Voldemort's employ. We don't know whether he was disillusioned but there are some shades between "disillusioned" and "eager".

The Marauders too have changed. They are either dead or no longer bullying Sev. It wouldn't be difficult for the average person to forgive them.

I don't think James ever changed towards Snape. True, he is dead now. Sirius does not bully Snape the way he used to do it in school but clearly not because his attitude to Snape has changed. Snape hears him say Snape deserved the Prank and Sirius still calls Snape Snivellus (and Lucius's lapdog) - pretty much a sign of the old attitude - when they almost end up fighting. If Sirius's behaviour / attitude to Snape can be regarded as changed, then we can equally say that Snape's behaviour /attitude to Sirius has changed to a similar extent.

I think it is important, regarding these wounds, that they cause rather than result from Snape's inability to forgive. (Julia)

But the wound always has to come first. That's the logical sequence. If you are not harmed, what is there to forgive? (Mona)


Well, earlier you said Snape's wounds did not heal because he could not forgive. What I'm saying is that the wounds made it impossible for him to forgive. I do not equate Snape's "wound" with "being harmed". His wounds are in fact traumas, which do not simply heal with time. If someone is simply "harmed", the wound may heal naturally over time or with proper "treatment" (the wounds cease to exist) and then forgiveness may be easier. Traumas, however, last. The wounds do not "heal", they still "hurt". The person still defines himself by means of the traumas. Yet, who knows what would happen if Sirius appeared to be repentant (to Snape) about what he and James had done? We will never know.

As far as I know, and I could be wrong, the emphasis is on not asking for justice or restitution. There is no mention of any case where the person is completely unrepentant. It does make sense to forgive even completely unrepentant people in the sense of 'letting go', freeing yourself from the negative thoughts associated with them, but that's really something one does for one's own self and not for the sake of the unrepentant person.

I think that is exactly what you seem to want wounded, traumatised Snape to do. It would, of course, be great, but I disagree that we can expect him to do that on the basis of any forgiveness he has received, because he has not been forgiven unrepentant and without being willing to pay. I don't think anybody has set him a good example of that kind of forgiveness. And after all, DD had not been traumatised by Snape.



wynnleaf - Mar 3, 2009 7:15 am (#1611 of 2988)
I was thinking of what exactly one might expect out of Snape in order for him to forgive the Marauders. So I looked up (as usual) the definitions to help me think it through.

Forgive: 1 a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for b: to grant relief from payment of 2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon

Well, giving up claim to requital is like forgiving a debt. But I think mona amon is concerned most with giving up resentment. So then I looked up "resent" to get an idea of exactly what Snape would have to give up.

Resent: to feel or show displeasure and hurt or indignation at (some act, remark, etc.) or toward (a person), from a sense of being injured or offended

So basically, if giving up resentment is included in forgiveness, Snape would have to give up his displeasure, hurt and indignation over the Marauders continued bullying of him and their (in his opinion) attempt to kill him -- as well as the living Marauders seeming to have no regrets over these actions and Sirius even saying Snape deserved it.

I agree with Julia that Snape's hurt is a kind of trauma. His indignation isn't just being a bit irked. He's deeply hurt (according to DD), and can't stop feeling hurt in order to give up his resentment. With the resentment always there, he cannot do the "work" (as mona amon calls it) of forgiveness.

But remember, the resentment isn't something he chooses to indulge in. The resentment means he is deeply hurt. If he could heal from the hurt, he could give up the resentment and ultimately forgive. But he hasn't healed. And, in my opinion, there is no one leading him toward healing, modeling that kind of healing, or helping with that in any way.

Because forgiveness needs healing first in order to drop the resentment, Snape cannot forgive. It's not "forgive so he can heal", it's "heal so he can forgive". Unfortunately, according to DD, the wounds are too deep for healing.



mona amon - Mar 3, 2009 7:24 am (#1612 of 2988)
To me there are followers who go along because they are not fitting in anywhere else, because their talents are coveted and courted by a group and it makes them feel important, because they yearn for personal power, because they yearn for a “parental” figure to lead them into something that does all of the above. (Shadow)

Sure, but there is nothing to show either how Snape became a DE - was he "eager" (still hoping maybe that he could impress Lily) or did he just "drift" along with his perhaps more eager housemates, while still wallowing in sad memories, caring nothing for more meaningful purposes? (Julia)


I'm not talking about Severus when he first joined Voldemort. Lots of kids do idiotic and misguided things at that age and I find it perfectly understandable. However there is not a single hint that he was in any way disillusioned with Voldemort even after he had been with him for a while.

We don't actually know when he learned that his master was going to be out killing anyone. (Wynnleaf)

Actually we don't even know how long he was in Voldemort's employ. (Julia)


I assume he joined Voldemort soon after leaving school (if not earlier like Regulus) because we are not shown that he had any other job prior to applying to DD. His time since he left school is not accounted for. He would have left summer of the year he turned 17, and realised Lily was in danger fall of the year he turned 20. That's about two to three years.

I'm sure he was aware of what LV was up to. I agree with Shadow's "I’d imagine he saw torturing, heard of killing, perhaps witnessed a few." If he hadn't become blasé about killing, how did he reach a stage when he did not care at all about the lives of James and Harry? There's also DD's "How many people have you watched die" and JKR's interview comment about him witnessing things as a DE when asked whether Snape could see Thestrals.

In terms of human forgiving others, there is no mention of the person needing forgiveness having to do anything, even request forgiveness. (Wynnleaf)

Yes. Severus does not ask to be forgiven. Dumbledore does it nevertheless, and he does it out of mercy like the master in the parable.

It is true that someone who clearly sees the extent of their own fault should, hopefully, reach the point in being somewhat more charitable toward the faults of others, realizing that they themselves have done wrong as well.

Is Snape more charitable toward the faults of others?


As far as I can make out you have gone on to answer the question in the affirmative by trying to show that Severus did not try to get revenge against the Marauders. I think he did have vengeful feelings towards them, but more than that, trying to get revenge and not forgiving are two different things. Just because a person does not try to take revenge on someone does not mean that he has forgiven him.

Can you cease to seek true vengence and not demand repayment for a debt (forgiveness) and still despise the person who has harmed you???

I do believe that forgiving a person necessarily involves letting go of one's hatred. It does not mean you have to start liking them, though that sometimes happens.

This is all I have time for now. More later.



Julia H. - Mar 3, 2009 8:35 am (#1613 of 2988)
I assume he joined Voldemort soon after leaving school (if not earlier like Regulus) because we are not shown that he had any other job prior to applying to DD. His time since he left school is not accounted for. He would have left summer of the year he turned 17, and realised Lily was in danger fall of the year he turned 20. That's about two to three years. (Mona)

Sorry to nitpick a bit, but we are similarly not shown what Snape did for Voldemort before applying for the Hogwarts job. Also, he left school in the summer of the year when he was 18, not 17. But that does not matter.

Yes, we know Snape watched people die. However, if that means eagerness, then every follower must be an eager one.

I'm not talking about Severus when he first joined Voldemort. Lots of kids do idiotic and misguided things at that age and I find it perfectly understandable. However there is not a single hint that he was in any way disillusioned with Voldemort even after he had been with him for a while.

The problem is that once you are inside the organization - even if you were originally just a misguided teenage idiot - you may realize what they are really up to, but it is still very difficult to get out. (Just think of Draco. He does seem to be disillusioned rather than eager in DH, perhaps even earlier, and yet he does not leave.) You don't just hand in your resignation to Voldemort, you are supposed to serve until the end of your life. Also, having been Marked by Voldemort is likely to make it extremely difficult for you to return to society. I think one of the purposes of the Dark Mark is ensuring the loyalty of any members who have lost their enthusiasm. In the eyes of society, they are marked criminals who can expect arrest, torture and Azkaban if they are found out. Therefore turncoats should be afraid of the aurors as well as of Voldemort. It is noteworthy that Regulus, after his "disillusionment", does not try to confide in anyone. He chooses to act alone (except for Kreacher's help), which implies, even though he now wants Voldemort's defeat, there is no one he can trust.

Snape has no one in the world outside the DE organization. No one to return to, no one whose help he could think of asking, no one to risk his life for, no one wanting him to start a new life, no one to trust him if he left Voldemort. Of course, it would be much more admirable if he still left Voldemort as soon as he saw the murders. However, in these circumstances, disillusionment (accompanied by emotional burn-out and indifference) is no less probable than eagerness. It is quite possible that Snape is awaken from this burn-out and indifference by the realization that Lily is in danger, which gives him the strength and the impulse to risk his life, to seek out Dumbledore and to ask him to save Lily.

Yes. Severus does not ask to be forgiven. Dumbledore does it nevertheless, and he does it out of mercy like the master in the parable.

Because Snape deserves this mercy by making the first step (and for someone else's life, not for his own), by apparently feeling shame when Dumbledore scolds him and by agreeing to participate in the fight against Voldemort at great personal risk. I doubt DD would feel the same mercy if Snape did not do all or any of the above. Snape is never approached with a similarly changed attitude by any of the Marauders.



mona amon - Mar 3, 2009 8:56 am (#1614 of 2988)
Just think of Draco. He does seem to be disillusioned rather than eager in DH,

That's just it. We are shown Draco's disillusionment in DH. We are shown Regulus's disillusionment after Voldemort showed so little concern for Kreacher's life. We are not shown any such thing for Severus. Even when he comes to Dumbledore, he's desperate to save Lily, but he doesn't seem particularly disillusioned, the way Regulus was. That must have come a little later.

Because Snape deserves this mercy by making the first step (and for someone else's life, not for his own), by apparently feeling shame when Dumbledore scolds him and by agreeing to participate in the fight against Voldemort at great personal risk. I doubt DD would feel the same mercy if Snape did not do all or any of the above. Snape is never approached with a similarly changed attitude by any of the Marauders.

We can't make such exact parallels. A 20 year old DE is a lot more culpable than a 15 year old bully. Anyway, even leaving forgiveness out of it, he would still have been more charitable towards these other jerks if he had fully and consciously admitted he was a jerk.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 3, 2009 9:50 am (#1615 of 2988)
Fluffy was in place at the start of term (1st September). Snape did not get bitten until Halloween (end of October) when the Troll was let into the castle. Quirrell says that he took a look at Halloween to see what was guarding the stone. This means that he did not know what protection was in place but I would imagine he had been asked to do a level of protection just before that. The Mirror of Erised was not moved until Christmastime. Snape challenges Quirrel if he knew how to get past Fluffy in the New Year. It was 10 weeks before exams that Quirrel found out how to get past fluffy. - legolas

I think it is extremely symbolic that on All Souls Day Severus is bitten, and then Severus challenges Vold (Quirrell) in the New Year. These dates and times could not have been random. We have the "plan" of Vold (troll) set in motion and the "plan" of DD (Fluffy) acting against a planner on the day of the "Dead". And we have the reaction taking place in the "New" year.

Regarding Sev and Harry, from the first dinner in the Great Hall we have the dynamic of their relationship. Severus "beside" Vold while "watching" Harry. Little did Severus know how that first encounter would represent the rest of his life and the end of his life.

It is worthy of note at the end of that first dinner when they go to sleep, Harry's dream is of Snape with Vold's laugh. Yet he didn't remember the dream when he awoke.

Regarding the potions riddle, I am curious, Julia, why you see this riddle as different than that of Ravenclaw and the sphinx? Specifically, I interpret Hermione's statement "It isn't magic... A lot of wizards haven't got an ounce of logic" to apply to the sphinx (not magic, but logic was the only way through) and the Ravenclaw common room (not magic, but logic was the only way through). Both of these situations apply to Hermione's statement: only a few wizards would be able to get past the sphinx, and have wit enough for Ravenclaw.



Dryleaves - Mar 3, 2009 10:33 am (#1616 of 2988)
Regarding the different riddles, I think they are slightly different. The sphinx's riddle is more of a rebus or word game, where you make associations and put together different words so it makes one word: spy, d, er = spider. The potions riddle gives some facts or assumptions from which you must draw a conclusion, which seems more like “pure” logic to me. (Hmm.., I must admit, though, that like the case with most wizards logic is not my best subject. My philosophy teacher at school skipped most of the logic chapter in the book because he didn't get it... but I’m afraid that’s not the main reason for my poor logic skills. )

Maybe being logical isn’t solely a Muggle quality, but it is interesting that Hermione, who is Muggle-born, points out that this is a rare trait in wizards, even in great ones. This might be an early clue to Snape’s background.



Julia H. - Mar 3, 2009 10:41 am (#1617 of 2988)
That's just it. We are shown Draco's disillusionment in DH. We are shown Regulus's disillusionment after Voldemort showed so little concern for Kreacher's life. We are not shown any such thing for Severus. Even when he comes to Dumbledore, he's desperate to save Lily, but he doesn't seem particularly disillusioned, the way Regulus was. That must have come a little later. (Mona)

I see Snape as quite a bit disillusioned (and more) when he comes to Dumbledore. However, that is not the moment we are discussing.

The point is that we are not shown Snape's eagerness at any point of his DE time any more than his disillusionment. Really this is all I wanted to say: We don't know how eager (or disillusioned or anything between the two) Snape was at any point between his joining and the hilltop scene. Therefore we cannot demand separate remorse for his "eagerness". In my previous post, I was trying to show that the little we know about Snape's DE days makes disillusionment just as possible as eagerness. Neither is shown.

BTW, to me, "eager" is something like Bellatrix, who enthusiastically approves of the idea that her nephew is sacrificed for/by the Dark Lord, or who is not only ready but also happy to kill her own niece to please Voldemort.

We can't make such exact parallels. A 20 year old DE is a lot more culpable than a 15 year old bully.

I did not say that either James or Sirius should be on his knees to Snape offering to protect him by risking his life if necessary. But does any of the Marauders ever only say as much as "Severus, I know I harmed you and I'm not proud of it, I wish I had not done it"? Does Sirius offer Snape a drink in his house? Does he at least stop using the name "Snivellus"? No. If they did just that much, we could see whether Snape is willing/able to try and forgive as he has been forgiven. Even then there is the fact that DD was never traumatised (or just "hurt" personally) by Snape, while Snape was hurt and traumatised by the Marauders.

As for making exact parallels: No, we can't. But it seems you started it by comparing DD "forgiving" Snape's debt (?) to Snape not forgiving the Marauders' debt.

Anyway, even leaving forgiveness out of it, he would still have been more charitable towards these other jerks if he had fully and consciously admitted he was a jerk.

But that has nothing to do with our original topic (the debt and the parable). Snape could be more charitable in several ways. So could others. We can cut Snape some slack for his traumas.

Regarding the potions riddle, I am curious, Julia, why you see this riddle as different than that of Ravenclaw and the sphinx? (MAMS)

Because the keys to the riddles are different. Solving them requires different types of thinking. Snape's puzzle can be solved by organizing the clues logically and interpreting them by logical thinking. The door's questions (where do vanished objects go? / what came first...?) and the riddle of the sphinx cannot be solved by organizing the clues logically: They require either "encyclopedic" type of knowledge, even wisdom perhaps, or the ability to make unusual mental associations (perhaps that is called lateral thinking?) but not the step by step (mathematical?) logic with which Snape's riddle can be solved.

EDIT: Cross-posted with Dryleaves.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 3, 2009 10:43 am (#1618 of 2988)
Bravo, Dryleaves! That is quite logical, actually, you are much too humble. I still do not see how the sphinx and Ravenclaw riddle are any less "Muggley" or more magical... magic has no bearing on them and a Muggle would be perfectly capable of answering the sphinx and the Ravenclaw common room riddle we heard. In any event, I would *love* to think Severus created the riddle! I adore the image of him sitting in the dungeon trying to think of a word that rhymes with "size".



Julia H. - Mar 3, 2009 10:48 am (#1619 of 2988)
I adore the image of him sitting in the dungeon trying to think of a word that rhymes with "size".

LOL, MAMS, absolutely!

We must remember Snape also created a counter-spell that sounded almost like a song. The only one in the world of HP we know about. That guy had a lot more in him than what is visible at first sight.



Dryleaves - Mar 3, 2009 11:06 am (#1620 of 2988)
Now I got this tragicomical image in my head of Severus "practising" for the riddle and the counter-curse by writing love songs for Lily... Maybe he was the one who wrote "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" for Celestina Warbeck? (I'm unsure of the correct title.)



wynnleaf - Mar 3, 2009 1:04 pm (#1621 of 2988)
mona amon, I see that you assume Snape went immediately to join LV because we're not shown Snape having a job after Hogwarts. But he almost had to have a job, because being a DE isn't a paying job with a paycheck. DEs have other jobs. Just as members of the Order either had paying jobs or were independently wealthy like James. JKR said that James could join the Order right after Hogwarts because he was so wealthy he didn't need a job. And he paid for Lupin to do so as well. Sirius had inherited money, too, and was therefore able to join the Order right away. Snape had no such wealth and almost certainly had to have had a job, even if we aren't shown it.

I don't quite understand your assertion that Dumbledore forgave Snape. What did Snape ever do to Dumbledore that DD had to forgive him for? And if you mean that DD forgave Snape for being a DE, what exactly does that forgiveness mean if Snape had to pay for it with his service?

I disagree that Snape experienced forgiveness from DD because 1. he did not injure or harm DD directly and it was therefore not DD's place to forgive Snape. 2. DD did not ever tell Snape anything about forgiveness, instead showing him that he must pay for his mistakes, not just through remorse, but through actions. I just don't see anything in DD's actions that fall under the category of forgiveness.

And if Snape did not experience forgiveness from DD, he didn't experience it from anyone, because Lily doesn't forgive him and we don't see anyone else forgiving him.

Nor does anyone ask Snape's forgiveness. Sirius and Lupin don't ask it, on the contrary, Snape hears Sirius stating his satisfaction with his actions toward Snape. Lupin may regret his own actions in private, but we're never shown any apology toward Snape, nor does he recommend Harry apologize when he looks in Snape's pensieve. It's as though neither Sirius nor Lupin ever consider the notion that anyone might apologize to Snape.

So what experience is Snape ever given with apologies or forgiveness? Only one, and that's when he apologized to Lily (albeit in an inadequate way) and she rejected it.

Regarding the potions riddle, I am curious, Julia, why you see this riddle as different than that of Ravenclaw and the sphinx? (MAMS)

Because the keys to the riddles are different. Solving them requires different types of thinking. Snape's puzzle can be solved by organizing the clues logically and interpreting them by logical thinking. The door's questions (where do vanished objects go? / what came first...?) and the riddle of the sphinx cannot be solved by organizing the clues logically: They require either "encyclopedic" type of knowledge, even wisdom perhaps, or the ability to make unusual mental associations (perhaps that is called lateral thinking?) but not the step by step (mathematical?) logic with which Snape's riddle can be solved.

To state it another way, logic problems are basically math problems. In fact, they are often used in math classes. Riddles are plays on words. They are purely verbal, often using puns. People who are great at logic problems tend to be people who are good at math, which you'd see for instance, in the sciences such as chemistry (or potions). People who are good at riddles are people who are good with verbal things like puns. My husband is excellent with words, plays on words, metaphors, puns, etc. He is great with riddles, but not too good at logic problems as he's not a math/logic person. I'm into math and logic and I love logic problems, logic models, etc. I'm awful at riddles, puns, and any plays on words.

Therefore one would not expect to see that the person who creates riddles would also be good at logic problems. That would be pretty unusual.

I think JKR is much better at plays on words. She admits she's not good at maths and her logic problem which she had Snape create is not perfect, although it's got great lines.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 3, 2009 1:44 pm (#1622 of 2988)
'Ah,' said the right-brained person trying to sound nonchalant. 'That makes perfect sense.' It does, seriously. Thanks all and I now agree they utilise different skills.

Regarding our chronology, any thoughts before we move on to the first potions class?



legolas returns - Mar 3, 2009 2:08 pm (#1623 of 2988)
Perhaps we are supposed to come away with the idea that Snape is an all-rounder and is rather talented in a number of different fields (which he is).



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 3, 2009 8:23 pm (#1624 of 2988)
Now I got this tragicomical image in my head of Severus "practising" for the riddle and the counter-curse by writing love songs for Lily... Maybe he was the one who wrote "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" for Celestina Warbeck? (I'm unsure of the correct title.) - Dryleaves

I simply have to quote here:

'Oh, my poor heart, where has it gone?

It's left me for a spell...

...and now you've torn it quite apart

I'll thank you to give back my heart!'

It's sad, thinking he could have written those lines. But, to cheer myself up, I will embellish the image of Severus in the dungeon, in a straight-back chair behind his desk, staring blankly at a jar of gooey frog spawn brains or something, tapping his chin with the tip of his quill, muttering, 'size, size, size... let me see... Oh! Got it!' and writing frantically.

Okay, I'm done. On to more serious matters.



mona amon - Mar 3, 2009 10:00 pm (#1625 of 2988)
I adore the image of him sitting in the dungeon trying to think of a word that rhymes with "size". (Shadow)

My philosophy teacher at school skipped most of the logic chapter in the book because he didn't get it... (Dryleaves)


ROFL!

I see Snape as quite a bit disillusioned (and more) when he comes to Dumbledore. (Julia)

What makes you think this? (Not for the sake of argument. I really want to know.) To me it seems like killing a family is what he fully expected of the Dark Lord. And not trusting him to spare Lily seems born out of experience of him as a killer, not sudden disillusionment.

I can't argue about how eager a DE he was, for as you say, we are not shown. Definitely nothing like Bella. I think (hope) he wasn't particularly eager about what LV was doing. Just didn't care about the killings. You can be an eager follower because you want to please your master, even if you don't altogether sympathise with what he is doing, as long as you can compartmentalise and ignore your conscience, something I feel Severus was very good at.

What I'm trying to show is that he was not a poor misguided wretch who had no idea of what was going on, nor a disillusioned one who was nevertheless trapped and couldn't leave. The author has clearly shown us disillusionment in Draco and Regulus. She does not in the case of Severus. A disillusioned DE does not go running to his master with a prophecy that will probably result in more killing.

Snape had no such wealth and almost certainly had to have had a job, even if we aren't shown it. (Wynnleaf)

Perhaps. Anyway how much time he spent with LV is not that important, since there's evidence enough to show that he did know what Voldemort was doing.

I did not say that either James or Sirius should be on his knees to Snape offering to protect him by risking his life if necessary. But does any of the Marauders ever only say as much as "Severus, I know I harmed you and I'm not proud of it, I wish I had not done it"? (Julia)

So basically, if giving up resentment is included in forgiveness, Snape would have to give up his displeasure, hurt and indignation over the Marauders continued bullying of him and their (in his opinion) attempt to kill him -- as well as the living Marauders seeming to have no regrets over these actions and Sirius even saying Snape deserved it. (Wynnleaf)


If we wait for people to apologise or become nice guys we are going to have to carry our grudges and resentments for a very long time, just as Severus did. But the thing is, it all happened in the past. The Marauders are no longer bullying him or trying to get him or anyone else killed. At the beginning of PS, James is dead. and partly due to Severus's own fault. By the beginning of OOTP, Sirius has been a prizoner in Azkaban for twelve years for a crime he did not commit and is still on the run from the ministry. By the beginning of HBP, Sirius is also dead. Lupin is a poor, unemployed werewolf. You'd think he could cut them some slack. To keep on holding on to his resentment under the circumstances is ridiculous.

Without trying to gloss over what the Marauders did to him, which I think was very bad, let me say that I don't think he was 'traumatised' by it. I don't think that is what JKR tried to show us. What symptoms of trauma does he display? Thousands of kids get bullied but don't go through life holding grudges.

I don't quite understand your assertion that Dumbledore forgave Snape. What did Snape ever do to Dumbledore that DD had to forgive him for? And if you mean that DD forgave Snape for being a DE, what exactly does that forgiveness mean if Snape had to pay for it with his service?

I disagree that Snape experienced forgiveness from DD because 1. he did not injure or harm DD directly and it was therefore not DD's place to forgive Snape. 2. DD did not ever tell Snape anything about forgiveness, instead showing him that he must pay for his mistakes, not just through remorse, but through actions. I just don't see anything in DD's actions that fall under the category of forgiveness. (Wynnleaf)


Severus doesn't cause direct harm to Dumbledore. However he was part of an organisation that was responsible for killing Order members and friends of Dumbledore. Dumbledore has good reason to despise him.

When I say that Dumbledore forgives Severus, I mean that he takes him back, no longer despises him, accepts him and trusts him like any other member of the Order or staff of Hogwarts. He also makes sure that he is pardoned for the crime of being a DE by the Wizengamot for having volunarily returned to the good side and turning spy for them.

Where does Dumbledore show Severus that he has to pay for his mistakes through remorse and actions? I don't remember that, but it's quite a while since I read the books.

But that has nothing to do with our original topic (the debt and the parable). Snape could be more charitable in several ways. So could others. (Julia)

Erm... since we can't agree that Dumbledore forgave Severus, we'd better drop the parable. Whether he was forgiven or not, I still don't see how he can regard others as jerks when he is supposed to be consciously remorseful about being one.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:44 pm

me and my shadow 813 - Mar 3, 2009 10:40 pm (#1626 of 2988)  
I still don't see how he can regard others as jerks when he is supposed to be consciously remorseful about being one. - mona

Because he does. Because Sirius does. Because many people do. Because it is reality and although most people don't "show it" that's what happens, and Severus doesn't care what others think at this point. It's between him and Lily.

Just because you know something "bad" exists within yourself doesn't mean you are capable of tolerating it in others. And it doesn't mean you "should". I really wasn't keen on getting involved in this broken record "remorse" debate.  It is possible that Severus, to me, is not truly redeemed until Harry's encounter with his memories. And he will not be personally resolved until encountering Lily at the other side. Perhaps James will be there as well...



Julia H. - Mar 4, 2009 7:33 am (#1627 of 2988)  
I see Snape as quite a bit disillusioned (and more) when he comes to Dumbledore. (Julia)

What makes you think this?(Mona)


The realization that your master is going to kill the woman you love more than anything is more than disillusionment. It is a shock, a blow. Snape is certainly not "eager" enough to sacrifice Lily for Voldemort. I know he does not care about James and Harry, only about Lily, but I don't see that he is "eager" for them to be killed.

When Dumbledore tells him "You disgust me", Snape seems to be ashamed. This reaction implies he understands why Dumbledore can be disgusted. He could be defiant or indifferent or he could try to explain his motivations, but he does not. He seems to shrink a little. Compare that to Bellatrix at the trial, where she is so proud of being Voldemort's (eager) follower. Snape is not. It seems he cannot any more justify (to himself) his choice to become or to remain a DE.

A disillusioned DE does not go running to his master with a prophecy that will probably result in more killing.

Voldemort probably expected Snape to go back and report to him. Snape told him what had happened. He could be eager, he could be afraid, he could be indifferent, he could be being cruciod (etc.), as he was telling Voldemort about the Prophecy. I am not justifying what he did, because it was wrong anyway. I am only saying the actual circumstances (especially Snape's feelings) are hardly known to us.

If we wait for people to apologise or become nice guys we are going to have to carry our grudges and resentments for a very long time, just as Severus did. But the thing is, it all happened in the past.

Mona, you started to compare unforgiving Snape and "forgiving" Dumbledore. You said Snape should have forgiven the same way as he had been forgiven. I said the circumstances were very different. Dumbledore had to see Snape deserved help (forgiveness if you like) before having mercy on him. Snape had to get over his wounds before he could forgive the Marauders. If he was to forgive in the same way as Dumbledore had done, he would have had to see the Marauders deserved his forgiveness, but he would still have had to get over his wounds.

Just because it happened in the past, it does not mean it belongs totally to the past (for Snape). Snape cannot get over several aspects of his past and that is a result of traumas, not just of grudges. It is easy to get over past events if they are not relevant any more. For Snape, they are still real and relevant. Nobody helps him to heal his wounds, and his present life, as well as things like Sirius's attitude and behaviour, may easily push him back into his past traumas.

I don't think he was 'traumatised' by it. I don't think that is what JKR tried to show us. What symptoms of trauma does he display? Thousands of kids get bullied but don't go through life holding grudges.

Traumatised people don't go through life holding to "grudges". Grudges and traumas are absolutely different. Traumas do not just go away. Time does not heal them and getting rid of them is not a matter of decision. JKR gives us the "wounds that run too deep for the healing" expression, which, to me, seems to be a clear reference to traumas.

Many kids are bullied... Not all kids are affected in the same way by bullying. It is true that not everybody ends up traumatised. Snape is bullied on his first day at Hogwarts and it lasts years. It gets worse over time. He has no secure background (caring, understanding and protecting parents), which could counterbalance the school bullying. In fact Snape may see something similar at home as well. (His parents fight.) He apparently does not get help from the teachers. The "Snivellus" name humiliates him among his peers. His thoughts seem to be occupied by the bullies to an unhealthy extent, which suggests he defines himself as a victim / enemy of the Marauders. I don't want to go into details about the torture in the Worst Memory. When Lily comes to his defence, James uses that to further humiliate Snape ("Snivellus"). In the end, he is provoked into hurting the only person he loves and he loses her. The circumstances and the short-term and long-term results determine whether the bullying causes a lasting trauma (wound) or not.

When I say that Dumbledore forgives Severus, I mean that he takes him back, no longer despises him, accepts him and trusts him like any other member of the Order or staff of Hogwarts. He also makes sure that he is pardoned for the crime of being a DE by the Wizengamot for having volunarily returned to the good side and turning spy for them.

That is indeed what Dumbledore does, but it is not because Snape's "debt" is not relevant any more, but because he is willing to change and to "pay". At first, Dumbledore is "disgusted", and he has to see something in Snape before he gives him any of the above. Dumbledore's forgiveness is in fact help so that Snape can repay his debt. He does not force him to pay, but he does not "free" him either.



Julia H. - Mar 4, 2009 11:04 am (#1628 of 2988)  
Now I got this tragicomical image in my head of Severus "practising" for the riddle and the counter-curse by writing love songs for Lily... Maybe he was the one who wrote "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" for Celestina Warbeck? (Dryleaves)

I imagine Snape would write "darker" (love) songs than that - but I admit the "cauldron" image would fit.

I am reminded of the very first Five Words story that I participated in. It was about Neville, Luna and Ginny trying to steal the sword of Gryffindor and Snape sending them to the forest to do detention with Hagrid. The story ended with Luna saying to the other two students something like this: "My father says Professor Snape is following Dumbledore's secret instructions encoded in song by Celestina Warbeck."  Now, if Snape actually wrote those songs (lyrics and music)...  

But, to cheer myself up, I will embellish the image of Severus in the dungeon, in a straight-back chair behind his desk, staring blankly at a jar of gooey frog spawn brains or something, tapping his chin with the tip of his quill, muttering, 'size, size, size... let me see... Oh! Got it!' and writing frantically. MAMS

LOL!

Another thing I am reminded of is a certain (very bad) cartoon character trying to write a poem to the girl he would like to marry, swearing on occasion because nothing rhymes with that silly name of hers...

OK.  I'm ready to move on to the first Potions class.



wynnleaf - Mar 4, 2009 11:46 am (#1629 of 2988)  
To me it seems like killing a family is what he fully expected of the Dark Lord. (mona amon)

It seems to me the only way one could suppose that Snape expected LV to kill anyone is simply by looking at the first half of the prophecy and assuming that anyone ought to know that LV would try to kill the people in question. But that presupposes that Snape already knew that LV was murdering people.

Who exactly would LV have killed -- prior to Harry's birth -- that Snape would likely know of it? All the Order deaths and general deaths in the Wizarding World that are mentioned in the books occur after Harry's birth. The other earlier murders that we're told about happened secretly. No one knew LV was behind those deaths except DD. So how would Snape know, when he took the partial prophecy to LV, that LV would try to kill that family?

The problem here is that we don't actually know when it became apparent to Snape that LV was a killer.

there's evidence enough to show that he did know what Voldemort was doing. (mona amon)

What is that evidence? We don't know when Snape joined the DEs. It could easily have been only shortly before hearing the prophecy. How do we know that he knew any more about LV's actions than Regulas?

The Marauders are no longer bullying him or trying to get him or anyone else killed. (mona amon)

True, but Sirius doesn't give him any indicator that they don't still wish it, as Sirius seemed perfectly self-satisfied with the Prank and Lupin gives no indication to Snape that he's sorry about Snape almost getting killed or any other past actions. As far as Snape could tell, Sirius and Lupin's attitudes toward him are no different. Even Lupin lied and covered up for James' son during POA when Snape caught Harry in going to Hogsmeade and with the Map. Snape would almost certainly know that the "Moony" character that mocks him on the parchment was likely Lupin, and even if he didn't realize that, he knew that Harry was lying to him and that Lupin, even though acting in the capacity of a fellow teacher, was lying to him and covering for a student primarily because of loyalty within the Marauder group being extended to James' son.

You'd think he could cut them some slack. To keep on holding on to his resentment under the circumstances is ridiculous. (mona amon)

Actually, I don't think his continued resentment toward them is ridiculous. You've got an adult man calling him Snivellus, acting satisfied with his part in nearly getting Snape killed and another adult fellow teacher lying to him and covering up things in front of a fellow Marauder's son, telling Snape that anger over the Prank is a petty schoolboy grudge, showing another student (remember, I'm thinking Snape's view here) how to make Snape a figure of fun in front of a roomful of students. Sure, I can easily see why he'd feel that his renewed acquaintance with them was with two men who were just the same as they'd always been, just restrained in their actions by age and their allegiance to DD.

As for trauma, I do think the "wounds too deep for healing" implies far more than just resentment for the past. Trauma is a wound to the pysche or the spirit. Snape is wounded and that's why it's trauma.

Where does Dumbledore show Severus that he has to pay for his mistakes through remorse and actions? (mona amon)

He does not agree to help Snape (through helping Lily), without demanding that Snape help him in return.

‘And what will you give me in return, Severus?’

‘In – in return?’ Snape gaped at Dumbledore, and Harry expected him to protest, but after a long moment he said, ‘Anything.’

It's really pretty clear cut. DD demands payment "in return".

Then after Lily died, DD directly connected Snape's remorse to what he needed to do next.

‘Is this remorse, Severus?’

‘I wish ... I wish I were dead ...’

‘And what use would that be to anyone?’ said Dumbledore coldly

This is a key point. DD points out that remorse that leads Snape to simply killing himself isn't of any use. No, DD is saying that Snape's remorse must take a useful form in order to be worthwhile.

‘If you loved Lily Evans, if you truly loved her, then your way forward is clear.’

Snape seemed to peer through a haze of pain, and Dumbledore’s words appeared to take a long time to reach him.

‘What – what do you mean?’

‘You know how and why she died. Make sure it was not in vain. Help me protect Lily’s son.’

DD takes Snape's remorse and says, more or less, that if Snape's remorse only leads him to kill himself, it's of no use to anyone. In order for his remorse to really count, he has to do something to make Lily's death (in part, Snape's responsibility), not in vain.

So Snape is still told by DD that he must do something. And from there on out DD continues to give orders.

But the initial set up is a clear case of Snape being told he must do something in order to get DD's help. And when Snape agrees to do anything, DD proceeds to ask highly difficult, dangerous things of Snape in exchange. And later, DD ties Snape's service directly to making Snape's remorse of any use or worth.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 4, 2009 8:45 pm (#1630 of 2988)  
I agree with your ideas, wynnleaf. From Sirius’s explanation of Regulus to Harry in OOTP, we cannot get a full understanding of what went on out in the open, or when Vold showed his “true colours”. We are told the following:



Quite a few were supporters of the purification of the Wizarding race and getting rid of Muggle-borns. This could mean anything from arranged marriages, no longer sending Hogwarts letters to Muggle-borns and not allowing them through/into Diagon Alley… to mass murder. We might gather from Sirius’s statement, ‘They got cold feet when they saw what he was prepared to do to get power, though’ that support was generally closer to the former, particularly amongst half-bloods.


Regulus, being only slightly younger than Severus and Sirius, could have been joining up when Severus did. It isn’t likely they had much comradeship or we probably would have heard about it, but it is possible we can gain insight about Sev from what Sirius says next about his brother: ‘…he got in so far, then panicked about what he was being asked to do and tried to back out.’ From this we could conclude that, if Regulus was not aware of what he was getting into then Severus (joining at about the same time or earlier when things were even less defined) also might not have known what he was getting into.

Based on these two points, it is possible that Severus, like Regulus and many of the WW supporters, did not fully understand what Vold was capable of. It is possible that Severus enjoyed torturing people for no reason, but I don’t feel that is accurate, personally.

Severus and Harry in Potions, day one:

‘Snape didn’t dislike Harry – he hated him.’

This line gives us a lot of information, not just of the obvious but how Severus cannot control himself, nor does he want to, when it comes to 'Potter’s son'.

‘I don’t know,’ said Harry quietly. ‘I think Hermione does, though, why don’t you try her?’

I admire Harry’s nerve there.

Severus criticises everyone except Draco, and fawns over his ‘perfect horned slugs’. It seems Severus has it on the top of his list to keep on the Malfoys’ good side, although Lucius had claimed being Imperiused.

When Severus calls Neville an ‘idiot boy’ I don’t see it as pure rudeness for it was a moment of panic.

All in all I view this scene as a long-awaited opportunity for Severus to treat Potter’s son the way he felt he’d been treated by James from ‘day one’ on the train: it's humiliation, pure and simple.

I wonder if Severus practiced what he would say to Harry. I think he did. And by the fact that, 'Harry forced himself to keep looking straight into those cold eyes', I would say being stared at by those eyes unnerved Severus quite a bit.



mona amon - Mar 5, 2009 5:40 am (#1631 of 2988)  
The realization that your master is going to kill the woman you love more than anything is more than disillusionment. It is a shock, a blow. Snape is certainly not "eager" enough to sacrifice Lily for Voldemort. I know he does not care about James and Harry, only about Lily, but I don't see that he is "eager" for them to be killed. (Julia)

I didn't mean that Severus was eager about everything LV was doing. I mean he was still eager to serve him, despite what he was doing.

When he realised that Voldemort was targetting Lily, it was as you say, a shock and a blow. But the shock wasn't "He's killing people. How evil he is!" or even, "I never realised that having a loved one in mortal danger felt so terrible. Killing is bad!" The shock was all about, "Lily is in danger" and nothing else.

He seems to shrink a little. Compare that to Bellatrix at the trial, where she is so proud of being Voldemort's (eager) follower. Snape is not. It seems he cannot any more justify (to himself) his choice to become or to remain a DE.

Well, compared to Bella anyone will come off looking better. Severus is not a Voldy fan like Bella. Just an eager follower. When it comes to a choice between Lily and Voldy, Lily wins, hands down.

Yes, he shrinks a little when DD tells him he disgusts him. It's probably the first time anyone spoke to him like that since Lily's "You and your precious DE friends! You see, you can't even deny it!" years ago. He hasn't yet got there because his next sentence seems to show that he still doesn't understand what's the big deal about James and Harry's life, but he does seem to be on the way.

Mona, you started to compare unforgiving Snape and "forgiving" Dumbledore.

Of course I cannot provide a one-to-one correspondence. The cases as you say are quite different. Snape is different from Dumbledore. Snape's mistakes and the Marauders are very different, etc. But Snape was once a DE, and Dumbledore forgives him after he leaves Voldemort. The Marauders once bullied Snape. They have now grown out of it. He still has vindictive feelings towards them that go beyond ordinary dislike.

He could be eager, he could be afraid, he could be indifferent, he could be being cruciod (etc.), as he was telling Voldemort about the Prophecy.

What I mean is, he was eager enough to willingly serve Voldemort at that time. It doesn't seem to fit in with Severus's character as we know it to go aginst his inclinations out of fear of being crucioed.

It seems to me the only way one could suppose that Snape expected LV to kill anyone is simply by looking at the first half of the prophecy and assuming that anyone ought to know that LV would try to kill the people in question. But that presupposes that Snape already knew that LV was murdering people...[cut]...What is that evidence? (Wynnleaf)

The general public may or may not have known, but the DEs most probably did. Severus was quite blasé about killing by the time he met Dumbledore on the hilltop, shown by the way he does not care about James and Harry's lives. There's also DD's "How many people have you watched die" and JKR's interview comment about him witnessing things as a DE when asked whether Snape could see Thestrals.

As for trauma, I do think the "wounds too deep for healing" implies far more than just resentment for the past. Trauma is a wound to the pysche or the spirit. Snape is wounded and that's why it's trauma. (Wynnleaf)

He has no secure background (caring, understanding and protecting parents), which could counterbalance the school bullying. In fact Snape may see something similar at home as well. (His parents fight.) He apparently does not get help from the teachers. The "Snivellus" name humiliates him among his peers. His thoughts seem to be occupied by the bullies to an unhealthy extent, which suggests he defines himself as a victim / enemy of the Marauders. I don't want to go into details about the torture in the Worst Memory. (Julia)


The bullying was bad, but let's remember that Severus was in a different house, and probably did not usually allow himself to get caught unawares as he did in the Worst Memory. He had friends in Slytherin, and I think his thoughts are occupied by his bullies to a normal extent.

As for the wounds that go too deep for healing, I'm sure Dumbledore didn't know as much about the bullying as we do. He's talking about Severus's hatred for James, and is probably thinking about the wound that came from losing Lily to James. That is what it seemed like to me when I re-read that passage. I do not feel that JKR meant us to conclude that he was badly traumatised by the Marauders. And not all wounds are traumas.

He does not agree to help Snape (through helping Lily), without demanding that Snape help him in return. (Wynnleaf)

That's not the way I see it. He's saying he will help Lily (and her husband and son), but asking what Severus is prepared to do in return. He wants to know whether he's going to return to his DE ways or what. He could not have guessed at that point just how much Severus could actually help him. And he isn't implying anything about forgiveness anyway.

This is a key point. DD points out that remorse that leads Snape to simply killing himself isn't of any use. No, DD is saying that Snape's remorse must take a useful form in order to be worthwhile.

Once again, he's not linking forgiveness (or even remorse) to any payment. He's most probably already forgiven Severus at this point. DD sees that life has lost all meaning for this young man. He is trying to put back some of it. He gives him a purpose in life. And once again, he probably never realised just how useful he was going to be to him. He also felt that it could be several years before Voldemort returned and Severus was required to do anything.

So Snape is still told by DD that he must do something.

But not in order to be forgiven. In order to lead a more purposeful life.



wynnleaf - Mar 5, 2009 6:58 am (#1632 of 2988)  
So Snape is still told by DD that he must do something.

But not in order to be forgiven. In order to lead a more purposeful life.


No, on the hilltop DD isn't talking at all about Snape's purpose in life. Snape asks for his help and DD does not say "I'll help you and keep you out of Azkaban and accept you..." He demands that Snape give him something in return in order to receive his help. Granted, we may believe as readers that DD would help anyway, but that's not what he tells Snape. Remember, the point is whether Snape would have ever felt he'd experienced forgiveness. From Snape's perspective at that moment, he must offer up a payment of sorts in order to get DD's help.

As time went by, Snape would have seen DD's acceptance of him, but Snape is also in the process of proving himself to DD. Any forgiveness he might feel (if he feels that), was contingent on him earning it. Anyone later who he perhaps should have forgiven (the Marauders), did not do anything to request his forgiveness or to earn it. So if he should have learned forgiveness from DD at all, it would be a forgiveness that must be sought and also earned.

The general public may or may not have known, but the DEs most probably did. Severus was quite blasé about killing by the time he met Dumbledore on the hilltop, shown by the way he does not care about James and Harry's lives.

I'm not sure you get what I'm saying. LV killed a few people secretly well prior to the outbreak of war -- his father was killed years before and a few others were killed in the hunt for items to use as horcruxes. The whole horcrux thing was kept secret even from the DEs. Bellatrix, a highly trusted DE, was given a horcrux to keep safe, but even she didn't know much about it. I don't get the impression LV would have been telling anyone about those particular deaths, because they are obscure and to discuss them would mean discuss why he killed those people - something he might wish to keep secret. Even if he did tell anyone, it would only be the most trusted DEs. We have no evidence that young Snape was a closely trusted DE.

No one else is mentioned as turning up dead until after Harry was born.

You keep saying that DE must have known LV was killing people, but who exactly was LV killing at that time??? See my point? We don't even know that, beyond LV's secret creating of some horcruxes, he was killing anyone until after Harry's birth.

By the time Snape went to DD he did indeed know that LV meant to target and kill the Potters, but we have no evidence that he or anyone else (other than DD), knew of LV murdering people before then.

The deaths mentioned in the first war with LV all occur after Harry's birth. Exactly which deaths would DEs have known about prior to Harry's birth, if no one was being killed?

Yes, it's true that DD mentions Snape having witnessed people dying. DD said that during the year of HBP. By that time, Snape had spent about a year and a half after Harry's birth, working as a DE and most of that time was as a spy. During that time we know that LV and the DEs were killing people. We have plenty of mention of people that were killed in the 15 months after Harry's birth. Snape could easily have "seen things" (people killed) then, even though most of that time he was working for DD, just as he saw Charity killed later in the second war. Further, Snape may have seen people die after LV came back the second time.

Your assuming a lot of things there's not really much evidence for, one way or the other, in canon, and then using the assumptions to back up this claim of Snape's supposed "eagerness". We really aren't shown what his attitude was in following LV, whether he was "eager" or not.

As for the wounds that go too deep for healing, I'm sure Dumbledore didn't know as much about the bullying as we do.

By the time he made that statement in OOTP, DD may well have known. For instance, in DH, we see that when DD discovered that James owned the invisibility cloak, DD realized that James had been getting away with a lot of misbehavior for which he had never been caught. Why would DD assume that James had done a lot of things for which he'd never been caught? DD seems to have heard about misbehavior of James which seems to have never come to teachers ears at the time James actually did it.

We can also tell in POA that Snape's feelings about the Prank are well known to DD. Snape's comments to DD, as well as DD's comment about his memory being as good as it ever was, seems to imply that the two have discussed the Prank in the past. And then when Snape ended the occlumency lessons, he must have gone to DD to explain what happened. What would he say? Somehow DD knew that when Harry looked in the pensieve he saw something that was related to Snape's wounds that are too deep for healing. Yet if DD thought that was just because Snape had lost Lily in that memory, then why would he be so amazed a year later to learn that Snape's patronus was still Lily? Does that make sense? When he speaks of "wounds to deep for healing", he can't just be speaking of Snape's loss of Lily, because a year later he was amazed to see that Snape still felt so deeply about Lily.

The bullying was bad, but let's remember that Severus was in a different house, and probably did not usually allow himself to get caught unawares as he did in the Worst Memory. (mona amon)

The Marauders had an invisibility cloak and the Marauders Map. They could, if they wished, attack practically anyone unawares. I'd find it hard to believe they didn't do just that.



mona amon - Mar 5, 2009 8:13 am (#1633 of 2988)  
I have time now for only one point-

From the Edinburgh Book Festival interview, 2004

He can see Thestrals, but in my imagination most of the older people at Hogwarts would be able to see them because, obviously, as you go through life you do lose people and understand what death is. But you must not forget that Snape was a Death Eater. He will have seen things that…

Note that JKR says he will have seen things because he was a Death Eater. So he saw things when he was a DE and not just after Dumbledore sent him back, because at that time he is of course no longer a DE.

The people mentioned in the book as having been killed by Voldemort are all Order members. But obviously there were others that he killed too, and who haven't been mentioned in the books by name. He must have killed a lot of people to fill that lake with inferi.

I'll answer the rest later  



Julia H. - Mar 5, 2009 9:05 am (#1634 of 2988)  
It is possible that Severus enjoyed torturing people for no reason, but I don’t feel that is accurate, personally. (MAMS)

I don't think he enjoyed anything like that. Some readers equate Snape's often vitriolic sarcasm with full-fledged cruelty, including physical torture. I don't. We seem to agree that Dumbledore (with or without Legilimency) must have taken the time to discover Snape's true motivations before trusting him with Order work and before taking him into Hogwarts as a teacher. I am sure a full confession concerning Snape's DE time must have been a part of it and Dumbledore had the opportunity to observe Snape's attitudes. We know Dumbledore does not tolerate physical violence against students. We are shown that when Umbridge grabs Marietta. Dumbledore also goes to great pains to make sure Snape can contain the Carrows, who apparently specialize in torture. Therefore I don't think Dumbledore would have allowed Snape to teach if Snape had enjoyed torturing anyone.

Yes, he shrinks a little when DD tells him he disgusts him. It's probably the first time anyone spoke to him like that since Lily's "You and your precious DE friends! You see, you can't even deny it!" years ago. He hasn't yet got there because his next sentence seems to show that he still doesn't understand what's the big deal about James and Harry's life, but he does seem to be on the way. (Mona)

I am not sure what you are referring to when you say "he hasn't yet got there" - where? We know he is only worried about Lily. But that is not what I was talking about. The "shrinking" can only show shame I think. It is possible that DD is the first one to speak to him like that. But the fact remains that he feels ashamed after those words. It shows that at this point he (immediately) understands there is something for him to be ashamed of. If he did not, DD's words alone would not make him shrink. That is more likely to indicate disillusionment than eagerness.

Well, compared to Bella anyone will come off looking better. Severus is not a Voldy fan like Bella. Just an eager follower.

Now I could say we are shown Bella's eagerness at various points in the story (at her trial, in the Spinner's End scene, at the beginning of DH etc.). We are also shown Regulus's eagerness (Voldemort-related articles on his wall) as well as Draco's (he is boasting about his mysterious "job" to various people). We are never shown Snape's eagerness or the degree of Snape's eagerness or any possible changes in Snape's eagerness (after seeing "things", for example). He may have been eager. But he may have only let himself be guided by the only "friends" who were (or seemed to be) still interested in him as he joined and then he may have stayed because he had nothing and nobody to change the course of his life for. He may have been eager at some point and not so eager at another point. (I think Percy says when he joins the good side at the battle of Hogwarts that the realization was dawning on him gradually but it was not easy to leave. The news of the battle must have given him the necessary impulse.) We don't know the details about Snape. It is bad either way, but if Snape on the hilltop (at the moments of betraying Voldemort) still counts as an "eager" follower, then I really cannot imagine any followers who are not "eager" in some way.

It doesn't seem to fit in with Severus's character as we know it to go aginst his inclinations out of fear of being crucioed.

You seem to think that there are only two possibilities: You either do something eagerly or against your inclinations. If this is so, I see no point in demanding separate remorse for being an "eager" follower because every real follower is "eager". The others do everything against their inclinations (being forced, for example) and then they are not really "followers". But I think there are intermediate shades between the two. I don't think Snape would have done something against his inclinations just out of fear or under torture. Some people just swim with the current because they don't see the point in swimming against it. I think it was Lily's danger that gave Snape the strength to defy Voldemort (and to choose what was right over what was easy) because he suddenly found a purpose that was worth risking his life for. Before that, he may have been eager or he may have been indifferent or he may not have fully seen the true colours of what he was "eager" about.

My point is not that Snape can't have had any idea of what he was doing. I only mean there are several possibilities because we are not shown either eagerness or disillusionment before the hilltop.

The bullying was bad, but let's remember that Severus was in a different house, and probably did not usually allow himself to get caught unawares as he did in the Worst Memory. He had friends in Slytherin, and I think his thoughts are occupied by his bullies to a normal extent.

Being in a different house and "usually not allowing himself to get caught unawares" does not solve the basic problem. As for his Slytherin friends, I cannot believe they provided the necessary emotional support for Snape to handle the situation and it does seem that Snape was thinking far more about the Marauders than what would have been healthy. Besides, if nothing else had happened but the Worst Memory, it would have been enough to cause a trauma.

As for the wounds that go too deep for healing, I'm sure Dumbledore didn't know as much about the bullying as we do. He's talking about Severus's hatred for James, and is probably thinking about the wound that came from losing Lily to James. ... And not all wounds are traumas.

I cannot imagine that after teaching Harry Occlumency for months, Snape suddenly stops and then goes to DD saying "I'm sorry, I can't teach Potter any more. You know his father married the woman I loved." I think he told him that Harry had watched a memory he had put into the Pensieve (DD must have known why Snape was borrowing the Pensieve) and I am sure Snape was far too upset to be able not to tell it to DD. DD apparently did not force Snape to continue those all-important lessons, moreover, he seemed to understand why he had stopped so I think he must have seen Snape had a good reason to stop teaching Harry (not just the fact that James had married Lily, which Snape had known very well during the months while he was still teaching Harry).

When he speaks of "wounds to deep for healing", he can't just be speaking of Snape's loss of Lily, because a year later he was amazed to see that Snape still felt so deeply about Lily. (Wynnleaf)

Good point.

Not all wounds are traumas but most wounds usually heal. DD is talking about very deep wounds, about wounds that don't heal. We may or may not call them traumas, but open wounds are wounds that still hurt, wounds that may still cause further problems, wounds that are painful when "touched". Unhealed wounds do not belong to the past.

The cases as you say are quite different. Snape is different from Dumbledore. Snape's mistakes and the Marauders are very different, etc. (Mona)

If we cannot compare the starting points, how can we expect two different people to react to two different situations in the same way? Snape does not just stop being a DE, he does more to deserve Dumbledore's forgiveness, and if he did not, I am sure Dumbledore would remain disgusted rather than forgiving. Dumbledore was never traumatised by Snape, therefore he does not need to "heal" before forgiving him. Snape has unhealed wounds related to the Marauders, who may have stopped bullying him in the changed circumstances, but not because their attitude towards Snape has changed - or if it has, they never let Snape know it. Everything is different, so it is not surprising that Snape and Dumbledore give different answers to two different situations.



wynnleaf - Mar 5, 2009 9:23 am (#1635 of 2988)  
Note that JKR says he will have seen things because he was a Death Eater. So he saw things when he was a DE and not just after Dumbledore sent him back, because at that time he is of course no longer a DE.

At the time she said that, she certainly couldn't divulge Snape's true allegiances. The point she was making is that in a Death Eater role, he would see lots of terrible things, not that Snape only saw those terrible things before he quit being a real Death Eater. JKR wouldn't even tell us at that time if Snape ever stopped being a real DE. So her comment is in no way definitive that she meant he'd "seen things" before he went to DD and became a spy.

The people mentioned in the book as having been killed by Voldemort are all Order members. But obviously there were others that he killed too, and who haven't been mentioned in the books by name. He must have killed a lot of people to fill that lake with inferi.

Yes, he certainly did kill a lot of people. But if people were dying right and left before that later time after Harry was born and the Order members getting killed, how did Regulas not know of it? How did his parents not know of it? And if people were dying and the Order knew about it, why is it that the Order members weren't having any trouble staying clear of DEs and easily able to protect themselves, until suddenly in the last year they were dying?

It doesn't fit to say that random people were getting murdered -- enough to fill the lake -- but the public didn't know about it, although the DEs did know. Most of those people in the lake must have been killed in the public part of the war. You don't just have that many people killed and no one the wiser except the DEs.

And if the DEs and LV were so active in killing people earlier, and people did know, why wouldn't there be more conflicts with the Order and killing Order members?

What it looks like more, when you actually look at what people say happened, is that in the year prior Harry's birth there were various skirmishes between Order members and DEs, but they didn't amount to much. People weren't getting killed and LV and his DEs were not targeting the public yet. Then, around the time of Harry's birth, a lot more started to happen. People started to disappear, people finding Dark Marks over houses and people dead, Crouch Sr. giving aurors permission to use unforgiveables, Order members getting killed, the Potters targeted and going into hiding. The actual war had broken out.

I'm not saying LV didn't kill people before then, but it seemed to be mainly for specific and secret reasons, such as the horcruxes, and not all the DEs would likely have known about what LV was doing.

Besides, if Snape was so eager to follow LV during all this death and mayhem, why didn't he join in?

JKR makes if fairly clear that Snape only had "seen" things, not killed people himself. DD only talks about Snape watching others die, not killing. Bella talks to Snape like he's the do-nothing DE. Snape questions DD's concern for his soul over killing DD, which seems odd if Snape had already killed people.

Surely if Snape was an eager follower and quite okay with LV killing people, wouldn't he join in the cause and kill some himself?

I'm not saying Snape was a saint, nor that we actually know that he was a reluctant DE.

What I'm saying is that you're taking an assumption that Snape was "eager" and using that as evidence for the lack of depth of his remorse later, even though you have said yourself that Snape kind of developed a "saving people thing" later. We all make various assumptions, but I'm uncomfortable with arguments that use an assumption that lacks hard evidence as being itself further evidence.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 5, 2009 1:42 pm (#1636 of 2988)  
JKR makes if fairly clear that Snape only had "seen" things, not killed people himself. DD only talks about Snape watching others die, not killing. Bella talks to Snape like he's the do-nothing DE. Snape questions DD's concern for his soul over killing DD, which seems odd if Snape had already killed people. - wynnleaf

I think enough of us have pointed out we are purposefully given no canon that Severus killed anyone and I agree with the above. I would say again that in a cult group there are people who are given tasks based on their strengths and their weaknesses.

In Severus's case as a DE I see him as the following:

1) early on being a follower and having potion and curse-making skills that Vold found useful. Perhaps Severus was "eager" to demonstrate his prodigious skills in those areas but I do not see him as eager to begin Crucio-ing random people;

2) although Severus began creating hex/curses, we only know of one that was "for enemies" and we probably could all guess who that curse was developed for. He just as enthusiastically invented hexes that Harry found amusing, as well as being a potion master (healing) and not a Poison master. It seems Severus adores magic for magic's sake and creates curses and remedies in equal measure. The message "shove a bezoar down their throats" gives us insight into his hostility but does not negate the fact that he adored potions which is, essentially, a healing art;

3) Severus, although academically advanced, could easily have been seen as weak when it came to more "grisly" tasks like those the Carrows and the big, burly types were more naturally suited for. As pointed out about Bella's opinion of Sev, he probably saw much but said and did nothing;

4) We don't have any reason to believe that Severus was valued by Vold and, thus, privy to strategic plans or acts. He was, after all, sent to apply for a cursed job at Hogwarts, probably for the menial task of relaying information about the movements of DD/McGonagall/the Order. It was not until a)getting favor for delivering the Prophecy, b)getting a job at Hogwarts despite not being hired right away, and c)becoming a valuable DE after the rebirthing, that Severus is truly part of the DE inner circle, IMO.

edited



Julia H. - Mar 5, 2009 3:56 pm (#1637 of 2988)  
And by the fact that, 'Harry forced himself to keep looking straight into those cold eyes', I would say being stared at by those eyes unnerved Severus quite a bit. (MAMS)

Good point. I don't know if Snape practised what he would say to Harry - he must have become generally practised in being strict and terrifying since he first became a Hogwarts teacher. Of course, Harry is a special case. I agree Snape must have been preparing somehow for the first lesson with Harry. Harry's eyes must be really disturbing, especially in the beginning, when Snape has not had the opportunity yet to get somewhat used to seeing them. He "decides" to loathe Harry but he does not change his mind about protecting him.

Whatever Snape feels about Harry / James / Lily, it will not interfere with what and how he wants to teach in general. He may be nervous or unnerved, but he does not start babbling or making stupid mistakes. He pays "special attention" to Harry, but the rest of his attention is fully on the class. It is a difficult thing to do when you are upset. It's interesting that the narrator says: ... like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. This sentence does not seem to refer to Snape being simply terrifying, it seems to refer to a more general ability to keep the attention of the class focused on what he is saying. It is an important gift if you are regularly in a position where you have to talk to a lot of people at once (like being a teacher). He gives a fascinating introductory speech and when he reaches a peak I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death... - there is a sudden change of style coupled with a warning about what the students should expect. It gives us insight into Snape's oratorical skills (among other things, of course).



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 5, 2009 11:16 pm (#1638 of 2988)  
I, too, think this introductory speech, as well as the one he *finally* gets to give in DADA, are keen indications of what I mentioned earlier: that his skills emanate from a strong adoration of and immersion in magic.

I was always going on and on (before DH came out) about how DD must have had a fully rounded experience with magic in order to be the most powerful wizard. That one so full of wisdom and experience could not simply reject the dark arts, that DD must have had done more than simply acknowledge their existence. We now know this to be true, although we do not know to what extent DD *used* dark magic. Rather, it seems he was more a visionary based on dark arts theory, while his counterpart was more hands-on, shall we say...

To me, Severus's fascination with the dark arts is an extension of that concept. It is apparent from an early age that he had nothing else and, unlike Harry, he *knew* he was a wizard from the time he first performed whatever bit of uncontrolled magic. And, unlike Lily, he did not have a sibling or a stable home (and we see Lily's inner peace in the fact that she uses magic to make flowers dance). I think Severus would innately contrast her tendency of inner peace, that due to his home life he would use magic for control rather than beauty. But I also think Lily had an affect on him, and she is what inspired him to make the counter-curse to Sectumspectra a song. Just my opinion; I tend to see them as a beauty and the beast coupling...

In any case, magic would become his entire life, an internal life, and he had years to be alone with his books and his ability. I think this is evident by the two eloquent speeches he gives in Potions and DADA.

Moving on from the first Potions class, we could interject from The Prince's Tale: '- mediocre, arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker, delighted to find himself famous, attention-seeking and impertinent -'

Sounds like Severus's interpretation of that first class to me, from his point of view. It is amazing how much he misinterprets Harry! And yet the above description is semi- accurate... after Severus goaded him! LOL.

Then, in that memory: 'Keep an eye on Quirrell, won't you?'

Shall we move into all the things Severus was doing behind the scenes regarding Quirrell?

edited



mona amon - Mar 5, 2009 11:16 pm (#1639 of 2988)  
But the fact remains that he feels ashamed after those words. It shows that at this point he (immediately) understands there is something for him to be ashamed of. If he did not, DD's words alone would not make him shrink. That is more likely to indicate disillusionment than eagerness. (Julia)

Ok then, he starts feeling shame, which is the beginning of disillusionment, after DD's "you disgust me!" but not before that.  Of course he stopped being an eager follower of Voldemort as soon as he realised he was targetting Lily, but it was because he was targetting the woman he loved, and not due to disillusionment in the sense of scales falling from his eyes or suddenly seeing Voldemort in a new light, though he is probably beginning to do so.

When I said "he hasn't yet got there" I meant he still does not care about the lives of others, but he's probably on his way.

It is bad either way, but if Snape on the hilltop (at the moments of betraying Voldemort) still counts as an "eager" follower, then I really cannot imagine any followers who are not "eager" in some way.

I don't think I said he was an eager follower on the hilltop. If I did, I retract it. I think I said he was not yet disillusioned (in the way I've explained in my first paragraph). 'Not yet disillusioned' is different from 'still an eager follower'. I did say that he was still an eager follower at the time he took the prophecy to Voldemort.

When I say 'eager follower' I mean that he was quite willing to serve Voldemort, which means he didn't find anything particularly wrong in what he was doing. This does not mean he approved of what he was doing. It could just mean that he liked serving him for various reasons and was able to suppress any qualms of conscience he might have had. This fits in with my view of him as lacking in introspection and being good at compartmentalising.

In short, when I say 'eager follower' I mean 'a willing follower'. And the fact that he carried the prophecy to Voldemort shows that he was a willing follower.

When he speaks of "wounds to deep for healing", he can't just be speaking of Snape's loss of Lily, because a year later he was amazed to see that Snape still felt so deeply about Lily. (Wynnleaf)

I don't see why not. He knows how Severus once felt about Lily, and how he must have felt when she married his enemy James (IMO he did know they were enemies in school. Even without realising that Severus's love for Lily was just as deep and strong as before, he can still understand that Severus hasn't got over the wound of losing Lily to James.

I think we have to agree to disagree about the trauma. I really can't see any evidence even after reading both your views about it (Wynnleaf's and Julia's). Of course I'm not saying that the bullying didn't cause him any damage at all.

Somehow DD knew that when Harry looked in the pensieve he saw something that was related to Snape's wounds that are too deep for healing.

You are assuming that DD knew what was in that memory. I'm sure Severus told him nothing about it. He refused to teach Harry occlumency any more, and may or may not have told him that he caught him snooping in his Pensieve. The reason DD gives Harry is "I thought he could overcome his feelings about your father- I was wrong." He says nothing about what his father did to Severus, though he proceeds to discuss with him what (newly dead) Sirius did to Kreacher.

No, on the hilltop DD isn't talking at all about Snape's purpose in life. Snape asks for his help and DD does not say "I'll help you and keep you out of Azkaban and accept you..." He demands that Snape give him something in return in order to receive his help.

At that point Severus is only concerned about Lily. He agrees to help DD not out of altruistic motives or as proof of repentance or anything. He just does everything that he can, at great risk to his life, to help DD save Lily. Dumbledore must have forgiven him during this year when he worked as spy for him, but he isn't really doing anything to 'pay' Dumbledore that isn't also helping Lily.



mona amon - Mar 6, 2009 12:23 am (#1640 of 2988)  
He can see Thestrals, but in my imagination most of the older people at Hogwarts would be able to see them because, obviously, as you go through life you do lose people and understand what death is. But you must not forget that Snape was a Death Eater. He will have seen things that… (J K Rowling)

At the time she said that, she certainly couldn't divulge Snape's true allegiances. The point she was making is that in a Death Eater role, he would see lots of terrible things, not that Snape only saw those terrible things before he quit being a real Death Eater. (Wynnleaf)

JKR never told us any lies to put us off the track about Snape's allegience. To say that he saw things when he was a Death Eater when she actually meant the time when he was a loyal member of the OOTP would be an outright lie. And what's the need for deviousness? She was asked whether Snape could see Thestrals. The first sentence of her comment is more than enough to answer that.

Yes, he certainly did kill a lot of people. But if people were dying right and left before that later time after Harry was born and the Order members getting killed, how did Regulas not know of it? How did his parents not know of it? (Wynnleaf)

What makes you think Regulus and his parents did not know?

Actually Regulus's story sounds very much like Snape's to me. They join enthusiastically, (but probably for different reasons) and are willing followers for a while. Then something happens to bring them to their senses. But that something is not Voldemort 'killing people'. It's Voldemort trying to kill someone they have feelings for.

This is what I found in the Lex timeline (overview of the 70's)-

During the 1970s, Voldemort began to gather followers who were eager for a share of his power. The closest followers of Voldemort were known as the Death Eaters. These years got progressively more dangerous and violent. As Voldemort's influence grew, some witches and wizards were controlled by the Imperius Curse and forced to commit atrocities, including the torture and murder of Muggles. Voldemort capitalized on the prejudice and distrust between the giants and the Wizarding World; the giants became Voldemort's followers and killed and tortured many people. The Dark Mark is used by Death Eaters to indicate a house where they have committed murder. No one dared to become friendly with strange witches and wizards, not knowing if they were Voldemort supporters. Hogwarts became one of the few safe places in the Wizarding World. Bartemius Crouch is head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; the Aurors are authorized to use drastic methods not differing greatly from the tactics used by the Death Eaters they fight

What makes you say that all this happened only after Severus carried the prophecy to Voldemort? And what about DD's comment that the people have had precious little to celebrate for 11 years (before the death of the Potters)? Why would LV keep all this a secret from his junior DEs? And if Severus did not know LV and his DEs were killing people, how did he reach a point where he did not care about James' and Harry's life? What happened to make this twenty year old man so callous?

Surely if Snape was an eager follower and quite okay with LV killing people, wouldn't he join in the cause and kill some himself?

Not necessarily, if he wasn't the killing type. We see this with Draco. He was OK with LV killing and torturing people. He wasn't able to do it himself. And it is only after he was actually made to do it that he changes (to the point of no longer being OK with LV killing and torturing people). I'm assuming that Severus was able to suppress any feelings of compassion he may have had for LV's victims. I'm also assuming (hoping) he would have come to his senses sooner if he was actually made to participate.

And if the DEs and LV were so active in killing people earlier, and people did know, why wouldn't there be more conflicts with the Order and killing Order members?

I suppose DD trained them and protected them well. And there weren't that many people in the original Order, so quite a large proportion of them were killed.

BTW do we know when DD formed the Order? It could have been in the later days of the war.

LOL, two long, and probably long-winded, posts! I used to write such short posts, but you people give me so much to reply to!


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:45 pm

Julia H. - Mar 6, 2009 2:21 am (#1641 of 2988)  
When I say 'eager follower' I mean that he was quite willing to serve Voldemort, which means he didn't find anything particularly wrong in what he was doing. This does not mean he approved of what he was doing. It could just mean that he liked serving him for various reasons and was able to suppress any qualms of conscience he might have had. (Mona)

OK. I see a difference between "eager" and "willing". I don't think we are ever shown Snape's eagerness. We don't even know how long he was a real DE, which means a member of the inner circle. (In principle, he could even receive the Mark only after bringing the prophecy.) There are signs that he was not particularly eager about certain things. In whatever way he avoided having to kill people, I'm sure if he did know about the killings and had wanted to participate, he could have participated. Bella (very eager) does not describe Snape as "eager" at all.

But I agree that he must have been a willing follower. Everybody (I suppose) who joins and stays voluntarily (without being forced) must be willing to some extent. We know Snape was not Imperiused. If he had been, there would not be much for him to be guilty about, since the choice between right and wrong is possible only when there is a free will.

I think Snape was as willing as anybody who was a voluntary follower. Someone unwilling is like Xeno, who chooses to hand Harry over to the DE's. He seems to do it most unwillingly. But does that make Xeno an unwilling follower? In my eyes, no, because he is not a follower, only someone who unwillingly (but still in possession of his free will to choose) gives way to blackmail. Unwilling followers were the ones who were Imperiused or otherwise forced to join. I don't think Snape was one of them, although I do think quitting was difficult and risky and it may have made even somewhat disillusioned followers stay and serve (even willingly) if they had no reason for which to risk both Voldemort's revenge and society's punishment by leaving Voldemort. I also think prior to Lily's life being directly endangered, Snape was just the kind of person who had nothing to change his life for at the cost of various risks and difficulties even if he was not particularly eager any more.

Anyway, my conclusion is that being remorseful about having voluntarily joined the DE's and served Voldemort includes the remorse for having been a willing follower. Therefore if Snape changes his life to the extent that he protects people against the DE's, does his best to help defeat Voldemort, does that all because he knows it was wrong to join the DE's and to serve Voldemort and he would not do it again and wishes he had never done it - and if he atones for having once been a voluntary DE, then he also atones for having been Voldemort's willing servant. There is no need for separate remorse and separate atonement. In fact, I don't think the two can be separated at all.



wynnleaf - Mar 6, 2009 6:53 am (#1642 of 2988)  
I agree with Julia that Snape was definitely a willing follower as he freely chose to follow LV, at least as far as we know. The description of him as an "eager" follower is pure conjecture. We know that there were eager and far less eager followers (Draco being less eager, but surely not the one-and-only), so just joining up doesn't automatically categorize one as "eager".

What makes you say that all this happened only after Severus carried the prophecy to Voldemort? And what about DD's comment that the people have had precious little to celebrate for 11 years (before the death of the Potters)? Why would LV keep all this a secret from his junior DEs? And if Severus did not know LV and his DEs were killing people, how did he reach a point where he did not care about James' and Harry's life? What happened to make this twenty year old man so callous?

The problem with DD's comment is that, while DD himself did know about LV's intentions and some of his actions, we have no evidence that anyone else knew until the war started.

The Lexicon info (and the Lexicon info is just strong fans trying to figure it out like many of us), is simply outlining the way LV developed in power and the war. It doesn't even state when the war likely started. We just don't know. The Lexicon hasn't got any more knowledge than any determined and attentive reader.

As for Regulas and his parents, Sirius said that his parents were supportive of LV's cause, but didn't realize the full extent of what he was up to until much later. Here's Sirius' statement:

‘No, no, but believe me, they thought Voldemort had the right idea, they were all for the purification of the wizarding race, getting rid of Muggle-borns and having pure-bloods in charge. They weren’t alone, either, there were quite a few people, before Voldemort showed his true colours, who thought he had the right idea about things ... they got cold feet when they saw what he was prepared to do to get power, though. But I bet my parents thought Regulus was a right little hero for joining up at first.’

When he started killing people, LV targeted muggleborns and "blood traitors". This would have to be what Sirius was referring to when he said "what he was prepared to do to get power", because we're never shown that he did anything worse, at least in the first war. If the people that originally supported him were just fine with murdering muggleborns and blood traitors, then they wouldn't have dropped their support, because except for the rare other death, that's primarily what LV was doing. In other words, "showing his true colors" must have been the murdering of muggleborns and blood traitors, rather than simply pressuring them out of the Wizarding World or subjugating muggles in similar ways as young DD considered years previously. Young DD didn't envision murdering people, and I think the people supporting LV at the start were picturing something similar and didn't know he was going to murder people. Because otherwise, what's the "true colors" other than his murdering muggleborns and blood traitors?

What we don't know is when Voldemort "showed his true colors". According to Sirius' comments, it must have been after Regulus joined up. And Snape was older than Regulus and more likely to have joined before Regulus did.

As for when the Order was formed, I think JKR said in interviews that the Marauders joined up right after school.

Why would DD need a separate "Order" to combat LV, if the Ministry was already well aware of how evil LV was and that he was out killing people and the Auror Department was in full swing fighting him? If the first Order started in a similar way as the second Order, it would be because the Ministry was doing nothing, getting infiltrated by Death Eaters in key positions, and the public at large didn't think LV was a threat. In fact, we know that the Ministry was becoming infiltrated with DEs, which would be less likely if the Ministry was on full alert, knowing LV was killing people right and left, people disappearing, etc. Instead, it's more likely that only DD was convinced he was a threat at first, so he started the first Order for the same reasons as he started the second Order.



Julia H. - Mar 6, 2009 7:46 am (#1643 of 2988)  
I had to finish my last post in a hurry but there are a few things I would like to add.

When he speaks of "wounds to deep for healing", he can't just be speaking of Snape's loss of Lily, because a year later he was amazed to see that Snape still felt so deeply about Lily. (Wynnleaf)

I don't see why not. He knows how Severus once felt about Lily, and how he must have felt when she married his enemy James (IMO he did know they were enemies in school. Even without realising that Severus's love for Lily was just as deep and strong as before, he can still understand that Severus hasn't got over the wound of losing Lily to James.

I think we have to agree to disagree about the trauma. I really can't see any evidence even after reading both your views about it (Wynnleaf's and Julia's). Of course I'm not saying that the bullying didn't cause him any damage at all. (Mona)


DD speaks about Snape's wounds that are too deep for the healing. He connects these wounds to Snape's feelings about James.

`But I forgot - another old man's mistake - that some wounds run too deep for the healing. I thought Professor Snape could overcome his feelings about your father - I was wrong.' (Dumbledore)

Does it really matter how much Dumbledore knows about the bullying? Does it really matter whether he thinks the wounds are due to Snape losing Lily to James or to the bullying? We know there was bullying. We know Snape did lose Lily to James. Dumbledore knows (and I'm sure he is correct) that Snape is deeply wounded by James (even if he may not know about everything that happened), and he knows these wounds do not heal and because of that, he understands Snape's present feelings about James.

If those wounds are traumas, it does not really matter how James caused them or how much DD knows about the precise details. I am sure he can decide whether the "wounds" are there or not.

Does it matter whether we call these wounds traumas or just "wounds"? The main point about them is that they are too deep for the healing. They are not like ordinary wounds. How can Snape be supposed to feel as if these wounds had been healed long ago and belonged to the past if these wounds (whatever we may call them) cannot heal?

Actually Regulus's story sounds very much like Snape's to me. They join enthusiastically, (but probably for different reasons) and are willing followers for a while. Then something happens to bring them to their senses. But that something is not Voldemort 'killing people'. It's Voldemort trying to kill someone they have feelings for.

There is a discussion about how much these various people (Snape, Regulus, the Blacks) may have known about Voldemort's true colours at various points of time. I'd like to mention two things that may be relevant here:

- The press cuttings about Voldemort on Regulus's wall: I wonder how these newspaper articles presented Voldemort. Were they about the killings, the various types of cruelty the DE's committed? Did Regulus read and collect those? Or did Voldemort have positive press coverage at some point? Was there a newspaper that advertised the DE ideology as something good and presented Voldemort as a hero?

- If I remember correctly, Regulus was "eager" enough to volunteer to lend Kreacher to Voldemort. I think he told Kreacher it was a great honour. Given the fact that Regulus was so terribly upset later that he was willing to die so that Voldemort could one day be defeated, I conclude Regulus did not for a moment think Voldemort would hurt Kreacher when he offered to lend him the elf. Did he think at all that Voldemort was capable of such cruelty? Remember Regulus was reading all those articles about Voldemort and we don't know how those articles presented Voldemort.



Julia H. - Mar 6, 2009 8:32 am (#1644 of 2988)  
In any case, magic would become his entire life, an internal life, and he had years to be alone with his books and his ability. I think this is evident by the two eloquent speeches he gives in Potions and DADA. (MAMS)

I agree. But I find this style interesting also in comparison with what we have in the early memories. The child Snape seems to be shy with Lily but he is also quite open with her about his feelings in general when they are already friends. Later, as a teenager, he seems to have communication problems with Lily. Of course, we don't know how he communicates with other people (who are not the Marauders). In the first two adult memories (the hilltop and DD's office after Lily's death), Snape is barely coherent because of the extreme emotional state he is in. The first Potions lesson, however, suddenly shows a master of words with superb communication skills and the ability to capture the attention of a class with his speech. We will later see how he uses these skills as a spy and a double-agent.

Moving on from the first Potions class, we could interject from The Prince's Tale: '- mediocre, arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker, delighted to find himself famous, attention-seeking and impertinent -'

Again a master orator at work (though a bit too upset for a true professional). Too bad, Dumbledore does not pay more attention in one way or other. Really, why does not Dumbledore take the golden opportunity to have a few serious words with Snape about Harry while it is not too late yet? What is their relationship now?

Sounds like Severus's interpretation of that first class to me, from his point of view.

Imagine how we would be reading the same(?) story if it had been written exclusively from Snape's point of view. LOL!



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 6, 2009 8:53 pm (#1645 of 2988)  
Upon reading recent posts, and regarding mona's asking why/how Severus could be a jerk while judging others, I was reminded of a point I’d brought up way back about the use of the word “hypocrite” on more than one occasion in HBP. Both times it is used by Ginny toward Ron. Once in Felix Felicis: ‘Looking for Ron?’ she asked, smirking. ‘He’s over there the filthy hypocrite’ and the other time I cannot recall which chapter… In any event, I don’t believe JKR used this word accidentally. I think she was introducing her opinion of an important concept, and specifically showing how few people are aware of their own hypocrisy. It is evident with James regarding hexing and hating the dark arts, and with Sirius regarding Kreacher... in Severus’s case, I am sure we can think of a few situations where this applies.

Regarding Severus’s DE eagerness/willingness, several points come to mind, none of which I am condoning or condemning, but I can clearly see the point of view.

The rift between Muggles and WW was caused by Muggles over a thousand years ago. From the Lex: Growing distrust on the part of Muggles for wizards and witches compels the four greatest witches and wizards of the age …to found Hogwarts. Slytherin builds the Chamber of Secrets after his idea that only pure-blood wizards should be allowed into Hogwarts was dismissed. The Wizarding World begins to withdraw and hide itself from the Muggle World. The initial fear of persecution was felt by wizards.

An outright fear of Muggles occurred before an offencive prejudice against Muggles. Witch burnings occur in the 14th century until in 1692: The [International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy] goes into effect. A summit meeting of the [International Confederation of Wizards] takes place. ... The result of this summit is the [International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy], which effectively hid the Wizarding community away from the Muggles. For those so inclined such as the Blacks and Malfoys, the prejudice against them was flipped around. This doesn’t seem very uncommon historically, nor does it seem altogether evil. They were being persecuted for being different and, I might add, generally more evolved.

Severus’s case is from the macrocosm into the microcosm. He personally sees his Muggle father verbally/physically abusing his witch mother. He attends a Muggle school where we can only assume (if Harry was harassed) Severus was harassed, thus amplifying his angry feelings towards Muggles. Then there is good old Petunia. I would expect she is one of the last Muggles Severus bothers with for some time, particularly since the “hypocrite” theme resurfaces here: Petunia condemns being a witch and yet wants to be one but is not, is rejected.

I feel that Severus’s experience with Muggles is an example of many wizards’ experience. I am not saying the Blacks or the Malfoys attitudes are legitimate, but they are cultivated for over a millennium. When viewing why Severus entered the DE’s, I cannot overlook these points.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 7, 2009 1:14 am (#1646 of 2988)  
I suppose DD trained them and protected them well. And there weren't that many people in the original Order, so quite a large proportion of them were killed.

BTW do we know when DD formed the Order? It could have been in the later days of the war. - mona


FYI, here is Lex info:

During Voldemort's first rise to power in the 1970s, Dumbledore gathered a group of people together to fight against him. They called themselves The Order of the Phoenix. Members represented a wide variety of folk, from wizards to Squibs. This diversity is a true mark of the organization and very much a key philosophy of Dumbledore, standing in direct contrast to the philosophy of exclusiveness found in those like the Malfoys, the Blacks, and by Voldemort himself.

From another segment:

Members of the Order of The Phoenix of the 1970s who are not part of the above:

Bones, Edgar
Killed along with most of his family. Hagrid considered the Bones family to be among the best witches and wizards of the age (PS4, OP9).

Dearborn, Caradoc
Vanished 6 months after the team photo was taken; his body was never found (OP9).

Fenwick, Benjy
Killed, only bits found of him (OP9).

Longbottom, Frank and Alice
Aurors, each noteworthy for having faced Voldemort personally and survived 3 times. Tortured into madness by the Lestranges and Barty Crouch jr. after Voldemort's fall. Currently in St. Mungo's (GF30, OP9, OP38).

McKinnon, Marlene
Killed by Death Eaters (among them Travers, according to Karkaroff) together with her whole family, two weeks after the team photo was taken. Hagrid considered her one of the best witches of the age (PS4, GF30, OP9).

Meadows, Dorcas
Killed by Voldemort personally, a measure of how important she was to the fight against him (OP6, OP9).

Pettigrew, Peter
Chosen as the Potter's Secret-Keeper due to doubts about the reliability of Remus Lupin, coupled with Sirius Black's last-minute idea of a bluff. Unfortunately, Pettigrew had sold out to Voldemort as a spy at least a year before. Betrayed the Potters, currently serving Voldemort as a Death Eater (PA19, GF1, GF33, OP3).

Prewett, Gideon and Fabian
Brothers who died fighting a group of five Death Eaters, including Antonin Dolohov. Moody thought very highly of them, and Hagrid considered them to be among the best wizards of the age (PS4, OP9, OP25).

Potter, Lily and James
Each noteworthy for having faced Voldemort personally and survived three times. Killed personally by Voldemort in Godric's Hollow on Halloween, 1981 (PS1, OP38).



mona amon - Mar 7, 2009 6:00 am (#1647 of 2988)  
Upon reading recent posts, and regarding mona's asking why/how Severus could be a jerk while judging others, I was reminded of a point I’d brought up way back about the use of the word “hypocrite” on more than one occasion in HBP. Both times it is used by Ginny toward Ron. Once in Felix Felicis: ‘Looking for Ron?’ she asked, smirking. ‘He’s over there the filthy hypocrite’ and the other time I cannot recall which chapter… In any event, I don’t believe JKR used this word accidentally. I think she was introducing her opinion of an important concept, and specifically showing how few people are aware of their own hypocrisy. It is evident with James regarding hexing and hating the dark arts, and with Sirius regarding Kreacher... in Severus’s case, I am sure we can think of a few situations where this applies. (Shadow)

Interesting train of thought, Shadow!  It would never have occured to me to make such connections.

I'm not saying Severus was a jerk who was judging others. That happens all the time! Very Happy I'm asking how he can be a remorseful and repentant jerk and still judge others.

I will reply to Wynnleaf's and Julia's posts later.  



Julia H. - Mar 7, 2009 6:06 am (#1648 of 2988)  
I'm asking how he can be a remorseful and repentant jerk and still judge others. (Mona)

What I am trying to say is that it is because he is also a deeply wounded (traumatised) jerk, who cannot get over his wounds even as he is atoning for his mistakes. You find it possible that Snape can compartmentalise his feelings (while in Voldemort's employ). It seems now Snape's remorse and atonement are in one box, while his own wounds / traumas and their consequences are in a different one.



wynnleaf - Mar 7, 2009 6:23 am (#1649 of 2988)  
I'm asking how he can be a remorseful and repentant jerk and still judge others. (Mona)

What I am trying to say is that it is because he is also a deeply wounded (traumatised) jerk, who cannot get over his wounds even as he is atoning for his mistakes. (Julia)


And I agree that he's a remorseful and very damaged person with wounds that are too deep for healing. So in the end, it hardly matters whether he can't heal because he can't forgive, or can't forgive because he can't heal. The point is that the wounds are too deep for him to heal, so the forgiveness can't happen.

I don't blame Snape for not forgiving the Marauders or being able to get over his wounds, because they aren't wounds he can heal himself. As I've said before, Snape would need really good professional therapy to heal. Whether that would include some deeper understanding of self and his own weaknesses, more objective views of the Marauders, or whatever... the point is, Snape can't heal, at least without real help.

And the only person Snape had was Dumbledore, who, whatever kind of friend and mentor he might have been, wasn't really trying to do the work of helping Snape heal. I don't think DD could do that in any case. A person who would critique Sirius and Sirius' attitudes that led to Kreacher's betrayal, just a bare hour after Harry saw Sirius murdered, or who would send a kid who at 14 and 15 had been through extremely traumatic events home to the Dursleys with no contact and no moral support, simply isn't a person who would have a clue about how to help anyone heal from the sorts of wounds that Snape had.

Snape didn't have anyone to help him heal and he couldn't heal by himself. However you might think they are related, healing or forgiveness, Snape could not heal, and therefore the forgiveness could not come either.

Nevertheless, I think to some extent Snape did set aside some of his ill will toward the Marauders, in that he did attempt to protect Lupin in DH.



mona amon - Mar 8, 2009 7:41 pm (#1650 of 2988)  
Unwilling followers were the ones who were Imperiused or otherwise forced to join. (Julia)

Draco in DH is a good example of an unwilling follower. In a way he was forced to join, but he was very eager in the beginning, but becomes disillusioned when faced with the reality of being a DE. JKR shows us how unwilling he was in almost every scene he appears in, and most important, we see him refuse to identify Harry, even though his family would be forgiven everything if they handed him over to Voldemort. We are shown no such unwillingness in Severus until LV targets Lily.

The problem with DD's comment is that, while DD himself did know about LV's intentions and some of his actions, we have no evidence that anyone else knew until the war started. (Wynnleaf)

But DD's remark is the evidence, given right at the beginning of the books. What more evidence do we need? The people have had precious little to celebrate for the past eleven years, not the past one year. LV started making himself feared 11 years before the Potters were killed.

Because otherwise, what's the "true colors" other than his murdering muggleborns and blood traitors?

What we don't know is when Voldemort "showed his true colors". According to Sirius' comments, it must have been after Regulus joined up. And Snape was older than Regulus and more likely to have joined before Regulus did.


Sirius had run away from home before Regulus signed up, and he did not know the real story, which we learn later from Kreacher. No doubt the Blacks thought that LV had the right idea (even if they knew he was killing muggleborns) until their own Regulus disappeared.

IMO LV showing his true colours means that after a while those who thought he had the right idea because he wanted to get rid of muggleborns came to realise that he was a crazy murderous megalomaniac who was just as likely to kill a loyal supporter as to kill a muggleborn. We do not know when this began to happen, but it was probably much later than when the muggle and muggleborn killings became well known.

Why would DD need a separate "Order" to combat LV, if the Ministry was already well aware of how evil LV was and that he was out killing people and the Auror Department was in full swing fighting him? If the first Order started in a similar way as the second Order, it would be because the Ministry was doing nothing, getting infiltrated by Death Eaters in key positions, and the public at large didn't think LV was a threat.

Dumbledore must have have founded the Order because he was dissatisfied with the ministry's efforts, but we are not given any details about this. We know it couldn't have been because the people didn't regard LV as a threat, because of DD's "11 years" comment.

- If I remember correctly, Regulus was "eager" enough to volunteer to lend Kreacher to Voldemort. I think he told Kreacher it was a great honour. Given the fact that Regulus was so terribly upset later that he was willing to die so that Voldemort could one day be defeated, I conclude Regulus did not for a moment think Voldemort would hurt Kreacher when he offered to lend him the elf. Did he think at all that Voldemort was capable of such cruelty? Remember Regulus was reading all those articles about Voldemort and we don't know how those articles presented Voldemort.

Even if Regulus knew that Voldemort was capable of cruelty to some- muggles, muggleborns and people who had displeased him in some way, he probably hadn't anticipated that he would harm a house-elf belonging to his loyal supporter. His cruelty to Kreacher, whom he has feelings for, makes him realise that what Voldemort was doing was evil.

What I am trying to say is that it is because he is also a deeply wounded (traumatised) jerk, who cannot get over his wounds even as he is atoning for his mistakes. You find it possible that Snape can compartmentalise his feelings (while in Voldemort's employ). It seems now Snape's remorse and atonement are in one box, while his own wounds / traumas and their consequences are in a different one.

Actually I don't think he was 'compartmentalising' only during his DE years. He would have to continue to do it (just to keep his sanity) when DD sends him back to the same environment. All those lies and occlumency and watching people die (when he no longer thought it was OK) must have taken a terrible toll on poor Severus's soul.

More about this some other time.

But I don't think that remorse and reconcilliation can be kept in seperate boxes. Moreover, as I've said before, I do not think he was consciously atoning for his misdeeds, which IMO he never properly acknowledged. It was all about remorse for joining LV since he was evil, and working to bring him down and to protect Harry.

What I am trying to say is that it is because he is also a deeply wounded (traumatised) jerk, who cannot get over his wounds even as he is atoning for his mistakes. (Julia)

I cannot accept 'traumatised' since we have no evidence, but I do agree about 'deeply wounded', and add damaged and warped by his experiences. But my point is not why he can't or won't heal. I can even agree with Wynnleaf that he probably needed professional help in order to get a deeper understanding of himself. The point I'm trying to make is that he was too damaged to properly go through the process of acknowledging what he had done, confession, reconcilliation and healing.



Julia H. - Mar 9, 2009 4:23 am (#1651 of 2988)  
Draco in DH is a good example of an unwilling follower. (Mona)

He is also an example of someone being forced to stay despite his disillusionment. He would like to get out of it but he does not take the risk that leaving Voldemort would mean.

We are shown no such unwillingness in Severus until LV targets Lily.

Neither are we shown eagerness similar to Draco's in the beginning. However, Bella is alluding to Snape's passivity or reluctance.

Even if Regulus knew that Voldemort was capable of cruelty to some- muggles, muggleborns and people who had displeased him in some way, he probably hadn't anticipated that he would harm a house-elf belonging to his loyal supporter.

But it shows Regulus had some illusions about Voldemort and that he did not know "his true colours" or the extent of his cruelty. Do you think Snape anticipated Voldemort would target Muggle-born Lily (who did not even "belong to" any of Voldemort's loyal supporters) while he was Voldemort's willing servant?

But DD's remark is the evidence, given right at the beginning of the books. What more evidence do we need?

If DD's remark is evidence here, why is it not evidence when he talks about Snape's wounds which are too deep for the healing or when he talks about the depth of Snape's remorse?

But I don't think that remorse and reconcilliation can be kept in seperate boxes.

Why not, when it was not his enmity with the Marauders that he had to be remorseful about?

Moreover, as I've said before, I do not think he was consciously atoning for his misdeeds, which IMO he never properly acknowledged. It was all about remorse for joining LV since he was evil, and working to bring him down and to protect Harry.

I really don't see the extreme subtlety here. Why would Snape be remorseful about joining Voldemort if it did not mean he had done something wrong? Can he be remorseful about joining but not mind anything the resulted from joining, anything that he did once he was inside? I think if Snape is remorseful about joining Voldemort at all, then he is remorseful about anything he did to serve him and he also understands that the origin of his misdeeds was the fact that he had joined. It seems to me more than being sorry for specific misdeeds without realizing the basic problem, i.e., that he should never have joined in the first place, because joining was already a "misdeed".

I cannot accept 'traumatised' since we have no evidence, but I do agree about 'deeply wounded', and add damaged and warped by his experiences.

This seems to me like playing with words. You don't accept he is traumatised but you agree that he is damaged. The experiences that cause severe psychological damage to people are called traumas. Regardless whether Snape is "traumatised" or "only damaged", the reason why he cannot forgive / reconcile is a reason he cannot help and therefore he cannot be held accountable for it.

I looked up "trauma" in Wikipedia. Of course, many traumatic symptoms are such that we could only see them if we could look into Snape's mind. However, a few things mentioned there seem to apply. One is that "intense feelings of anger may surface frequently, sometimes in very inappropriate or unexpected situations" and another one is this:

"Memory of the traumatic experience may become accessible only via the associated emotions: factual memories that place the event in temporal and spatial context may not be accessible. This can lead to the traumatic events being constantly experienced as if they were happening in the present, preventing the subject from gaining perspective on the experience."

Snape certainly cannot see the events connected with the Marauders from a perspective of twenty years or without the associated emotions. The fact that he sees Harry as a version of James can also be explained by the quote above.

I can even agree with Wynnleaf that he probably needed professional help in order to get a deeper understanding of himself. The point I'm trying to make is that he was too damaged to properly go through the process of acknowledging what he had done, confession, reconcilliation and healing.

I don't think the fact that Snape is damaged (and therefore reconciliation with the Marauders is impossible to him) takes away anything from the quality of his remorse and atonement. On the contrary, I think Snape goes remarkably far, considering the psychological burden and damage he is suffering from all the time.



mona amon - Mar 9, 2009 6:20 am (#1652 of 2988)  
He is also an example of someone being forced to stay despite his disillusionment. (Julia)

Something we are not shown in Snape's case.

Neither are we shown eagerness similar to Draco's in the beginning. However, Bella is alluding to Snape's passivity or reluctance.

I don't think the beginning really matters. It's what follows later, when the person has a better knowledge of what the organisation that he has joined is all about, that matters.

Bella is referring to more recent times, after LV's rebirth. She probably didn't even notice him earlier. Anyway, I think we are agreed that LV did not use him for torturing or killing people.

Do you think Snape anticipated Voldemort would target Muggle-born Lily (who did not even "belong to" any of Voldemort's loyal supporters) while he was Voldemort's willing servant?

He probably never even thought of it, just as he never made any connection between the absurdity of loving a muggle-born girl and wanting to join an organisation which targetted muggle-borns. Sev seems to have been extremely good at shutting out unwelcome thoughts.

If DD's remark is evidence here, why is it not evidence when he talks about Snape's wounds which are too deep for the healing or when he talks about the depth of Snape's remorse?

DD's remark about Snape's wounds is a subjective assessment. His remark about the eleven years is an objective comment. I do accept his comments about Snape's remorse, but he is specifically referring to remorse about giving the prophecy to Voldemort and its consequences.

I've taken care of the easy ones. I'll be back later to answer the more difficult questions.  



wynnleaf - Mar 9, 2009 6:25 am (#1653 of 2988)  
He is also an example of someone being forced to stay despite his disillusionment. (Julia)

Something we are not shown in Snape's case. (mona amon)

You're saying that because we're not shown Snape as disillusioned (at least in your opinion), you don't think he was disillusioned, yet on the other hand, you say that he was "eager" even though we aren't shown him being eager.

You're assuming eagerness without direct evidence, but deny disillusionment because you don't think there's direct evidence. The first one, assumption is all that's needed, but the second you want hard evidence.

The only evidence you can show of Snape's "eagerness" is that he joined LV in the first place, but you won't consider his leaving and working against LV to be evidence of disillusionment.

Seems to be two different standards.



Julia H. - Mar 9, 2009 8:46 am (#1654 of 2988)  
I don't think the beginning really matters. (Mona)

I was not clear enough. I mean we are never shown eagerness on Snape's part comparable to what Draco apparently has when he (Draco) begins his DE career. I mean Snape is never presented as an eager (or any other kind of) DE on the pages of the book. The first scene we see is the hilltop scene when he is betraying Voldemort.

Bella is referring to more recent times, after LV's rebirth. She probably didn't even notice him earlier.

This is what Bella says, talking about the battle in the MOM:

"No, you were once again absent while the rest of us ran dangers, were you not, Snape?" (HBP)

Since the battle in the MOM was the first DE action after Voldemort's return in which a large group of DE's "ran dangers" for Voldemort, the "once again" part can only imply Bella's general assessement of Snape's enthusiasm, something that goes back to the time before the battle and, consequently, before Voldemort's return. Later, she also mentions "the usual empty words, the usual slithering out of action..."

BTW, if Snape was so much beneath Bella's notice during the first war, it implies he can't have been one of the inner circle, consequently he was less likely to see the full truth about Voldemort and the DE organization.

DD's remark about Snape's wounds is a subjective assessment.

I suppose even a psychologist's observation would be "subjective" in this case. Dumbledore is the person who knows Snape best, and his "subjective remark" is based on years of knowledge about his character and motivations.



wynnleaf - Mar 9, 2009 8:52 am (#1655 of 2988)  
DD's remark about Snape's wounds is a subjective assessment.

Since DD sees much more of Snape than the reader sees on the page, and since DD is the character who knows Snape the most, I think his assessment is the very least subjective possible to us. That is, DD's assessment is based on more knowledge than we, the readers, have got, so his assessment, in my opinion, trumps anything else.



mona amon - Mar 9, 2009 10:26 am (#1656 of 2988)  
You're saying that because we're not shown Snape as disillusioned (at least in your opinion), you don't think he was disillusioned, yet on the other hand, you say that he was "eager" even though we aren't shown him being eager. (Wynnleaf)

To me, 'eager' servant means willing servant. One who was not disillusioned with his master.

The fact that he carried the prophecy to Voldemort proves that he was eager in this way. Contrast this to Draco's extreme reluctance to cooperate with his parents when asked to identify Harry, even though Lucius says they will be forgiven everything if they are the ones to hand Harry over to the Dark Lord. I've explained it further in my post here

You're saying that because we're not shown Snape as disillusioned (at least in your opinion)

I don't think it's just my opinion. Where, in your opinion, are we shown disillusionment in Severus?

Why not, when it was not his enmity with the Marauders that he had to be remorseful about? (Julia)

Just realised that I don't know that much about compartmentalising  but let me try. you keep things in separate boxes (compartmentalising) so that your feelings about one thing will not affect your feelings about another. You are a young DE extremely interested in serving Voldemort. So you keep your feelings of compassion in a seperate box, to be opened later, or not at all. Or now you are 'good' Severus, but you continue to shut away your feelings about LV's victims, or how can you do the job that DD has given you?

But you are fully and consciously remorseful Severus, and you keep your remorse in one box and what exactly in the other boxes? Why would you do this? In what way can your feelings about the Marauders interfere with your remorse? How can you put, for instance, "I'm sorry I accidently brought about James's death" in one box and "I'll never forgive James for what he did to me in school" in another?

I really don't see the extreme subtlety here. Why would Snape be remorseful about joining Voldemort if it did not mean he had done something wrong?

The difference is subtle, but important. He could be remorseful about joining Voldemort because he came to realise that Voldemort was doing wrong, without acknowledging or even recognising the full extent of his own culpability.

The experiences that cause severe psychological damage to people are called traumas.

JKR shows us quite a few events in his life that could have damaged him in some way, some caused by his parents, some by the marauders, some bad choices of his own and some bad luck (like getting sorted into Slytherin). But we are not shown anything happening to Severus that normally causes severe psychological damage, Worst Memory notwithstanding.

"No, you were once again absent while the rest of us ran dangers, were you not, Snape?" (HBP)

Since the battle in the MOM was the first DE action after Voldemort's return in which a large group of DE's "ran dangers" for Voldemort, the "once again" part can only imply Bella's general assessement of Snape's enthusiasm, something that goes back to the time before the battle and, consequently, before Voldemort's return.


It was the first battle. But that doesn't mean that there was no other action going on. Severus rejoined Voldemort at the end of GoF, plenty of time to show his inaction.

BTW, if Snape was so much beneath Bella's notice during the first war, it implies he can't have been one of the inner circle, consequently he was less likely to see the full truth about Voldemort and the DE organization.

Why? If even the general public knew what was going on, what makes you suppose the outer fringe DEs were so innocent?

I suppose even a psychologist's observation would be "subjective" in this case. Dumbledore is the person who knows Snape best, and his "subjective remark" is based on years of knowledge about his character and motivations. (Julia)

That is, DD's assessment is based on more knowledge than we, the readers, have got, so his assessment, in my opinion, trumps anything else. (Wynnleaf)


I was not really finding fault with DD's remark for being subjective. I was pointing out the difference, since you (Julia) brought it up, between his "wounds too deep for healing" comment and his "11 years" comment. The first we can argue about. The second we have to accept as given.



wynnleaf - Mar 9, 2009 12:13 pm (#1657 of 2988)  
JKR shows us quite a few events in his life that could have damaged him in some way, some caused by his parents, some by the marauders, some bad choices of his own and some bad luck (like getting sorted into Slytherin). But we are not shown anything happening to Severus that normally causes severe psychological damage, Worst Memory notwithstanding. (mona amon)

Many people assume that the only things that cause severe psychological damage are Big Obvious things like being caught and held as a prisoner and being tortured, or a particularly horrific rape, or some other Obvious sort of example. Or being long-term physically or sexually abused as a child. Actually, many things can cause severe psychological damage that is at least severe enough to be considered trauma.

Childhood neglect alone can cause it. Long term bullying with no good support system to combat the problem can cause it. Either one, not to mention both combined. Then add to that spending years living in close proximity to kids who are growing up being encouraged by their parents in the direction of Voldemort. Then add losing your one and only decent friend who actually cares about you because she's now disgusted with you. Yeah, that's definitely a recipe for trauma.

Then after all that, he joins a terrorist group which then targets the only person in his life who he actually loves. And that person gets targeted and finally dies in part because of his own actions.

Mona amon, I specifically know people who have suffered from PTS (with accompanying professional diagnosis and therapy) for more "minor" problems -- suffered to the extent of having flashbacks, panic attacks, uncontrollable anger, chronic symptoms of anxiety, etc.

You're saying that because we're not shown Snape as disillusioned (at least in your opinion)

I don't think it's just my opinion. Where, in your opinion, are we shown disillusionment in Severus?


Certainly it's an opinion, because many others think that Snape's turning from LV, his distrust in LV to not kill Lily, his willingness to devote his whole life to destroying LV, his continuing atonement, the words of DD that link the remorse to the atonement, etc., all combine to be a great deal of evidence that Snape became more and more disillusioned with LV.

I'm uncertain why you continued to support the descriptor "eager" when all you really meant was "willing". I would never have disagreed that Snape joined LV willingly, nor that he brought the prophecy to LV willingly. Eager and willing are not the same thing.

There are certain shades of turquoise that I firmly feel look green, but most people consider them blue. When I discuss those shades with others and say "green" no one knows what I'm talking about.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 9, 2009 12:45 pm (#1658 of 2988)  
You are a young DE extremely interested in serving Voldemort. So you keep your feelings of compassion in a seperate box, to be opened later, or not at all. Or now you are 'good' Severus, but you continue to shut away your feelings about LV's victims, or how can you do the job that DD has given you?

But you are fully and consciously remorseful Severus, and you keep your remorse in one box and what exactly in the other boxes? Why would you do this? In what way can your feelings about the Marauders interfere with your remorse? How can you put, for instance, "I'm sorry I accidently brought about James's death" in one box and "I'll never forgive James for what he did to me in school" in another? - mona


Since I brought up this concept in regard to Severus, I will try to contribute.

First off, I am not interested in debating to what percentage Severus was ‘fully / consciously remorseful’. The man threw his life away on more than one occasion and made the decision to devote the remainder of it to serving Harry’s quest. Whether he did it kicking and screaming is not as important to me. For some people, going from caterpillar to butterfly is unpleasant and they don’t even want to become a butterfly. But people see the butterfly in them. DD’s remark on the very night of telling Severus about Lily’s death is evidence of this. (paraphrase) ‘Not tell anyone of the best of you?’ This is a very telling exchange. Severus is not interested in “being good or virtuous” but he nonetheless devotes his life to a “good” cause. I, personally, am not trying to proselytise about Severus’s “fully and conscious remorse”.

Regarding compartmentalisation, I can tell you that traumatic experiences are locked away in such cases. This could include the fact that Severus was partially responsible for James’s death, even though he hated him. To me the way that Severus *still* reacts to Harry and to Sirius supports this concept. He is not stuck in the past in his everyday life, yet *extremely* stuck in the past when he sees Harry's face (James) and Sirius, triggered into the emotions of a school boy. This to me is very indicative of someone who has locked away traumatic feelings. To me, the Worst Memory, at the very least, was a traumatic memory.

It is part of the definition of compartmentalisation that the feelings are *unconscious*. They are not acknowledged by the person because the person is not aware that they exist. It is like when people are in car crashes and don’t recall anything after driving off the road, yet have road rage towards people who unconsciously remind them of what occurred. The mind closes off the section of the experience that was too painful for the person to relive in memory. That would be an extreme case and it is different for everyone. Severus, I feel, was a very sensitive young person and would therefore compartmentalise easily. This goes along with his ability with Occlumency and Harry’s lack of ability. Harry’s constitution is very strong, due to Lily’s love and protection running through his veins and in his “very skin”.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and some might view Severus as having none of these problems.



Julia H. - Mar 9, 2009 3:32 pm (#1659 of 2988)  
Severus rejoined Voldemort at the end of GoF, plenty of time to show his inaction.

It is about one year between the end of GoF and Bella's comment, during which Voldemort was mostly trying to keep his return secret from the general public and the Fudge-government and making sophisticated plans to obtain the Prophecy secretly. Not much room for full-scale DE actions. This is also the same year in which Snape advances from "last-to-return" DE to Voldemort's "most trusted advisor". Bella's comments with "usual" and "once again" are very likely to be based on long-term observations, especially that she does not mention that passivity is new and unusual with Snape.

If even the general public knew what was going on, what makes you suppose the outer fringe DEs were so innocent?

I did not say "innocent", only likely to know less then those in the inner circle. As for comparing them to the general public: These people had been lured into the organization somehow so they were directly influenced by it. They could be more directly manipulated than the general public and at the same time knew less about what was going on than inner circle followers.

He could be remorseful about joining Voldemort because he came to realise that Voldemort was doing wrong, without acknowledging or even recognising the full extent of his own culpability.

Since we know very little about how Snape joined or what he was thinking and doing while he was a willing follower, I would even risk the opinion that Snape alone knows what he has to be remorseful about.

But let's suppose I accept your opinion that Snape does not recognize the full extent of his culpability. It will probably mean he is only remorseful about some of the bad things he did but not about others. In that case, my conclusion is this: If this fragmentary remorse makes Snape completely change and, as MAMS says, throw away his life on more than one occasion for the purpose of atonement and devote it to a cause which is the opposite of what he is guilty about, then it is perhaps enough remorse. It is perhaps good he does not feel remorse about the other things as well, because, if this partial remorse makes him go through all that, then who knows what three or ten times as huge remorse would do to him? It might just kill him ten or fifteen years earlier and what good would it be?

But we are not shown anything happening to Severus that normally causes severe psychological damage...

I agree with Wynnleaf and with MAMS that we are shown just that. Apparently, besides the type of things that most easily come to our minds, traumas can also be caused by long-term exposure to even milder abuse. But, in my last post, I was trying to point out that Snape shows traumatic symptoms, which is IMO more important when we want to decide whether he is traumatised or not than our personal opinions concerning what can cause traumas and what cannot, which is BTW not the same for everyone. Besides the symptoms I mentioned in that post, another symptom which I think applies to Snape is that traumas can also lead to extreme confusion and insecurity.

How can you put, for instance, "I'm sorry I accidently brought about James's death" in one box and "I'll never forgive James for what he did to me in school" in another?

I can understand how it happens because I think Snape is both remorseful and traumatised. Since you do not accept that, you probably will not accept this explanation either, but this is all I can offer. First of all, Snape probably does not think "I'll never forgive James for what he did to me in school" because, as I said, he does not approach these events as past events. It is a symptom of a trauma that he experiences these events via the original emotions and he cannot put them into a time and space perspective, instead he perceives them as if they were happening now. I think this perception is perfectly shown in the books. (I remember other readers commenting that, in the presence of Sirius, Snape becomes 16 once again.) It is probably the reason why he can identify Harry with James so much. What happened is simply not "past" to him. This, I think, is symbolized by the wounds that do not heal. Since he still feels exactly the same emotions that he was feeling when the traumatic events happened in reality, he simply does not have the necessary distance to forgive or to reconcile or to let go.

Remorse is not a means to help someone get over a trauma. Snape can feel as much remorse as possible at all and still remain traumatised.

I also did some internet "research" on the psychological interpretations of remorse. I've found that several psychologists have described remorse as an emotion focusing on the person's actions, not on the self or as an emotion condemning one's own action rather than oneself. It has also been pointed out that the pain of what one has done to others may be so much in the foreground in one's consciousness that there is simply no room left for thoughts about oneself. The same descriptions also mention that actions aiming to undo the action one is remorseful about are evidence of remorse. So it seems to me that remorse does not necessarily include introspection or any acknowledgement that one was a jerk, rather it focuses on the actions now seen as wrong and possibly (but not necessarily) on reparative actions. I think these parameters apply to Snape perfectly.



tandaradei - Mar 9, 2009 3:35 pm (#1660 of 2988)  
As to compartmentalization -- interesting.

I've had an incident of physical trauma, many decades past. The odd thing now is, that decades later, sometimes my body reacts to pain not at all in some ways and other times in the opposite extreme. For example, in some places of my body you can practically do surgery on it; HOWEVER, if a doctor now tries to put a tongue depressor on my tongue, my gag reflex is unbelievable (I usually end up on the floor.)

Now what's interesting is that those two aspects appear to me, to be unrelated to the original traumatic incident. It's like, my body has become a slot machine to certain intrusions, some which cause my body to go one way, and others which cause my body to go the other.

Perhaps this is compartmentalism at some subconscious level?

If my story is any barometer, then I'd expect some "slot-machine" reactions from Snape.

ETA: OK, just read up and thought about remorse. To me, remorse is like saying "I was wrong." But what of that? Folks say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, remorse perhaps being one such good intention. Folks can argue about actual remorse all they want, but where does that take us? Actions matter. Actions in the story are recorded. To me, the remorse question has more to do with fleshing out Snape's personality, and less to do with final judgment the character.


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Post  Mona on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:47 pm

me and my shadow 813 - Mar 9, 2009 4:11 pm (#1661 of 2988)  
Perhaps this is compartmentalism at some subconscious level? - tanda

It seems the body/cellular level holds a huge amount of unconscious memory. This is attested to by physical therapists, who would categorise such reactions as "muscle memory". IMO it goes much deeper than simply a muscle twitching the way it twitched during a given trauma. Sub-consciousness is involved and affects everyday life without our knowledge.

If my story is any barometer, then I'd expect some "slot-machine" reactions from Snape.

I like the slot machine analogy. In Severus's case I would say any DE traumas (i.e. witnessing torture and murder) could fit such a description of randomness. Regarding the James/Sirius traumas, I think there is a very direct link and the "trigger points" are by no means random. It is when he deals with Harry and Sirius, IMO.

To me, the remorse question has more to do with fleshing out Snape's personality, and less to do with final judgment the character.

Well said. My feelings, too.



Julia H. - Mar 9, 2009 11:28 pm (#1662 of 2988)  
Cool avatar, Shadow.  



mona amon - Mar 10, 2009 1:11 am (#1663 of 2988)  
JKR shows us quite a few events in his life that could have damaged him in some way, some caused by his parents, some by the marauders, some bad choices of his own and some bad luck (like getting sorted into Slytherin). But we are not shown anything happening to Severus that normally causes severe psychological damage, Worst Memory notwithstanding. (mona amon)

Many people assume that the only things that cause severe psychological damage are Big Obvious things like being caught and held as a prisoner and being tortured, or a particularly horrific rape, or some other Obvious sort of example. Or being long-term physically or sexually abused as a child. Actually, many things can cause severe psychological damage that is at least severe enough to be considered trauma. (wynnleaf)


I knew this was going to be pointed out to me, but I didn't have time to go into it in my previous post. I know that it’s not the external facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but one's subjective emotional experience of the event. But in a novel, the author cannot present to us external events that we do not usually think of as causing severe trauma and expect us to conclude that a character was severely traumatised. She will have to be more explicit. She shows us no symptoms either, apart from anger and emotional immaturity, which can be due to other causes.

I do not agree that the ability to compartmentalise is a sign of mental trauma. JKR herself brought this up, and she was referring to Draco, not Severus. No doubt it can be proved that Draco was also severely traumatised (only child, evil overbearing father, dad getting sent to Azkaban, and really, one can only imagine the amount of damage that getting turned into a ferret and being bounced around in the Great Hall by a DE in disguise must have done to his psyche...), but surely that was not her point.

I do not see much point in putting any of the HP characters on the couch. Her books are adventure stories, not studies of neurotic disorders.

Those who want to see Severus Snape as a severely traumatised basket case can no doubt find a few details in the books to support this. And it is as genuine an interprettation as any other. However, I cannot accept it for myself, nor do I feel it was the author's intention to portray him that way. Isn't he far more interesting as a person whose nature is such that he doesn't care a jot about remorse and redemption, but is nevertheless capable of extreme self-sacrifice and heroism, than a hopeless, confused, traumatised neurotic mess?

She has shown us a severely traumatised character, Arianna Dumbledore. But however sad we might feel for her, she can only be a very minor character.

Mona amon, I specifically know people who have suffered from PTS (with accompanying professional diagnosis and therapy) for more "minor" problems -- suffered to the extent of having flashbacks, panic attacks, uncontrollable anger, chronic symptoms of anxiety, etc.

We are shown none of these symptoms, as far as I know, for Sev. The two or three instances when we are shown uncontrolled rage is for perfectly understandable reasons.

I'm uncertain why you continued to support the descriptor "eager" when all you really meant was "willing". (Wynnleaf)

Well I tried to drop it after I had explained what I meant, but every now and then it would be brought up in someone's post, "but you said eager follower!"  

Certainly it's an opinion, because many others think that Snape's turning from LV, his distrust in LV to not kill Lily, his willingness to devote his whole life to destroying LV, his continuing atonement, the words of DD that link the remorse to the atonement, etc., all combine to be a great deal of evidence that Snape became more and more disillusioned with LV. (Wynnleaf)

Obviously I was not talking about Severus after he had turned away from Voldemort. I know just as well as anyone else that he couldn't have been a willing servant of LV and of DD at the same time. I'm talking of the time when he was still a DE. And it not an 'opinion'. Either we are shown Severus as a disillusioned DE during this time or we aren't. And we aren't.

Bella's comments with "usual" and "once again" are very likely to be based on long-term observations,...[cut]...(Julia)

But what do her comments prove anyway? Only that she regarded him as someone who was suspiciously inactive when it came to doing things for the cause. And we have already agreed that Severus wasn't given any of the usual DE jobs like killing and torturing. She sees him as someone who wriggled out of his DE obligations (killing Harry Potter, trying to find the vanished Dark Lord, helping him to get the Philosopher's stone,etc) once LV had fallen, unlike her who went to Azkaban for him.

They could be more directly manipulated than the general public and at the same time knew less about what was going on than inner circle followers.

I don't agree that any DE, inner circle or outer circle, would have known less about what Voldemort was doing than the general public, though they may have regarded it in quite a different light.

If this fragmentary remorse makes Snape completely change and, as MAMS says, throw away his life on more than one occasion for the purpose of atonement and devote it to a cause which is the opposite of what he is guilty about, then it is perhaps enough remorse.

I don't believe he did it out of remorse or desire to atone, but because he was following the laws of his own nature. It's more than enough from society's point of view. Not enough for his personal redemption which could only have come about with reconcilliation to his fellow human beings.

Severus is not interested in “being good or virtuous” but he nonetheless devotes his life to a “good” cause. I, personally, am not trying to proselytise about Severus’s “fully and conscious remorse”. (Shadow)

I completely agree, and I'm not proselytising or judging either. Although it may seem like it, trying to show what Severus ought to have done or how he ought to be is not the point I'm trying to make. I'm trying to show that he was a warped, bitter man who was supremely indifferent to the trifling details of life that bother most people- acceptance, forgiveness, repentance, reconcilliation. I believe he was remorseful because he was reformed- he made a complete about-turn from DE to Dumbledore's man through and through, and there is an implicit remorse in reformation. But I do not agree that he was just the same as any average remorseful character, one who has thoroughly looked into himself, recognises and acknowledges the extent of his own culpability and consciously making amends for his past mistakes. Why does it matter? Because these two views of Severus are quite different, and I'm trying to explain which one of them is mine.



Julia H. - Mar 10, 2009 2:17 am (#1664 of 2988)  
I did not really expect to be able to convince you, Mona. But at least now I see your interpretation better. So far it has seemed to me that you are saying things like Snape was remorseful but only a little, he was an eager DE but only a little, he was damaged but only a little and he reformed but only a little.

Anyway, I still think remorse is an important topic in the world of HP and Snape is clearly shown to be remorseful and that is what leads to his redemption, moreover that Snape's story is about remorse to a large extent. That he is not described to be remorseful separately for every single detail of his past does not seem to matter very much. In my eyes, he atones for everything he has to atone for and we also see that he is capable of feeling and does feel remorse. The rest can be inferred. It is the result that counts.

I cannot answer for JKR's intention about presenting Snape as traumatised or not. I don't accept the "this is literature" argument here because I don't believe that literature can only show Big Traumatizing Events to present a truly traumatised person. Snape's background and problems are described in a surprisingly realistic way. I've tried to point out that Snape displays traumatic symptoms which are more than anger and emotional immaturity, which can be due to other causes (what other causes?) or even a few instances of uncontrolled rage. If JKR put them into the books only accidentally, that is not the reader's problem.

I don't believe he did it out of remorse or desire to atone, but because he was following the laws of his own nature. It's more than enough from society's point of view. Not enough for his personal redemption which could only have come about with reconcilliation to his fellow human beings.

Reconciliation does not equal remorse. It can follow remorse in certain circumstances but remorse in itself does not necessarily result in reconciliation. Nor does remorse necessarily mean self analysis. The main idea is condemning one's own actions while attempts to undo these wrong actions serve as evidence of remorse even though remorse is possible without such attempts.

Since I think Snape is traumatised, I also think the way you make a connection between Snape's remorse and Snape's reconciliation specifically with the Marauders means you expect him to "heal" his own trauma by means of remorse. I think Snape's emotions regarding the Marauders and his remorse about his past deeds are two different psychological processes and have nothing to do with each other.

The ability of human beings to feel remorse is a means that serves the needs of society in the first place, not the needs of the remorseful individual. (A remorseful person is less likely to commit the same offence again.) Therefore remorse is not the way to individual happiness, at least not necessarily. Of course, it can "make the soul whole again", as it does in the world of HP, but I don't think even that equals "living happily ever after".

I've found a poem that seems to be appropriate here, so that is how I finish this post:

Remorse is memory awake,

Her companies astir, --

A presence of departed acts

At window and at door.

It's past set down before the soul,

And lighted with a match,

Perusal to facilitate

Of its condensed despatch.

Remorse is cureless, -- the disease

Not even God can heal;

For 't is his institution, --

The complement of hell.

(Emily Dickinson)



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 10, 2009 12:54 pm (#1665 of 2988)  
I do not agree that the ability to compartmentalise is a sign of mental trauma. JKR herself brought this up, and she was referring to Draco, not Severus. - mona

I don't have a lot of time but wanted to partially agree with this statement. The ability described in regard to Draco I would call *disassociation* which is what I commented on could happen with Severus's experience being a DE. It is not due to something that was inflicted upon him, rather a *desensitisation* due to repeatedly witnessing or being in the environment of disturbing scenes. Something similar is living in the ghetto where gunshots and screaming become "normal" due to desensitisation. I think Severus has this ability innately, possibly compounded due to his father. But I do see the Worst Memory in particular as being a trauma that directly caused Severus's inability to recover from it and treat Harry as if he were James. He speaks about Harry as if he were *identical* to James, which he most obviously is not.

More later  

edit: Thanks, Julia  



wynnleaf - Mar 10, 2009 1:37 pm (#1666 of 2988)  
Those who want to see Severus Snape as a severely traumatized basket case can no doubt find a few details in the books to support this. And it is as genuine an interpretation as any other. However, I cannot accept it for myself, nor do I feel it was the author's intention to portray him that way. Isn't he far more interesting as a person whose nature is such that he doesn't care a jot about remorse and redemption, but is nevertheless capable of extreme self-sacrifice and heroism, than a hopeless, confused, traumatized neurotic mess? (mona amon)

My feeling here is that when you think of someone who is "traumatized" you are assuming the "basket case", the "hopeless, confused.... neurotic mess". In fact, the people I've known who suffered from trauma were not basket cases, did not appear confused except in certain specific cases, and were not a "neurotic mess". Instead, they were people who had a very difficult time dealing with certain aspects of their past and therefore found themselves unable to stop their emotions reacting to certain "trigger" stimuli. Otherwise, they were highly capable people who generally seemed quite rational and normal. But they were still suffering the effects of past trauma.

Obviously I was not talking about Severus after he had turned away from Voldemort. I know just as well as anyone else that he couldn't have been a willing servant of LV and of DD at the same time. I'm talking of the time when he was still a DE. And it not an 'opinion'. Either we are shown Severus as a disillusioned DE during this time or we aren't. And we aren't. (mona amon)

It is opinion as to how we interpret that first scene between Snape and DD on the hill. In my opinion, Snape is showing his disillusionment when he clearly does not trust LV to keep his promise, even to a servant who has brought him such an important thing as the prophecy. Snape's automatic willingness to do "anything" also, in my opinion is showing his disillusionment with LV, in that Snape is now willing to do whatever it takes to bring LV down. Remember, saving the "chosen one" is, in effect, directly working against LV. Even bringing the news to DD that LV had the prophecy and was trying to target the family involved was betraying LV. Does that prove that Snape was disillusioned? Of course not. But I think when you combine Snape's clear distrust of LV (Snape assumes he's risking his life on the assumption that LV can't be trusted), as well as his willingness to betray LV, that shows he's disillusioned with LV.

We all agree Snape willingly joined up. The question is whether he was ever disillusioned with LV's general goals, or with LV himself. Since he shows his distrust of LV right from the moment he goes to DD, and later shows his objections to indicators of pureblood ethics (not wanting others to use the term), plus his growing desire to save people in general (showing his change of view as to the value of the lives of others), and then also not wanting LV or his DEs to succeed in other objectives as well .... well, to me that shows he had completely turned against him as the years went by. But I think that his distrust of LV, from the moment he knew Lily was targeted, is the first indicator of his disillusionment.

So, yeah, it's opinion. You don't think anything in that first scene indicates disillusionment and I do.

I don't believe he did it out of remorse or desire to atone, but because he was following the laws of his own nature.

To me this just can't work with a person who isn't disillusioned with LV. I don't see how it can just be "his own nature" to save people from LV and other risks, to risk his own life for people who distrust and dislike him, be so strongly committed to his responsibilities and his own word, and yet not have any personal disillusionment with a man who killed people indiscriminantly, cared nothing for the value of others, was completely untrustworthy, and otherwise representing the opposite of those virtues which Snape had.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 10, 2009 2:30 pm (#1667 of 2988)  
But I do not agree that he was just the same as any average remorseful character, one who has thoroughly looked into himself, recognises and acknowledges the extent of his own culpability and consciously making amends for his past mistakes. Why does it matter? Because these two views of Severus are quite different, and I'm trying to explain which one of them is mine. - mona

They are very different. Polar opposites in fact, to me. The biggest hurdle I have preventing me labeling Severus as not having made amends is the trauma caused by his past with James and Lily. The more severe the lack of reconciliation with the past, the more splits develop in the mind and the more charged the past triggering becomes. I do not see Severus as reacting consciously whatsoever. Not even to students. I don't think he even realises how he behaves is irrational. This to me is a key point. I hope that makes sense.

Little posts for now rather than long ones... More later.



Julia H. - Mar 10, 2009 4:25 pm (#1668 of 2988)  
Isn't he far more interesting as a person whose nature is such that he doesn't care a jot about remorse and redemption, but is nevertheless capable of extreme self-sacrifice and heroism, than a hopeless, confused, traumatised neurotic mess? (Mona)

I don't mean that he is nothing else but a "neurotic mess" but that he is a person who fights internal and external fights alike, even without any real personal hopes for himself, and yes, that the trauma and its consequences are parts of his personality (and his story), as well as remorse and the willingness to atone. His willingness to atone may even clash with the effects of the trauma, and these are the circumstances in which Snape nevertheless walks down the way that he chose after Lily's death.

I don't know, I find the Snape of my interpretation quite interesting... as you have no doubt noticed.  

I do not see much point in putting any of the HP characters on the couch. Her books are adventure stories, not studies of neurotic disorders.

I would put quite a few HP characters on the couch. Adventure story or not, JKR manages to give us a whole range of characters with a colourful variety of psychological disorders. I would not call Snape (the)"average" (remorseful character etc.) but psychologically realistic.

I don't believe he did it out of remorse or desire to atone, but because he was following the laws of his own nature.

I don't quite understand what you mean by "the laws of Snape's own nature". What are they? Among other things, I see development, personal growth in Snape's life story as he changes from a "willing DE" into a self-sacrificing hero on the good side. The "laws of his own nature" sound like things he has got all the time, but perhaps he does not follow these laws before he turns away from Voldemort. If this is so, then I also wonder what makes him start following these laws (whatever they are) in your opinion (as I understand, it is not remorse or anything else ordinary people can be motivated by).



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 10, 2009 7:00 pm (#1669 of 2988)  
To me a 'hopeless confused traumatic mess' would be Argus Filch. I'd imagine he was traumatised by being a Squib. In CoS he is obviously very sensitive about it, trying to hide it and trying desperately to learn magic. We have some parallels here with Severus, although as usual JKR takes the parallels and makes one more extreme than the other (as with DD and Severus).

A similarity to me is that Filch overreacts and wants to punish those he is jealous of, namely the students whose magic causes him to have to clean up their messes… non-magically, of course. To him it's like they are personally throwing it in his face that he is a Squib, when their behaviour has nothing to do with him. But when there is a trauma or trigger, the slightest “slight” is seen as personal and the defences become blown out of proportion. This strongly reminds me of James’s (Harry's) effect on Severus, and brings me to the parallel between Severus and Draco.

As mona mentioned, JKR tells us that he and Severus are similar, I think it was said, in reference to their natural ability at Occlumency and their being unlike Harry. I see Draco and Severus both as calculating, and this is what is needed for secrets, hiding incriminating thoughts, and generally being deceptive. In fact, I have been meaning to mention that Severus's locking away painful memories actually makes his mental acuity stronger and, thus, his ability to focus on mental "gymnastics" finer. This concept was alluded to by DD, when he referred to Vold having no soul, no love, no true emotions left, yet having maximum mental power and strength. This is consistent with deeply compartmentalised people (people who have been programmed or brainwashed): they frequently have photographic memories.

However, there is a fundamental difference between Draco and Severus, the very thing that makes Draco similar to James’s bullying: a lack of suffering. Severus does not come from priviledge and is sensitive about it I am sure, and I cannot imagine it is accidental that we only see him as a student on the defencive (this to me is a direct cause of his abusing power and "bullying" students as a professor). James and Draco on the other hand pick fights for entertainment and are thus offencive.

So, getting to the real point... when I mentioned that Draco disassociates as Severus did while being a DE, the difference is there was absolutely no trauma in Draco's life until after he takes on the Task. Then the disassociation begins for him and, if it hadn't been for DD's speech on the Tower and Severus fulfilling the Vow, Draco might have easily disassociated himself into worse mental states.

I do not see much point in putting any of the HP characters on the couch. Her books are adventure stories, not studies of neurotic disorders. - mona

All I have to say is WOW. I wholeheartedly disagree, obviously. But I'd say so would JKR. From her 2005 interview, when asked a question about a character she immediately touches on what psychological and emotional motivations she infused them with, which comes across so very clearly for me, reading between the lines. Here are two samples:

ES: How can someone so -

JKR: Intelligent -

ES: be so blind with regard to certain things?

JKR: Well, there is information on that to come, in seven. But I would say that I think it has been demonstrated, particularly in books five and six that immense brainpower does not protect you from emotional mistakes and I think Dumbledore really exemplifies that. In fact, I would tend to think that being very, very intelligent might create some problems and it has done for Dumbledore, because his wisdom has isolated him, and I think you can see that in the books, because where is his equal, where is his confidante, where is his partner? He has none of those things. He’s always the one who gives, he’s always the one who has the insight and has the knowledge. So I think that, while I ask the reader to accept that McGonagall is a very worthy second in command, she is not an equal. You have a slightly circuitous answer, but I can't get much closer than that.

ES: No, that was a good answer.

MA: It's interesting about Dumbledore being lonely.

JKR: I see him as isolated, and a few people have said to me rightly I think, that he is detached. My sister said to me in a moment of frustration, it was when Hagrid was shut up in his house after Rita Skeeter had published that he was a half-breed, and my sister said to me, “Why didn't Dumbledore go down earlier, why didn't Dumbledore go down earlier?” I said he really had to let Hagrid stew for a while and see if he was going to come out of this on his own because if he had come out on his own he really would have been better. "Well he's too detached, he's too cold, it's like you,” she said!" [Laughter] By which she meant that where she would immediately rush in and I would maybe stand back a little bit and say, “Let's wait and see if he can work this out.” I wouldn't leave him a week. I'd leave him maybe an afternoon. But she would chase him into the hut.

ES: When Sirius was framed for the death of Pettigrew and the Muggles, did he actually laugh or was that something made up to make him look even more insane?

JKR: Did he actually laugh? Yes, I would say he did. Well, he did, because I’ve created him. Sirius, to me, he's kind of on the edge, do you not get that feeling from Sirius? He's a little bit of a loose cannon. I really like him as a character and a lot of people really liked him as a character and are still asking me when he's going to come back. [Laughter.] But Sirius had his flaws – I’ve sort of discussed that before – some quite glaring flaws. I see Sirius as someone who was a case of arrested development. I think you see that from his relationship with Harry in “Phoenix.” He kind of wants a mate from Harry, and what Harry craves is a father. Harry's kind of outgrowing that now. Sirius wasn't equipped to give him that. The laughter – he was absolutely unhinged by James's death. Harry and Sirius were very similar in the way that both of them were craving family connections with friends. So, Sirius with James wanted a brother, and Harry has nominated Ron and Hermione as his family. This is the thing I found interesting — it might have been on MuggleNet's comments, this is a while back when I was actually looking for fan sites of the month (or whatever arbitrary time period I do) — it was around the time I was reading comments for the first time and there was something in there where kids were saying, “I don't understand why he's shouting at Ron and Hermione, I mean, I’d shout at my parents, I would never shout at my best friends.” But, he has no one else to shout at. That was interesting from young kids, because I just don't think they could make that leap of imagination. He’s very alone. Anyway I've wandered miles away from Sirius.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 10, 2009 10:27 pm (#1670 of 2988)  
That was a long post... but I have more to say!  

If folks are having trouble connecting the "compartmentalising" idea with characters here, I give you a final example: what was Vold doing with horcruxes but literally compartmentalising bits of his soul/emotions into separate boxes? The horcrux is a perfect externalised, illustrated metaphor of what I am explaining. I do not believe he was aware he was trying to get rid of painful emotions, but being as he detests love it stands to reason that he hates it for a reason. He was given none and so he has none for himself and his pain.

As JKR often does, she shows us gradients of this same concept: Severus not having murdered but having compartmentalised due to having love and losing it; and Harry, having gone through as much or more pain than either one of them and yet, having been infused with love from the start, remains fully whole, able to deal with the full range of emotions and thus our hero.

I think I'm done...



Julia H. - Mar 11, 2009 2:46 am (#1671 of 2988)  
However, there is a fundamental difference between Draco and Severus, the very thing that makes Draco similar to James’s bullying: a lack of suffering. Severus does not come from privilege and is sensitive about it I am sure, and I cannot imagine it is accidental that we only see him as a student on the defensive (this to me is a direct cause of his abusing power and "bullying" students as a professor). James and Draco on the other hand pick fights for entertainment and are thus offensive. (MAMS)

I completely agree. There is another important difference between Snape and Draco, related to what you mentioned: Draco is proud of his father and has complete confidence in him or, rather, in Lucius's power and influence and ability to achieve just about anything he wants. This makes Draco feel more secure than what is good for him (and I know security is very important for children). Snape probably never feels trust, admiration, respect or confidence regarding his father and that is one of the reasons why he is so insecure and probably the reason why he needs a new "father" later in his (adult) life. Draco, however, loses all his illusions about his father in a very cruel way.

IMO, the first possibly traumatic experience Draco experiences is not after but just before he joins up: It is when his father is imprisoned. It seems Draco genuinely loves his parents and is genuinely concerned about Lucius, but Lucius being defeated and imprisoned must also shake the whole image Draco has had about him. After Lucius is "freed" by Voldemort, this impressive picture is completely torn into pieces as Draco can see his proud father tremble in front of Voldemort, punished, his wand (obviously a symbol of power) taken away, and thus reduced to the status of a Muggle-born wizard or a house-elf (although elves can still do a lot of magic without wands). He can also see his parents being eager to hand over Harry Potter to Voldemort when he himself is already reluctant to identify him.

It is interesting that while it is quite possible that Snape is initially drawn towards pureblood wizards and even to Voldemort at least partly as a consequence of lacking a proper, respectable and accepting father figure, Draco becomes a DE following in his admired father's footsteps. Both will be disappointed. Then there is Harry, who, I think, refuses the very idea of ever being tempted by Voldemort's power several times by saying that Voldemort, after all, killed his parents.



mona amon - Mar 11, 2009 3:04 am (#1672 of 2988)  
Interesting posts, Julia and Shadow. But LOL, what a lot to reply to!  

I don't accept the "this is literature" argument here because I don't believe that literature can only show Big Traumatizing Events to present a truly traumatised person. Snape's background and problems are described in a surprisingly realistic way. I've tried to point out that Snape displays traumatic symptoms which are more than anger and emotional immaturity, which can be due to other causes (what other causes?) or even a few instances of uncontrolled rage. If JKR put them into the books only accidentally, that is not the reader's problem.

I agree that literature does not have to show only big traumatising events in order to convince us. But if we are shown an obviously traumatising event, as well as its effects on the victim, we accept it unquestioningly. But if the author shows us an event that not everyone will recognise as traumatising, then she has to be more explicit, so that we all (or most of us) get the message. She has to show us clearly that the event had a traumatic effect on the victim. JKR herself doesn't seem to regard Snape as the victim of trauma. "Snape is vindictive, he's cruel. He's not a big man," she insisted. "But he loves. I like him, but I'd also like to slap him hard." Nothing about "but allowances have to be made for him".

Can you give me the post no. where you have tried to point out Severus's traumatic symptoms?

Reconciliation does not equal remorse. It can follow remorse in certain circumstances but remorse in itself does not necessarily result in reconciliation. Nor does remorse necessarily mean self analysis.

It does not necessarily involve self analysis when your remorse is like Sev's (or at least what I picture as Sev's remorse). I don't suppose remorse alone is of much use, except perhaps to heal your soul, a concept too abstract for my mundane, practical mind. (This reminds me of Gellert Grindelwald, staring at the four walls in his cell in Numengard and feeling remorseful. Was there any point? I think there is, but I don't get it.)

Anyway, while there may be something in remorse itself, it is more important as the stepping stone to reformation. First remorse, then reformation, then atonement and reconciliation. This is the process by which one repairs the damage done to oneself and society by one's former evil acts. If there is reformation, but no atonement, the damage one was doing will end, but no repair will be done. If there is atonement but no reconciliation (Severus's case), the damage to society is repaired, but the damage to oneself remains. The person remains a bitter, warped, unhappy individual.

Obviously I was not talking about Severus after he had turned away from Voldemort. (Mona)

It is opinion as to how we interpret that first scene between Snape and DD on the hill. In my opinion, Snape is showing his disillusionment when he clearly does not trust LV to keep his promise, even to a servant who has brought him such an important thing as the prophecy. (Wynnleaf)


I was not talking about what happened on the hilltop. I was talking about the time between Severus joining Voldemort and the minute he turned away from Voldemort, which would be the minute he discovered that he was going to murder Lily. During this time period we are shown absolutely nothing that can be interpretted as disillusionment on Sev's part. Since there is no evidence of Sev's disillusionment during this time, it is not just my opinion. It is a fact.

I don't see how it can just be "his own nature" to save people from LV and other risks, to risk his own life for people who distrust and dislike him, be so strongly committed to his responsibilities and his own word, and yet not have any personal disillusionment with a man who killed people indiscriminantly, cared nothing for the value of others, was completely untrustworthy, and otherwise representing the opposite of those virtues which Snape had.

Here you are implying that I said Severus was never dissillusioned with Voldemort for the whole of his life. Where have I ever said or implied anything like that?

I do not see Severus as reacting consciously whatsoever. Not even to students. I don't think he even realises how he behaves is irrational. This to me is a key point. (Shadow)

I kind of agree. But I think it is an irrationality born out of immaturity and an extreme lack of introspection rather than the result of a trauma. It is irrational that he sees Harry as a mini James when he is actually not like James at all, but not irrational enough to say he was mentally unhinged by trauma. That would be if he really thought Harry was James, or something like that.

Anyway, why can't we blame good old fashioned grudge bearing and hatred rather than trauma for the way he treats Harry? It's not that unusual for people to hate the children of the people they hate.

I don't know, I find the Snape of my interpretation quite interesting... as you have no doubt noticed. (Julia)

LOL, and I think I'm beginning to understand your interprettation better, just as I think you are beginning to understand mine. Not 'agree with', but understand.  

That's all I have time for now.  

EDIT: just realised I missed reading your latest post, Julia. Will do so now.



Julia H. - Mar 11, 2009 7:34 am (#1673 of 2988)  
But I think it is an irrationality born out of immaturity and an extreme lack of introspection rather than the result of a trauma. (Mona)

But in this case, not only the lack of introspection is extreme but the immaturity as well. It is conspicuous that Snape is not irrational and immature all the time, only when it comes to Harry and other Gryffindors. In many situations, he can act rationally and even maturely and responsibly. What is the reason for this extreme irrationality and immaturity, apparently tied to certain situations and certain persons?

It is irrational that he sees Harry as a mini James when he is actually not like James at all, but not irrational enough to say he was mentally unhinged by trauma. That would be if he really thought Harry was James, or something like that.

No, not all traumatized people end up like that.  

Anyway, why can't we blame good old fashioned grudge bearing and hatred rather than trauma for the way he treats Harry?

We can, but since I can see both reasons for and results of a trauma in Snape's story, I think the trauma is at the root of it. Part of the problem is that Harry is not only James's son but also Lily's and Snape seems to be "denying" the latter. Without the trauma and the resulting irrationality, Snape would have equal reason to love and to hate Harry. I think it is the trauma that tilts the balance.

But if the author shows us an event that not everyone will recognise as traumatising, then she has to be more explicit, so that we all (or most of us) get the message. She has to show us clearly that the event had a traumatic effect on the victim.

All I can say is that it seems to be explicit enough to me (and apparently to some other readers). It is apparently not explicit enough to everyone, but is there anything that seems to be equally explicit to everyone with regard to Snape? JKR perhaps made a far too good job trying to portray him ambiguously...

Can you give me the post no. where you have tried to point out Severus's traumatic symptoms?

In #1651, I quoted this and added the observation below:

"Memory of the traumatic experience may become accessible only via the associated emotions: factual memories that place the event in temporal and spatial context may not be accessible. This can lead to the traumatic events being constantly experienced as if they were happening in the present, preventing the subject from gaining perspective on the experience."

Snape certainly cannot see the events connected with the Marauders from a perspective of twenty years or without the associated emotions. The fact that he sees Harry as a version of James can also be explained by the quote above.

Whenever a memory of Snape's that is connected with the Marauders comes up, he reacts with the kind of anger and frustration that seems to fit a fresh experience. When Snape is reminded of James or when he is face to face with another Marauder, he appears to feel the same strong emotions that he must have experienced as a teenage boy. The Marauders are triggers that bring back the traumatic events.

As for Harry, you are right that while Snape identifies Harry with James, he knows, of course, that Harry is in fact Harry, not James. The "identification" probably means that Snape expects Harry to relate to him exactly in the same way as James did or would. (A sign of this is, for example, when Snape immediately assumes that Harry has been "having fun" watching his worst memory just as James was "having fun" tormenting him.) Harry evokes memories of James in such a way that it probably makes Snape feel threatened and insecure (so he attacks) or, if not that, then any other emotions that James used to make him feel. It is not rational since Harry is a student, Snape is a teacher, and the relationship between them is different from the relationship between James and Snape. Yet, Snape reacts to Harry as if Harry was James. It is different from simply disliking the child of someone you once hated because he treats Harry almost as if Harry was his "real" ("original") enemy, someone in the same category as him. It indicates that Snape does not have access to memories connected with James without experiencing the same emotions that the real James and the origins of these memories made him feel. He simply cannot put these memories into a perspective of so many years, instead he reacts as if he was being bullied by James now. The same applies to his relationship with Sirius. That seems to fit the above-quoted traumatic symptom.

Otherwise Snape is a rational human being. He can deceive and manipulate Voldemort and others, assess an unexpected situation and act with full presence of mind, do jobs requiring concentration and a clear memory (such as making difficult potions) and even prepare logical puzzles. His irrational behaviour is focused exclusively on Harry and the Marauders, the same people who remind him of the traumatic events.

I don't suppose remorse alone is of much use, except perhaps to heal your soul, a concept too abstract for my mundane, practical mind....First remorse, then reformation, then atonement and reconciliation.

But Mona, we were talking about remorse all the time. That Snape never gets to step 4 (reconciliation) does not cancel out the first three steps (perhaps you agree that he completed reformation and atonement). In your list, you seem to make a difference between remorse and reconciliation. I can't remember anyone saying that Snape reached full reconciliation with the Marauders. I, personally, disagree with the idea that Snape cannot be remorseful (when he also reforms and atones) just because he does not reach reconciliation.

Trauma is a reason IMO why Snape cannot reconcile with the Marauders, but I also think that it counts that his enmity with the Marauders dates back to the time before the origin of his guilt. Even if he considers himself culpable at some point of time, he probably still feels that he had been wronged before doing anything wrong himself. Besides, he is not remorseful about his relationship with the Marauders but about having been a DE and about giving the Prophecy to Voldemort. Here, of course, there is an overlap because he indirectly caused the death of his schoolboy enemy and rival but he did not cause James's death because James was his teenage enemy but because Snape was Voldemort's follower. Snape's reformation - resulting from his remorse - is connected with what he is remorseful about, not with his relationship with the Marauders; nor is it a change that extends to every possible character flaw he might have at all - and I think it is realistic.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 11, 2009 12:17 pm (#1674 of 2988)  
It is irrational that he sees Harry as a mini James when he is actually not like James at all, but not irrational enough to say he was mentally unhinged by trauma. That would be if he really thought Harry was James, or something like that. - mona

I disagree, and apparently so does JKR. If you go back to the quote about Sirius, she said exactly that: Sirius was "unhinged" by the trauma and saw Harry as a mini James. I'd be interested to hear how you find Severus's example to be less traumatic than Sirius. They are both in "arrested development" due to trauma regarding the murders and both have an unhealthy view of Harry because of their feelings toward James.

More later...



Istani - Mar 11, 2009 7:39 pm (#1675 of 2988)  
The reason for Severus never getting over his grudge- trauma- when the Marauders were concerned, his inability to forget and move over, might also be due to the fact that none of the Marauders ever asked him for forgiveness, saying sorry for tormenting and bullying him. Instead, even years and a stint in Azkaban later, Sirius still claims Severus deserved it- deserved being almost maimed by a werewolf.


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me and my shadow 813 - Mar 11, 2009 10:12 pm (#1676 of 2988)  
Istani, it's true that we see the young Severus as being the one inflicted upon. Whether other people might read into it in different ways, we are purposefully only shown Severus as a child/adolescent being reactionary and not causal.



mona amon - Mar 12, 2009 1:29 am (#1677 of 2988)  
If you go back to the quote about Sirius, she said exactly that: Sirius was "unhinged" by the trauma and saw Harry as a mini James. (Shadow)

No Shadow, she did not say exactly that. Here's the quote-

ES: When Sirius was framed for the death of Pettigrew and the Muggles, did he actually laugh or was that something made up to make him look even more insane?

JKR: Did he actually laugh? Yes, I would say he did. Well, he did, because I’ve created him. Sirius, to me, he's kind of on the edge, do you not get that feeling from Sirius? He's a little bit of a loose cannon. I really like him as a character and a lot of people really liked him as a character and are still asking me when he's going to come back. [Laughter.] But Sirius had his flaws – I’ve sort of discussed that before – some quite glaring flaws. I see Sirius as someone who was a case of arrested development. I think you see that from his relationship with Harry in “Phoenix.” He kind of wants a mate from Harry, and what Harry craves is a father. Harry's kind of outgrowing that now. Sirius wasn't equipped to give him that.

The laughter – he was absolutely unhinged by James's death."

She's only linking the insane laughter to his being unhinged by James death. The way he tries to seek a substitute for James in Harry she attributes to his arrested development, which she says somewhere else was caused by his stint in Azkaban.

But Mona, we were talking about remorse all the time. That Snape never gets to step 4 (reconciliation) does not cancel out the first three steps (perhaps you agree that he completed reformation and atonement). (Julia)

If we are talking about Severus's personal redemption (half the time I'm not too sure exactly what we are talking about ), my opinion is he has to first feel remorse for being a jerk. I use the word 'jerk' because I can't think of a better one. 'Sinner' is too judgemental and old fashioned, 'lost sheep' too biblical, "evildoer' too extreme. Anyway, whatever you call a man who willingly served a homicidal megalomaniac. Since we do not have any indication that he ever considered himself a jerk (for want of a better word), I don't feel he had even got to step one. Not sure why I mentioned the other steps... I think our discussions get confusing because I make such a big difference between the remorse Sev felt for joining Voldemort and the remorse (which IMO never happened) for being a jerk.

I would put quite a few HP characters on the couch. Adventure story or not, JKR manages to give us a whole range of characters with a colourful variety of psychological disorders. I would not call Snape (the)"average" (remorseful character etc.) but psychologically realistic.

I have to admit that I too do this all the time, with HP characters, other literary characters and even real life aquaintances. I love to analyse people and literary characters to try and find out what makes them tick. Still, I can't help feeling that dumping extreme neurosis on Sev was not what the author intended. We can justifiably say, for example, that the inhabitants of Hundred Acre Wood are 90% male and all show signs of some emotional or psychological disorder. Piglet has Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Owl is dyslexic, Eeyore suffers from Dysthymic Disorder and Christopher Robin may develop co-dependency unless a caring adult takes over some of the responsibility for the welfare of those who live in the wood. The italicised part was copied from the review of a psycho-analytical study of the Winnie-the Pooh characters, and while such a study is entertaining, seeing them from that view-point is certainly going to affect our interpretation of the stories rather adversely.

In Sev's case, if we say he was severely traumatised and therefore not accountable for some of the things he does, then every bad thing he ever did could be blamed on the trauma. Where do we draw the line?

factual memories that place the event in temporal and spatial context may not be accessible. This can lead to the traumatic events being constantly experienced as if they were happening in the present, preventing the subject from gaining perspective on the experience."

Julia, for this to count as a neurosis, it has to be literally true. As I said before, It is irrational that he sees Harry as a mini James when he is actually not like James at all, but not irrational enough to say he was mentally unhinged by trauma. That would be if he really thought Harry was James, or something like that. His perception is irrational but still within the bounds of reality. He sees what he wants to see, and disregards the other clues to Harry's real character. It's not irrational enough to be labelled as a serious neurosis.

Maybe we are just arguing about the degree of damage here. I feel he was deeply wounded, damaged, and embittered by his experiences, and not all of these were of the Marauder's doing. Some were his own. Yes, he had some traumatic experiences. Most of us do, and especially during that highly vulnerable time, childhood. Only a few lucky ones like James get away unscathed.

I don't quite understand what you mean by "the laws of Snape's own nature". What are they? Among other things, I see development, personal growth in Snape's life story as he changes from a "willing DE" into a self-sacrificing hero on the good side. The "laws of his own nature" sound like things he has got all the time, but perhaps he does not follow these laws before he turns away from Voldemort. If this is so, then I also wonder what makes him start following these laws (whatever they are) in your opinion (as I understand, it is not remorse or anything else ordinary people can be motivated by).

Hmm...difficult to define- those characteristics and qualities that are inherent in him and dictate his behaviour. I've said this before, but I feel Severus had a heroic and self-sacrificing nature. It was also his nature to be a consumate follower. These laws would of course have been in him even when he was following Voldemort, and do not clash with anything that might have happened then. I do not feel he possessed a strong moral compass, unlike Harry or even DD. With his natural qualities, he rose to great heights of goodness after he chose to leave an evil master and devoted his talents to serving one who was the epitome of goodness.

ETA his inability to forget and move over, might also be due to the fact that none of the Marauders ever asked him for forgiveness, saying sorry for tormenting and bullying him. Instead, even years and a stint in Azkaban later, Sirius still claims Severus deserved it- deserved being almost maimed by a werewolf. (Istani)

That's true, but most of us do forgive the people who did mean things to us in school, even if they don't ask forgiveness, or even if we never see them again. It's a pity (for his own sake) that Sev was not able to do that.



Julia H. - Mar 12, 2009 7:22 am (#1678 of 2988)  
Julia, for this to count as a neurosis, it has to be literally true. As I said before, It is irrational that he sees Harry as a mini James when he is actually not like James at all, but not irrational enough to say he was mentally unhinged by trauma. That would be if he really thought Harry was James, or something like that. His perception is irrational but still within the bounds of reality. He sees what he wants to see, and disregards the other clues to Harry's real character. It's not irrational enough to be labelled as a serious neurosis.

Still, I can't help feeling that dumping extreme neurosis on Sev was not what the author intended. (Mona)


I have looked up some definitions on various websites. This is some of what I have found:

Trauma:

A severely disturbing experience that leads to lasting psychological or emotional impairment.

An experience that is emotionally painful, distressful, or shocking and which may result in lasting mental and physical effects.

Psychiatric trauma is essentially a normal response to an extreme event. It involves the creation of emotional memories about the distressful event that are stored in structures deep within the brain.

An emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person, often leading to neurosis.

Trauma is a specific type of emotional response that can occur from a highly stressful event. Traumatic experiences can create psychological wounds that are far more enduring than the actual experience. Our very foundations about our sense of safety is shattered, and our assumptions of trust are shaken. Like holding a postage stamp up to a tidal wave, our normal ways of coping are rendered helpless in dealing with the sheer force of the event. People's susceptibility to trauma varies, and is often influenced by the amount of previous trauma that they have endured.

Neurosis:

Neurosis is a term generally used to describe a nonpsychotic mental illness which triggers feelings of distress and anxiety and impairs functioning.

Neurosis is an emotional disturbance due to anxiety or internal conflict. A neurotic individual can interpret and maintain contact with reality.

Schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder or group of psychotic disorders that cause a patient to lose touch with reality. It is marked by severely impaired reasoning and emotional instability and can cause violent behavior.

Schizophrenic patients are often unable to make sense of the signals they receive from the world around them. They imagine objects and events to be very different from what they really are. If untreated, most people with schizophrenia gradually withdraw from the outside world.

Psychosis:

In the general sense, a mental illness that markedly interferes with a person's capacity to meet life's everyday demands. In a specific sense, it refers to a thought disorder in which reality testing is grossly impaired.

Symptoms can include seeing, hearing, smelling, or tasting things that are not there; paranoia; and delusional thoughts. Depending on the condition underlying the psychotic symptoms, symptoms may be constant or they may come and go. Psychosis can occur as a result of brain injury or disease, and is seen particularly in schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.

OK, so all I am saying is that Snape is traumatized. I did not even say he was a neurotic, but even neurotics remain in contact with reality. To actually believe Harry is James, Snape would have to suffer from psychosis, maybe schizophrenia, but it is not the case. That he "identifies" Harry with James simply means his emotional reactions to Harry are the same as to James. Harry is a trigger to Snape, and Snape's memories of traumatic events or the associated emotions surge upon this trigger. It does not have to mean "extreme neurosis". All we are talking about is why he is unable to reconcile with the Marauders.



Julia H. - Mar 12, 2009 7:33 am (#1679 of 2988)  
If we are talking about Severus's personal redemption (half the time I'm not too sure exactly what we are talking about), my opinion is he has to first feel remorse for being a jerk... Since we do not have any indication that he ever considered himself a jerk (for want of a better word), I don't feel he had even got to step one. Not sure why I mentioned the other steps... (Mona)

I'm a bit confused, too, because when you listed those four steps (for whatever reason ), I thought they were meant to be in a chronological order, the steps of a process:

First remorse, then reformation, then atonement and reconciliation.

Within your own explanation, I really don't understand how we can conclude that someone never getting to the last step is evidence that the person never gets to the first step either. What if Snape had lived another hundred years and had finally reconciled with the rest of humanity? Would we say then yes, he was remorseful back in the 1980's and/or the 1990's even if he had done and felt exactly the same things in those years? If remorse comes first, what guarantees that, just because there is remorse, the person in question will necessarily get to go through all four steps?

I completely understand if you question whether there is personal redemption for Snape without reconciliation, but I don't see how it can mean that Snape cannot be remorseful at all, especially when the intermediate steps - reformation and atonement - are already there.

I use the word 'jerk' because I can't think of a better one. 'Sinner' is too judgemental and old fashioned, 'lost sheep' too biblical, "evildoer' too extreme. Anyway, whatever you call a man who willingly served a homicidal megalomaniac. ... I think our discussions get confusing because I make such a big difference between the remorse Sev felt for joining Voldemort and the remorse (which IMO never happened) for being a jerk.

I, on the other hand, do not see much difference at all. Basically, you seem to be saying that by "jerk" you mean "a man who willingly served a homicidal megalomaniac". Joining Voldemort is the same as starting to serve a homicidal megalomaniac. My logic says, if Snape is remorseful about joining a homicidal megalomaniac in order to serve him, he must be remorseful about "being a jerk" as well.

In Sev's case, if we say he was severely traumatised and therefore not accountable for some of the things he does, then every bad thing he ever did could be blamed on the trauma. Where do we draw the line?

I did not say he was not accountable for what he did, only that trauma is a reason why he could not forgive the Marauders (but there are other possible reasons, like the adult Marauders' behaviour, as others have pointed out, too). If he is traumatised or, at least, if he has unhealing wounds (whatever else they should be called) connected with the Marauders, it is not exactly Snape's fault that he cannot forgive or reconcile because it is not the average "letting go of an old grudge" that often happens even without any special efforts, simply because what happened once does not count any more. If he is traumatised or even if just unhealed, it is not Snape's fault that he cannot change his feelings about his "wounds". In this case, I don't think it is his fault that he "identifies" Harry with James (in the sense that Harry makes him feel exactly the same emotions that he feels or used to feel about James) because he cannot help those feelings.

It is another question whether he is compelled (by his trauma) to behave towards Harry the way he does. He cannot help loathing Harry or being reminded of James or being angry / nervous / whatever in Harry's presence but I'm not sure it also means Snape could not stop himself from taking house points from Gryffindor all the time. Perhaps it makes him feel better but I'm not saying Snape could never choose to behave differently (any opinions?) - though there are some moments when even that seems to be probable (like when he finds Harry in the Pensieve). Reconciliation, as an inner process, however, is quite likely out of his control. Nor does he receive help from professionals or from the other party (the Marauders).

Having said that, I do think Snape is responsible for the bad things he does. At some points it may be complicated because being traumatised may well be one of the reasons why he ends up a DE, but he (as a traumatised but not psychotic person) is sufficiently in touch with reality to be accountable for his actions. (E.g., taking the Prophecy to Voldemort has no direct connection with his previous trauma.) That he does have a choice (a free will) is evidenced by the fact that he can choose to protect Harry despite everything. It is his emotions about Harry and the Marauders and the memories in connection with the traumatic events that he cannot help. It is his inability to emotionally move on that he cannot help.

I've said this before, but I feel Severus had a heroic and self-sacrificing nature. It was also his nature to be a consumate follower. These laws would of course have been in him even when he was following Voldemort, and do not clash with anything that might have happened then. I do not feel he possessed a strong moral compass, unlike Harry or even DD. With his natural qualities, he rose to great heights of goodness after he chose to leave an evil master and devoted his talents to serving one who was the epitome of goodness.

I'm not quite comfortable with this because if Snape never has and never develops a moral compass, I'm not sure how he can rise to great heights of goodness. In this case, Snape would not be much more than a machine, whose usefulness and moral(?) value depend on who is using it. I mean if he is loyal and self-sacrificing just because he is loyal and self-sacrifing, only he first happens to be Voldemort's follower and later he happens to be Dumbledore's follower - then it sounds as if it was essentially the same to him who his master is or for what purpose he is sacrificing his life. That in itself makes any sort of personal development dubious at the very least. I think Snape has a conscience, which is activated when he turns away from Voldemort. That is why he is capable of feeling remorse at all. I am not saying Snape is looking for personal redemption but I do think he is willing to atone. He does not atone to become happier.

That's true, but most of us do forgive the people who did mean things to us in school, even if they don't ask forgiveness, or even if we never see them again. It's a pity (for his own sake) that Sev was not able to do that.

Actually, it is probably easier if we never see them again... But back to Snape, I agree it is a pity, but immediately there is the question why. You seem to think forgiving is the normal thing to do - so why can't Snape do it? If he is self-sacrificing in nature, why can't he sacrifice his anger or grudge, when it would even be good for him? IMO, trauma is a likely answer.



me and my shadow 813 - Mar 12, 2009 12:25 pm (#1680 of 2988)  
Again, just a quick reponse.

She's only linking the insane laughter to his being unhinged by James death. - mona

And do you think he was fine after he stopped laughing? This is why I have a problem with literary analysis. Because things are dissected rather than seen as a whole, which is what characters are ultimately. Sirius remained unhinged, just as Severus did. Severus didn’t go to Azkaban but their plights are similar in that they both lost their lives on the night of the murder. Severus was given a second chance and yet he lived it with no joy. They both went into their own form of isolation and devoted their lives to avenging the deaths.

The way he tries to seek a substitute for James in Harry she attributes to his arrested development, which she says somewhere else was caused by his stint in Azkaban. - mona

And this is why Severus’s condition is even more problematic: because his arrested development is purely due to the traumas around his experiences with Lily and James. As you stated above, Sirius’s problems with Harry were due to the horrors of prison. Anyone would be troubled by that.

Here is the quote you might be referring to: 'Sirius is brave, loyal, reckless, embittered and slightly unbalanced by his long stay in Azkaban. He has never really had the chance to grow up; he was around twenty-two when he was sent off to Azkaban, and has had very little normal adult life. Lupin, who is the same age, seems much older and more mature. Sirius's great redeeming quality is how much affection he is capable of feeling. He loved James like a brother and he went on to transfer that attachment to Harry.'

So again, my initial point was that I see Severus's condition as more serious than Sirius when it comes to their unhealthy projections onto Harry. Neither of them are aware of it and both of them were "unhinged" by the deaths. Sirius went wild and Severus "mastered his breathing". The latter is much more dangerous, IMO, as is the cause of the attitude towards Harry.

That's true, but most of us do forgive the people who did mean things to us in school, even if they don't ask forgiveness, or even if we never see them again. It's a pity (for his own sake) that Sev was not able to do that. - mona

The double whammy of James/Sirius humiliating him publically from day one *combined* with his loss of Lily to this arch nemesis is a tough thing to get over. Yes it is a pity for his sake but I do not see how he could given his personality, given what he lost and to whom he lost it and the fact that he could have prevented it (which he could have realised in hindsight).

More later... BTW, nice research on psychological problems, Julia  

mona amon - Mar 12, 2009 11:44 pm (#1681 of 2988)  
And do you think he was fine after he stopped laughing? This is why I have a problem with literary analysis. Because things are dissected rather than seen as a whole, which is what characters are ultimately. Sirius remained unhinged, just as Severus did. Severus didn’t go to Azkaban but their plights are similar in that they both lost their lives on the night of the murder. Severus was given a second chance and yet he lived it with no joy. They both went into their own form of isolation and devoted their lives to avenging the deaths. (Shadow)

Hmm...Sev does go into isolation, but Sirius is probably isolated only because of the circumstances of being on the run from the ministry. I'm also not sure I agree that they devoted their lives to avenging the deaths. Like Harry, they were both fighting Voldemort because it was the right thing to do, or so it seems to me.

While James's death was no doubt traumatic for Sirius, it may not have resulted in arrested development, which JKR squarely blames on his being shut up in Azkaban for most of his adult life.

I do agree with you that Severus's feelings about James are probably the main reason for his arrested development. IMO, the intensity with which he loved Lily and the intensity with which he loathed rival and bully James combined to create a hatred against James, when he lost Lily to him, that was so deep he was never able to get over it. This I think is what DD was referring to when he says that his wounds were too deep for healing.

Julia, if that's all you mean by traumatised, and are holding Severus accountable for his actions, then **surprise** I can agree with that. It does not seem very different from my 'damaged'. I thought you were saying he was suffering from some serious neurosis on account of having been severly traumatised, which made him unable to distinguish between Harry and James (in a neurotic way)(I'm not able to explain this too well).

It is his emotions about Harry and the Marauders and the memories in connection with the traumatic events that he cannot help. It is his inability to emotionally move on that he cannot help. (Julia)

Yes it is a pity for his sake but I do not see how he could given his personality, given what he lost and to whom he lost it and the fact that he could have prevented it (Shadow)


Let me repeat here that I too am not blaming him for not moving on. I was pointing out this fact (that he did not move on) for various other reasons.

My logic says, if Snape is remorseful about joining a homicidal megalomaniac in order to serve him, he must be remorseful about "being a jerk" as well. (Julia)

Not necessarily. He can be remorseful about joining a homicidal maniac because he has discovered that homicidal maniacs are jerks and that he no longer approves of Voldy. It is quite different if he points the finger at himself, and acknowledges that he was a jerk for willingly serving a homicidal megalomaniac.

I'm not quite comfortable with this because if Snape never has and never develops a moral compass, I'm not sure how he can rise to great heights of goodness. In this case, Snape would not be much more than a machine, whose usefulness and moral(?) value depend on who is using it. I mean if he is loyal and self-sacrificing just because he is loyal and self-sacrifing, only he first happens to be Voldemort's follower and later he happens to be Dumbledore's follower - then it sounds as if it was essentially the same to him who his master is or for what purpose he is sacrificing his life. That in itself makes any sort of personal development dubious at the very least.

I never said he had no moral compass. I said 'strong' moral compass. I don't see how someone with a strong moral compass can be the willing follower of a homicidal megalomaniac. Severus's saving grace was his strong love for Lily, which makes him realise that Voldy was evil, and his ability to ultimately choose good over evil. To reject Voldemort in favour of DD is a very conscious choice. It's not just serving whichever master fate threw in his way.

And yes, I definitely believe that he grew and developed over the years, and that his conscience becomes more active once he frees it from the restraints he has imposed on it.

Actually, it is probably easier if we never see them again

That's true. Still, when I speak of forgiveness, I do