Thursday, July 26, 2007

Deathly Hallows: SPOILERS!

Throughout the entire series of books Snape, more than Dumbledore, or Voldemort has been the biggest mystery to me. The one thing I was certain of was that Snape disliked Harry and never had his best interests at heart. J. K. Rowling in a recent interview on NBC's Today Show Meridith Vieira both reflected my thoughts about Snape and simultaneously shot down my theory about him.

Since I've already written my bit about Snape prior to reading the book, I was curious to see that my thoughts about Snape were justified. This is an exerpt from the interview:

Meridith: Was Snape always intended to be a hero?
J. K. Rowling: Is he a hero? You see, I don't see him as a hero. Really, he's spiteful, he's a bully, all these things are true of Snape, even at the end of this book. Um, but was he brave, yes, immensely.

Greta, Age 8: If Snape didn't love Lily, would he still have protected Harry?
J. K. Rowling: No he definately wouldn't have done. He wouldn't have been remotely interested in what happened to that boy.

I'd figured that he didn't like Harry (genuinely), and the only reason he saved Harry was to repay his debt to James Potter (who saved his life when they were teenagers). What I didn't see was the dynamic between Lily and Severus-- that he felt something akin to love for her. I also didn't see the promise made between Severus and Dumbledore, to kill
Dumbledore in the 6th book. While reading Half-Blood Prince, I rationalized Snape killing Dumbledore somehow (I'm still not clear what I was thinking but was sure that it was all legit). After all, Dumbledore trusted Snape.

Later when I had a chance to listen to the book on tape (CD actually) I was more sure than ever that Dumbledore trusted Snape right up until the moment before his death. In that scene, when Harry is immobilized under the invisibility cloak and Snape approaches him, Harry says that he'd never heard fear in Dumbledore's voice before. Having read the 7th book, I now understand that he was pleading with Snape to do the job he'd promised to do, rather than allowing him to die a victim of Fenrir the Werewolf, or Belatrix, or Voldemort himself.

I admit I'm still not okay with asking a friend to kill you. Especially when you know ahead of time that you're going to die whether it be from a curse or some other way. Dumbledore had several options available to him, including going to St. Mungos, or retiring to place where Voldemort would never find him, and dying in peace away from the action. In either of these instances he wouldn't have put Snape in a compromising position.

In any case, it's been a wild ride. Trying to figure Snape out was a challenge, and I guessed wrong, but I at least figured out that Snape probably would have continued to be a Death Eater if Lily hadn't died.


Sharae said...

The only problem with dumbledore going to St. Mungos, would be that you would never have found out that deep down, snape just wasn't as evil as he put out to be. I was thrown,(backwards) by the fact that he was actually trying to help dumbledore and harry. 6 books of torment and ridicule and snape being the evil one and all of sudden harry names his son albus severus. That was just a shock to me, he was one of the bigger villans and now i'm supposed to like him? I just dont know if i can do that. Sharae

Ken Chandler said...

I never really ever trusted Snape. Even after finding that he was keeping his promise to Dumbledore, I thought he was doing it for selfish reasons. As J.K. says, he was not a hero because he was a bully, and because he disliked (possibly hated) Harry for reasons tied to the memory of his father, and not based on Harry's own merits. He was selfish, and uncaring-- and that makes him an unlikable character in my eyes. In one sense though he's earned my respect. He did keep his promise, he was brave, and he fought against the rising evil of Voldemort.

Il Bello said...

My roommate and I made it a daily discussion of the possible outcomes of the 7th book. Crazy enough, we were convinced that Snape had to be somewhat good in the end. Otherwise, JK Rowling would have written a novel completely and totally predictable. No one believed us when we'd tell people that, but we showed em. She made him possibly the most complex character of the series, caught between his friendship with Lily and his loathing for James, his duty to both Voldemort and Dumbledore. Sure, he was lame to Harry, but I think he's honestly my favorite character of the story. Kind of like how you sympathize with the Phantom of the Opera. Psycho, yes. A murderer, perhaps. But tormented by deamons in his past and has an obvious spark of goodness masked by so much hate. The Prince's Tale was by far the greatest chapter of the book.

So. Yah. I had to tell everyone,"I told you so!" We had it figured out after the 6th, that Harry was a horcrux and that possibly would have to die and that Snape only killed Dumbledore out of Dumbledore's request.

No one gets the best of Dumbledore.

I figured Snape had to die somehow, though I thought it would be to save Harry's life. I guess it was, indirectly, but more for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having the wrong wand.

I expected more of a "Vader throwing the Emperor down the shaft" ending, with Snape finally standing up to Voldemort. But, alas, twas not so. Oh well. You can't be right with everything. :)

Anonymous said...

there were not many surprises for me either. i thought the book was quite predictable. rowling gave us all the information we needed to know to see how the story would end. i guess the biggest surprise was the fact that there were so few surprises

Meridth Gimbel said...

I knew that Snape was legitimately working for the Order because Dumbledore trusted him, even if he did make lame mistakes.

Snape was definitely my favorite character because it was always interesting to watch his motives. He was a selfish and spiteful character but not evil.

I totally cried when he kicked the bucket. (Voldemort sucks.)

Anyway...I love what cute HP nerds we all are. Way to go us, and way to go Ken for writing about it on your blog.


Jarrett said...

Hey Ken. You have some awesome work yourself. I'll try my best to keep posting new designs!

Alikins said...

i love being a HP nerd :)

Ken Chandler said...

Me too Alikins. I mainly just like a good story with well developed characters and a strong plot. I'll read just about anything if it's well written. I think it's funny to hear how many people guessed correctly about Snape. I thought he was a big jerk, but the whole Dumbledore/Snape dynamic made me doubt my assertion that Snape was really a Death Eater, but then there was the conversation between Dumbledore and Harry when he Albus told him that he generally doesn't make mistakes, but when he does they're whoppers. I thought trusting Snape was his mistake. MY mistake. I guess I just need to trust that all big jerks are really honest and good no matter how badly they treat others.

Meridth Gimbel said...

I think the point is not to celebrate the jerks of the world...but that people are complex and even jerks have the potential to do good things. Dumbledore was all about believing in the potential for change, because even he made some big fat mistakes...

(...and who cares who guessed what. It was a fabulous story to read.)

oh! and btw...Snape was not a murderer...he was a Dr. Kevorkian.

Ken Chandler said...

People are complex, and I understand that people can make choices for themselves-- it's as it should be. I just don't understand why people would choose to be miserable and mistrusted by those they care about (or not). Snape chose to follow the Death Eaters even after Lily voiced her dislike of his 'friends'. And yet, in her memory he chose to be brave and do the right thing-- and simultaneously he mistreated her only surviving child. I know he's a fictional character, but J.K. really fleshed him out. Even so, he seems abstract to me. I don't understand his motives.

And Merideth, my dear sweet friend, I don't wish to argue, but I feel that he did murder Dumbledore. By the laws that govern 'us' (and I suspect in the wizarding community too) when you kill someone who is willing or unwilling to die it's considered murder. If they kill themselves it's suicide. If you kill someone because they're going to kill you, by law, it's self-defense.

Killing another person, by definition, is murder. Isn't it?

Meridth Gimbel said...

No worries Ken...I love talking about things like this with smart friends. I see where you are coming from with the tecnical killing dumbledore thing. But as we found out, Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him for a few reasons (hence assisted suicide)(but if you really want to get tecnical with the laws that would have been considered "Man-slaughter");

1. He was dying anyway and this would make Snape the most perfect spy for the Order.

2. Dumbledore knew that Draco had to kill Dumbledore or be killed. Dumbledore didn't want Draco becoming a murderer to taint the rest of his life nor did he want him to die at the hands of Voldemort...

I guess what really makes Snape human is that he was very imperfect and very selfish.

Snape is not one of the characters I would ever aspire to be, nor would I choose any of his paths...

The fact is that he was a lonely bitter man that got caught up in the dark arts...possibly because he wanted to feel important (the "Half-Blood Prince" thing)...he felt remorse when he found out the Lily's family was being targeted and THEN turned spy for the Order. He treated Harry like crap because Harry was a reminder of the dark parts of his adolescence and early adulthood.

I'm definitely not defending Snape and saying that he was a classic hero. I'm saying he was an atypical antagonist.

He didn't want to be great, but he had no desire to be evil.

When he found out that Harry was going to have to sacrifice himself to Voldemort...Snape felt sorry for Harry.

So I guess my point isn't that he would be my best friend if I met him in the flesh...but that he was very human.

Ken Chandler said...

I appreciate that you have enough sense not to try to defend Snape. Though I admit he had his finer points, but the fact that he sentenced the one person he cared about to 'death by Voldemort' was not one of his finer moments.

I'm not sure that I'd say he was nessisarily an a-typical antagonist. I think that J.K.'s presentation of his character was a literary inspiration. At the very least she pulled the wool over my eyes. I was convinced of his guilt, and proven to be in error, at least on the one hand. Wo is me. :) He's proven most elusive-- at every turn he's disquised his true intentions. Even Harry and Voldemort were sure of his true character and neither was right. (Makes me not feel so bad.)

I argue that he didn't mind being evil, it was the idea that he'd gotten his only love killed that drove him to act in a way contrary to his nature. After all, Lily told him that she didn't like the crowd that Snape was hanging out with, and still he chose to be with them, aspiring with them to be a deatheater. It wasn't until after her death that he decided he needed to do something greater than himself, in her memory. And it was Voldemort who killed her, so was it revenge that he sought-- or pure righteous motives. I think it was revenge personally. But I have to argue that he did a very brave thing. He put himself in harms way in order to rid the world of Voldemort.

Did he feel sorry for Harry? I honestly think he did-- in spite of himself. I think for the first time in his life he considered how Harry might feel knowing that all along he'd been primed for death. He felt what Harry would feel knowing a sense of betrayal at Dumbledores hand-- but the situation was what it was-- Harry possessing a part of Voldemort's soul inside him would have to die in order to kill that part of Voldemort that still lived in him. If Harry refused to die, than Voldemort would have lived on equally. It had to be-- but it was not Dumbledores decision. He was only aware of the conditions and what needed to happen in order to kill Voldemort. There was a choice and a consequence of making a decision. As it is in everyones life. We choose to do good in hopes that our lives will bear fruit.

I agree, I don't think I'd ever like Snape personally, but I pity his youth, and the decisions that he made growing up. He proved himself capable of being brave, and he could have chosen to do more good than just enough to rid the world of Voldemort (and thus been happier for it).

One last thing, then I'll shut up. He chose to see in Harry those attributes that he attached to James (his father) rather than Harry's actual virtues. Remember the discussion he and Dumbledore had where he blasted Harry only to have Dumbledore say that the other teachers thought he was a good kid, then Dumbledore tells him that he sees only what he wants to? He treated Harry badly because he chose to see him through tainted glasses. He refused to see the truth.

'Nuff said. For now anyway. This has been fun Meridth. I too enjoy discussing things intellectual. Though I don't consider myself to be an intellectual, I like to try to pull the wool over others eyes. Hope it's working.

Ken Chandler said...

Wow, sorry for the novel.

Meridth Gimbel said...

Hey Ken...

Since we had this incredibly delightful/eternal discussion about Snape...I thought you might like to watch this JK interview about her thoughts (if you haven't seen it already.)