The Snape Conundrum

I’ve realised that I haven’t posted anything about Severus Tobias Snape. Which is not right. So now, I shall correct this grave error. Please accept this as an apology. (I feel like short sentences today. This happens. Sometimes.)

Severus Snape is arguably J.K. Rowling’s most well-developed characters, and the reception he has received by audiences has changed dramatically throughout the series. First cast as a horrible, bullying teacher who dislikes Harry Potter (the protagonist), he develops into much more, changing as early as the end of the first book. What I really love about his character is that J.K. Rowling really planned his character arc – she knew well in advance what would happen to him, and this shows in the way she wrote. The Harry Potter series, in some ways, is more focussed about the adults than the ‘Golden Trio’ and their generation, which I find invigorating and fascinating to read about. So Snape plays a central role in the entire series. I love his character – reading about his motivations and actions is always interesting, and although he is not a nice man, he is, ultimately, a good one, and a strong one, and I admire many of his qualities.

What I dislike is how, after people discovered Snape’s true loyalties, they suddenly turned around and put him up on a pedestal. Yes, he is a martyr. Yes, he did sacrifice a lot – everything, really – for “The Greater Good”. Yes, he is “one of the bravest men” I’ve ever read about.

But he is still petty, he is still intimidating and he is still a bully. Knowing that he made a bad choice and was brave enough to try and correct it doesn’t change any of those facts. He does bully Harry and his friends, and he is not as mature as he may pretend – hello childhood rivalry which continued past Sirius’ death. I may admire certain aspects of his character, but I do not make him a ‘god’, like so many people who hated him, and then decided to love him right at the end of the series.

He has serious flaws – he is human. Like all of J.K. Rowling’s characters.

So this is just a short post on some of my thoughts about Snape’s character. I’ll do something more thorough later, I think.

On another note, I absolutely adore Alan Rickman, the actor who plays Snape in the films. He is (should I say it?) perfect for the role. And his voice is amazing.


4 thoughts on “The Snape Conundrum

  1. Brittany says:

    I think that’s why Snape really is such a great character! You spend so many books hating his guts and it turns out he’s got some deeper seeded feelings that are actually to help Harry. But it’s brilliant that even when you do find out the big “secret”, I still can’t decide which side to put him on! Is he still bad with a soft spot for love? Is he good and just got tempted by the bad? I think he’s one of the most complex characters in the series and I wouldn’t go so far as to fully redeem him, but it makes it all that more complicated for me to figure him out!

    • Yeah, I agree – he shouldn’t be fully redeemed – he was a horrible guy sometimes. What I meant to say was that even if you go from hating him totally to loving him, you shouldn’t forget that he’s not perfect, that despite being on the ‘good’ side i.e. against Voldemort, he did it for selfish reasons at first, and that he is flawed.

      I wouldn’t call him perfect, not by a long shot.
      However, he is a very complex character, I agree, and it is very interesting to read about him.

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