March 4th, 2006
|11:36 pm - My remedial "History of Hogwarts" course is over|
I've finally gotten around to reading all the books in the Harry Potter series.
A few weeks ago I decided to start reading them all in order, starting with the the first one. I'd already read the first two books in the series and had seen all four of the movies as they had come out, so I already knew some of the storyline. I'd heard that unlike the first movie, the later ones diverged more from the books, leaving out quite a bit along the way, and was rather curious to find out the missing bits for myself.
I've finally finished the last, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", and I've a few thoughts on the series as a whole -- at least as written so far.
First off, I like the character development that I've seen for the most part. There are a few characters that have quite a bit of subtlety to them, although there are also quite a few that seem fairly one-dimensional.
Unfortunately one of the one-dimensional ones is the protagonist of the series, Harry Potter.
He started out as an arrogant twerp and has basicly remained so throughout the series, from what I see. He is self-satisfied, smug and in his own way as much of a know-it-all as Hermione Granger. He makes constant assumptions about others, often based on his own prejudices, many of which are later proved wrong. He also shows astoundingly little empathy for others, being constantly wrapped up in himself. During the course of the series he amply demonstrates that every character fault that Professor Snape has accused him of having he does indeed possess in abundance -- and that even when these flaws are brought to his attention, he does little or nothing to correct them, often preferring instead to attack those who seek to correct his ill manners and bad behavior. He does this with friends such as Hermione as well as teachers such as Snape -- particularly with the latter, who he seems to take great pleasure in treating with disrespect. He seems utterly incapable of fathoming that he might actually be WRONG.
Snape, however, is a very well-drawn character -- quite complex, with layer upon layer to his personality. I freely admit to finding him fascinating. His double-agent role and what he must do to maintain it while dancing on the knife's edge of danger and the circles within circles within circles of his personality and motivations are a joy to behold. He is easily my favorite character of the series, even moreso than Neville Longbottom, another well-drawn character with hidden depths who unlike Potter has grown through the course of the books.
One of the more fascinating parts of the series to contemplate is exactly why Severus Snape does what he does. There are glimpses into his past in "The Order of the Phoenix" -- stolen insights into his character and the events that shaped him into the man he grew to be. Given their shared history of being the victims of bullying, one might think that Harry might have more empathy for his teacher and try to understand better his very-well-justified dislike of Harry's father and god-father, but Harry seems incapable of even saying "sorry" after he deliberately snooped into Professor Snape's memories -- ones that he specificly did NOT want Harry to know about. Harry didn't even have the good manners to apologize for his trespass, for that is EXACTLY what it was. Instead he continued to dislike and belittle publicly a man who had repeatedly tried to protect him and teach him and behaved honorably towards him at all times, despite little gratitude from Potter, much less respect.
It takes a strong man to put up with a rotter like Potter, yet Snape did so, protecting him again and again and again, even at the end of "The Half-Blood Prince". I would not be at all surprised to learn that part of this behavior had something to do with the relationship between Severus and Harry's mother Lily, due to a few interesting things tossed in, seemingly at random. Given that even the events at the end of "The Half-Blood Prince" may not be what they appear to be from a surface reading, I can't help but wonder how Rowling will get Professor Snape out of the corner she seems to have painted him into . . .
The way I see it, Snape is soooooooooo NOT a coward . . . OR a traitor . . .
He may in fact be the bravest damn person in the entire book.
I can't wait for the last book in the series, for then I think Severus Snape will finally get the respect I believe he so richly deserves.
"The name's Snape -- Severus Snape . . . "
I ♥ Severus Snape
(The fact he's also a brilliant chemist has nothing to do with my fangrrrrl-ishness. Nothing whatsoever. Really.)
Current Mood: pensive
Current Music: "A Window to the Past" -- Harry Potter & the PoA soundtrack
May I point out one thing? Or two/three/four?
Snape did show Harry disrespect from the VERY beginning of his time at Hogwarts, and without any prior meeting. Harry was in reaction mode in his relationship with Snape for a good part of the books. Severus Snape was a Death Eater, and could still be. (We don't know)He humiliates his students, takes advantage of his professorial status, holds grudges dangerously, and shows callous disrespect toward others. Also, we did learn that Snape passed off information to Voldemort, thus contributing to the murder of Harry's parents. No, Snape is no moral model.
You think he tries to correct arrogance? What about Draco Malfoy, the most arrogant of them all? The Slytherins? Why does he criticize Hermione for her ambition when he was even more driven at that age? Sounds a bit like hypocrisy to me. It's easy to criticize someone when they put everything out in the open. For this reason, Harry is the most subject to dislike from fandom members. We read the book from his point of view. I would hate to have the world know what goes on in my head from day to day. I would claim stupidity too.
Harry always believes he's right? For the most part, yes. But, for a very good reason. That self-sufficiency was environmentally built. he needs to be. If he believes that he's in the wrong, he's in more danger than if he were a deliberator like Hermione, or Lupin for that matter. Yes, I will acknowledge that it has gotten him and others in danger, but if you read the books with this in mind, you will notice that he is steadily sharpening these skills, and Dumbledore has given him the freedom to do it. Why does he give Harry that freedom? Not because Harry is favored, but because Harry needs to acquire such skills before fully assuming his role.
I think you're forgetting to look at Harry's assets. If we did that with every character in the series, and with ourselves, we would all be disposed to better understanding.
I know that someone has already commented on this, but Harry is still a teenager. He is not only a teenager, but an individual without parental support, a stable environment, or normal and comfortable circumstances. Wouldn't you be rebelling if your entire world was out of your control?
I think his reactions make everyone angry, because they are so innately human. And our humanity is the bane of our human existence.
J.k. and her irony. :-)
I enjoyed your essay, though. I always find it fascinating, albeit aggravating, to read the opposing argument.
Snape did show Harry disrespect from the VERY beginning of his time at Hogwarts. . . He humiliates his students, takes advantage of his professorial status, holds grudges dangerously, and shows callous disrespect toward others. . . No, Snape is no moral model.
Thanks for mentioning that. I completely agree. In the "who's worst-behaved, Snape vs. Harry" contest, Snape is still supposed to be the adult in authority.