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My remedial "History of Hogwarts" course is over - Persephone Yavanna the Entwife

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March 4th, 2006


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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 . . . "


severus Snape Fan

I ♥ Severus Snape


(The fact he's also a brilliant chemist has nothing to do with my fangrrrrl-ishness. Nothing whatsoever. Really.)
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: "A Window to the Past" -- Harry Potter & the PoA soundtrack

(54 seeds eaten | Eat a pomegranate)

Comments:


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mary_j_59
Date:March 13th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)

Good point! (part 1)

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Schemingreader, I think you are exactly right that Snape and Harry are very similar, largely because they have been damaged in similar ways. It's the one thing that jumps out at me, and it's why I think the resolution Rowling is heading for - the one thing that will be necessary if Voldemort is to be defeated - is a reconciliation between the two.

Entwife, I, too, found Harry far more likable and less arrogant in earlier books. I actually empathized with both boy and man during the pensieve incident - as I remember it, Harry tried to apologize but couldn't get a word out. Also, he truly didn't understand how egregious his prying was. It isn't just like reading someone's bad experiences in a diary - that would be more than bad enough, but Harry, due to his background, has no experience with normal boundaries. It's worse, though; he has been told, in no uncertain terms, that Voldemort is looking through his eyes at will and that there are some things the Dark Lord shouldn't see. He pries, anyway. That he does not realize he mightactually endanger Severus by doing this is what frustrated me.

Anyway, I actually liked and understood Capslock Harry in OOTP, in spite of his adolescent arrogance, jealousy and frustration. It was in HBP that my opinion of him changed sharply. In OOTP, Harry was finally starting to deal with his emotions, however badly. He was fighting with his pride so he could congratulate his friends honestly, accepting responsibility in the DA club, and was genuinely sorry and troubled about his prying in the pensieve. (If I were he, I don't know if I would have had the nerve to approach professor Snape after that, either). HBP was a different story; he was deliberately shutting his emotions down, failing to consider the implications of anything, and totally failing to *think*. What did me in entirely - and changed my view of both characters, so that I now think Snape is the true hero of these books - was the 'sectumsempra' scene. Yes, Harry was defending himself, but he used an unknown spell which he knew - or should have known - was extremely damaging. As with the pensieve incident, he was shocked and horrified at what he had done, but this time he really didn't think of apologizing. All he did was to attempt to justify himself, and then lie. I lost all respect for the character at that point, honestly - at exactly the same time I was getting an "Aragorn' vibe from Snape.

Anyway, I was wondering if you'd gone to John Granger's hogwart's professor site and read the second part of Helen Ketcham's (generally excellent) essay on Snape? She is a little too soft on him at times, but the major point she makes - about how and why Snape seeks to guard Harry from his own arrogance - is, I think, dead on. Basically, she agrees with you. And I think you'd like it.

[User Picture]
From:mary_j_59
Date:March 13th, 2006 02:10 am (UTC)

Re: Good point! (part 2)

(Link)
Continuing because of length - I am loquacious!

Anyway, the one thing I wanted to add is that, though I do think Severus and Lily were friends, I don't think she would ever have asked him to take an unbreakable vow to protect Harry. Two reasons:
1. The vow is an evil instrument - it's dark magic - and Lily would no more make use of it than would Dumbledore.
2. Also, it's unecessary. As I see him,Severus Snape is a warrior/guardian, a protector at the very core of his being, and all Lily would have to do is ask. He would protect Harry without being compelled to, simply at her request - or (as I believe actually happened) at Dumbledore's.
[User Picture]
From:theentwife
Date:March 13th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC)

Re: Good point! (part 2)

(Link)
Continuing because of length - I am loquacious!

As am I! :)

Anyway, the one thing I wanted to add is that, though I do think Severus and Lily were friends, I don't think she would ever have asked him to take an unbreakable vow to protect Harry. Two reasons:
1. The vow is an evil instrument - it's dark magic - and Lily would no more make use of it than would Dumbledore.
2. Also, it's unecessary. As I see him,Severus Snape is a warrior/guardian, a protector at the very core of his being, and all Lily would have to do is ask. He would protect Harry without being compelled to, simply at her request - or (as I believe actually happened) at Dumbledore's.


I'd put in the bit about a possible "please take care of my kid if I die" Unbreakable Vow mostly as an aside -- frankly I don't think it would have been necessary, since I believe Snape would have watched over Harry in loco parentis without it, simply because Harry was Lily's child and he cared for her, probably very very much, from all the hovering he does over Harry throughout the books. But it might have made her feel better, as it did Narcissa. (I don't think that vow was strictly necessary either, for similar reasons. Snape had already taken Draco under his wing from the start. Draco just didn't need as much protection as Harry has, however, so the hovering has been less obvious than it has with Harry. Snape sure seems to have had a weakness for the ladies . . . and their offspring, in a non-slash sense of course!)

I'm not sure if an Unbreakable Vow is inherently evil though. I'd certainly consider it deep magic -- on a par with what protected Harry from Voldemort, especially as used by Narcissa in the third part of the Vow. The fact that Severus Snape did not call it off when the third part was added tells me a lot about him, his character as a man and his caring for Narcissa and her child Draco.

I don't doubt that Dumbledore expected Snape to protect Harry, but I'm not sure that any specific request was necessarily made. I think he just knew Snape would do it, because of Harry being Lily's boy.

I would also like to point out a little interesting thing Voldemort mentioned, about a "hook-nosed Muggle-loving fool" who protected Harry at Hogwarts and made it difficult for Voldemort to get at Harry there. The easy interpretation of that phrase is that it means Dumbledore, who is described that way in the books.

HOWEVER . . . I believe that is also possible -- maybe even probable -- that Voldemort was referring to Severus Snape, who at that point was conspicuously absent from the cemetary shindig and marked for elimination. Snapes nose has been mentioned several times in every book and he may well be described as being "Muggle-loving" if he had a "thing" for Lily the Mudblood. And Severus Snape is usually someplace around when Harry gets into trouble, doing his best to protect Harry from his own foolishness. (Best seen in the Prisoner of Azkaban Shreiking Shack scene, when he comes a-running to help. IT'S SUPER-SNAPE TO THE RESCUE!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Being a Legilimens must sure be an asset when you're dealing with someone as good at getting into trouble as Harry is . . .


Persephone
[User Picture]
From:straussmonster
Date:March 13th, 2006 05:57 am (UTC)

Re: Good point! (part 2)

(Link)
(Best seen in the Prisoner of Azkaban Shreiking Shack scene, when he comes a-running to help. IT'S SUPER-SNAPE TO THE RESCUE!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Yeah, he sure ends up being helpful in that scene and afterwards. :)
[User Picture]
From:woman_ironing
Date:March 13th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC)

Re: Good point! (part 1)

(Link)
I now think Snape is the true hero of these books

This is so funny! I entitled my comment further up 'Snape is so totally the real hero of the books ...!' Because, er, he's not. For me, anyway. I'm big on the reconciliation thing, but for me it's a Draco - Harry reconciliation. I don't know what's going on with Snape but I don't think any of it is for Harry's benefit.

From Harry's point of view: Snape hates Harry's father despite James saving his life; Snape called Harry's mother a mudblood when she tried to help him; Snape gave Voldemort the information that led to Harry's parents' deaths and the destruction of Harry's own life; Snape despised Harry on sight because he is James's son; Snape handed Sirius over to the Dementors; Snape taunted Sirius as a coward when he was confined to Grimmauld Place on Dumbledore's orders; Snape killed Dumbledore.

A list about Harry from Snape's point of view might be: Harry doesn't do as he's told; Harry doesn't just die.

There's a lot for Harry to forgive, not so much for Snape. There's a lot for Snape to explain, not so much for Harry.

[User Picture]
From:imkalena
Date:March 13th, 2006 04:25 pm (UTC)
(Link)
[Snape] was bullied in school in some terrifying and humiliating ways. We have very little evidence for Sirius' claim that he gave as good as he got. (And it's quite a self-serving claim, in any case.) Now he is back teaching the children of some of his classmates.

I know no one is discussing this right now, but it's why I can't help believing that Snape is remorseful over his past and still atoning for his youthful mistakes. Why else would he still be at the scene of his childhood misery, under Dumbledore's thumb after all these years? Was he so desperate to escape V that he swore an unbreakable Vow to always do Dumbledore's bidding? That's pretty extreme!

He's supposedly the creme of Potions Masters; surely he wouldn't need to spend 14 years teaching snot-nosed kids he hates if he were a free man.

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