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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

(53 seeds eaten | Eat a pomegranate)


[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC)

Re: Good point! (part 2)

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 . . .

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

Re: Good point! (part 2)

(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. :)

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