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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 04:55 pm (UTC)
Okay first I'm going to talk about Harry. It was really quite tragic that he lost his parents so young. And then he was force to live with the Dursleys. And Dudley and his gang gave him a hard time his whole life before Hogwarts. He lived in a household that was strict about not having any imagination. I think that a person's early years have a big impact on how they are going to turn out later in life. In this case Harry was denied having any friends. He wasn't even allowed to ask questions about anything, even his parents. And as for living under the stairs...I don't even know what to say about that. Harry was not shown any love or affection as a child. And then all of a sudden he finds out that he is a wizard. To make matters interesting, he is a very famous wizard. One whom everyone knows about. People knew more about him than he did. Naturally going from one extreme to another is enough to make ones head spin. He handles it quite well at times I think. Although he was kind of lazy when it came to homework and things, as many teens are. He took advantage of his resources, such as Hermione helping him with his homework. Although I think some of his behavior has to do with the fact that they let him get away with so much. What I find annoying about him is that he doesn’t think about anything. He just jumps right into whatever it is. He has an annoying habit of just making assumptions about things and not considering the consequences of his actions. His school years are rather odd. He is put into danger constantly. A good deal of the time, running straight into it. But all is forgiven since he saves the day. The school goes from extremes of loving him to hating him. Harry even had to go through having his best friend hate him for a while after his name was entered into the Goblet of Fire. In the fifth book Harry did get on my nerves a little bit. With all the yelling he did in the beginning of the book. But I guess I should take into consideration his age in the books. He does have some nice characteristics though. Like how he would do anything to save his friends. How he helped with Dumbledore’s Army despite the fact that they were not allowed to have that club during their fifth year.

Switching to Snape for the moment.
First of all, I have to say that I absolutely love Snape. He is one of the most complex characters in the whole story. His double agent role is an interesting one. At times it appears that he could be working for either side. I personally like to think that he was a once Death Eater turned spy for the good side Dumbledore. Now something I wonder about is that if there is any way Snape can be evil. It seems logical at first. JK Rowling has made him a prime suspect throughout the series. But at the same time that always seemed to reverse itself. Like in the Philosopher’s Stone, the trio had suspected Snape of trying to steal the stone. While in fact he was one of the people protecting it. I admit she had me there. I really thought there was something odd about Snape from the beginning. (sorry but it wouldn't all fit in one comment...the rest is in the next comment)
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
Especially when the book says things like, “At the start-of-term banquet, Harry had gotten the idea that Professor Snape disliked him. By the end of the first Potions lesson, he knew he’d been wrong. Snape didn’t dislike Harry--he hated him.” From the very start she has us thinking that he is no good. After all he hates the protagonist of the series. One he has never met before. This seems to automatically make Snape the antagonist as well. Snape is continually suspected for various things, such as trying to kill Harry at the Quidditch match - when in reality he was trying to save him. Quirell is very interesting to me. He is kind of like Snape. Everyone thinks he is good and just very paranoid and fidgety. Of course later on we find out about him playing host to Voldemort. Which brings up an interesting question. If Quirell was portrayed as a good person and was discovered to be evil, could the same thing happen with Snape the other way around. Could JK Rowling be trying to make him look evil when in reality he is really a good person? She has cleverly disguised many things in the book. Many of which you probably wouldn’t catch the first time. Now moving on to the characteristic traits of Severus Snape. From the very beginning he seemed to be a very mysterious character. He is very smart. I don’t think people give him enough credit for that. In book six we get to see a little bit more of that knowledge he has. He appears to be a very powerful wizard. I believe he keeps up walls too. You can’t really tell what is going on with him. He has kind of a snarky attitude. Something I find interesting is that in all the years of wanting the teach the Dark Arts Dumbledore lets him in the sixth book. I wonder why there was already the change. Did Dumbledore want to do this before he died? I think he probably knew early on that he would. I think there are a few things that could have possibly killed Dumbledore. First of all there was his hand that he would never really fully explain what happened to. And then there is that stuff that he had to drink while he was going after that one horcrux with Harry. From that point it really didn’t seem like he had much time left anyway. I think that is why he told Harry to make sure he did everything he wanted to. Harry always tries to play the hero figure, but this time Dumbledore wasn’t going to allow it. I also think that Dumbledore and Snape were arguing earlier in the book. I think Snape was arguing about how he didn’t want to kill Dumbledore, and Dumbledore on why he must. This is where I think the look of revulsion on Snape’s face as he uses the Avada Kedavra spell comes from.

“Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.

I think that Dumbledore’s “Severus…please…” was kind of like saying now is the time. I can’t go on much longer. I just drunk some kind of dark potion. You know you have to. That’s how I see it anyway.

(oddly enough this still isn't all...the rest for sure is in the next comment...)
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
Snape actually gave everyone really good information and advice. Harry was just to arrogant to listen to any of it. “For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite.” The first potions lesson handed out some excellent information. Information Harry ended up using in his sixth year. But not because Snape said it in class - he knew it because the “half-blood prince” had it written in his potions book. Now about the memories Snape had tried to hide from Harry. I think that this explains a lot about why he hates James so much. Plus the whole whomping willow incident. I doubt if he many friends or any at all. And as for the Snape/Lily thing. I really don’t know what to think about that. There wasn’t really much information to me about it until the last book. And even there it is debatable. I have trouble getting past the fact that he called Lily a Mudblood though. She was going to help him, but he didn’t want her help. Granted he was in an awkward position. I don’t really know about them having a relationship or anything, but I think maybe the fact that she wasn’t rude to him may have meant something.
And to the people that think Snape is absolutely evil. Consider this. He never really hurt anyone in the books. Sure he threw in some rude comments but that is just his personality. He has been suspected again and again, but for naught. He had saved Harry’s life more than once. And he has given out some valuable information. He even gave Harry advice when Harry was trying to go after him in the end of book six. Now why would he give Harry advice if he were really on the Dark Lord’s side? In which case let’s examine Harry calling Snape a coward. I don’t believe this at all. It would take a very brave person to be able to work for both sides. Especially for Voldemort. Can you imagine how hard it would be to face him knowing that you are helping the side that is against him?

Quotes came from pages 136 and 138 in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
And from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, page 595.

This turned out to be a little longer than I intended ^_^ I half way think I'm talking about Star Wars with all this good versus evil stuff. Except Snape, whom seems not to be on either side of the good/evil continuum.
(okay! that's it!)
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2006 07:09 pm (UTC)
Harry was just to arrogant to listen to any of it.

Talking about the first day of class, I'd hardly call it deliberate arrogance, more like confusion at having all of this stuff **he knows nothing about** being thrown at him. I teach, and I don't expect my students coming to a subject for the first time to remember the little details I throw at them on the first day of class.
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
Yea. Really I was just trying to point out the fact that Snape did teach the class something that was useful in the end. And that Harry really didn't want to listen to anything Snape said, except in his Potions book - which at the time, he didn't know belonged to Snape. I hope that makes sence.
Date:March 14th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC)

Remember. . .

. . . that children from Wizardling families often get elementary instruction in magic at home; Snape himself came to school knowing more spells than some kids much older. Those kids whose parents had gotten NEWTS or good OWLS in Potions might well have learned something about it from their parents--and come in thinking (as so many bright kids do) that they know it ALL; that Snape undecieves them promptly is not a bad thing, as Potions is nothing to be mucking about with if you don't know what you're doing.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Remember. . .

If I thought that Snape had been doing that for the greater benefit of the class, instead of targeting a student who he must know (being as he's kept on the up and up at least somewhat by Dumbledore) grew up outside of the WW, that argument would probably fly. But you can also disabuse students of their pretentions without doing it in a persecutorial way, even in a potentially dangerous class.

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