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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 04:59 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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