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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 14th, 2006 02:51 am (UTC)
I think Harry likes to have recognition for what he has accomplished, but he doesn't like the whole-famous routine.

I'm less sure of that than you seem to be. I do think he likes the attention, at least on SOME level -- although he might not be comfortable with what the whole Fame package entails. (Most people wouldn't be -- there are lots of drawbacks to it, as Harry finds out.)

Harry was really upset about what he saw in Snape's pensieve, but I don't see any reason why he should treat Snape better or worse because of it. Harry is not his father

Harry may not be his father, but he certainly treats Snape with a similar level of contempt. And since both he and Snape had been bullied, I'd have liked to have hoped that he would have shown more empathy than he did and a better understanding of a man who had good reason to dislike his father and god-father.

from his first day in his class-when Harry did nothing but forget the names of herbs and fungi-Snape has been nasty to him. Harry wasn't the one who started their antagonisic relationship.

In that scene Snape was being fairly equal-opportunity in spreading the snark around. Plus Harry was cheeky with him to boot.

He certainly continued the bad feelings, pulling pranks and acting badly towards Snape. Even AFTER he found out that he had been wrong about Snape.

I think he just needs someone to rebel against and he's chosen Snape as the safest target. (See this comment for more.)

Snape could have tried not to be horrible to Harry-whose only sin at that moment was looking like his father

Not quite true -- Harry was also the cause of Lily's death. If she hadn't tried to save him, she might still be around. Voldemort would have spared her, according to the text. If you believe that Severus Snape had a "thing" for Lily, the child who was the direct reason for her demise would inspire at best mixed feelings in Snape.

As far as pushing people to excel-why does he scold Hermione for being driven?

He calls her an insufferable know-it-all -- because she is.

He's actually trying to do her a FAVOR, believe it or not. He's been a social outcast himself and probably for similar reasons. He's learned the hard way and would probably prefer that Hermione avoid what he had to go through, if possible. So he calls her attention to her behavior -- perhaps not in a nice way, but he gets his message across. Don't forget that throughout most of the first book Hermione was disliked intensely by her fellow students and had absolutely no friends -- BECAUSE she really was insufferable. She had to change her social interaction style before she was able to have others like her enough to want to be friends with her.

In his own snarky way, Snape helped her avoid the fate he had suffered when HE was in school.

His bullying of Neville doesn't make him any better of a potions student, it just makes him nervous.

I beg to differ here.

Neville is a blatant disaster at Potions, and most likely a lot of other things as well. Yet Snape is able to motivate him sufficiently to learn the material well enough to pass finals and even his Potions OWL.

While his methods may not be pleasant, they ARE effective.

And Trevor obviously survived.

Him chucking stuff at Harry when he intruded on his privacy wasn't justifiable. It was wrong for Harry to look at that, but Snape was the adult in a position of authority who could have taken house points or given detention, or talked to Harry about what he did wrong instead of having a fit of rage.

This being a British school, Snape could also have given him a thrashing. But he didn't. He just threw him out and tossed a few things. So to my mind Harry got off fairly lightly, given the egregiousness of his offense AND its deliberate nature.

(Corporal punishment of students is mentioned a few times in the books, including one time when Harry wonders if McGonagall will cane him. There's even a special form to be filled out, so it obviously was a disciplinary option available to members of the staff, even if most chose not to use it.)


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