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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)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:courtaud
Date:March 30th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Snape is so totally the real hero of the books...!

(Link)
But I still am really bugged by dismissing the Dunlendings!
I think there was a scene in the uncut version of the movies, with Saruman and the Dunlendings, and Saruman promising them the lands the Rohirrim toke away from their fathers. As for the dark-skinned people, I did read them as Mediterranean, myself.

I totally agree with several of your low points, btw.
It was really sad to read the last books because Harry was a really likeable kid, up to Prisoner of Azkaban. Snarky and self-centered, but witty and smart, and with 'a thing for saving people'.

I am concerned, but Rowling may yet salvage the series, and it's precisely the Sectumsempra scene that makes me think this.
This, and the Montague affair, and the consequences of the Twins' way of doing business. Also, it may be a turning point for the reader, not (yet) for Harry. He seems to believe that the detentions he gets for this almost murder are a grievous punishment. And I'm afraid the majority of readers are still on his side on this.

It goes without saying that I'd like Severus Snape to come to the same understanding - but, if I am starting to consider him the hidden hero of these books, it is Harry who is the protagonist. That's why the onus is really on Harry to change, learn and grow.
They are really alike, also in their way to hold on grudges forever. The sad truth is, Snape maybe has nothing else to hold on to. The problem is that Harry is getting all the wrong lessons. That he is special. That rules do not apply to him. That the good people always do right, and if they do wrong they still are good people, because their intention was pure. That the end justifies the means (i'm talking to you, Hermione!)
But yes, he can learn a lot from Luna and Neville as soon as he stops to feel embarrassed by them.

it was actually in this book that I came to love Dumbledore for the first time
I felt for him, too. With his amiable quirks and knitting patterns and tiredness and hints of short temper, and the way he tried to manipulate people until the very end with increasing desperation.
As for his treatment of Riddle, Harry and Snape, I have this troubling idea that he tried three times to get something from three very similar boys, and it has gone wrong twice already. And frankly, all three had a unhappy childhood, but it was 'under Dumbledore' that they really went askew.


[User Picture]
From:mary_j_59
Date:April 2nd, 2006 12:33 am (UTC)

Re: Snape is so totally the real hero of the books...!

(Link)
"As for his treatment of Riddle, Harry and Snape, I have this troubling idea that he tried three times to get something from three very similar boys, and it has gone wrong twice already. And frankly, all three had a unhappy childhood, but it was 'under Dumbledore' that they really went askew."

What a fascinating - and disturbing - comment that is! Otherwise, I really have nothing to say, except that I have not ruled out the possibility that Snape is indeed 'Dumbledore's man through and through". But it is pretty clear that Dumbledore, in the books, has often been negligent and has allowed children to suffer needlessly. At least, it seems needless to us! (I am thinking of Snape and the bullying, culminating in the Shrieking Shack incident, and Harry and a lot of the ostracism he went through, not to speak of the risks to life and limb in practically every book.)
[User Picture]
From:courtaud
Date:April 2nd, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Snape is so totally the real hero of the books...!

(Link)
(I am thinking of Snape and the bullying, culminating in the Shrieking Shack incident, and Harry and a lot of the ostracism he went through, not to speak of the risks to life and limb in practically every book.)
And the way he left him to be abused at the Dursleys! I cannot see, let say, Gandalf behave in the same way.

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