Bad Snape: Machiavelli’s Half-Blood Prince


  1. Travis Prinzi says

    I did the same thing – avoided ‘shipping and Good!Snape/Evil!Snape debates for as long as I could, laughing silently (and occasionally right out loud) at all advocates of Evil!Snape. Arguments like this one pulled me back into reconsidering Snape about a month ago.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the spirit of your sentiments in the closing paragraphs – we’ve got another viable option before us, one that makes Evil!Snape at least plausible, if not ingenious. And Snape’s sadistic classroom behavior and the end of PoA have both been concerns for me as well for some time.

    If Snape really does turn out to be “a bad guy for the ages,” Rowling will have succeeded in at least some form of a twist – not many are expecting Snape, if he is Evil, to be a worse baddie than Lord Thingy (though Rowling HAS gone so far as to call him “more culpable than Voldemort”). Snape as evil, loyal to Voldemort, out for himself but only a pawn in LV’s game – these are all options I’ve heard multiple times. But more cunning than LV himself? Watching that play out would be rather interesting.

  2. I wrote the analysis of Snape’s name, and the connection to Hadrian’s Wall was noted because there is a town named ‘Snape’ nearby that has a ‘Snape Castle.’ I thought it was interesting because it tied his first and last name together and seemed to confirm that Jo *had* been thinking of Emperor Septimius Severus when she chose Snape’s first name.

  3. I see the point and have to acknowledge that it’s possible. But, rather than finding it interesting, I would find it very sad and disappointing. I don’t expect to see Voldemort find any redemption–he has not been drawn as the sort of character who would. But Rowling has given Snape–disagreeable and horrid, especially as a teacher–some reasons for his nasty personality. I guess the optimist in me really wants that sort of tortured soul to find some peace, some redemption.

    One of the things that Rowling does so brilliantly is that she combines so many different things in her stories. While Snape may be only this classical evil sort, she has set him up to be the character who shows the contrast to the bullied character of Harry. From what we have seen, their treatment at the hands of bullies was very similar, but they have come through the experience so differently. It almost feels like a betrayal to the character she has created if she just leaves him as evil. Even Draco, with whom I have never sympathized, was given those moments of vulnerability in HBP that make me hope he will find some sort of redemption as well.

    I’m not looking for a “happy” ending, where they are all chummy and Draco and Snape are actually friends with Harry. That wouldn’t be true to the characters that Rowling has created. I would, though, like to see each of them find some sort of peace, some resolution within themselves, and in Snape’s case, some resolution with Harry.

    The other problem I have with Snape being evil, is that it won’t do anything to resolve the hatred and bitterness that Harry has towards the man. And that is something that Harry needs to do. He can’t go forward in his own life, his own quest, filled with hatred–not when his greatest strength is his love and his pure heart, that Rowling has mentioned in nearly every book, sometimes more than once. By turning Snape into someone more evil than Voldemort, Rowling would, IMO, have a very difficult time making a loving Harry believable. We need to see Harry be loving and forgiving towards all–and that won’t happen if Snape is indeed evil.

    Now, that’s not to say that I don’t understand that that’s exactly where she might be headed. But I think the twist there would be that she betrayed her own story, even more than Snape might betray Dumbledore. (And that’s not to mention that an evil Snape also does make Dumbledore into a fool, and I just can’t imagine that Rowling would intentionally do that.)


  4. Actually, I left a message a while back on John’s private boards that told of the historic Snape character and how Shakespear’s “Julius Caesar” play was very spookily similar to the HBP ending. I know how unpopular the bad Snape theory is, and will love to see how the real ending plays out.

    Hope this one makes these boards!!!!

  5. I, too, would be disappointed if Snape turned out to be evil, for some of the reasons mentioned above, and others. Snape has so far been Rowling’s most complex character; it would pretty much wipe the entire thing out if he turned out to be one-dimensional after all. It would also, as Pat mentioned turn Dumbledore into a complete idiot. Remember that Dumbledore never fully trusted Tom Riddle, yet he accepted Snape completely, although Snape had much more against him at the time.

    This would also put these stories into the Avi-type “kids always know more than grownups” category, which Rowling has always avoided up to now. It would diminish the entire series, I think, if it turned out that ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD Harry knew that Snape was evil while all the teachers at Hogwarts, and Dumbledore in particular, hummed along in blissful ignorance for another five years.

    These are fairly lighthearted books, and a purely evil Snape would give them a more fairy-tale quality. But perhaps the Machiavellian references are another example of misdirection. I guess we’ll see.

  6. Well, on John’s private forum, I started out as the lone proponent of Snape being on the side of Voldemort (at least at the close of HBP). I didn’t realize you were “politely skimming” my stuff, John 😉 . However, I’m glad to see you’re at least willing to consider Snape might not be “Dumbledore’s man” after all. I don’t think he ever was … but I’m not sure he’s entirely Voldemort’s man either. The insights from Machiavelli’s “The Prince” are quite profound. Thanks for posting them.

  7. Coppinger Bailey says

    Just wanted to add 3 quick clarifications that are not in John’s current post:

    (1) I don’t think of Snape as just the classic, old “evil” character. He’s grey for very specific reasons. I think one reason is to expose the potential dangers of relativism. Relativism in pursuit of self-preservation or power accumulation is perhaps its own special kind of evil.

    (2) I do not think that Dumbledore’s faith in Snape was blind or that he was ignorant of what was going on with Snape. I believe that throughout the books Ms. Rowling shows Dumbledore clearly observing Snape’s words & actions but continuing to give Snape the opportunity to “choose rightly.” To me Dumbledore’s actions make him that more brilliant and brave a character.

    (3) One of the central issues, as Eeyore points out, is the “redeemability” of Snape. I do think that he is indeed now a murderer. But is he redeemable? And how does Harry’s ability to forgive or somehow reconcile Snape’s actions affect Harry’s ability to succeed on his journey? My hypothesis is that Snape is not redeemable and will come to his own particular just end. But clearly, clearly – the door remains open for him as well to.

    We’ll all see soon enough! I, for one, never saw the “polyjuiced Mad-Eye” twist in Goblet coming!


  8. Travis Prinzi says

    That’s why Rowling’s so tricky! She can connect us to all these different stories, and take, steal, borrow from and transform stories from all different areas of history and literature, and she may not be following any of them all the way. She’s already admitted to freely borrowing from and changing England’s “totally bastard mythology.”

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate on the Good!Snape points, just for this particular comment. In reality, I’m still pretty stubborn, sticking to some version of Good!Snape (though not good in the sense that Dumbledore is good) related to the initial Stoppered Death theory from way back in 2005!

    Here are some counterpoints:

    I’m not sure I’m convinced that Evil!Snape would be less interesting than Good!Snape, nor that it would turn him into a one-dimensional character. An Evil!Snape would a really nuanced, complex view of evil – not anything like the straightforward, obvious evil of Voldemort. It would be a fascinating look at the subject of evil and an interesting contribution to discussing what evil looks like.

    Furthermore, as others have pointed out, most notably seriously_black, whom John mentioned, seemingly-bad-but-actually-Good!Snape wouldn’t be all that “interesting” anyway, since that’s been the pattern since Book 1.

    I am probably Dumbledore’s biggest defender in the HP world, and I’m not convinced that Evil!Snape would make Dumbledore an idiot. It would make him a person who trusts recklessly (out of a desire to see the best in people, forgive them, and give second chances), which Rowling has admitted Dumbledore is capable of.

    And finally, I don’t think Rowling has consistently avoided the concept that kids sometimes can and do know more than grownups. I think she’s even encouraged this view. Indeed, the very few errors Dumbledore has made have been the errors of an old man forgetting youth.

  9. What fascinates me about Machiavelli!Snape is that it breaks the belief held by all witches and wizards that Severus is either a Dumbledore or a Voldemort man. Machiavelli!Snape is not Good!Snape (Order of the Phoenix) or Evil!Snape (Death Eater) but his own man, either out for power to use as he wills — or, more profoundly, to transcend and bridge the Gryffindor/Slytherin polarity that divides the Wizarding World.

    Machiavelli!Snape is way outside the box of Harry’s mental categories: a pragmatic man that makes the hard choices to unify and wield power for the good of the commonweal. M!Snape is neither Good!Snape nor Evil!Snape…

  10. Excellent essay, John, and I find myself convinced or at least persuaded to doubt Good!Snape…
    I suspect that if Snape does turn out to be M!Snape, that we will still find out that Dumbledore was “one up” on him. I think that Stoppered Death and M!Snape could still be reconciled.
    Well, we’ll have to see….!

  11. I like this new theory. Though I’ve never known enough about Machiavelli to make this kind of connection, I saw traces of Machiavellian politics in Snape’s actions. And I’ve been reading under the assumption that Snape’s motives are his own, operating for his own designs, whatever they may be.

    And I think that this version of Snape leaves open a door for him that is more than a simplistic reduction of the stories into good/evil binaries. A Machiavellian Snape mixes with the complex and flawed nature Snape possess quite well, but it still leaves him a choice (perhaps one that he hasn’t yet made…?). I don’t think redemption is in the cards for Voldy because I don’t see the capacity for a grand existential choice in his worldview. I don’t think he cares (or even understands) that he can choose to be something other than what he is.

    Snape, I think, does. We are given hint after hint, clue after clue to Snape’s brilliance. I would argue that his mind is second only to Dumbledore’s in the books. And Snape is brilliant enough to avoid telegraphing it. He understands with a subtlety that is terrifying to me. If anything, he represents something of an intellectual antipode to Dumbledore. Dumbledore is an idealist, willing to follow his heart’s hope over his mind’s logic. Snape is a realist, though.

    As Travis and John have both pointed out, Rowling’s real brilliance isn’t generally the actual twist of the books, but lies in the movement to get us to the “twist”. Thus, the question I’ve been developing is this: Can Harry do something that shows Dumbledore’s “hope” to be realistic to Snape?

  12. Travis Prinzi says

    Machiavelli!Snape is way outside the box of Harry’s mental categories: a pragmatic man that makes the hard choices to unify and wield power for the good of the commonweal. M!Snape is neither Good!Snape nor Evil!Snape…

    This is true, but ultimately it does paint him in a shade of evil, even if his desired ends are good. Even if M!Snape is against Voldemort, and even if he has “good” reasons for being against Voldemort, ultimately he’s fighting evil with evil, and that’s not Rowling’s lesson at all.

    In other words, Rowling would not being saying through M!Snape, “See? Here’s what really needs to be done to defeat evil.” She’d be saying, “This is the wrong way to go about fighting evil. Dumbledore’s way (love) is the right way.”

  13. Travis–
    The concept I mentioned was not that kids can and do know more than adults (they can’t and they don’t, but that’s an argument for another day). The concept I mentioned was the Avi-style of book that says kids ALWAYS know best, and adults know NOTHING. Yes, thank the Lord, Rowling has avoided that concept. She has also avoided the can-and-do concept, as well. All Harry’s real accomplishments had some help from adults, and the one time his actions caused real disaster, at the end of Book 5, it was because he got no help from adults, but acted on his own.

    I do think that a purely evil Snape would be flat and dull. “The sheer banality of evil”–and it is banal, no matter how “nuanced”. Maybe it’s possible for someone, somewhere, to create an evil character that is more interesting than a good one, but I’ve yet to see it, and I don’t think Rowling is quite THAT good.

  14. JenSinclair says

    These arguments are fascinating as well as being very well constructed & supported.

    I’m curious, though, whether anyone has thought of a more simple explanation for Snape’s actions… Is it not possible that he made an Unbreakable Vow with Dumbledore prior to the Vow in HBP? The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    It also occurs to me that the explanation I posit does not exclude the possibility of either explanation above, and that it indeed lends some credence to the notion that he is “attacking Niger” and “deceiving Albinus.”

    I’m toying with these notions as possible dissertation fodder sometime in the future…

  15. If Sally Palmer’s characterization of Snape is true, that he’s “unconcerned with good or evil” and “his motivations are, at best, self-preservation or, at worst, consolidation of power for himself no matter the cost or method”, then it definitely does make him Evil!Snape, I think. He wouldn’t necessarily be in Voldemort’s camp, but just as bad as he is, or maybe even worse. He’d be immoral and Dumbledore’s trust would have been unjustified and foolish, in my opinion.

    And what about the Unbreakable Vow? Snape had nothing to gain, but everything to lose, Machiavelli wouldn’t have done that. He could easily have lost his life, so in my opinion, he can’t be motivated by self-preservation.

  16. oriflamme says

    Hello John,
    Thank you for this Machiavelli’s Half-Blood Prince, but why did you conclude with this « Snape as Voldemort or Harry’s murderer » screenplay?
    I think Machiavellian Snape authorizes a good symbolic ending (Harry’s story) and postmodern ending (Snape’s victory).

    As Septimus did, Snape attacked Black and deceived Albus who were on the same side (probably his side too). He certainly can’t hope stay alive for a very long time if Death Eaters are the winners. This sort of group are built for and by one man (Voldemort, not Snape)

    If power seems the main Machiavellian Snape’s purpose, he wants also glory and respect. Therefore, he’d better become the new chief of the Elves-Goblins-Centaurs Army in the Great Battle for Hogwarts, and at the end, the lucky and generous saver of Harry, the true vanquisher of Voldemort.

    Finally, in a recomposed world Snape, feared and respected, Prime Minister of Magic, could enact new respectful rules for all wizards allies and try to make people forget he is also a murderer.

    Harry’s journey is more spiritual. As Dumbledore’s man Harry understand that power is a trap.

    In fact, Snape’s soul is already ruined. Therefore, he can get the temporal honors he is looking forward. Maybe he doesn’t know he just could be a Half-good Prince ( à la Septimus ).
    Our politic leaders cannot be Saints! (A postmodern theme, no?)
    Saints don’t need temporal power.

  17. About the Unbreakable Vow points made above by two people, if Dumbledore was dead and “stoppered” by Severus (either at the time of the supposed Horcrux blowup as Cathy Leisner originally posited or anytime after the destruction of the Philosopher’s Stone as I have suggested), the question of the Unbreakable Vow to kill Dumbledore as a flaw in M!Snape is moot. Dumbledore tells Draco that “They cannot kill you if you are already dead;” Severus can safely take a vow to “kill” Dumbledore because he knows the Headmaster is already dead and the vow will have no consequences. If you were to take the Unbreakable Vow to kill President Coolidge, you could sleep at night without fear, right?

    Just a thought…

  18. About the Unbreakable Vow points made above by two people, if Dumbledore was dead and “stoppered” by Severus (either at the time of the supposed Horcrux blowup as Cathy Leisner originally posited or anytime after the destruction of the Philosopher’s Stone as I have suggested), the question of the Unbreakable Vow to kill Dumbledore as a flaw in M!Snape is moot.

    That’s a fair point. IF this is what he swore and IF Dumbledore was already dead, then Snape took no risk in making the Vow. But if this was the case, why did he hesitate in the first place? Why tell Draco about it, if the Vow meant nothing and his life wasn’t in danger? If there ever was a chance that Snape might have died because of the UV, it’s a strong argument against M!Snape, I believe.

  19. [i]If you were to take the Unbreakable Vow to kill President Coolidge, you could sleep at night without fear, right?[/i]

    But Snape didn’t just vow to kill Dumbledore–there were two other clauses to the vow before that. He vowed to help and protect Draco. No light thing to do when Voldemort himself has just sent the kid off on a doomed-to-fail mission in the expectation that he’ll either die in the attempt or be killed for his failure. And even taking out the whole “suicide mission” angle–there’s a million other things that can trigger the vow in the meantime–what if Draco gets on the bad side of another Hippogriff? what if Snape hadn’t been so close by when Harry sliced Draco open? What if Draco lets a really bad cough go untreated?

    It’s still not entirely clear why Snape took the vow, but he did risk his life in taking it. It’s the nature of the Unbreakable Vow. I’d be risking my life by vowing to pick up the milk on the way home, even though I’m really, really sure I’m going to do it anyway, because sometimes Stuff Comes Up. Which is why I’d tell anyone who asked me to make such a vow to get lost–and I’m hardly a model of Machiavellian ingenuity.

    (Plus, Snape’s hand twitches when Narcissa springs the third clause on him–his first and only slip throughout this scene–which suggests that the request does matter.)

  20. I think that Snape only agreed to the Unbreakable Vow because Bellatrix was hovering over him, just waiting to catch him up in something that she could use to discredit him to Voldemort. Had it just been Snape and Narcissa (still needing a bonder, but it could have been Wormtail who was also in the house), I think Snape would have continued to wriggle out of it. Why would he willingly put his life on the line with someone as unpredictable as a 16 year old Draco calling the shots. That has never made sense to me–except that he was trapped into it because of Bella’s presence. It was the one thing he could do to silence her.

    However, I don’t think he really knew, even when he agreed to the final part, just what he was vowing. That was never spelled out, only implied, from their conversation. He kept saying that he knew all the plans, and Narcissa, desperate to save her son, made a lot of assumptions. The way the final part is worded, I thought they were talking about killing Harry, not Dumbledore. I hadn’t really thought that Voldemort would want Dumbledore out of the way before he wanted to rid himself of Harry. It makes sense, of course, but there was nothing in their conversation that definitely stated who was being talked about and just what Draco’s mission was.

    That was either a very foolish or very brave move on Snape’s part, and we’ll have to wait to see how it all plays out. I do think that the hand twitch before he accepts the last one was because he realized he had backed himself into a very dark and dangerous corner and had no way out. Had he refused, Bella would have had all the ammunition she needed to rat him out to Voldemort, and he knew it.

    And esme, I agree–I’d never make an Unbreakable Vow with anyone, for any reason. A little side note–I don’t think that Dumbledore would ever have asked anyone to do that either. The nature of the UV is so negative, that it doesn’t fit with Dumbledore’s faith and trust that he has in others. So whatever was going on between Snape and Dumbledore was on a higher level of ethics than the Unbreakable Vow requires.


  21. professor_mum says

    Very persusasive John, I give you props. Jo is a bit of a magpie borrowing bits from here and there, so I don’t think we can conclusively count on her ending the septology with this angle. HOWEVER, this is the first Evil!Snape argument I consider worthy of discussion. I’ll follow the links when I have time.

    I agree with Pat: jeez, would I be disappointed that this was the literary twist. Travis and I don’t align on Albus’ infalability, but I agree that it would be difficult to internalize that Dumbledore has done something stupid by waving aside Harry’s POV. If he is Evil!Snape, Jo’s spin is that young Harry saw Snape as the Emperor without Clothes, but wise Albus was unable to. Is that where she is going? Errr…..?

  22. Travis Prinzi says

    Rowling has a pet peeve about people underestimating children. She’s mentioned it, exasperatedly, in interviews. So I’m not sure how it would be either (a) out of place, or (b) flat-out wrong for there to be moments in the series where children know more than adults.

    Harry, Ron, and Hermione knowing more about the danger to the Philosopher’s Stone than McGonagall would be just one example.

    Harry’s mistakes at the end of Order, ultimately, were not because he didn’t have adult help, but because Dumbledore himself made huge mistakes. I actually think Dumbledore was quite accurate when he said it was mostly his fault that Sirius died.

    I can definitely see professor_mum’s point: Harry knows something that Albus doesn’t? Seems unlikely, which is while I still lean towards Albus being, on the whole, correct about Snape, and there being some sort of plot in which Albus’ death was planned. That said, I won’t be surprised if Rowling goes that way, nor will I think it inconsistent with her beliefs as demonstrated thus far. The books are about Harry, after all.

    Overall, I’m still a bit baffled by the UV…Snape had to prove to Bellatrix…what? That he was willing to subvert Voldemort’s plan to let Draco die in an attempt to kill Albus? I’m not sure where Snape was going with this. It would have been easy to wriggle out of the UV in front of both Narcissa and Bella. “I can’t make that vow, because I’d be undermining the Dark Lord’s plan for Draco!” See? Easy enough. Unless his statement, “I think he means me to do it in the end” was his getting caught in his own words, and he felt he had to prove this point with the vow…

  23. I don’t believe that Snape made the vow to prove anything to Bellatrix. He did it for Narcissa, because when he finally agreed, he was looking into her “tear-filled” eyes and ignored Bellatrix’ words. Whatever motivates him, it is not self-preservation or gain of power, I think.

    As for Harry knowing more than Dumbledore, it is possible, but not likely, in my opinion. Not sure if Snape told Dumbledore everything or if he was always acting on Dumbledore’s orders. But Dumbledore probably knew him better than anyone else did and while he was a very trusting person, he wouldn’t have fully trusted a Machiavellian character, I suppose.

  24. Coppinger Bailey says

    A quick note on the “kids know more than adults point.” I think what we’re shown is the importance of the interaction between what kids perceive & the guidance needed by adults. Things go wrong when adults completely ignore kids’ perceptions, and they go wrong when kids follow through on their own feelings without adult guidance. Or when the adults don’t interpret the situation properly & act accordingly (the “old man’s mistakes”).

    Quite some time ago I read a great fan analysis of Ms. Rowling’s use of the “spider” to point to Snape’s role as a “spy.” In re-reading Sorcerer’s Stone recently, I came across the passage in the beginning describing Harry’s existence inside the broom cupboard. He starts to get dressed, and there’s a spider in his sock, but he’s used to spiders – when you live in a broom cupboard, you get used to seeing them. Also, in HB-Prince after Dumbledore collects Harry & takes him to the Burrow, they stop in a shed before going to the house. The shed is full of spiders. As Dumbledore speaks to Harry, Harry notices a spider crawling down Dumbledore’s hat.

    I think that’s just one “symbolic” example of how Ms. Rowling demonstrates the importance of paying attention to what children sense and know. The lessons in Phoenix show us the importance of appropriate adult action & guidance – even, or perhaps especially, for young teenagers.

  25. It is clear as we are coming down to the wire with just a few weeks between us and the final books, that hands-down, the best (and perhaps central) character is Severus Snape. The complexity of his character means that this character truly has what Dumbledore says to Harry in the first book, choices. Severus’ character in every way is built on his choices.

    It could be that the Deathly Hallows could be subtitled The Choice of Severus Snape. It’s not a done deal that Severus will make the right choice or the right series of choices, but so far I believe he has. I also believe that he does have an inner-Machiavellian nature that he is works hard to control. He is by nature bad, not good. And his choices for good are what makes his character so identifiable to us. Human nature, left to its own devises is Machiavellian and what is astonishing is how we choose a different way.

    And that choice comes to us because of love. For Christians, it is based on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, because He loved us first we can love. For Harry, who knew no love in his childhood (perhaps like Snape, and most especially like Voldemort), was still loved first by his mother, Lily – her sacrifice has literally been the gift that keeps on giving. Harry loves because he too was loved first.

    Jo Rowling has told us that Snape, unlike Voldemort, has been loved in his life. We are fairly certain that Dumbledore loved him – and it’s clear that Snape is in incredible pain following Dumbledore’s death (and he keeps saving Harry’s life even then, giving him advice on how to defeat the Dark Lord even as he is running with Draco for the out perimeters of Hogwarts so that they can escape). He only completely looses it when Harry calls into question Snape’s courage – and one can imagine that even at this point Snape is doing all he can to control his Machiavellian nature. That is what makes his character so compelling. He is a bad man doing good.

    And aren’t we all in a similar place, if the Scriptures are true?


  26. Arabella Figg says

    I’ve not seen this issue brought up before here, but does anyone else find it curious that strong, competent, bold people are willing to subjugate themselves as “snivellus” toadies to Voldemort?

    I’m not referring to weak people like Peter. I mean heritage-rich, proud, self-confident people such as Bellatrix and Lucius, and brilliant, cold, calculating people such as (again) Lucius, Barty Jr. and Snape. That these people, who revel in their feelings of superiority to others, would humbly engage in such slavish pandering, fearful self-deprecatory, brown-nosing behavior is startling. Especially to Lord Thingy who makes clear he cares not a jot for any of them.

    It seems most of the Death-Eaters aren’t the type to be second to anyone. Yet Bellatrix’s scene with LV in OotP is almost unbelievable (pitiable in its own way); I don’t think her post-Azkaban madness is a factor; it just enhanced her anxiety that she be seen as the most faithful.

    Sure, they crave power. But what they’re willing to be and do to get it! I’ll never understand how people get to be that way.

    Given that Percy is also heritage-rich, proud, cold and calculating, he’d make fine Death-Eater material and feel completely at home. Perhaps he’s a dementor-in-training, with all his practice in sucking up….

    Goodness! The kitties are having a Hawking Hairball Competition–must fly!

  27. John,

    Sorry for the delay, but I do have a L.O.O.N.ish correction on your essay.

    Yup, leave it to me.

    Boiardo did not include any hippogriffs in his epic poem “Orlando Innamorato.” Ariosto was the first author in literature to use that magical beast as a character in his masterpiece “Orlando Furioso.”

    As for the underpinning question of whether or not Snape is good or evil – I tend to think he is amoral.

    I do think that he fell in love with Lily, in spite of himself. I think he did not want to love her because she was Muggleborn, but could not help where his heart led him. She may have reciprocated at some point, and then rejected him for James.

    This would set Snape up for really wanting to seek revenge against Dumbledore’s pet students who got away with almost killing him with the notorious Prank.

    Then when he realized that Voldemort was intent on killing Lily and James it was at that point he did the right thing and made a confession to Dumbledore. It was out of love for Lily and his Life Debt to James.

    I do not trust Snape, because I do not think he is trustworthy.

    He may have done the right thing in warning Dumbledore about Voldemort’s plans against James and Lily, but he would not have done so for Alice and Frank Longbottom.

    He is simply out for himself at this point. I do not think he has any allegiance to anyone.

    His soul is as black as his robes.

    He may wind up doing the right thing and redeeming himself in the end to save Harry, but it will be to end his lifetime of pain for causing the death of the only woman he ever loved.

    And it has got to hurt to look at Harry and see the face of his rival while having the eyes of the woman he loved.


  28. Arabella Figg says

    I absolutely agree with Athena and she distills it down nicely. And I think you nailed him back with The Hidden Key, John, about why Snape hates Harry.

    Snape, while he may do good in the cause of right (or the expedient), is not a good person. He’s unhinged and cruel, and enjoys it. Having just reread the entire series, I’ve changed my G!Snape leanings; he’s too complex, and his motives and past are too complex, to be pure in allegiance to good.

    The only thing that keeps me hanging like a thread to G!Snape is his helpful warning to Harry before he fled Hogwarts and the controversial look of revulsion and hatred before killing Dumbledore.

    But that look could say a lot about E!Snape. Like Snape’s resentment toward James for saving his life, could DD’s kindness have engendered deep resentment as well? Especially because he couldn’t escape it? It’s easy to resent those who seek our good, if we feel it enchains us. Resentment turns to hatred, hatred to murder in the heart…and sometimes literal murder.

    I feel sorry for Snape the child and student; I don’t feel sorry for Snape the man, who has chosen to nurture an adolescent state.

    Time magazine had an interesting editorial, “It’s All About Him” by David von Drehle in their April 30 issue about the Virginia Tech shootings (I only got around to reading it recently). It’s about killers being narcissists. I’m not putting it here because I don’t know if it’s okay, but it would be interesting if you could post it. I feel this could very much apply to Snape.

    Oops, the kitties are biting the blinds again…gotta go!

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