I hoped you liked the previous theory/headcanon post. If you did, here are some more. Today we will be continuing with Harry Potter, and stretching out into some pretty strange headcanons. I’d love it if you were to comment.
So, Harry Potter.
I know there are a lot of Snape lovers out there, so what I have to say next will probably hit a nerve and get you all up-in-arms and ready to protect everyone’s favorite Potions Master.
Nearly every post, mention, or story I have seen writes Snape is someone who was a victim of bullying, and who was completely innocent and was forced to turn to the Dark because he thought he had no hope on the Light side. I would like to respectfully state that this is bulls***. Snape was not innocent, he was not a victim, he was not ‘forced’ to turn Dark, and he was an arsehole.
Snape is a bully
First, James Potter never bullied Snape. It was hate at first sight. Here’s a list of canon proof.
- “James and Snape hated each other from the moment they set eyes on each other, it was just one of those things, you can understand that, can’t you?” -Sirius Black, OOTP, p. 590
- “Well, Snape was a special case. He never lost an opportunity to curse James so you couldn’t really expect James to take that lying down, could you?” -Remus Lupin, OOTP, p. 591
- “…it was also enchanted to forever repel (as insultingly as possible) the curiosity of their nemesis, Severus Snape.” -JK Rowling, Pottermore, Marauder’s Map. The term nemesis, as defined by Dictionary.com means “an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.” which implies that the two were on equal footing. As in anything Snape received, he paid back in full.
- In Snape’s Worst Memory, James attacks Snape with a common jinx (that Snape himself invented) and Snape retaliates with a dark curse. What makes anyone think that Snape was incapable of using one to incapacitate James or Sirius?
- Snape had a group of friends who grew up to be Death Eaters and who harassed Muggle-borns in school. I’m sure they attempted retaliation on the Marauders. It doesn’t make any sense that they would choose not to fight against those who they most likely hate most, meaning that Snape would have just as much ability to double-team James.
- It takes a certain amount of compassion to dedicate your life to saving innocent people, and James was a member of the Order of the Phoenix. If he really harassed and tortured Snape to make him feel like shit, as is implied by many, I doubt he would have enough compassion to join an organization based on protecting everyone (read: you would have to save people you hated sometimes).
- Literally everyone who talks about James other than Snape loves him. Dumbledore, Hagrid, Sirius, Remus, everyone. Surely if he was that terrible to someone, at least one other person would hate him, wouldn’t they?
So you see, here are some great points that support the mutual hatred of James and Snape. Also, if you aren’t convinced yet, have some more points to consider!
- James grew up in a privileged, blessed household, yet he empathizes with nearly everyone, esp minorities. Peter was a talentless underdog, an outcast, a no-one. Sirius came from a repressing, abusive household. Lily was a muggle-born, and muggle-borns in general are a minority. Don’t even get me started on Remus and his lycanthropy issue, that is downright stunning how James handled that.
- Snape invented spells designed to hurt other people. James suspended him in the air, so Snape attempted to slice his head open. One of them was intending to humiliate, the other was intending to maim or kill.
- “Well, they [James and Snape] did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy. And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive.” “What?” “He saved his life.” (Dumbledore, SS/SP). This is an important parallel between James and Harry; in the end they both saved Snape’s and Draco’s lives respectively, despite their animosities towards another. The differing factor between these pair of rivals was that the Potter boys had enough capacity for compassion that they succeeded in saving the lives of their enemies.
- Sirius says in GoF that during Hogwarts, Snape was in a gang full of future Death Eaters, some of who were mentioned: Rosier and Wilkes, the Lestranges, Avery and Mulciber (GoF, Padfoot Returns). That’s a pretty large gang, and far bigger than the four Marauders, especially when you consider that James and Sirius were the ringleaders and Remus and Peter didn’t participate in most of their activities. The two Marauders must have been pretty strong to avoid getting cornered and beaten up by Snape’s gang.
- Dumbledore, Hagrid, McGonagall, Sirius, Remus, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Mad Eye Moody, Emmeline Vance, Elphias Doge, Dedalus Diggle, and Hestia Jones spoke highly of James (hell, even Peter knew James had compassion enough not to kill him). If James had been a bully during his Hogwarts years, don’t you think a few of these people would disapprove?
- When Hagrid gives Harry the photo album of his parents in First Year, he says that he owled all of Lily and James’ old school friends for photos of them. All of those people loved Lily and James, and kept photos of them long after school, and after their deaths. Personally, I wouldn’t keep a picture of someone who treated someone else like s***.
At the end of the day, James and Snape both treated each other like s***, but they had their reasons (despite how petty those reasons were, to them it was of utmost importance), and it’s unfair to say that Snape was simply an innocent victim when we canonly know that he wasn’t. You can even say that James bullied a bully. Snape was a racist bigot who felt that a minority were subhuman and not on the same standard as he was. He joined a terrorist organization whose purpose was to torture, incapacitate and kill Muggle-borns and Muggles. His greatest virtue was his ability to love a single person in his life, however his compassion ends there.
People are all too willing to judge James based on SWM alone, when in fact JKR had been building up the goodness of his character in all seven books. James was capable of showing kindness to everyone but Snape; begrudging him for that is unfair because the feeling was mutual. At least James had the decency to step in and save Snape’s life at one point; Snape wasn’t capable of doing that for him even years later.
And yes, I do realize that Snape turns out to be on the good side in the end, and that he put his life on the line to protect Harry. However, this was not a special act. A lot of other people regularly risked their lives for Harry, and Snape is not a special snowflake because he did this one thing.
How he treats his students
Additionally, he treated innocent children like complete idiots when they were just trying to learn Potions. Remember how he constantly picked on Harry? That is not teaching, that is abuse. He chose to judge Harry based on what he knew of the boy’s father and Harry’s resemblance to James. Apparently, Snape has never heard of the saying ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’.
And remember Neville? He was having arseloads of trouble in Potions, but instead of giving Longbottom private lessons, or even telling him what to do and/or what not to do, he scolded him and called him a dunderhead. This would most likely count as neglect. If a student is having trouble with their work, realize it and help them. Evidently, Snape is not a good teacher. He is blatantly biased against everyone but the Slytherins, is a s***ty teacher, and gives out prejudiced grades.
And I have another thing to add about Neville. His Boggart is Snape. I find it strange that a boy who has been abused (by his relatives trying to get magic out of him), seen his parents tortured into insanity, visited those parents at a hospital where magical horrors await, is acquainted with all manner of scary magical creatures, and is constantly bullied would fear a teacher the most.
Murder is not noble
Dumbledore mentions that to commit murder is to destroy one’s own soul. We have ample evidence within canon that this is a basic, if not the basic, understanding of the difference between which choices are “good” and which are “evil.” Those who are evil disregard this cost. For example, another testament of Harry’s ability to love is that he is as frightened by the prospect of committing murder as he is by the prospect of his own death.
Another example: Harry stops Sirius and Lupin from killing Pettigrew, not because Pettigrew didn’t deserve such punishment, but because he didn’t want his father’s best friends to become killers.
So I vehemently oppose any claim that Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him to protect either Malfoy or Harry. Yes, Dumbledore would sacrifice his own life to save Malfoy or Harry, but he also would have done the same for Snape. Just as he went to great lengths to protect Malfoy (which includes not only concealing his awareness of Malfoy’s plans but also preventing him from becoming a killer), he would not choose for Snape to become a murderer. Murder is not, nor will it ever be, a noble act. Asking one of his best lieutenants to rend his very soul would be a step too far in Dumbledore’s eyes. Would you ask someone you know and (probably) love to place a blemish upon their soul? NO.
We have been told repeatedly that a characteristic of Slytherin members is their sense of self-preservation. When faced with difficult decisions, especially those concerning life and death, they will almost always choose to save their own necks. I think Slughorn’s character serves as a reminder of this characteristic. He is a less harmful version of the self-promotion and self-preservation common to those of Slytherin house. Slughorn negotiates among and for the famous and the talented for material luxury. Snape does the same by ingratiating himself with the two most powerful wizards, but Snape is after power, and his need for power is routed in vengeance.
So, yes, Snape “twitches” when Narcissa adds the clause to the Unbreakable Vow requiring him to finish Malfoy’s task should Malfoy fail. But, this twitch probably resulted from Snape’s acknowledgment that his (relatively) safe position as a double agent was in jeopardy; that he would be forced to declare his loyalty to Voldemort rather than sacrifice himself. Unlike Lily and James, who gave their lives to save Harry’s, Snape would not give his life to protect Malfoy. He KILLED to protect Malfoy, yes, but I believe his primary concern was his own life.
Consider that Snape had a number of choices in front of him besides killing Dumbledore. He could have:
- Broken the barrier to allow the Phoenix members to assist him.
- Helped revive Dumbledore or retrieved his wand (“Accio Dumbledore’s wand”).
- Stunned or directly challenged the Death Eaters around Dumbledore.
- Released Harry (if, as one article suggests, he deduced he was there).
While we cannot know if any of these choices would have saved Dumbledore, we do know for certain that all of them would have resulted in Snape’s death for breaking the Unbreakable Vow. His choice – murder – even if made at precisely that moment tells us that his primary concern is his own life, and that he would openly side with Voldemort rather than sacrifice himself.
So, in conclusion, I do think that Snape was truly, deep inside, evil. I can forgive him for some actions he took before and after the elder Potters’ deaths, but I cannot and will not forgive him the actions he took in bullying Hogwarts students and being extremely prejudiced because of a mere familial resemblance. It was not necessary for him to do these things, but he chose to, and I will not forget that.
With all that said, I do enjoy a nice Snape fic.
ETA: 2057 words! Wow!