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Old January 26th, 2008, 6:18 pm
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Re: Snape and Dumbledore: Joint Character Analysis

I'd like to comment on this earlier post by wickedwickedboy.

Originally Posted by wickedwickedboy View Post
I re-read Snape's death scene and JKR's intent came through intensely this time. I really believe Snape was delighted to be able to tell Harry he was a horcrux and must die - and in a way, Dumbledore had granted Snape that opportunity for happiness in exchange for not telling him about the Elder Wand.
It is my view that we are free as readers to put our own various interpretations on Snape's death scene. However, I'm having a hard time discerning any delight in his final interactions with Harry. Snape is dying, very painfully, from an agonising bite and from loss of blood. He's in pain and he barely has time left to have the presence of mind to release those crucial memories to Harry. If he feels any 'delight' at this awful situation, I can only guess it's delight that Harry has actually turned up in the nick of time!

Even with his dislike of the boy, Snape taking delight in telling Harry that he has to die doesn't make much sense to me. At first, as Snape lies dying, he doesn't even know that Harry is there. In which case I surmise that he he must feel terrible despair that not only is he dying alone but he's dying without being able to pass on that crucial info to Harry and thus failing in the task Dumbledore set him. When Snape sees Harry's face appear over him, I am guessing he feels a vast relief that at least before he dies he can finish the task that Dumbledore had entrusted him with, and thus ensure Voldemort's defeat.

As JKR was writing, in her mind, she sat and thought, 'Snape hates Harry' and she likely thought 'Dumbledore knows this'. So, my above conclusions came shining out from the writing when I read the scene thinking on those things. I also clearly saw that Snape had to reach a place of peace within himself with respect to his attitude toward James and Harry in order to look at Harry's face (James Potter's face) and ignore it (ignore his feelings of hatred) in order to see Lily's eyes. I don't believe that Dumbledore felt Snape was capable of doing even that much and would have been surprised. But the harsh way that Snape grasped Harry in order to fulfill his dying wish, showed me that Snape cast Harry/James right out of his head with every fiber of his being - indicated by the clutching of Harry's robes - and see Lily's eyes. He could not do that before.
OK, I get all of this. But I really don't see where the 'delight' comes into it. The first time I read that scene, I read a desperation into the way Snape clutches at the front of Harry's robes. As if his gesture says: Potter, you must grant a dying man's wish. And Harry does.

And yet, moments later, he would have to face Lily in person, likely with James, Sirius and Remus standing next to her. That would indeed have been an interesting scene. Dumbledore would not see it, but it might have been nice for him to have witnessed the full impact of his mechanisms.
Well ... when Harry calls forth his parents and the two loyal Marauders through the Resurrection Stone, Lily and James seem to approve of the suicide mission that Dumbledore set before him.

My reflection on the Snape/Dumbledore relationship is that Snape showed a lot of loyalty to Dumbledore, and that Dumbledore's decisions were sometimes questionable. But I personally don't go along with the notion that Dumbledore deliberately set Snape up to be killed by Voldemort, because of the Elder Wand business. As Harry says to DD in King's Cross limbo, 'that bit didn't quite work out' and Dumbledore soberly agrees, saying 'poor Severus'. From that I deduce that the plan had gone a bit pear-shaped. Albus setting Severus up deliberately to be killed seems unbelievably callous to me, and I'm not sure I want to go down that road.

Poor Severus indeed.

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