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Old March 4th, 2011, 2:51 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis Reboot v.4

Originally Posted by ignisia View Post
I think Snape is expressing horror at the thought of dehumanizing a person by treating their death as a small matter. I believe this turn of phrase indicates that Snape feels sympathy for Harry at this moment, regardless of whether or not he likes the boy.
I don't think Snape ever had any sympathy for Harry as an individual. Snape says in that scene that his understanding was that they were keeping Harry alive for Lily. It is Dumbledore that points out that for Dumbledore the object was to keep Harry alive so Harry could grow as he deserved to do.

Still, since Snape also states in that scene that he now objects to watching people die that he could have saved, I do feel he is not thrilled at the death in a general way, and not just because it violates the For Lily agreement.

I was thinking about this particular scene and a few ideas came to me regarding how this new knowledge might make Snape feel.
DD has revealed a secret that compromises the very promise Snape made the DD all those years ago, the promise that turned his life around. And on top of that, the nullification of that promise means the death of someone who was, at the time, not even an adult-- "Lately, only those I could not save," emphasizing the personal horror of it: he has to stand by and watch a death he can prevent (in fact, he has to set the events in motion by telling Harry). When was the last time that happened, and what does the Snape of '96 think of the person he once was? I can see why he was so upset!
I actually think that moment-- learning that Harry was to die-- marked a major growth in Snape. In my opinion, Snape had joined up to make himself feel better about Lily, and Harry had been given to him as a sop for those feelings. And then Snape learns that Harry needs to die in order to defeat Voldemort. It turns out that the mission is not going to be Protect Harry For Lily afterall, and that that was never going to be the end game. Snape isn't going to get what he personally wants. I think it shows major growth that he protests, but sticks around to do the job even though his personal payment plan has been revoked.

This is a fourfold nightmare for him, IMHO:

1) DD has revealed himself to have known this news and is giving Snape yet another terrible task. Combined with his earlier questioning of DD's trust in him, and his faith in the old man would have been severely damaged. Considering how he's put his life and duty in this man's hands, I can see why this would be troubling.
I think Snape would also have to come to grips with Dumbledore being completely serious about defeating Voldemort, and that that was always at the top of Dumbledore's priority list. I think Dumbledore really drives his point home by arranging his own death-- his death too will become a cog in the machinery to bring down Voldemort. I think Snape had to put his own desires into perspective.

2) He's made a promise to protect Lily's son in order to uphold her sacrifice. This promise gave him a new purpose in life and helped him live a more productive life. And now that purpose is gone.
I agree. I think the promise was good for him personally, and laid the groundwork for some very slow growth that eventually built up the framework for him to eventually walk without that crutch. I think the promise helped him focus on something that was outside himself. But I also think the promise was unfair to Harry, and outdated as a viable motivation if the plan was actually to get rid of Voldemort, not just make Snape feel better. I think Snape had a hard time realizing that his former purpose was outmoded, but he did adapt. He had finally reached a point in his life where The Greater Good meant more than his persoanl desires, I think.

3) He is twice this year being put in a position where he must cause death: First, to DD, and then to Harry by telling him the identity of the final Horcrux. For him, this must hold terrible memories: he was, after all, once someone who at least condoned senseless killing. He has been spending over a decade trying to atone for these crimes.
I personally don't think Snape was trying to atone for anything except Lily until the last few years of his life, but I do agree that by that time the terrible irony of what he was being asked to do was not lost on him. First he gave Voldemort a prophecy that sent Voldemort out to kill a child to prevent Voldemort's defeat, and now Snape needs to send that same child out to be killed by Voldemort so Voldemort can be defeated.

4) A kid is going to die. Think what you will of Snape, I don't believe he likes this at all.
I think Rowling used the willingness to harm children to demonstrate what set the Death Eaters apart from others-- from torturing the children at the Quidditch World Cup, Imperiusing a child to attempt to commit murders, or trying to kill a baby, it's what Voldemort and Death Eaters seem to be able to do without blinking. When Snape was in Dumbledore's office shortly after Voldemort's fall, he shrugged off the matter of Harry's life or death like it was an irritating fly. I think if Snape was shown to have grown to care about children in particular, that would be a good sign. I think it remains ambiguous. But I do think he had grown to have a general aversion to seeing people die.

".... You've chosen your way, I've chosen mine."
I love Lily because she chooses a path to match her convictions, and chooses to live her life fighting for what is right. It is our choices that show who we truly are.

-- JK Rowling to Harry Potter fans at the beginning of Deathly Hallows, and James Potter to his son at the end of Deathly Hallows.

Last edited by OldMotherCrow; March 4th, 2011 at 2:55 pm. Reason: replaced pronoun with proper name to clarify sentence
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