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Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13



View Poll Results: Snape's treatment of Neville...
was justified and reflects positively upon him. 3 1.96%
was justified but reflects negatively upon him. 5 3.27%
sits uncomfortably with me. 19 12.42%
was completely unjustifiable and should have been stopped. 49 32.03%
was completely unjustifiable but horrible teachers are part of life. 19 12.42%
cannot be judged objectively because we only get Harry's perspective. 36 23.53%
put Snape's worst instincts on display. 16 10.46%
does not justify a pony option! 6 3.92%
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  #41  
Old October 3rd, 2009, 8:43 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlimsyCauldron
But this begs the question why would anyone want to be one in the first place? We can give all the rationalizations that we want about lack of friends or an abusive childhood or lack of social skills but if you are capable of love and are intelligent as, we see with Draco and Narcissa, it doesn't take a genius to look down paths of prejudice and see that the ending can not be good.
Dumbledore was brilliant, but had the same problem when he thought Wizards should rule over Muggles for the greater good. That is also a prejudiced view, but considering what happened to his sister he felt it was somehow right, but he tells Harry his judgment was clouded by his feelings for Grindelwald.

I think the message is that people can be confused about that when they are young, but they can always change their minds and grow as human beings. I don't think anyone in the books is absolutely a perfect human being, but especially not in their teenage years, and Snape was only about 21 when he returned to the good side.

The books hold out the possibility of forgiveness and atonement, even for a racist or backward view, in my opinion.


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  #42  
Old October 4th, 2009, 5:30 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
Dumbledore was brilliant, but had the same problem when he thought Wizards should rule over Muggles for the greater good. That is also a prejudiced view, but considering what happened to his sister he felt it was somehow right, but he tells Harry his judgment was clouded by his feelings for Grindelwald.
But this is what I am getting at. The original argument was that Snape was too smart to continue life as a DE and that he would have stopped eventually, with or without Lily I presume. As you illustrate with DD he was smart but his love for his sister stopped him. There was an external factor that, based on his ability to love, snapped him out of it. What if his sister had been healthy? What if his relationship with Aberforth had been different with Aberforth being more assertive or as smart as Dumbledore? What if he hadn't have loved Grindlewald? DD blinded himself that he wasn't doing anything wrong because he loved Grindlewald.

What I am saying that it has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with willfulness. Dumbledore was fortunate that he had people that he loved and they loved and cared for him as well despite deep seated familial problems. Had Dumbledore changed his ways sooner his family would have forgiven him and tragedy likely averted. The same with Snape. He had Lily. She was his friend. It could have changed everything had he abandoned his dark arts ways.

We note that Dumbledore never forgave himself, but he also never blamed anyone else for his actions. I'm trying to remember but to my knowldege he never blamed Grindlewald for his mistakes. Nor Aberforth. Grindlewald was the catalyst but Grindlewald never forced Dumbledore to his side and Dumbledore's tragedy made him realize this.

Dumbledore was able to gain more power and work for the light, he could handle the dark arts when he encounted them, (see the horcruxes, cave potion, and inferi etc) without being tempted by them. He could look at the power Voldemort was gaining and fight it instead of coveting it for himself. DD actions could be considered machiavellan but his actions were never bitter nor vengeful. In other words his tragedy transformed and redeemd him from his misguided youth.

We see with Snape's tragedy that his first thing to do is go to Voldemort. And we see that while DD recognizes the similarities in their situations that Snape could be tempted back to the dark arts by the DADA position. We see with his actions toward Harry and other students, his petulance over not getting the DADA position. In short, while he worked for the light he never truly relinquished the attitudes that made him a candidate for a DE in the first place. That is why I firmly believe that had Lily never been in picture he never would have changed sides.


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  #43  
Old October 4th, 2009, 6:34 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by flimseycauldron
What I am saying that it has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with willfulness. Dumbledore was fortunate that he had people that he loved and they loved and cared for him as well despite deep seated familial problems. Had Dumbledore changed his ways sooner his family would have forgiven him and tragedy likely averted. The same with Snape. He had Lily. She was his friend. It could have changed everything had he abandoned his dark arts ways.
If everyone did everything exactly as they were supposed to do, what boring books these would be, in my opinion. And what would be the lesson then? That no one ever makes a mistake? Or if they do it is unforgivable?

There are characters in the books who had love and money and everything handed to them on a silver platter, yet they still made mistakes and managed to recklessly throw their lives away either by early death or imprisonment. Look at Barty Crouch, Jr. for instance!

So I'm not sure that having stronger family connections necessarily makes someone morally superior to Snape and Dumbledore.

In these books, a happy childhood is not the key to a stronger character, in my opinion. We might as well ask how Harry would have turned out if his parents hadn't died. Would he have been as tough as he was, or would he be spoiled? He would have been happier indeed, but would he have stayed on the good side himself? Who can know the answer to something like that?

It seems to me the theme of the books is the opposite: Hardship and problems can lead intelligent people to make mistakes in spite of their ability to love, but love can also save them in the end. It worked for Dumbledore, and it worked for Snape. It could not really work for Peter or Voldemort because they did not understand real love.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flimseycauldron
We see with Snape's tragedy that his first thing to do is go to Voldemort. And we see that while DD recognizes the similarities in their situations that Snape could be tempted back to the dark arts by the DADA position. We see with his actions toward Harry and other students, his petulance over not getting the DADA position.
Don't forget the good old Curse.

Dumbledore knew there was a Curse on the DADA job. Therefore Snape couldn't take the job before he did or he might have been tossed out of the school years earlier.

As it turned out, getting DADA helped his reputation with Voldemort because Snape got the job that the Dark Lord couldn't persuade Dumbledore to give him. And that set him up to be Headmaster the following year, which was all part of Dumbledore's plan because it gave Snape access to the Sword of Gryffindor, not to mention the information from Phineas Nigellus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flimseycauldron
In short, while he worked for the light he never truly relinquished the attitudes that made him a candidate for a DE in the first place. That is why I firmly believe that had Lily never been in picture he never would have changed sides.
But that's an alternate reading of an alternate universe anyway, because Lily did exist in the books, and Snape definitely changed sides. Canon Snape changed sides and stayed on the good side, and that's all that matters to me about his character. By the time he died, Lily was only one of the reasons that mattered to him, in my opinion.


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  #44  
Old October 4th, 2009, 7:13 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
If everyone did everything exactly as they were supposed to do, what boring books these would be, in my opinion. And what would be the lesson then? That no one ever makes a mistake? Or if they do it is unforgivable?
Not at all. Dumbledore made mistakes. He was forgiven. James made mistakes. He was forgiven. etc etc etc etc. The books are filled with people who made mistakes and were forgiven. Even Snape was forgiven in the end. But to assert that he was too smart to remain a DE is erronous imho.


Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
There are characters in the books who had love and money and everything handed to them on a silver platter, yet they still made mistakes and managed to recklessly throw their lives away either by early death or imprisonment. Look at Barty Crouch, Jr. for instance!
Very true. Where have I argued this? But what I wrote above is true as well.



Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
So I'm not sure that having stronger family connections necessarily makes someone morally superior to Snape and Dumbledore.
Having a strong connection to another person is usually what dissillusions people who are on the dark side. Unfortunately it is through tragedy that it often does so. Without that connection (Voldemort and Wormtail are prime examples here) there is no reason to turn to the good.


Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
It seems to me the theme of the books is the opposite: Hardship and problems can lead intelligent people to make mistakes in spite of their ability to love, but love can also save them in the end. It worked for Dumbledore, and it worked for Snape. It could not really work for Peter or Voldemort because they did not understand real love
Snape was forgiven and turned because of his strong relationship to Lily. Dumbledore not only turned to the light be his attitudes about people also reflected that. That is why he is forgiven more readily than Snape. For while Snape turned it did not change his attitudes that led him down a dark path to begin with, imo.

But regardless (because I've a feeling we'll have to agree to disagree ) it none of these arguments effectively back up, imho, that Snape's intelligence would have turned him away from the dark side.


Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
Dumbledore knew there was a Curse on the DADA job. Therefore Snape couldn't take the job before he did or he might have been tossed out of the school years earlier.
And it was also specifically stated that he was afraid that it would tempt Snape. Curse or no, DD was very observant in this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
But that's an alternate reading of an alternate universe anyway, because Lily did exist in the books, and Snape definitely changed sides. Canon Snape changed sides and stayed on the good side, and that's all that matters to me about his character. By the time he died, Lily was only one of the reasons that mattered to him, in my opinion.
I think it alternate universe to claim that his intelligence would have him switch sides. Lily was in the books and he could have switched his affiliations sooner and the tragedy could have been averted. Simply put Snape did not allow his strong connection to Lily to change his attitudes before or after her death. But let us say that you are right and it did change significantly, there is no way to prove that it was his intelligence that caused him to do so. If anything his intelligence and aptitude for dark magic was a hindrance in this regard.


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  #45  
Old October 4th, 2009, 7:42 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
Don't forget the good old Curse.

Dumbledore knew there was a Curse on the DADA job. Therefore Snape couldn't take the job before he did or he might have been tossed out of the school years earlier.
Of course Dumbledore wasn't going to give Snape the DADA job knowing about the curse. He needed his spy kept close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flimseycauldron View Post
And it was also specifically stated that he was afraid that it would tempt Snape. Curse or no, DD was very observant in this.
Actually, I can't remember Dumbledore himself ever saying that he didn't give Snape the post of DADA teacher because he felt it would tempt him. Can anyone supply a quote?



Last edited by TreacleTartlet; October 4th, 2009 at 10:43 pm.
  #46  
Old October 4th, 2009, 7:48 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by TreacleTartlet View Post
Actually, I can't remember Dumbledore himself ever saying that he didn't give Snape the post of DADA teacher because he felt it would tempt him. Can anyone supply a quote?
It was something that was said by JKR. But mind you, it was during an interview where someone asked her about the DADA position, and this was years before HBP came out. This was her way of trying to cover up the true answer.


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  #47  
Old October 4th, 2009, 7:51 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by RavenStar83 View Post
It was something that was said by JKR. But mind you, it was during an interview where someone asked her about the DADA position, and this was years before HBP came out. This was her way of trying to cover up the true answer.
Yes, here is the original quote from the Royal Albert Hall Q & A session in 2003:

*quote
Jackson: “Professor Snape has always wanted to be Defence Against Dark Arts teacher. In book 5 he still hasn’t got the job. Why does Prof Dumbedore not allow him to be Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher?”

JK Rowling: That is an excellent question and the reason is that I have to be careful what I say here. To answer it fully would give a lot away about the remaining two books.

When Prof Dumbledore took Prof Snape onto the staff and Prof Snape said “I’d like to be Prof of Defence Against the Dark Arts please” and Prof Dumbledore felt it might bring out the worst in Snape so said “I think we’ll get you to teach Potions and see how you get along there”.


It does sound like the DADA position being cursed and Snape subsequently leaving is a plot point here that needed to be covered up, as it played out in the last two books. Discussing it would reveal too much. I wonder if JKR is speaking of Dumbledore's original thoughts and words when providing young Snape with a teaching position at Hogwarts.

ETA: I don't recall anything said by Dumbledore within the books, either.



Last edited by Annielogic; October 4th, 2009 at 8:22 pm. Reason: Added point
  #48  
Old October 4th, 2009, 8:24 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Thanks RavenStar, Annie!

I remember that interview now, and I agree with you both that she was obviously trying not to give anything away regarding the last 2 books. That is the problem I find with the interviews pre DH.

So, within the books Dumbledore never actually states that he refused give Severus the post because he didn't trust him.


  #49  
Old October 4th, 2009, 8:55 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

But that interview quote talies realy well IIRC with what Severus told Voldermort when he started teaching at Hogwarts, and what Severus told Bellatrix. This leaves me thinking that is was more a coverstory than reality.


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  #50  
Old October 4th, 2009, 9:03 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
But that interview quote talies realy well IIRC with what Severus told Voldermort when he started teaching at Hogwarts, and what Severus told Bellatrix. This leaves me thinking that is was more a coverstory than reality.
Yes, that makes sense.


  #51  
Old October 4th, 2009, 9:09 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
But that interview quote talies realy well IIRC with what Severus told Voldermort when he started teaching at Hogwarts, and what Severus told Bellatrix. This leaves me thinking that is was more a coverstory than reality.
Yes I agree it makes sense, that's why I wondered Dumbledore's original thoughts and words when providing young Snape with a teaching position at Hogwarts, were an issue (adding the interview into the equation). Then, when Snape told Voldemort these reasons originally, and later after GoF (if Voldemort enquired) and Bellatrix, a lie wouldn't be picked up on, as it would be based on a kind of intial truth.



Last edited by Annielogic; October 4th, 2009 at 9:41 pm.
  #52  
Old October 4th, 2009, 9:22 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

But to me it doesn't make sense for Dumbledore to want his new spy to have a job that will end in a year when he knows he needs to be able to keep in touch with him.

It also has never made sense to me that Snape would actually want the DADA job because he has seen 7 years (probably more) of the job ending (& if the series is anything to go by ending badly) - if Ron can work out that the jobs probably cursed then I think Severus is able to make that same deduction.


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  #53  
Old October 4th, 2009, 9:30 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
But to me it doesn't make sense for Dumbledore to want his new spy to have a job that will end in a year when he knows he needs to be able to keep in touch with him.

It also has never made sense to me that Snape would actually want the DADA job because he has seen 7 years (probably more) of the job ending (& if the series is anything to go by ending badly) - if Ron can work out that the jobs probably cursed then I think Severus is able to make that same deduction.
Yes, and it's still possible for Dumbledore to give Snape an alternate reason, to give Voldemort perhaps. I agree, Snape has a keen eye, I imagine he would have noticed the teacher's consistant habit of leaving the DADA post, as well, including from the time he was a student. Perhaps, it's a bit like how the rumour concerning Snape wanting the DADA position started, maybe a bit of misdirection and covering of plans/intentions.



Last edited by Annielogic; October 4th, 2009 at 9:43 pm.
  #54  
Old October 4th, 2009, 9:34 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittling View Post
But to me it doesn't make sense for Dumbledore to want his new spy to have a job that will end in a year when he knows he needs to be able to keep in touch with him.

It also has never made sense to me that Snape would actually want the DADA job because he has seen 7 years (probably more) of the job ending (& if the series is anything to go by ending badly) - if Ron can work out that the jobs probably cursed then I think Severus is able to make that same deduction.
Not to mention, the trend of the one-year DADA professor started after Voldemort applied for the spot. Since Voldemort applied for it ten years after leaving Hogwarts some time in the 1940s, he probably applied for the spot in or around 1955. That would mean this trend had been going on for over forty years before Snape finally took the post. Surely he would have connected the dots, so to speak.


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  #55  
Old October 4th, 2009, 10:04 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by flimseycauldron View Post
And it was also specifically stated that he was afraid that it would tempt Snape. Curse or no, DD was very observant in this.
Why would that be so very observant on Dumbledore's part? Personally I see no evidence from canon that the Snape who had turned from being a Death Eater, who worked for Dumbledore for 17 years (from 1981 to 1998) was ever tempted to go back to his old ways. And I see no evidence that Dumbledore thought so either.

He might have been worried during Snape's early years of teaching at Hogwarts, that this newly reformed DE might return to the dark side, but there's no evidence of that in canon either.

The only statement from canon I recall is Snape telling Bellatrix and Narcissa that Dumbledore was concerned that he, Snape, "might -- ah -- be tempted to go back to his old ways."

Well, of course Severus would tell Bella and Cissy that!

To me, that statement was all part of his constant double bluff.


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  #56  
Old October 4th, 2009, 11:18 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

My impression was that Snape was firmly against Voldemort from the moment he started working at Hogwarts for Dumbledore. However, that didn't mean that he could not be tempted by a dark path of his own - and I think Dumbledore would wish to keep Snape away from anything that might tempt him in that regard. Years later, Snape remained firmly against Voldemort, imo, which is how I interpreted JKR saying he'd never put the Turbin on the way Quirrell had. But even then, the dark arts held a fascination for Snape, imo (HBP) so there was always a chance that he might choose a dark path of his own, imo. I think that is why Dumbledore kept Snape from the DADA position (where he'd be immersed in the study of dark arts and their defenses) until 6th year, when he knew Snape would only be likely to hold the position until killing him - with the many distractions of things coming to a head. In all honesty, I don't think Voldemort lifted the curse when he took over - I think he left it in place out of spite, so Snape would not have been able to do it at that point anyway - although being made headmaster would be a good consolation (in Voldy's eyes).

As I understand it, Snape would have been able to work as a potions professor at Hogwarts after holding the DADA position one year - he just could not be the DADA professor for more than one year - iirc. So Dumbledore was not risking losing Snape as a professor by giving him the position earlier on, I feel he merely felt it would best not to lay dark side temptations in the path of a former Death Eater - especially later on when Snape would be placed in such an environment when spying - and acting in the role of Death Eater again, which could include performing many dark side acts.


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  #57  
Old October 5th, 2009, 12:39 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittling View Post
But to me it doesn't make sense for Dumbledore to want his new spy to have a job that will end in a year when he knows he needs to be able to keep in touch with him.

It also has never made sense to me that Snape would actually want the DADA job because he has seen 7 years (probably more) of the job ending (& if the series is anything to go by ending badly) - if Ron can work out that the jobs probably cursed then I think Severus is able to make that same deduction.
Well done ~ That's the best argument I've ever seen for Snape knowing about the curse!

Quote:
Originally Posted by flimseycauldron
But to assert that he was too smart to remain a DE is erronous imho.
But why? There's no canon to show that he ever enjoyed being a Death Eater. Draco became disillusioned right away, and Regulus even figured out that there was a Horcrux and he wanted to destroy it. They all made a quantum leap just from things they saw happening as Death Eaters.

I believe Severus "he was a genius, the Prince" Snape might have realized his mistake even quicker than they did, but once he had the Dark Mark he was trapped in servitude. We have no timeline for when he actually took the Dark Mark to the time he came to Dumbledore for help. It's possible he wasn't even a DE very long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WWB
But even then, the dark arts held a fascination for Snape, imo (HBP) so there was always a chance that he might choose a dark path of his own, imo. I think that is why Dumbledore kept Snape from the DADA position (where he'd be immersed in the study of dark arts and their defenses) until 6th year
I think it's clear in DH that the Carrows taught "The Dark Arts" which is a marked contrast to "Defense Against the Dark Arts" which is what Snape wanted to teach. I think that's the whole point of the contrast, to show the difference between Snape and the Carrows, and Snape and Voldemort.

Again, you don't seem to leave room for the Curse as a plot point. Why would Dumbledore give Snape a cursed job that would cause him to leave, after asking for his promise to stay and help Harry? It would be counterproductive to the cause of the Order to send Snape away due to the Curse, wouldn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WWB
As I understand it, Snape would have been able to work as a potions professor at Hogwarts after holding the DADA position one year - he just could not be the DADA professor for more than one year - iirc. So Dumbledore was not risking losing Snape as a professor by giving him the position earlier on, I feel he merely felt it would best not to lay dark side temptations in the path of a former Death Eater - especially later on when Snape would be placed in such an environment when spying - and acting in the role of Death Eater again, which could include performing many dark side acts.
Snape didn't seem to feel such temptations anymore, which is why he was trustworthy in Dumbledore's eyes. And there must have been a risk from the curse, or Dumbledore would have tried it. But then that would have made another plot hole, which is the question of who would be Potions Master if Snape taught DADA.

I hardly think Snape could have been a worse DADA teacher than Barty Jr. or Umbridge, but vastly better than Lockhart, and Hagrid says in Book Two that no one else wanted the job that year. Snape applied, but clearly only for show as a cover which worked out well in fooling Umbridge that he was on her side in OotP.


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Last edited by silver ink pot; October 5th, 2009 at 12:48 am.
  #58  
Old October 5th, 2009, 3:39 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Actually, Albus gave Moody the DADA job with the provision that it would only be for one year didn't he? Or am I misremembering? That shows how difficult it is to work around the curse by attempting to limit the taking of the job for only one year. The curse affected Moody before he even got to Hogwarts.

So, the idea that Snape could safely take the job for one year and then go back to teaching potions does not hold. Just accepting the job leads to enacting the curse.


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When Dumbledore asked Snape, "If you are prepared..." he didn't mean 'Have your Death Eeater robes returned from the cleaners'.
Everything we've seen Snape do, was done knowing Voldemort WOULD return someday.

And when that day would come, that he had better have the appropriate memories that would enable him to lie to Voldy's face.
  #59  
Old October 5th, 2009, 7:04 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by hwyla View Post
Actually, Albus gave Moody the DADA job with the provision that it would only be for one year didn't he? Or am I misremembering? That shows how difficult it is to work around the curse by attempting to limit the taking of the job for only one year. The curse affected Moody before he even got to Hogwarts.

So, the idea that Snape could safely take the job for one year and then go back to teaching potions does not hold. Just accepting the job leads to enacting the curse.
Erm, that might've just been Moody trying to return to his quiet retirement after doing Dumbledore a favor and teaching DADA for a year. Moreover, that was really Crouch talking, and it might have all been a part of his cover.


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  #60  
Old October 5th, 2009, 7:23 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by CrimsonZephyr View Post
Erm, that might've just been Moody trying to return to his quiet retirement after doing Dumbledore a favor and teaching DADA for a year. Moreover, that was really Crouch talking, and it might have all been a part of his cover.
Right, but how could Fake Moody lie about how long he was supposed to stay? He said that in front of the whole class. He didn't want Dumbledore to catch him lying about anything.

It's my opinion that Fake Moody does a brilliant job of not lying about almost everything. He hides in plain sight by telling certain truths, just as Snape does on the opposite side when he has to go back at the end of GoF.

In this passage, he says he is staying for one year, but when he smiles at Ron it has a double meaning because he thinks Voldemort will be back by the end of the year and that's why he won't be teaching anymore.

Here's the quote:

GoFThere was a general murmur of assent.

"But you're behind - very behind - on dealing with curses," said Moody. "So I'm here to bring you up to scratch on what wizards can do to each other. I've got one year to teach you how to deal with Dark -"

"What, aren't you staying?" Ron blurted out.

Moody's magical eye spun around to stare at Ron; Ron looked extremely apprehensive, but after a moment Moody smiled - the first time Harry had seen him do so. The effect was to make his heavily scarred face look more twisted and contorted than ever, but it was nevertheless good to know that he ever did anything as friendly as smile. Ron looked deeply relieved.

"You'll be Arthur Weasley's son, eh?" Moody said. "Your father got me out of a very tight corner a few days ago. .. . Yeah, I'm staying just the one year. Special favor to Dumbledore. . . . One year, and then back to my quiet retirement."

He gave a harsh laugh, and then clapped his gnarled hands together.



His glee is all about Voldemort coming back so he is lying, but the truthful part is that he is only staying a year as a favor to Dumbledore because of the Tri-Wizard Tournament.


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