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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%
Voters: 153. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
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  #1281  
Old January 9th, 2010, 8:21 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schuldig View Post
I can't help but think that the "heart on your sleeve" speech is something that draws comparisons between Harry and himself, actually. Not that Harry is prone to join the Dark Side due to whatever reason, but he does have a tendency to run head-first into things and then need help to get out - a bit like I feel Severus did when joining with the bad guys.
I'm finding this conversation fascinating. I haven't had a lot of time to process many of the subtle nuances in the books (just finished Deathly Hallows less than a month ago). So I never actually thought about this conversation referring to himself. But these points make a lot of sense to me... particularly since I have noticed other passages in which I think Severus is making comparisons between Harry and himself... or at least warning Harry away from his own mistakes.

The examples that stuck out for me were the Sectumsempra interaction in HBP... and then the Occlumency instructions in Flight of the Prince. Those just screamed to me of Severus trying to protect/instruct Harry.

On the subject of Snape and Voldemort:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Green_Woods View Post
I can't think of one similarity between Snape and Voldemort, unless it's their intelligence. Which both used differently, for different purposes.
I was jotting down ideas about one similarity - a similarity of gesture underscored by identical text metaphors - last night.I'm referring to the twitch each gives, as if trying to "flick off" (Snape) or "displace" (Voldemort) "an irksome fly" (both passages). But the gesture leads to entirely different choices. I'm sure Rowling put this in the text intentionally to underscore this point.

In the Snape instance, the twitch occurs when he hears that Lily's son lives. In the Voldemort instance, it occurs when he hears that the proprietor of the Leaky Cauldron shares his name.

Severus takes on his irksome fly: Lily’s living son. He protects the boy, shields him, challenges him, berates him, trains him, even dies horribly to get him the memories needed for his task. It’s not what he wants to do. It’s what he chooses to do because it’s necessary. It is his penance, and ultimately his redemption.

But Riddle seeks to escape the irksome fly: his common humanity. He changes his name, destroys his identity, splits his soul, becomes something other than human, and finds destruction.

Severus Snape is compared to Voldemort by way of the "irksome fly" metaphor. But the choices these two make could not be more different. Severus is a better man by far. So yes, I agree with your point fully. Even in a point of comparison, Rowling draws the comparison only to illustrate the contrast.


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  #1282  
Old January 9th, 2010, 9:46 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by Pearl_Took View Post
(Frankly, I think Minerva should have been more sympathetic to Neville too. She gets there in the end, in OotP.)

But very often Rowling's teachers really do behave like they're in a British boarding school from the 1950s....
This is true...but I think a good point is that most of them did go to what is essentially British boarding school, in the 1950's or earlier (Snape was probably in the tail end of the 50's), but very few later than that, and humans learn from example. Many teachers take their modus operandi from favorite teachers of the past, and so on.

Any way, I chose the option that Snape's treatment of Neville didn't sit well with me. It doesn't, but I've always thought that Snape might have felt some resentment towards Neville, since it seems like Snape blames Harry, to a point, for Lily's demise, and Snape might feel angry towards Neville because he knows that Neville could just as easily have been the Chosen One, which would have spared Lily's life. This is something else that doesn't exactly sit well with me, but everyone has issues. Snape has a vast myriad of them...Abusive parents, probably abandonment issues, certainly anger management and temper....And he was unrequited love from the age of maybe ten to nearly forty-something. With the same girl.



  #1283  
Old January 9th, 2010, 9:51 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by AuditoryEden View Post
This is true...but I think a good point is that most of them did go to what is essentially British boarding school, in the 1950's or earlier (Snape was probably in the tail end of the 50's), but very few later than that, and humans learn from example.
Not sure I'm following you here. Snape entered Hogwarts in 1971. Are you saying that the atmosphere he entered was more like a British boarding school from the tail end of the late 50's? Just trying to make sure I understand your point.


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  #1284  
Old January 9th, 2010, 10:31 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by ccollinsmith View Post
Not sure I'm following you here. Snape entered Hogwarts in 1971. Are you saying that the atmosphere he entered was more like a British boarding school from the tail end of the late 50's? Just trying to make sure I understand your point.
I suspect AuditoryEden means the atmosphere. It's something that's been discussed before, but I think it’s a very important point. The HP series has a lot in common with a long list of British children's literature set in boarding schools; from the 1800's versions of Tom Brown's School Days, Stalky & Co, & Billy Bunter, The first half of the 1900 was particularly famous giving us multiple examples from authors like Enid Blyton (Malory Tower's & St Clare's) Elinor Brent-Dyer, (Chalet & Abby School) as well as the infamous St Trinian's. HP sits in this school of British boarding schools very comfortably and I think has far more in common with them than the actual school experiences of the majority of children especially modern children.

Why is this relevant to Severus Snape? Well to me his experiences as both a pupil and as teacher are very in keeping with this. His teaching style in particular seems ... I suppose you could say less abusive (although I don’t feel that term particularly apt) when this is taken into account. The same could be said of his neglect by a school & it's teachers when they were in loco parentis. With in the confines of the series it seems all of this was fairly normal where as it would not be tolerated in any modern school.

EDIT:

Does anyone else see a resepmbelance between Cackles Academy's Miss Hardbroom from the Worst Witch series? (abviously she is a less rounded character bit still...)


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  #1285  
Old January 9th, 2010, 11:16 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
Does anyone else see a resepmbelance between Cackles Academy's Miss Hardbroom from the Worst Witch series? (abviously she is a less rounded character bit still...)
I've never read the Worst Witch series, but I recall a lengthy discussion on some forum wondering whether JKR had copied from them. Or perhaps I should say, discussed the similarities between the two series . . .


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  #1286  
Old January 9th, 2010, 11:26 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by snapes_witch View Post
I've never read the Worst Witch series, but I recall a lengthy discussion on some forum wondering whether JKR had copied from them. Or perhaps I should say, discussed the similarities between the two series . . .
I'm not sure. In the Worst Witch, it was an all-girls boarding school with only witches in attendance, and the series didn't seem to have a central storyline with a main adversary like Harry Potter. IMO, WW felt far more episodic, like each book had its own set of issues and was more self-contained in some ways.


  #1287  
Old January 9th, 2010, 11:51 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

I feel that the Wizarding World is quite a bit behind the Muggle World, with many differences in culture stemming from their not needing technology due to magic. It had led to various cultural differences, one of which is that they seem to function in almost another time, an era of the past, so reasonable chronology aside, the atmosphere of the whole wizarding world is a bit behind the times.

Also, as the HP books are set beginning in 91 and running only until 98, while they really ended in 09 of the next millenium, are not perhaps the most chronologically acurate books on earth.


  #1288  
Old January 10th, 2010, 11:24 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccollinsmith View Post
Severus takes on his irksome fly: Lily’s living son. He protects the boy, shields him, challenges him, berates him, trains him, even dies horribly to get him the memories needed for his task. It’s not what he wants to do. It’s what he chooses to do because it’s necessary. It is his penance, and ultimately his redemption.

But Riddle seeks to escape the irksome fly: his common humanity. He changes his name, destroys his identity, splits his soul, becomes something other than human, and finds destruction.

Severus Snape is compared to Voldemort by way of the "irksome fly" metaphor. But the choices these two make could not be more different. Severus is a better man by far. So yes, I agree with your point fully. Even in a point of comparison, Rowling draws the comparison only to illustrate the contrast.
Great post!

Voldemort rejected what he was and became inhuman, while Snape accepted what he became and evolved to become a man who came to terms with himself IMO.


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  #1289  
Old January 10th, 2010, 12:42 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

Quote:
Originally Posted by AuditoryEden View Post
This is true...but I think a good point is that most of them did go to what is essentially British boarding school, in the 1950's or earlier (Snape was probably in the tail end of the 50's), but very few later than that, and humans learn from example. Many teachers take their modus operandi from favorite teachers of the past, and so on.

Snape, Lily, and the Marauders entered Hogwarts in the 1970s.

But Hogwarts is always out of step with the Muggle world, and I don't think there was ever a time when people wore robes to school - even Boarding School - in the United States. Certainly not in the bell-bottom years of the 1970s. So to me it reads like a Medieval Monastary school, or something out of Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens.

We've talked about the "standards" of Hogwarts many times before, and the bottom line for me is that we can't compare modern teachers to the teachers at Hogwarts. Many of the things done by the students at Hogwarts would get kids thrown out forever or arrested in the modern world.

Many of the things all the teachers do - not just Snape - would also get them thrown out. I guarantee, if a teacher here in the U.S. called a student a "baboon brandishing a stick" the way Flitwick did with Seamus Finnegan, he would be fired and never work again.

And Flitwick is supposed to be the most loveable teacher - so go figure!


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  #1290  
Old January 10th, 2010, 11:03 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
Many of the things all the teachers do - not just Snape - would also get them thrown out. I guarantee, if a teacher here in the U.S. called a student a "baboon brandishing a stick" the way Flitwick did with Seamus Finnegan, he would be fired and never work again.
I don't know about that. I've seen and heard of many teachers in my time that have said much worse to students for various reasons, sometimes playfully and sometimes seriously insulting. It's not admirable but it happens.


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  #1291  
Old January 11th, 2010, 10:00 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by SIP
But Hogwarts is always out of step with the Muggle world, and I don't think there was ever a time when people wore robes to school - even Boarding School - in the United States.
When I was at Uni in the '80s (and bear in mind I went to Manchester) some halls of residence required students to wear academic robes for dinner!
There are some school which even today have academic robes as part of the uniform, but these tend to be the very posh and expensive schools (They are called Public Schools and are not to be confused with government run State schools)

Incidently when my older sisters started at Convent school in the sixties they still had to wear the little hats and gloves as part of the uniform.

But yeah I agree that the atmosphere is very much of a mid-20th century boarding school in Britain - although boarding schools then were almost uniformly sinlge sex. IMO the teachers at Hogwarts are not really comparable to teachers in real life, and I tend to take Umbridge as the yardstick of what is considered unacceptable behaviour by a teacher at Hogwarts. I don't see any evidence that Snape's behaviour towards any of the pupils was unacceptable to his employer Dumbledore. However how we may personally feel about one of our own children being treated in such a manner is an entirely different question!

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  #1292  
Old January 14th, 2010, 7:23 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

I've been posting a lot on the James' thread and that has lead me to think a great deal lately about Snape's experiences when he was a pupil. I just want to run a few things by about that time. Thinking out loud sort of.
When Snape first goes to Hogwarts IMO he is setting himself up for dissapointment. I think he is looking to Hogwarts to solve all his problems instead of looking inside himself. He is only 11 years old and probably never been told that the answers to his problems lis inside himself rather than an outside agency. We see this attitude when he is speaking to Lily in the grove and when he is on the train. He is leaving behind his parents and their problems and he is going with Lily to a magical place where they can truly be themselves. He has told her with a great deal of confidence that they will be in Slytherin together and it doesn't take a great deal of imagination that he has told how wonderful Slytherin House is. I think he has built a house of cards in his imagination where he Lily will live happily ever after. Of course nothing goes to plan.
Five minutes of the train and the first thing Lily hears from another magical child is that Slytherin is in his (James) opinion the worst house. It's a small thing essentially but it's followed pretty swiftly by Lily being sorted into Gryfindor. We know that that was a huge disappoinment to Snape.
Then things gets worse, the one thing that Severus had I think that he could absolutely depend on was the fact that he was clever. But he's not the cleverest boy in his year, James and Sirius are regarded as that. The other children are probably better at integrating than Severus, who as we all know has severe social problems. Then James becomes a very good Quiddich player and he has the cachet of a top sport star. James in many ways is everything that Severus can never be. He is athletic, charismatic, and very popular. The only thing that Severus has that has not failed him is Lily's freindship and then he loses her. I think that instead of the haven Severus was expecting Hogwarts to be, he found a kind of personal hell that was probably worse than his homelife.
His cold bitterness in later life is really not to be wondered at.
Just my thoughts.


  #1293  
Old January 14th, 2010, 7:50 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
Then things gets worse, the one thing that Severus had I think that he could absolutely depend on was the fact that he was clever. But he's not the cleverest boy in his year, James and Sirius are regarded as that.
The Half-Blood Prince's potions book indicates that Severus possesses a very high degree of talent. Perhaps James and Sirius were more ostentatiously "clever" (i.e. more willing to show off their skill). But we see no evidence of their ability to write new spells or arrive at creative solutions to difficult potions problems.

Severus was less popular. And he did have difficulty fitting in. But less clever than James and Sirius?

No, I don't think so.

Merely less recognized. In my opinion.

EDIT: I was basically trying to say in this post what Ignisia says in the next post - i.e., that Severus' personality is such that he is not going to show off his skills and is therefore going to get less credit for them.


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Last edited by ccollinsmith; January 14th, 2010 at 8:15 pm.
  #1294  
Old January 14th, 2010, 7:57 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

I think the fact that James and Sirius were regarded as the cleverest doesn't necessarily mean they were. It doesn't change the fact that Severus is constantly overshadowed by them and their outgoing personalities in the eyes of other people, which is what I see eliza as saying. Sev couldn't exactly show off his skills as easily as they could-- James and Sirius saw to that themselves. No way Severus was going to draw attention to himself.

I think Severus' expectations were definitely high and that things did not turn out as well as he thought they would. I think that, in a small way, he believed magic could solve all his troubles, including his home life, poverty, and lack of social status. After all, it was the Muggle world that caused him so much trouble as a child that the Wizarding World and the magical people in it had to be better than what he was going through.


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  #1295  
Old January 14th, 2010, 8:30 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by ignisia View Post
I think the fact that James and Sirius were regarded as the cleverest doesn't necessarily mean they were. It doesn't change the fact that Severus is constantly overshadowed by them and their outgoing personalities in the eyes of other people, which is what I see eliza as saying. Sev couldn't exactly show off his skills as easily as they could-- James and Sirius saw to that themselves. No way Severus was going to draw attention to himself.

I think Severus' expectations were definitely high and that things did not turn out as well as he thought they would. I think that, in a small way, he believed magic could solve all his troubles, including his home life, poverty, and lack of social status. After all, it was the Muggle world that caused him so much trouble as a child that the Wizarding World and the magical people in it had to be better than what he was going through.
Well that is sort of what I was saying. Severus' expectations were so high about the way going to Hogwarts would make his life wonderful and all those expectations came crashing down round him. I acknowledge that he is very intelligent, but it's not as easy as that for him, is it? James and Sirius are just asclever and they have charm and charisma too boot. This gets them noticed, where Snape pobably gets a
'You did well too Severus.' and then dismissed.
It would crush a more confident child never mind Severus.
Also, James and Sirius were very gifted magically, The Marauders Map was no small accomplishment and becoming Amimagi at their ages was positively brilliant.



Last edited by eliza101; January 14th, 2010 at 8:33 pm.
  #1296  
Old January 14th, 2010, 8:35 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
Well that is sort of what I was saying. Severus' expectations were so high about the way going to Hogwarts would make his life wonderful and all those expectations came crashing down round him. I acknowledge that he is very intelligent, but it's not as easy as that for him, is it? James and Sirius are just asclever and they have charm and charisma too boot. This gets them noticed, where Snape pobably gets a
'You did well too Severus.' and then dismissed.
It would crush a more confident child never mind Severus.
Also, James and Sirius were very gifted magically, The Marauders Map was no small accomplishment and becoming Amimagi at their ages was positively brilliant.
I disagree. Severus essentially wrote a successful book on spells as a young student at Hogwarts, which included a stunning amount of complex magic...not to mention that he was smart enough to fool Voldemort for years as a double agent, which takes a considerable amount of mental discipline. I don't think that James and Sirius were very charismatic, either. From what we see of them as students, I would believe that "arrogant" is more appropriate, like a high school prep who believes that the earth he walks is gold. If Severus wasn't so introverted, I think that he would be acknowledged as infinitely more intelligent than someone like Sirius. Remember: Severus did everything on his own, including the book of the Half-Blood Prince, whereas all four of the Marauders were able to use their magic on the map as a team.



Last edited by SwedishSkinJer; January 14th, 2010 at 8:39 pm.
  #1297  
Old January 14th, 2010, 8:47 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by SwedishSkinJer View Post
I disagree. Severus essentially wrote a successful book on spells as a young student at Hogwarts, which included a stunning amount of complex magic...not to mention that he was smart enough to fool Voldemort for years as a double agent, which takes a considerable amount of mental discipline. I don't think that James and Sirius were very charismatic, either. From what we see of them as students, I would believe that "arrogant" is more appropriate, like a high school prep who believes that the earth he walks is gold. If Severus wasn't so introverted, I think that he would be acknowledged as infinitely more intelligent than someone like Sirius. Remember: Severus did everything on his own, including the book of the Half-Blood Prince, whereas all four of the Marauders were able to use their magic on the map as a team.
Ah, but I'm not talking about adult Snape. I'm talking about a troubled 11-15 year old child. Also I don't think it helps to deny that James and Sirius were popular and regarded as the coolest kids in school. That prevailing attitude played a direct part on Snape's development. I'm not denying that he was intelligent, of course he was. I'm ruminating on the effect of what must have been a massive disappointment to him when Hogwarts life turned sour on him.
If things had gone the way he wanted things to go I doubt that we would have the books we have today. It would have been an entirely different story. What I am discussing is what the reality of life that the young Severus Snape lived when he was a student. What the effect on him was when IMO life did not give him what he wanted.
What all children want really, love, admiration and acceptance. How much did this dissapointment effect his later choices?


  #1298  
Old January 14th, 2010, 9:12 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
When Snape first goes to Hogwarts IMO he is setting himself up for dissapointment. I think he is looking to Hogwarts to solve all his problems instead of looking inside himself. He is only 11 years old and probably never been told that the answers to his problems lis inside himself rather than an outside agency.
I’m sorry but if you live in an abusive environment the answer does not lie ‘inside oneself’ – the solution starts by getting out of the abusive environment not by changing how you think or feel about being surrounded by abuse. I also think we have to remember that children don’t have the same control over their lives that we as adults take for granted. Going to Hogwarts was the only way Severus had to get out of his parent’s house – unless social services had intervened (& their solution would again have involved things that were external to Severus, such as relocating him or changing his parents situation not teaching him to find a way to feel ok about the poverty and aggression in his life)

However I think, as Ignisia pointed out rather clearly, he probably did build it up too much.


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  #1299  
Old January 14th, 2010, 9:14 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
Ah, but I'm not talking about adult Snape. I'm talking about a troubled 11-15 year old child. Also I don't think it helps to deny that James and Sirius were popular and regarded as the coolest kids in school.
"Coolest kids in school" does not necessarily translate into "most clever kids in school."

The notion that Severus was less clever is my primary objection. I don't think the text shows that James and Sirius were more clever than he was. But they were certainly regarded as cooler. One was a popular jock. And the other was his handsome partner-in-crime.

The Marauders Map is certainly clever, but as SwedishSkinJer points out, it was a group effort, not the single work of one person. So was the abilty to transform into animagi. They all learned together.

I do agree that adult Severus cannot be used as a point of comparison. We don't see what level of ability James would have acquired by age 38, and Sirius was out of commission as a Wizard for many years in Azkaban.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
That prevailing attitude played a direct part on Snape's development. I'm not denying that he was intelligent, of course he was. I'm ruminating on the effect of what must have been a massive disappointment to him when Hogwarts life turned sour on him.
I have thought a lot about the disappointment he must have felt at Hogwarts as well. He went from one abusive environment to a new abusive environment. I can imagine it being a nightmare.

And yet, in "The Forest Again," Harry thinks of Severus as one of the "abandoned boys," like himself, who found a home at Hogwarts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
If things had gone the way he wanted things to go I doubt that we would have the books we have today. It would have been an entirely different story. What I am discussing is what the reality of life that the young Severus Snape lived when he was a student. What the effect on him was when IMO life did not give him what he wanted. What all children want really, love, admiration and acceptance. How much did this dissapointment effect his later choices?
Which later choices are you referring to? The choices that led him to become a Death Eater? Or the choices that led him to turn back to the light and infiltrate Voldemort at great personal peril and protect Harry against both external perils and the boy's own impetuous nature? Or all of the above?


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Old January 14th, 2010, 9:21 pm
eliza101  Female.gif eliza101 is offline
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.13

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Originally Posted by kittling View Post
I’m sorry but if you live in an abusive environment the answer does not lie ‘inside oneself’ – the solution starts by getting out of the abusive environment not by changing how you think or feel about being surrounded by abuse. I also think we have to remember that children don’t have the same control over their lives that we as adults take for granted. Going to Hogwarts was the only way Severus had to get out of his parent’s house – unless social services had intervened (& their solution would again have involved things that were external to Severus, such as relocating him or changing his parents situation not teaching him to find a way to feel ok about the poverty and aggression in his life)

However I think, as Ignisia pointed out rather clearly, he probably did build it up too much.
What if you can't get out of this abusive environment? What if you get out physically as Severus does but you unconsiously carry that baggage with you? To what extent did his understandable disappointment with the reality of life at Hogwarts twist an already vulnrable child? I'm trying to think this through dispationately. I do think that Snape's situation is very dangerous. Not physically because we never hear of him being struck by his father, but mentally it's a different story. I do think that even a child has to be taught to look inside of themselves to find the strength to deal with life's disappointments. Am I making any sense?

Sorry CC, I saw your post just when I posted. I suppose I am wondering about all your points. And I'm not really questioning who was the smartest child. I am thinking about how the perception of the smartest, coolest, whatever adjective you want to apply really effected Snape.



Last edited by eliza101; January 14th, 2010 at 9:25 pm.
 
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