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Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero



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  #21  
Old January 21st, 2007, 8:11 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Interesting links on Heathcliff, Hinoema!
I took the time to read through both links, and I think they bring up some interesting points. Heathcliff, as has been said before on this thread, is much worse than Snape is. He doesn't treat Isabella very well at all, and is indeed motivated by revenge. IIRC (you'll have to forgive me, I don't have the book with me at the moment ), he wanted to "steal" Linton's sister in order to get back at Linton. That's one part of the parallel that doesn't exactly ring true to me. We can't have direct correlation all the time.

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  #22  
Old January 22nd, 2007, 3:34 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

To truly decide this question, I think we're going to have to wait for the next book. So much hinges on aspects of the past that we aren't aware of, and on the demise of the character in question. I'm going for Gothic, myself, though.


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  #23  
Old January 22nd, 2007, 3:15 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Hinoema: Yes, "Anti-Hero" is the term I studied in college. But an anti-hero is still the hero, he is just a different type.

The word "anti" doesn't mean something negative. It just means a certain type of hero who doesn't fit the "traditional" view of the perfect or good-hearted hero.

In HP, Harry would be the hero, Snape the anti-hero. Though they both have traits that mirror the other.

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Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Thus, anti-heroes can be awkward, antisocial, alienated, cruel, obnoxious, passive, pitiful, obtuse, or just ordinary. When the anti-hero is a central character in a work of fiction the work will frequently deal with the effect their flawed character has on them and those they meet along the narrative. In other words, an anti-hero is a protagonist that lives by the guidance of their own moral compass, striving to define and construe their own values as opposed to those recognized by the society in which they live. Additionally, the work may depict how their character alters over time, either leading to punishment, un-heroic success, or redemption.
I actually prefer that definition, because there is the possiblity for redemption, wheras many Byronic Heroes usually have only death as their redemption.

In some ways, Dumbledore can also be seen as an "anti-hero." Most of his own society are ambivalent about him - they both seek him out and deride him. They fear him, but they also make fun of him. That goes for the Ministry as much as Voldemort. Even some of his students think he is an old fool - the Twins tell Harry in Book One that Dumbledore is strange and off his rocker.

Dumbledore has to act "outside" of his own society to do what he thinks he right. He runs from the police rather than go to prison. He lets children break every rule, and allows the use of the Time Turner for the greater good of all.

There are alot of movie heroes who are actually "anti-heroes."

Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" or in some of his westerns, is often an outsider with a chip on his shoulder.

Han Solo in Star Wars, who is originally a loner "out for himself," but becomes part of something bigger than himself, and who makes the right choices.

Mel Gibson as Mad Max is a perfect example. He takes his anger out on the bad guys, but they are so horrible that his self-righteousness seems to be a force for good. If you've ever seen "Road Warrior," Max has gone from a policeman who cares about people to a hard-edged gothic warrior. Even though he is tough, he still cares about women, children, and dogs. What he says is different than what he actually does - and I believe that is very much like Snape.

But just for fun, look at the similarity between Mad Max and the depiction of Heathcliff by Timothy Dalton - all black clothes, loner attitude, anger - so similar:



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Originally Posted by kierkegaard View Post
To truly decide this question, I think we're going to have to wait for the next book. So much hinges on aspects of the past that we aren't aware of, and on the demise of the character in question. I'm going for Gothic, myself, though.
No - we never wait for the next book.

And I, for one, think Snape is going to live, because to kill him is too easy. Harry already has to kill Voldemort, and there are too many questions about Snape's loyalties. If he isn't a traditional gothic hero, then he won't die.


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  #24  
Old January 23rd, 2007, 12:39 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

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Hinoema: Yes, "Anti-Hero" is the term I studied in college. But an anti-hero is still the hero, he is just a different type.

The word "anti" doesn't mean something negative. It just means a certain type of hero who doesn't fit the "traditional" view of the perfect or good-hearted hero.
That's what I see. I simply don't see why, based on what I've read, a Byronic 'hero' is considered such beyond the likely possibility that 'hero' was used interchangably with 'protagonist'. (But then, I dislike romance, whether traditional or gothic, and these types strike me as more tragically romantic than actually heroic, I suppose.)

Quote:
In HP, Harry would be the hero, Snape the anti-hero. Though they both have traits that mirror the other.
I've never seen it that way. I see Harry as the protagonist (hero), Voldemort and the antagonist (villain) and Snape as a facilitatior, similar to Peter. They both have remarkably similar roles- enabling the Prophecy to be enacted by individual betrayals.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I don't see, from what I've read, anything 'heroic' about a Byronic/Gothic hero, other than their apparent potential and it's tragic disuse, by choice or circumstance.

Quote:
In some ways, Dumbledore can also be seen as an "anti-hero." Most of his own society are ambivalent about him - they both seek him out and deride him. They fear him, but they also make fun of him. That goes for the Ministry as much as Voldemort. Even some of his students think he is an old fool - the Twins tell Harry in Book One that Dumbledore is strange and off his rocker.

Dumbledore has to act "outside" of his own society to do what he thinks he right. He runs from the police rather than go to prison. He lets children break every rule, and allows the use of the Time Turner for the greater good of all.
I actually see the anti-hero role as far more aptly filled by Sirius. Every heroic thing he has attempted to do- escaping his past, saving Lily and James, 'rescuing' Harry- was sabotaged by forces beyond his control. He also died tragically.



Last edited by Hinoema; January 23rd, 2007 at 12:45 am.
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  #25  
Old January 23rd, 2007, 2:27 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

I don't see Sirius as an anti-hero if anything I see him more on level with Peter characterwise,of course I am not saying that Sirius is evil but just that his characters importance is basically done and over with now.

Sirius I suppose does share some of the anti-hero traits but I view Snape with having many more of the traits that a typical anti-hero has,the mysterious past,possibly a tragic lost love,the not so happy personality. Snape has also tried to escape his past and do whats right,very typical of an anti-hero.



Last edited by alwaysme; January 23rd, 2007 at 2:37 pm.
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  #26  
Old January 23rd, 2007, 2:28 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Anti-hero for Sirius sounds ok, but something about it doesn't sit right with me. I suppose it's because anti-hero implies that the decision made by the anti-hero is right, and while Sirius does seem to do what he thinks is right...well, it really is just what he thinks.

Sirius could also be considered a tragic hero, couldn't he? I think that's the most popular classification for him. He has a tragic flaw (his stunted emotional growth) which ends up doing him in.

Erm...Snape. There, I'm on topic! I said his name! Snape, Snape, Snape!

Edit: By the way, alwaysme, I think that while Sirius isn't coming back, his memory still does have an important role, since Harry must fully come to terms with his death.


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  #27  
Old January 23rd, 2007, 3:02 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

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Originally Posted by ignisia View Post
Edit: By the way, alwaysme, I think that while Sirius isn't coming back, his memory still does have an important role, since Harry must fully come to terms with his death.
Not to mention Rolwing's comments that she 'had' to kill Sirius. I don't think it was simply about depriving Harry of father figures. I think Harry is taking a trip behind the veil in DH.

Um, Snape. He won't be there.


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  #28  
Old January 23rd, 2007, 3:05 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

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Originally Posted by ignisia View Post
Edit: By the way, alwaysme, I think that while Sirius isn't coming back, his memory still does have an important role, since Harry must fully come to terms with his death.
I agree with this completely. Harry will also have to learn to stop blaming Snape for his death.


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  #29  
Old January 24th, 2007, 1:31 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

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Originally Posted by alwaysme View Post
I view Snape with having many more of the traits that a typical anti-hero has,the mysterious past,possibly a tragic lost love,the not so happy personality. Snape has also tried to escape his past and do whats right,very typical of an anti-hero.
Well, then both Sirius and Regulus fit this mold as well. Sirius tried to escape his past as a Black and spent his life trying to do what was right, only for his past to reclaim him and destroy him in the end. Regulus also escaped from his past as a Black, and also renounced his DE background, only to also be destroyed by it. Snape seemingly has tried to escape his past as a death eater to do what was right... I'm wondering about these parallels now.


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  #30  
Old January 24th, 2007, 1:59 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

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Originally Posted by Hinoema View Post
Well, then both Sirius and Regulus fit this mold as well. Sirius tried to escape his past as a Black and spent his life trying to do what was right, only for his past to reclaim him and destroy him in the end. Regulus also escaped from his past as a Black, and also renounced his DE background, only to also be destroyed by it. Snape seemingly has tried to escape his past as a death eater to do what was right... I'm wondering about these parallels now.
I see where you are coming from. I think you make some interesting points. With regards to Regulus,I am not sure about labeling him an anti-hero simply because we never see him onpage but I suppose the descriptions of Regulus's life are typical actions of an anti-hero.


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  #31  
Old January 24th, 2007, 4:13 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

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Originally Posted by alwaysme View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hinoema
Well, then both Sirius and Regulus fit this mold as well. Sirius tried to escape his past as a Black and spent his life trying to do what was right, only for his past to reclaim him and destroy him in the end. Regulus also escaped from his past as a Black, and also renounced his DE background, only to also be destroyed by it. Snape seemingly has tried to escape his past as a death eater to do what was right... I'm wondering about these parallels now.


I see where you are coming from. I think you make some interesting points. With regards to Regulus,I am not sure about labeling him an anti-hero simply because we never see him onpage but I suppose the descriptions of Regulus's life are typical actions of an anti-hero.
I think that's a very good point - Regulus is just another example of an anti-hero. But JKR may be hinting that he is another "tragic hero" because, of course, he died trying to do something good.

In a series of this length, it's never going to be as simple as good guy-bad guy, protagonist-villain.

That's like reading all of Greek or Roman mythology and saying that every god or goddess fits a certain stereotype. But there are just too many contradictory things to classify them that way.

I believe Sirius and James are both Tragic Heroes, who finally fall and die due to a fatal flaw. That idea goes back to the ancient Greeks who thought that some heroes had "hubris" or excessive pride, thinking they were invincible, but the gods didn't like that, so their deaths would become a lesson in "what not to do."

A tragic hero always fits the definition of a "good" person - there's not much doubt about his intentions. He's usually looked up to and well-liked, as were James and Sirius. I add Regulus because Slughorn seems to have thought highly of him, and though he was a DE, we know he tried to leave Voldemort and failed in the attempt. That is heroic.

Stuff about Traits of a Tragic Hero:

http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/en...6/tragedy.html

Quote:
The classic discussion of Greek tragedy is Aristotle's Poetics. He defines tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself." He continues, "Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments,and it should be written in poetry embellished with every kind of artistic expression."
http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/lite...glossary_f.htm

Quote:
Hubris or Hybris Excessive pride or self-confidence that leads a protagonist to disregard a divine warning or to violate an important moral law. In tragedies, hubris is a very common form of hamartia. See also hamartia, tragedy.

Hamartia A term coined by Aristotle to describe "some error or frailty" that brings about misfortune for a tragic hero. The concept of hamartia is closely related to that of the tragic flaw: both lead to the downfall of the protagonist in a tragedy. Hamartia may be interpreted as an internal weakness in a character (like greed or passion or hubris); however, it may also refer to a mistake that a character makes that is based not on a personal failure, but on circumstances outside the protagonist’s personality and control[/b]
Sirius's death is a form of Hamartia, as is James's. James had a "warning from above" that he was in trouble - first the Prophecy, then Dumbledore's warning that there was a traitor around. James chose to go ahead with his own plan and not use Dumbledore as his Secret Keeper. That doesn't mean that James was stupid, but that his flaw was a sort of blindspot where his friends were concerned - too much loyalty to friends in the face of the facts.

Sirius's death was more out of his control, though he too was "warned" by Dumbledore to stay home before he went to the DoM.

Medieval drama often shows such tragedies to be the working of the "wheel of fortune" or the "fates" instead of the result of a tragic flaw.

But all tragic heroes end up dead, while most anti-heroes survive.


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  #32  
Old January 28th, 2007, 10:56 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

I do think that the main difference is in how other characters view the gothic hero vs the tragic hero. Tragic heros are very similar to the usual hero - likable and considered 'good' (even if they have a flaw or two).

They are then tripped up by their flaws - hopefully they don't die from their flaws and live to learn from them. That is sometimes part of the Hero's Journey. One that I see Harry in the midst of doing (hopefully)

Currently, Harry has a possibility of a 'tragic flaw' - his hatred of Snape. While some see it as justified, it might be a problem for a hero whose power is supposed to be 'love'. I think bk7 will be the final leg of the Journey where he learns to forgive Snape.

James and Sirius have no way to move on from Tragic Hero. Since they are both dead, they cannot learn from their mistakes and correct their Flaws. Their last actions may be considered heroic, but they are colored by their flaws. James put his trust in Sirius' plan over the logic of choosing Albus. And Sirius died because he didn't take his duel with Bella seriously - reckless. We have yet to see whether Remus will learn from his mistakes - a relationship with Tonks might be the beginning of it.

Snape, on the other hand, has faced his flaw (becoming a DE) and CHANGED. Not only regretting his actions, but actively working to correct the wrongs he had done (spying for Albus). IF (as I think the clues hint) he turned almost immediately upon Harry's birth, then he spent a very dangerous year counteracting Peter's betraying.

And Snape is NOT universally seen as a 'good' guy - as would be typical of the Tragic Hero. He is seen as much more like the bitter, unassailable Gothic Hero.

I will admit that not all Gothic Heroes seem to necessarily BE heroic. That's part of the misconception some posters have had in the past about our calling Snape a Gothic Hero - they assume we meant he was more the hero than Harry will be, when we were really using an accepted literary term.

However, ever since the end of GoF (and Snape's return to Voldy as Albus' spy), I HAVE seen Snape as heroic. His heroic acts are all however behind the scenes because Harry doesn't witness them. Or even disguised so they are not recognizable IF you believe as I do that Snape killed Albus because it was part of a plan to protect Harry. I see Snape as sacrificing his 'honor' and reputation along with his soul and any friendships he had - a lot to personally give up - for the common good.

Another clue that he's modeled after the Gothic Hero - that sense of 'honor' (think Carlton in Tale of Two Cities). Nothing seems to be as important to Snape as 'respect', something he has now sacrificed. Yet he has sacrificed it to ensure he would be present at the final showdown (at least that is what I believe) - all to help or protect Harry - a kid of which he's not even particularly fond (understatement). All to defeat Voldy.

Key elements of the Gothic Hero - Sacrifice and Honor. (I personally do not see Heathcliff as representing these - I've always had trouble seeing him as a FULL Gothic Hero - I see elements, but I've always found him to be more just twisted by life's circumstances)


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Last edited by hwyla; January 28th, 2007 at 11:12 pm.
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  #33  
Old January 29th, 2007, 6:13 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

hwyla: I agree about the traits of sacrifice and honor, but tragic heroes can have those also. I think we need to throw in "isolation" in order for a hero to be Gothic. He has to make his decisions alone, and not by committee.

The Marauders, by their very existence, are not isolated. They were always a team, and the ways they lived and died were team efforts.

Peter was different - a traitor who destroyed his "team." And Lupin was shut out of the "team" before the Potters died, so in some ways Lupin fits a more Gothic hero mold - he's an outcast of Wizarding Society.

Peter has become an out and out villain, while Lupin still has heroic aspects as a spy for the Order. And he does have a group where he fits in - with the other werewolves, just as Hagrid fits in with some of the Giant persuasion.

Snape is on Dumbledore's team, but as we see in HBP, it is extremely lonely at the "Top" and he seems just as much of an outsider as ever. He's always been an outsider to both sides - a Half-Blood Death Eater, and a Slytherin Order Member. He doesn't fit the stereotype of either side, and there is no "Snape Group" for him to run to.

James and Sirius fit the "Gryffindor" stereotype exactly. They seem perfect in alot of ways.

Snape's isolation means that, no matter what he wishes to do for the good side, he is out there alone flying without a net, so to speak.

I think of it in terms of Edgar Allen Poe. Would James and Sirius fit into the poems of Poe? No, I don't think so. Would Snape - well, yeah! It's easy to see Snape in "The Raven":

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore . . .


In fact, we do see that Snape, nearly every time Harry sees him on the Marauders Map he is in his study reading or working. His house at Spinner's End has those "volumes" of forgotten lore.

A few other Poe Poems in which you can see the influence of Byron and the Gothic Hero. The first one is probably Poe's finest, next to "The Raven":

http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/1434-Edgar-Allan-Poe-Alone

"Alone"

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/4611-Edgar-Allan-Poe-Ulalume

Excerpt: From "Ulalume"

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crispéd and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
Our memories were treacherous and sere—
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year—
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
. . .


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  #34  
Old January 30th, 2007, 12:49 am
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hinoema View Post
Well, then both Sirius and Regulus fit this mold as well. Sirius tried to escape his past as a Black and spent his life trying to do what was right, only for his past to reclaim him and destroy him in the end. Regulus also escaped from his past as a Black, and also renounced his DE background, only to also be destroyed by it. Snape seemingly has tried to escape his past as a death eater to do what was right... I'm wondering about these parallels now.
I would say that Regulus fits the mold of Gothic Hero, except for one thing--he has only been mentioned in passing during the series. However, someone (with talent ) could easily write a Regulus-centric story with him as a Gothic Hero, based on what we've learned about him.

The problem with Sirius as a Gothic Hero is that he seems never to have struggled with his own integrity. He lives his life without appearing to question himself at all. A Gothic Hero is typically guilty of some past crime, for which he tortures himself and must atone, heroically acting for the good from behind the scenes and without recognition. If Sirius was a Gothic Hero, he would torture himself over his past crimes--sending Snape to the Whomping Willow, etc. However, Sirius feels no remorse for this and is atoning for nothing. Sirius's mistake in suggesting Peter as Secret Keeper may be something for which he has tortured himself, but it doesn't really qualify as a "crime."

In contrast, Snape was a Death Eater. Snape gave the prophecy to Voldemort. Both of these could be considered crimes (and are). If you believe that Snape never reformed, then it's no surprise that you don't see him as a Gothic Hero. However, I believe that Snape is working for the Order to redeem himself from his life as a Death Eater. If the latter is true, he fits the mold of a Gothic Hero very well--so well, in fact, that I would use the characteristics of a Gothic Hero to argue that Snape is actually good.

What makes a Gothic Hero heroic, I think, is that he does the right thing against his own nature. I'm sure there are others, though, that have a better grasp on this than I do...

Just a note about Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights: I don't think he really fits as a Gothic Hero very well because, like Sirius, he doesn't seem to ever question the righteousness of his actions.


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  #35  
Old February 4th, 2007, 9:29 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Chiev: I have the same problem with Heathcliff - he is just so horribly negative! He seems to lose all his redeeming qualities, which are replaced by his thirst for revenge - not a heroic trait. That is similar to Sirius wanting to get even with Peter both before he went to jail and after - his memory is certainly as long and as vindictive as Heathcliff's.

Sirius wants revenge because of the death of James and Lily, and not from love of Lily. And Sirius never gets to take revenge - he is stopped by another hero, Harry. So he goes on to become a tragic hero instead.

Heathcliff's actions, on the other hand, begin and end with Cathy - she is his reason for living, even though he wishes to punish her for her marriage and seeks negative revenge. I think that's the key to his being a Gothic "figure," though perhaps not a true hero.

Have any of you ever read the children's book The Secret Garden? The girl Mary comes to live in her Uncle Archibald Craven's manor house out on the moorland - it's very Gothic. Her Uncle is a hunchback mourning his dead wife, and treats his only son as an invalid with a series of nurses and torturous medical treatments. Mary is a rule breaker like Harry - she described as "Mary Quite Contrary," and any time there is a locked door or a rule against doing something, she will go against the adults. So she brings together all these disconnected people, along with her friend Dickon from the moors, and there is a happy ending.

Secret Garden"I suppose you might as well be told something--to prepare you. You are
going to a queer place."

Mary said nothing at all, and Mrs. Medlock looked rather discomfited by
her apparent indifference, but, after taking a breath, she went on.

"Not but that it's a grand big place in a gloomy way, and Mr. Craven's
proud of it in his way--and that's gloomy enough, too. The house is six
hundred years old and it's on the edge of the moor, and there's near a
hundred rooms in it, though most of them's shut up and locked. And
there's pictures and fine old furniture and things that's been there for
ages, and there's a big park round it and gardens and trees with
branches trailing to the ground--some of them." She paused and took
another breath. "But there's nothing else," she ended suddenly.


Mary had begun to listen in spite of herself. It all sounded so unlike
India, and anything new rather attracted her. But she did not intend to
look as if she were interested. That was one of her unhappy,
disagreeable ways. So she sat still.

"Well," said Mrs. Medlock. "What do you think of it?"

"Nothing," she answered. "I know nothing about such places."

That made Mrs. Medlock laugh a short sort of laugh.

"Eh!" she said, "but you are like an old woman. Don't you care?"

"It doesn't matter," said Mary, "whether I care or not."

"You are right enough there," said Mrs. Medlock. "It doesn't. What
you're to be kept at Misselthwaite Manor for I don't know, unless
because it's the easiest way. _He's_ not going to trouble himself about
you, that's sure and certain. He never troubles himself about no one."

She stopped herself as if she had just remembered something in time.

"He's got a crooked back," she said. "That set him wrong. He was a sour
young man and got no good of all his money and big place till he was
married."


Mary's eyes turned toward her in spite of her intention not to seem to
care. She had never thought of the hunchback's being married and she was
a trifle surprised. Mrs. Medlock saw this, and as she was a talkative
woman she continued with more interest. This was one way of passing some
of the time, at any rate.

"She was a sweet, pretty thing and he'd have walked the world over to
get her a blade o' grass she wanted. Nobody thought she'd marry him, but
she did, and people said she married him for his money. But she
didn't--she didn't," positively. "When she died--"

Mary gave a little involuntary jump.

"Oh! did she die!" she exclaimed, quite without meaning to. She had just
remembered a French fairy story she had once read called "Riquet a la
Houppe." It had been about a poor hunchback and a beautiful princess and
it had made her suddenly sorry for Mr. Archibald Craven
.

"Yes, she died," Mrs. Medlock answered. "And it made him queerer than
ever. He cares about nobody. He won't see people. Most of the time he
goes away, and when he is at Misselthwaite he shuts himself up in the
West Wing and won't let any one but Pitcher see him. Pitcher's an old
fellow, but he took care of him when he was a child and he knows his
ways."


It sounded like something in a book and it did not make Mary feel
cheerful. A house with a hundred rooms, nearly all shut up and with
their doors locked--a house on the edge of a moor--whatsoever a moor
was--sounded dreary. A man with a crooked back who shut himself up also!
She stared out of the window with her lips pinched together, and it
seemed quite natural that the rain should have begun to pour down in
gray slanting lines and splash and stream down the window-panes. If the
pretty wife had been alive she might have made things cheerful by being
something like her own mother and by running in and out and going to
parties as she had done in frocks "full of lace." But she was not there
any more.


At any rate, the Uncle is very much like a Gothic Hero, and his "hidden" son is like an anti-hero who tries to rise above his circumstances. Mary is also a Gothic Heroine - an orphan like Harry and Jane Eyre - she has been ignored by her silly parents until their deaths due to illness in India. Servants have always taken care of her, and she is nearly numb with her circumstances, but she's developed a sort of strength from that.

At any rate, Mary is afraid of meeting her uncle because she hears so many frightening things about him, but he's not as bad as he looks. Notice he is overcome by the memory of his dead wife, and he realizes that something is wrong with him - signs of a Gothic Hero. Also, he is all in black and white from his hair to his clothes:

Secret Garden

A man was sitting in an armchair before
the fire, and Mrs. Medlock spoke to him.

"This is Miss Mary, sir," she said.

"You can go and leave her here. I will ring for you when I want you to
take her away," said Mr. Craven.

When she went out and closed the door, Mary could only stand waiting, a
plain little thing, twisting her thin hands together. She could see that
the man in the chair was not so much a hunchback as a man with high,
rather crooked shoulders, and he had black hair streaked with white. He
turned his head over his high shoulders and spoke to her.


"Come here!" he said.

Mary went to him.

He was not ugly. His face would have been handsome if it had not been so
miserable. He looked as if the sight of her worried and fretted him and
as if he did not know what in the world to do with her.


"Are you well?" he asked.

"Yes," answered Mary.

"Do they take good care of you?"

"Yes."

He rubbed his forehead fretfully as he looked her over.

"You are very thin," he said.

"I am getting fatter," Mary answered in what she knew was her stiffest
way.

What an unhappy face he had! His black eyes seemed as if they scarcely
saw her, as if they were seeing something else, and he could hardly keep
his thoughts upon her.


"I forgot you," he said. "How could I remember you? I intended to send
you a governess or a nurse, or some one of that sort, but I forgot."

"Please," began Mary. "Please--" and then the lump in her throat choked
her.

"What do you want to say?" he inquired.

"I am--I am too big for a nurse," said Mary. "And please--please don't
make me have a governess yet."

He rubbed his forehead again and stared at her.

"That was what the Sowerby woman said," he muttered absent-mindedly.

Then Mary gathered a scrap of courage.

"Is she--is she Martha's mother?" she stammered.

"Yes, I think so," he replied.

"She knows about children," said Mary. "She has twelve. She knows."

He seemed to rouse himself.

"What do you want to do?"

"I want to play out of doors," Mary answered, hoping that her voice did
not tremble. "I never liked it in India. It makes me hungry here, and I
am getting fatter."

He was watching her.

"Mrs. Sowerby said it would do you good. Perhaps it will," he said. "She
thought you had better get stronger before you had a governess."

"It makes me feel strong when I play and the wind comes over the moor,"
argued Mary.

"Where do you play?" he asked next.

"Everywhere," gasped Mary. "Martha's mother sent me a skipping-rope. I
skip and run--and I look about to see if things are beginning to stick
up out of the earth. I don't do any harm."

"Don't look so frightened," he said in a worried voice. "You could not
do any harm, a child like you! You may do what you like."

Mary put her hand up to her throat because she was afraid he might see
the excited lump which she felt jump into it. She came a step nearer to
him.

"May I?" she said tremulously.

Her anxious little face seemed to worry him more than ever.

"Don't look so frightened," he exclaimed. "Of course you may. I am your
guardian, though I am a poor one for any child. I cannot give you time
or attention. I am too ill, and wretched and distracted
; but I wish you
to be happy and comfortable. I don't know anything about children, but
Mrs. Medlock is to see that you have all you need. I sent for you to-day
because Mrs. Sowerby said I ought to see you. Her daughter had talked
about you. She thought you needed fresh air and freedom and running
about."

"She knows all about children," Mary said again in spite of herself.

"She ought to," said Mr. Craven. "I thought her rather bold to stop me
on the moor, but she said--Mrs. Craven had been kind to her." It seemed
hard for him to speak his dead wife's name.
"She is a respectable woman.
Now I have seen you I think she said sensible things. Play out of doors
as much as you like. It's a big place and you may go where you like and
amuse yourself as you like. Is there anything you want?" as if a sudden
thought had struck him. "Do you want toys, books, dolls?"

"Might I," quavered Mary, "might I have a bit of earth?"

In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and
that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked
quite startled.

"Earth!" he repeated. "What do you mean?"

"To plant seeds in--to make things grow--to see them come alive," Mary
faltered.

He gazed at her a moment and then passed his hand quickly over his
eyes.

"Do you--care about gardens so much," he said slowly.


"I didn't know about them in India," said Mary. "I was always ill and
tired and it was too hot. I sometimes made little beds in the sand and
stuck flowers in them. But here it is different."

Mr. Craven got up and began to walk slowly across the room.

"A bit of earth," he said to himself, and Mary thought that somehow she
must have reminded him of something. When he stopped and spoke to her
his dark eyes looked almost soft and kind
.

"You can have as much earth as you want," he said. "You remind me of
some one else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a
bit of earth you want," with something like a smile, "take it, child,
and make it come alive."

"May I take it from anywhere--if it's not wanted?"

"Anywhere," he answered. "There! You must go now, I am tired." He
touched the bell to call Mrs. Medlock. "Good-by. I shall be away all
summer."

. . . "I can have my garden!" cried Mary. "I may have it where I like! I am
not going to have a governess for a long time! Your mother is coming to
see me and I may go to your cottage! He says a little girl like me could
not do any harm and I may do what I like--anywhere!"

"Eh!" said Martha delightedly, "that was nice of him wasn't it?"

"Martha," said Mary solemnly, "he is really a nice man, only his face is
so miserable and his forehead is all drawn together."


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  #36  
Old February 4th, 2007, 9:48 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

mmm, sounds like a good read. I like how he could not pronounce his dead wife's name. It seems to be a common parallel in Literature. We see it with Heathcliff, Sydney Carton, and Snape (if you're a Snape/Lily shipper, which I am ).


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  #37  
Old February 4th, 2007, 10:54 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Iggy: I forgot an important fact - Archie Craven's wife's name was "Lilias."

He has a dream about her towards the end of the book:

The Secret GardenHe did not know when he fell asleep and when he began to dream; his
dream was so real that he did not feel as if he were dreaming. . . . he heard a
voice calling. It was sweet and clear and happy and far away. It seemed
very far, but he heard it as distinctly as if it had been at his very
side.

"Archie! Archie! Archie!" it said, and then again, sweeter and clearer
than before, "Archie! Archie!"

He thought he sprang to his feet not even startled. It was such a real
voice and it seemed so natural that he should hear it.

"Lilias! Lilias!" he answered. "Lilias! where are you?"

"In the garden," it came back like a sound from a golden flute. "In the
garden!"


And then the dream ended. But he did not awaken. He slept soundly and
sweetly all through the lovely night. When he did awake at last it was
brilliant morning and a servant was standing staring at him. He was an
Italian servant and was accustomed, as all the servants of the villa
were, to accepting without question any strange thing his foreign master
might do. No one ever knew when he would go out or come in or where he
would choose to sleep or if he would roam about the garden or lie in the
boat on the lake all night. The man held a salver with some letters on
it and he waited quietly until Mr. Craven took them. When he had gone
away Mr. Craven sat a few moments holding them in his hand and looking
at the lake. His strange calm was still upon him and something more--a
lightness as if the cruel thing which had been done had not happened as
he thought--as if something had changed. He was remembering the
dream--the real--real dream.

"In the garden!" he said, wondering at himself. "In the garden! But the
door is locked and the key is buried deep."


Secret Garden"Perhaps I have been all wrong for ten years," he said to himself. "Ten years is a long time. It may be too late to do anything--quite too late.
What have I been thinking of!"

Of course this was the wrong Magic--to begin by saying "too late." Even
Colin could have told him that. But he knew nothing of Magic--either
black or white. This he had yet to learn.



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Last edited by silver ink pot; February 4th, 2007 at 10:59 pm.
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  #38  
Old February 5th, 2007, 1:10 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Thanks for the Secret Garden excerpts, silver ink pot. I have read that book several times. Archie Cravens seems to be a rather pathetic character. And his greatest sin is one of neglect, rather than malice. We see at the end that he will be redeemed. But it is the actions of Mary who set the whole thing in motion. By finding her true self, and changing from a self-centered little girl to a compassionate child, she has carried Colin and his father to their own redemption. Colin stops feeling sorry for himself. He may even turn onto someone that people will like, rather than someone who people avoid. Dickon is the mentor in this tale. He is the one person in the little trio that doesn't change.


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Old February 5th, 2007, 1:41 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

SIP I love the Secret Garden and it was one of my favorite books as a child.

Archie was such a sad and gloomy character,who basically ignored his son and at the same time keeps him locked away because he is afraid of losing him too. Colin was an interesting character who starts to become attached to Mary,he is very jealous at first and very pampered. My favorite part of the book is when Archie see his son walking in the garden at the end,that was always a very beautiful moment.


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Old February 5th, 2007, 6:40 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Byronic/Gothic Hero

Thanks for your comments, SusanBones and AlwaysMe.

I agree about Mary being the true heroine of the story - she rises above her own nature and learns to help others become better, too.

I do think Archibald is gloomy and rather pathetic - but that's a gothic hero, eh? They are all depressed, introspective, obsessive, and somehow frozen.

We see that same indifference in Jane Eyre between Rochester and the little girl he adopts - he can barely stand to be in the same room with her, but mainly because she reminds him of her dead mother and also the fact that he never really had any children of his own, due to his insane wife. Heavy stuff.

I enjoyed reading the Archie parts of Secret Garden again because of the "garden" and "key" images. He has kept Colin locked up while he has run away, and he's kept his own feelings locked up.

I also like the part about understanding both types of magic, black and white - that reminds me the most of Snape. There is also a part I don't think I copied about other people thinking he must be guilty of a crime due to the way he looks. But in truth, the only crime he has committed is against himself and his own son - by being cold instead of involved.

At any rate, he changes over the course of the book, and that's important - he begins to redeem himself in a way that Heathcliff never does, and he does it at the urging of his dream about his dead wife, and then a letter he gets from Mrs. Sowerby - who is like Molly Weasley with all the children. She tells him his wife would want him to come home to see Colin, and she was right.

JKR's never mentioned that book, but she must have read it - I'm sure she has.


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