raebird ([personal profile] raebird) wrote2005-07-19 06:42 pm
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The Half-Blood Prince

So, as I mentioned earlier, I think Snape was in love with Lily. Why? Simply because it elegantly and cleanly ties up a lot of loose ends.

Initially, I didn't think so. From the pensieve scene in OotP where Lily makes James stop taunting Snape, only to have Snape turn on Lily and call her a mudblood, I thought he was a pureblood Muggle-hater of the Malfoy variety.

But now we know he's a half-blood. And calling himself "The Half-Blood Prince" suggests that he might even consider that a point of pride. Or at the very least, it's not something he's actively trying to deny. He probably adopted the anti-Muggle language when it suited him in school because he was, in Sirius's words, "Lucius Malfoy's lapdog." And so he didn't insult Lily because he really hated her or the fact that she was Muggle-born; he just deeply resented being humiliated in front of the girl he liked and pitied by her for it.

Snape being in love with Lily provides an explanation for a lot of his actions that are otherwise confusing or contradictory. We can assume that Snape initially fell in with the Death Eaters because they were his friends (or idols) in school. But then he switched sides and came to work for Dumbledore. Why? Because of an upsurge of shiny, pure moral character? Maybe. Or maybe he felt guilty that what he'd done, revealing the prophecy to Voldemort, had turned out to put Lily's life in danger.

It better explains why Snape hates Harry so much. If Snape has been horrible to Harry just because of his grudge against James and for no other reason, well, that's really remarkably petty of him. (Admittedly, I thought this was the case up until this morning.) But if he loved Lily, then his behavior toward Harry is more understandable (though not excusable, IMO) as Snape acting out his pain at the loss of the woman he loved, at his guilt over causing her death, at the disgust of having to see her eyes in the body of his own childhood tormentor (who was also the person who ended up with the woman he loved).

Most importantly, I think, it is thematically pitch-perfect for the goodness in Snape (assuming you're not of the mindset that he's really deeply evil) to be rooted in love. Love is what makes Harry stronger than Voldemort. And I think it's primarily because Snape's goodness is based in love that he has been able to hide from Voldemort that he has been on Dumbledore's side all this time. As Dumbledore said, Voldemort always underestimates the value of love, the power of love-magic. So when Voldemort looks at Snape, he may see the bitterness and pain of unrequited and lost love, but Voldemort has never loved anybody. So he thinks that's all it is. But Voldemort underestimates love, and that fact is one of his greatest weaknesses. Because of that, Snape has been able to act as a double agent all this time because on a certain level Voldemort is truly blind to the goodness in him. Elegant, see?

Snape is still a grey character in my eyes. I think if things had gone only slightly differently in his life, he could have stayed fully on Voldemort's side. But something changed him, and I think it makes the most sense for that something to have been love. And he's still an asshole. Even though Snape loving Lily better explains his treatment of Harry, it doesn't excuse it. He's a grownup, so he should learn to snap out of his old resentments and treat Harry fairly. But the depth of that resentment seems more in proportion to the offense this way.

And I think that's about it. But [livejournal.com profile] sunbrae linked me to this post which posits another really interesting dimension to the idea of Snape/Lily. I'm not entirely convinced that it's going to play out that way, but it's certainly plausible and a fascinating idea.

[identity profile] abby20.livejournal.com 2005-07-19 10:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I think you've got it absolutely right. I had a feeling that Snape was in love with Lily from "Snape's Worst Memory," but I love the thematic purpose of love -- I hadn't connected those dots, so again I will continue to tell you that you're brilliant. ;)

But if he loved Lily, then his behavior toward Harry is more understandable (though not excusable, IMO) as Snape acting out his pain at the loss of the woman he loved, at his guilt over causing her death, at the disgust of having to see her eyes in the body of his own childhood tormentor (who was also the person who ended up with the woman he loved).

Yes, exactly. Harry is an embodiment of the most serious guilt and pain he's ever felt. Aw, Snape. You're still a shitwad, but I love you anyway.

The theory that you linked to through Sunny's really interesting. Hmm. I'm not completely convinced either, but a lot of it does make a lot of sense . . .

[identity profile] raebird.livejournal.com 2005-07-19 11:22 pm (UTC)(link)
We can both be brilliant, then. Excellent. :)

Harry is an embodiment of the most serious guilt and pain he's ever felt. Aw, Snape. You're still a shitwad, but I love you anyway.

Hee. Way to rephrase half my post in two sentences. I'm so longwinded.

[identity profile] jrs1980.livejournal.com 2005-07-19 11:23 pm (UTC)(link)
But something changed him, and I think it makes the most sense for that something to have been love.

You're making me compare Snape to Spike.

*hates to love you*

[identity profile] raebird.livejournal.com 2005-07-19 11:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Oooh, interesting. But I don't think Snape has much of a sense of fun, which detracts from the comparison. Does that help?

[identity profile] abby20.livejournal.com 2005-07-20 02:01 am (UTC)(link)
Plus, Spike has a much better grasp of personal hygiene.

[identity profile] jrs1980.livejournal.com 2005-07-20 02:16 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sure it's easier for him as a corpse, not producing sweat or oils.

[identity profile] ghoulchick.livejournal.com 2005-08-05 11:47 am (UTC)(link)
I still say Snape's hotter. :P
(deleted comment)

[identity profile] raebird.livejournal.com 2005-07-20 04:03 pm (UTC)(link)
But it's different, though. Lily's love for Harry didn't redeem Harry--it protected him. And I don't really think Lily loved Snape back; Lily's love didn't do a damn thing for Snape except break his heart, and it was Snape's own feelings for Lily that got Snape to save himself from himself. I think it's a mistake to think that Lily is the focal point of all this--love itself, is.

[identity profile] ghoulchick.livejournal.com 2005-08-05 11:51 am (UTC)(link)
If it's not this, it has to be something similar. It has to be love-based, I would think, based on what JKR told us. She's gone out of her way to spell out that the magic rooted in love is underestimated by Voldemort, and is stronger. (Wait, did she say it's stronger, or did I just imagine that?)

I feel like I need to start the series over and bookmark passages and stuff.

[identity profile] raebird.livejournal.com 2005-08-05 02:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I think she said it's either stronger or "the strongest" but I'm not 100% sure either. I want to reread the whole series again now, too, but I'm taking a little break since I just reread everything before HBP.