Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Harry, Keep the Change

Okay, I mentioned a big Harry Potter post, but now that I think about it, I should probably parse them out a bit, or this’ll be too huge. Plus, I’m writing at work and am going to try to do it quickly, just to get this party started, as it were. Here’s the book, once again (yes, I look at Harry Potter websites when I’m bored—shut up).

The discussions in the book are all very thoughtful—often presenting both sides of an argument before stating the theory they think is correct—without being too horribly fan-geeked out and over the top. You can imagine that the authors had their discussions WIHTOUT the need to brandish wands or dress in Hogwarts regalia, for example.

So . . . Let’s start with one of my favorite topics:

The authors come up with some pretty convincing arguments that Snape is . . . good. This makes me happy, because there are a lot of reasons I want Snape to be okay. I want Dumbledore to have been right in trusting him. I want to not have misinterpreted Dumbledore’s, “Severus, please,” at the end of HBP—I maintain that he wasn’t pleading for his life, but for Snape to make good on a promise he’d made to Dumbledore earlier. I want Alan Rickman’s jolly little moment of smacking together Harry’s and Ron’s heads in the Goblet of Fire movie to not have been bogus (which I think it would be if he ended up evil). Most of all, though, I want Rowling to have created a disagreeable character who is not bad, because I think it’s the whip when people who write for kids acknowledge that characters can be complex.

MN argues that Snape only became a Death Eater because he was in Slytherin and super-talented, and found that his skill gave him a measure of approval and protection from his Slytherin peers and elders—the future Death Eaters. He sort of absorbed their doctrine and followed along. Not anything to be proud of, but understandable.

Also, the MN authors argue that Snape was indeed in love with Lily Potter, and that his “filthy mudblood” outburst at her when she told James & Co. to leave him alone was generated from embarrassment and plain adolescent behavior than from hatred. So if he loved Lily (because he was an outcast and she was popular and pretty and kind to him—why wouldn’t he love her?), he would have felt terrible upon realizing that he was responsible for her death. Add to that the fact that James had saved Snape from being attacked by Lupin-as-a-werewolf (remember that?) and thus incurred a life-debt to him . . . And he’d want to make up for the whole passing on the part of the prophecy he heard and getting the Potters killed thing—so much so that he probably made an unbreakable vow with Dumbledore. And thus, when he made the vow with Narcissa in HBP (in front of that raving bitch, Bellatrix), he knew he was essentially dooming himself, but did it anyway.

One of the MN arguments I like best is that in OotP, when Snape is giving Occlumency lessons to Harry and realizes that Harry can indeed get inside his mind, he (Snape) removes only three memories into storage in the Pensieve to keep Harry from seeing them. Wouldn’t the scenario be different if he had something REAL to hide? You’re going to say something about hiding things from Voldemort, aren’t you? How could he keep Voldemort out of his mind if Harry can get in? I don’t know, but like Chekov’s rifle, those thoughts are removed from Snape’s mind and Harry’s view for a reason.

Okay, finally, think of the end of HBP, when Snape is running away and Harry is in hot pursuit. Snape is shouting things at Harry, about things like not using Unforgivable Spells, learning to keep one’s mouth shut, and keeping emotions in check. He’s STILL TRYING TO TEACH HARRY. I like this very much.

The whole thing leads the MN people (and me) to believe that Snape is going to be killed in Book 7, in service to the Order of the Phoenix, and that his death will redeem him.

Okay, I know this is a jumbled mess, but at least it’s something. What do you guys think?


Anonymous said...

This is what I think ... at the climax of the last book, Harry will be up against Vodemort wand-to-wand. Harry will be losing when all of a sudden, Snape steps in and saves Harry (and loses his life?).

I've really got to reread #5 and 6 and read the mugglenet book before #7 is published.

Peg said...

Oh, Gina... well done... although now you've stirred it all up again, all the longing for Book 7, which was lying dormant in a corner of my brain. Great, thanks for that.

But I'm solidly with you in wanting Snape to be OK. I was delighted to read this post.

P.S. Right on about complex children's characters! Would that it were the rule and not the exception.

Anonymous said...

Amen about the complex children's book characters. It would be such a cop-out if Snape turned out to be totally bad. It would destroy every shred of respect I've ever had for the series. He can die, I could accept that. Like the t-shirt says, Trust Snape.

I definitely need to do a reread before the next one comes out, I'm all fuzzy on details. I am, by the way, hold #59 for book seven at my library - we've got a HP geek in network who puts it in the catalog as soon as a title is announced. And of course all the staff members immediately put it on hold.

jenny said...

Excellent! I try and try not to guess but I confess, I love to read everyone else's thoughts.

And now, you've reminded me just how impatient I am for book 7. gah!

I, too, am hoping Dumbledore was right for trusting Snape. Jess - there's a t-shirt? excellent.

Kathy said...

I think Dumbledore was right in trusting Snape -- I even have this whole phoenix argument involving Dumbledore -- because I REALLY want Snape to not be evil.

Gina said...

Oh! Katya! I have a phoenix thing about DD too! Because his patronus is a phoenix and because his beard was red when he was young! Plus, you know, Fawkes! :-) Tell me more about yours!

BabelBabe said...

I am wholeheartedly onboard Gina's phoenix theory; it makes so much sense.
The fundamentalists are gong to have a FIELD DAY with that, though. JC, Aslan, etc...

I love Snape. He is someone I would like to hang out with; I would even embark upon a secret relationship with him : ) I think he's got a lot going on, and he' sso smart, and he struggles with his feelings about HP, whom he finds insufferable (and I somewhat sympathize, I am sorry. Esp in OotP and Goblet, HP was a PITA.

I must go back and reread at least the last two. And now I will spend hours on that website, Gina. Thanks. I don't have anything else to do!

BabelBabe said...

also, can I just say - I LOVE YOU.

(It was the off-the-cuff Chekhov reference.)

Joke said...

Not enough bandwidth to do this justice.

Will cogitate.


Rogue Librarian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rogue Librarian said...

I have to say this is something I’ve been thinking for a long time. Especially since Dumbledore looked at him at the end of Goblet and you get a brief sense of how much Snape does NOT want to go back to V. Also I always thought that the vow he made in the beginning of Half Blood Prince came into conflict with a vow he made to Dumbledore in some crazy Asimov Five Laws of Robotics way and forced Snape to kill him. Of course I never thought or the idea that Dumbledore was asking for him to do it instead of asking him not to. That’s an excellent point.

I do not however believe Dumbledore will come back in any phoenix like way. I think he’s dead and he should remain that way. It’s sort of like what Gina was saying about having complex children’s characters. I think they should have complex issues as well. I honestly feel it was best for Dumbledore to die. I don’t like it, but there it is.

Gina said...

JULY 21! Did you see?!?!? Book 7 comes out on July 21! A week after the OoTP movie! Wheeee!


Okay. RL, I think DD is likely . . . "dead". But I also think the phoenix thing can't be ignored. Just like Gandalf and Obi-Wan's examples can't be ignored. I believe there's more to Dumbledore than anything that might come from his portrait in the headmaster's (or headmisstress's) office.

And we'll find out in fewer than six months! :-)

BB: Yes, I agree that Harry was a PITA in OotP, but I have learned that many people younger than we are--who were much closer to Harry's age at when they read the book--ADORE OotP, because they could really identify with Harry's angst and outbursts. Just saying.

Oh, and I love you too. :-)

Sarah Louise said...

ootp was the only HP book I've read in print more than once. I have huge arguments with my one friend, who says "it was mainly an administrative book, you know to get all the characters set and ya da ya da." As a lover of YA novels, I loved the angsty side of dear Harry in ootp.

Gina, so glad you're back in the writing mode once more!!

Sarah Louise said...

oh, and I was going to say I like Snape too. Even with his hair all stringy, Alan Rickman makes me want to swoon.

Kathy said...

Plus -- the tomb -- it was white and was described as being like ashes.

Stomper Girl said...

Oh my God, first this post then a good couple of hours lost over at Mugglenet. The fever has started burning in me again! And I have to wait till July. Nooooo!

I want Dumbledore to be right about Snape too. I think I will be crushed if it turns out Snape really is evil. Crushed.

And I want that feisty clever little red-headed Ginny Weasley to really kick ass/arse in this next one, and then ride off into the sunset on a broomstick with Harry. Ginny rocks. (and I'm a hopeless romantic!)

EKB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EKB said...

I just have to chime in. I'm a woman obsessed.

I think Snape is good. And no, it's not just because I have a "thing" for Alan Rickman. Speaking of which, have you seen this?

Too funny.

I never thought the "Snape liked Lily" thing really played out, but the the life-debt thing does.

I've wondered about the timing of Snape's DE rehab, though. Was he "state's" all along or did he turn once James and Lily died?

Unless Snape knows the whole prophesy (which he doesn't if Dumbledore is to be believed), he wouldn't know that he can't be the one to kill Harry. I think he could have killed Harry, if he wanted to, once he knew that Voldemort was back.

I've got more pet theories, but I'll stop right there.

I got the fever!!