Monday, July 5, 2021

Why Snape Is the Absolute Worst (Besides Umbridge)

When Deathly Hallows came out 14 years ago, we were kind of blindsided by the fact that Snape had a childhood friendship and a lifetime crush on Lily Evans Potter. Some people had predicted it, but I thought they were crazy. Over the years, his "always" (especially as portrayed by Alan Rickman) has become a go-to for Harry Potter fans and their love for the series or their love for their significant other. The deep affection he held for Lily has been romanticized by fans as a strong, undying love that we all wish to feel towards another human being. However, even though Snape died a hero, he was still a jerk and doesn't deserve all the praise he gets... He died a hero, but he wasn't a good person.

For a moment, let's not discuss whether it was true love or an unhealthy obsession (I've already stated my opinion on the matter). What matters is how he handled his emotions and how he treated others. I can understand the extreme bias towards his Slytherin students and even unfairly taking points from Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. Short version, he was a selfish bully. Long version, here's why.

Let's start with his (mis)treatment of Harry. I know he looked like James, but he supposedly loved Lily right? He committed his life to protecting Harry and didn't want anyone to know... but did he have to be so awful? It would have been a good enough fa├žade to express his distain for Harry by showing the bias he had against any non-Slytherin. But instead, he verbally abused the child. I could see the argument that it was Harry's fault that Lily died (although really it was Snape who told Voldemort about the prophecy to begin with...). 

Next up let's talk about Neville. Perhaps it's because Neville could have been the Chosen One. If Voldemort had chosen to go after the Longbottoms, Lily would never have died. So perhaps Snape blames Neville for Lily's death. Regardless, two years into Hogwarts, Neville was so terrified of Snape, because of his verbal assaults and abuse, that he saw him as his worst fear ever. Not spiders like Ron, or dementors like Harry, or the woman who tortured his parents into insanity. He saw his teacher. 

Finally, Hermione. Let's talk about how he treated Harry's best friend. Is it because she was his friend? Or perhaps because she was a muggleborn like Lily? Snape verbally abused the brightest student of Harry's year, constantly calling her names and putting her down.

Bullying is a serious problem. It comes in many forms. Looking back at where Snape came from, it makes sense that he'd be cruel. He was bullied by James and the Marauders and made to feel less than he was. You see it with people who are abused and bullied; they become abusers and bullies themselves. They use positions of power to make themselves feel better than those who seem inferior. 

It makes sense, but it's no excuse. We have free will. We can be better than where we came from. Look at Sirius Black: he came from a racist, abusive household and became a hero. Sure he made mistakes along the way, but he became better than where he started. On the flip side, Snape stayed prejudiced and only seemed to care that Voldemort was being evil when it affected a girl he liked... Snape didn't even care that Voldemort was a bad guy or that James and Harry could die. He just had a soft spot for Lily. Snape could have chosen to rise above the dark friends he found in Hogwarts... but instead he waited until it was too late... and even after Lily died he still didn't change, not really.

With all that said, I do have something positive to say about Snape. He was an amazingly written character. He was written so that you didn't like him, and we didn't. He was written to be anti-hero, and he kind of was. And his backstory chapter in Deathly Hallows was written to mess with our perceptions of him, and it did. He may not be a good person, but he's a good character.

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