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And why Severus Snape's death-scene lacks all of them.

For a lot of the people who read The Deathly Hallows, Snape's death was the least of their worries.

At the time, we didn't even know he was on the side of good. As we open up The Prince's Tale, we're still reeling from the deaths of Lupin, Tonks and Fred Weasley. And then, by the end of the chapter, we find out that the hero of all seven books has to sacrifice his life in order to ensure Voldemort's downfall. Does that leave room for Severus Snape?

Somehow, yes.

With The Prince's Tale, we're given a strange, wistful, childhood love story – a bizarre eddy in the flow of the narrative. It starts in the muggle world. It centres around characters we've never been encouraged to sympathize with – in fact, it justifies the actions of two of the story's (many) villains: Severus Snape and Petunia Dursley. The action slows down, and becomes poignant – achingly sad, as opposed to just unremittingly horrific. And then we're given a quiet, personal, domestic tragedy – a tragedy of misunderstandings and unspoken words (and one dreadful spoken word) – the kind of tragedy that any Gryffindor would be ashamed of.

Given the change of pace, and the seeming-irrelevance of the story recounted in The Prince's Tale, you could understand it if some readers were frustrated by the chapter – if they saw it as an unnecessary digression, and couldn't wait to get back to the duels and action scenes.

The major implication of The Prince's Tale – quite rightly for Harry – was the fact that he had to sacrifice himself to kill Voldemort. Did J.K. Rowling intend for her readers to feel the same? Were we supposed to be more concerned with Harry's predicament? Was The Prince's Tale just tragic scenery? And if it was, why has it caught the imagination of so many fan-artists and fan-fiction writers? In short, why won't Severus Snape stay dead?

This essay will be a very belated attempt to answer those questions. It will discuss how The Prince's Tale works both with the main story and against it. It will talk about why Snape's death was so dramatically unsatisfying, and why everyone wants to re-write it (either by giving him a scene in heaven, a miraculous escape, or a reconciliation with Harry or Dumbledore).

It won't be as scholarly as an academic essay, or as entertaining as a book-review, but, if you love Severus Snape, hopefully you'll be able to identify with some parts of it (enough to bear with me when I inevitably bore you!)

So, to start with, permit me to gush about the strange whirlpool in the middle of the action that is The Prince's Tale.  

There's a scene just like it in Othello. After Othello vows to kill his young wife, Desdemona, you get a bizarrely quiet scene where she's getting undressed for bed – the bed in which the audience knows Othello is planning to strangle her – and talking to her maid-servant, Emilia. Neither of them have any idea what is going to happen. They're reminiscing, telling old stories, and talking about men.

The scene is terrifying for all its quietness, because the audience knows how this calm is going to be shattered. But it's not terrifying in the same way as the previous scenes, where Othello has been ranting and raving and plotting revenge. It's a change of pace that allows us to get our breath back before the grand finale, but it still tugs at our heartstrings in a major way.  

It keeps the tension going, to have an interlude of calm. If you bombard your audience with killings (as Rowling did before The Prince's Tale), they're going to become desensitized.

(Only J.K. Rowling, the cruel mistress of beautiful stories, would be worried about her young, impressionable readers getting desensitized to the violence. Only J.K. Rowling would be sharpening her knives when any other children's author would be trying to soften the blow. It's a compliment, in a way: she doesn't underestimate our capacity to deal with horror – just like her complicated plots are a refusal to underestimate her readers' intelligence. I can't help but feel that, in my case, she should have done, because the ending of the Deathly Hallows left me feeling both traumatized and bewildered).  

There was a prelude to The Prince's Tale, although it didn't capture the imaginations of Harry Potter fans in anything like the same way.

Just a few chapters before The Prince's Tale, we're given another mini tragedy: the confession of another character who criticized the good guys, lost a loved one, and spent the rest of his life blighted by grief: Aberforth Dumbledore. Aberforth's confession prepares the ground for The Prince's Tale, but there isn't much fan-art about Aberforth (perhaps it's because he's not as visually interesting as Snape, and there's still the unexplained business with the goats).

Aberforth and Severus have some interesting similarities: they're both voices of dissent – practical cynics who dare to criticize the good guys, who have their own back-stories and their own agendas. Aberforth chips away at our idea of Dumbledore's heroism, just as Severus chips away at our idea of Harry's. They're both prejudiced, of course; they're both too severe in their criticism. But they're both, in the end, strangely likeable characters. What is the effect of making these anti-heroes likeable? Is Rowling trying to disillusion us about her main heroes? Trying to prevent us from empathizing completely with the so-called good guys?  

As we have seen, she uses The Prince's Tale to increase the tension – to create a calm before the storm. But it also has the effect of dividing our sympathies. We empathize with somebody who criticized Harry – somebody whose adventure is already over, and whose tragic downfall has already occurred. Doesn't that make us estranged from Harry, right at the point when his situation should be tugging on our heartstrings the most? He's just about to go into the forest to sacrifice his life for the greater good, and we're still thinking about Severus Snape. Fiercely opposed as Severus is to being pitied, he might take some satisfaction in the idea that his tragedy distracted us from Harry's.

There are too many tragic heroes in this story, battling for the readers sympathies. Perhaps Rowling realized Snape's subversive potential: perhaps that's why she pretty much neglects to mention him again until the epilogue.

We're not given any time, from this point onwards, to come to terms with Snape's death. The final, beautiful, revelation of his story – the realization of why he wanted Harry to look at him before he died – happened, for me, about half an hour after finishing the book. Sometimes, it happens days, weeks or even months after a reader has finished the book. It's an example of reading that goes on long after you lift your eyes from the page.

That moment alone explains why I think Rowling is an underrated genius. She's so good with effects. There are so many moments of jaw-dropping realization in her stories. Who says books can't make you start and shudder and gasp like a horror movie?

Harry's journey into the forest, when he's preparing to sacrifice himself, made me cry; The Prince's Tale didn't. And, yet, it's The Prince's Tale I'm still thinking about three years later, whereas my reaction to Harry's self-sacrifice has just become an embarrassing anecdote. If Harry's tragedy is more attention-grabbing in the short term, Snape gets the last laugh (or perhaps it should be the last tear). His story leaves its hooks in you. Even if we got bowled along by the momentum of Harry's adventure, our thoughts still turn back to The Prince's Tale – that beautifully subtle and realistic portrayal of a sullen, insecure boy in love.

I'm not saying it's the same for all readers. I know a lot of people (very clever people) who made it through the whole series without sympathizing with Snape once.  But there's a certain type of reader for whom Severus Snape is a relief – an oasis of cynicism in the fantasy desert.

My last essay discussed Snape as an outsider in the narrative of the Harry Potter books. The fact that he criticized the hero and refused to root for the good guys – the fact that he raised his eyebrows at all their noble ideals, even though he risked his life for them – makes him a sarcastic commentator on the story – somebody who steps outside the action to criticize it, and then dives right in again whenever the situation is desperate.

For all the people who can't quite melt into the story; who can't quite buy the idea of a selfless act or a happy ending, Severus Snape is the perfect tour-guide through the Harry Potter books: coasting along, pointing out flaws, keeping tellingly silent about his own beliefs (except where those beliefs relate to the messy-haired protagonist).   

So why does Severus Snape linger in the imagination? Why won't fans accept his death?  What is it about that scene in the Shrieking Shack which left us so unsatisfied?

It was unnecessary, but Rowling has never shied away from unnecessary deaths. It was gory, in a way that magical deaths seldom are. The Avada Kedavra curse doesn't even break the skin, but Snape had his arteries severed by a giant snake. Whether it was the snake's venom or the blood-loss that killed him, it was far from conventional. So the horror of it is unusual, even if the pointlessness of it isn't.   

But I think there are traditional consolations – narrative funeral rites – that J.K. Rowling failed to give us in Snape's case. I think his death is a tragedy hollowed out of all the comforts and resolutions that tragedies usually give us. It's tragic catharsis without any of the catharsis. We're not purged; we're frustrated. We're not cleansed; we're tantalized. We're given glimpses of a story, and a character, that always seems to be out of reach.

So what do you need to make a death in fiction bearable? I'm only going to discuss three things, but there could be hundreds more. And my area of expertise is very limited, so I'm going to confine myself to death-consolations in Shakespearean tragedy.

These are the three things the tragic hero needs to make his death bearable – for himself and for the audience: a speech, a reputation, and a chance to close the proceedings. Snape gets these things in some ways, and doesn't get them in others.

It helps, somehow, if characters have a chance to speak their mind before they die. Perhaps it's because there's nothing worse than finding out the truth about a person after it's too late. There are lots of abrupt, unannounced deaths in Harry Potter; Sirius never gets a chance to speak his mind before he dies, but Sirius didn't really need one; he spoke his mind constantly when he was alive. We know how Sirius felt about pretty much everything.

For the more complicated and restrained characters (you can tell I don't like Sirius, can't you?) there's the convention of the death-bed speech. It doesn't have to happen in bed. In fact, in Shakespearian drama, it rarely does. But I call it that because they all know they're about to die, and they see this as a last opportunity to justify their actions.

As Othello is about to kill himself, he insists: 'I have done the state some service, and they know't'. He also tries to sum up his own story, instructing his audience how to remember him.  

'… Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely but too well
Of one not easily jealous but, being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme…'

(V. ii. 352-5)

It could be argued that the sequence of memories Snape gives to Harry is his version of a self-justifying death-bed speech. It happens after he is dead, and we'll come back to the consequences of that back-to-front order later. But, for a death-bed speech, it's completely devoid of defiance or self-justifying propaganda – it's the bare minimum of what Harry needs to know. It's obvious that Snape is loath to confide in him, and so it can't really be regarded as a confession, or a chance to speak his mind. Aberforth's confession was delivered in his own words. Snape's is just a string of images that have to speak for themselves.  

The second thing that makes tragic death scenes bearable is the knowledge that they will be remembered. When Hamlet's friend Horatio tries to kill himself, Hamlet persuades him not to, just so that there will be someone left alive to explain things.

'… What a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity a while
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story'.

(V. ii. 286-91)

In most tragedies, there is an act of collective remembering after the hero's death. Someone needs to sweep onto the scene of the devastation and eulogize a bit. In Hamlet, it's Fortinbras; in Othello, it's the bewildered Venetian diplomats, Lodovico and Graziano; in Anthony and Cleopatra, it's Octavius Caesar. These characters can be enemies of the hero – they can deplore his choices, his cruelty or his stupidity – but the point is, they're confirming the idea that he was important; they're ensuring that he gets remembered.  

In Snape's case, we get that – in a highly abridged form – in the epilogue, when Harry says to his son: "You were named for two Headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.'  

So far, so good. It's brief, but it does the job. Somebody remembers Severus, and knows that what he did was extraordinary. But it does seem insufficient, doesn't it? For starters, there's the 'probably' – 'probably the bravest man I ever knew' – but I've known plenty of Snape fans who weren't particularly bothered by that. Harry knew a lot of brave men, after all.

Is it because you get the feeling this little disclaimer is only there to show that Harry has forgiven Snape, and moved on with his life? Does anyone else think this apparent concession to Snape is actually another example of his tragedy being made subservient to Harry's?

But there's something about the epilogue itself that is unsatisfying. The epilogue is bizarre: it shows that life goes on (the orphaned Teddy finds love, Harry forgives Snape, Neville becomes a Herbology Teacher), but it is so haunted by loss. We get the endless repetition of dead people's names. We see Harry talking to his son about dead heroes. We get the continued feud between the Potters and the Malfoys. Life goes on, and yet it doesn't. You recover, but you never forget. That scene on Platform Nine and Three Quarters is a weird, limbo world between happy ending and haunted, traumatized, endless grief.

The traditional narrative consolation – the collective remembering of dead heroes – has gone too far (although somehow not far enough in Snape's case), and swallowed up the happy ending.

Also, the act of collective remembrance can't really work as a consolation if it's an afterthought – a nineteen year afterthought, in Snape's case. It can't work if there are chapters and chapters after the hero's death, in which most of the characters seem to forget he ever existed. And this links in with the third thing I think you need to make a death in fiction bearable: timing. The hero's death needs to close the action. The story ends just after he dies to show that it was his story. The ignominy of events just rolling on without him – characters forgetting about him – is incompatible with tragic dignity.

Snape's body was simply left to cool on the floor of the Shrieking Shack. (Interestingly, a disclaimer about what is going to happen to the hero's body is another convention of Shakespearian tragedy. It's a weirdly physical loose-end that seems to always need tying-up.)

For proper tragic catharsis, you need the hero's death to be the penultimate thing onstage; he needs to die, and then you pan out a little, to follow the shock-waves of his death, through the people he loved and the country he lived in.

But Snape's death doesn't close the action. Events roll on without him in the most undignified fashion. The tragic hero is always fortune's plaything, granted, but he's always the centre of the action – he may be powerless, but he is important.

There's too much story after his death. And things happen in the wrong order. All the revelations about Snape happen after he has died. First you have the end, and then, with The Prince's Tale, you go right back to the beginning. The last time we see Snape, he is walking out of Dumbledore's office with grim determination, announcing that he has a plan. Is it any wonder we can't accept his death? He has a plan.

Rowling is an author who doesn't have much time for narrative consolations anyway. For all the richness of her imagination, her vision is bleak. The brief moments of happiness and triumph Harry receives never measure up to the suffering he's made to go through. The ending of The Deathly Hallows is a prime example. The story cuts out four pages after Voldemort's death. She doesn't grant her characters any time to enjoy the happy ending. I wanted to see Harry reunited with Ginny. I wanted to see people congratulating Neville. The happy ending was bought with so many painful moments, I thought we'd at least be allowed to bask in it.

It's as though she thought: 'Alright, I'm writing fantasy. I can deal with the embarrassment of writing fantasy. But nobody is going to accuse me of writing frivolity'.

So: a painful death surrounded by gawping students. Blood everywhere. No confessions. No explanations. He does his job and gives Harry the memories and then – seconds before the end – a plea. Look at me.

Why did he want to see Lily's eyes as he died? For comfort? For strength? To say goodbye? Did he want to fix her in his mind so that he could find her in the next life? Was she the symbol of all his hope for salvation, and so he wanted to see her eyes to remind himself that all was not lost? We never find out.

There was no reconciliation with Harry – well, perhaps that would have been stretching credulity too far. But even cursing Harry with his last breath would have been something. At least then, we would have known what he was thinking. But Snape was careful and committed right up to the end – nobody would ever know what he was thinking.

That should – in a very unorthodox way – be a comfort to us. He died triumphantly undiscovered. It doesn't look like triumph, dying unmourned and enigmatically silent on the floor of the Shrieking Shack, but then Snape had nothing but withering disdain for all the things that looked like triumph. Heroic last stands were too thoughtless, too impractical, too Gryffindor.

We should be consoled by the very lack of standard narrative consolations. Severus refused to take part in the story. He had other priorities, other ideas. He always scorned the story's hero, so why shouldn't he scorn the story's need for resolution? He'd probably scorn our need for resolution too.

In fact, that's another interesting trend in Snape fan-art. There are a great deal of paintings showing Snape's disdainful – or bewildered – reaction to the fangirls, and their preoccupation with his story. Stepping outside the narrative – raising his eyebrows at the action – is a habit he just can't get out of. And that should be a comfort too. He squirms out of the grasp of any would-be narrator. And, if you're not part of the story, how can the story kill you?
Another essay, sort of continuing from Musings on the Muse [link]

Many thanks to ~WeAreSevenStudios whose essay: 'Severus Snape - Tragic Hero' [link] got me thinking about this topic.

One paragraph (the paragraph about how weird the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows is!) was taken from an old journal I wrote in 2008 (back in the days when I had time to write journals!)

As always, thank you so much for reading! And I'd love to know if your reaction to Snape's death-scene was the same as mine.
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:iconlittlealicewhite:
littlealicewhite Featured By Owner May 10, 2011
I really must disagree with you on two parts.

Firstly: I didn't feel as though Snape's tragedy was in any way subverted by Harry's. It was rather synergistic for me, actually. The realization that Snape was killed just before the revelation that he was a good person was equally traumatic for me as Harry's impending doom was my first time reading it. I already had my suspicions about Snape's true loyalty and the moment where it was shown that he and Lily had been friends was all the proof I had needed right then. I knew, right then, that he was a hero and he was dead. Directly after that, while I was just starting to heal my bleeding heart, Harry had to face his true destiny: to die. That was the blow that almost knocked me out. The combined sorrow was a beautifully painful thing, and it was pulled off wonderfully.

Secondly: I saw no grief in the epilog. I saw no trauma. All I saw was the calm, happy conclusion that all the survivors deserved.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 11, 2011
Thank you for the comment. :hug: I'm very interested in how other people view the ending of this book, and I can totally see your point. The separate tragedies of Severus and Harry could complement each other, and work together to produce one devastating emotional effect. I'm sure that's how J.K. Rowling intended it. It's just that, for me, the fact that Harry and Severus hated each other so much up until that point, combined with the fact that Severus's tragedy seemed to be immediately swept out of the way as soon as we learn that Harry has to die (he doesn't, for example, mention Severus to his mother when he sees her right afterwards, even though he has only just discovered her childhood connection to him), seems to set up a conflict between the two characters and their two tragedies. I think that, if they were supposed to work together to produce one emotional effect, they should have been better integrated.

And, as for the epilogue, I agree that it is a happy ending, but the way the children have been named after dead characters - Lily and James, Albus Severus - constantly reminds us of the loved ones that Harry and the others have lost over the course of the story, and makes it achingly poignant for me.

But anyway, the beauty of the series is that it can create different reactions in different people, and I'm definitely not saying that my reaction is the only right one. In fact, I'm a gloomy sort of person, so it makes sense that I would see the ending as grief-addled and traumatized! ;)
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:iconfayzbub:
Fayzbub Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010
Fascinating essay and very much how I feel about Snape's story.

However, when he said to Harry "Look at me" I felt that he was asking for some recognition from Harry, as the main character of the story. Not looking away in disregard, not looking through bias-coloured glasses, but actually seeing the man behind the spy. And then he gave the gift of his memories, trusting that Harry would look at *them*, as well, and that at least one person would know the truth.

Alison
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010
Thank you! :hug: I'm so sorry for the late reply. I was running in a race yesterday and basically collapsed into bed afterwards! ;)

I love the idea that Severus was actually asking Harry to truly see and understand him for the first time. To begin with, I didn't think it was likely, because I thought he hated Harry right up until the end, but the comments on this essay have changed my mind about that. There is lots of evidence that Snape's ideas about Harry changed during that last year. The fact that he used his doe Patronus to guide Harry to the sword seems to imply that he'd found something in common between them, and he was prepared to admit that Lily mattered to Harry just as much as she did to him. I really need to re-write this essay based on the thought-provoking comments I've received! :)
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:iconkvasii:
Kvasii Featured By Owner May 17, 2010
Whoa I sure love your writing :love: Really well done!

I have not so much to add, just I've always accepted Snape's death and found it necessary in a way. Don't know if I would have wanted to see him live on after the war.

Why did he want to see Lily's eyes as he died? For comfort? For strength? To say goodbye?

I've actually read few theories on this, the most popular is of course that he wanted to see the eyes of his love for the very last time. The other is that he, Snape, just wanted to look at the boy who he's been protecting the whole time and also who he believed to be about to face death as well. And the third theory is about Snape, wanting Harry to look at him in the memories as what he really is, what he has done, just as a human being. Look at him and understand. And that is what Harry truly does and therefore names one of his sons after him :)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 18, 2010
Thank you so much! :hug: I'm happy you enjoyed it! Yes, I find that idea fascinating - that, when he asked Harry to look at him, he was actually asking him to truly see and understand him. I like that the comment is ambiguous - it fits in with Snape's mysterious side that we are never entirely sure what he intended.

Quite a few of the people who commented on this essay said they didn't have a problem with Snape's death, but found his lonely, unappreciated life upsetting. I agree that his death was sort of necessary to the plot - he would not have been such a hero if he hadn't died for the cause, and I can't imagine Snape living on after his secret was exposed. I think he would find that quite undignified! But it still seemed like such a horriffic, comfortless scene, to me. :( Still, I can't deny that it was very dramatic, and it certainly made an impression on me!
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Nynaeve-3 Featured By Owner May 12, 2010
Some of the things you said were new to me, and really fascinating, like the meanings of Asphodel and Wormwood in the Language of Flowers. I hadn't considered that before.

You didn't know about symbolism of asphodel and wormwood? It is rather well-known among Snape fans and was used before DH as an argument by the proponents of "Snape loved Lily" theory. See, for example
Asphodel, Wormwood, Bezoars, and Aconite
and Essence of Asphodel: Lily Evans Potter and the Poetic Tradition.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 13, 2010
Thanks for the links, this looks fascinating. :hug: I love this kind of speculation, I'm just absolutely hopeless at finding it. ;)
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evyheartway Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
First thank you for this awesome essay! :thumbsup: I quite agree with your points about the need of a little quiet in the middle of the battle, the three points tragic hero need to make their death bearable ….and love your conclusions But Snape was careful and committed right up to the end – nobody would ever know what he was thinking.

That should – in a very unorthodox way – be a comfort to us. He died triumphantly undiscovered. It doesn't look like triumph, dying unmourned and enigmatically silent on the floor of the Shrieking Shack, but then Snape had nothing but withering disdain for all the things that looked like triumph. Heroic last stands were too thoughtless, too impractical, too Gryffindor.

We should be consoled by the very lack of standard narrative consolations. Severus refused to take part in the story. He had other priorities, other ideas. He always scorned the story's hero, so why shouldn't he scorn the story's need for resolution? He'd probably scorn our need for resolution too.

:heart:

I am a bit late at commenting and I could not help reading the other’s comments before writing mine..somehow that will spare me some writing;-). I recognize myself very very much in what *Preseli and *Vizen and said. I do think he died in peace. I do think he mangaged to find confort in knowing he was doing what was right, and I think , as odd and unhealthy as it may seems, that regarding his self- esteem, his peace of mind ( I am not talking not about his job and his mission here, of course he was very much under stress about them, but the the fact of feeling at peace with oneself) he had never felt so good. I think he had begun to feel proud of what he was doing ( but in a quiet, appeased way) and maybe also that he had begun to forgive himself about his mistakes and maybe even about Lily’s death because he knew that he could not do more …because he was ,then, really giving everything …
I read DH very late. Actually I was reluctant to read it. I feared two things. I feared Severus would die. I was almost convinced she would have to kill him, and I had not the courage to read that. And second I feared she would tell us he was not a good guy whereas I thought from the beginning ( with a few doubts , though, one could never be quite quite sure, but I was fiercely hoping ) that he was on the good side.
On the latter point I was reassured very quickly ( well I don’t remember if it’s so near the beginning of the book but I read it so fast so it is how it seems): when we are told that Snape send Ginny and Neville in detention with Hagrid after ther tryied to steal the Gryffindor sword . (Snape is not that stupid, he knew perfectly well that sending them with Hagrid was no punishment…)
I read on I read on, no snape, still no snape….the small confrontation in the castle….then he dies.
How I was revolted that no one of the trio tryied to help him! how I was revolted that they just abandoned him there whereas there was a little ceasefire… They could have thought at least to bringing his body bakc to hogwards… But it’s the middle of the war! , a middle of a battle.. and they did not know...
I was revolted that after seing the memories, Harry had not a single thought for him. but how could he? He had just learnt he had to die…
As much as cruel and hard has it is. It is the thruth, it is real. Rowling did not cheated on us… Like Same said, many people died unknown and their body abandoned, during wars, heros or not..
Rowling is really really brilliant…, because this absence of Snape in the pages following the prince tale, ( and even the mentions of Harry in front of Voldemort are not enough, because they are just facts, bare facts, ti’s the truth..but it’s too late…) and the shortness and relativeness of the epilog ( this “probably”, and the fact that Severus is only the second name of the boy, the first remains Albus..like in the real life..) emphasis the loss and absence, better than any words could have. It’s over. Nothing, remains only absence. He’s dead. And she does not even say he’s dead. She only shows and makes us feel it all, and in which way!... That’s pure genius.
But if I “agree” with her ( and I had to began writing seriously myself to understand that) , I that I was at the same time so touched and revolted that he died this way !( without receiving any gratitude for his deeds, that he died so after such a life without any love and tenderness ) and I still am ( and probably will be forever).
Honeslty I dropped the book after the Prince Tale. I had already made a little pause after Severus’s death. ( ok that ‘s it he’s dead. I knew it. I read that book , so empty of Snape for that…) I picked it up quickly because I wanted to see the memories of course. After the Prince ‘s Tale I was so overwhelmed that I first did not care about what would happen to Harry. I was thinking about the whole series at the light of this, etc…
After a little while though, I remembered that the title of the book is “Harry Potter…”…and I read on…and Harry’s walk in the forest made me cry too..:-)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
:dance: :hug: Thank you so much for this detailed comment! (Cakes are in the oven, so I'm at leisure now! ;) Although, heaven knows, writing about Snape is the perfect way to get those cakes burnt, because I forget about everything else when I'm in Severus-mode! :giggle:)

I'm very grateful to you and *Preseli and *Vizen for raising the issue of Sev's growing peace of mind before he died, because I hadn't really thought about it - and it's a big comfort to me to think that he was learning to respect himself again before the end.

I felt exactly the sme as you when reading the chapters after the Prince's Tale. I kept waiting for some mention of Severus and, when it came, it was so bare and factual, so devoid of sympathy. And, as you say, "Severus" is only the middle name of Harry's child - it does seem like, even when he's being remembered, Snape is being marginalized and pushed to one side!

But, I agree, it's realistic to have no explanations or consolations. It perfectly evokes the feeling of emptiness that accompanies grief. And Severus would probably approve of his death being treated in a realistic manner, since he hates it when people delude themselves! If Harry or Hermione had cried for him, or said he was a good man, he would have looked at them with withering scorn and called them hypocrites!

:hug: I'm so glad you cried for Harry too - I was beginning to feel like a bad Snape-fan!
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:iconevyheartway:
evyheartway Featured By Owner May 4, 2010
How were the cakes? :-) … forgetting dishes and letting them burn is my special cooking “knack” ..;-)

The issue of Snape growing peace of mind, might also only be an attempt to console oneself... but I can’t imagine how he would have manage to make it through what he had to live otherwise. I also think he could not have asked Harry to look at him if he had not evolved on that, he could not have borne Minerva’s cutting remarks a whole year long without reaction if he had not completely approved, adhered and strongly believed in the sense of what he was doing, and If he had not found a kind of fullfilement in doing it.

Yes, I hated that epilogue!! An I hated Harry for putting Severus only as second name…, but at least he gives the name to the only one of his children who has green eyes…

If Harry or Hermione had cried for him, or said he was a good man, he would have looked at them with withering scorn and called them hypocrites! yes..sadly… but maybe he would have appreciated deep inside ;-)

:giggle::hug:…Snape doesn’t like one-sided simplistic people, I ‘m sure he would not be so angry at you for that ;-)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 4, 2010
You know, I don't know how the cakes tasted. I brought them into work for a sort of charity bakesale, and didn't even get to have one! :( But, never mind, I can always make some more!

Yes, I think the fact that he asked Harry to look at him in that moment before he died was the biggest indicator that he had achieved peace. Everywhere else, when he looks into Harry's eyes, he is described as being furious. He couldn't see past the James in him. But suddenly, we have this idea - which Snape had never accepted before - that there are traces of Lily in Harry. It's encouraging to think his ideas changed in that last year -I just wish we'd seen more of him!
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:iconevyheartway:
evyheartway Featured By Owner May 5, 2010
oh! :-( , :nod:

oh yes me too!! I began to read DH really hoping there will be a lot about Snape...I was so :-(... I wish Rowling herself would write some of the backstory of Snape...(let's dream :...that she would rewrite the whole series through his eyes! :giggle:)
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:iconvizen:
Vizen Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
:nod:

I read DH entirely only once, at the night of the release...All the pages in a raw, so many events and words and emotions hours after hours with no sleep - and then it leads to the chapter 32 and 33... I remember how much it was striking and emotionally moving. Sure, you could say she's not the best writer ever etc with the better style etc.. but it is so effective! "And Severus Snape moved no more" - aaargh, neither I do. I knew he would die (the damned spoilers of that week) but still...This omnipresent absence in the end, this silence about him!

I stupidly cried when I reread the Prince's Tale. *sigh*
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:iconevyheartway:
evyheartway Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
:nod:..this awful silence about him...
I felt like grabbing HArry by the front of his robes and shake him "hey?!! did you realize what this man did?!! don't you just feel a little for him??!!!"

And when the battle is over, people gathered in the great hall talking, mourning and so..but NO ONE- no one! thinks go and fetch his body...
ARGG...it's just like what Harry said about him moments before had just slipped over them..just like that..ARGG...

that was not stupid...
I did not cry, because I was beyond crying. ( oddly when I'm too deeply touched I can't cry, I know because it did me the same when people close to me died)
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:iconjoeyv7:
joeyv7 Featured By Owner May 1, 2010
A writer's task is so much more difficult than a visual artist's. Especially here. I would think it's rather lonely in this visually - rich place, too. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate what you and other writers here seem to do: You take the reader (even when that reader is reluctant and/or apathetic, or simply out of practice) and help them see more layers and possibilities than a painted image could give.
I am loath to read about this subject because it makes me feel anxious, angry and ill. Claustrophobic. But I was able to gain some fresh insight looking at this. Not so much acceptance or peace, but I think examining this subject with words, rather than images is even more challenging (and frightening) for me. Thank you, Lucy :)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
Thank you so much, Cathy! :hug: That really means a lot to me! It is lonely, in a way, being a writer on DeviantArt. Writing is much less attention-grabbing, and much more time-consuming to appreciate, than visual art - but that only makes me more grateful and delighted when people take the time to read and comment! :) :dance: Besides, the images on DeviantArt have inspired me so much - it's always a fun but impossible challenge, trying to convey in words the way the beautiful paintings and photographs here have made me feel!
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:iconajajai:
ajajai Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010
Wow, this was a really interesting and thought-provoking essay. I liked your thoughts about Aberforth, I had not thought of the similarities to Snape you point up. I could write an essay-lenght bunch of comments if I tried...

I'll stick to one comment for now, though. I liked your analysis of how Snape's death lacked the typical narrative resolutions such deaths usually had, and can see how this could make his death harder for readers to accept. I had/have no such difficulty. I was expecting his death, and reacted to it with relative calm and no doubts as to its finality.

What I was not expecting, and have not yet gotten over two years later, was "The Prince's Tale". This despite having correctly anticipated the broad outline of the story told therein. I think it violates another of those comfortable narrative conventions, that virtue is rewarded. Snape was no saint, but he took responsibility for his greatest mistake, and went to great lengths to undo it, and once he failed despite his best efforts, to atone for it. For his troubles, he failed to save his beloved, was obliged to kill the man who trusted him and gave him a second chance, was despised by the side he was serving, and gave his life, believing as he died that he was sending the boy he had promised to protect for the memory of his beloved to his death. (It is this last I, for whatever reason, find most awful to contemplate.)

This, too, is probably a nice piece of realism...but it is, I am sure, why Snape haunts my imagination to this day.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
Thank you so much for your comments! :hug: It's always wonderful to hear why other fan-fiction writers are fascinated with Severus Snape. :)

You know, I think I was expecting his death too, although not in that way. I always hoped he was a good guy; I even hoped he would be romantically linked with Lily (although I would never have guessed they'd been friends since childhood), but I expected he would have to die. You're right (and other people have said the same), it's the loneliness and unfairness of his life, not his death, that is the most troubling thing. His redemption brings him nothing but misery. We can admire his strength, and his success. We can admire the beauty of his life-long devotion. But that's our reward, not his. What made it worth-while for him? Just the knowledge that he was doing the right thing. I guess that's realistic, but it still seems cruel.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 11, 2010
Yes, Sirius's fate is very cruel, and that might explain his popularity - but somehow I never credited Sirius with the same capacity for suffering. He just doesn't seem as sensitive as Snape. I think he secretly enjoyed rebelling against his family, for all the attention it garnered him. And it's not as though he seems to mourn the loss of his brother - I'm sure Sirius just sees Regulus as a stupid Death Eater who got cold-feet and ended up dead! (But this is probably my own rabid prejudice against Sirius! ;))
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:iconshyfoxling:
shyfoxling Featured By Owner May 12, 2010
somehow I never credited Sirius with the same capacity for suffering. He just doesn't seem as sensitive as Snape.

I agree he doesn't seem like the contemplative and sensitive type. These kind of sparks are one of the reasons I enjoy these two paired together. ;)

I think he secretly enjoyed rebelling against his family

"Secretly" enjoyed?? I think he enjoyed it right out in public, lol.

And it's not as though he seems to mourn the loss of his brother - I'm sure Sirius just sees Regulus as a stupid Death Eater who got cold-feet and ended up dead!

Mmm, you might be surprised. Yeah, I think he did kind of turn cold towards Regulus -- but it's the kind of harsh rejection that hints at scar tissue over a wound, "protesting too much", if you will.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 13, 2010
Yeah, the harsh way he dismissed Regulus did seem kind of shocking, so maybe it's hinting at a deeper wound underneath.

It's hard for me to find Sirius Black's redeeming features - although, I must say, reading your Sev/Sirius fanfic definitely helped. :)
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:iconshyfoxling:
shyfoxling Featured By Owner May 13, 2010
although, I must say, reading your Sev/Sirius fanfic definitely helped.

O RLY? *rubs hands together and grins evilly*
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:iconsindie11:
sindie11 Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010
This was a true joy to read. I think you made a lot of good and interesting points. I think the fact that even though life has moved on between the end and the epilogue, yet the loss of loved ones hasn't been forgotten, it realistic. We can never forget those we loved, yet time keeps going, so if we are to live our lives, move on we must.

I think the fact that JKR didn't say what Snape was looking for when he looked into Harry's (Lily's) eyes was left for interpretation. I don't suppose that any reader would want to be told "This is what you're supposed to think." Since Snape has always been mysterious and elusive, so he must remain that way.

He has obviously inspired so many fans, though, and while he would doubtfully condone our love of him (I can just picture him rolling his eyes), his story is the one that many fans wanted to be told in the Harry Potter stories. For me it is.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
Thank you! :hug: I completely agree with you - it wouldn't have been right to be told what he was thinking when he asked Harry to look at him. Rowling was being true to his character by making him remain elusive. And that elusiveness is what makes him so fascinating to so many people, because he's a challenge. Why write fan-fiction about Harry? We knew what Harry was thinking all the time anyway! ;)
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:iconflameofthewest7:
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010
This is so well thought out it reads like a thesis! :) Excellent points from beginning to end and I love your three criteria for an acceptable death for a tragic hero. I think the phrase that will stick with me is "an oasis of cynicism." You understand this character marvelously, better than anyone else I've heard talk about him.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
Thank you so much! :hug: He feels like an oasis of cynicism to me, when all the other so-called heroes are acting so thoughtlessly (Harry, Ron and Sirius are the worst offenders! They make me shudder sometimes! :fear:)
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:iconvizen:
Vizen Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010
Snape's death is frustrating. His whole story is frustrating and DH is frustrating for us (Snape's fans) to the core, when we expected him at every page corner and obtained of him only this abrupt death scene and the brief consolation of the epilogue. DH tells us (or rather, seems to tell) loudly that the heroes are Gryffindors, that Harry, Ron and Hermione are the winners and that the older generations are over in the end of the game.

On the other hand, once more, Rowling let a huge room to the unspoken, to the "between the lines" space. By its position in the chapter, the "look at me" is haunting. Snape gives the memories ("take it") and then in exchange asks for the green eyes to look at him. Harry and Severus would never befriend. They cannot be sensible, reasonable, make amends and be adults together - it is just impossible between them. Severus cannot discuss with Harry. He can just show, while Harry can just feel. Potentially, they can have a connection only through the concept of Lily. The same connection Harry felt reading the Potions textbook, when he didn't know who was the Half-blood Prince : it's Lily in Harry who could befriend the young Potions maker, before he became a dark wizard. It's Lily in Harry who feels that he should go to Severus Snape when he dies and who looks at him in the end. The only connection between the two of them is essential : it's also the silver doe who is Severus's "plan" - and of course the green eyes : Severus knows that Harry will follow the doe, Severus knows that he can die with the green eyes on him - a clear sign for me, that he knows that even Harry Potter is able to acknowledge in the end what's essential (Harry is able to be attracted to the doe and to look at him when he dies). Of course, Severus can also just not care about what Harry thinks and just wants to die in Lily's eyes, when he says "look at me". But it would not have worked with the said green eyes full of hatred...All that to say that I see Snape's death as ultimately peaceful on his side (weirdly enough).


What was terribly insufferable for the Snape fan reader in me was of course this long, very long silence and absence after the Prince's Tale, when everyone keeps going and living and discussing, while Snape is no more mentioned. His absence was terribly insufferable during the whole book, but in the end it's just a slap on your bleeding fan heart. This absence is so present, that it can be only conscious. It can be only a deliberate decision from the writer. Why ? Why such a cruelty, or apparent disdain for the character ?

And then, I imagined all the other scenes or mentions of Snape I would have expected here or there - and, well...It would not have worked. Snape in a portrait, beside Dumbledore ? No way. Not his place. Snape in the Forest with Lily and the Marauders ? Aargh, such a horrific idea. And Harry keeps being silent - you wait for him to express a thought about Snape, you expect for just a regret, a sorry feeling after the trip into the Pensieve, some "Poor Severus" that would come from him and not from Albus... And Harry remains factual, manages to rehabilitate Snape in the final battle scene, to tell the truth before Voldemort and everybody, though... And still, it's not enough. But again, it would have been misplaced, from Harry, to say more then and to start feeling more explicitly sorry for a man who loved his mother, like that, at this moment of the story.

So ? What happened ? Snape is missing in the happy ending and the very happy ending itself is, as you say, tainted with the ghost of the dead and the past.

Actually, I'm still grateful (for my part) to Jo Rowling for that because I don't see how she would have been more faithful to his character, if she had written it in another way. This is so typical of her character - he is beyond her own story, for me. He has a dimension that could not have been just basic and a simple comforting end would not have done justice to him. He had to frustrate us, he had to scorn our need for resolution too, as you said. With a comforting and plain end, especially with a happy one (I should add), it would not have been so disturbing and so striking, so slytherin and so severus-ish. Really...

Great essay, thanks so much Lucy, it's always such a pleasure to read you. If I'd tried to stop loving Severus, I would fail, just reading you.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
Thank you so much for reading, Bea! :hug: :blowkiss: I'm really happy you enjoyed it.

And these comments have been so illuminating. They've got me thinking about so many different things. In particular, what got me thinking is your point here:

It's Lily in Harry who could befriend the young Potions maker, before he became a dark wizard. It's Lily in Harry who feels that he should go to Severus Snape when he dies and who looks at him in the end. The only connection between the two of them is essential

I think you're right - it seems as though his feelings towards Harry changed in that last year. From thinking that Harry enjoyed being an orphan because it got him lots of attention, he seems to have accepted that Harry cared about his mother. He seems to have accepted that their feelings for Lily were the only thing they had in common - because he knew that Harry would follow the silver doe. If he truly thought Harry was an attention-seeking imbecile, he would have devised some kind of plan that appealed to his ego, not to his heart.

Again, it's frustrating that we can never know what he was thinking! But, as you say, she couldn't have been more faithful to his character than to leave his motivations unexplained.

And this too:

I imagined all the other scenes or mentions of Snape I would have expected here or there

I did exactly the same thing! In fact, I was going to include them in this essay. And none of them seemed to work. (I like your horrified reaction to the idea of Sev's ghost appearing with the other marauders in the forest! :giggle:) What I would have liked (and I don't think it would have been too much to expect of Harry, even though he was very preoccupied with his own problems at the time) is for Harry to have turned to the ghost of his mother in the forest and asked her to forgive Snape. Maybe it's the bleeding-heart fan-girl in me, but I would have liked that. :(

Anyway, thank you so much for your comments! :hug: As you can see, they've definitely got me thinking!
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:iconvizen:
Vizen Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
I do understand you but Lily and Severus's relationship is no Harry's business and it'd be totally awkward to mention Severus in this scene in the Forest (from my point of view, at least...). I add that the more he's lonely and his fate is cruel, the more what he did is heartbreaking and worthy of respect. Severus doesn't fight for happiness, he just believes in what Lily would approve too, as a tribute to her, a way to make amend and his own way of preserving his purity of heart. Little by little, I imagine he learned in the 7th year how to forgive himself, to be proud of what he did (the right thing) and to let go finally, feeling less angry, less bitter, and focusing onto what was the true essential, this love and hope and Lily's memory :) Then, he could have this connection with Harry :nod:
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2010
Yes, I agree, it might have been awkward for Harry to speak to his mother about Snape - although, moments before death, perhaps you're beyond awkwardness, who knows? ;) I agree with what you say here:

I add that the more he's lonely and his fate is cruel, the more what he did is heartbreaking and worthy of respect.

But respect is such a cold reward - not for us, who can think of him as an inspiration - but for him. I'm sure he learned to respect himself eventually, but I would have liked some kind of warmer recompense for everything he did.
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:iconwearesevenstudios:
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010  Student
Omigosh! I love this essay to pieces. :love:
Thank you so much for writing this. It's exactly what I wanted to read, but didn't want to spend the brain-power thinking about. :D

Honestly, I'd never compared Aberforth and Snape, but you're right.
they're both voices of dissent – practical cynics who dare to criticize the good guys, who have their own back-stories and their own agendas.

he might take some satisfaction in the idea that his tragedy distracted us from Harry's.
Ha. Small consolation, but true.

Does anyone else think this apparent concession to Snape is actually another example of his tragedy being made subservient to Harry's?
I wouldn't necessarily say Snape's tragedy is subservient to Harry's tragedy (I'm still undecided as to whether Harry is tragic), but I'll raise my hand to that one. Everything about Snape's life and motivations and death is so very secondary (or tertiary, or so on) to our protagonist and hero. And that, I think, as you illustrate, is why "it's tragic catharsis without any of the catharsis." I'm very interested in the contemporary stories that have both hero and tragic hero, because there's the shining, glorified hero, and then the tragic hero, who for all of known literary history had been the hero, takes a back seat. I don't know what to make of it, exactly, but it extremely intrigues me.

Regarding Snape's body - it's interesting that Rowling clearly does appreciate and include the importance of 'funeral rites' as it were, since Cedric's ghost (for lack of a better term) requests that Harry bring his body back to his father. What is so interesting about all of this is that her writing of Snape and his death looks so intentional to me. So intentionally unfair, and intentionally non-cathartic.

For proper tragic catharsis, you need the hero's death to be the penultimate thing onstage;
...
But Snape's death doesn't close the action. Events roll on without him in the most undignified fashion.

I don't have anything to add, I just wanted to quote that bit because I it's a great observation.

I agree that reconciliation with Harry would be stretching credulity, but a last-breath curse would have disappointed me. As I see it, Snape loved Lily more than he hated Harry, so seeing Lily's eyes was more important than saying anything (except Dumbledore's last secret, obviously) to him. As you say, "He had other priorities, other ideas."

He died triumphantly undiscovered.
I wonder if that covert triumph was wrapped up in his lifelong role as a spy? An open triumph might have, in Snape's case, been a failure.

I have so much more I want to say. I'll probably comment again when I reread this a few times and get my thoughts in better order.
Oh, and thank you so much for mentioning me! :D
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
Yay! :dance: :love: Thank you, I'm so happy you liked it! I love what you said here:

I'm very interested in the contemporary stories that have both hero and tragic hero, because there's the shining, glorified hero, and then the tragic hero, who for all of known literary history had been the hero, takes a back seat.

Because, when the tragic hero has to take a back-seat, it totally invalidates the things that make tragedy consoling. The centrality of the tragic hero is the only thing that prevents his death from being sad, brutal and horrifying.

You should write an essay about different types of hero, and how they fight with each other when they're put in the same book! I'd love to read that (I still need to watch Hellboy II, BTW, but I see what you mean about Harvey Dent and Batman being two heroes uncomfortably sharing the same ground in The Dark Knight. I guess there, the only way to have the tragic hero and the conventional hero share the same film is to turn the tragic hero into a cackling villain!)

Anyway, I'd better shut up (I have a lot of message-replying to do tonight, but I'm happy about it - it's wonderful to hear so many perspectives on my favourite character! :))
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:iconwearesevenstudios:
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010  Student
Really, this essay is so enlightening and well-thought out.

Because, when the tragic hero has to take a back-seat, it totally invalidates the things that make tragedy consoling. The centrality of the tragic hero is the only thing that prevents his death from being sad, brutal and horrifying.
Yes! Exactly. Even if s/he has one or two of the three essentials you mention, it’s still not enough. It leaves the audience unsettled and the tensions unresolved.

It would be so cool if we could collaborate somehow on this topic of tragic heroes.

You should write an essay about different types of hero, and how they fight with each other when they're put in the same book!
Thank you, I want to. :) But I haven’t collected enough different examples yet. I’m working on it... (if you know of any others, let me know :D)

I guess there, the only way to have the tragic hero and the conventional hero share the same film is to turn the tragic hero into a cackling villain!
I’ve been thinking about that, and wondering if that’s a way to create more empathy for the villain. In Batman, of course, we have the completely sociopathic Joker (similar to having a completely sociopathic Voldemort?), and then Harvey, with whom we can have a fair amout of sympathy, as one would with a traditional tragic hero. In the director’s commentary for Hellboy II, Guillermo del Toro remarks about the ways he tried to make the murderous antagonist a kind of hero in his own, weird way.
At the end of the book, there are so many shades of grey. Voldemort (and Bellatrix, imo) are evil (but they’re both also insane), but most of the others, from Snape to the Malfoys to Regulus Black, are somewhere in between good and evil. All of them have redeeming qualities, and none more than our beloved tragic “anti-hero.” If there’s one thing I truly adore about the series, it’s the clear need for understanding and tolerance. So in Batman, we have an insane, utterly detached bad guy we can love to hate, and someone who, upon his death, we still can’t quite hate, despite his misdeeds.
Hm. Rambled a bit. I’ll cut myself off before I go into Sweeney Todd. ;)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 1, 2010
Lol, Sweeney Todd's another one I haven't seen! Must get my act together and rent out these films (my boyfriend loves comics too, so he'd love to see Hellboy - it would stop him inflicting movies like 'No Country for Old Men' on me! :fear:)

I'll try and think of some examples of tragic heroes and conventional heroes co-habiting in the same book/ movie. It works out well for the conventional hero, because there's someone around to absorb all the punishment, but I bet it has the effect of taking away sympathy from the regular hero, and making him seem slightly inadequate (in The Dark Knight, Batman was the most boring character ever - he looked and felt like a cardboard cut-out!)

I like your comparison of the Joker with Voldemort too. You're right, there's a whole spectrum of morality in the HP books. Rowling doesn't deny the presence of evil, but she doesn't deny redeeming qualities either - and she leaves us to decide how much those qualities really redeem.

I'd love to collaborate on a tragic-heroes essay with you (you know way more about classical tragedy than I do, so you could fill the gaps in my knowledge there. I'm only obsessed with Shakespeare - which was a bit of a drawback when I wanted to do further study, because everyone's already studied him to death! ;)).
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:iconwearesevenstudios:
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner May 7, 2010  Student
Sadly, I know far less than I want to about Shakespeare.
Though I suppose there are very few new studies to be done with his works, there's always the value of your own perspective on an 'old' topic.
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:iconsamanthalenore:
SamanthaLenore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very thought provoking.

I tend to agree with Presli about the nature of Snape's death. I have never been one of those people who felt particularly grief stricken over his death. I certainly didn't feel it was a literary failing, or an insult to the character as I have heard some describe it.

Snape's death was appropriate and realistic for a double agent during war time. I used to be fascinated by the World Wars as a teen, and read many biographies, and autobiographies of men and women who had served as spies, double agents, and members of underground resistance movements. They almost always died at the hand of one master or another, their bodies dumped somewhere remote, mourned by none, and lost forever. SO it that sense, Snape's death was very realistic. It was brutal, sudden, senseless, and shocking, just like most death is.

Perhaps I embraced his death with gratitude and acceptance because I had the benefit (if you want to call it that), of reading Deathly Hallows in conjunction with the sudden death of my 36 year old sister-in-law. She was the first person I was that close to who had ever died, hers was the first dead body I ever saw, and she was a very difficult person in life, very Snape like.

I recognized all the numbness, the futility, the pointlessness of her loss, and even Harry's conflicted feeling about it through reading about Snape's death in Deathly Hallows, and I came away from it (when I finally had time to truly think about the text months later), with a very real respect for Rowling's courage in never shying away from the very real pointlessness, and randomness of death. Death has no 'meaning', no 'purpose'. Literature and relgion constantly seek to create one, but in the end death is tragic mystery, and that is all we as the living will ever truly know of it.

All that being said, what I did come away from Deathly Hallows with, was a profound sense of grief and anger over Snape's life: the fact that he never experienced a single moment of real love, tenderness or affection. That is a sin right there, in my opinion, and it is that which nearly unraveled me, that which beat my heart to a pulp, and it is that which I try to rectify in my fanfiction.

Everyone has the right to love, no matter the mistakes they have made. And for a man like Severus, who flawed and broken though he was, fought very long and hard to atone for those mistakes, it seemed, very, very wrong to me that he was denied it.
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