Monday, April 02, 2012

More on Severus Snape: The Dark Knight

I've been a Redditor for a while now, and one of my favorite subreddits is the Harry Potter subreddit.

We often have debates about characters and events, and one of the most popular topics is "Snily".  The Snape/Lily relationship is one that fans seem to harp on, and Snape as a character is one of the most widely debated topics in the fandom.

Recently, someone posted:
Does anyone else think the whole Snape loving Lily for years is kind of.. sad?  
Don't get me wrong, JKR did a great job at allowing us to care for the relationship they had. But Snape loved her for YEARS, I mean why didn't he try to move on with his life? I feel like its somewhat pathetic. I love Snape, and I love Lily, but. Come on.
My take on that, is this:

To love a friend, to be in love with a friend is difficult enough.  When they don't return that love, it creates a lot of pain that isn't easily forgotten.  Snape loved Lily from the very first moment he saw her, but he could never have her.

Your first love is one most people don't forget.  Everything is amplified when you're in those pre-teen/teenaged years. Raging hormones play havoc with emotions, and some of our strongest bonds are formed during this time.

But you make a mistake, allbeit, a big ass mother thumping mistake.  People say things in anger all the time that they don't mean.  Anger is a powerful emotion and can make some people who don't have control of it say and do things they may not normally do.  We're all guilty of taking our anger out on someone who doesn't deserve it.

Snape had a hard childhood, where he was bullied and abused.  With the Death Eaters, who valued his intellect and skill, he finally found a crowd of people that seemed to accept him.  He developed practices that helped him to fit in with the Death Eaters.  He may have even believed in some of them.  Whether or not he truly despised "mudbloods" is unknown to me.  I think that in that moment, he was just hurting, and the only way he could think of to deal with it was to lash out.


And then he lost Lily.

So you have this deeply made, long lasting impression of a person on your heart.  Then, they marry someone else, but not just anyone else; they marry the person you hate more than any one else in the world.  You screwed up you friendship with them, and they married someone else.  There's a lot of guilt and regret that weighs in on that.  In that time, Snape likely romanticized their friendship, as many of us do with "good times".   He placed his time with Lily on a pedestal, as she was always the best thing about his life growing up.

After Lily's death, I imagine Snape felt a lot of guilt and regret, because he had contributing to her death.  Anyone who has known someone who has died suddenly, and unexpectedly, has regrets and harps on what they may have done to change the course of history.  Snape likely spent a lot of time with "what ifs".

The time between Lily's death and the beginning of the first book isn't explored too well.  We as readers never really know what Snape was up to.  Beyond the beginning of the first book, we rarely see much of Snape outside of Hogwarts.  We don't know if he dated anyone else or not.  From what little I know about the staff at Hogwarts, most of them were unmarried, so I don't think it was all that uncommon for Snape to still be single.  Working as a teacher at a sleep-away school, where you more or less have to present 9 months out of the year probably makes relationships hard.

Despite that, Snape may have had relationships.  He may have dated someone, we never really find out.  But I imagine that anyone he did date would have faded away by the time Order of the Phoenix started.  I theorize this because at that point, Snape becomes a double agent.  He is working with dark and dangerous people, in an unstable climate.  Though he is accomplished with Occulemcy, he very likely knew that anyone close to him would become a target if he failed.  Not willing to risk losing anyone else the way he lost Lily, he probably cut any romantic ties at this time.

"Moving on" is hard, but I don't think that Snape is a victim of not moving on.  Rather, I think that he simply bore a love for someone and it transcended her death.

Your first love is tricky, it's a hard thing to forget.    I think a lot of people confuse not forgetting, and continue to honor the memory of a loved one with not moving on.  Snape honored the love he had for Lily with his patronous.

It's unclear whether or not he's moved on, though, because we know so very little about Snape's life.  I speculate that he likely did "move on", but that he never stopped loving Lily in a way.

What about you, Dear Readers?  What do you think?