Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Praise of Snape

I’m refilling the well at the moment, which means I get to do things like go out for coffee and the latest Harry Potter movie. My muse is fed by decaff lattes and boy wizards. Well, actually, to tell you the truth, I’m not so into Harry himself. The HP franchise has given me lots of scope for odd crushes through the years. I’ve gone on record saying I fancy the Weasley twins. (Double yum, though by the way Bill Weasley is really seriously super-hot in the latest film.) I have also fancied Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory (before he was Edward Cullen) and David Tennant as Barty Crouch (before he was Dr Who). I have also suddenly discovered a whole new appreciation of Lucius Malfoy, now that he’s an alcoholic ex-con.

But when I get right down to it, the Harry Potter experience is all about Professor Severus Snape. (Warning—there are some Snape spoilers to follow, if you haven’t read all the books yet.)

Quite aside from the fact that Alan Rickman is sex on legs, it’s the character of Snape who gets me, especially in the last few novels of the series. I love the underdog. I love the bad guy who is really a good guy. I love the tormented genius struggling between his good and evil natures, the honourable man who keeps his word no matter how he’s tempted—and for Snape, keeping his word means that he has to do some truly horrible things. He has to be hounded and villainised by everyone he respects. He has to protect the boy who by nature, he should despise. He has to take the gravest risks of not only his life, but his soul. He has to keep his true thoughts and feelings hidden from absolutely everyone in the world.

And he does it all for love. Unrequited love.

Yup. Snape rules. He’s even better than Dumbledore, in my opinion, because Dumbledore manipulates Harry and everyone else. Snape just does what he has to do. He gets the job done. And he hates it, he moans and broods and gives out detentions, but he does it because he knows it’s right.

I never found the Harry Potter books to be particularly subtle in their plotting or characterisation. But Snape is the exception. Re-reading the penultimate book in the series this week, I could really appreciate how J. K. Rowling leads Harry, and therefore the reader, to believe the worst of Snape, when in fact his actions have another, wholly different interpretation. And though Alan Rickman is hardly in the first part of The Deathly Hallows, the ambiguity is written all over his face.

What does this have to do with romance? Well, I’m always interested in what makes a hero. And Snape is a certain kind of hero, a kind that appeals to me a lot. In a romantic novel he’d wash his hair more frequently, of course, and he’d get the girl in the end. Or maybe not. Because a tragic hero is wonderful, too.

(And having taught school for ten years, I can also really identify with grumpy teachers.)

Come back on Sunday to chat with Anna Louise Lucia, who also has an unhealthy obsession with Severus Snape, though I'm not sure how she feels about the Weasley twins.


  1. I said this to my teenage daughter after we saw the latest Harry Potter film. She asked me why Snape did what he did and I told her that he did it for love, he always loved Lily.

  2. I really love the character of Snape, too, Julie. My favouritest part of the whole series is Snape's memories, where the whole truth comes out and we see Snape for who he really is. I read that section the first time through a haze of tears. And Alan Rickman is (along with Johnny Depp, of course) one of my favouritest actors. I'm looking forward to the last movie.

    Possibly my weirdest fangirl-crush was for Lord Vetinari in the Terry Pratchett Discworld books. He's perhaps not all that different from Snape, though - intelligent with a good heart, but given a bad face.

  3. Oh, I am soooo with you on the Snape thing, and the Bill Weasley thing! And did you notice Ron's new super-torso under that T shirt? I am in serious danger of becoming a dirty old woman for that boy...

    Ahem. I cried when it all came out about Snape, I had been maintaining for years that he couldn't possibly be all-bad - why the hell would Alan Rickman choose to play a character without depth and dimension?

    And weird crushes? Apart from my Tony Robinson fixation? Do you REALLY want me to go on?

  4. You said it! I might as well get a Snape tattoo, because his character is burnt onto my heart already.

  5. I agree with you about Snape too, although I have to admit that for me it was Lucius Malfoy who stole the last film. Neither of them were in it for very long, but those two were the characters you remember when you walk out of the cinema. There’s just something about their aloofness, the way they talk (sending shivers down your spine) and even the way they walk – if I close my eyes I can still picture Snape walking down that path with his black cape flapping out behind him ...

    With you on the Weasley twins as well, but not Cedric Diggory, sorry 

    Can’t wait for the final instalment.

  6. Yup, Snape is one of my favoite HP characters too (along with Lupin). I even wrote a short(ish) story based on his relationship with Lily a couple of years ago - the chapter 'The Prince's Tale' really pulled at me. JKR made a fair few plot, er, miscalculations shall we say, but she pulled off Snape brilliantly.

  7. Ohhhh, so good to find fellow Snape Appreciators. (Snappreciators?) What good taste you all have.

    When finding photographs to illustrate this blog post, I found a mock movie poster for SNAPE ON A PLANE!

    I'm still laughing about that one.

  8. LOL, Julie. Alan Rickman stole my heart many years ago in Truly, Madly, Deeply (and I also think he would've made a fan Sirius, who was my ahem secret crush in the book). And as for Jason Isaacs - if you haven't seen him as Captain Hook, get the Rock God to treat you to the DVD as you have a real treat in store


  9. Ahhhh Snape, how do I love thee let me count the ways...

    Always loved the character and who better to play it than Alan "sexiest voice evah!" Rickman. Can't wait to see the new film.
    Will also admit to having a thing for Lucius Malfoy :-)

  10. Snape, Lucius and the yes the twins....what can I say except have already seen the latest film twice and will probably squeeze in another time this week!

    Nothing more to say because you have indeed said it all about his character...