Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 - Snape's true character

I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 on Thursday (opening night). Woweee! Completely awesome - there were tears pouring down my face for a full half-hour during the movie.

Talk about epic! I HAVE to see it again on the big screen real soon.

Snape's "revelations in the pensive" scene reminded me that I wrote a post on a message board on 25 July 2005, the day after I finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. You'll recall that Dumbledore dies at the hand of Severus Snape at the end of that book. This is what I wrote. I reckon I was pretty close, don't you?

Oooh ohh! I just finished reading it last night too! I cried at the end too. I just didn't see that coming at all. Oh boy.

OK. Here are my thoughts. Apologies in advance at the length of them. Once I got started I just couldn't stop.... It's mostly about Snape ‘cos I find him fascinating.... *g*

I don't think Snape is a Death Eater. I think he's DEEP under cover and he has to stay that way. Voldemort is the most powerful dark wizard evah. He's equal in power to Dumbledore - pure evil vs pure good. Dumbledore wouldn't have been able to defeat Voldemort - of course, that's Harry's job - but I also think that he decided long ago that a double agent - a hidden enemy - would be much more likely to be able to weaken Voldemort in some unexpected way than he (Dumbledore) ever could. Thereby allowing Harry to finish off Voldemort at the end of book 7.

Did you notice when Snape was talking to Bellatrix and Narcissa about Malfoy's task that he never actually said anything specific until they had already mentioned it? He talks in very general terms - or says nothing at all - and lets Narcissa spill (some of) the beans herself. This makes me think that he doesn't know what the plan is at that stage, but wants to find out - and needs to keep under cover, whatever the price. That's why he agrees to the Unbreakable Vow - and why he twitches his hand when Narcissa puts in the final bit about doing the job should Malfoy fail. Because obviously he doesn't want to agree to that, but has to, or his cover will be blown.

So throughout the book we have Snape trying to find out from Malfoy what his task is - and Malfoy refusing to tell, thinking that Snape wants all the glory for himself. Snape has figured out that Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore - Malfoy says that Snape guessed it was him with the necklace and was angry about the fact that it could have "blown everything". Dumbledore also tells Malfoy that he had figured out he was trying to kill him. But Snape doesn't know details, and I think it's these that he's been trying to get out of Malfoy. I think that Snape and Dumbledore would have discussed it, thought through all the consequences of the Unbreakable Vow - and would have come up with a plan. The problem was, Malfoy never told Snape about the Vanishing Cabinets, and so Snape would have had no way of knowing that there would be other Death Eaters at the school that night - which kind of complicated things for him.

And once again Trelawney sees it coming in the cards. Cool.

OK. So they both know Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore. They both know that he may not be able to do it. In which case, Snape will have to do it for him. If he doesn't, his cover will be blown - oh, and he would die anyway, for breaking the Unbreakable Vow. Dumbledore believes that, in the end, Snape will be of more use to Harry than he (Dumbledore) could be. He's always looking at the bigger picture, and I reckon he knows he must sacrifice himself in order for ultimate good to triumph over ultimate evil.

Dumbledore makes sure that he gets the whole story from Malfoy before he dies - and that Harry is forced to stay where he is so he hears it all too. There's obviously stuff in there which Harry will need to know in book 7. I think Dumbledore is telling the truth when he tells Malfoy that he couldn't have spoken to him about his task, in case Voldemort used Legilimancy on Malfoy. But I think that's as much to do with maintaining Snape's cover as protecting Malfoy.

Having said that, I think Dumbledore's very keen to "save" Malfoy - to bring him back from the dark side - which means ensuring that Malfoy does not kill him. I think this is partly because Dumbledore has an abiding ability to see the best in people and to believe the best of them - and also - from JK Rowling's point of view - because I think she actually wants Malfoy to redeem himself in book 7 - for her readers' sake maybe? Bad boy turns good - "hey kids, you can stop bullying your mates and be a good guy instead" kind of a thing. Maybe?

The pleading with Snape just before he kills him wasn't to spare his life - it was to take it - something which Snape would have obviously not wanted to do (assuming I am right about Snape, of course! *g*). Snape's look of "revulsion and hatred" just before he does Avada Kedavra could be read as being towards Voldemort, and because of what he has to do, rather than towards Dumbledore. I think it's also possible that Dumbledore either knew he was going to die soon anyway from having drunk the potion in the cave - or, that he knew if he stayed alive, there was something in the potion which would allow Voldemort to read his thoughts or something (remember how he tells Harry that he didn't think the potion would kill right away, because Voldemort would want to know who had drunk it and whether they knew about the horcruxes). So he has to die before Voldemort gets inside his head, otherwise Snape's cover will be blown - and Voldemort will know that Harry knows about the horcruxes.

It's interesting also that Snape could have killed Harry as they race for the front gates - but doesn't - and that he stops one of the other Death Eaters from doing it too. OK, he says it's because he needs to be saved for Voldemort - like a mouse for a cat to play with - but then why doesn't he take Harry with him right then? Or he could just have gone against Voldemort's orders and killed off the only real threat to Voldemort's power. End of problem, Voldemort rules the world. OK, he might be a bit pissed off that Snape spoiled his fun, but still, he'd rule the world....

Did you also notice that Snape stops Harry from doing the Cruciatus curse - that's one of the Unforgivable Curses - in fact he says that to Harry as he parries away the half-spoken curse. Is this because he needs to ensure that Harry stays "pure", stays "good" and isn't sullied by the speaking of a Dark curse? [It occurs to me that this might also be why he's so angry with Harry for using Sectumsempera (which he describes as being Dark magic) on Malfoy - as well as, because, you know, he nearly sliced him open!]

And his mighty over-reaction in the chase to the school gates when Harry calls him a coward - he goes nuts! I think Snape truly dislikes Harry - can't get over what Harry's dad and his mates did to him at school - so imagine how he would feel if this upstart kid - whom he has sworn to protect at all costs - including just murdering his good friend Dumbledore for the greater good - just called him a coward when actually he's nothing of the sort. No wonder he freaks out!

And I think Dumbledore is definitely dead (much as I'd like to think otherwise). The fact that the Freezing Charm lifted from Harry once Dumbledore fell, and that Fawkes sang the lament and then flew away, makes me think that. Although, Harry does think he sees a phoenix rising from Dumbledore's funeral pyre, so maybe........ we shall see.

I think from a plot/storyline point of view, Dumbledore had to die - it is the classic Merlin/Arthur, Gandalf/Frodo pattern, isn't it? Wizard/mentor/father-figure teaches star pupil all he can, and then has to die off so that the boy hero can become a man and fulfil his destiny. (As far as Frodo is concerned, Gandalf is dead, so that still fits, even though G is resurrected.) In the end, Harry has to do it by himself. The fact that (if I'm right) Snape will help him somehow, which slightly spoils the classic storyline, is mitigated by the fact that Snape and Harry truly dislike each other, and that Snape can in no way be seen to be playing the father-figure/mentor role.

Interesting that Hogwarts may close next year, which means that Ron and Hermione are free to go with Harry on his quest with no regrets (which Hermione might otherwise have had) and that we have no regrets about missing school either, because there is no school. I also agree that Ginny isn't going to get pushed away quite so easily. It's a crap argument anyway – “I can't love you because then you'll be a target for Voldemort" I mean, Harry loves Ron and Hermione as much if not more as he cares for Ginny, so they'll be obvious targets anyway. Mind you, again going back to the "classic storyline" - the hero generally does have to kill the dragon before he wins the fair lady.... But I just think JK spent much of this book building Ginny up into a strong, no-nonsense kind of girl, who in the end won't allow the others to go off into danger without her.

And of course Ron and Hermione will get together. How could they not? She's been building up to that one since book 1!

So there you go. Did I fill a whole page???? I used to love English at school. I had a crush on my English teacher in fact. Sigh.

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