[Show music begins]
Michael Harle: This is Episode 184 of Alohomora! for April 2, 2016.
[Show music continues]
Michael: Welcome back, listeners, to another episode of Alohomora!, MuggleNet.com’s global reread of the Harry Potter series. I’m Michael Harle.
Kat Miller: I’m Kat Miller.
Alison Siggard: And I’m Alison Siggard, and our guest this week is Krystina! Welcome, Krystina!
Krystina Furst: Hey, guys!
Alison: Tell us a little about yourself.
Krystina: Well, my name is Krystina. I’ve been following the show since the beginning so I’m finally excited to be here. I got into Harry Potter because of my grandparents; they got me a book for Christmas, unknowing that it was actually the second book in the series…
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Krystina: … and I tried to start reading it, and I just could not get into it. It’s really hard to get into the second book of a series.
Krystina: But thankfully, my mother, she realized this, and about six months later she was like, “Let’s try it again. I’ve got the audiobooks.” So that was how I got started; [it] was with the audiobooks, which are absolutely amazing, of course.
Krystina: And that is actually how my family did the whole new book thing. When we went to go get new books at midnight, we unfortunately — at least according to me, unfortunately – had to get the audiobook, which meant that everybody in the family had to be in the same room at the same time so we could listen to it together.
Kat: Oh, no.
Michael: That sounds really nice, actually.
Kat: I mean, it does, but it also sounds terrible.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Krystina: Right. I’ll admit there were a couple times where I jumped ahead and took the tapes and listened to them in my room, and then reset everything back to where it was.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Krystina: Because I just had to know what was going on, right?
Michael: Oh, that’s right; you would’ve had to reset it because you were using cassette tapes.
Krystina: Oh, yeah.
Krystina: But anyway, I was at that perfect age — I was 17 when the seventh book came out — so it was just perfect timing that way. House-wise, I’ll say I’m a Ravenpuff.
Krystina: Though, if somebody actually asks me, I’ll tell them I am a Hufflepuff because that was what I was originally Sorted into. But I got through all the Pottermore content, and then it was a long time and I forgot my password and everything…
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Krystina: … so I signed up for a new account. And before I know it, I’m Sorted into Ravenclaw, and I’m having an identity crisis.
Kat: I think the first one counts. I feel like Pottermore knows that you forgot your password and everything, so it’s thrown you for a loop.
[Alison and Krystina laugh]
Kat: Go Hufflepuff.
Michael: That’s always so funny to me because I figure that people can take it multiple times, and I’m like, “Just go for two out of three and see what breaks the tie.”
Kat: Yeah, there you go.
Krystina: I’m afraid because what if they tell me I’m Ravenclaw, and I’ve been thinking all this time, “I’m a Hufflepuff”? So…
Michael: I have heard people who were scared of that, for sure.
Michael: That’s funny, too because I held onto my log-in like nobody’s business.
Michael: I printed out that certificate when the old Pottermore ended, and I was like, “I will have this forever.”
Kat: I did, too.
Michael: I know what I am.
Kat: Well, my username was — to me — perfection. It had “Firebolt” and then it was “Key” like the first book and Gringotts and all that…
Michael: Oh, nice.
Kat: … and then the number seven.
Kat: It doesn’t get any more… “FireboltKey7.” I don’t know.
Krystina: Aw, man.
Kat: That’s a perfect username, in my opinion. Actually, “AccioFirebolt24” would’ve been my perfect username, but I’m happy with mine so it’s okay.
[Alison and Krystina laugh]
Michael: I got “WolfsbaneEcho79” and I was so excited because it had “wolf” in it.
[Krystina and Michael laugh]
Kat: Nice. I do remember that, actually.
Alison: I got… yeah, “SeekerSpell” and I was like, “Seeker. I’m good with this.” [laughs]
Kat: Nice. I have one very important question for you, Krystina.
Kat: Are you a Snape fan?
Krystina: I don’t think so. I don’t think I would classify myself as a Snape fan.
Michael: Uh oh!
Alison: Oh, dear. We are in trouble!
Kat: Well, listeners, this is going to be a rough episode for you, then.
Krystina: I would say I’m not necessarily… I wouldn’t say Snape is a good person or a bad… he’s so complicated. And I’m not sure how… I still have troubles trying to decide how I feel about him.
Krystina: He did some really horrible things, but he also helped out a lot. So yeah.
Michael: What an excellent way into segueing…
Michael: … as to remind the listeners that in this episode we will be examining Snape at length. This is basically the episode you’ve been waiting for all these episodes. We will be covering Chapter 33 of Deathly Hallows, “The Prince’s Tale,” today. So make sure and read the chapter — as if you haven’t reread it a million times already in preparation — before you listen to our discussion today, listeners.
Alison: And before we get into that discussion, even though you guys wanted to jump the gun this week on the comments…
Alison: Everyone wanted to talk about Snape. So here’s what happened: I said we’re going to leave Snape for this week, so gather all of those thoughts and discussions you guys were having and comment on this week.
Alison: Because I have a feeling some of you will be very upset with our views.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: But here we go. So into our comments for this week, our first one comes from Skgai, who says,
“I was really hoping there would be discussion about the Shrieking Shack. Why, oh why, are we back here in this moment? Voldemort chose a dilapidated log cabin in the middle of nowhere as Central Command? Really? This is such an odd choice.”
And this is followed up by a comment by… oh, my goodness.
Alison: Thank you. I’m just going to let Michael say that…
Alison: … who followed up and said,
“Why did JO choose the Shrieking Shack? To me, I think it is a delicious and heartbreaking irony that Snape should die in that building. The same building that he almost died in 20 years ago, lured there to see a werewolf in the flesh. The same building he’s already had to re-confront his demons at the end of Prisoner. The same building Remus has gone through his violent monthly transformations as a child. Narratively, I think this is a very appropriate setting for the very violent and bloody death that Snape experiences.”
So I know I said no Snape…
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: … but this idea of the Shrieking Shack, especially from a narrative point of view: What do we think?
Michael: I always thought the Shack was an interesting choice because Voldemort has no attachment to it whatsoever. It means nothing to him and it was… I’m never really clear on… I don’t think the Shack was… That’s the hard part because I don’t know if the books clarified this definitively. The Shack wasn’t built for Lupin, right?
Michael: But it was just repurposed for Lupin.
Kat: Correct, yes.
Michael: Okay, so the Shack might’ve been there when Voldemort was at school, but other than knowing that it’s… maybe that’s just it; [it’s] that he went to Hogsmeade back when he was a kid, and he knew that it was abandoned and it was just… if we’re looking at why Voldemort picked it, that’s the only reason I could imagine because, again, he has no personal — as far as I’m aware — attachment to the Shack. It does really seem to be more of a poetic thing for Snape’s stuff.
Krystina: I’ve always just thought of it as a convenient location. I mean, there was nobody living there already. There was a secret tunnel to the Hogwarts grounds if you wanted to get there that way, and it just seemed like it was a nice location and easy to get to, but out of the way so what was happening at Hogwarts… Voldemort could stay out of the way of that.
Kat: Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking. I was just going to say that I think it’s partly convenience. He can be on Hogwarts grounds, which he knows is where he has to be because he knows that’s where Harry is, but without actually stepping foot in the castle because I think that he’s very aware of the fact that, sure, he’ll probably go in there and pummel everybody, but as he said, he doesn’t really want to spill any magical blood. So I think he’s trying to stay out of the fray as long as possible. And also, I think all the issues that he’s having with his wand… I know that he knows he’s unbeatable, but he’s also a pretty insecure guy, and if you get two, three, well, a thousand people…
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: … coming at him at once, who knows what could possibly happen? So I think it’s a little bit of self-preservation as well.
Alison: That makes sense to me, too. That it’s… until, at least, he knows that the Elder Wand will work for him perfectly, he’s not going to take that chance. He’s not much of a risk-taker, I don’t think, in some ways.
Kat: No. I also always wondered why he didn’t just go into the Room of Requirement.
Michael: Mm, yeah.
Kat: I mean, he knows it’s there. He thinks nobody else knows it’s there.
Alison: Well, but he doesn’t know there’s an outside entrance to the room, right? He thinks he has to get through the castle.
Krystina: Right, he’d have to walk through the school at that point to get there.
Kat: I suppose, but I’m pretty sure like Dumbledore, he can make himself invisible.
Alison: Oh, yeah, that’s a good point.
Michael: Well, plus, he is concerned… he knows at this point that Harry is hunting down Horcruxes, so he’s probably concerned that Harry would see him go in there.
Michael: He probably doesn’t want to go near the room because that’s giving away the hiding spot, potentially. Obviously, because in this case unlike in the movies, he doesn’t know that Harry has already destroyed it by this point.
Michael: The other thing I was thinking, too… because this is such a good question because of what happened in the movies because the movies chose to relocate this scene to the boathouse of Hogwarts…
Michael: … and Heyman and Yates said that they mostly made that choice because they thought it was really aesthetically pleasing. It also had no real heft or weight behind it because we never see the boathouse in the movies.
Michael: But they said they really liked the… because they had already set up the boathouse, and you see it in previous films, but you don’t actually get to be in it. But they liked that setup being really small and intimate and they liked the glass windows.
Kat: I was going to say, it’s all about the glass windows, really.
Kat: Because otherwise… they couldn’t do the Shrieking Shack because Harry would have had to be in a tunnel, [and] he’s wearing the Invisibility Cloak so basically you’d be looking at nothing. They had to change it for the movie. The convenience of those glass windows is that they could just see Snape die from the outside. It’s brilliant.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Well, and really, why would they do the Shrieking Shack in the movies when we’ve removed the Marauders’ story?
Alison: Yeah, that’s true.
Michael: And that Shack has almost no… The Shack is a really great set piece in the movie. It’s one of my favorite set pieces from Prisoner. It was so creatively done. But at the same time, it doesn’t have any narrative weight at all.
Alison: I do think, though… it’s an interesting thing to bring up that Snape almost died there before, and that this is really… he has that connection.
Alison: Okay, he could have died there. Not almost.
Kat: Could have. I mean, he didn’t even make it past the Whomping Willow, so…
Michael: Yeah, but certainly the idea that – and we’ll get much more into this in our discussion this week – the idea that Snape can never get out of the shadow of his past and the things that just hovered over him like a cloud, and the Marauders were that in a big way.
Kat: For sure.
Alison: Our next comment comes from Jaye Dozier, who says:
”On the topic of Voldemort feeling emotion, Rowling has made it very clear that Voldemort being born under a love potion does not affect his ability to feel love or by birth make him a sociopath. In her Year in the Life documentary, Rowling says, “To me, ‘human’ includes the capacity to love, and Voldemort deliberately dehumanized himself. Therefore, Voldemort’s apparent inability to love was all a very conscious choice on his part.’”
And from here, this comment goes on to discuss another interview where she talks about how his conception under a love spell is more symbolic. And then it says,
“I think this is a really important distinction because it follows one of the greatest themes throughout the Harry Potter series – it is not our circumstances, but our choices, that make us who we are. If Voldemort had automatically been born with a defect, we wouldn’t be able to adequately compare him and Harry. However, since they were both born – and somewhat raised – in equal circumstances, their choices alone define their character. Without this fact, the story goes against one of its basic and most powerful arguments – a love potion wasn’t responsible for Voldemort’s evil nature; he, alone, was.”
Michael: I’m glad Rowling clarified that outside of the narrative because I think that’s a point that’s really nicely left up to interpretation in the books. And I prefer her explanation because it does open that up; it continues the story’s theme about choices. Because we had some pretty extensive conversations about this in Half-Blood Prince, if Voldemort was just born with an inability to love because of the circumstances. But I would much prefer to think that that’s not the case because Voldemort’s choices throughout life are so important. He’s meant to be… We don’t compare Harry and Voldemort just because they share a piece of soul. I think it’s because Harry, throughout his story, has the potential to be Voldemort and he chooses not to be.
Alison: Yeah, and I think that’s really where you make those comparisons before we knew that Harry was a Horcrux. I think that’s really where you could draw that from. Our last comment today comes from IlvermornyAlumna, who is previously RoseLumos, who says,
”One of my favorite little moments in this chapter is when Hermione attempts to save Lavender. We know that last year Hermione couldn’t stand her because she was so obsessed with Ron. However, I love that Hermione is mature enough to realize that the petty high school feud is just that – a disagreement between [two] teenage girls about a boy. This war is about life and death, and Hermione is not going to let that little issue get between her and Lavender’s life. In spite of everything, I think Hermione still recognizes Lavender as a friend – or at least as a roommate and classmate – and knows that she really is a good person. To me, this little moment is Hermione putting any minor issues between them aside. I know that if I look back, there are a lot of people in high school that I didn’t particularly like, but if I had to choose to save their life, I would.”
And the big thing that hit me during this, while reading this comment, was [that] there’s a strong comparison here to Snape and James, and going back to the idea of choices and the choices you make. And then, I guess, in this situation you can also compare Ron and Lily.
Kat: Right. I agree with this comment, and then also disagree with this comment, mostly because I think that they weren’t ever feuding. I think that Hermione was dealing with things inside of herself, and that led her to be jealous of Lavender. I don’t think that she ever hated her or disliked her or was feuding with her in any way. I think Hermione, in those moments, was feuding with herself and coming to terms with the way that she felt about Ron, and that is where that feeling of the high school feud came from. But I honestly don’t think that was ever a thing. I never, for once, expected Hermione to not save anybody, feud or not aside.
Krystina: Right, and they’ve been living together in the same room for six years, and they’ve had those experiences behind the scenes that we probably never saw. And they’re probably at least somewhat friendly. So even though there might have been some dislike toward Lavender while she was with Ron, it was also, in a way, more of an issue with Ron not seeing Hermione that way, too.
Kat: That’s funny; you forget that Lavender was Hermione’s roommate.
Krystina and Michael: Yeah.
Kat: You forget about that. That’s a very good point.
Michael: Because as far as we see on the page, Hermione doesn’t really have much of a particular bond with the girls in her year because Parvati and Lavender go off and do their own thing most of the time.
Kat: Hermione is the Neville of the girls’ dorm.
Krystina: Aw. That’s true.
Michael: Kind of, yeah.
Kat: Well, you have Harry and Ron and then you have Dean and Seamus. So…
Michael: And Dean and Seamus are represented by those two unknown girls in that year, the ones who are hinted at but we never knew about. There are potentially two other girls there. Like Krystina said, I would actually agree – and I agree with you, Kat, too – that I think it was a mix of those things. I think it was… Interestingly, when reflecting back on it, Hermione’s feud really isn’t with Lavender. Like you said, Kat, it’s with herself. And as you said, Krystina, I think her anger is way more targeted at Ron than it is at Lavender. She doesn’t really show much. I think the only thing she doesn’t much care for as far as Lavender goes is the fact that Ron, in that moment, chose Lavender because Lavender isn’t very interesting to Hermione. In the interactions we have seen between the two of them, Hermione disdains Lavender’s airheadedness.
Kat: Her fluffy, pink personality.
Kat: That really is what it comes down to.
Michael: Yeah. I think the popular scene to cite is Prisoner with Lavender’s dead bunny, Where Hermione is just like, [as Hermione] “No, that’s not why your bunny died…” [back to normal voice] She just cannot understand how the whole school thinks that Trelawney made this profound prediction about her bunny. [laughs] I think she’s disappointed in Ron for picking somebody who’s perhaps not as intellectually challenging as she herself is.
Kat: Which is great because it speaks to Hermione thinking that Ron deserves that, which is cute.
Michael: And, too, Alison, you were comparing this situation to other characters. I think it’s easy, too… and we talked about this last week, about the trio saving Malfoy and Goyle and why they would do that. It’s because they have… and some people said in the comments, “It’s their ‘saving people thing.’” But also, these three are inherently good people, and in times like war – in extreme situations – they don’t really care about the petty stuff. Harry can even put aside his petty issues with Malfoy to save his life.
Kat: Ron can’t because he punches that boy in the face. [laughs]
Michael: Well, he still helped save his life. But yeah, he totally deserved to be punished. You can still save somebody’s life and want to punch them in the face.
Kat: No, oh, I know.
Alison: Am I the only one who’s seeing this comparison? I don’t know. I’m seeing Hermione almost [having] the potential to be like Snape is with Lily, where they’re friends and it’s obvious she likes him from Book 2. This idea of… Anyway, I guess we can get there later. But I may be the only one who’s seeing this, but that’s fine. [laughs]
Kat: You’ll have to explain it a bit more, I think.
Kat: Once there’s context.
Alison: Yeah. I’ll do that later then. Anyway… [laughs] Thank you so much for all of your comments this week, everyone. There were a lot of really good conversations going on so head on over to alohomora.mugglenet.com to go check them all out.
Michael: Yeah, I was looking through them last night and as I was looking, there were people I saw…
Michael: … there was… Disqus was informing me that people were literally writing comments as I was looking at them, so yeah, last week’s discussion was pretty good.
Kat: So I guess we’ll move on to the Podcast Question of the Week responses. Of course, from last week as well. As a reminder of the question, it is, ”In their final encounter, Snape continually insists to Voldemort to let him go and find Harry. We will discover in the next chapter,” the one we’re discussing this week, “the breadth of Snape’s knowledge of what Harry has to do, which clarifies that the transfer of the Elder Wand’s power is not something he is aware of; with that in mind, and knowing what information Snape bequeaths to Harry via his memories, what was his plan? Was his intention to seek Harry out, or relay the information another way? Does Snape know that, regardless of his course of action, he would be as much a pig for slaughter as Harry?” [sighs]
Kat: Okay, guys. We’re going to be… this is going to be a little bit of a Snape-y conversation.
Alison: “Snape-y.” [laughs]
Kat: It’s a verb now.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: So we got a lot of comments – as you could imagine – and there [are] a couple here… Okay, I’m just going to read them. The first one here comes from SlytherinBookworm. It says,
“Snape was a very smart wizard and I think he knows that his fate is not so different from Harry’s. As a double spy, his life is always in jeopardy. Voldemort could learn the truth at any time, someone might decide to take out revenge on him for [D]umbledore’s death or he could just get hit by stray curse, it is a war after all. I don’t think he was quite ready for THIS to be the moment though. Obviously, he still needed to find Harry. But I think he had perhaps already come to terms with the fact that he would most likely not make it through the end of the war. He made a promise to protect Lily’s son and he did as far as he could. But I think in Snape’s mind, because ultimately he could NOT save her son from death, his only recourse to find redemption [to] relieve his own guilt over her death, was to give his own life in the fight against Voldemort. This [kind of] reminds me of how the Vikings preferred to die in battle so that they could gain entry into Valhalla. It was the only way to die with honor and so Snape feels he must die in the fight against Voldemort to redeem his soul.”
Kat: Heavy one. I know.
Kat: It’s heavy. So I’m going to lob that one to you guys.
Michael: Hmm. I mean, that’s the only way I can really reconcile as I read through it, why Snape is ready to die.
Michael: He strikes me as a man who, at that point in his life, really has nothing to live for other than his mission to protect Harry for Lily, strictly for Lily, as we will see in the next chapter.
Alison: I’m not quite sure about him feeling like the only way for him to die, that he’d feel redemption for, is in fighting Voldemort. I think Michael is right; he just doesn’t care anymore and I don’t think he has cared for a long time, and I think he could have died in any way at any point during that and it wouldn’t have mattered.
Michael: Yeah, I agree with the part of the comment that said that he’s not ready… he doesn’t know if this… I would agree that he didn’t necessarily think that… there’s no ideal moment, I suppose, to die. Harry gets one because he’s Harry, but I don’t think Snape maybe saw this as the moment, especially because he still needed to relay that information to Harry.
Alison: And also, it’s such a strange interaction between Voldemort and Snape, compared to the other ones we’ve seen where Voldemort is listening to Snape [and] treating him as more of a… I wouldn’t say complete equal, but more of an equal than he does other Death Eaters.
Alison: And at this moment, being very… oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Not patronizing, but something along those lines, where he’s definitely making the distinction in Voldemort’s mind that Voldemort is higher on the hierarchy than Snape is and that Snape is below him. And that’s a very strange interaction, I think, for Snape at this point, and I think that might throw him off guard a little bit.
Kat: I think that maybe the next comment will help inform our discussion a little bit here. It’s from GrangerDanger. Awesome username.
Krystina: [singing] “This could be…” [imitates drum solo]
Kat: Nice. [laughs] Okay, the comment says,
“I don’t think Snape was too worried about his fate. He was ready to finish the job he started. I think he knew that there was a strong chance that he wouldn’t make it to the morning after the battle. However, I think [that] he was fearful when he knew Voldemort wasn’t falling for his mask anymore. He ha[d] been around Voldemort long enough to know when Voldemort ha[d] let time run out for someone. So, he was crafting a plan while Voldemort was getting ready to kill him, and using the idea of going to find Harry as a distraction for more time to think things through (or maybe get out of the situation). I believe it worked out for the best – the memories gave him the edge needed for Harry to ultimately believe him.”
And the commenter goes on… just leaves a little note that says,
“(Not meaning I wanted Snape to die, but I think the memories were his best option.) Snape may have even been planning to give Harry the memories in person. I think the memories were the only way for Harry to truly believe him. Harry knew that Dumbledore trusted Snape, but at this point, after Snape killing Dumbledore, I don’t know if that would [have been] enough for Harry to believe him. Snape is a skilled wizard and would have known the power of the Pensieve. He also knew that he and Harry [would] never see eye to eye and his word alone probably wouldn’t be good enough. I think the memories were his plan all along and Dumbledore may have [had] something to do with that idea…”
Michael: I like that comment…
Alison: Ooh, yeah.
Michael: … because that’s what I’ve been wondering, that whole… that’s always… that was where this question came from, for me, because we had talked about that. To me, it was like Snape wasn’t going to… if Voldemort had let him go, he wasn’t just going to go waltzing around Hogwarts and then go up to Harry and be like, [as Snape] “Hello. I was in love with your mother, and that’s why I’m a good person.”
Michael: “Now, you be a good little boy and go to the forest and get yourself killed. Do not stop. Do not pass go.”
Kat and Michael: “Do not collect $200.”
Kat: So wait, before… Okay, then I feel like before we continue discussing this then, I really want to read our last comment…
Kat: … because I think that it fits into everything we’re talking about right now, and it’s from Jaye Dozier, again. It says,
“I wonder if Snape would send the doe [P]atronus again to find Harry and bring him to a secluded place (since Harry already trusts the [P]atronus), where the [P]ensieve would be waiting – most likely in Dumbledore’s office or an empty classroom. Perhaps the doe would even speak like McGonagall’s had, telling Harry to follow for important information in his defeat of Voldemort (since we all know he would be reckless and curious enough to follow, especially since he knows the doe has helped once already). There, Harry would see the memories, and then Snape could perhaps be standing there when he arises from the basin to explain things further, having already gained his trust. This seems more likely to me than anything else, because it would get Harry to hear Snape out first via the memories, if you will, before immediately distrusting him. If this plan was to succeed however, he would need to get away from Voldemort to cast the [P]atronus and open/replace the [P]ensieve into the desired location.”
I thought that was brilliant. So… just saying.
Alison: That is brilliant, besides the creepy picture in my head now of Harry popping up from the Pensieve and Snape just being standing there in the corner creepily, but…
Alison: … because that’s creepy. But yeah, that’s brilliant.
Krystina: Yeah, at this point in time I agree that Harry would not sit still. I don’t think he would take too kindly to seeing Snape in person and just him handing over the memories in a normal situation, so I think this doe Patronus idea is a great idea. Yeah, to get Harry the memories that he needs and that information that he needs but not do it… or to do it in a way that he can see everything without Snape actually having to disclose that information to him personally.
Michael: Yeah, this seems actually like it could have potentially been what Snape’s plan was because when Harry goes to the headmaster’s office in this next chapter, the Pensieve is waiting on the desk, so…
Michael: And it would seem, based on what Snape does, he did by… I mean, he didn’t… What’s interesting is that while the Pensieve was on the desk, Snape didn’t already have his memories prepped to go in something for Harry to take with him. He didn’t have them in a flask already. Harry had to take them from him, and it was just lucky happenstance that Harry happened to be in that same area. I don’t know if Snape would have put them… I hesitate to think what would have happened if Harry hadn’t shown up at the point when Snape died because… I don’t know. Those memories, I guess, would be lost to time. So it all worked out fortunately, except for Snape, obviously.
[Alison and Krystina laugh]
Michael: He dead. [laughs] But yeah, no, I think that’s a really good idea because the doe still hadn’t necessarily been answered by that point anyway.
Kat: And Harry definitely would have followed it and trusted it wholeheartedly.
Alison: Oh, yeah.
Kat: Without hesitation.
Michael: Mhm. Oh, yeah. For sure.
Kat: I was just wondering… I think Snape… There [were] actually a lot of comments this week about whether Snape pre-picked those specific memories.
Michael: I think he did, based on what we’re going to see in the next chapter and how it’s constructed.
Kat: We actually have a whole comment about that that we’re going to talk about on the app. So if you guys have the app, definitely be sure to check that out this week. But for now, that is the end of our Podcast Question of the Week responses from last week. Definitely head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com and keep the Snape-y conversation going. I feel like this is just the tip of a very giant, Titanic-sized iceberg. Pun intended.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: And before we jump into this Snape-y discussion that’s going to go on for quite a while…
Alison: … we’d like to remind you that this episode is sponsored by Shanna Reimer on Patreon. And you, too can sponsor an episode for us. Thank you so much, Shanna. You are amazing.
Michael: Woo, Shanna!
Kat: Thank you!
Alison: Yay! And if you, too would like to sponsor us, you can do it for as little as $1 a month. Our post-Hallows plans were released a little while ago, so if you want to get the scoop on that, head on over and become a Patreon sponsor. You can click on the link on our main page at alohomora.mugglenet.com. And thank you again so much, Shanna. We appreciate it.
[Alison and Kat applaud]
Michael: All right, listeners, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. This is it: Chapter 33 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 33 intro begins]
Snape: Expecto Patronum!
[Sound of spell being cast]
Snape: Chapter 33.
Dumbledore: After all this time?
Snape: “The Prince’s Tale.” Always.
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 33 intro ends]
Michael: As Severus Snape lies dead before them, the trio hears Voldemort proclaim that Harry has one hour left to give himself up, or battle will recommence with the Dark Lord joining the fray. Returning to Hogwarts, the trio finds their comrades mourning the dead in the Great Hall, Lupin and Tonks now among the fallen. Feeling these deaths are on his hands, Harry retreats to the headmaster’s office to find the Pensieve waiting for him. Not wasting a moment, Harry retreats into Snape’s memories, revealing some of the most crucial information in the Harry Potter series: that Snape and Lily shared a friendship, a friendship that destroyed Lily’s sisterly bond with Petunia; that Harry is bound to Voldemort as a Horcrux and must die by his hand; that Snape was indeed Dumbledore’s trusted spy; and that Dumbledore placed his trust within him because Snape loved Lily “always.” So before we get into that, we do have a few notes about… a few pre-Snape notes. Because for just a little bit in this chapter, we are not in Snape’s head; we do return to Hogwarts. And actually, there was a great comment from one of our listeners that ties into one of the lines as the trio returns to Hogwarts and they see bodies littered everywhere. They see evidence that Grawp had quite a scuffle with another giant, and they go inside to the main entrance and the narration says, “Emeralds were still scattered all over the floor.” And one of our long-time commenters and listeners, ThatTimeRemusWadiwasiedVoldemort – which would have been a great way for the series to end…
Michael: … left us a comment saying, in relation to a lot of discussion we’ve had about Rowling’s post-book comment that the Slytherins came back – not just Slughorn, but the Slytherins as a whole came back – but ThatTimeRemusWadiWasiedVoldemort said,
“If we use supporting evidence elsewhere in the text, it all seems to point us towards the notion that there really aren’t any Slytherins on the Hogwarts side of this. Even the Slytherin House points hourglass is broken while the others are not. I can’t help but see it as a metaphor for the relationship between Slytherin and the other three Houses. Slytherin is just marked as bad all over the place, and Jo never takes the opportunity to give us the impression that any of the Slytherin students fought for Hogwarts.”
The reason I wanted to highlight this comment and this line because this line did strike me in the [re]read, and it has struck me before while reading this chapter. It’s almost like… to me, the idea that the Slytherins did come back post the confrontation and helped really does take away from the powerful imagery of this line of the emeralds. And I was wondering how you guys felt about that, perhaps, little bit of a retcon on Rowling’s part.
Alison: I actually think I’m going to disagree with what it means from this commenter. I think it can be seen more as saying [that] the old way that we saw Slytherin – the old way Slytherin acted maybe as a House – is now broken, that it’s going to change. That this old perception of them, maybe a perception that a lot of them lived up to, is now shattered because they’re back, they’re going to help, [and] things are going to change. That’s my symbolic disagreement for it. My practical disagreement for it is emeralds would show up better on a stone floor, so they’d be more visually appealing to see. [laughs]
Michael: I don’t know; rubies would look pretty good, though because they kind of…
Alison: But the line before that says there’s blood. So she’s already talked about the blood and the red on the floor in the line before this.
Michael: What are Ravenclaw’s gems?
Alison and Kat: Sapphire.
Michael: Sapphire, okay.
Alison: And Hufflepuff is diamonds.
Michael: Diamonds, yeah. Hmm… that’s an interesting way to interpret the line because personally, I still don’t see it that way just because I see the blood as representing everybody else; everybody who’s fought on the side of Hogwarts. Obviously, there’s probably other people’s blood mingled in there from the baddies, but that’s how I’ve always seen that imagery.
Kat: Yeah, I’m with you, Michael, on that one. Wholeheartedly.
Michael: Yeah. It just seems like it’s a really powerful image and other than… a powerful piece of metaphor. And Alison, I think that’s great, the idea that maybe it can be turned another way. I guess the hard part with that for me is that we don’t really… the ways that we see Slytherin turn aren’t really as a whole House united in turning against Voldemort so much as individuals who make choices from Slytherin House to turn against Voldemort.
Kat: I’m one of those people… I love everything that Jo puts out after the fact. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that everything Jo says is canon, as long as it doesn’t contradict anything in the seven novels. And this, for me, is one of the biggest things that… I have a really hard time with Jo’s comment that all the Slytherins came back because I feel like she’s just saying that to placate all the angry Slytherins.
Alison: Has she said all of them come back, though? I don’t remember her ever saying “all of them.” I thought that she said there are some that came back.
Michael: Well, she just says that a good… yeah, a good chunk comes back.
Krystina: I couldn’t picture Pansy coming back…
[Krystina and Michael laugh]
Alison: No, there are definitely some that… that’s just a thing. There are kids of Death Eaters that we know of already. They’re not coming back. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah, for sure.
Alison: They’re not coming back for that reason…
Kat: I guess I just need… and listen, I like to say that I’m 49% Slytherin, so Slytherins out there, don’t get mad at me. I just feel like you have to own up to what the Slytherins have been in the Harry Potter series.
Kat: They’ve been terrible, they’ve been bad, and so they don’t come back.
Kat: That’s it. They don’t come back. That doesn’t mean that all Slytherins suck.
Kat: It doesn’t mean that they used to suck or that they’re going to suck in the future; it means that the Slytherins that Harry knew at Hogwarts during his time sucked. That’s it. Don’t read into it.
Michael: That’s a good point. [laughs]
Kat: They don’t come back.
Michael: Well, and I like, too that the reason that the Slytherins who may have wanted to stay and defend the castle may have had so many reasons for not doing so that made sense: the idea that their families were already entwined with Voldemort’s cause, that they knew people who knew people, and that the fear was just too much. That’s not unreasonable.
Kat: No, for sure. And for all we know, maybe there is a Ravenclaw person whose dad is a Death Eater. We don’t know.
Kat: So maybe they left, too. I mean, we have no idea.
Michael: Yeah, for sure. And as we saw, there were some other members of Houses who didn’t do very noble things during the Battle of Hogwarts.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Still looking at you…
Kat and Michael: Zacharias Smith.
Alison: A stain of Hufflepuff House.
Michael: I know Noah is writing his fan fiction about him, but no.
Michael: So of course, we come to the moment when we pass the emeralds and blood littering the floor, and we enter the Great Hall and there are bodies. And we already sadly see the Weasleys mourning over Fred. And just down the way from them – [laughs] the thing that made me throw a Harry Potter book across the room, the only time I have ever thrown a Harry Potter book – Remus and Tonks have passed away in battle.
Alison: This is the second time I almost didn’t finish this book, two pages after I almost didn’t finish it the first time.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: I put it back down and I was like, “She’s going to kill everybody. I can’t do it. Nope.”
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: And I’m with you, Michael. I slid across the room and was just like, “Nope. Nope.”
Michael: And my mistake, too, was that I thought he would… I read this line before I got to this chapter because I wanted to check and see if Lupin made it, and I actually just… the universe made me flip to this page. I found it, and before I’d even read the chapter, and I was so upset I threw it across the room and didn’t read it for the rest of the night. And of course, we will find out later that Teddy is well cared for and well raised, and that Remus and Tonks, in the [literary] sense died for Rowling because she wanted to have some parents die, and she chose…
Michael: Continuity, yes.
Kat: Circle theory. All of the above.
Krystina: I was saddened by these deaths, but I wasn’t surprised. Tonks is an Auror and Remus was going to put everything he could into this fight, so I really wasn’t all that surprised it happened. I was upset, but I expected it, actually.
Michael: It’s funny; I think the reason I was surprised… and Pottermore clarified why I shouldn’t have been. And maybe it is because Lupin has been off-screen for so long, so we didn’t really get a proper sense of what he had been like through the years since Prisoner. We saw him every once in a while, but I always saw Lupin as an exceptionally powerful wizard, and I thought that would get him through the battle because he does teach Harry very powerful magic and he’s shown to be very talented at magic. And so I thought that might help him, but apparently, as Pottermore said, he hadn’t been fighting for a while. His senses were dulled and that’s what took him out. He died against Dolohov, who is I think later taken out by Flitwick, and Tonks, sadly, was killed by Bellatrix, so Bellatrix got what she wanted as far as that went.
Michael: So that’s sad, but…
Kat: It’s funny you bring up Flitwick because I just had a giggle to myself. He has such an advantage that he’s so tiny that most spells probably go right over his head
[Alison, Krystina, and Michael laugh]
Alison: Oh my gosh.
Michael: Well, I would hope that people… Yeah, I suppose if you’re weaving through battle, then…
Kat: Well, that’s what I mean. He’s not going to get hit most likely by an aimed spell.
Michael: By stray curses, yeah, that’s true.
Alison: Oh, gosh.
Kat: I just had a giggle to myself. Sorry.
Michael: But I guess…
Kat: Totally inappropriate. Yeah, Remus, Tonks, sad, right.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Well, and I guess the reason it bothered me, too, for a long time is that they’re just written off with one line.
Michael: It’s like, “and they were dead, too.” [laughs] So that was a bit of a shock for me.
Alison: I think the way they did it in the movie, then, is really nice because you have the deleted scene, of course, but even when Harry sees them and their hands are almost touching, and that’s just…
Kat: No, Harry is not there. That’s just a cutaway moment.
Alison: Oh. Wait, what?
Kat: Harry is not there. Harry is not there.
Alison: No, when he sees them dead? In the movie?
Kat: Oh, when he sees them dead. I thought you were talking about that terrible scene when they extend their arms toward each other.
Alison: No. That one’s the deleted scene, isn’t it? Am I…?
Kat: No, the reaching the hand is in the movie. It’s when they actually hug and talk to each other that’s deleted.
Michael: Yes. That’s correct.
Alison: Oh. Why did I get it confused? Anyway…
Michael: Because they have the reaching of the hands; [it’s] like they tried to do a motif of that…
Michael: … of people not being able to connect with each other and during the battle. But Harry, in his utter shock and bewilderment of all of these deaths, cannot bring himself to mourn with everybody and runs off upstairs to the headmaster’s office. Interestingly – I was thinking about this – Harry just says the first thing that comes to his mind for a password; it’s “Dumbledore.” So ostensibly, Snape set this password, correct?
Alison: Yeah, I would assume so.
Kat: Seemingly. Yep.
Michael: Nice. I thought that was interesting because we’re going to… I want to talk later [further] down about Snape and Dumbledore’s relationship and I was wondering, even just setting the password, how that speaks to it. I suppose, when you think about it, that’s not a password that you imagine anybody would guess to get into Snape’s office, so I suppose…
Kat: And also, it’s a gargoyle, right?
Kat: Yeah. I have a feeling that Snape would probably just be like, “Whatever Harry shouts, let him up here.”
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: I’m pretty sure that the gargoyle can talk back to Harry.
Kat: So it’s sentient, in some form of sentience. So…
Michael: Just instruct it to take whatever.
Alison: I take it that the Carrows never came up to Snape’s office then because that would be rather interesting for them to have to say, “Dumbledore,” in order to get up to see Snape in the headmaster’s office.
Kat: Well, this also could have been a very recent development because if you remember what was happening earlier in the day, I feel like Snape probably knew something was coming and was setting everything up.
Krystina: Yeah, true.
Kat: The fact that the Pensieve was sitting out, that the password is “Dumbledore” if it’s actually really a password. I feel like he was preparing because he knows what Voldemort is doing. So he could have been alerted that Voldemort was going to the castle or that Harry had been seen at the castle. He talks to McGonagall about all of that. So I feel like there was some sort of preparation in that. And I now actually firmly believe that he was going to use the whole Patronus thing to get the word out to Harry.
Kat: I feel like that is so eloquent, [and] beautiful. It’s such an amazing idea.
Alison: Yeah. I wonder, too, if he might have changed it almost as a reminder to himself…
Kat: Oh, possibly.
Alison: … of what he’s supposed to be doing and what the end game is, to keep himself on track.
Michael: That’s a really great way to put it. I wasn’t really sure what the motivation behind it was. I was just thinking it was extra security because nobody would ever guess that, but…
Michael: And speaking of Dumbledore, once Harry gets up to the office, the narration says, “Harry glanced hopelessly at Dumbledore’s deserted frame, which hung directly behind the headmaster’s chair, then turned his back on it.” And I was wondering, had Dumbledore’s portrait been available – had Dumbledore been in the portrait at the time – would it have been a potential resource for Harry at this moment, perhaps, if Harry hadn’t been able to get the memories? Or could it have been an additional resource? Like you guys were saying, if Snape had been there for Harry after the memories were presented to him, could Dumbledore’s portrait have taken that place? Could that have been a resource or would the portrait have maybe even refused to give information to Harry at that point?
Kat: I think it couldn’t have taken the place of Snape and those memories…
Kat: … but it certainly could have filled Harry in a little bit more. Dumbledore’s portrait could have finally given Harry the reason why he trusted him all those years. I feel like, though, it wouldn’t have been as strong as it is through seeing the memories.
Kat: And I’m not sure that Harry would have felt so obligated to go die if he didn’t see those memories and hear the words spoken in the way that they were spoken.
Michael: Yeah, I was wondering that. What is that difference, necessarily, between seeing it from Snape’s memories and hearing it in that conversation, versus just perhaps having Dumbledore tell him that? So with all of that pre-Snape stuff out of the way, it’s time to jump into the real true “Prince’s Tale.” Let’s go into these memories here and examine the past. And before we even get to Snape in these memories, we have two other individuals who we definitely need to discuss who show up here. So we get to see Lily in her young, young days for the first time, and she is using some very interesting underage magic. As we see, she is flying, and she is using her magic to make flowers do weird things. And…
Kat: You know what I love about the swing bit? [It’s] that what child hasn’t been on a swing and jumped off and felt like they were flying?
Michael: What child hasn’t wanted to do…?
Kat: Who hasn’t done that?
Michael: I was hoping, though, that she would do the thing that every kid wants to do where she’d go over the bar.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Oh, yeah, that would’ve been so cool.
Alison: Go all the way around.
Michael: I thought that’s what it was building up toward because that…
Alison: Man, Lily, you just threw away an opportunity. Threw it away.
Michael: Although, the flying was cool. And as a few listeners were pointing out in the comments on previous weeks, people were wondering if that’s maybe something similar to what Harry did. We know in Sorcerer’s Stone when he’s recalling magical moments, and he ends up on the top of the school building and he doesn’t know how he got there, when he’s trying to run off from Dudley.
Kat: Oh, right.
Michael: So I was wondering if that was meant to be a connection between the two of them. Also, people were pondering – even though this is underage magic – if this isn’t somehow the kind of flight that Voldemort and Snape later take advantage of, somehow harness, to fly.
Kat: Hmm. That’s an interesting connection.
Michael: Yeah, since we know that wizards… as Rowling has said, the average wizard can’t fly.
Kat: Right, and also, I guess since you brought up Voldemort/whatever, it made me think about Tom Riddle’s magic and how he could control it a little bit. Because it seems like Lily can control it in this moment.
Alison: Yeah, I was going to say, she seems to have a lot of control over what she can do at this point, which I think has been explained… it’s really unusual.
Alison: And that’s usually the sign of someone who’s really powerful later on.
Kat: Right, because the only other person that we really see who has control over their underage magic is Tom Riddle.
Kat: And I think it’s a really great comparison between the two of them.
Kat: A very subtle one, as well.
Michael: And Snape notes that, when he’s talking to Lily a little later, that he says that she has loads of magic, and that he’s observed it when he’s been watching them. So even Snape, in his young age, seems to think that Lily is pretty exceptional in her wizardry talents at that age. Which is sad, because I guess that also goes with the whole idea of Lily being… or this idea that there was un-lived potential from Lily that we never really got to see her mature into. Who knows what kind of things she could have done? But perhaps…
Kat: Like that amazing fish that wasn’t in the book.
Michael: Yes, the fish. The lovely fish.
Kat: The fish. That is one of my favorite added scenes in the entire series.
Alison: Same. Same.
Kat: I love it because it feels… oh, God. Okay, sorry. Wrong movie, wrong book. Whatever, I love it. Move on.
Michael: [laughs] Well, and also the idea, too, perhaps, that… because we’ve pondered, as we know from the Prophecy, that Lily and James “thrice defied” Voldemort, which made them a target. So that would also perhaps explain how that occurred, if Lily is a very powerful witch.
Michael: Maybe she was a big main player in that thrice defying of Voldemort, whatever that necessarily means. We don’t know.
Kat: I wonder if – I was just thinking about – I wonder if the blood magic is something that any kind of “ordinary” witch or wizard…
Michael: Could do.
Kat: … could be a part of, or if it takes somebody with the strength and the – I don’t want to say brevity – the depth of wizardry, of magic inside of them to make that something that’s possible. Because if we are comparing Lily and Tom Riddle in their level of magical-ness, I feel like they’re pretty close. Obviously, we don’t get to see what Lily could have become.
Kat: But I feel like somebody who’s less talented might not have had the same effect on that spell.
Michael: That’s a really interesting idea. Well, and tying that into… because Kat, I know you’ve said this before… we’ve all said this before in a few episodes. I was listening to a few older episodes, and Kat, you specifically said you cited Lily and her saint-like nature in the books.
Michael: And how she’s often, in the Harry Potter series put on a pedestal, and really, I don’t think we see anything in these memories to contradict that. Lily is pretty perfect in these memories, you guys would say?
Kat: Yes, but remember the lens that you’re looking at them through.
Michael: True, but…
Alison: And I think if you dig hard enough you can find it. She seems easily swayed by people, but we can get to that later.
Michael: Well, interestingly… okay. Because I want… The reason I touch on that is because… and Alison, I always go to you for the biblical explanations because I can’t do that myself. I don’t know enough about that. But going along again with the idea that Harry Potter derives from a lot of biblical ideas, and to attribute the word “saint” to Lily, I don’t really think is a stretch narratively. We may have our own head canons of what we think Lily does and things, and especially a lot of Marauders-era fan fic that influences Lily as a character, but really, on the page, there is very little she does wrong. She’s very eloquent, she’s very well-spoken, she’s very clear about her views, and she doesn’t really seem to be at fault for a lot of the things that occur in these memories. And while you said, Kat, remembering whose lens we’re looking through, Rowling has also… if we attach Rowling’s clarification to that, which is that Pensieve memories are not necessarily influenced by the individual: They are a complete truth in their depiction.
Michael: So I was wondering what you guys think of that, just in terms of Lily as a character. I don’t really know where to go with that, but just that idea that Lily has been put on this pedestal and that she’s a saint-like…
Kat: Also, remember that Jo has said that only people who are “pure of heart” can make a Patronus, and that includes Umbridge.
Kat: So just take everything with a grain of salt, kids. Just saying.
Alison: Well, I think she does seem – at least, [in] these scenes where we’re seeing her as a child – she seems like a very precocious child. She just seems like she is very intelligent, is very aware of herself, and that’s just her personality. But I think we can see – at least the example I’m thinking of is when she and Petunia get into the argument on the platform about the letter – that it seems like Snape might have persuaded her into that. And so it feels to me that, at least as a child maybe, Lily might be blinded by her loyalty a little bit. If she comes to care for someone [and] she comes to be loyal to someone, they can easily sway her, to an extent. And I think we see that because when they’re talking on the train, it sounds like she feels bad for having seen that letter. She’s trying to avoid talking about that she’s seen the letter, and that it seems like Snape… I don’t want to say “goaded,” that’s not the right word, but “persuaded” doesn’t seem strong enough, either.
Michael: There you go! Perfect.
Alison: Yeah, coerced her into going to look for this letter and reading it. And so I think, yes, we’re seeing the very bright, precocious, little child that she was, but I think we can also see how her virtues can go too far and turn into her vices.
Michael: Well, and it’s perfect that you mentioned Petunia in that because there [are] three quotes here that I pulled out from the books in relation to Petunia in this situation. And one of them actually doesn’t come from Hallows. The first one here does, though, and it’s when Snape addresses Petunia, and he says, “You’re a Muggle.” And the narration says, “Though Petunia evidently did not understand the word, she could hardly mistake the tone.” And the other two quotes I have here… this middle one is actually from Order of the Phoenix. This is a moment of clarity for all of us. In Order of the Phoenix, when Aunt Petunia blurts out the information on Dementors, she says, “‘I heard that awful boy telling her about them years ago,’ Petunia said jerkily.” And of course, in Order Harry leads us to believe that she’s talking about James and Lily. It’s not the case. As we see here, Snape says verbatim the bit about the Dementors guarding Azkaban, and that Petunia will later say in Order of the Phoenix. And the last quote I have here, in regards to Petunia is, “There was a crack. A branch over Petunia’s head had fallen. Lily screamed. The branch caught Petunia on the shoulder and she staggered backward and burst into tears.” And the way that this business with Petunia and Snape and their interactions… I was thinking about how, especially with the branch, how Snape treats Petunia, and I wanted to open up the question: Do you guys think that Snape is to blame for how Petunia turned out? Do you think Snape is part of that? And do you maybe even think, too, that Petunia is the reason that Snape grows to dislike non-magical folk?
Alison: I would say yes to the first part, and no to the second part. I think… because this is Petunia’s first interaction with magic, and when you put these all together, Petunia was hurt by magic. That’s her first interaction with it, is that it’s causing her pain. It’s causing… or fear. And so that’s interesting because…
Kat: It’s the first interaction outside of her family.
Michael: Her sister.
Alison: Well, yeah.
Kat: Her sister whom she loves and trusts.
Alison: Yeah, with the wizarding world, knowing what the wizarding world is. Does that make sense? With her introduction to the world, not just whatever weird things Lily can do.
Kat and Michael: Mhm.
Alison: And so it’s interesting to think of how that influences how she sees this – as they’re growing up – when she’s older when Harry gets there, when this world, all of a sudden, comes back into her life. And her very first interactions with this world were painful in all sorts of different ways.
Michael: Mhm. Picking the three particular quotes I did, I think those quotes, to me, stood out as being the things that built Petunia into who she became.
Kat: Yeah, and I think, too, that in this moment we’re seeing the reasons why Snape was Sorted into Slytherin.
Kat: Because as a child – and as an adult, he’s still this – but he’s a jerk. He’s a bully.
Kat: He’s rude. He is unforgiving and he is unaccepting and just straight up mean. He’s just mean, and I… It really gives you sympathy for Petunia. Understandably, she’s goading him; she’s not making it any easier on him, and part of that is out of jealousy and ignorance.
Kat: But part of it is [that] he’s just a jerk. He’s just being rude to her, and I do think that Snape is largely to blame for what happens to Petunia later in life because if Snape [weren’t] in the picture, she would still have that relationship with Lily and she would come to understand that magic can be helpful; it’s not hurtful.
Kat: It’s not doing anything to her in any way, shape, or form, and she’d be a different person as an adult, personally, is what I think.
Michael: And before, because that’s… Hold on to that point because I think that’s a really interesting thing to mull over here. The other thing is – and Kat, you touched on this a little bit as far as Snape being a bully – I was seeing… I felt to me, as a reader… because listeners, we’ll say it straight up; you all already know it. And Krystina has already said she’s no fan of Snape. We are not Snape lovers.
Michael: And that does affect, for me, how I read because I do see… That’s the lens I see Snape through, particularly the moment when the branch falls on Petunia and Lily is just mortified and Snape is… The narration specifically says that when Lily runs off, Snape is confused. And…
Kat: Yeah, see… Oh, I’m sorry, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I knew you were going to bring it up.
Kat: And I feel like there are so many emotions happening in this moment that it equally could be Lily’s fault as much as it was Snape’s.
Kat: Because Lily, I feel like, is hotheaded a little bit.
Kat: And when she starts to worry about her sister and Petunia is fighting with Snape, Lily could feel an emotion and [snaps fingers] that branch is just done, so…
Michael: That’s a really…
Alison: I don’t know if that would…
Kat: Who knows what happens there?
Alison: [sighs] I don’t know because I do think she’s definitely feeling strong emotions, but I think she cares enough about both of them that something like… It’s the fact that a branch falls and is able to hit her, I think, is why I think it’s Snape rather than Lily. Because I think Lily’s emotion wouldn’t have manifested itself in that way, in any way that would have potentially hurt either of them because she cares about both of them at this point and…
Kat: But if it’s an uncontrollable emotion…
Alison: Okay, that’s a good point. That’s true.
Michael: It’s a really interesting idea.
Kat: But I understand. I’m not… I’m just saying there’s no evidence in either way that it is Lily or really that it’s Snape because it says that he’s confused and he doesn’t really know what happened. It could be either of them.
Michael: That’s a really interesting way to read it…
Alison: That is, yeah.
Michael: … because I read it as in addition to the branch falling; the idea that Snape is confused, to me, reads as that he’s really not… This boy has not been properly socialized, and that’s not a…
Alison: Oh, definitely not.
Michael: That’s not his fault but that’s a product of his growing up and his parents and being sheltered. It would seem Snape has been very sheltered and stuck with his, what would appear to be, abusive family. And to me, what the branch is is this almost misguided protection on Snape’s part. He thinks he’s… very quickly… and you ladies were already pointing it out, the words that Rowling uses when… Alison, you want to pull some of those lovely words that Rowling uses for Snape looking at Lily?
Alison: Yeah, yeah. I was going to get to this a little bit later.
Michael: Please pull it out now since it works.
Alison: Okay. I very much realized… A lot of the commenters were talking about… I feel like this is the big point of contention: Does Snape love Lily, or is he simply obsessed with her? And as I was rereading, I noticed the very first time it’s described, Harry – or, well, the narration – describes Snape looking at Lily. It says he’s looking at her with “undisguised greed.” And the very next time in this actual scene we’ve been talking about, it says, “His black eyes, eager in the greenish gloom, moved over the pale face, the dark red hair.” And it’s those words “greed” and “eager” that send strong signals to me that this is not really love, that this is him wanting to possess her in some way.
Alison: And I think if we’re talking about him as a Slytherin, Snape is very drawn to power, and he becomes obsessed with Lily and maybe misinterprets it as love because he has been watching Lily, and that line you brought up [where] he says, “She has loads of magic,” he’s seen that.
Alison: So there’s this idea [that] he sees she’s powerful and so he wants her because she has so much magic. And I’ll just keep slowly building up my argument so I don’t just go on a strong rant at the end about why, but…
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: No, I think it’s important that we bring that up because as you’ve said, Michael, the listeners know that we are not Snape sympathizers. We all love his character; he’s an amazing character, not a good guy. And I think it’s important to point out that first time that we do see Snape looking at Lily, that is a power thing. It’s not a love thing; it’s not an obsession thing. It’s merely about power. That’s it. And I think it’s really important that that distinction is made because I think you’re right. I think it turns into what he thinks is love.
Krystina: I’ve always seen it as a… He’s finally found someone in his own town that also is magical who’s his same age, and also just having that ability to actually talk with somebody who is like him. So that’s what I’ve always, before in the past, seen some of this greed as; [it’s] just that, “Ooh, good, there’s somebody else like me here.”
Michael: See, now, I actually agree with that, Krystina. And I think that… But I don’t think that the result is healthy, but I think that that’s correct.
Michael: Because when we think of the odds of two wizards being in the same town at the same age, as Rowling has said, that’s not very likely. That’s unusual, actually. And Snape being so shuttered all his life… It’s really suggested that he doesn’t interact with peers and that he really is just at home with his mother and father and that things are not well at home.
Alison: Yeah. And I think …
Kat: He’s intensely introverted. Poor Snape.
Kat: For real.
Alison: And I can see that, but I just… I feel like if that [were] more of just… appear more like excitement or some other emotion… I just feel like the word “greed” has negative connotations that [are] important to this.
Michael: Yes, it does. It does. But I think that’s just it, that Snape has never… The other thing that’s suggested here, especially by Rowling’s constant description of his clothing, is that Snape doesn’t truly possess anything that belongs to him.
Alison: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Michael: And this is perhaps the first… he can possess this relationship. This relationship can be his, and that manifests in blocking Petunia out of this relationship as much as he can. And I think the… for me, I read his confusion as: Snape doesn’t understand the sisterly bond between Lily and Petunia and he just doesn’t understand why Lily is so interested in having a relationship with Petunia because, in his eyes, she can’t offer her anything because she’s just a Muggle.
Michael: She can’t go with her to Hogwarts [and] she can’t do magic, so what’s the point of continuing a relationship with her when she can have him? He has magic and he can do the same things she can do. That’s where I read that confusion from because Snape doesn’t have siblings. He doesn’t seem to have had a meaningful relationship with anybody up to this point. And remember…
Kat: No, I think that’s partially true, too. I mean, the text says right there, “The lie did not convince Lily.”
Kat: So I mean, it was most likely him but I still… who knows what actually happened in that moment? Hard to say.
Michael: Mhm. Yeah. But the other thing that’s mentioned, too, about Petunia – as we dissolve into the memory on Platform 9 3/4 – is some letters that were written. And interestingly, there’s a lot of stuff that ties into this letter that Petunia wrote to Dumbledore to see if she could get into Hogwarts. And the first… there are two bits that Rowling actually talked about in relation to that letter, and they refer not… this letter not only ties into the letter that Petunia gets from Dumbledore in Order of the Phoenix – the Howler that screams at her – but also to the letter that he writes to Petunia to take Harry in. And I wanted to read these two quotes from Rowling from previous… from out of the books. The first one comes from jkrowling.com back in the early days post-Order of the Phoenix when people were asking her about the “Remember my last” letter. And Rowling said,
“Dumbledore is referring to his last letter, which means, of course, the letter he left upon the Dursleys’ doorstep when Harry was one year old. But why then (you may well ask) did he not just say, ’Remember my letter’? Why did he say, ‘My last letter’? Why, obviously because there were letters before that. P.S. It has been suggested that I am wrong in saying that Dumbledore’s last letter was the one he left on the doorstep with baby Harry, and that he has sent a letter since then concerning Harry’s illegal flight to school. However, both Dumbledore and I differentiate between letters sent to the Dursleys as a couple, and messages directed to Petunia alone. And that’s my final word on the subject – though I doubt it will be yours.”
She meant to the audience and she put a little smiley face there. So she gave us a hint to this coming letter that Petunia might have written something, so we knew that pre-Hallows. But the other interesting thing she said was actually during her Carnegie Hall chat in October of 2007, and she said… in response to the question: “What did Dumbledore write in the letter to make the Dursleys take Harry?” And she said,
“As you know, as we find out in Book 7, Petunia once really wanted to be a part of that world. And you discover that Dumbledore has written to her prior to the Howler… Dumbledore wrote to her very kindly and explained why he couldn’t let her come to Hogwarts to become a witch. So Petunia, much as she denies it afterwards, much as she turns against that world when she met Uncle Vernon, who is the biggest anti-wizard you could ever meet in your life, a tiny part of her, and that’s the part that almost wished Harry luck when she said goodbye to him in this book, she just teetered on the verge of saying, ‘I do know what you’re up against and I hope it’s okay.’ But she couldn’t bring herself to say it. Years of pretending she doesn’t care have hardened her. But Dumbledore appealed in the letter you’re asking about, to that part of Petunia that did remember wanting desperately to be part of the world and he appealed to her sense of fair play to a sister that she had hated because Lily had what she couldn’t have. So that’s how he persuaded Petunia to keep Harry.”
So this letter means a lot in terms of Petunia’s later actions. I didn’t really think about this letter in terms of how this letter played into Petunia accepting Harry, so I thought that was a really interesting revelation on Rowling’s part. In addition to that, Lily points out that Snape thinks that there must be wizards working undercover in the postal service because how on Earth did a letter from a Muggle get to Hogwarts? And I was thinking, too, with that quote, [about] the issue that can’t be exclusive to this sisterly bond being broken: the idea that Muggle siblings represent a really huge confidentiality issue in the wizarding world and also the issue of resentment toward their siblings. And I was wondering what you guys thought about that. Can this be the only case where that has happened? Have we seen other examples of this? Why is Rowling, too, bringing up these issues of individuals who can’t have something that others can have? What is the purpose here?
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Alison: Well, that’s life, right? Especially if you have siblings. Your siblings will always have something, be something – or at least appear that way – that you don’t think you have. I mean, I think of me and my siblings. When we were growing up, one of my sister[s], who’s just a couple years older than me… weird example, but she’s an amazing visual artist. We’d play and we’d do crafts and stuff and hers always looked perfect and mine looked like crap because I have no patience.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: And I was always jealous of that. I was jealous of how she could make such beautiful things and I was never happy with what I could make. As you get older, you start to see your own talents and so that lessens a little bit. But I think that’s just siblings’ relationships; you’re always going to be jealous of something your siblings have or can do.
Kat: I think, too, that this moment is… it speaks to the greater lessons in Harry Potter as well, which, one of them… we’ve got the love and the friendship and the bravery, but I also think acceptance and learning to deal with the cards that you’re dealt, and to make lemonade out of your lemons, and I think that that is an underlying theme in a lot of things. It’s not necessarily the biggest one, the one that’s out there, but I think it’s important to realize that no matter who you are or what you have or where you’re going or what you do, there’s going to be crap. There’s going to be crap; it’s just the way life is and you just have to learn to deal with it and accept the things in your life, love the people in your life, and move on. Just trudge on. Get to the next.
Michael: What an interesting thing to say because that makes me think of… Perhaps the idea here, too, is that we realize, as readers, that maybe Petunia and Snape aren’t very different as people.
Alison: I would agree with that, yeah.
Michael: Because they both end up harboring these lifelong annoyances/regrets/vendettas that they really don’t let go [of] until the end. And [it’s] interesting to think that their interaction is kind of the reason that happened, like they made each other that way.
Kat: For sure. And I mean, it’s hard to say what Petunia is like now; whether she has moved on from that because it’s… Jo has said that Harry never sees his aunt and uncle again, despite the fact that he sees Dudley occasionally.
Alison: So the kids can play. Blah, blah, whatever.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: But yeah, they definitely turned each other – I mean, less so on Snape’s part – but turned each other into the people that they ended up being.
Alison and Michael: Yeah.
Michael: It just surprised me just because I guess… I don’t know why it didn’t really hit me before this reread, but just how much of a role Petunia plays in all of this.
Kat: Yeah, she’s no innocent, for sure.
Alison: Oh, no.
Michael: No. But also, the role that Snape plays in making her who she is for the later parts of the books is absolutely fascinating. That’s perhaps what’s so rewarding about “The Prince’s Tale” is… the things that come after are important, definitely, but I think this is really the chapter that it’s all been building up to through the series.
Kat: For sure.
Michael: But we get on the Hogwarts Express, and boy, does this play out like every Marauders-era fan fic that was ever written before it…
Michael: … because Snape and Lily just so happen to be sitting in the same compartment as James and Sirius. And Kat, you had some points, some excellent points about this.
Kat: Yeah, there’s a great moment that I never picked up on before, probably because this time I’m reading it and I’m actually thinking critically instead of just being like, “Wow! This is so good! This is so good!”
Kat: So there’s a quote from James when they’re all sitting in the cabin and it says,
“‘Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?’ James asked the boy lounging on the seats opposite him, and with a jolt, Harry realized that it was Sirius. Sirius did not smile.”
Which, okay, the first thing I thought of when I read that this time is a quote by Draco from Philosopher’s Stone. It says,
”’Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they? But I know I’ll be in Slytherin. All our family have been. Imagine being in Hufflepuff – I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?’”
Exact same words.
Kat: About different Houses.
Kat: And I think… oh, it sets apart the generations, and I think, too…
Alison: I think it’s interesting and I think it almost offers some hope for Draco if we’re comparing them because we see what James became and what he could have become, and I think that gives some hope for… Draco can make choices the way James made some choices and maybe Draco can come around, and maybe things will change for him. I also think it’s interesting to see just how deep and long-rooted in these pure-blood families these House divisions are. [laughs] James’s family is all Gryffindors and Draco’s family is all Slytherin, so they’re looking down at other Houses, and… yeah. Just how deep-rooted these divisions are for what, basically, amounts to high school teams.
Michael: Mhm. Well, and actually, that’s a perfect segue into what occurs, which is that Snape is very much of the belief that… he seems very confident that Lily is going to get into Slytherin. That doesn’t happen, as we know.
Alison: That’s projecting.
Michael: [laughs] Yeah.
Kat: Yeah, it’s definitely projecting.
Alison: It’s totally him projecting!
Michael: Yeah, because…
Kat: Because everything we know about Lily points to the fact that she is not a Slytherin.
Alison: Oh, she’s a Gryffindor from the get-go. She’s flying in the air and laughing. [laughs]
Michael: Well, and as we see, that’s what occurs. The Sorting Hat does separate the two of them. Lily goes off to Gryffindor. [She] does not want to sit with James and Sirius, but does go to the Gryffindor table, and Snape goes to Slytherin. And we get this line later that I wanted to bring up now from Dumbledore during the scene where Snape and Dumbledore are discussing Karkaroff in Goblet of Fire, and Dumbledore says, “You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon.”
Michael: And I wonder, though, had… because of course, Dumbledore is implying that Snape has very Gryffindor qualities about him, and as we said earlier, there’s some bravery in… the bravery of Snape’s actions is his Gryffindor side. Do you think that Snape would’ve become a different person had he been in Gryffindor with Lily?
Alison: Yes. I also have a follow-up question. Thinking of this quote in context, they’re talking about Karkaroff.
Alison: Karkaroff went to Hogwarts. What House was he in?
Alison: Because what if he [were] in Gryffindor and he became this – he’s almost a Peter Pettigrew figure – and he became this coward? And so maybe this quote should be more applied to Karkaroff than to Snape. Sorry to totally sidetrack your question, but…
Michael: That’s interesting. I don’t see, textually, that it’s meant to be for Karkaroff because it’s… to me, it’s meant towards Snape. It’s like…
Kat: Well, they’re discussing Snape’s nature and his personality, not Karkaroff’s.
Michael: Yeah, yeah. Well…
Alison: I have to reread that passage. Hold up, just a second. [laughs]
Kat: Well, okay. It says right here,
“‘Karkaroff’s mark is becoming darker, too. He is panicking, he fears retribution… you know how much he gave the Ministry after the Dark Lord fell. Karkaroff intends to flee if the mark burns.’ ‘Does he?’ said Dumbledore softly, ‘And are you tempted to join him?’ ‘No,’ said Snape, ‘I am not such a coward.’ ‘No,’ agreed Dumbledore. ‘You are a braver man, by far, than Igor Karkaroff. You know, sometimes, I think we sort too soon.’”
And did Karkaroff go to Hogwarts?
Alison: I’m pretty sure he did.
Kat: I don’t think he did.
Krystina: I don’t think we know this.
Michael: Karkaroff is… I don’t think we have confirmation on where he went to school. He seems to have a…
Krystina: I don’t know. In my mind, I always imagined him going to Durmstrang since that’s where he was the head for.
Michael: Headmaster. Yeah, and he seems to have a… he has a pretty tight-knit relationship with Dumbledore and I think people have wondered where Karkaroff grew up because he doesn’t have… the interesting thing about how Rowling writes him is he doesn’t have an accent like the other students at Durmstrang…
Michael: … so he’s implied to be from… to have grown up somewhere else or maybe have lost his accent, but…
Alison: Well, and the fact that Dumbledore never really – or, sorry, not Dumbledore – Voldemort never really got out of England leads me to believe that for Karkaroff to be a Death Eater…
Michael: He would have had to have been…
Alison: … he would’ve had to be in England or, yeah, the UK.
Michael: But if we… okay, so… but if we are contextualizing the quote in relation to Snape – which I do think it is meant to be for – is it…? I go back to my original question: Do you guys think that it is possible that Snape would’ve been a different person had he been in Gryffindor?
Krystina: I do. I think that the friendship he had with Lily gave him the chance to be a better person because she was such a great person, that you just feel like if he had spent all this time around her and not around these other future Death Eaters, that he would have turned out as a different person. I have… There was this quote – not actually from this book – from another book that I’ve read before and I thought it just fit this.
Krystina: And it says, “There’s a time in every life when paths are chosen, character is forged. I could have chosen a different path, but I didn’t. I failed myself.” And it makes me think back to this. It just… Snape chose the path he took, but if he had taken a different path with a closer friendship with Lily, if he had gotten into a different House, then that would’ve changed everything, I think. So…s
Kat: I’m going to counter that point by saying that Snape was on that path before he met Lily.
Alison: I’m going to agree with that.
Kat: He had all those prejudices and all of those feelings of disapproval and feeling superior far before he met Lily. One of the first things he says to Petunia is that she’s a Muggle, and that’s not something – as terrible as this is – is not something that people generally grow out of. If you grow up a racist [and] a bigot, it’s not something that you really ever change about yourself. It’s just engrained in who you are because of your environment [and] how you grew up. Snape is not from a happy home. He even says that his father doesn’t like very much; he doesn’t like many things, he doesn’t like magic, and I think that a lot of that comes from that home and how he grew up alone, isolated in [an] unloving home. And unfortunately, no, I don’t think he would have changed if he were in Gryffindor, but he would never be in Gryffindor because of all those things I just said.
Kat: It would never happen.
Alison: And I think we see from the get-go that he has too much ambition and want for power…
Alison: … which is a quite Slytherin quality. It’s the same kind of quality that Voldemort has, this thirst for power…
Alison: … and to be powerful, and as much as some of that is still influenced by his – I think we can agree – his abusive childhood, I still think he made choices, and you can’t just put those choices, necessarily, on that.
Michael: Well, it’s interesting that Snape chooses Slytherin and has such an affinity for Slytherin because when he’s on the train and James says what he says about Slytherin, Snape counters with, [as Snape] “Well, if you’d rather be brawny than brainy.” [back to normal voice] And brainy isn’t really the trait we associate with Slytherin so much as we do with Ravenclaw. But I’m assuming that Snape’s devotion to Slytherin comes from his mother because…
Kat: Yeah, that’s what I always assumed.
Kat: I always saw her as a pretty smart witch, as somebody who was powerful and had something behind her [and] something inside of her.
Michael: Well, and I think a lot Snape in general comes from… the text implies that a lot of Snape’s personality seems to come from his mother.
Alison: Oh, yeah.
Michael: And we know that Snape was very devoted to his mother over his father, not only from the text here, but of course because of the fact that he does call himself the Half-Blood Prince, which is meant to be a moniker in tribute to his mother.
Michael: But wow, see, [laughs] that conversation’s already stunned me because there’s so much going on in that alone. Because then that’s why… what you guys were saying, actually, about how Snape perhaps has that inherent nature in him, that bigotry, that prejudice. That’s what I was wondering about in terms of Petunia because she is a Muggle and she is the first one that Snape really targets, the Muggle that Snape truly seems to target, as unremarkable and who gives him that impression of Muggles. But at the same time, when he’s conversing with Lily in the forest, she asks him, “Does it matter that I’m Muggle-born?” and he says, “No.” And I think that’s supposed to be a bit of a shock for us the reader and for Harry because that’s not what we think of Snape as, as somebody who was a follower of the Death Eaters.
Krystina: He hesitates, though, before he says that it’s not a big deal to be a Muggle-born.
Michael: He does. He does.
Krystina: So that prejudice is still there. He just likes Lily too much already to say otherwise.
Alison: And we’ll definitely see that later on. That exact same thing happens.
Michael: Yeah, with their final conversation and the Mudblood bit. But actually, before that – and as you mentioned, Krystina – the issue of Slytherin for Snape is who he is surrounded by. Of course, we hear the names not only of Lucius Malfoy, who is a prefect, but some future Death Eaters: Mulciber, who is previously mentioned. His big mention is in Goblet of Fire; Karkaroff mentions him as one of his names of somebody who is particularly good at the Imperius Curse. And Avery, who plays a large background role in Order of the Phoenix; he’s the one who tips Voldemort off to getting the Prophecy, and of course, he’s later punished for his incompetence. But Rowling was actually asked a question directly about these characters in relation to Snape, and I think it’s a question a lot of the fandom goes back to as an argument against Snape and his affections for Lily. This was asked during her Bloomsbury.com chat in 2007 right after the book was published, and the question was, “Lily detested Mulciber and Avery. If Snape really loved her why didn’t he sacrifice their company for her sake?” And Rowling responded, “Well, that is Snape’s tragedy. Given his time over again, he would not have become a Death Eater, but like many insecure, vulnerable people (like Wormtail) he craved membership of something big and powerful[;] something impressive. He wanted Lily and he wanted Mulciber, too. He never really understood Lily’s aversion; he was so blinded by his attraction to the Dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater.” What do you guys think about that?
Alison: I think this is one of the reasons why it’s obviously an obsession, not a love. I think if you truly love someone you’re going to try and come to understand their values, and… hold on, we’re scrolling down to my half-page paragraph of notes on this…
Alison: … because this was one of my big points I thought of; [that] he doesn’t care about Lily’s values. He doesn’t see her as a person and say, “Look at all of her beautiful strengths; she makes me want to be a better person,” which, at least to me, is one of the big perks of when you love someone, that you see the good qualities in that person and you want to be like that. You want to strive to be what they already are. They make you want to be better. And because he’s so obsessed with the Dark side, he can’t see her values [and] he doesn’t share her values. He’s not trying to necessarily even understand her values. He’s just obsessed with her.
Michael: Well – and like you said, Alison, earlier – what a Slytherin thing to think that, even though… By this point what’s so fascinating to me is that Lily – and there’s a quote from Rowling later that discusses this, that I pulled – but that Lily does have feelings for Snape. She has a very strong friendship, at least, with Snape.
Michael: And Rowling, as we’ll see in a quote later, confirmed that that could’ve transcended into something more had Snape made different choices. And how perfect, like you said, Alison, that he is Sorted into Slytherin because he can’t see that. And what he thinks is that if he becomes a Death Eater, that’ll be enough to impress her; that he, as himself as he is now, is not impressive enough for Lily, he thinks. And that he has to do more.
Kat: Which just furthers the point that he doesn’t really know who Lily is.
Kat: He’s looking at her exterior, her magic, [and] her beautiful green eyes. He’s not looking at her as a person, but much more of an asset or somebody to impress and align himself with. And I think that’s a major difference.
Alison: That’s why he can’t see her in Harry because all he sees is Harry’s exterior. He doesn’t see all the things that everyone else sees: Harry’s heart, Harry’s courage; the things that Harry really inherited in his personality from his mother. He’s obsessed with, maybe misinterpreting as love, the idea of Lily instead of Lily herself.
Kat: And I think that if at some point, if they did get together, it would be a very dysfunctional relationship because even if Snape had made choices and he had chosen Gryffindor and he got Sorted into Gryffindor, and they were together, those beliefs are always going to be there. He’s always going to think of people as Muggles. He’s always going to have that superiority complex about him, and his past is always going to be there. And it wouldn’t have lasted in their friendship, just like it did when he was in Slytherin [and it] faded away.
Michael: Well, and actually, I wanted to … I’ve been pulling quotes all through this chapter, but I did want to read this particular passage from page 674. This was the big one for me. Let’s see where to begin, though. Aha, this is the part where Lily and Snape were having a little chat about the Whomping Willow incident and, interestingly, a lot about Lupin actually, and Lily says,
”’I know your theory,’ said Lily, and she sounded cold. ‘Why are you so obsessed with them, anyway? Why do you care what they’re doing at night?’ ‘I’m just trying to show you, they’re not as wonderful as everyone seems to think they are.’ The intensity of his gaze made her blush. ‘They don’t use Dark Magic, though,’ she dropped her voice. ‘And you’re being really ungrateful. I heard what happened the other night. You went sneaking around that tunnel by the Whomping Willow, and James Potter saved you from whatever’s down there.’ Snape’s whole face contorted, and he spluttered, ‘Saved? Saved?! You think he was playing the hero? He was saving his neck and his friends’, too. You’re not going to… I won’t let you.’ ‘Let me? Let me?’ Lily’s bright green eyes were slits. Snape backtracked at once. ‘I didn’t mean… I just don’t want you to be made a fool of. He fancies you! James Potter, he fancies you!’ The words seemed to wrench from him against his will. ‘And he’s not… Everyone thinks… Big Quidditch hero.’ Snape’s bitterness and dislike were rendering him incoherent and Lily’s eyebrows were traveling farther and farther up her forehead. ‘I know James Potter’s an arrogant toe rag,’ she said, cutting across Snape. ‘I don’t need you to tell me that. But Mulciber’s and Avery’s idea of humor is just evil. Evil, Sev. I don’t understand how you can be friends with them.’ Harry doubted that Snape had even heard her strictures on Mulciber and Avery. The moment she had insulted James Potter, his whole body had relaxed and as they walked away there was a new spring in Snape’s step.”
Michael: … and that to me, that particular passage is the epitome of the possessive bit.
Michael: That “I won’t let you” bit. And Lily picks up on it, immediately, and is not okay with it. In fact, that’s the moment where Lily is most like Ginny in many ways.
Kat: Oh, yeah. Mhm.
Michael: That fierce look, the red hair, [and] the independent streak. And why I take such issue with Snape’s feelings toward Lily… While it may be love on his end that, I think, that love is for… that potential love that Lily could have had is falling apart because she had it for him. She had feelings for him at this point. She was very… she seems to be… The funny thing is that Snape has picked up on this bit where James has feelings for Lily and Lily doesn’t seem to have picked up on it. She has no interest in James. It’s almost that Snape, in a way, did… My question here was: Do you guys actually think that maybe in a way Snape actually drove Lily to James?
Kat: Very much like Voldemort and the Prophecy. It’s self-fulfilling.
Kat: Everything… so many things in life are self-fulfilling and if Snape acted like a jackass and tried to control her and own her and all of those things… It’s in the text there, so listeners, don’t be screaming at me. It’s there.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: And it’s so… it’s self-prophesying. You become the thing and you tend to steer other people toward the one thing you don’t want to happen when you’re actively trying not to make it happen, instead of improving yourself when you’re trying to change somebody else. That’s not the point of life. It’s to change yourself and to make yourself the best person possible and not change somebody else to fit who you want them to be for you.
Alison: Yeah. And that’s where I think James wins Lily over because I think… Well, I think James and Lily would’ve ended up together eventually. I think this could’ve been the thing that made Lily notice James and maybe notice that thing; that idea of values and that maybe James saw… When Lily thought things were wrong, he saw her values. He could see his own behavior through her eyes and so he changed to… because he could see how he was being wrong. Does that… does this make sense? I don’t know if it does.
Michael: I know. It makes perfect sense because that… what you’re saying is the moment that we see once again where the… I think Rowling puts it here again in a truncated form to make us understand the full consequences of this moment.
Michael: But when Snape calls Lily a Mudblood and that’s their… and like you’re saying, Alison, in a way, it’s not really cited. Lily has already cited it here in the passage that I just read that happens quite a bit before the Mudblood incident. But as we saw in Order of the Phoenix, James – even though Lily doesn’t like him by that point during this incident with the tree in the Mudblood – James forcefully asks Snape to apologize for calling her a Mudblood. And although Lily doesn’t approve of the way James handles the situation, that idea that James doesn’t have this prejudice does fall in line with her.
Michael: And Snape brought it out by accident. Like you said, Kat, he made the thing happen. He made the thing happen that he didn’t want to happen most by behaving that way.
Michael: Because Lily so perfectly… Let’s see because I didn’t set the page but… aha, here it is. [It] so perfectly defines the core contradiction of the idea that there can be exceptions when one is prejudiced and because during their conversation outside of Gryffindor Tower, Lily ends their friendship. She says,
”’I can’t pretend anymore. You’ve chosen your way, I’ve chosen mine.’ ‘No – listen, I didn’t mean – ’ ‘To call me Mudblood? But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?’”
Michael: And that’s it. That’s the end for Lily. I would say the love is lost at that point.
Michael: And again, the quote that I wanted to pull in that moment is [from when] Rowling was asked during the Bloomsbury chat, “Did Lily ever have feelings back for Snape?” And she confirmed, “Yes. She might even have grown to love him romantically (she certainly loved him as a friend) if he had not loved Dark magic so much, and been drawn to such loathsome acts and people.” So I think that as far as the love issue, that answers completely what happened on Lily’s end. There was…
Michael: It never transcended into romantic love. It stayed at a friendship level.
Kat: And that’s on Snape’s… that’s on his conscience. That’s his fault because…
Alison: Definitely. It all has to do with his choices.
Kat: Yeah. Like you said before, if you love somebody you’re going to try and change yourself to be a better person and to listen to their beliefs and really take them in and be that person for them because you want to.
Kat: And that’s… Snape never achieved that. He didn’t even try.
Michael: No. But time passes quite a bit, and that’s actually the part where we get a bit of a confirmation that Snape might have actually set this up because Harry waits for the memories for a little bit as they try to reform themselves. And we move from Snape and Lily to Snape and Dumbledore, and I wanted to lay out the timeline for myself just because I thought it was interesting. Rowling must have worked very hard to pick which moment she wanted to portray between Snape and Dumbledore. And there [are] about seven key moments. The first one, where Snape talks to Dumbledore and pleads with him about fixing his mistake, occurs somewhere between ’79 to’80. That’s before the series even begins but it’s post-the Prophecy. The second scene takes place somewhere between October 31 and November 1 of 1980. It’s during Sorcerer’s Stone but in that very first chapter, somewhere around there. Scene three, which is when Snape is complaining about Harry as a human being, takes place on September 6, 1991, and that’s right after Harry’s first Potions lesson. Scene four, which is probably one of the major ones out of all of these, is during which Dumbledore and Snape discuss[ing] Karkaroff is occurring. We actually know close to the time; it’s near midnight on December 25, 1994, and that’s during Goblet of Fire. The last three scenes all take place around Half-Blood. Scene five is somewhere in July ’96 between Order and Half-Blood, probably closer to the latter, when Snape is trying to help Dumbledore with his hand. And scene[s] six and seven both take place on the same day, somewhere we don’t actually know where, somewhere between September of ’96 and May of ’97; likely in May, as it’s cited that Harry has been in detention multiple times by that point. So I just wanted to map that out because it just seems so carefully chosen on Rowling’s part because we get these lovely little throwbacks. Interestingly, we get no moments from Chamber or Prisoner in these particular sets of flashbacks. We’ve had our fill of Prisoner from the Marauders era stuff. Not really much about Chamber, though. Not really that much about Order, either, but Order is referenced in some of the discussion. And one of the first big moments we get, of course, is with that first scene between ’79 and ’80 when Snape is begging for Dumbledore to help and Dumbledore says,
“‘If she means so much to you, surely Lord Voldemort will spare her. Could you not ask for mercy for the mother in exchange for the son?’ ‘I have. I have asked him.’ ’You disgust me,’ said Dumbledore, and Harry had never heard so much contempt in his voice. Snape seemed to shrink a little. ‘You do not care then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die as long as you have what you want?’”
And boy, what a quote that is!
Alison, Kat, and Krystina: Mhm.
Alison: We had some comments from last week that were talking about this scene and some people were saying that they felt like Snape was going to say he asked for protection for James and Harry as well, or that there was no way he could’ve. But I’m going to say he didn’t, just because of the way he phrases things. There [were] a lot of questions about [when] he does say, “Hide them all, then.”
Alison: But right after that he says, “Hide her… them,” or, “Save them.” I can’t remember the exact wording.
Michael: Mhm. He says, [as Snape] “Keep her – them – safe.”
Alison: Exactly. So I feel like any way he’s wording it that might sound in this moment like he’s trying to… that he asked for protection for James and Harry is he’s just trying to appease Dumbledore. He’s so desperate again – going back to this – to have the chance to maybe make it up to Lily, to possess Lily, to have that in the future [or] to have the possibility of that, that he will do anything at this point.
Kat: Yeah, there’s no possibility whatsoever in that moment that he is asking, or was going to ask, about James and Harry as well.
Kat: Because Dumbledore phrases it very specifically. “If she means that much to you, surely Lord Voldemort will spare her. Could you not ask for mercy for the mother in exchange for the son?” He says, “I have. I have asked him.” He’s responding directly to that question that’s all about Lily.
Kat: So sorry, but no. There’s no way he was going to ask about James and Harry as well. He doesn’t care about them at all in any way, shape, or form.
Michael: Yeah, I think that’s why Dumbledore asks the question that way; because Dumbledore sets it up as a trap to see what Snape’s honest reaction is to that question.
Kat: Mhm. Very much so.
Alison: Oh, definitely.
Kat: Was Dumbledore Transfiguration [professor] at this point?
Michael: Hmm… no, he’s headmaster.
Alison: No, I think he has to be headmaster by this point.
Krystina: I think he was headmaster.
Kat: Is he? Okay. Just curious.
Michael: Yeah, this is 1980. Yeah, he’s headmaster by now.
Alison: Yeah. I’m astounded, though, rereading this, at how overtly manipulative Dumbledore is in this scene and then all the scenes that follow.
Michael: I’m not.
Kat: I’m not at all.
Alison: Well, it’s just so overt, I think is what I was most surprised at.
Michael: And that’s what’s so fascinating about Dumbledore in these scenes because Dumbledore in many ways is not the Dumbledore we’re familiar with in these scenes.
Alison: Yeah. That’s true.
Michael: This is almost the Dumbledore that Aberforth was talking about, right?
Kat: For sure.
Michael: This individual has an ability to manipulate. I mean, now the thing here… this is why I’ve never really been mad at Dumbledore, at least in this particular… when it starts. Because Snape is the one who initiates this. Snape comes to Dumbledore, right? So is it unfair for Dumbledore to utilize Snape this way? To play on his emotions like this?
Kat: [sighs] Is it fair? Is that what you asked?
Michael: Is it unfair?
Kat: Is it unfair… That’s a really tough question because isn’t that what Snape has been doing the whole time to other people?
Michael: Well, I’m just wondering… I guess I’m wondering in terms of… okay, so if we are thinking about [it] in comparison to Snape… and this gets into that phrase “the greater good” because Snape is doing it purely for his own individual self, versus Dumbledore, who is doing it for a larger cause; Dumbledore isn’t just doing this to protect Harry. Dumbledore reveals that he has the foreknowledge that Voldemort will come back and that things will get bad and that he needs to protect Harry to ensure that doesn’t happen. And that’s why I imagine Dumbledore phrases the question this way; [it] is because he gets that justification that Snape is kind of a horrible person.
Kat: So then let’s pretend for a minute that Dumbledore is doing it also for Snape, to teach Snape something about himself and his loyalties and where they need to be. And that’s maybe where the Sorting comment comes from because Dumbledore is perhaps trying to show Snape what he could have been; the other side of his life [and] of his choices.
Kat: Of everything.
Michael: See, and that’s a great lead-in to a big question I have about Snape and Dumbledore, which is really: What is their relationship? I pondered… is it like a father/son relationship? Is it a reluctant mentor and student? Do these two grow to tolerate, like, [or] even perhaps respect one another? What do you guys feel based on how you read the text? Krystina! Jump in and tell us how you feel about this.
[Krystina and Michael laugh]
Kat: I’ll go. If you don’t have something ready, I’ll go.
Krystina: Okay, go ahead. I’ll hop in later.
Kat: So I’m going to take a real world reference and put this in here. I’m a big fan of the MythBusters, and I don’t know if you guys know anything about them but Adam and Jamie are these two people; they did MythBusters for 14 [or] 15 years. They work incredibly well together, they understand each other, they get each other’s intentions, and they can understand each other’s minds; how they think, how they act, and how they perceive the world.
Kat: Off-screen, they can’t stand each other. They don’t like each other. They don’t really understand each other in a personal manner. I feel in some way that this very much is the Dumbledore and Snape relationship. I think that Dumbledore wholeheartedly understands who Snape is, who Snape could have been, who Snape could be, and also who he could have been. And I’m talking about as a child [and] as an adult because I feel like Snape has so many paths that he could have been on. And so for me, Dumbledore to Snape is more of a teacher and not so much a mentor because I’m not sure Snape gets anything from Dumbledore.
Kat: I think that Dumbledore gives himself to Snape and instills things in Snape without Snape realizing that that’s what’s happening, and that’s why I think it can’t be a mentor relationship because [in] a mentor/mentee relationship, the mentee is consciously aware and wants that from somebody. Snape doesn’t want that for himself. The only thing that he wants from Dumbledore is protection for Lily. And he doesn’t see himself coming out of that situation any different, or better, changed, in any way. In any way. His end goal is purely Lily. So again, for me, Dumbledore to Snape: teacher. Snape to Dumbledore is purely a tool. He is a means to an end. I think Dumbledore, in Snape’s eyes, maybe comes to be somebody that he cares about, but in the same way that Voldemort cares about his Death Eaters. Not in any sort of feeling emotional way, but more as a, “I’m going to protect the crap out of you because you’re going to help protect the person that I ‘loved’ and her son.”
Alison: Yeah, I really do see this business relationship thing almost even more than a teacher. I just I feel like I can’t think of a good metaphor for it – or analogy for it – just because there [are not] any. There’s so much tension in this relationship, I feel like, that any kind of hierarchical – I can’t say that word, whatever – hierarchical relationship would have at all. I feel like it wouldn’t have this certain kind of tension, and so much of it. So yeah, I’m failing on what to compare it to, but…
Krystina: Yeah, I agree with… You think of it as a strange relationship at work or something like that. Two people who are working on the same thing, but maybe don’t see eye to eye all the time, but still have to work together to accomplish their goal. Maybe taking some things from each other here and there, but still sometimes thinking that you’ve got the right idea and the other person doesn’t.
Kat: And the thing that I love about that, too, is that you’re talking about working toward a common goal. Their goals: totally different. They’re not even remotely the same thing.
Alison: Right. That’s true.
Kat: Not even remotely the same thing. Dumbledore knows that. Snape has no idea.
Krystina: Snape has no idea.
Kat: And Snape is… That just proves the fact that Snape is purely doing everything that he is doing for one simple reason, and it’s Lily, and he hasn’t changed at all. Sorry. Phew. Getting all fired up over here.
Michael: No, well, and I…
Alison: And I was just going to say that I don’t even think it’s the real Lily because he doesn’t even know the real Lily. It’s his idealized… what was the word I used before? Oh my gosh, I can’t think of language today. It’s the Lily that he’s constructed for himself. It’s not actually Lily.
Kat: Well, and you have to remember [that] he stops knowing Lily when she’s, what, 15?
Alison: Definitely, yeah.
Kat: He doesn’t know anything about her after that point, so everything is romanticized. Everything is those heightened teenage emotions that you feel, and those emotions – I feel personally – that you rarely feel again in your life. That first crush, that first obsession, that first person that you just can’t get out of your head. You won’t feel those again, I think, in the same way because your maturity level changes and your entire outlook on life changes. And unfortunately, Snape never really grew out of that and he never got to know Lily. [He] never had the chance. She was killed. And I think that that’s a big downfall for him, too.
Michael: Yeah, there’s a pretty big running theme throughout the Potter series of stunted adults. A lot of the adults [are] a victim of their lack of growth, a lot of them. They fall on their own swords a few times. Well, and I asked this question as far as Dumbledore and Snape’s relationship because I feel like, in these seven scenes, you actually see an evolution of some sort and it’s not… like you both were saying, it’s such a bizarre relationship that there’s maybe no way to perfectly define it, but I think in terms of their first meeting versus the moment… one of my favorite ones of the memories is the one where Snape is helping Dumbledore contain the curse in his hand, and it’s the only moment of humor in this chapter because Snape and Dumbledore actually trade a bit of dry humor between each other. And it’s very casual, and they seem to have both… there seems to be a quickened pace to their discussion in that scene that suggests that they know how each other talk[s] by that point. And they’ve become more familiar with each other. It’s a relationship that, at least, functions on some level with success. And that is the moment, too, where Dumbledore asks Snape to kill him, and he does so reluctantly, but Snape agrees to that, which is a big thing to agree to. And of course, there is a big piece there where Snape is arguing, “Well, why don’t you just have Malfoy do it because he’s been arranged to do it?” And Dumbledore says,
”’Malfoy’s soul is not yet so damaged,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I would not have it ripped apart on my account.’ ‘And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?’ ‘You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,’ said Dumbledore.”
There’s a lot there in the idea of just – and we were skirting around before with the discussion about how Dumbledore views Snape – his soul, the idea that: Is Snape’s soul even whole anymore? Is there anything to damage? Or is this act really something that could damage the soul as it’s a form of euthanasia, where he’s helping him die? I don’t know. And this part also gets into the bigger question of how much negativity is coming out of Dumbledore in this relationship; how much he is, by this point, purely using Snape and how dangerous it’s become, and how Dumbledore – again, the part of Dumbledore that Aberforth has talked about – that Dumbledore begins to see people as chess pieces, as tools, and takes advantage of that. Because I think that’s Dumbledore’s bad side coming out here; the side that a lot of people don’t like about Dumbledore.
Kat: But isn’t that what Snape is doing to Dumbledore?
Michael: How so?
Alison: Yeah, there’s manipulation on both sides, I think.
Kat: Well, because Snape – again, everything I said – he’s not doing this because he wants to change himself or he wants some sort of different outcome. He’s doing this purely for the one and simple goal that he’s had the entire time: the promise he made to Dumbledore. I don’t know.
Michael: Well, but isn’t it touching, then, in that respect? Isn’t that the interesting thing about what’s touching for Dumbledore in that end scene, where one of the last memories… when Snape clarifies he hasn’t been doing this for Harry, and of course, the classic moment; it’s tattooed on every millennial’s ankle or back…
Michael: … it’s there. It’s “Always.” And it’s the doe Patronus coming out of Snape’s wand, and Dumbledore is so emotionally touched by that. And what’s going on in that scene for those two? What is…? Because that’s almost the end of that relationship between the two of them. That’s the last time… past Snape talking to Dumbledore’s portrait, which can’t really count because that’s just an imprint of Dumbledore. It’s not really Dumbledore. Where does their relationship end? What does that mean for Dumbledore to see that? Because Dumbledore is somebody who espouses ideas of love and seems to have a deep understanding of love, so why does this moment with the silver doe touch him so?
Alison: I take serious issue with this scene, so…
Michael: But can you think of why it would touch Dumbledore in that way? Because it does. He cries. He’s in tears. And why? What is it that brings him to tears about this?
Alison: This is out there because this is also how I’m seeing what’s happening in this scene, but Snape’s love for Lily is engrained in his Patronus, which, to be honest, is a pale shade of something to love; to put that love toward when there’s a living, breathing human that is this person, a part of this person, that he’s not seeing.
Alison: So maybe I’m reaching to say Dumbledore is almost upset that Snape seems to claim to still love Lily. His Patronus is a doe still, but he can’t see Lily in her son. And he’s going to treat her son in a way that would have been absolutely deplorable to her, and is deplorable to the idea of loving someone.
Alison: Like I said, that could totally just be me interpreting this scene [crazily].
Michael: No, no, no, because I think it’s open to interpretation. There really is… the way I interpret it… and I don’t necessarily agree with how these characters feel, but I think it fits with how I see them in my head and how the narration treats them. But I almost wonder – and especially, too with the further revelations about Dumbledore from Rowling – but… and this is another reason why I’m disappointed that the Grindelwald story doesn’t really fully make its way – and how it affected Dumbledore – into Deathly Hallows because I ponder if… because we know that Dumbledore became… as Rowling put it, he became asexual after his… the big stuff with Grindelwald. He never had a relationship again; he turned to books and he never had an interest in a relationship with anybody after that. And ostensibly, he still harbored these feelings for Grindelwald to some degree, and I just wonder if that wasn’t something that moved Dumbledore. I don’t know if it’s that.
Michael: I’ve pondered if it’s something within Dumbledore about himself because we spend these whole memories looking at a Dumbledore that we don’t like, the Dumbledore that Aberforth told us exists that is very cold and sees people as either full of love or full of hate, and isn’t seeing the in-betweens. There [are] so many possibilities, I don’t know if I can possibly cover them all. I’m hoping some of you guys will say what other things this could be.
Kat: I guess out of my ignorance, this is the only time I’ve ever read this and actually thought it was Dumbledore’s eyes that were full of tears.
Krystina: I know, I always thought it was Snape’s eyes.
Alison: How is this worded?
Kat: It says, “Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded, he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.”
Alison: Hmm. I can see both ways.
Michael: Yeah, I just don’t know what it is that particularly touched Dumbledore in this moment. There just could be so many things, I guess, possibly.
Kat: I guess that’s a really good Podcast Question of the Week, isn’t it?
Michael: Certainly could be.
Michael: So from this moment on, we get to the last section. Dumbledore has died and Snape is alone. And this is the best part to close up the chapter with, to really talk about Snape. And actually, Alison, you touched on this just a moment ago, about the idea that the true tragedy, perhaps, is that perhaps the reason Dumbledore is reacting this way is because Snape never sees Harry for who he truly is. And interestingly, there [are] two moments where that comes up between Dumbledore and Snape. And the first one is in the moment from September 6 of Harry’s first year, where Snape says,
“‘Mediocre, arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker, delighted to find himself famous, attention-seeking and impertinent.’ ‘You see what you expect to see, Severus,’ said Dumbledore, without raising his eyes from a copy of Transfiguration Today. ‘Other teachers report that the boy is modest, likable and reasonably talented. Personally, I find him an engaging child.’”
And it comes up again later on in another one of the memories. Snape again says, “‘He is his father over again.’ ‘In looks, perhaps, but his deepest nature is much more like his mother’s.’” And to me, that’s again one of my biggest frustrations with the argument, the romanticizing of Snape seeing Lily’s eyes in Harry and asking him to look at him before he dies, and using that as the justification for Snape’s heroism. Because this is, to me, the problem. Like you said, Alison, there is a living, breathing person who carries Lily within him – in the magical sense, quite literally – he has her blood, and it’s magical. But the idea, too, that he, as a person, is Lily. And Snape, rather than [choosing] to see that, chooses to see, as you guys mentioned before, the physical attributes. He looks like James, so therefore he is James to Snape. And he can never get past that.
Kat: He doesn’t see that because he never really knew who Lily was. He was obsessed over her magical talent and her probably outspokenness, I would imagine, a little bit, and her looks.
Alison: Yeah. Probably her confidence, too.
Kat: Yeah, for sure.
Michael: It’s interesting because Snape and Lily did spend – ostensibly, as we are led to believe – they did spend quite a bit of time together before they… at least a year. They probably saw a lot of each other.
Kat: As children.
Michael: As children, yes, absolutely. But I guess what I’m thinking there… and they did also, at least, spend pretty good chunks of their years before Year Five together. They saw each other quite a bit. Even though Snape maybe doesn’t… while Snape sees that surface value, it’s interesting that he did spend all this time with Lily and just managed not to even be able to see the parts about her that matter in Harry. And that’s the part of contention, I guess, because it’s just amazing to me that Snape never got Lily, in any respect. And part of me doesn’t want to believe it, that he just didn’t understand Lily at all. But textually I don’t really see any other reason to think otherwise.
Alison: Yeah, I was going to say, [in] the conversations we see between them, he’s never asking her about herself. I mean, [in] that conversation in the forest, she’s asking him about the wizarding world [and] he’s responding. Then she asks him about his home life. It’s all very focused on him; there’s no real focus on who Lily is in that conversation at all.
Michael: And again, there’s the tragedy, perhaps, that really there was that potential for Lily to feel something more for Snape because she knew him really well, and he didn’t know her.
Michael: And we had a comment from SnapesManyButtons, actually, this past week on the main site, which I really… I wanted to read out because I thought it was an excellent comment, that said,
“Regarding Snape’s last words…”
Of course, his last words when he dies in the previous chapter…
“… the idea that Snape looks into Harry’s eyes to see Lily’s eyes is probably the most popular theory, but it is not stated definitively in the text. I guess it’s one of those things everyone has to interpret for themselves. I’ve seen some very nice posts suggesting that rather than seeing Lily in Harry’s eyes, this is the moment when Snape finally sees Harry for who he is, rather than as a reflection of his parents. Here is the boy he’s protected, and as far as Snape knows, he has just given him the information that will send him willingly to his death, and he finally sees him as just Harry.”
Kat: [sarcastically] Oh, that’s so romantic and beautiful!
Krystina: I don’t believe that’s true.
Michael: [laughs] So we don’t agree with this.
Krystina: I see something nice in it.
Michael: Because there is the fair point from SnapesManyButtons [that] when Snape says, “Look at me,” it’s not elaborated on. We get no definitive…
Alison: In the movie it is.
Kat: The movie doesn’t count.
Michael: In the movie it is, but put the movie aside.
Alison: No, I know it is but… yes.
Michael: The movie has its reasons for doing that, I think, actually, that are valid. But in the book, there isn’t any elaboration on it.
Kat: Sorry, no.
Michael: [laughs] I think that’s one that the listeners are probably…
Kat: No, see, listen, if you read it that way you’re going to assume that Snape can get past his racism, his bigotry, [and] all of his prejudices against Harry in two minutes? He’s had how many years to do that? I’m sorry, no. Snape is not a big enough person to care about anybody but himself and his motivations. This has nothing to do with seeing Harry or seeing who he really is and not seeing Lily.
Krystina: No, the last thing he’d want to see in his life, I think, is the closest thing he could get to the person he had this love for and Harry is how he can get that. It’s not Harry he’s seeing.
Kat: It’s a selfish notion like most of the things that Snape does.
Alison: I think I still agree with that but I like this idea because I’m a sap and I love having… I don’t know, but I think I still agree that… yeah.
Michael: Well, to wrap up, Rowling had her say in 2007 both on the Bloomsbury chat and at Carnegie Hall. The first one came during the Bloomsbury chats because that was in June of 2007, and she was asked [straightforwardly], “Do you think Snape is a hero?” Her response was,
“Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero, perhaps. He is not a particularly likable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity – and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love.”
She also said, in response to a question at Carnegie Hall in October that same year… Somebody asked, “Is Severus Snape’s portrait in the headmaster’s office?” And her response was,
“Some have been asking why hasn’t the portrait appeared immediately. It doesn’t. The reason is that the perception in the castle itself and everyone who was in the castle, because Snape kept his secret so well, was that he abandoned his post.”
Which, side note, confirms what we were talking about a few chapters ago, that Hogwarts has somewhat of a sentience of its own because Hogwarts itself decided to perceive that Snape was not worthy of a portrait. But continuing on,
“So all the portraits you see in the headmaster’s study are all headmasters and [head]mistresses who died[;] it’s like British royals. You only get good press if you die in office. Abdication is not acceptable… I know because I thought this one through though because it was very important to me[;] I know Harry would have insisted that Snape’s portrait was on that wall, right beside Dumbledore’s. As for whether Harry would go back to talk to him, I think, I am not sure he would have done… [A week after the book’s release] I went onto a fan site because I was looking for questions to put up on my website, which is sometimes difficult. And I was so heartened to see that people on the message boards… were still arguing about Snape. The book was out, and they were still arguing whether Snape was a good guy. But that was really wonderful to me because there’s a question there[:] Was Snape a good guy or not? In many ways he really wasn’t. So I haven’t been deliberately misleading everyone all this time when I say that he’s a good guy. Because even though he did love and he loved very deeply and he was a very brave man, both qualities I admire above anything else[,] he was bitter and he was vindictive… but right at the very end, he did, as your question acknowledges, [achieve] a kind of peace together and I tried to show that in the epilogue.”
So with that in mind, ladies, your final thoughts on Snape? Ready, set, go!
Kat: Do I have any more thoughts to give?
[Sound of Kat Stamp of Approval]
Krystina: I still don’t really like him a whole lot.
Michael: [laughs] Fair enough.
Kat: I will say that he is my favorite person to debate, and whenever I get into a Harry Potter discussion with somebody, somehow it always ends up at Snape and I love it. I love the fact that we can sit here and… We have been podcasting for three hours, by the way; I doubt the show will be that long. But just so you listeners know, we actually have put a lot into this and we have talked about a lot of things, and I feel like we’ve done Snape justice. Obviously, there’s nobody on this podcast that loves him and I think it’s going to be good and that’s it. Snape, for me, is not a hero. He’s brave, sure; not a nice guy – did not love in the truest sense of the word, in my opinion – but good. I don’t care that Harry named his kid after him. That’s cool. That’s Harry’s choice, not mine.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Alison: As a character study to debate over, fantastic. Probably one of my favorites in all of literature, ever. As a person, crap. Hate him.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: He’s rude, he’s vindictive, he picks on children, for heaven’s sake, and like Kat said, it’s not love. He may think of it as love [and] he may justify to himself that he loves Lily and that’s why he’s doing this, but it’s an infatuation; it’s an obsession. It’s not loving someone in the true, beautiful love that we want. I think a lot of people say, “Oh, this is a fairy tale; unrequited love,” but I don’t think it’s the kind of love that fairy tales and things like that are trying to get across; not that those are necessarily even real love. But I think it’s a fascinating debate, and I think the way that JKR was able to craft such a character that almost ten years later we’re still having fierce debates on is absolutely incredible. It’s one of the true gems that has come from Harry Potter, [that] such a great character that’s going to open up so many facets of life and choices… and who people are and what people can be.
Michael: Wow. I will say for my last bit on Snape that I pretty much agree with you ladies. I think he’s an exceptionally written character by Rowling and like you said, Alison, the fact that we can still talk about him like this after all this time… always!
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: … is very remarkable, and that so many people connect with Snape in various ways – so many readers connect with him in different ways and react to him in different ways – is amazing. I’ll admit, much of my bias really does come from the fact that he got Lupin fired in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Michael: To me, that’s a huge strike against him. But also, one of my biggest complaints about Snape in his adult years is that he, as a teacher… Like we’ve discussed throughout this episode, there [are] so many opportunities for Snape to have made better life choices, and as a teacher he has such influence over young people and the fact that he treats the students so horribly… As an educator myself, I can’t get past that because I can’t advocate Snape’s teaching style at all. And I’ve actually seen some listeners who stand up for Snape’s teaching methods as actually being effective, and I don’t believe that at all. I hate that Snape is a bully. I hate that he treats children the way he treats them. I think that it’s very unacceptable, but I’ve never been of the belief in education that you bully children or you toughen them up. I hate that method because I was a target of that by a lot of teachers in my life, and I couldn’t… And I had many wonderful, wonderful teachers who were the exact opposite of that. So I hate that method, but also that Snape, from the get-go, hated Harry without ever trying to see who he was as a person… People can point to who started it. It was Snape! In Sorcerer’s Stone, Snape looks at Harry sitting at the Great Hall and Harry feels the hatred coming off of him. And in his first class with him, Snape sets a trap for Harry to make him look like an idiot. And that somebody could do that to an 11-year-old, that’s… no. That’s not okay.
Krystina: Yeah, as a future teacher, [that] angers me.
Michael: Yeah, unacceptable. Unacceptable behavior. And while his… I do respect his actions. I think he was very brave to do the things that he did, but the fact that he did them for such selfish reasons and… As I think we really took apart in this chapter, he didn’t understand Lily as a person. Maybe that goes all the way back around to [the] beginning and answers my question of why Lily is portrayed as this saint-like figure because maybe while memories do show in the Pensieve the truth… You were right, Kat, from the beginning, that we were getting these through Snape, and maybe we are meant to understand Lily as Snape understood her by the way that she’s written purely as a saint-like figure who could do no wrong, and was worthy to be possessed, which I don’t agree with at all. That’s not a true relationship. Not a healthy one, anyway. So, listeners, we welcome your vitriol against all of that.
Krystina: Have at it!
Michael: Have at it; we want to hear you guys. We’ve heard you guys defend Snape, actually, this past week, and we want to hear that because that’s what Alohomora! is about. Not just our opinions. We want to hear what you, the listeners, have to say about this as well because, for now, that is the end of Chapter 33: “The Prince’s Tale.” Snape has told his tale.
Kat: I would really love if you guys would send in a bunch of AudioBooms because I feel like it’s more passionate to hear somebody really talk about something. So go over to www.alohomora.mugglenet.com. Send in some AudioBooms about Snape. I feel like maybe we can do something special with those if we get enough. Just saying. Of course, our Podcast Question of the Week this week is obviously going to be about Snape. It’s going to be a very Snape-y question, and we thought long and hard about this, and we did touch on this a little bit in the discussion, but we are very interested to hear what you have to say. So here it is, our Podcast Question of the Week for “The Prince’s Tale”: “The single most cited moment in Snape’s love for Lily is in his declaration that everything he does will always be for her. We see that the text states that, ‘His eyes were full of tears,’ and we assume that to be Dumbledore. Our discussion touched on this a bit but we want to know what you think is the motivation behind this rush of emotion. How does this moment define or inform the individual storylines of Snape and/or Dumbledore and the overall themes of the Potter novels?” So you know what to do. Head over to www.alohomora.mugglenet.com, leave your comments, leave your questions, hate mail if you must… if that’s what you need to do, go for it.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Or send us an AudioBoom and your comment just might be read out on next week’s episode.
Michael: And we should clarify, listeners, that if you do feel that the tears are Snape’s tears, you can feel free to argue that and go on a whole tangent about that, too, in the Podcast Question. Either way, we are still asking the question overall about what does this moment mean for Harry Potter as a whole, since you do have it all tattooed all over your ankle, you millennial, you.
Michael: But in the meantime, we want to make sure and thank our guest, Krystina. Krystina, thank you so much for joining us on this very Snape-y show today.
Krystina: Well, thank you very much for having me. I was to the point where I almost thought it wasn’t going to happen, but thankfully, it did. I enjoyed the time. Thank you.
Michael: And she told us she thought it was good as a listener, right?
Krystina: Putting me on the spot here.
Michael: We have one like. We will take it.
Kat: We will take it.
Alison: Yes, and if you want to be on the show and validate us like Krystina…
Michael: Too bad because we don’t have any more room!
Alison: Well, yes. Hallows is full. But if you did that fancy little Patreon thing, you might have seen some special videos about some plans for after the next month because we have four chapters left or something like that.
Michael: Oh my God.
Alison: So keep sending in your clips. Wink, wink. Hint, hint.
Michael: Nudge, nudge.
Alison: Yes, if you have just a simple set of headphones – Apple headphones, or the like – with a microphone, you are all set. Don’t need anything fancy, but you do need to validate us.
[Kat and Michael laugh]