Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Snape As A Victim Hero

""I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter"

"But this is touching, Severus," said Dumbledore seriously. "Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?"

"For him?" shouted Snape. "Expecto Patronum!"

From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe. She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

"After all this time?"

"Always," said Snape." Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

An important aspect of melodrama is the idea that the hero is “victimized” and “misunderstood” by the public only to be revealed as “good” at the resolution of the novel (Bosquet, 178). No literary hero exemplifies this archetype more than Harry Potter. Throughout the series he is continually seen by the public as “paranoid” and “delusional to others” only to end up following his gut and saving the wizarding world from itself in the nick of time (178). In the fifth book, Harry is cast out from the wizarding world altogether and targeted by the government and mainstream media for telling lies.  While the reader knows that Harry is telling the truth, the conflict of his own pain over being treated as a liar and troublemaker drive much of the conflict. As the ‘Harry Potter and the War Against Evil’ article pointed out, the Harry Potter series rely on “continuously recycling the revelation plot” that “Harry is, indeed, good, right, and virtuous after being mistaken by family, friends, the wizarding public…” The literary device is also repeated throughout the novels for other characters, like “Quirrel” “Tom Riddle,” “Sirius Black” and the final, biggest reveal of the true heroism of the character Severus Snape (190).

Although the Harry struggles to convince himself again and again that Snape is truly good, it is not until the sixth book that he and the reader finally conclude that he is evil. As Harry watches, Snape murders Harry’s father-figure Dumbledore. One book later in the cited passage, Harry watches from within Snape’s own memory as Snape reveals that Dumbledore and he planned it all, and that Snape had protected Harry out of love for his mother. This moment in the book comes at a climax, as Rowling continues her “reliance on the melodramatic economy of revelation.” Snape develops his character through the reveal of information, not development of character (189). This passage represents the ultimate reveal, in which Severus Snape is yet another “misunderstood” hero that has been “victimized” by the wizarding world and even Harry himself.  

Beyond exemplifying a plot device of melodrama, the passage itself is told in a melodramatic way. Instead of replying that simply that no, Snape has not grown to care for Harry, Rowling writes that Snape casts a spell showcasing his Patronus as a doe, which represents Lilly, Harry’s mother. Snape also utilizes melodramatic language, saying that Dumbledore has “raised” Harry “like a pig for slaughter.”

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