Michael Harle: Hey, Alohomora! listeners. Before we open the Dumbledore, we wanted to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by HelloFresh. Please visit hellofresh.com and use the promo code “Alohomora30” to save $30 off your first week of deliveries when you subscribe. HelloFresh is a meal kit delivery service designed to get you cooking. Now, as someone who’s fairly new to the whole living independently part of my life, I’m only just learning to be a dab hand in the kitchen myself. And me and my roommates definitely wish we had a wand to do the work for us. But HelloFresh makes the process really simple, really easy. They deliver the kit right to our door, and when we opened it, we found everything we needed in there: sauces, produce, meat, all packaged in a recyclable, insulated box. Now, we decided to try the creamy dill chicken recipe. The six-step instructions made the process very easy, and everything took only 30 minutes to cook. And we’ve done chicken before, but the last time I did it, it was super rubbery. Didn’t come out quite right. But the instructions ensured we cooked it to just the right tenderness, that the green beans and potatoes were prepped correctly, and we were especially inspired by the dill sauce with chicken stock, sour cream, and dijon mustard that all came in the box. And without the instructions, we would’ve never known to cook the sauce in the same pan that we did the chicken in to get some extra flavor for the sauce. And that’s the great thing about HelloFresh, because their goal is to inspire you in the kitchen and make cooking fun. And the best part was that there was absolutely no waste. The box was just enough food for every meal, and everything you don’t use is recyclable. HelloFresh is now even more affordable with the different meal options in each box, reducing to less than $10 per meal. And as an Alohomora! listener, you can save even more money on HelloFresh. Visit hellofresh.com and use the promo code “Alohomora30” to save $30 off your first week of deliveries when you subscribe.
[Show music begins]
Katy Cartee Haile: This is Episode 224 of Alohomora! for July 8, 2017.
[Show music continues]
Katy: My name is Katy Cartee Haile.
Michael: And I’m Michael Harle. Welcome back, listeners, to another episode of Alohomora!, MuggleNet.com’s “this-episode’s-super-controversial podcast of the Harry Potter series” – we’ll say…
[Jessica McCann, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Michael: … because we still don’t have a consistent tagline, it’s fine – where we open the Dumbledore on all of the craziest topics of Harry Potter, which we will definitely be getting into today. And because this particular topic that we’re getting into – which we will tell you about in just a moment – is so big, we decided that we needed two guests for this show. So listeners, please welcome both David and Jessica. Round of applause for David and Jessica for both joining us.
[Katy and Michael clap]
David Butt and Jessica: Hello.
Michael: Woo! And let’s go ahead and start with David. David, tell us a little bit about yourself, your House, how you got into Harry Potter, and also tell everybody who you are because you’re probably pretty familiar to most of our listeners.
David: Okay, well, my name is David Butt, and I am daveybjones999 on the Alohomora! [site], and that’s my username because I suck at naming things and I just used my email.
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Michael: Now you’re going to get so many emails, David.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
David: I didn’t tell them what the end is.
Michael: That’s true. That’s true.
David: I’m not going to tell them that.
Michael: So David, [which] House are you [in] and how did you get into Harry Potter?
David: Okay, well, actually, I have two Houses. Because when Pottermore first came out, I got Gryffindor. And that was awesome. And my wand was beech wood, dragon heartstring core, 13 inches in length, unbending flexibility. Which fit pretty well.
David: And when the new thing with Pottermore got redone, I did it again and I got Hufflepuff, which is also an awesome House.
Katy: Yes, they both are.
Michael: Yes, that’s fabulous.
David: And my wand became ash and unicorn, 13 1/4 inches, unflexible.
Katy: That’s interesting. So your wand stayed almost the same.
Jessica: You’re such an unflexible person.
David: That is extremely fitting.
Katy: I get it. I’m brittle, apparently. So I’m with you.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Michael: Katy is still very stressed about that. Did you say your core was the same? Was it dragon heartstring both times?
David: No, the second time it was unicorn hair.
Michael: Unicorn hair. Ooh, that is so cool.
David: An ash wand accentuates the stubbornness of the person.
Michael: [laughs] That’s fantastic. So what’s your history with Harry Potter? How did you get into it?
David: I got into it the way that most people did. When I was five or six, when the books were just coming out, my mom bought the first book and she read it to me and my brother when we were in bed, and we read the first two chapters, and I told her to stop reading because I didn’t like it because there wasn’t any magic.
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
David: So I told her to stop reading.
Michael: False advertising.
David: And then a little while later, in the school library at my elementary school, I saw Mary GrandPré’s cover for Chamber of Secrets, and I fell in love with that cover. And I remember that my mom had bought the first book, so I begged her to buy the second book, and I was hooked.
Katy: Wow. So we could owe your fandom to artwork. That’s awesome.
Jessica: That is cool.
David: If I didn’t get into it through the artwork, I definitely would’ve gotten into it through the movie.
Katy: Fair enough.
David: Yeah, and I got into it before the movie. I just finished reading the first two books and then the movie got announced.
Michael: Yeah, I was going to say, “I love that you said you experienced it like everybody else, but you were quite young, actually, for the group.” Because I think you were around Alison’s age when you started. [laughs] Because I’m just like, “Oh, he was five. Lord.”
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Michael: That’s fantastic though. That’s great.
David: Yeah, I read it [in] ’98, ’99.
Michael: [laughs] Well, thank you, David, for joining us. And Jessica, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jessica: Well, I was on a show previously before.
Michael: Yes, you’ve been on the show before.
Jessica: Yeah! Before we ended the chapter discussions. I was on one of the last chapters of the last book, so that was really, really fun.
Michael: And just like this time, Jessica swooped in at the last minute and saved the day to be another guest on the show.
[Jessica and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Literally less than 24 hours. It’s crazy.
Michael: [laughs] So remind us, though, your username on the main site, your Hogwarts House, and how you got into Harry Potter.
Jessica: Yes. So my name on the website is MoodyHorcrux. I used to post all the time a couple [of] years ago, but I’ve been really busy. I’m a professional ballet dancer, so I’ve really gotten into my career right now, and I’m in Japan, currently, dancing, so it’s in the morning here…
Michael: That’s wild.
Jessica: … when it’s nighttime there, right? [laughs]
Katy: Yes. That’s so cool!
Michael: Yes, and it’s the future!
Jessica: Yes! And I’m in the future! You guys…
Jessica: … I’m in tomorrow.
Katy: Is it any better over there?
Jessica: It’s beautiful.
Jessica: It’s beautiful.
Katy: I want to be in a better, beautiful future than what we have right now.
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Oh my gosh. Yeah! So I grew up with the books and the movies. I was 11 when the first movie came out, so I pretty much was the same age as Harry was while they were making all the movies and everything. And when I first got into Harry Potter, my mom got the first two books when I think the second book had just come out. I have family in England and they sent over the two books for me and my younger sister – she’s two years younger than me – and I got the first book and she got the second book. And I hated reading, so I hid the book from my mom. I threw it under my bed. I wasn’t interested at all.
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Jessica: And the first movie came out, and I remember being so scared of Voldemort. The face of Voldemort on the back of his head freaked me out.
David: It was horrifying.
Jessica: Yes! I vividly remember cowering on the couch behind a pillow like, “Oh my gosh! This is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”
[David, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Katy: Lightweight. Sorry.
Jessica: Hey man, it looked real back then.
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
David: Definitely. Especially if you were watching it from the third row of the movie theater like I was.
Jessica: Oh no! Yeah, I wasn’t even in the theater. I think my parents bought it or rented it or something, but I still was not into it. After the second movie came out, I started getting into it because then the other books started coming out, so then I started from the first book and started reading everything and I became instantly obsessed. And then the whole fan world on the Internet exploded and I exploded with that, and it’s history from there.
Jessica: Yeah, so it’s really interesting the Houses that David said that he was in because I also have two Houses. And when I first joined Pottermore in the very beginning when they were doing early access and stuff, I got into Slytherin.
Katy: Me too!
Jessica: Yes, really?
Katy: I hated it. I was so mad!
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Jessica: You know all those fan-made tests that were always online? I would take those all the time and I always got Gryffindor. And of course, reading the books and knowing the story, you are growing up thinking, “Oh, Gryffindor is the best. Of course I’m Gryffindor.” But once I took the test and I got Slytherin, it really made me reevaluate how I thought and felt about all the Houses, and it actually really made sense to me after I really thought about it. And my first wand was rowan wood, phoenix feather core, 11 3/4 [inches], reasonably supple flexibility. Which I really like. I like my first wand a lot. Then years went by, and then Pottermore decided to change…
Jessica: … as it is wont to do. Yeah. And so I created a new account because I was really just intrigued. I was just interested. And I got Ravenclaw. And I love that combination. I don’t know why.
Michael: Yes, that’s a great combo.
Jessica: I feel like I’m right between the two houses. And also, I think it shows my maturity through how I’ve grown up over the years. So I really like my Houses a lot. And my new wand… I got dogwood, dragon heartstring, 12 1/2 [inches], supple flexibility.
Katy: I’m really interested [in] you guys’ wands because I’ve taken the wand quiz several times and it’s almost always basically identical.
Katy: But there might be one tiny, little difference. But it’s almost always identical. It’s bizarre to me. So the fact that you two have gotten very different wands in two different quizzes makes me even more questioning. I’m like, “What the heck is wrong with me?”
[David, Jessica, and Katy laugh]
David: There’s nothing wrong with you.
Michael: Yeah, you two definitely got two drastically different wands. That’s crazy.
Jessica:: I know, isn’t it?
Michael: My wand changed a little bit, but I think the core and the length [of] mine stayed the same, but my wand wood switched to sycamore and my flexibility went down, which, actually, I was totally fine with my new one because I was like, “Yep, that’s definitely a reflection of who I am now versus who I was when I first did the quiz.” So no, it’s really neat how that evolves and changes.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s so interesting. With my rowan wand with my Slytherin House, [with] rowan, no Dark wizard has ever owned a rowan wand, which I love that I have that as a Slytherin. And it’s a very clear-headed, pure-hearted type of person. And with my Ravenclaw, my dogwood, it’s quirky, mischevious, powerful, clever, rather nosey… It’s so interesting. It can perform dazzling enchantments and stuff like that, and my wand grew in length as well.
Michael: So see, well, with all of these constant evolutions and changes in Houses and wands, I think it would be apt to say that Dumbledore’s line about “maybe we Sort too soon” is very pertinent to this episode.
David: Yes, definitely. 100%.
Michael: Because listeners, this week, we are diving back into – yes, you guessed it on Twitter – the great Snape debate.
Jessica: Part 2. Yay!
Michael: It’s kind of a Part 2. It’s technically Part 3 because really, this conversation actually started in the “Prince’s Tale” chapter, which raised quite a lot of passionate response[s]. And with that said, we ended up transferring over to YouTube to actually do a follow-up episode because we were still in the read-through at the time, and Rosie and I actually conducted a response episode that we did title “The Great Snape Debate.” So this is the first proper great Snape debate episode that is solely focused on that. But before we dive very deep into that very passionate discussion, we want to make sure [to] thank our Patreon sponsor for this episode, Sierra Harbaugh. Sierra, thank you so much for helping us out with this particular episode. It’s because of you that we can do this much-discussed, -talked-about, -wanted episode on Alohomora! And you, listeners, can become a sponsor for as little as $1 a month. We will continue to release special, exclusive tidbits for our sponsors on Patreon, so please check that out. And thank you again, Sierra, for helping us make this episode a reality. We’ve got to give our applause for Sierra. Thank you, Sierra.
David: Yay, go Sierra.
Michael: And another reminder for you, listeners, that you can get even closer to the magic of Alohomora! and Harry Potter this September 1 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. We have just announced one of our big special guests to the public. That’s right, Oliver Wood (Sean Biggerstaff) will be joining us at the event, along with Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley), and we’ve got a ton of other guests from the Harry Potter series. And we’re going to be there, the Alohomora! team will be there, to join you for this crazy cool event, where it is a private experience at Universal Studios. It is only open to ticket purchasers. There will be nobody walking around in sandals and short shorts and T-shirts saying, “Oh my God, look at this. Harry Potter. It sounds so cool.” No, it’s the serious people.
Jessica: Get out. Get out of here.
Michael: Isn’t that nice? [laughs]
David: Leave and never come back.
[Jessica and Michael laugh]
Michael: The most committed fans will be there to join you for this very special evening.
Katy: 120 degrees, wearing robes.
Michael: Yes! You definitely want to join us there on September 1 because you will regret just sitting on the couch, thinking that you could have been doing something awesome and special for this very important date in Harry Potter history, where – depending on who you ask – the series ends or starts the eighth story. But that’s a whole other debate for an entirely other time.
Michael: And we’ll get to touch on that just a tad in this discussion. But yes, let’s go ahead and with that said, get back into the great Snape debate. Now, before we get deep into this, let’s just do a quick summary of who we’re talking about. Just in case you forgot. Severus Snape, birth date January 9, 1960, death date May 2, 1998. He was 38 years old when he died. Which is hard to remember because most of the movie actors were not in their 30s, [laughs] by the end of the series. Some of the children were in their 30s by the end of the series.
[David, Jessica, and Michael laugh]
Michael: He is the son of Eileen Prince, who was a witch, and Tobias Snape, who was a Muggle, and he grew up in Cokeworth. He was obviously Sorted into Slytherin when he came to Hogwarts. Now, there are a few important things to note about Snape, just quick here from Rowling. Because he is the Potions teacher, as Rowling noted on Pottermore, Potions “carries a certain mystique and therefore status. There is also the dark cachet of handling substances that are highly dangerous. The popular idea of a Potions expert within the wizarding community is of a brooding, slow-burning personality: Snape, in fact, conforms perfectly to the stereotype.” And as added by Rowling in the “Vampires” section, because we just have to get this out of the way before we get into anything else, [laughs] “For a long time there was a persistent fan rumour that Snape might be a vampire. While it is true that he has an unhealthy pallor, and is sometimes described as looking like a large bat in his long black cloak, he never actually turns into a bat, we meet him outside the castle by daylight, and no corpses with puncture marks in their necks ever turn up at Hogwarts.”
[David and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Yes, he is not a vampire. He’s not a bat.
Katy: There’re a lot of clues though. We cannot be held responsible for thinking that.
David: We can’t. We cannot.
Michael: [laughs] So if you want more on that discussion, you can go […] listen to our old theories episode – which was a previous episode of Alohomora! – for more on that particular discussion. But here today we are really looking more at the more book-solid evidence about Snape.
Jessica: The actual person.
Michael: Yes, not going so much into the theories of “was he a bat or not?” But before we get into Rowling’s more detailed thoughts on Snape, I think it’s important to establish from the four of us… Because listeners, we listened to you. I always do my best to listen to you, but in this particular case of this episode, I wanted to make sure I heard you. Because there was quite a lot of pushback on our first discussion about Snape because nobody liked him.
[David, Jessica, and Michael laugh]
Michael: So let’s go around. We’ll have our guests start. We’ll go Jessica, David, Katy, and then me. Jessica, how do you feel about Snape?
Jessica: That is a really broad and difficult question to answer.
Michael: [laughs] Yes, that’s why we have the whole episode.
Michael: If you were to summarize your feelings, if you had to explain it to somebody on the street, just quick.
Jessica: Okay, well, I don’t necessarily think that he is a hero. I don’t think he’s a villain either. He’s in that perfect gray area because he’s had a really difficult life and I don’t think anyone ever really tries to understand him except maybe Lily, maybe Dumbledore. But in general, I have always been on his side. Except for when I was young and reading him for the first time. I hated him.
Katy: That’s understandable.
Jessica: Yeah, yeah. You’re naturally made to hate him in the beginning, but as the books go on and as his story begins to unfold, I was captivated and I got so intrigued and I wanted to know more about him, and I could always tell that there was so much more to him that we did not know, and it made me crave to know more about him, and it made me think about his reasoning behind why he was doing certain things. I started to think of what he was doing in a deeper way. I was trying to figure out why he was doing what he was doing and stuff like that rather than just focusing on what he was doing and being angry [at] him [for] that, just in general. But I think he’s a very intriguing character. I think he’s one of the best plot twists I’ve ever read. He’s an amazing double agent. I love his character and his story, basically.
[Jessica and Katy laugh]
Katy: In a nutshell.
Jessica: Basically, in a nutshell, I love him. He’s the kind of person I grew up love-hating, and now I love understanding him.
Katy: So what about you, David?
David: Me, personally, I really like Snape. He’s the character that I used to love to hate, and now I have a lot of sympathy and empathy for [him]. He’s the character that’s so tragic that I want to go up to him and give him a big hug and say, “It’s all going to be okay” and then tell him, “It’s okay to feel these things that you’re feeling, but you should maybe not act on them as much as you’re doing because you’re hurting people. But I still like you.”
Jessica: Right. Like, “Let’s sit down and have a conversation, have a cup of tea…”
David: Go over why it’s not okay to treat children this way.
[David, Jessica, and Katy laugh]
Michael: I don’t know how Snape is going to process that hug, David.
Jessica: He’d be like, “Please get off of me.”
Katy: He probably would.
David: And I also have something that’s actually really relevant to this discussion. My Patronus is actually a doe.
Jessica: What?! I’m so jealous. No! I got a cat.
David: Yeah. When I first did the Patronus test… I’ve only ever done it once, through my second account in Hufflepuff. I didn’t do it any other times, and I got a doe, and I was like, “Wow!”
Katy: That’s amazing.
David: I thought it was pretty awesome.
Michael: He can’t cast his Patronus unless he goes, “Always” every time.
Jessica: With a big circle of his arm.
Michael: Katy, what are your feelings on Snape?
Katy: I am open-minded about Snape.
Katy: I’ll say that. I went ahead and relistened to Episode… I think it was 184? Where it…
Jessica: Yeah, so did I. I think you’re right.
Katy: Yeah, just so I was up to date. And yeah, that show was definitely all Snape hate, which I understand. I absolutely understand the points that were made and why they were made. But after listening to that, and then the follow-up at the beginning of the next episode with the responses to comments people had left, I started to see a little bit of the other side of Snape. And then I did my own research before this episode, and I have a much greater appreciation for him as a super complicated person and a unique character. So I don’t love him or hate him, but I think he’s really just deadly interesting, if that makes any sense.
David: That makes perfect sense.
Jessica: Yeah. I love that – “deadly interesting.”
Katy: Yeah, I don’t know.
Jessica: I think that’s why I love him so much. He’s just so deadly interesting.
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
David: He’s the most complex character in the series – or one of them, probably.
Jessica: One of them, yeah.
Michael: And that brings up a point that I wanted to ask you all about before we go into Rowling’s thoughts. What is it about [Snape]? Why is it Snape? Because I think more and more, even, with the discussions I’ve seen through the reread with Alohomora!, almost every character had layers uncovered in a really fascinating way. And there was much heated discussion about multiple characters: Dumbledore, Lupin, Harry, Hermione, Umbridge, Malfoy… Everybody got unpacked, all of these controversial characters within the series. Though as much as those characters are talked about and loved and discussed at length, Snape gets a very special response compared to almost all of those other characters. Why? Why do you think that is?
Jessica: That’s true. Yeah, everyone always goes back to Snape. I think maybe it has to do with the fact that he plays the game so well. I mean, people who hate him have a lot of reason to hate him. The people who really like his character have a lot of reasons to really like his character, maybe think that he is a hero. The whole “Snape loved Lily/Snape didn’t love Lily” thing… It’s really fun to debate that. It’s very black and white, and he’s just split right down the middle. And it comes down to J.K. Rowling’s way of how she really makes us think about everyone’s choices, and with every character that she writes, we see where their choices take them. And his [journey], I think, is maybe more tragic than Malfoy’s [journey]. He’s more of a gray area, so it makes it harder to place him, I think.
Michael: It’s so funny because I think a lot of the fandom lately has… Again, as the years have gone by, there has been more unpacking of these other characters in the series, and I think probably the next most controversial one as far as how we’ve discussed them on the show is Dumbledore. And it’s interesting, though, to think why initially Dumbledore wasn’t the one who got this response compared to Snape. Because Dumbledore has so much revealed at the same time as Snape; Deathly Hallows is a big reveal for both Snape and Dumbledore. So why was Dumbledore a slow burn compared to Snape?
Jessica: Maybe it was the love of Lily’s story. Maybe that captured people’s attention more than what was going on with Dumbledore. Maybe we had to take a minute and then go back to Dumbledore and realize what was also happening with him. But maybe that captivated the audience quicker.
David: Yeah. I’d agree with that. I also think that one of the reasons is they’re foils and opposites of each other. I think part of the reason is that Snape was a bad guy who turned out to be not quite as bad and who ended up being much more complicated than that. And Dumbledore is the opposite. He was originally really good, the most altruistic good person in the series. and then we started to get a bit more layered about how he wasn’t such a perfect person. And I feel like because of Snape’s status as a former villain, that that had people immediately go, “Wow! Oh my God, I didn’t see that coming! I didn’t see that” and just revealing all of that stuff that he did and that he was always on the side of good ever since they killed Lily, and even a little bit before then.
Katy: I think that’s right on. Absolutely.
Jessica: Yeah. And with Dumbledore, it’s more humanizing him. He’s not so perfect.
Katy: And you have a whole book of learning about Dumbledore as they go through the Rita Skeeter book and they find out information, whereas with Snape we get [one] chapter. So it’s all just dumped into our heads at once and we’re like, “Oh my God!” We’re reeling from it at the end. Whereas with Dumbledore, it is more of a slow burn, and by the end of the book, you’re like, “Oh, gosh, I don’t know what to think of this guy anymore.” I mean, the “King’s Cross” chapter redeems him a bit for me anyway, but without that, I think I would probably come away from the series hating him a bit. But with Snape, yeah, I think you’re right that we get that love angle right at the end. It gives us a warm fuzzy, and we can overlook some of the bad until we go back and reread, and then we’re like, “Oh, wait a minute. So he wasn’t that great all the time.”
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Michael: That’s very true.
David: I’ll agree with that all the time.
Michael: No, that’s a really excellent point, that it’s the last pieces that we get from both of them in Deathly Hallows and how that leaving from that affects how we move forward from that. And then, really, the thing to also recognize and celebrate, listeners, is the 20th anniversary of Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone just passed.
David: Yeah, that was last week, I think.
Michael: Oh my gosh, what a milestone. And of course, we’ve come ten years past Deathly Hallows, and so while this series has obviously been in our lives for a long time – because this series has managed to endure, if not just as strongly as it did when it first came out – I think that people are still in this reread process. While we started this reread podcast many years ago, Pottermore is just doing a reread now. This is becoming a thing with the Harry Potter series, to go back.
Jessica: I know. I saw that and I was like, “How dare you! Alohomora! did it first.”
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Michael: Yes, you can hear [Harry]: “How dare you stand where he stood!”
Jessica: That’s exactly it. That’s the new Pottermore.
[David, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Come up with your own ideas!
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Michael: So with that said, though, it’s like we’re still just starting to reexamine… I’ll say for myself. I mean, I was just talking about this with my roommates, but the reason I tend not to remember lots of details from Order through Hallows is, I’ve read those ones the least in comparison to the first four, which I just had so much more time to reread because we had our gap between Goblet and Order, and I was just trying to glean any information I could, and we had those books for longer. So I think the fandom as a whole and academia as a whole is still trying to process the whole string of things, in addition to things like Pottermore plus Twitter plus whatever other Cursed Child kind of things come out of the Harry Potter fandom. And speaking of [which], I think it’s a perfect segue into some of Rowling’s thoughts post Potter. Of course, she really couldn’t talk much about this during the actual writing process because she didn’t want to give anything away. And really, I don’t know how you guys experienced the finale, but I know when the last book came out, Scholastic had a set of downloadable bookmarks on [its] website for the finale. And there were seven of them, and they had what Scholastic decided were – and we talked about this on an episode – the seven key questions of Deathly Hallows. And one of them was “Is Snape good or evil?” And already, the marketing was really pushing this dichotomy of Snape. And Rowling definitely encouraged that too with how she just kept holding it over our heads but never giving us the answer, which was for the best, of course. But then once the information finally came out, she had recorded an interview with Meredith Vieira on The Today Show, which also aired extended on Dateline in 2007, pretty much right after the book was published. And it’s funny you were saying, Jessica, using the word “hero” and how it relates to Snape.
And she was asked by Meredith Vieira, “Was Snape always intended to be a hero?” And Rowling’s response was, “Is he a hero? You see, I don’t really see him as a hero. I knew from the beginning what Snape was. Do I think he’s a hero? To a point I do, but he’s not an unequivocally good character. Snape is a complicated man: He’s bitter, he’s spiteful, he’s a bully. All these things are still true of Snape, even at the end of this book. But was he brave? Yes, immensely. Was he capable of love? Very definitely. So he was a flawed human being like all of us. Harry forgives him, as we know from the epilogue. Harry really sees the good in Snape, ultimately. I wanted there to redemption and I wanted there to be forgiveness, and Harry forgives, even knowing that, till the end, Snape loathed him. Unjustifiably. It’s totally, totally unfair that he loathed him so much, but there you are.” And the follow-up question that she got from this very lucky little batch of children who somehow won their way into this interview… If any of you children are listening, you should come on Alohomora! because you were the luckiest kids in the world. But one young lady asked Rowling, “If Snape didn’t love Lily, would he still try to protect Harry?” And Rowling’s response was, “No. He definitely wouldn’t have done. He wouldn’t have been remotely interested in what happened to this boy.”
And since that time, Rowling has been constantly barraged with questions and thoughts about Snape ever since she got her Twitter. And just two years ago on November 23, 2015, suddenly, the Snape discussion sparked up again, and Rowling decided to hop in and play, which is always fun. If you’re ever so lucky to be in on that Twitterfest, kudos to you. But [with] this particular one, she started out with some responses. Unfortunately, some of the original tweets that she was responding to are no longer available, so I do not have the tweets that instigated her responses. But I do have a few of her thoughts on Snape from this point, and the first one is that she said, “Snape died for Harry out of love for Lily. Harry paid him tribute in forgiveness and gratitude,” to which user @CaptPlanet responded, “Kind of strange you’d say ‘in forgiveness’. I mean, Snape held no malice against Harry (which Harry came to knew [sic], eventually).” Rowling responded, “That’s not true, I’m afraid. Snape projected his hatred and jealousy of James onto Harry.” Rowling also said during this time, “There’s a whole essay in why Harry gave his son Snape’s name, but the decision goes to the heart of who Harry was, post-war.” So Rowling continued with the tweet “Snape is all grey. You can’t make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can’t make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world,” which got a passionate response from @maddiekayray, who said, “Well, [you] can [because] he bullied small children and died for his obsession [with] [L]ily, not to save the world.”
[David and Michael laugh]
Michael: Strong words there, which Rowling replied back with, “Snape was a bully who loved the goodness he sensed in Lily without being able to emulate her. That was his tragedy.” Rowling also said, “In honouring Snape, Harry hoped in his heart that he too would be forgiven. The deaths of the Battle of Hogwarts would haunt Harry forever.”
Jessica: I love that.
Michael: You can just see John Tiffany sitting there just being like, “Ooh! Cursed Child! Ideas!”
Jessica: Oh my God, no.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Katy: Don’t taint that tweet with those awful words!
[Katy and Michael laugh]
David: But they’re not awful words. I love Cursed Child, but I don’t consider it canon.
Jessica: I don’t accept Cursed Child. I don’t accept it.
Michael: We may not agree on Snape, but we have a whole range of agreement on Cursed Child, it would seem.
Michael: She wrapped up her thoughts on November 23, 2015, by saying, “Snape didn’t die for ‘ideals’. He died in an attempt to expiate his own guilt. He could have broken cover at any time to save himself, but he chose not to tell Voldemort that the latter was making a fatal error in targeting Harry. Snape’s silence ensured Harry’s victory.” And Rowling followed all of these thoughts up this year on May 2, when she did her annual apology for the war, the deaths who were taken by her pen. And she chose to open up the conversation again by saying, “OK, here it is. Please don’t start flame wars over it, but this year I’d like to apologise for killing (whispers)… Snape.” And then she ran for cover, according to the asterisks.
Jessica: I love that.
David: I love that too.
Jessica: So cute!
Michael: She did not stick around for that discussion.
David: Sorry, but they’re not going to listen to you. They’re not going to listen to you, J.K. Rowling, on that one.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Michael: She didn’t stick around for that conversation, left immediately, and let the Internet take care of that one.
David: Yeah, it’s the Internet. People will start flame wars over everything, so… yeah.
Michael: Yes. Wise decision on her part.
Michael: And I couldn’t help but pull a few thoughts to add to the discussion from our listeners because when our Social Media team revealed that Snape was the topic of discussion on this episode, my oh my did the responses come a-flooding in.
Michael: I picked a bunch of them out. I’ll just read a few of them here. We’ve got one from Letty Nardone, @LettyLibrarian, who said, “Childhood depression led to young adult insecurity, Snape found acceptance with the wrong sort, then tried to make amends.” Sara Tripp, @saralynn1357, said, “I think I once read him described on [M]uggle[N]et simply as, ‘a sad man who died a sad death,’ which I think sums it up.” [laughs]
David: You said that too well.
Michael: [laughs] Bairbre, @Ceilliemiss, said, “Snape, whom people are determined to change into a hero. He was NO hero. He did not love Lily. She was an obsession. Harry had Lily’s eyes. If Snape loved her he could never have treated her son so badly. He was obsessed. That is not love.”
Jessica: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
David: I would have to disagree with that one, but…
Jessica: No, no, no. I disagree.
Michael: [laughs] Good. We’re going to get to that. [laughs]
Katy: Yes, we are.
Michael: One of my favorite tweets actually came from – who was it? – Rebecca Jane Blanton, or @BlantonJane, who just gave us a list of adjectives:
“Stalwart Insular Lonely Self-Sacrificing Dauntless Scornful Spiteful Exiguous Cruel…”
David: “Exiguous”? What does that even mean?
Michael: It’s a good word. I bet it means something fabulous. I’m going to look it up right now because I didn’t even notice that word.
Michael: Oh, let’s see what it means! I probably even pronounced it wrong. “Very small in size or amount.” Interesting.
Katy: We all learned something new.
Michael: But let’s look at these words one more time:
“Stalwart Insular Lonely Self-Sacrificing Dauntless Scornful Spiteful Exiguous Cruel Unswerving Unloved Vigilant Stoic.”
And then after quite a long space, she also added, “missed.”
Michael: Which fabulously was responded to by Lucy Cathy @Lucy_Cath, who said, “I think it would be the best epitaph.”
Jessica: I love all the words that they used, but I can see a reason in the story behind every word and why.
David: I’m going to have to start using “exiguous” in my everyday life now.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
David: Word of the Day is “exiguous.”
Michael: “Exiguous,” yes. No, what I love about this is, every word is contradictory. And I think that is very important going into this discussion. There are many more responses, listeners. You can check them out if you follow us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN. A lot of people had a lot of things to say there, as I’m sure they will in the comments for this particular episode. But as we have now summarized pretty much everybody’s thoughts… I did look up Rickman’s thoughts. Rickman didn’t actually have that much to say. His view on it was like, “Yes, it was a job and I played it and I did it well and that was that.”
Michael: But we will get to Rickman. He very much had an affection for playing Snape. I think in a very similar way, his approach to it was not unlike Michael Gambon’s, where he was just like, “They give me the script and I do the script.” I think the difference [between] him and Gambon was that he was like, “I’m going to respect the original text as well.”
David: I still don’t understand why that one line makes everybody hate him so much. I mean, that was pretty much his only line that was out of character for Gambon.
Michael: Grossly out of character.
Jessica: But it was so out!
David: I know it was really out of character, but…
Michael: Out in the stratosphere.
David: … I just can’t let one line out of character ruin his performance.
Katy: I think it was just the fact that he was also running down the stairs and running through the room and grabbing [Harry’s] shirt and throwing him into the trophies. That made it go overboard, I think.
Michael: Well, I think that does speak to the two of them and how you hear them in interviews especially. Because Gambon really says, “Yeah, I read the script. They gave me the script; I read the script. I didn’t read the books. Who cares?” And Rickman did seem to have a familiarity with the text. He made sure to read the books. I don’t know. I’m sure he read them all, but as far as the interviews I dug up, he never said [that]. But he implied that he read them, and he was very involved in the costume… That was a big thing for him, the look of Snape and the costuming. He was actually the one who demanded all of the buttons, and he demanded that the sleeves go up to halfway up Snape’s hands.
Jessica: Right. I remember that interview where he was talking about it, and he said that there was just something about the thought of him having to do that every single morning just helped him get into character, thinking how Snape literally just sucked himself into this outfit every morning. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah. I believe Rowling might have revealed it. He never did, because he promised Rowling he wouldn’t. But it has come forward that she did tell him the big detail that Snape loved Lily and that he knew that from the very beginning or very early on during production. So he was playing with that in mind, and he did request some kind of end goal. He wanted to know the basics of the end of Snape’s arc so that he could play him through the series. So that’s where Rickman stands on Snape. That said, let’s open the original book, shall we, and focus on the source text here a little bit. First of all, listeners, you can’t see this beautifully color-coded, super rainbow Doc, because all of these lovely points… Everybody gets a color code when you come onto Alohomora!, and all of these amazing contributors for this particular show have done an excellent job. But before we even start in with adding in their points… I tried to line them up in chronological order, [but] a few things go out of order. We’re also going to really hone in on [Books 6-7] because generally, Snape has some revealing moments in the first five books, but really, his shining moments come in [Books] 6 and 7. So we are going to really pin down Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, specifically “The Prince’s Tale.” But that said, I think it was Katy who was going to kick us off with this particular point.
Katy: Yeah, you’re right. We are going to be jumping back and forth a lot.
Michael: A lot. [laughs]
Katy: Because I was trying to go with [the] earliest part of his life that we know about and go forward and then… Yeah. It’s just going to jump around.
Jessica: It’s just hard not to, because everything connects to everything. It’s hard.
David and Katy: It does.
Michael: Yeah. We’ll see where it all takes us, and I think this is actually a good place to start.
Katy: Cool. So this is something I came across in my research. I had forgotten the line. I guess this is in the “Prince’s Tale” chapter, actually, which I did reread before this episode and then I forgot half of [it], like we always do. But in 1995… No, I’m sorry. This is not in “The Prince’s Tale.” This is probably in Order of the Phoenix – Sirius is saying this to Harry. So yeah, in ’95 he mentions, “Snape knew more curses when he arrived at [school] than half the kids in seventh year.” Which doesn’t seem to line up with what we know of Snape before going to Hogwarts from what we see in “The Prince’s Tale.” So it made me really curious. Did he learn these curses from his mother or from magical books they had in their home? In the memories we see and in his worst memories, we see him cowering in a corner as his parents are fighting. He’s not standing up to his father and cursing him or jinxing him or doing anything. He’s scared. So I’m like, “Okay, did he actually know all these curses before he got to Hogwarts and that’s the type that people put on him before he even really had a chance to make his personality known?” Or was Sirius exaggerating? And maybe Snape learned the curses shortly after arriving at Hogwarts, so they just assumed he already knew them. So what do you guys think on that?
Michael: Well, it’s important, I think… Just to clarify, this comes from, if I’m remembering correctly, Order of the Phoenix. It’s after Harry sees the memory of what James did to Snape.
Jessica: Right. During their lessons.
Michael: Yes. And this is Sirius’s attempt to quell Harry’s concerns about his father. So that’s where this comes from. So Katy, I think you already brought into question the…
David: … validity?
Michael: Yes. Yes, thank you, the validity of this comment. So that’s something to keep in mind, definitely, about that particular line.
[Editor’s Note: This quote is from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when the trio is speaking to Sirius about Mr. Crouch’s mysterious behavior and illness.]
Katy: Yeah. Because when we see him in “The Prince’s Tale” – the flashback with him and Lily – he’s not teaching her curses. He’s not talking about cursing people or jinxing people or Dark magic of any sort. So yeah, it definitely made me question Sirius a bit more, and I know that’s going to be a whole other episode that you guys do at some point. I hope that this point gets brought up again when you do, because I think that says a bit about Sirius as well, that he’s painting Snape with this brush that he didn’t necessarily deserve at the time.
Jessica: Well, I think it’s natural for Sirius to paint… I mean, they weren’t friends. And if you’re not friends with someone, you don’t really know them. It was probably an assumption. Or maybe there is some truth behind it because yeah, sure, he wasn’t teaching Lily curses or he wasn’t infatuated or obsessed with the idea of powerful Dark magic like Tom Riddle was, but Snape was still very smart. He was still a very powerful wizard even at a young age. Maybe he did reading at home. Maybe they were his mom’s books or maybe she bought them for him so that she didn’t have to teach him anything. Or maybe reading was the only thing that he liked to do, because he seems like such an introverted person. How did he find out all of these facts that he’s telling Lily, like about the Dementors and stuff like that? I’m not really sure how much communication he had with his mother. It’s really hard to say, because we have no background story in-depth about his family life. Rowling hasn’t really given us any detail about it, so it’s all up to guessing at this point. So it’s hard.
David: Are we sure that when Sirius says “curses” that he specifically means Dark magic? Because there are several curses that I don’t think are necessarily Dark magic, like the Jelly-Legs Jinx or [the Stunning Spell]. You could technically count those as curses.
Jessica: That’s a good point.
David: So it could mean more like offensive spells, possibly.
Jessica: I think he did more defensive spells than anything, maybe. Because wasn’t he attacked more than he did attack in his school years?
Katy: What we see.
Michael: Yeah, that’s also up for debate.
David: The way that it’s always framed in the series is like the relationship between Draco and Harry before Draco and Harry. So I think that that would be untrue. Although it’s slightly reversed, because James was a little bit more like Draco and Snape was a little bit more like Harry, without being as similar as both of them.
Jessica: Right, I see what you’re saying. Snape wouldn’t automatically go for [the] attack. Just like Harry, he would always use defensive spells rather than attacking people. Is that what you mean?
David: Well, that’s not really what I mean. In the sense that Snape is the slightly abused kid who doesn’t really have a good relationship outside of Hogwarts, James is the spoiled rich kid.
Jessica: Right, [he’s] really taken care of and… Yeah.
David: I think because his parents are really old.
Jessica: Right. Like Draco and Harry, yeah.
Michael: I think the piece that’s maybe important that throws a little bit of complication into that is actually the memory that Snape gives to Harry – the moment when Lily is giving Snape a talking to about who[m] he’s been spending his time with, these future budding Death Eaters who are not good company. And Lily does summarize, “Hey, these guys aren’t good people. They’ve been doing bad things to other students. I don’t really approve of that.” So it’s hard because we don’t actually see it; almost all of that stuff is off-screen. Snape’s retaliations, or taking any action like that in his school days, is not seen on-screen as far as I recall. So it’s a little hard to say because we do get that also from other sources that Snape would also attack just as much as James would.
David: Yeah, and it looked from that one memory that James, when he attacked, was more [about] humiliation, and Snape might have been a bit more on cursing than just humiliation. Which both are equally bad, but for different reasons.
Michael: Yeah, Sectumsempra is not a nice spell.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
David: No, it’s not a nice spell. It’s not. But he never used that on James.
Michael: At least as far as I have read, Sectumsempra is implied to have been… It’s not confirmed, but I believe it’s implied to have been the spell that… I think that was also a discussion we had on the show because there'[re] conflicting timelines about that, but it’s possible that it was the spell. Because the thing, too, is – I think people have noted before [as] well when Snape used it on James – he didn’t start bleeding profusely; he just got a cut. But the thing is, Snape also had more knowledge and control of the spell than Harry did. But I think your point, David, is correct that Snape’s spells that he’s practicing… all of them aren’t necessarily offensive. Sectumsempra relies more on that, but most of them, like Levicorpus, [are] not a harmful spell. It’s not fun.
Jessica: It’s a smart spell.
Michael: So yeah, there are some of his spells that aren’t necessarily malicious in that sense.
David: Yeah, like Muffliato.
Michael: Yeah, that’s a perfectly innocent one.
Jessica: Yeah. Those spells or charms that he’s made are very cunning, like Slytherin is cunning, and I feel like he was so brutally embarrassed all the time by them. Imagine this boy, so very strong [and] talented. He has a lot of good traits, but he doesn’t have any friends to share it with. He’s always publicly humiliated by these people who[m] Lily would rather hang out with, and Lily was the only friend he ever had, and of course he would make spells and curses like this. Think about the thoughts that he had sitting in his room alone. And I feel like the friends that he made in Slytherin House was him trying to fit in with the ideals that he already had, so of course it’s easier to fit in with people who think the same way that you do. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was the best path for him – I don’t think it was – but I think that’s part of the beautiful tragedy in his story: The choices that he made [are] his downfall.
Michael: Well, and we had touched on this early in the conversation with Katy’s point, and I think some of that goes down f[u]rther in our points that I think we should maybe hit on now. Jessica, you came up with some really interesting discussion about nature vs. nurture and some questions that [it] raises about Snape’s home life and his upbringing.
Jessica: Yeah. Well, I wanted to ask you guys what you think. Was [it] nature or nurture that turned him into who he was as a boy and as a child and a man? I want to know what you guys think.
David: I definitely think it would be nurture rather than nature, because there’s really nothing in his thoughts to suggest that he was actually born… I’m not quite sure what you mean by nature vs. nurture in this sense, because I don’t really think growing up with abuses [is] natural or anything. Would nature be stuff like mental…?
Katy: I think nature is more like genetics, right?
Jessica: Exactly, yeah. It’s how you’re genetically born and how you naturally think and are or how the world has shaped you. And are you on the side of…? Are you saying that you think that the world shaped him and he let it shape him?
David: I think it’s more nurture. I think some of that stuff would be nature. I mean, he is very cunning and he is very ambitious, so I think that part of his personality is just natural. But I think that some of his more nastier aspects are definitely 100% due to nurture.
Michael: I think that Rowling, through the memories that we get in Hallows, is trying to lean the reader more toward nurture. I think especially the scene that Katy brought up where he is cowering in the corner as his parents are arguing, that’s a really recognizable visual for everybody, and you immediately become sympathetic just reading that for Snape. And I think that has a lot to do with it, because the other thing we talked about, too, is that when Snape encounters Lily in the memories in “The Prince’s Tale,” he also really pushes away Petunia. And we all discussed where his elitist views on Petunia come from, but the thing that I thought was worthwhile to keep in mind, too, is that Petunia is being really elitist toward him. And from the way I read it – and this may not necessarily be correct, but this, I think, affects it too – I think Petunia plays a big role in how Snape’s views are shaped because of her relationship to Lily.
Jessica: I think he already has those views when he meets her, and maybe it sort of just verifies his previous beliefs.
Michael: His views that he already has.
Jessica: I think it just verifies, like, “Oh yeah, I was right,” based on…
Michael: Well, yeah. Because that brings up your other question, Jessica, that you had put in the Doc. Because we know from seeing the other memory that Snape goes to Hogwarts with a predisposal toward Slytherin, and he doesn’t really seem to like Gryffindor. And that…
Katy: Yeah, and where the heck did that come from?
Jessica: Exactly. I was wondering, did he get his ideals from his mom about blood value and Slytherin? Does that mean that she was in Slytherin? I have a feeling that she was or else none of this would really make any sense.
David: Yeah. Well, remember, she did marry a Muggle, so if she felt that way, it would be specifically because of [her] tumultuous relationship with her husband than something natural. And this sort of thing just seems to be some[thing] people just get natural[ly] – because he’s part of the wizarding world – so he just gets impressions from his mom of Hogwarts. Because I could see her talking about Hogwarts.
Jessica: I wonder if maybe his mother’s relatives were more on the pure bloodline side of purity and everything, and maybe her family was ashamed of the fact that she went off and married a Muggle. So maybe Snape knows about that shame of the family and how his relatives view the wizarding world, and maybe that’s how he learned about it.
Katy: And now we’ve raised more questions than answers once again.
Jessica: I know!
Katy: I love it! I love it!
Michael: I think the thing that we can take maybe textually that we know is that… And I think, again, Rowling is trying to maybe push the idea of that. I think we’ve seen throughout the series, but we see the root of [it] in the “Prince’s Tale” memories, that Snape is powerless throughout most of his life. And Slytherin, as we know, exudes a sense of power; its history suggests power. And so granted, you can also make the same argument for Gryffindor, looking at the fictional history of Gryffindor. But that said, maybe there’s something about that that puts that into perspective as well. I mean, just as much, we’ve had a discussion about why Hermione was so intent on Gryffindor when she first got to school, having no experience past her reading.
Jessica: Right. Maybe it’s just what these children read and hear, and then it creates this idea of what the House is in their mind, not necessarily what it is in reality.
Michael: Well, yeah, just because we know what everybody says about Gryffindor, that doesn’t mean that that’s what everybody says. So I think that’s important as well. Yeah, we don’t, unfortunately, have that backstory information on Eileen Prince. She is a pretty enigmatic figure, actually, in the Potter story.
Jessica: I really, really, really, really want her story so bad because I feel like… Wouldn’t it answer so many questions, don’t you think?
David: It would answer so many questions, yeah.
Michael: The adventures of Eileen Prince, captain and president of the Gobstones team. [laughs]
Jessica: And that’s all! What is that information? That gives us nothing!
Katy: And is she, or is she not, the current librarian? We’ll never know!
David: She became Madam Pince.
Michael: Crazy theories.
David: Yes, she’s Madam Pince. It’s my headcanon.
Jessica: I was just going to go back to the nature vs. nurture thing. The psychology behind all that is… My views are that nature definitely shaped who he is. I think the good parts of him are the things he was born with, like his natural talent and his natural ability and his cunning capability and everything, but she makes it seem as if he really grew up not having anything. It looks as if he’s not been properly socialized whatsoever, and he seems controlled, and he seems sheltered. He’s around fighting and arguing all the time, so maybe he does just read and hide and think about all the things he wants to do once he leaves. People are always like, “Why is he such a jerk? Why is he so rude? Why is he so mean?” And I think it’s because of how he grew up and how he was treated. He can’t help but, now as an adult, still have baggage from his youth – all of the abuse that he went through publicly and his family. The only person he ever had any kind of good relationship with was Lily, and he lost her. And I feel like he can’t help but project onto the students that he’s teaching that he is supposed to be nurturing. But how can he nurture students when he never received any nurture himself?
Katy: But counterpoint: He had a very difficult childhood, yes, but was it worse than Tom Riddle’s or Harry’s? No.
Jessica: No, it was not.
Katy: Harry would’ve turned out very different. So… And Harry didn’t have a friend like Lily. He had nobody until he found out he was a wizard. He literally had nobody his entire childhood. So you could almost say that Snape had a leg up on Harry but then made completely different choices once they got to school. And even on the train to school, the people they associated with, they talked to, how they talked to them, made friends, etc. So I do get what you’re saying, and I definitely think that plays a part, but I think it also still goes back to Jo always hammering in the thought that our choices are the most important thing, and he made really bad ones a lot of the time.
Jessica: Exactly. I agree; “no” is right. It’s not worse than Harry’s childhood or definitely Tom’s childhood, but I think the beauty of JK’s writing is that Snape is in the middle of both of them. He’s not evil like Tom. He’s not this story hero like Harry. Snape’s story shows someone with a troubled childhood who wasn’t loved and who was misunderstood his whole life, and you see the choices he makes and how he turns out to be, and he’s right in the middle of both of those characters, and he ends up trying to make up for it in the end, I think.
David: Yes, I think that’s very true. His choices really were what helped shape his life later on, and I think that Snape could also be this cautionary tale about what could happen if you let life’s hardships make you bitter and resentful, which is what happened with Snape. It’s not all his fault, but he does let it get to him, and he chooses to be bitter and resentful.
Jessica: Yeah, he chooses to fester in it, and he chooses to let it affect him, and it’s definitely a lesson to not let your past affect you; you can rise above it, but he didn’t give himself that option.
Michael: I think what you were saying earlier, Jessica, that really caught my attention was how you were talking about how he’s come from a very controlling environment. Potentially, he’s coming from an environment where he doesn’t have very much, and what I always thought was interesting about that is his relationship with Lily, because I think that’s the middle point that we’ve let ourselves gloss over just a bit here because we’re jumping ahead to his adulthood, which [is] understandable because there’s a lot to talk about here. But Lily, I think the big part that she plays and what’s really interesting about what you were saying, Jessica, is that I think if Snape’s only experience and model was seeing his father controlling his mother, I think, unfortunately – and I do think this is subconscious. I want to put this out there before the listeners jump at me – he subconsciously attempts to control Lily. The thing that he finds is that she doesn’t go for it.
Jessica: Maybe, but maybe he doesn’t realize it’s controlling. Maybe…
Michael: No, no, and that’s what I mean. It’s subconscious. It’s…
Jessica: Subconsciously doing it.
Michael: It’s something that he’s seen modeled and doesn’t necessarily mean to emulate, but that’s something… If anybody who has worked with children or has children, [you’ll know] they are sponges. And if they don’t have any other examples to work from, they tend to parrot behavior that they see from the people they are either around, even if they admire them or not. It’s mostly just exposure, and I think in Snape’s case… Because I think one of the big things is, Snape comes into this sisterly relationship, that as far as we see, in the first introduction, is not terribly antagonistic.
David: No, it’s not.
Jessica: I think he’s very intrigued and excited about finding her.
Michael: But in doing so – and I think it is debatable whether it’s purposeful or subconscious – he pushes Petunia away. And I think it’s so excellently done, because it’s that scene where he may or may not have made the branch fall on her. And it’s so great because it’s left ambiguous.
Jessica: I love that it’s unclear.
Katy: Yeah, me too. But he seems genuinely surprised too.
Jessica: Yeah, and that could’ve been surprise at Lily’s reaction, like, “Oh, I didn’t know that she would be so upset about that happening,” or it could be surprise like, “Oh, I didn’t mean to do that.” I like that it could be interpreted different ways.
Michael: But that said, as they move forward from that, and we see the memories following after that, Snape’s attempts to separate Lily from Petunia seem to become more concentrated. And…
Jessica: I think it’s because they don’t like each other. So he wants her friendship; he’s desperate for a friend, and he looks at her with yearning – right? – and with, I guess, lust and desire. Are those some of the words that J.K. Rowling uses in the memories?
Katy: I think it’s just greed.
Michael: Let me trot over to my book and I will see.
Katy: Yeah, I definitely don’t think it was lust at that age. I’m pretty sure it was just greed.
Jessica: Yeah, I think that’s how he feels toward Lily when they first meet, is that he’s so excited to meet someone who is like him, and he sees how powerful and talented she is. He sees her talent; he sees her beauty too. You can’t help but see that. And the more he gets to know her, [he] is a bit jealous of her kindness. The greed that maybe is shown in his eyes is probably the greed for wanting what she has or admiration for her talent. I think he really admires her and falls in love with her. And it’s his version of love because [with] the environment that he grew up in, he has a very skewed version of what love is. And I know you guys had talked about in a previous discussion of “What is real love?” And that’s so hard. That’s such a hard thing to talk about because it totally depends on the person and their life, and what your real love is goes as far as what you’ve experienced.
David: And there'[re] different types of love. There’s love for your family; there’s love for your friends; there’s romantic love. There’s all types.
Jessica: Yeah, and I’m just going to say it right now since we’re talking about love: I think that he definitely loved her, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he didn’t. He was also obsessive, but that doesn’t mean that’s not love. Like you said, David, there'[re] different types of love, and everyone is different. Everyone experiences different things, different types of love. Snape’s love wasn’t a healthy love, if you look at it with all the knowledge, but how can you blame him for that? Because he had no other experience with love.
Michael: I agree with that. And I think I generally expressed this before, but my view is that he did love her but that it was unhealthy and that it… Because actually, I was just reading the passage, and in the span of just, like, three pages, she uses “greedily” twice in two different memories. Because I remember, I think on the episode, the thing that really struck up a lot of the discussion among us and among the listeners afterward was, there was a split between “Does Snape love her?” or “Is he obsessed with her?” And we had a few hosts who were on one side and a few hosts who were on the other. And I think there was even the suggestion put forward that he was lusting after her abilities, her persona, who she was. And I think it’s worth noting, that, yes, Rowling does say that he, as she put it, “loved the goodness he sensed in Lily without being able to emulate her.” So there is an element of that…
Jessica: And I think that’s part of the greed that you see in his eyes. He doesn’t know how to obtain that or be that, and he admires that in her.
David: And Lily has everything that he doesn’t: a loving family, a loving relationship, she’s smart… Well, he’s smart too.
David: She’s pretty, and she has a sister who[m] she gets along relatively well with. He doesn’t have any of that.
Jessica: Yeah. And I also don’t think it was a healthy love, but how could he ever have a healthy love?
David: I’d disagree with that part.
Michael: That’s an interesting question, yes, because I think that gets us toward the discussion about the revelation of the Patronus and…
Jessica: Right. Maybe we should talk about that.
David: Yes, we should.
Michael: And I think that also brings up comparisons to Voldemort and the recent discussions we’ve had about him and his ability to love.
Jessica: I just briefly wanted to say… I know that it was discussed briefly in the past: What would have happened if Snape went into Gryffindor instead of Slytherin? Do you think maybe he would have had a “normal” love, then? If maybe they bonded, [he] and Lily, and maybe if they got closer? What do you guys think on that? Just briefly before we move forward, do you think that that would have changed him? Or do you think that he would have still kept his stubbornness and his beliefs, and do you think that they would’ve still parted and not been friends?
David: I think that they would have stayed friends and it would have been different. Because we also have to remember that Snape was put in Slytherin, which is a really good thing because Slytherin is a great House, but during the period when Voldemort is surging up and gaining a lot of power, specifically in this time period, it would be a very difficult time period to be in Slytherin and not… Because a lot of people would be having these feelings The person who clapped his hand on his shoulder is Lucius Malfoy, who’s a prefect, and he puts his hand on Snape’s shoulder. And we know what kind of person Lucius is. So I would think that, yeah, he’s trying to take him under his wing and sow and nurture that bigotry in him. And it’s a lot harder – not impossible, but it’s a lot harder – to be able to get past prejudice when you’re surrounded by people who think that way. It becomes a lot harder.
Jessica: Exactly. So then it makes you feel like you’re in the right, and you shouldn’t change, because there'[re] all these other people [who] agree with you.
Katy: Jessica, what was your question again? I think I missed part of it. I’m sorry.
Jessica: It’s okay. I was just wondering, what do you think would’ve happened between him and Lily, and if he were Sorted into Gryffindor, do you think that would’ve changed him and his relationship with Lily? Do you think maybe they would’ve had a love or a relationship at all?
Katy: I think it would have been completely different. And of course, we don’t know why before he even got on the train he was predisposed to want to be in Slytherin – probably because of his mother, but we don’t know why. But then in running into James and Sirius, that didn’t give him a great start for people who wanted to be in Gryffindor, so that just added to his bigotry or whatever. But Lily was Sorted first; they go in alphabetical order. And when she went to Gryffindor, why did he not immediately go, “Oh. Well, maybe I should be in Gryffindor too so I can stay with my best friend?”
Michael: Ooh, that brings up some big questions about his relationship with Lily at Hogwarts.
Jessica: Yeah, I wanted you to bring this up so badly. Thank you.
Jessica: Maybe he didn’t realize he had a choice. A lot of the students don’t realize they have a choice, but we know that they do because Harry was told he had a choice, so then he chose.
Michael: Unless you’re Neville, and then you choose Hufflepuff and the Sorting Hat says, “Screw you!”
David: That could’ve possibly been what happened with Snape. It could’ve been, but we don’t see any indication of that, but I think that we might have seen it in the memories. But it could’ve been that he wanted to be in Gryffindor, but the Sorting Hat just wouldn’t have it.
Katy: It’s possible.
Michael: I can definitely see the potential…
David: It’s possible.
Michael: … if he wanted that in that way. And coupling that with our previous observations of the use of the word “greedily” and what we’ve said about his relationship with Lily… Be it not upon the Sorting Hat to be the matchmaker, but at the same time, perhaps the Sorting Hat was like, “That’s not a good reason to be in Gryffindor.”
Jessica: Maybe. Maybe he was having thoughts about it, but the Hat was like, “Nah. No.”
Katy: “She’s too good for you.”
[Jessica and Katy laugh]
Michael: Yeah, because the Hat does see into a core of who you are, at least at that age, because I think Katy did note that line, and we’ve said it already on the episode: “I sometimes think we Sort too soon.” There’s definitely an element in the Potter series, a belief that people can change, that people have a choice to change. So that Sorting, I think the point of that, is to say that putting people in these boxes before they’ve even had a chance to become adults does have a very severe effect on an individual.
Jessica: And I think he would’ve been great in Ravenclaw.
Katy: Yes, I agree. I completely agree.
David: I agree with Ravenclaw.
Michael: Yes, I have to give out a shout to one of our listeners, Rebecca, out in Australia. She auditioned for this episode, and she almost got on, but unfortunately, she had a dentist appointment that she could not cancel, so… [laughs]
Jessica: Oh no.
David: I feel so sorry for her.
Michael: To give her credit, she had already canceled three times on the dentist, I guess, so that’s why she couldn’t cancel this time. But she actually did bring up that point in her audition, the idea that maybe by being Sorted… Because we had already discussed on the show about him being Sorted into Gryffindor, but the idea that maybe if Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff was somewhere where Snape had gone, how would that have brought out…? Because as she said, I think that though Snape has clear Slytherin traits, it was probably the worst House he could have been Sorted into [since] it brought out the worst in him.
Jessica: I totally agree with that.
David: Yeah, definitely, mostly because of the time period in which he was placed into Slytherin.
Jessica: Well, yeah. He was sucked up into all of that.
David: Although I don’t think he ever would have made it in Hufflepuff.
David: Not a Hufflepuff.
Michael: Well, okay, because the other thing that Rebecca brought up was what other traits of the four Houses could have been brought out of him had he been Sorted into them? And we know that Hufflepuff is mainly focused on, at least by the Sorting Hat, hard-working and loyalty and kind of a “the rest” [of the] group kind of an idea, like, “Hey, these are the leftovers but the leftovers that we love.”
David: I never really thought that they were ever leftovers. And thinking about it again, I actually think that Snape actually might fit Hufflepuff, because he is very hard-working and he is very loyal to his idea of Lily and his love of Lily. He’s really loyal to that.
Jessica: But also, Slytherins are very group based. Once they have their group, it’s like, “You can’t enter our group.” They’re very protective of each other. I know that I am with my friends and with the people [whom] I love. I’m extremely, extremely protective of those people, and sometimes I have a hard time letting new people in; I have to really sometimes have a good reason. But I feel like Snape is protective of Lily in that same way. Lily is his circle, his true circle. He has his friends in Slytherin who have taken him in, and who are shaping him, which is how he ends up losing his friendship with Lily, but I think, as far as Ravenclaw goes, that would’ve nurtured his book smarts a lot more, because he is very smart. I think he’s very, very smart and he’s a strong wizard, and I think Ravenclaw would’ve been really good for him. I don’t think he’s particularly brave enough to be in Gryffindor, but I think he is brave.
Katy: Oh, disagree.
David: I think he becomes that way later in…
Jessica: He’s not like that as a kid, but he becomes that through experiences. I agree, David.
Michael: Which is exactly what Dumbledore’s line speaks to. That’s exactly what he’s saying in that moment that’s supposed to be around the Goblet of Fire era, I believe, when he says that. So you guys are hitting on a great discussion topic. We’re skirting right around it, and so we might as well just hit it on the head, which is a big discussion for the pro- and against-Snape topic. A lot of the against-Snape side tends to say, “Well, then why didn’t he listen to Lily?”
Katy: A very good question.
David: A very good question, yeah.
Katy: Because he’s an idiot!
David: And I think that partially it might be that he’s not really listening to these issues, because the one scene we see that specifically in is when she’s talking about how awful Mulciber and the other person are. It’s very clearly noted in the narration that Snape didn’t seem to be listening because Lily had just insulted James and said he was a terrible, awful person. So he wasn’t listening to what she said about Mulciber and Avery being evil. I think it was Mulciber and Avery.
Katy: I have a question.
So we’re talking about these “friends” that he makes in Slytherin. To me, it seems more like a gang than friends, because he doesn’t actually seem to confide any feelings or emotions with these people later in life. They’re his associates; he does things with them, with Voldemort, etc, but they’re not his friends. He doesn’t consider any of them close to him, and he would never open himself or his heart up to them. Dumbledore is probably the closest thing he ever comes to having a friend later in life. And when you are in a gang, from what [I’ve heard], I’ve never been in one, but it’s hard to get out of. You can’t just tell the gang members, “Okay, peace out. I don’t want to do this anymore,” especially when they are turning into Death Eaters and they’re coming up with these horrible, Nazi-like ideas trying to get rid of people. So maybe he got trapped in that gang mentality. So it’s not that he didn’t want to listen to her or didn’t hear her, but he just actually felt like he could not get out of it and just didn’t communicate that to her, maybe?
Michael: I think that’s giving Snape too much leeway.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Really? Do you think that, really?
Michael: I agree that, yes, it is more of a gang than it is a group of friends. I agree with that entirely.
Jessica: Yeah, Snape’s only friend was Lily in school.
Michael: Yes. That said, I don’t think Snape has an understanding of the difference between the two at that point in his life. And again, for me personally, the way I read it, the way I choose to read it… And I’m open to the other interpretations, but the way I choose to read it is that Snape is still subconsciously – I do think he’s doing it by accident – trying to exert a level of control over his relationship with Lily. And I think, David, the quote that you said was very important. He has selective hearing all of a sudden when Lily is starting to talk to him seriously about “Hey, this isn’t okay.” And he’s like, “I don’t care. You insulted that guy [whom] I was worried about being your boyfriend.” And that’s…
Katy: I don’t know, though. Did children ever really go into gangs saying, “I want to be a gang member”? It’s more “Oh, those are the people [who] are accepting me and giving me attention and bringing me into their circle, whereas otherwise, I’m by myself; I’m isolated like I’ve been my entire life.” He wasn’t necessarily signing a piece of paper and putting a red bandana on his head, like, “Oh, I’m a Blood now.” It’s more he got sucked into that, and those were the people [who] paid attention to him. I don’t know.
David: I really like that, and I partially agree with that, but I also partially agree with Michael as well [in] that I think it’s important to remember that the only memories that we ever see are those specifically relating to either Lily or Dumbledore. And I think that it’s highly possible that while they’re not friends… I think that the reason why he’s not that way, and he’s not friendly with them later on, is because of how much he changed later on in life, and he saw that that way eventually wasn’t good, and that’s why they’re no longer that way. And they might’ve possibly been that way a little bit when they were kids. It could’ve been a little bit more like friendship, but I definitely do like the gang analogy. I think that that does fit well.
Michael: I think the other important thing about the gang analogy is that there is an element – and you touched on that a little bit, Katy – of almost brainwashing, in a way. And I think that’s why Snape is so in shock when he approaches Dumbledore after Lily dies. And I think his whole world has been shaken, and he’s already being shaken by Lily and her attempts to get through to him in school, but when she says, “Nope. That’s it. We’re done. Three strikes and you’re out,” he’s still like, “But why?”
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Yeah. I just think he never really understood, and I think he was always so caught up in Lily’s friends. And like you said about controlling, too, subconsciously, not wanting her to be with the friends that she was making, because he didn’t approve or agree with them because of how they were treating and embarrassing him on a daily basis.
Michael: We’re getting into such a deep element of where we’re at in the world right now about how people listen or didn’t listen, rather, this selective hearing concept and also this instance where people are completely surrounded by [a] certain belief that they have no interest in believing something else.
David: Yes, and because they’re not around people who believe differently than them and they’re in their own bubble, they just can’t…
Jessica: … open their minds.
David: … understand other people’s facts and opinions.
Katy: But would his way out had been if he had listened to her and wanted to do what she said? Would they have even let him out, or would that have been a death sentence as soon as he was done with school?
David: I don’t really think it would be necessarily a death sentence, because, remember, although they do later on become Death Eaters, right now they’re 15, 16 years old.
Katy: But I think they’re already identifying as Death Eaters while they’re [at] Hogwarts. I’m pretty sure that’s stated in that chapter.
David: Yeah, well, nobody would’ve tried to kill him while he was physically… maybe afterward, but I think that if Snape did choose to try to change his ways after that, that Lily would’ve eventually forgiven him if he did show that he was changing and that he realized that what he was doing was wrong, and he chose to do that. I think that he would’ve been able to mend his ways with Lily and maybe eventually find himself in the protection of the Order or something.
David: If he did choose to do that. It depends.
Jessica: It depends on when he would do that. If it [were] further into their school years, James would not have accepted him as a friend. Sirius wouldn’t have, so it’s like, who[m] would he have to run to? And then…
David: Well, Lily wasn’t friends with…
Michael: No. No, she wasn’t besties with James, and I think that’s something the excess of Marauders Era fan fiction has led us to believe.
Michael: Colored our perceptions a bit about how she relates to the Marauders. But I think that’s also… Ooh, I’m trying to wrap up the Lily discussion because I think we’re bleeding into where we need to go with his adult life.
Katy: Can I say one other thing?
Michael: Yes, please.
Katy: I’ve got one other thing. Their last encounter where Snape is staying outside of the Gryffindor common room waiting for Lily, saying that he would sleep there all night if he had to. I believe that’s their last encounter where she just says, “Nope, bye. Never going to talk to [you] again.”
Michael: Yeah, that’s the big one.
Katy: If he had had the courage at the point to actually tell her his feelings, because he never actually says, “I love you” …
Jessica: Ugh, I know.
Katy: … or “I have feelings for you.”
Jessica: It breaks my heart.
Katy: I know! And we don’t know if she knows. Teenagers can be dense. I had a couple of guys ask me out, and I had no freaking clue that they had any interest in me whatsoever. I was just blindsided. So it’s possible that she really legitimately did not know he had these feelings for her. And you’re right – he was not brave at this point in his life. That did come later. But if he’d had the courage to say at that moment, “I love you,” do you think anything would have happened?
Michael: No. [laughs]
Katy: Do you think she would…?
Jessica: At that point, maybe she was getting closer to James and that group. I don’t… What year is this?
David: Fifth year.
Katy: Yeah, so not yet.
Michael: But it’s about to happen.
Jessica: Not yet, but exactly. It’s about to happen. I feel like maybe that’s what pushed her into them. I feel like even if he did say that, I think she would’ve said something like, “You never listened to me. Even if you did love me, you wouldn’t change for me, and the people [whom] you’re friends with now have changed you.”
David: And also, it’s important to remember that this is just after the Defense Against the Dark Arts OWL, so this is in June. So they wouldn’t have been in school for longer than a week or two afterward. They would’ve just went home.
Katy: But they live so close to each other.
David: Yeah, but I think that Lily might be avoiding Snape.
Michael: She doesn’t have to accept his invitation to tea. [laughs]
Katy: Oh, of course! It’s just that if she had said, “I will give you a chance if you change,” and then they spent the summer talking about these changes that he could be making away from this gang that he’s gotten pulled into, maybe…
Michael: I think by that point she had made clear that it was too late. And I think that’s actually what Snape is trying to show Harry by doing the memories he selects, that he recognizes finally and that…
Jessica and Michael: … it was too late.
Michael: The true tragedy of this part of Snape’s story is that he had Lily as a friend, but he spent the whole time fretting that he was going to lose her, and his actions over that are what pushed her away. He thought he couldn’t keep her because he just saw all of the threats. He saw all of the negative possibilities of how their relationship could end, but he made it happen.
Jessica: Through his fear, he pushed her away.
Michael: Yeah. I think we’ve examined the childhood part quite a bit. Let’s move into the adulthood section a little bit here, because there’s a lot to deal with there. I think the big thing is not only Snape’s relationship to Harry, but I think a thing that’s again cited frequently is, Snape was a horrible human being as a teacher! He abused his students mentally. He is a horrible instructor! Why would he be allowed to do these things as a teacher? Is he truly a good person if this is how he behaves, as far as we are aware, [on] an almost daily basis? How do we think that factors into this discussion as far as Snape’s behavior as a teacher?
Jessica: Well, it’s like what I said earlier: He’s projecting onto these children. He’s very smart and he’s talented, but not everyone is good at teaching; not everyone is good with children. I don’t know why Dumbledore thought he would be good with children when he barely had a childhood himself.
David: He shouldn’t have to deal with children.
Jessica: But Dumbledore is turning a blind eye, I think, to the mistakes that he makes as a teacher. Because of the ultimate plan and the ultimate story and the connection and the understanding that Dumbledore and Snape have together, I feel like he turns a blind eye to the things that Snape does as a teacher. Which I’m not saying is right.
Michael: Right. Well, no, no, no. I think that actually couples up with something, I believe, [which] is that I don’t think Dumbledore thought Snape was going to be a good teacher. [laughs] I think Dumbledore put him there for very similar reasons to putting Trelawney in her position, that it was actually…
Jessica: … to protect.
Michael: Yes, protection and security. And an asset that he was keeping safe at Hogwarts. I think the teaching was an incidental thing where he was just like, [as Dumbledore] “Well, I’ve got to do something with you, so… teacher.”
Michael: But actually, it’s great, because David has an interesting point about why he teaches specifically what he teaches. I think this is a really interesting idea, David.
David: Yeah, I think that one of the reasons why he teaches Potions and he loves Potions so much is because it reminds him of Lily. And the reason why Dumbledore specifically wants him in that role as a Potions Master and Potions teacher is to remind him of Lily and to keep him on the side of good by continually reminding him of Lily.
Michael: That’s really interesting if that’s [true].
Katy: That’s heartbreaking.
Michael: That’s really interesting, the idea from Dumbledore’s perspective, because I think the way I read it in Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore is holding Lily over Snape as a vindictive thing, as a torture device. Because when he sees the doe, Dumbledore is shocked that Snape shows a genuine love that’s still as strong as it ever was for Lily. But I think Dumbledore uses that as a poking stick for Snape throughout the years, just like, [as Dumbledore] “Lily, remember Lily? That’s why we’re doing this, right? Lily.”
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Jessica: [as Dumbledore] “Remember that thing you don’t want to talk about?”
Michael: I mean, if that’s the case, that’s even more messed up on Dumbledore’s part. [laughs]
Katy: Yeah, it is. I wonder if he was as good as Lily at Potions when they were at school.
Michael: Well, that’s a great [question].
Jessica: I think he was. I think he has a passion for it.
Michael: That’s a great supposition because there’s a theory that’s gone around in the fandom that, actually, Snape’s documentation of Potions work in the Half-Blood Prince’s book is potentially inspired by Lily, may have even been partly collaborated on with Lily, and that actually, she has involvement in that.
Katy: Yeah, because Slughorn says that she’s the one [who] had this innate talent with Potions, where she just figured it out without someone having to tell her to do different things [from what] the instructions necessarily said. She just had this gift.
Jessica: Maybe they both have this passion for the same thing, and maybe that’s another reason why he loved her. Another one of the reasons why she was a close friend is, maybe they shared a lot of their ideas and talents with each other.
Katy: That is possible.
David: Yeah. And I think that the reason why Slughorn is so taken with Lily and not Snape is, like, who’s Slughorn going to like more or notice more? The girl who’s nice and pretty and fun and nice to be around, or Snape, the one who’s all sallow faced and greasy haired and always has his nose in a book and is always keeping [away] from others?
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Jessica: The skinny kid [who] doesn’t talk.
Katy: They were both in his Slug Club, so that makes me think that maybe they were both equally gifted.
David: Well, I don’t think that Slughorn ever mentioned Snape being in the Slug Club.
Michael: Yeah, was Snape in the Slug Club?
Katy: He had his photograph.
Michael: He does.
Jessica: Well, yeah, that’s a fact that connects them both being equally talented and passionate about the same thing. They probably shared that.
Katy: Yeah. What frustrates me as well as him as a teacher, apart from the whole verbally abusing the children thing…
Katy: If he actually had a passion for this subject – and he is darn good at it – why didn’t he teach it with that passion and try to instill some of that in the students and encourage that? All he did was slap instructions on a chalkboard and say, “Do it” and then make them write long essays. He never said, “Okay, well, the book says this, but I’m telling you to do this because… XYZ.” He never makes them question potion ingredients or instructions; he never makes them think. He just says, “Well, this is the recipe. Go for it.” And it irritates me.
Jessica: I know. He could’ve made so many people so good at Potions with all of the knowledge he had to share…
Jessica: … but I don’t think he has the passion for teaching. You need to have some sort of passion in order to give passion and show it, and he might have kept that to himself on purpose. He is very talented and he’s very knowledgeable, but he is so bitter. He has so much… I mean, he’s not full of passion and full of inspiration to teach young students how to do things. He really does not care. And I really don’t blame him for not caring because of the really crappy time he had at Hogwarts while he was there.
Jessica: I just don’t think that he was ever going to be a good teacher, no matter how talented he was. He has no passion to teach anyone else anything.
David: Yeah. And I also think that it’s also accentuated by the fact that he’s teaching littler kids, people who… They’re not really little kids, because they’re 11 and not necessarily that little, but I think that maybe possibly in a college/university setting, he might possibly could’ve been a good teacher. Or if he only taught fifth, sixth, and seventh year, he might have been able to be a better teacher, but I’m not too sure about that.
Michael: I think what you guys were saying is evidenced by the Half-Blood Prince’s book itself. I think that book speaks to that. Snape didn’t have any intention of sharing it – it was all for him – and that moniker he made for himself is not a moniker that he shared. It was just this thing that he came up with for himself.
David: And I think that in the Potions book was one of the few places where he could truly 100% be himself and not to project anything or try to be something for somebody else. With Lily, he’s probably always trying to show his good sides to her, and when he’s with the Slytherins, he’s trying to conform to their viewpoints and with their bigotry, because of the time period where it is. And then this book is like a diary for him.
Jessica: Yeah, I was about to say, it’s like his diary.
Michael: It’s definitely equated to a diary, I think, especially when Ginny points out the similarities between her behavior with Riddle’s diary and Harry’s behavior with the Half-Blood Prince’s book.
David: Ring theory.
Michael: Yes, absolutely. And I think that, again, that adds to this tragedy of Snape’s character because what I love about Half-Blood Prince [is,] it is a very well-done, much more subtle revelation of another side of Snape that Harry gets so close to and does not realize what he’s doing for almost the entire book. And that’s one of the things that always disappointed me about Half-Blood Prince, is Harry pretty much immediately brushes aside his connection with the book and doesn’t think about it and doesn’t reflect on it or talk about it again. But in that way, that’s what makes that commentary so subtle, is this idea that hey, maybe the Half-Blood Prince’s book got to Harry a little bit. Maybe it opened his eyes to “Oh, I considered this book and this person who wrote this book like an almost imaginary friend. Oops.”
Jessica: And it was Snape.
Michael: [laughs] And it was Snape.
Jessica: The guy he hates the most.
Michael: And again, it’s interesting because that doesn’t come around in a way where he learns in that moment to say, “Oh, maybe there’s something about Snape that I can sympathize with.” Because he does have that moment with Voldemort that he’s forced to reflect on in Half-Blood by Dumbledore. And maybe that is what the training is partially meant for by Dumbledore, because Dumbledore is, of course, bound to his promise to Snape not to say anything about Snape’s feelings for Lily to Harry. So maybe that’s Dumbledore’s subtle way of just saying, [as Dumbledore] “I know you have the capability to think open-mindedly about other people, so do it for Voldemort, and maybe also do it for Snape when that comes up, but I’m not going to tell you about that right now.”
Jessica: Yeah, I think that definitely Harry couldn’t have possibly done that with Snape until the end, until he had all the pieces, until it was really unavoidable.
Michael: How fortuitous that he got the Half-Blood Prince’s book, in that case.
David: Yeah, and especially because he gets [unintelligible] right after he sees Snape kill Dumbledore.
Michael: That’s not going to…
Jessica: Yeah, there’s no way.
David: [unintelligible] so he can’t. He can’t.
Jessica: Yeah, maybe, sure, he would’ve been like, “Oh, it was Snape.” But then Snape would’ve killed Dumbledore and then he would’ve been like…
[Jessica and Katy laugh]
Michael: Yeah, no, because I think Harry is not the only one guilty of that. I think a thing we forget a lot about the beginning of Deathly Hallows is, everybody’s on Harry’s side, like, “Screw Snape! He killed Dumbledore!” Everybody is very much against Snape. So Harry is not the only one in that camp by that point in the story anyway. So I think that’s fair. I think that now the interesting other piece of the conversation to get into here in Snape’s adult years, and this tails on from his youth, but of course, we do have that moment where Snape calls Lily a very rude word [laughs]: the M word. And with that, there has been discussion on our show and beyond about Snape and his personal views and how they evolve or in some people’s eyes, don’t evolve. I will put up my hand and say that no, I do not think Snape is a bigot. I don’t think he’s prejudiced against Muggle-borns in his later adult life.
David: No, definitely not.
Michael: I think that’s gone.
Jessica: I agree. I agree. Yeah, the quote you have in the Doc from Nigellus, when they’re talking about Hermione in the Forest of Dean and he calls her a “Mudblood” and Snape says, “Do not use that word!” I think that’s proof enough there.
David: Yeah, and also, other than the one scene, we never see him call anybody that word, a “Mudblood,” or him treat any Muggle-born differently because they’re Muggle-born. With Hermione, it’s mostly because he’s just not that great of a person and because she’s best friends with Harry specifically too.
Jessica: Oh yeah, it’s like his… What’s the word I’m looking for? Harry and that whole… Anyone [who]’s friends with Harry or likes Harry. He just wants to make all their lives a living hell.
Michael: Well, yeah. I think when it comes to Hermione… Okay, so there’s a lot going on as far as Hermione goes for Snape. I think, yes, he doesn’t like her because she’s a friend of Harry’s. I think he also doesn’t like her because he finds her excessive knowledge coupled with her what he would consider attention-seeking behavior, which it’s not, but I think that’s what he confuses it for. Snape doesn’t find attention-seeking to be very attractive, which is funny because he’s so theatrical.
Michael: So maybe he hates that because he hates that part of himself. But…
Jessica: Maybe, yeah. So he’s just more projecting.
Michael: Yeah, I think Hermione represents just for him a lot [of]… I think what the brilliant piece of writing there is that his hatred for her is meant to be a red herring for what he hates. It’s not because she’s Muggle-born, but you’re meant to think that for a long time because she is a big target of his disdain throughout the books. So I think it’s meant to be just a misleading piece.
Jessica: And it could also bring back some really nasty memories of his past, and he maybe hates looking at her because he can’t stand thinking about his past. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why that specific memory is one of the memories that Harry sees because it was probably one of the biggest mistakes of his life. And he has a lot of regrets in his life, and I think that’s one of the biggest ones.
Michael: And that gets around to the conversation, I think, that’s really big that how Snape treats Hermione, how Snape treats Harry, [is] based on his past. Because a big argument, too, I think, and a big discussion point is that Snape mainly doesn’t like Harry because he looks like James, so he’s a constant reminder, in that sense. And I do think in their interactions, Snape tends to bring out the James side of Harry’s behavior purposefully; I think he goads it out of him.
David: I think this might be a quote from Rowling, but I’m not sure. I think it’s also that Harry looking like James is a constant reminder of the fact that Lily loved another man. It might be a quote, but I’m not sure.
Michael: Yeah, yeah. No, I think that’s obviously a big piece of it. That said, the thing that the argument on the other side of that is that Snape, as we know at the end, fixates on the eyes, on Lily’s eyes. And I think the argument that’s frequently brought up in the fandom is despite that he looked like James, he was still Lily’s son. And I saw a really funny meme today, actually, in the MuggleNet staff chat where it was a Tumblr post of where somebody said, “I just like to imagine that Snape gets into heaven, and Lily is there, and he’s just so happy to see her, and she starts kicking him and says, ‘How could you treat my son that way?’ And that’s their relationship for the rest of eternity.”
Jessica: I’ve seen that! I’ve seen that.
Michael: [laughs] And I think that’s a big element of where the choice comes in here because Snape is choosing to see James. He’s not choosing to see Lily in any aspect other than what… This is a big discussion in itself, but while the eyes are, of course, the window to the soul – and I think there’s definitely meaning to that within Rowling’s writing – at the same time, you could also say that overall Snape is focusing on more about the visuals and not about the person behind.
Jessica: I think he can’t help it and… ugh, I love Snape. I’m so sad for him.
Jessica: This poor, poor man. He can’t help but see the negative, and it’s almost like most of the time that’s all he can see. He was so tortured by this man, and now he has to see this child every single day, yet that is also the same child who is Lily’s son, and it’s like he’s tortured, and so of course, he’s projecting onto Harry and torturing Harry through… It’s selfish. It’s selfish behavior, but he cannot help it because of everything that he’s gone through, and with his past, he’s never been able to let it stay there. He never had any sort of… What’s the word I’m looking for?
Jessica: Yeah, like he was never vindicated for anything that was done to him. Through his actions, he lost the only person he loved or ever had a connection with, and he’s constantly reminded and tortured every day to remember that, which ironically, is his punishment that he has to live with every day.
Michael: And I think Snape recognizes that it’s a punishment when he makes his deal with Dumbledore. He knows what he’s going in for. I think that what people say and what they do are two very different things, and while Snape, I think at the moment, because of his intense grief over what he had caused… I think because that happened the way it did, that spurred his belief that he should just do whatever he could to atone for it. [It] doesn’t mean that he was going to be well behaved about it once he got into that situation for the rest of his life.
Jessica: Right. Yeah. He can’t promise his behavior will be perfect.
Michael: That said, at the same time, I feel like it’s important to maybe make a distinction between explaining Snape’s behavior and justifying his behavior. Because I think in that sense, we’ve explained it, but that does not justify his treatment of certain individuals in the series. [laughs]
Katy: It makes you wonder, if Harry had been born a girl [who] looked like Lily, would his treatment have been completely different?
Michael: [laughs] Yes.
David: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
David: He would not have hated Harry as much as he might… I think he actually might have had a decent relationship with Harriet.
Michael: [laughs] Harriet Potter.
Jessica: Oh, but I think it would have been so painful for him. It would’ve been torture. It would’ve still been torture. Just a different kind.
Michael: No, but I think, as we just discussed, that Snape is focusing on the visuals, on that piece of it. I think [with respect to] Harry, he can’t get past that visual. I think [with] respect to the other way around, I think he could get past it.
Katy: I could see that.
Jessica: Yeah, the fact that Harry is a man makes it just impossible.
Michael: Yeah. And it’s fascinating because the idea is, and I think Rowling pushes this idea, that the eyes are the window to the soul. But Snape… Ah, he can’t get through to that. And it’s so weird, because I think there’s evidence in the books, too, that there’s an active attempt by the other characters to make Snape see the Lily side of Harry. Like Dumbledore.
Jessica: I think he’s purposely ignoring it until the end, and he finally says it. I don’t think he wants to give Harry any sort of satisfaction in any way. It’s not like he’s going to walk up to him in the corridor and be [like], “By the way, I’ve loved your mother forever, and you have her eyes, and they’re very beautiful.”
David: Yes. Like in [the] A Very Potter Musical sequel.
Jessica: There’s no way that would ever happen. He’s in denial about it, and if he looks at Harry and thinks about “those are Lily’s eyes,” he’s not going to say it. He’s not going to act like he is looking at his eyes and thinking of Lily. He’ll maybe be thinking about something but say something crude and walk off. It’s not like he’s going to admit anything. He only admits in the end.
Michael: Yeah. And I guess I think the important thing for me and my personal feelings on that is that the argument that’s being presented by the fandom is that Snape didn’t have to tell Harry everything; he just had to treat him kindly. And I think, personally, I put that piece on Snape, because Harry looks at Snape the first time he sees him and he feels Snape’s hatred emanating off of him, and I think it starts there.
Katy: I agree with you. But it would’ve blown his cover if he [were] nice to him. Or if it’s a girl, and he treated her nicely, how would Voldemort ever believe that he was on his side?
Michael: No, yeah, I agree.
Katy: So he had to be.
Michael: Well, and that’s the persona that Snape has developed even before Harry had come to school, so it’s not like it could’ve maybe been changed in the moment. But it also had to do with Snape’s behavior even before that.
Jessica: Right. Also, I think maybe he tried to prepare himself for Harry to arrive. You know how you know something is coming, and you know you need to act a certain way, but you have all of these feelings, so many feelings, so many bad feelings…
Jessica: … but you’re like, “I have to be good. I have to do this right”? But then when the moment finally comes, all of those feelings just come flooding through the door and just take control of you and you cannot help it? And I think that maybe he tried to plan, like, “Okay, I don’t have to be nice to him, but I could at least try and be decent to him.” But I think the moment he saw Harry, he knew deep down he could never act the way that he should. All of the feelings just… He was prevented from being able to treat him like a decent human because of all of his past.
Michael: Before we move on to the last points we’ve got here farther down, Katy, if you’re still comfortable bringing it up, I’d really love for you to bring up your point about how people change. Because again, this was a very debated, heated topic on the original episode and as we moved forward with our discussion of Snape. And I think there'[re] still people in the fandom who are on both sides of either side of the argument about “Does Snape change?” in many ways. Does he change his bigotry? Does he change his attitude toward Harry? Does he change his attitude toward himself? Toward Lily? How does he change? And I think what you’ve shared here is really important to share with the listeners, if you’re up for it.
Katy: Absolutely. Because yeah, this was something I remember when I first listened to that episode and Kat was making the statement, I was getting emotional and wanting to scream back at my iPod or whatever I was listening to it on.
[Jessica and Michael laugh]
Katy: I’m like, “No, Kat, no! It’s not everyone!” And Kat knows I love her. This is nothing against Kat whatsoever. But in the episode, she stated that she thought people cannot outgrow prejudice, racism, and bigotry. If you’re raised in that environment, that’s just what you are and you’re never going to be anything different. But I disagree. I do think it typically takes a lot of time and/or a major event to change people’s minds and values, but it can definitely happen. And I can speak to this in my own life, because I was actually raised strict Southern Baptist with all of the bigotry typically associated with that religion. And I am ashamed to say that I was very homophobic, and I wasn’t racist, but I definitely had that homophobic thing preached at me ever since I was a child, and I was very judgmental of others until my early 20s. It took me until I was in college to get out of that bubble of my little hometown around all those same people [who] had always told me the same things and to start experiencing the world and other people and other viewpoints to show me, like, “Oh, there’s more to life than just what this one sect says.” So in Snape’s case, I think Voldemort killing Lily is what obliterated his obsession with the Dark Arts, and he was no longer prejudiced against Muggle-borns/Mudbloods, etc. after that point. But he had to keep up the act in front of the students to continue being a spy. But yeah, I just wanted to say that yes, people can absolutely change. It’s not easy, and maybe it’s not common, but it absolutely can happen, and I definitely think it did with Snape.
Michael: That’s just beautiful, and all I want to do is give you a big hug right now.
Michael: That made me want to cry. That was so beautiful.
Jessica: I totally agree with you.
Katy: Yeah. And it’s not even just that I changed; it’s that I [did a] complete 180. I’m a bleeding-heart liberal wearing rainbows all the time.
[David and Michael laugh]
Katy: I love everyone, and I want everyone to have equal rights and equality, equal pay, equal everything, equal gender treatment, etc. So yeah, it can be a little change, and it can be a massive one, but I definitely think change is possible, and people should strive for that.
Michael: And I definitely think that that is something that Rowling’s series believes in. But as we’ve all, I think, expressed throughout this discussion, I think you’re right, Katy, that it definitely is coupled with experiences, and I think in that same respect, those experiences are coupled with the choices you are presented with when those experiences happen. How do you choose to internalize and move forward from the experience you just had? And definitely, I think that’s a great point that we’ve all made here that in Snape’s case, there are still things to be done that prevent a greater change in some ways. But at the same time, they’re still choices that Snape is making within these confines that speak to who he was at different points of his life. And that’s why I think Rowling contrasts that journey with Harry’s, with Malfoy’s, with Dumbledore’s, these other individuals who had difficult experiences and who made choices. We should have a whole episode just on this. That speaks similarly to morals from The Hunger Games, specifically Mockingjay, and really the idea that no one really wins in war. Because I think Mockingjay comes out with that theme a lot more strongly: the idea that no one wins. Everybody loses something. But to start getting into our final points here, I think the one thing I did want to say, and maybe we can just briefly touch on this, because we’ve pretty much hit on our points about “always,” which is the keyword for a lot in the fandom… I think what I was going to say, as far as the last thing maybe to say on “always” for me, is that I think “always” has become for some… It’s hard with “always,” because it’s become that keyword in the fandom, and when it’s brought up in discussion, almost similarly to how “angst, angst, angst” is brought up in discussion…
[David and Jessica laugh]
Michael: … it doesn’t always invite the full discussion. You would hope that “always” would invite the discussion that, I think, we’ve all been having on this episode, but in some cases, I think “always” invites [an] all-or-nothing discussion on Snape. And I think that might, in some ways, be why the fandom is contentious about “always” and some people have become tired of “always.” Maybe it’s also because people are tattooing it on themselves. I don’t know. That could also be it too. [laughs] Let’s talk about the film a little bit, and I want to, again, shout out to Rebecca out in Australia, because another part of her audition suggested that it would be worthwhile to talk about Alan Rickman. Because as she put it, as she said, “I know that Alohomora! is a text-based podcast… – which, yes, true, but we do discuss the movies here and their validity to the series – “… but seeing [as] how J.K. Rowling gave Alan Rickman details about Snape’s story arc from the get-go, he actually had a lot more inside knowledge than the public for most of the movies. It might be useful to see what he brought to the character and how it differs from the books.” And I really love that she noted this specific moment from Prisoner of Azkaban. She pointed out that “caps lock Harry” is not the first caps lock character in the series. Snape has the honor of being one of the major “caps lock” characters in Prisoner of Azkaban, which Alan does not do that scene. That scene doesn’t show up in the movie. And as she put it, “I feel that a lot of people like Snape because of Alan Rickman, which is interesting because a lot of people think that Rickman’s portrayal was pretty spot on. He wasn’t wildly different from the books but is a lot more likable.”
David: I think that one of the reasons is that movie!Snape isn’t very shouty. He gets angry, but he never really shouts. It feels a lot like, in the movies, other than a few minor scenes, Snape is almost always completely in control of his actions, excepting a few small scenes, [whereas] I think that Snape in the books blows up a lot more than Snape in the movie does.
Michael: Absolutely. I agree with that. I think Rickman’s portrayal is very subtle, and yes, I agree. I think where moments that might have been comparable to the books where Snape has a loss of control, in Rickman’s performance, he tends to be just unsettled but never fully off-balance.
David: Yeah. He never feels like when he gets angry that he gets unhinged. Like in the scene in the Shrieking Shack, he feels really angry, but it doesn’t feel unhinged. After the memory, he feels angry, but he doesn’t feel unhinged.
Jessica: Yeah, he always seemed like this in the books, but especially how he portrayed Snape in the movie always made him seem like he had some sort of control over himself and how he was reacting to things. He would never yell out or anything like that, even when he was really angry. Yeah, he was never absolutely unhinged. He’s always had a pretty tight grip on himself for years and years and years, and I think the more you do that, the better you are at doing that. And he had to do it for a while.
Michael: Yeah. And going from the first movie, I think one of the interesting things is that I think Alan took a lot from that section where Snape introduces Potions class. And that’s the Snape that he plays almost consistently through the movies. And what’s interesting is, he did film the second half of that scene where he throws all the answers of those questions in Harry’s face, but it was deleted, and there’s a moment where he snaps at Hermione in that scene. Now, the other thing is, he doesn’t call the class “dunderheads” in the movie at all. And I think his insults, his constant barrage of insults that he throws, are really not in the movie as much. They’re there, but I think they’re way more focused than they were in the books. He throws them out at every opportunity in the books.
David: Yeah. In the movies, it’s only in a few scenes, like the “Turn to page ” scene, where he calls Hermione an “insufferable know-it-all.” But it’s much less frequent.
Michael: Yeah. And his antagonistic relationship with Harry grows a lot in Prisoner of Azkaban, but like you said, David, not even to the levels of the book, because once it comes down to the Marauders stuff, he brings it up, but he doesn’t seem to be as obsessive about it as he is in the books. And that doesn’t carry through because, of course, the issues that occur with the Marauders’ storyline from Prisoner through Deathly Hallows…
David: In the books, when Hermione is like, “Couldn’t we just listen to him?”, he’s just like, “Shut up, you stupid girl.” He just growls at her.
Michael: Yeah, he never lashes out quite that badly. So yeah, I think there’s definitely… By that point already, Rickman had established himself as this very charismatic villain persona, and Snape didn’t really change that. And while he definitely had a lot of inspiration and involvement in the costuming, he did not exactly portray Snape visually the way that he’s supposed to look. The hair isn’t quite as greasy. The nose isn’t quite so hooked. He’s not quite as sickly-looking as I think Snape is portrayed in the book.
Jessica: It is a pretty good-looking nose, though.
Jessica: It’s crooked enough for movies. It’s the same thing with Hermione’s hair and her buck teeth. In movies and Hollywood, you have to have a certain amount of attractiveness along with the characters, which is a shame.
Michael: And I think what you guys were saying about that scene in Deathly Hallows, yeah. “The Prince’s Tale” in the movie is a knockout scene, but my goodness, he is literally cuddling Lily’s dead body, crying in the [ramshackle] house, as Harry is crying, baby Harry in the background…
Jessica: Oh my God. And that’s amazing because you never see emotions like that from him in the movies until this moment. Then you see him truly unhinged, and you see him for the first time. You really see who he is, and you learn what he’s been going through.
Michael: Well, and it’s interesting because…
Jessica: You learn what has been behind the mask.
Michael: That scene is actually imported from another memory in “The Prince’s Tale” from the book, where Snape is crying over Lily’s signature. And I think that’s probably where they took it from and just moved it over. I mean, obviously, of course, yes. It makes more of an impact, visually. Of course it does. And I think it’s so poignant not only in that scene that he is crying over Lily, but that he is completely ignoring the crying baby in the crib.
Michael: And ostensibly, he leaves. He leaves the baby there.
David: Although maybe that’s what happened during the lost 24 hours there.
Michael: [laughs] That’s it. That’s what was happening in the 24 hours. We figured it out. Or maybe he was like, “Eh, okay” and just left. We don’t know anything. Granted, that’s when I suppose we get into, when we move into this discussion, this final bit of discussion here, about Cursed Child, which I think is perfectly led into with… Yes, we’ve got to do it.
Jessica: Maybe he went to go get Dumbledore. I just wanted to say that.
Michael: Oh. Maybe he went to go get Dumbledore. Well, again, that leads into Cursed Child because he wasn’t there. But I think the perfect lead-in with that is the portrait business that Katy actually reminded us of here. Katy, do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Katy: Sure. There was a Bloomsbury web chat that J.K. Rowling took part in [on] July 30 of 2007. And someone asked, “Was the absence of [S]nape[‘]s portrait in the [H]eadmaster[‘]s office in the last scene innocent or deliberate[?]” And she responded, “It was deliberate. Snape had effectively abandoned his post before dying, so he had not merited inclusion in these august circles. However, I like to think that Harry would be instrumental in ensuring that Snape’s portrait would appear there in due course.” And then, from one of the Pottermore Presents short stories that we got, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, Chapter 1, about McGonagall, there’s a quote that says, “Following a private conversation with Harry, Minerva McGonagall later took the controversial decision to add a portrait of Severus Snape to the gallery of old headmasters and headmistresses in her tower office.” So I think it’s great that he finally got his portrait put up.
Michael: And I think that leads into the discussion about Harry naming Albus Severus after Snape and where that goes and Harry’s forgiveness of Snape. I know this quote is out there, and I’m sure if I’d searched for it more, I would have found exactly where it came from. But Rowling was asked, “Did Harry go a little overboard with the Snape apologies?” And she said – and I believe it was in one of these web chats or something of that nature – “Yeah, I mean, he did go a little overboard.” But as she said in her tweet, and I think that’s partially what explains why he goes as far as he does with his views on Snape in later life, he is so guilt-ridden over things that have happened in the war that that’s his atonement for it. And Harry notes that throughout the series, but he knows that people have made grandiose sacrifices for him and for the greater wizarding world. So…
Jessica: Yeah. That drove him mad. He hated that.
Michael: Yeah. Yeah, so I think it makes sense. I do think it is a little overboard in some cases. I don’t think the portrait is overboard, though, personally.
Jessica: No. I think the portrait is justifiable. I mean, I think it’s proper. I think it’s really nice. But yeah, the name’s a little much. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah. I think the portrait is a nice recognition of what Snape did in his efforts in the war. And I think a big thing is that while the students were physically abused during his time as Headmaster, he did his best to ensure that they were kept as safe as they could be under the regime.
Jessica: That’s true. As much as people hate him for how cruel he’s always talked to children, he’s never actually [physically] harmed or hurt. He’s protected, if anything, and I think that shows his true nature.
Michael: He is up for killing their pets, but that’s… [laughs]
Jessica: Well, those aren’t them.
David: Well, not necessarily. I always assumed that if Trevor [were] actually poisoned, that it would’ve been, “See, this is what happens if you don’t do Potions correctly,” and then he probably would’ve…
Michael: Brought him back to life. [laughs]
David: He’d probably have an antidote on hand.
Michael: He probably would. Still not my favorite method of teaching, as an educator myself. I don’t do that.
Jessica: No. Well, of course not. He’s not necessarily a professional teacher.
Katy: Unless it’s Defense Against the Dark Arts, and then he’s all into it. Whatevs.
Michael: Oh, yeah. This is interesting because this is a piece of this fandom that we did not have when these initial Snape discussions occurred on Alohomora! Fast-forward a few years, hey, Cursed Child is out now, for better or worse.
Michael: And who should show up, of all the things, but Snape. But not quite exactly Snape as we’ve known him. Snape shows up at the beginning of Part 2 of the play, in Act 1 of Part 2. He is in an alternate future timeline or universe, depending on who you ask, where Harry has died; Voldemort has won, seemingly has Delphi on his side; Umbridge is in charge of Hogwarts; and Snape is still a double agent working with Hermione and Ron, who’ve become militant. But he encounters Scorpius. Scorpius manages to win him over by spewing Pottermore information at him.
Michael: And lo and behold, all of [a] sudden, Snape, who up to that point is very guarded and does not really want to talk about anything and wants to get rid of Scorpius, completely opens the door, takes his heart out, and puts it right on his shoulder. Oh, and then he dies. Again. [laughs]
David: Again. No, no, no, no, no. He doesn’t die. He gets his soul sucked out of him.
Michael: Yes, that’s right. He doesn’t die. He gets a fate worse than death. And before he gets his soul sucked out, he manages to shed a tear over the fact that Harry named his child after him and basically is just like, “Make sure and say how much I appreciate that that happened. Tell Harry that. Thank you so much. All right, I’m going to die again.”
[Jessica and Michael laugh]
Katy: There’s no reason for him to die. Oh my God.
Jessica: He just cannot win in any different line of reality. He cannot win.
David and Jessica: Except in fan fiction.
David: Which I’ve never read any of.
Katy: Well, you read Cursed Child, so…
Michael: Ooh. My personal feeling on Snape in his depiction is that up until the point where he starts letting everything loose about his feelings, I think he’s moderately consistent with his characterization. Now, as it was pointed out on Cursed Child episodes by Alison, Snape is under even more extreme and different circumstances in this alternate universe that really, if you think hard enough about it, doesn’t exist. So that also throws a wrench in things and maybe explains this behavior. And again, thinking about the different circumstances he has, Snape is mainly keeping this information away from Harry. But I think what catches me is that I don’t think Snape has any interest in telling anybody about his feelings about Lily, and he does so reluctantly to Dumbledore at the very end. Dumbledore knows, but he doesn’t know the full breadth of it, I think, until the doe. And for Scorpius to just barge into his office and basically poke him, and for Snape to just fall completely over out of his chair is what I feel happened in this instance. And that’s perhaps why it doesn’t sit well with me. How do you all feel?
David: I actually don’t mind it so much because I think that what justifies it for me in this moment is that there’s really no point in hiding it because Scorpius already knows. So it’s like, “Well, you already know, so…”
Michael: Everybody knows. Surprise. Secret’s out.
Jessica: Yeah. Maybe it’s the wording that Scorpius uses. Maybe something that Scorpius said triggered him to just be like, “All right, well, I guess you know, so I guess I’ll talk about it.” I mean, I like that he’s working with Hermione and Ron, but when I first read this, I was a little taken aback by the whole scene because I really was not expecting it.
Michael: Yeah, I think that’s a shock for those of us who had a larger and more negative reaction to Cursed Child. I don’t think as many as those of us who had that feeling were expecting to see so many characters come back, especially dead characters, because that’s a big no-no in Rowling’s canon. So that…
Katy: And this is one of the few things I actually liked about Cursed Child.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Actually, yes, me too.
David: I do like this, yeah.
Katy: Oh, it’s not just me. Okay.
David: It’s one of the many things I loved about Cursed Child.
Katy: On the whole, I have nothing good to say about it. But for some reason, I liked the Snape in that alternate reality, and it was so stupid that he just let himself die instead of them taking him with them.
David: Yeah. I would love to say that that’s not how time travel works in the series, but I can’t say that because of what Cursed Child did with time travel. I can’t do that.
Katy: Oh, I know. It’s completely ridiculous.
David: That’s why I don’t consider it canon. They can’t consider it canon because of how they changed time travel.
Katy: Yes. No, I completely agree that it’s not canon. But if they’re going to go all ridiculous and have [the] trolley lady with spikes coming out of her hands and BS, then why can’t they take Snape back with them and he’s alive again and everybody’s happy? Why not?
David: Because then it would be too happy.
David: And Cursed Child is all about showing how everything isn’t so perfect after all.
Jessica: Yeah, I really don’t like that.
Michael: Impressively, not taking Snape back is consistent with Rowling in that I don’t think she would’ve condoned that because…
Katy: You can’t bring people back from the dead.
Michael: Yeah, that’s a really iffy way to do it. The one thing that Cursed Child does seem very intent on is respecting, even more so than the books, the new Pottermore information. And as much as they screw with time travel, I think Tiffany and Thorne saw a lot of possibilities from that particular time travel piece that’s on Pottermore and they ran with it. And I think they respected the fact that if they had brought Snape back, that would’ve been enormously damaging. So I think that’s part of why that happened, and I think the other piece is that Cursed Child is determined to be very apologist to a lot of characters.
Jessica: That’s what I don’t like about it. I feel like it’s a whole book and a whole play about just apologizing and spewing Pottermore information and messing everything up.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Jessica: And I don’t take it as canon, but with the whole thing of Snape going off and dying, I like that he dies in both realities. If he’s going to be in this story, then fine. I think there’s something a little poetic there about that, about him sacrificing himself in both realities.
Michael: Yeah, no, I agree with that. I agree with that. I think that if he has to be here, at the very least, his end point is consistent with his end point in the original series.
Jessica: Right. It’s still sacrifice both times.
Michael: I think it bugs me because it’s very intentionally heartstring-tuggy in that respect, more so than it is quality narrative, for me personally.
David: Yeah, this is a bit too emotionally exploitive, too obviously emotionally exploitive.
Michael: For me and for those of us who feel that way. We totally respect, listeners, that there are those of you who felt truly emotionally moved by that moment, and that’s valid.
Jessica: If this [were] a book, it would make it easier to like it.
Michael: [laughs] I think that’s part of what undoes it for me. Because for me, Cursed Child so insistently wants to keep doing that with lots of characters because Snape – for me in that play – is alongside “Oh, Cedric died. Amos is sad. Harry is beleaguered. Hermione and Ron should totally be a couple, and please believe that they need to be a couple. Oh my God, they’re a couple.”
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Michael: It’s almost like this conversation we have had on this episode that for me has been so rich and engaging and enlightening. These conversations about Harry Potter are to me something that Cursed Child pooh-poohs on in a way that’s just like, “No, no, no, no. I have all the answers, and the answers are that everybody who deserved to get an apology got one. And everything’s not fine. It’s more complicated and sad, and everybody’s sad because war makes people sad.” [laughs] And I think that’s what rubs me the wrong way about Cursed Child. Granted, it does open up more discussions, but I think what’s interesting, too, is that as far as these portrayals of these characters in relation to the canon, while Rowling has condoned this play as canon, Pottermore and Rowling have not really married Cursed Child in any other form to the canon beyond saying that the play is canon.
David: Which I’m glad about.
Michael: Yes. Pottermore doesn’t do a timeline where it’s just like, “And then Cursed Child.” It just stops at the extra information we get, and as far as Snape goes, really for me, I think, again, that the apology thing is what it wraps around to because I don’t feel that anything more about Snape that’s useful or relevant is revealed for us. By putting Snape back in, there’s nothing – for me personally – that’s given to the Harry Potter narrative at large that reveals anything more about him or really about any other characters that I personally care about. I suppose if you really like Albus and Scorpius as much as some people do, that might give you more, but there you are. Cursed Child. Take it or leave it. [laughs]
David: And the last thing on Cursed Child, this entire second act… I love everything about this alternate timeline.
David: This alternate timeline is the best thing ever. I wish I could see more stories in the Voldemort Day timeline.
Michael: And you have the convenience of it not actually being real, so…
Katy: None of it is.
Jessica: It was all a dream.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Michael: “For more on that theory…” No.
David: Listen to a few episodes back.
Michael: And I think it’s so fitting to wrap this up with Rowling’s last thing that she said on Twitter, as well as our thoughts on this after this discussion. But Rowling wrapped up the November 23 Twitter conversation in 2015 with “I’ve got to say this: you lot have been arguing about Snape for years. My timeline just exploded with love & fury yet again. Never change.” And then she left a kiss.
David: This is the one thing fans will listen to.
Michael: [laughs] Well, I think what she condones is conversation like this. I, over the years, have now a very evolved view of Snape than I did as an 11-year-old, 15, 17, even early 20s. After this conversation, how do each of you feel about Snape?
David: I feel much the same way I did before, but it just makes me like him a whole lot more than I did before. I really liked him before, but it really gave me a lot more insight into the character.
Jessica: Yeah. I mean, I’m over here sitting on the edge of my seat still, and I can go on for more hours.
[Katy and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Discussing him is so fun, and I don’t know why. Honestly, I am the same way about Dumbledore because that’s also a very exciting character to just talk about. I think Snape is just one of those stories that [is] such a good lesson to everyone about your decisions and about how you live your life and what you let control you and you create your own happiness. And I feel like, I mean, I have learned so many things in Harry Potter from all of these characters. I think Snape is one of my favorites because he is an underdog in the beginning and he’s never really given a chance and he lets that affect him, and I think it’s a good lesson for people to learn from him. I think with people who don’t necessarily like his character, I think maybe try [to] consider his past before you violently rip apart who he is as a person because how everyone grows up, how you are right now, is because of how you’ve gotten to where you are. Everyone’s lived different lives and different things create who you are. And he’s such a fun and interesting character to talk about and I’ll always love talking about him.
Katy: Yep. I would echo a lot of the same that you just said, Jessica. I come back full circle to what I said at the beginning that he’s just still such a unique, complicated character that I don’t love or hate him, but I appreciate the uniqueness of him so much. And real quick, I have to give a shout-out to one of my favorite books of all time, Wuthering Heights. If any of you have not read Wuthering Heights and you are interested in characters like Snape, the only person I can think of… And I’m not a super well-read person. I’m sure there are other characters that are similar, but Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights is very similar to Snape. [He] go[es] through a lot of the same type[s] of issues in [his] life and end[s] up in very similar situations with children of people [whom he] hate[s], and it’s very interesting, the parallels there. I don’t know if J.K. Rowling had that in mind at all when she was coming up with this character. But apart from Heathcliff, I can’t think of anyone else like Snape, so that alone makes me put him high up on a pedestal just of coolness, of uniqueness, and I’ll always appreciate that about him. Whether I like him or not, I’ll definitely appreciate him.
Michael: I’ve shouted out to this piece of literature many times on the show before, and I have to give it a big shout-out, especially after Katy’s recommendation. And listeners, if you haven’t read this series yet, it’s very worthwhile to do so now because a new installment has been announced for later this year. But Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, starting with The Golden Compass. Actually, you said, Katy, that you can’t think of a character, but I just thought, “Oh, Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel are very Snape-like.” They are fascinating characters that you grapple with for their entire involvement in the series, and as far as their relationship with Lyra, the main character, it’s absolutely fascinating. And the revelations about them are as stunning, I think, as Snape’s. So definitely, I think there are more heroes out there – hero/antihero – but I love that you guys introduced this term. Is it “Byronic heroes”?
David: Yes, Byronic heroes.
Michael: That’s great. They’re out there, and I think they’re real gems. They’re really hard to find. What I will say as far as Snape goes is [that] I do not like him as a person. I love him as a character, and I think he is fascinating to continue discussing. I know that if I ever encountered a Snape-like person or Snape in real life, I would immediately go the other way because nobody got time for that. That said…
Jessica: Oh, I’ve got time for that. I will go up to him and go, “Hey, are you okay?”
Michael: Yeah, I know. Jessica and David are ready to just shower him with hugs and tea. [laughs]
Katy: We’ll see how that goes. [laughs]
Jessica: “What’s up? What’s up? Do you need a friend? I got you.”
David: If they keep being [unintelligable], I might to punch them in the face, and then I…
Michael: [laughs] A punch and a hug. A punch and a hug.
David: But not really because I can’t punch people. I’m very peaceful, so I can’t do that.
Jessica: Yeah, you’re half Hufflepuff, aren’t you?
Michael: It’s the Gryffindor that punches. It’s the Hufflepuff that hugs, right? [laughs]
Jessica: There we go.
David: Exactly, yes.
Michael: And definitely for the finale of this conversation, I think that we’ve shown and what Rowling wants is that that silly bookmark that Scholastic printed out is not meant to be the answer. There is no answer to whether Snape is good or bad. I think we just need to continue discussing the gray in between. The potential good, the potential bad, and how that all adds up to the morally gray in between all of that. And Rowling has condoned that, and that’s what I think she’s looking for, and I think that is the best discussion to have. I, for one, know that this has been an especially fantastic episode. I have now had three major discussions on Snape, definitely more than that on the show, but this is my third major one. I’ve loved them all, but this by far has been one of my favorite ones. I can honestly say.
David and Jessica: Yay.
David: Thank you.
Michael: So thank you guys for doing such a wonderful job with this. I guess we must thank David, Jessica. Just wow. [laughs]
Katy: No kidding. You guys were amazing.
Jessica: Aww, thank you so much.
David: Thank you.
Michael: Thank you so much for stepping in at the last minute, for being so super passionate about this topic, and for being just so ready to share your thoughts on this very – as you know, being long-time listeners – very hot topic for Alohomora!
Jessica: Oh, yes. I really hope that we did it some justice, and I hope that we have enough opinions on here for a good [number of] listeners to agree on this and agree on that, and I hope we did it justice.
David: Yeah, I hope we did it justice too.
Katy: Hopefully no hate comments.
Jessica: Not this time, no. [laughs]
Michael: Hopefully not. And that’s an important thing to say to you, the listeners, that I think it is very difficult when we are immensely passionate about a topic – especially in a fandom – to open our ears completely and listen and not practice Snape’s selective hearing as he did with Lily. I think it’s important to be open to the discussion points that you’ve heard and remember that I think we’ve all tried to be as open-minded as we possibly can on this topic. And I’ve been really impressed with how all four of us, I think, have been fairly balanced in our discussion of Snape. And I think in the previous attempts we did our best with that too. And I think all the discussions we’ve had on Snape on the show so far have brought up excellent points. So as you go into the comments this week, be gentle. Be critical, but be gentle, not only with us but with each other. Remember, David and Jessica are listeners just like you guys. [laughs] And they’re major contributors, long-time contributors to the site. So they definitely, more than anything, just deserve showers of kudos and praise for doing what they did on this episode. I think we all are Gryffindors today.
Jessica: Go, go Gryffindor. Go, go Gryffindor.
David: Yes. Yay.
Katy: Yay. Woo.
Michael: And a special thanks to and shout-out to Katy for helping me out with this episode and continuing to help us out on Alohomora! My fellow hosts for Alohomora! all had previous plans or felt that there should be new voices in this discussion, and I’m so glad that, Katy, you were able to be one of those voices, so thank you for stepping in.
Katy: Aww, any time. Thanks for having me.
Michael: Our pleasure. And listeners, gear up because we just keep the controversial topics rolling on this show.
[Jessica, Katy, and Michael laugh]
Michael: Our next episode will be a chapter revisit, but afterward, our next topic will be one that I have been so eager to get into: LGBTQIA+ in Potter, or whatever words or acronyms you want to use. We could spend a whole episode just debating the acronym itself. [laughs]
Jessica: That is amazing.
Katy: That’s going to be a great episode.
Jessica: That is going to be a really amazing episode, yes.
David: It’s going to be perfect.
Michael: Yes, I am ready and raring to go with this one.
Michael: Yes, this one has been a long time coming. I’m very excited about that. So listeners, we really want you to join us for that, and Katy’s going to tell you how.
Katy: So you do not need to have any fancy equipment. If you have a set of Apple headphones, you are all set. All you need to do is go to alohomora.mugglenet.com and click on “Be on the Show!” There are topics there you can choose from if you’re interested in being on the show for one of those topics, or there is another menu option called “Submit a Topic.” Click on that, and you can, either if want other people to talk about a topic or if you also want to be on the show that talks about that topic, fill in the blanks. Tell us about why you think that’s a good idea, and maybe it will be on the show.
Michael: Yes, please. And listeners, we’ve been getting a lot of your recommendations, actually, on Twitter and in the comments on the Alohomora! pages. We need you to get those suggestions for topics into that specific topic submit page because while we’ve got eyes on all of those places, that’s a lot of places for our eyes to go. It really helps us out if those topic ideas get consolidated, so please use that topic submit page. And as Katy mentioned, if you want to be on the show that you’re submitting a topic for, please, please, please go back to the “Be on the Show!” page and submit your audio clip because it’s going to help us out even more if you submit an audio audition in addition to your topic submission because then we already have knowledge that your audio setup is good and ready to go. That’s going to streamline the process a lot faster to get you on the show. And there are lots of other ways to keep in touch with us, even if you don’t want to be on the show. As we mentioned a few times here and you’ve heard some of the tweets today, come hang out with us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN. Our social media team is doing an astonishing job over there getting your listener input. You guys are the ones who are voting on the chapters for chapter revisits at this point. The social media team has devised votes for that, so that’s been excellent. Thank you for that feedback. You can also go to facebook.com/openthedumbledore to hang out with us on Facebook, where we are also doing lots of fun posts. Our main website, of course, [is] alohomora.mugglenet.com, because that’s where you’re all going right now to leave your comments about this episode.
Katy: Can’t wait to read them. I’m so excited.
Michael: And don’t forget, one more time we want to remind you to check out our Patreon page, and you can sponsor us at patreon.com/alohomora for as little as $1 a month. And again, we thank Sierra Harbaugh for making this episode possible. It’s because of her and sponsors like her, and you listeners, that help to continue this show [and keep] this discussion going, even when Pottermore is doing [its] own book club. [laughs] We haven’t been run out of the market yet.
[Jessica and Michael laugh]
Jessica: Never, right?
David: Yeah, never.
Michael: And this is definitely another reminder, listeners, this is not the end of Snape discussion on Alohomora!. You guys are the ones who continue the discussion. There will be other opportunities to talk about Snape in future topics. If you have ideas about specifically what to talk about Snape or other things, please submit them on the site because it’s what you guys contribute that allows us to open the Dumbledore, so to speak. And with that, for now, we close the book on the Half-Blood Prince. I’m Michael Harle.
Katy: I am Katy Cartee Haile. Thank you for listening to Episode 224 of Alohomora!
[Show music begins]
Michael: [as Snape] Open the Dumbledore.
[Show music continues]