I’ve read all sorts of theories and rants about Snape’s death – that it was pointless, that it had purpose, that it was pivotal, that it was a waste. The only thing that I can say for sure is that I was surprised with how he died. And for that, J.K. Rowling, I congratulate you. While much of his story had been predictable, the manner of his death was not.
I knew, at the end of HBP, that Snape was going to die. I didn’t like it. But I knew. But I didn’t know that he was going to die like that.
Yet so many questions were answered, and his story was finally told. His ambiguity was lifted, and what was revealed was a flawed, brilliant, lost, bitter, and ultimately good man. A man who loved and lost that love through his own stupidity. A man desperate for acceptance. And a man who accepts the consequences of his actions and always, always does more to make up for his mistakes.
Do I buy the whole Snape/Lily thing? Well, as a Snarry fan I think I prefer to read it as Snape-Lily – he loved her since they were children and as the first (and perhaps only) real friend that he ever had. She accepted him when it appeared that no one else had done so. He gave her a glimpse into the new world she was about to enter. She was his friend, and he was jealous and possessive because he was afraid and lonely. That doesn’t forgive his actions or his insults, but it does make them understandable, and it makes him, in the end, after all, only human.
His love for Lily and her friendship never wavered; neither did his regret. Until the day he died, he felt remorse, and redeemed himself over and over again by committing unthinkable acts in the name of “the greater good”. And I believe he felt remorse and regret for each and every one of those acts.
There were so many points in Snape’s story that just about killed me – his undying love for Lily and his horror at raising her son only for him to be slaughtered (and this had me in tears: “Don’t be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?” “Lately, only those whom I could not save.”); his shock and dismay at being asked to kill Dumbledore, and the lack of concern that Dumbledore had for Snape’s soul (“And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?”); his attempt to save Lupin’s life (go Snupin fans!); and mostly Dumbledore’s blatant manipulation of Snape – Snape did Dumbledore’s bidding, over and over again, always wanting to know why and never getting answers but doing it anyway.
But I was beautifully broken-hearted when Harry finally learned (and accepted) the truth of Snape’s involvement – Harry’s realization that he and Voldemort and Snape were the “abandoned boys” who had all found homes at Hogwarts; Harry calmly and emphatically stating, in front of everyone, that Snape was Dumbledore’s spy and had been working against Voldemort for years; Harry telling his son that Snape was “probably the bravest man I ever knew” (although Albus Severus… um… okay).
Snape finally got his recognition, and Harry finally, finally understood and appreciated the motives of the greasy haired git who saved his life and helped save the world.
It’s funny; a part of me is mourning over the loss of such a brilliant character, although I am probably also mourning the end of the tale that had intertwined itself into my psyche. I’m pleased that I was right about Snape and his loyalties, and I’m pleased overall with the book. J.K. Rowling told her story, her way, and it was an engrossing and entertaining end to a brilliant world that she created. I may have preferred some different resolutions, but I respect what she accomplished. All in all, with many flaws, the seven books tell a rich, intricate tale and weave a tapestry of a fascinating world.
I know that there will be fanfiction that will solve the pesky death problem (I’m already coming up with ways for Snape to have survived), and I look forward to reading those stories. As far as canon is concerned, I’m glad that Severus Snape’s story was finally told and that the character can be laid to rest with dignity and respect.