There has only been one character in all of fiction that has made me cry. No, not a delicate drop caressing my cheek. I’m talking bawling, and snivelling. And that character was perhaps the greyest of all the characters I’ve read, a slap in the face to all dichotomies, and a tornado of emotion. And it doesn’t hurt that Alan Rickman played him on the silver screen.
Now before you go completely ballistic about him not being a ‘tormented, pitiable martyr’, I want to say that I like the character, and how he was written. I do not attempt to justify, or put him on a pedestal. Yes, I agree that Severus Snape’s tale was almost a cautionary one, a list of “What Not To Do” when life deals you the bottom of the deck. He suffers a great deal, absolutely—but every time chooses to handle his pain and grief in a way that is further damaging to others.
But love! Unrequited, abandoned love! His Patronus was a doe!
Yes, I do remember. And it hits home because we’ve all been there, we know what it feels like to care for someone who isn’t giving you the kind of attention you’d prefer. But for those who are somehow under the impression that Snape had his dear love Lily Evans stolen away by that stuck up, rich boy cad, James Potter… I’m at a loss. You cannot justify his actions by playing the ‘unrequited love’ card. That isn’t how life works. And that is what makes him such a fantastic character.
The point is not that Severus Snape was in some ways a monster, and that no one should ever think well of him. The point is that Severus Snape is not a hero, and wouldn’t want to be called one. He is a man burdened by real demons, who makes the wrong choices, who pays for it with everything that is dear to him. And he’s the one who makes that bed. He knows he has to lie in it, knows that’s what he earned for himself, and that’s why he does everything in his power to make it right.
Nonetheless, his character stirred feelings in my which I couldn’t associate. He was human, he was tragically flawed, and he loved few, but he loved hard.