On September 2, 2017, I teamed up with Professor Shannon Sauro of Snapecast to present “A Celebration of All Things Snape” at LeakyCon 2017. We asked audience members to jot down notes or questions if there were things they wanted to discuss. Here are some of the notes we didn’t manage to get to, along with my replies or comments.
Can teachers identify with Snape professional v personal?
Shannon asked the teachers in the audience to raise their hands. Several of them offered descriptions of ways in which they did, and did not, identify with Snape in their teaching.
Once Voldemort returned, was Snape passing information to both sides?
As best as I can tell from the evidence, Snape and Dumbledore planned carefully to have Snape feed Voldemort just enough valid intelligence to avert suspicion. They did not always arrange all the details, but understood that Snape had to maintain cover. As an example, we see the portrait of Dumbledore remind Snape, in Deathly Hallows, to play his part convincingly during the Flight of the Seven Harrys; presumably, since portraits are memory aids rather than the actual people they represent, Snape was drawing on his long acquaintance with Dumbledore, imagining how Dumbledore might have counseled him, to aid in perfecting his strategy.
Snape: beard or no beard?
Shannon took a poll. There was a small minority in favor of a bearded Snape, and one suggestion that he would be attractive with a mustache, but the rest of the room overwhelmingly preferred Snape clean-shaven.
Snape the unsung hero
This was the core of his bravery: his certainty that none of his acts of resistance to Voldemort would be acknowledged during his lifetime, or perhaps ever. I believe this is one reason why Harry considered Snape the bravest man he ever knew: he did everything without the emotional support of knowing he would be recognized.
Snape is the epitome of Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Not every author believes in this theme, or to such a great extent, but J.K. Rowling made this point about Snape beginning with the first volume and amplified it with every subsequent volume. Several of her characters turn out not to be what they appear, but her master spy has the most inscrutable cover by far.
Snape got killed by a SNAKE. 😦
Alas. It was not an easy death. It does demonstrate Voldemort’s doubt in his control over the Elder Wand. If he’d cast a Killing Curse on Snape, and Snape had truly been master of the Elder Wand, Voldemort’s curse would have rebounded yet again. Freeing Nagini to do the deed in his stead was a self-protective strategy.
“I’m in love with the SNAPE of you”
My absolute favorite comment.
Topic: Snape’s passing
There’s so much to be said about this! Where to begin?
Snape’s ‘love’ for Lily: Love or infatuation?
Ah, the pro-Snape and anti-Snape fandom disagreements continue! Those delicately distasteful quotes around love suggest an argument waiting to happen, heh. Personally, I don’t know if infatuation is any more or less accurate a term than love for the bond that Snape felt toward Lily; I would guess that some people can be unsafe to be around, even if they feel genuine infatuation or love, and Lily certainly was right to recognize that Snape was joining with people who wished her harm.
What do we know about Snape’s background?
The age and condition of the furniture in his sitting room at Spinner’s End suggest that the house remains much as it was during Snape’s childhood, and the location of the house tells us that his father’s family’s finances suffered with the decline of the town’s industry. We don’t know much about Eileen Prince Snape after her Hogwarts days, but she was the only person accompanying 11-year-old Snape to Platform 9 3/4, so if he had contact with any other magical relatives, there’s no evidence of it in the story.
Snape’s parents’ back story?
The power difference between a magical person and a Muggle suggests that Eileen Prince married Tobias Snape willingly, for love or some other voluntary reason. Child Snape’s comment to child Lily that his father didn’t like “anything, much” suggests that there were other tensions in Tobias Snape’s life and marriage than simply a hostility toward his wife’s and child’s magic. The acknowledgment that Tobias and Eileen continually argued suggests that it was a relationship of two equals, despite one of them being magical and one not, rather than a case in which a magical person was using their powers to control the actions of their Muggle spouse.
Eileen’s surname Prince opens up the playful crossover AU (alternate universe) possibility that she was an Amazon from the island of Themyscira, a relative to Diane Prince, aka Wonder Woman. Perhaps Eileen joined with Tobias Snape to have a child, intending to follow the Amazon custom of sending the child away if a boy, but once she realized that she’d given birth to an extraordinarily gifted son, she chose to leave the island to raise him herself. If anyone writes such a crossover, please share!