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Dear Ms. Rowling:
I've been thinking about this view you have of Snape Fans and their "Bad Boy" Syndrome, and the fact that it "heartens" you to see us on the forums, still arguing and cat-fighting after Book Seven.

Please - walk a mile in my shoes sometimes and tell me how fun it is!

Let me introduce you to my "Good Guy Syndrome."


The Snape haters feel vindicated ( if not vindictive) themselves because you have patted them on their collective noodle-heads and told them they were "correct" to see how horrible Snape was. Please continue to ignore the fact that most of them wanted Harry to kill Snape on page one, that they spent months in denial about a friendship with Lily Evans, or that she would have even spoken to him once she set eyes on dear/deer James. Many of them, even now, see Snape as an "obsessed" or "twisted" person whose love wasnt' good enough. Is that what you meant for them to think?

I'm sure they feel the afterglow of your Tour and cannot wait to grasp other pearls of wisdom you wish to cast before them, as you rewrite your own Hero tale of Snape.
That's right - I called him a Hero again, so sue me! Go ahead ~ because that's what he is by any definition in the English language, or any other language. 

Let me introduce you to my "Good Guy Syndrome."

Because, unlike you, I'm attracted to characters who do the right thing, not because they are handsome, popular, rich, goofy, immature, or in Gryffindor, but because they have a moral code that guides them in spite of House affiliation.  They do what is right instead of easy.

Good Guy Syndrome states that whenever a character does a good thing, no matter what that character looks like (Roman nose, hair grease, old clothes) or what his personality seems to be, then you must give him/her credit for that good thing. I see that authors are sometimes immune to this - that's a shame.

A Good Guy consistently takes risks that are selfless, such as an Unbreakable Vow, or helping to protect someone else's child, regardless of getting love in return, or even praise from anyone. He will perform an act of healing, or an act of mercy killing, if he thinks it is right.

A Good Guy does stuff because it is the right thing to do.

The Best Guys are the ones who can use their wits and never make reckless mistakes. They are smart all the time, and not just to impress people with jokes, but because it makes sense. Common Sense is always a sign of a Good Guy.

For instance, my idea of a Good Guy would not be a dog animagus who needs to go walkies to the train station to show off, putting the entire Order in danger.

My idea of a Good Guy is not someone who humiliates a boy just for daring to be friends with a Gryffindor Girl who is seen as "too good for him."

A Good Guy is someone who keeps on loving a woman, even when she has tossed him aside for a childish, spoiled, reckless, Draco-esque rival who thinks he is God's Gift.

My Good Guy grew up. He held a job, instead of living off other people's money. He has gone to work every day instead of sitting in his room sulking. He has an office, he teaches school, and he is a Head of House. Eventually, he is Headmaster of Hogwarts, though he is not good enough for a portrait on the wall.

My hero is a "Working Class-Half-Blood Hero." He was not privileged, but he knew how to work hard and study, and that's one of the best things about him. He sets a good example for students, though I see you recently said that Ron and Harry never liked to read much after school - probably much like the "heroes" in the generation before them, who thought Snape was a nerdy dark-arts emo oddball. Yeah, "tolerant guys" like that.

My Good Guy keeps on trying to "get through" to certain kids, even when they disrespect him, call him names, melt cauldrons, and even steal from him. He is able to keep trying even when certain kids invade his privacy and never apologize, or when they try to curse him and kill him for helping a dying older man in a tough situation.

My Good Guy carries the Sword of Gryffindor. I can't seem to recall anyone else except our certified Hero, Harry Potter, doing that before. In DH, we have Harry, Ron, Neville . . . and Snape. So by all the canon we have, Snape is a brave Gryffindor - he just wasn't sorted that way by the Hat, more's the pity. Hmmm, James dreamed of that Sword on the first train to Hogwarts, but I can't recall he ever carried it. . .

My Good Guy shows "tolerance." Don't you love that word? He cares about Dumbledore, whatever he thinks of his sexuality - it's just doesn't matter.  Surprisingly, they talk alot about love instead of sex. 

My Good Guy tells off Phineas Nigellus for using the "M" word - "Mudblood." He has changed from the stammering 15-year-old who believed in a pureblood agenda, just as Dumbledore outgrew his own "infatuation" with the idea, along with Draco, Regulus, and even Narcissa Malfoy. He learned Tolerance over the course of his life, which is probably more than we can say about these other so-called "Good Boys" you like to use as your own gold standard.

My Good Guy has never been seen kicking around House Elves. He is not a Slave Owner. He mentions "Elf-Made Wine" to the Death Eaters who visit his home, but we know good and well he could make his own Nettle Wine in Book One, or Brew Fame and Bottle Glory all by himself, thank you.

My Good Guy has actually dueled in the books, and taught Harry how to duel. But he did not die playing around in front of a Death Veil, while taunting a dangerous witch for fun. 

My Good Guy was not perfect - he was snarky, sarcastic, angry, and passionate. I'll grant you that he could be mean - but no "meaner" than any other character you can name, from Fred Weasley to Hermione Granger, who all have their moments. 

But there is one trait Snape did not have - indifference.  He never said "What about Potter?  He'll be OK," and just walked away from him. He was not a "deadbeat" protector.  He went the distance for someone else's child, unlike other popular characters who had to be convinced to take care of their own

My Good Guy always told the truth, and is there anything greater than that? As Dumbledore said, "The Truth is always Preferable to Lies."

So please, Ms. Rowling, stop telling lies about this character, and admit he is a Good Guy. 

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
potionsmistres
Oct. 29th, 2007 09:34 am (UTC)
Nicely put. I think Snape shows that somebody doesn't have to be the Golden Boy to be a hero. While JKR is entitled to her own opinions, I think she has let herself become influenced by her own history and her dislike of one of her teachers (of course, that guy is probably laughing all the way to the fandom bank). I think James and Sirius were heroes, after they grew up (well, at least some). But they still had their faults--Sirius for example still called Snape "Snivellus." JKR makes no bones about these two being imperfect--in fact, is there such a thing as a perfect hero? No. But I find it to be rather distressing that while she sees James and Sirius as heroes, she doesn't recognize Snape as the hero he really is. Yes, she says he's brave, but she also can't let go of the fact that he was not a nice person. Well, James and Sirius were no angels either, yet she seems perfectly happy to forgive them their faults. And the whole house-rivalry in general bothers me. Snape proved you don't have to be in Gryffindor to be brave, and yet in the epilogue of DH, you can see that the rivalry still exists. What happened to the whole "united we stand, divided we fall" sentiment of the Sorting Hat? Anyway, enough ranting.
pdmcmurry
Oct. 29th, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
A very fine rant, indeed!
Excellent exposition on the underlying differences between Snape and the "bad boys" of Gryffindor.

I wish JKR would read this. JKR lumps Snape in with characters like Draco, defining them as "bad boys" while giving James, Remus, and Sirius a complete pass on their behavior. Every time she makes this kind of statement she reveals more about herself than about her characters.
orthoclase
Oct. 29th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
Exactly!
alwaysholly
Oct. 29th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yes agreed. :)
rattlesnakeroot
Oct. 29th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all the comments!

I definitely see a disconnect between JKR's rah-rah cheerleading for the Marauders compared to her dismissal of Snape as "not a hero." Yet she never satisfactorily explains why James, Sirius, or Lupin are heroes, and for me it doesn't come through in the books. Especially with Lupin in DH - he is so out of tune with Harry on so many subjects! I thought his true nature came through when arguing about shooting to kill and abandoning his pregnant wife. But he's still JKR's "favorite" character - omg. Baffling.

She once said that Sirius was basically cracked, but his ability to love was his gift. She has said the same thing about Snape, yet that doesn't seem to put him on the same "level" of heroism for JKR - at least outside the books. In the books, Snape comes across as alot more mature, though just as grief-stricken as Sirius ever was.

In the books, Severus is honored by the middle name of one of Harry's children, while Sirius is left out, possibly due to his treatment of Kreacher. So I'm satisfied with that, and if her statements would just reflect the text in the book, that would be refreshing. I think it would be great if Harry's son James had the middle name "Regulus" instead of Sirius. :)

Lupin, Sirius, and James meet Harry in the forest as part of the spirit entourage. JKR said that part of the book was planned for years, and I think it is one reason she hates to say anything negative about James - she wants Harry to have a nice father who loved him. So she will not burst the bubbles of the fangirls (or herself) by calling James or Sirius a bully.

But I think there is such a mixed message because Harry sees Snape's Worst Memory again in the Pensieve, and can't bear to watch it, but then goes to the forest and calls his beloved father to him. Things like that have a discordant tone for me.

JKR also said the books are a "litany of bad fathers" and that Mr. Weasley is possibly the only "good" father in the books. We know that she thought Sirius was a "reckless godfather" - that is canon now. But what about James? I think she edited out the negativity for DH, so Harry could keep James up on a pedestal with Lily. Now that Snape is seen by many readers as a sympathetic rival for her affections, though, it is bothering JKR - so she's fighting to keep Snape out of that picture and ignoring James's dark side.

*sorry about the extra essay in this post - I can't shut up*
ms_arithmancer
Oct. 30th, 2007 12:21 am (UTC)
Oh, I don't know. Little James and little Draco with the same line on the train was a nice little bit of negativity for me. Then again, I expect Draco grew up to be a good father to Scorpius, so I don't have touble believing James may have been a good father as well. >:)
silentkw
Oct. 29th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)
Dude you're my hero. Nothing more can be said, except that that woman should read it, and stop bad mouthing a good guy. Poor Snape, even after death the poor bugger can't get a break. She can't change our minds no matter how hard she tries.
freggythepod
Oct. 29th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
I basically responded to this in Snapedom, but OMG, SIP, I love you. This is exactly what I've always wanted to say to JKR about her "bad boy syndrome" comment.

I love Snape for his wit, bravery, and heroism. Frankly, I can't see anything "bad boy"-like about him that I could possibly fall victim to.
clair_de_lalune
Oct. 30th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
I don't get how Snape is a "bad boy," either. Sirius is the most obvious example of a "rebel without a cause."
rattlesnakeroot
Oct. 30th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree - she said Sirius was the "most dangerous" of the Marauders, and to me that is synonymous with saying he was a bad boy. Heck - we know he was, and so was James. Sirius even says in OotP that Lupin was the "good boy" who became Prefect. (JKR's word choice.)

Thanks so much for all the positive comments. I always hate labels, and I don't think I have bad boy syndrome, since I despise James and Draco. Snape may have been a "bad boy" for a time when he was young, but according to the books, he reformed and became a good guy.

I do see your point, Ms. Arithmancer - Bad boys love their children, too, as we see with the Malfoys. But JKR cannot have it two ways. James is not a "good guy" just because he was Harry's father, and JKR cannot erase all the evidence of his bad boy traits in DH.

Actually, I could accept that James and Sirius and Snape were all "ambiguous" and able to both love and be hateful. But there's the fact that JKR keeps labelling one side the "bad boy" group. :) And that little thingy about Snape not being a hero just burns me up.

clair_de_lalune
Oct. 30th, 2007 11:40 am (UTC)
Actually, I liked Draco as a character, although I don't personally relate to him in the way I relate to Snape. However, I think it was the moral growth he began to show that made me start to cheer for him as a character. Unfortunately, he didn't completely turn around in DH, but I think his story arc was very realistic.
spirit_serpenti
Oct. 30th, 2007 10:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for the essay, SIP/RSR! I hope JKR reads it!

I've never felt attracted to "bad boys" in my (admittedly still short;)) life, so I don't see how I could like Snape if he were truly a bad boy. I find "bad boys" arrogant, disrespectful, brainless and... well, bad.

I like Snape not despite his poverty, "filthy" blood or lack of aristocratic pedigree, but because of these things. Because he is the working class/proletarian character that finally proves that blood doesn't make you a 'real' aristocrat - because nobility is to be found in one's heart, not veins. That's why he is the Prince, albeit a Half-Blood one.

What makes Snape's character attractive to me is that he is hard-working, noble, selfless, studious (which comes from "study", not from "stud", thank you very much, Ms. Rowling!), smart, merciful and morally brave. This is more than we can say about the Marauders or anyone else in the Order.
rattlesnakeroot
Oct. 30th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
Spirit: I totally agree for all the same reasons!

Claire: I like Draco too, by the end of the series, because he changes so much.

I just meant that I wasn't attracted to his bad-boy character before seeing the more vulnerable side of him, and the fact that he would try to help Harry. I don't think we ever see that side of James, for instance. There's just a lack of information, or any sign that he changed much.

There's something about Snape - even though he certainly doesn't seem "vulnerable" in most of the books, somehow we all knew that he was. That's why it's been so hard to debate about his character all these years - either people see that side of him or they don't.
lemon_ashwinder
Oct. 30th, 2007 04:35 pm (UTC)
You've said it all! Great essay/rant/work of brilliance!
borolin
Nov. 10th, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
You make a lot of good points, but I wouldn't make too much of JKR initially saying Snape wasn't a hero, because it's probably just one of those "two nations divided by a common language" things.

See, by the definition of "hero" in common usage in Britain these days he *isn't* a hero, because the word "hero" has been debased in British usage and is now usually just a synonym for "role model". And Snape isn't really a very good role model - one doesn't want to encourage teenagers to model themselves on somebody who Died for Love in that dramatic Gothy way, because they're usually quite melodramatic enough on their own account.

Snape is undoubtedly a hero in the military sense - he and Neville are by far the two greatest heroes in the books. But when JK first said that Snape wasn't a hero the reasons she gave were relevant to whether he was a role model, and not relevant to whether he was a military-type hero - so it seems clear that initially she just assumed that her interviewer meant "hero" in the sense in which the word is now most commonly used in Britain.

In the later LiveChat, in which she said that Harry would make sure Snape's heroism was known to the whole of the Wizarding World, she had clearly started thinking of the word "hero" in the old-fashioned, martial sense.
mary_j_59
Nov. 16th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Role model?
But you see, Borolin, I personally do think both Severus and Neville are role models, in their different ways. Neville is the person in these books who is on the classic "hero's journey" and shows considerable emotional growth and real leadership ability. He also is genuinely good, in a way Harry is not, IMHO. Severus, for his part, is the person (as Jenny Sawyer said in the "Monitor") who has a moral path. And, badly though he starts out, and serious though his mistakes were, he grows in the right direction. In my eyes, he is the only person in the books who shows this kind of growth. And that alone makes him a positive role model.

The people who strike me as very poor role models are Sirius, James, Harry himself, and Dumbledore.

Just my two cents.
borolin
Nov. 17th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about Harry - he's not a bad lad, after all, and he does try hard to do his duty etc - but yes, Snape is certainly a much better role model than James, Sirius or Albus. He is, despite his malicious streak, basically a very good and moral person, and I don't think one can say that about any of the other three.

At the same time, one can see why JK might think that being suckered into joining a terrorist organisation, and spending your life on grief, self-hatred and bitterness, were not things teenagers should be encouraged to emulate, so Snape is a questionable role model at best - whereas there's no doubt of his martial heroism.

In case anybody doesn't believe me about how the word "hero" is colloqually used in Britain, btw, they should consider the headline to an article in todays's (17/11/07) Daily Mail:

*-*-*-*

He's fawned on by his Radio 2 bosses - and his autobiography's been given star literary billing by The Guardian. But open the covers and Russell Brand emerges as sleazy, sad and consumed by self-obsession
A HERO FOR OUR TIMES
thehighbrow
Apr. 21st, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
I. Love. You.

In all seriousness, though, you have to wonder if Rowling takes crack before her interviews. Based on some of her comments during interviews, I find myself thinking, "Her? This is the woman who wrote the Harry Potter books?"

She espouses wonderful ideals in the novels, such as being compassionate, kind, and open-minded. However, she then proceeds to shoot herself in the foot by informing her readers that the good guys are the ones who are handsome, rebellious, good at Quidditch, and have egos the size of Jupiter. All good guys must be in or have been in Gryffindor House, because it is clear from the "G" that Gryffindor is also synonymous with "Good" (guess we'll just sweep the messy situation with Wormtail under the rug). If you are not or have never been in Gryffindor House, then you will never merit the title of "Good Guy," even if you have lived a more courageous life than most of the so-called good guys.

I was initially proud of Rowling for daring to make the very adult statement that the good guys are not always the nice guys. However, just as Rowling got in way over her head by writing a complex character like Severus Snape and then not being able to fully realize the magnitude and depth of her creation, it appears likely that the adult statement I was talking about was also unintentional on her part. I'm surprised by this since her husband is a doctor, and I would think he, working in the health care system, would be all too aware that the good guy is not always the nice guy. Miranda Bailey on Grey's Anatomy: Nice guy? Not always. Good guy? Most definitely.

Anyway, thank you for your wonderful post.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 31st, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
Not certain why, but your post made me somewhat emotional! It may be almost a year since you wrote this, but it still resonates. I agree completely with everything you said. I only wish JK would realise that Snape is all of those things you said, but that most importantly he was GOOD.
sweettalkeress
Apr. 18th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
And the weird thing is that online I've read plenty of people who zero in on Snape's nastiness and say that since Rowling didn't intend for him to be a hero he just isn't one. But that's nonsense. Snape was no saint, that much is clear; but he DID work for the entire story to protect Harry in the name of a woman he once loved. And yet Rowling is very, very surprised that the fandom's embracing Snape as any sort of hero. That feels like it should be on her.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 17th, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
somethin bugged me
Call me Severose coz I don't have any accounts provided than as anon. Ok, I'm all that for the great Potions Master but one thing bugged me in HP3 when Sev told everyone at Hogwarts about Lupin's lycanthropy traits. I tried to convince myself that this was out of character and inconsistency Ms Rowling did toward my Half-Blood Pince. Sigh! Thoughts?
rattlesnakeroot
Sep. 17th, 2011 10:55 am (UTC)
Re: somethin bugged me
By breakfast that morning, Fudge was already at the school waiting to question Lupin, who had already been fired from the job before he came out of the forest. So Snape didn't get Lupin fired at all - Lupin got himself the sack for not taking his potion, which was part of his deal with Dumbledore. Hagrid seemed surprised that McGonagall hadn't told Harry all about it, so maybe all the teachers told the students. But it gave Harry another reason to dislike Snape, which happened in every book until Deathly Hallows when we find out Snape's real story.

Lupin often said things that year to cast Snape in a bad light, such as helping Neville turn his boggart into Snape dressed as a woman. That wasn't very professional either. Then later in Half-Blood Prince he told Harry that Snape helped him that year and made the Wolfsbane Potion perfectly, so that he owed him gratitude. I think that talk with Lupin in HBP is supposed to explain that Snape really didn't get Lupin fired, but tried to help him.

We are told over and over in Book Three that Lucius Malfoy was on the school board, which is why he could get rid of Buckbeak, Snape had to tell the Slytherins what he knew before the Malfoys found out about Lupin. Draco was afraid of werewolves - he says so in Book One when he and Harry are in detention in the forest. Snape couldn't be seen helping a werewolf, although I think he probably told the Slytherins that they weren't in danger before during that year because he made the Wolfsbane Potion to protect the students.

Edited at 2011-09-17 10:57 am (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Sep. 24th, 2011 12:35 pm (UTC)
somethin bugged me
Thanks for your interesting theories. It really lifted some weights out of my chest. I should re-read the books.
forsnape
May. 10th, 2012 04:39 am (UTC)
Bravo! I can definitely say he is a hero in my language.Moreover,if he is not a hero,I don't know who is.
西弗勒斯.斯内普是个英雄!
(Anonymous)
Jun. 4th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
Wow, you post is a brilliant summary of everything that is true and indisputable. You know sometimes I feel JKR transforms into a different person when she starts writing. Her books are actually really self-explanatory and ties up every loose end itself. They write a glowing description on story of Snape. There is no doubt, no inconsistency, no double meaning there at all.

Everything Snape does which seems bad, can be explained for in the book. I don't know if she even intended to have written it that way, but her text automatically frees Snape from every blame, every action. Her book gives such excellent canonical arguments that almost anything bad that Snape does towards Harry is simply explained by "It was a part of his cover as a Death Eater Spy", and it can't even be disputed because that's the book says he was. You've already gone into the details.

What is very strange, weird, and troubling is whenever JKR is out of her books, sitting in interviews and her original self. She just keeps hitting herself on the foot. It's actually a net-negative towards her, it makes her seem really shallow and spiteful, to be honest. If you never see her interviews, you have no reason to suspect Snape, no reason to think he's not a Hero. But watching her interviews make one wonder, if she is really aware of what she actually wrote.

Oh! Btw, DID SHE REALLY WRITE the books herself? hmm.

Anyways, like I said, she keeps hitting herself on the foot,
- She wanted to Kill Ron in the middle of the books, out of sheer sprite.
- Snape was not a hero, he was a bully and spiteful person. (So were James and Sirius).
- Snape wouldn't have cared about Harry at all had he not loved Lily. (But he still cared enough for all of Hogwarts as Headmaster).
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2017 01:14 am (UTC)
Interesting. I guess I've never been that fond of bullies myself, no matter how brave. But each to their own!
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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