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Did Snape redeem himself?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Aegon, Dec 17, 2020.

  1. soczab

    soczab Groundskeeper

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    Thanks for sharing that. An interesting way of looking at things and got me thinking. Appreciate you sharing the personal experience.

    I suppose reflecting on it, is what i'd say... not to bring the spiritual into this. Mmm. So I think certain acts can't be 'redeemed' and id probably still stand by that. In your scenario, the manslaughter cant be fixed by other good deeds. But that doesnt make your friend less of a genuinly good person in a lot of other ways.


    I dont want to get too into your personal info talking about your friend. But I think it goes back to what I was saying by snape. Just like the bad deed isn't erased by the good, the good isn't erased by the bad. Just cause your friend did something bad.... it doesn't make the good he did (or could do) any less valuable either.

    And also. And this has always been true for me. I question any humans ability to judge other humans. Like if nothing else your story reinforces what ive already thought which is that our criminal justice system is horrible (assuming you are american as I am).

    Because I do fully agree in your story im not sure continued prison time was the right solution. And I hate when justice becomes about revenge, which it isnt supposed to be. Or (not to get too far into the weeds here) what is it we are trying to do with prisons? Is it a punishment (in which case I question how you can judge a fitting punishment for something not quantifiable like murder)? Is it to keep society safe so dangerous sorts arent on the street? Is it about rehabilitation? From an outside perspective, and you might have more intimate ability to comment, but from an outsider perspective it often feels like our system is trying to do all of these things and thus accomplishes none of them.

    And id add if you say the loss of life is so unquantifiable that someone can't be forgiven for it by other deeds... then by its very nature you can't quantify a punishment either (x amount of time in prison for it) and so on.
     
  2. LoyalFenian

    LoyalFenian Fourth Year

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    If nothing else, this discussion has convinced me that for as long as humans judge and self righteously impose their laws and perceptions etc on everyone else all the time, mistakes will be made.
     
  3. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

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    I never understood the reading of Snape as a war hero. He did fuck all to deserve that title, and even less of it willingly. Sure, Snape did regret joining Voldemort after Lily was killed, and there might be one or two occasions where he contributed to the other side during the second war, but that does not a hero make.
     
  4. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I think to seriously answer the question you first have to establish some base facts. Key among them are:

    1. Why did Snape join Voldemort? Was he a true believer in the pure-blood ideology?

    Personally my view is that Snape was a true believer. The people he chose to associate with at Hogwarts, his fascination with the dark arts, his calling Lily a mudblood - to me these all suggest that he was genuinely comfortable among the Death Eaters and considered their organisation his natural home. He didn't just join out of self-interest or fear; he joined because he thought the Death Eaters were right.

    2. When Snape switched sides, did his ideology also change, or was his motivation merely personal?

    My view here is that at the time Snape switched sides, he still agreed with Voldemort's movement. He hadn't suddenly become a good person - see his complete lack of interest in saving James and Harry. His motivation in switching sides was that Lily had become Voldemort's target, not any disagreement with Voldemort's movement more generally.

    3. By the time of his death, had that position changed at all?

    This one is more difficult.

    I think the best evidence is the "Always" quote. It's always amused me the way people quote this as inspirational and heart-wrenching, because to me it has a very dark meaning. Snape's "always" statement is a declaration that his motivations have not changed. As of his death, Snape's motivation remained Lily i.e. his motivation remained a personal vendetta against Voldemort, not any ideological difference.

    However, there is another relevant quote:

    While I don't think Snape had an ideological change of heart - I think he remained biased towards pure-bloods and against Muggles/Muggleborns - I do think he had a change of allegiance. That is, he no longer believed in the violent overthrow of the Ministry or the eradication of Muggleborns etc. By the time of his death, he would have fought against Voldemort even without the "Lily factor" - not because he disagreed with Voldemort's beliefs, but rather with his methods.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2020
  5. Othalan

    Othalan Order Member DLP Supporter

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    Well, historically there have always been "War Heroes" who did incredible, heroic things for absolutely terrible reasons, or were just horrible people in general in their private lives. Snape will always be a shitty person overall, and I think @Taure 's assessment is spot-on, but that doesn't change the fact that what he knowingly and willingly did at the risk - and eventual cost - of his own life made victory over Voldemort possible. Well that, and presumably in his role as a spy, his intel probably saved a number of lives on the side.

    Don't get me wrong, I would never in a million years condone naming your kid after the guy, but with that in mind, I can comfortably see him as a war hero regardless of his god-awful personality/motives.
     
  6. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

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    Did he really? What intel do we see Snape delivering that actually has any effect on anything? How did Snape make Voldemort's defeat possible? On the contrary, we have multiple occasions of Snape directly delivering intel to Voldemort that causes the death of order members, e.g. Moody in the beginning of book 7. It's framed as necessary to keep Snape's cover as a spy, but honestly everyone would have been better off if Snape had just killed himself after Lily died.
     
  7. soczab

    soczab Groundskeeper

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    I don't think that matters actually. What snape needed to redeem himself for wasnt the ideology he believed in, but the actions he took. The pureblood ideology while distasteful is not something he needs redemption on. The *actions* he took are.

    Its the difference in the real world between say... being a ww2 rabid inner circle nazi in germany versus say being some racist elitist constantly spewing racism in the bar with your friends as you complain about all the rif raff taking your job.

    The latter isn't *good* sure, but the scale of evil is dramatically different here.

    What im getting at, is the problem was never snape's ideology other then that ideology made it easier for him to become a DE. If he had simply been say... a Phineas... he would be a bad person but the level of evil he had to redeem himself from would be dramatically different.

    So. I think that rabbit hole (and I agree with your analysis his political views didnt change) is largely irrelevant. It doesn't negate the sacrifice he made.

    It's not that his ideology doesnt matter either. It's just... in the SCALE of things it doesnt. Like, if Snape was living in the epilogue it would matter a lot more because the world there has evolved and that might now stand out as the worst wizarding society needs to deal with (and I agree its bad).

    When your in the middle of dealing with a genocidal megalomaniac killing people left and right based on blood status... well whether snape hates muggleborns is a lot less important then whether he is saving lives or not.

    I actually disagree there. Though good point on him getting moody killed. But 1) We have to keep in mind we never see the results of snape's spying just that he did it and how valuable it is. How many lives did he save with his spying? What did he acomplish? I suspect pretty major from how its valued.

    But actually, i'd say Snape's *greatest* achievement which i don't see him getting enough credit for his being headmaster. I think its pretty clear reading between the lines that he probably saved the lives (and limited the torture) of countless underage school children. I.e my reading was always that he purposely 'talked the talk' really loudly but constantly thwarted the death eaters in the school to protect the kids there. Not that the kids didnt still have struggles (some torture etc). But I suspect if the carrows had been in charge not only would the torture have been wide spread but the bodies might have started piling up.

    I suppose that's what if and thus interpretation. But I always felt the text supported that reading subtly.
     
  8. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    This is a pretty definitive statement when moral systems have been debated for thousands of years without any consensus emerging. Suffice it to say that there are many moral systems where one's reason for acting and the content's of one's character are morally relevant or even the principal concern of morality.

    Snape's actions are not in doubt. Without his actions, Voldemort would not have been defeated.

    But it many moral systems this is insufficient to redeem him if his reasons for taking those actions were not themselves moral, or if he remained a person of bad character.

    Personally my view is that his motivations where selfish not altruistic and that he remained a person of poor character and therefore his actions do not morally redeem him.
     
  9. crimson sun06

    crimson sun06 Unspeakable

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    I don't see Snape as an overly complex or interesting character tbh. He was an angry, bitter and petty man before the start of the series and he remained an angry, bitter and petty man at the end of it. In the middle he literally showed zero growth. Holding on to grudges and having his actions guided by the death of his childhood crush and his anger at the man who also happened to marry said crush. He learnt nothing from his errors and could never move on from either his love or hatred.

    I think he could have been a more realized character if he was shown to be capable of benevolence and kindness and actually trying to be a better man. Instead he just lashed out at those weaker than him, his students no less, to retaliate against a man who had long been dead.
     
  10. soczab

    soczab Groundskeeper

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    Hmm. Fair. I suppose i'd clarify my point slightly after reading your post above. I'd agree with you that his reasons do matter, but I think the key is regret for the actions (murdering people, causing people to be murdered) not his belief in pureblood ideology.

    For example, if he didn't care that he caused a ton of death and just wanted to revenge Lilly... then I agree that he is not redeemed.

    If though, he still thought muggleborns shouldn't be in wizarding society or he preferred pureblood culture but realized all the murder and torture was wrong and wanted to 'fix' that, he COULD be redeemed.

    Does that make sense?

    I think there is evidence that he regretted the murder and death too. And again I point to his actions as Headmaster. If all he cared about was defeating Voldemort and nothing else, all that mattered was his role as a spy and setting Harry up (sword of gryffindor, etc).

    However, if your reading of the book is as mine (and granted it may not be) that he actively as Headmaster tried to say protect his students... that would indicate a true change in personality. None of those actions mattered to winning the war, and in a cold calculus it would have benefited his cover to not try and shield the students.
     
  11. aAlouda

    aAlouda Seventh Year

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    I actually think Snape views on blood purity changed somewhat after Voldemort's first defeat, as we see him disliking the word Mudblood being used, even by a painting.
    Though I personally doubt his opinion on muggles and non humans changed.

    As for what he did as a spy, we know that Dumbledore ordered him to play his part so that he could become Headmaster to protect Hogwarts from the Carrows
    We know that despite the Carrows managing to torture some students, Snape succeeded at least somewhat, as we see him assigning non-punishments to people like Neville, Ginny and Luna after they attempted to steal the fake Swors of Gryffindor.

    Overall I'd say that Snape is still an child bullying asshole, and that he genuinely hates Harry with the only reason why he protects him, is his love for Lily, but that Snape has actually as come to oppose Voldemort for ideological reasons over the years and is ready to put his life on the line for.

    I personally would say Snape is redeemed from his crimes as a Death Eater, but that he fundamentally still isn't a good person as the way he still treats people around him shows.
     
  12. darklordmike

    darklordmike Death Eater

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    Snape's definitely an asshole, but I think it's difficult to know whether he redeemed himself. We don't know what his crimes as a Death Eater were. Dumbledore made a cryptic statement about him having seen people die, but what does that mean? Was he going on raids in the first war? Did he murder dozens of people? Did he take delight in slaughtering muggleborn children? It's hard to see how someone redeems himself from that, no matter what happens later.

    But if he was just brewing potions for the Death Eaters and providing intelligence, suddenly it's easier to sympathize with him. He was a fairly new recruit when he overheard the prophecy, so he may not have participated in any atrocities.

    That still leaves guilt-by-association, but it's easier to redeem a Nazi scientist who turned spy than it is an SS monster who slaughtered people.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2020
  13. zugrian

    zugrian Second Year

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    I don't consider him redeemed.

    During the 70s, he happily joined in with all the Death Eaters to be at Hogwarts, called everyone a 'mudblood' as Lily reminds him (she was the only one he didn't use the slur on until the famous post OWL scene), and obviously hated muggles, sneering at Petunia immediately when they meet.

    While we don't know his crimes once he had taken the Dark Mark, it's obvious there were some. Voldemort favored him enough to be willing to spare Lily-- that suggests that he wasn't just sitting around brewing potions, but likely taking an active part in the war. And with his knowledge of the Dark Arts being famous that makes the idea that he was just brewing potions even less likely to me.

    Then we get to the prophecy.

    What exactly do we see him do as a supposed good guy? His spying doesn't lead to anything useful that we see for the good guys, but it does lead to multiple deaths-- including Emmaline Vance, who he apparently set up, as well as Moody.

    In the end, yes he wanted Riddle dead. 1 good deed done for a selfish reason doesn't make up for everything else.
     
  14. Chengar Qordath

    Chengar Qordath The Final Pony ~ Prestige ~

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    One thing I would state when it comes to Snape's arc, it's worth noting that a lot of his worst acts were when he was still pretty young and impressionable. Sure, he was a racist proto-Death Eater at Hogwarts, but it's not hard to see how he got radicalized given his environment. He was raised in a broken home, and then put into a House full of pureblood supremacist Death Eaters in training where the only way to fit in and have any kind of social credit was to go along with them. None of that gives him a free pass on the things he's done, but it is something to consider.

    Adult Snape is still an asshole, but from everything we've seen in the modern era he does seem to be pretty staunchly working against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. I think it's fair to say that Lily's death made him reexamine the life choices that made him join Voldemort in the first place. Plenty of people who get radicalized as teenagers wake up and realize they've made a terrible mistake later in life.
     
  15. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    Thats all very true, and plenty of those folk who wake up and deradicalise later in life remain arseholes to one extent or another, often due to the circumstances that made them prone to radicalisation in the first place.
     
  16. Golden Shadow

    Golden Shadow Squib

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    In a meta sense, for a charecter that was originally JKR's dislike for chemistry incarnate, he did pretty well for himself.
    He played the role of the biased teacher, a godfather of one of the kids, an asshole bully, and later on a 'dark' wizard.
    Snape was always a minor antagonist, but what he did to overcome that, (how his charecter grew) is all the more impressive for it.

    As a charecter, he pretty much forced himself to be a teacher, both to act the spy for Voldemort and a double agent for Dumbledore. Just because he was a skilled potion master theoretically meant he could take the job, but he was clearly not meant to teach, nor did he seem naturally inclined to. He could probably have done pretty well for himself outside of Hogwarts, but that's where he stayed.

    Also, a couple of comments talked about how many war crimes Snape must have committed to be a death eater, although I think that's unlikely.
    Voldemort was canonically pretty incompetent, but I doubt he used a guy who was crafting dark spells in school and was a proven potions prodiagy, making potion recipes better, while also in school, as a regular henchmen. He would probably be turned towards making veritaserum, poison, dark spells etc. Equally he could make antidotes for the above made available to the order, we know his skills are the first Dumbledore turned to when the injury was dark or potion related.

    As for the war, coming from his background and bullied at school, he was probably pretty idealistically malleable, and full of resentment. He turned on that after the Potter's were targeted, at great risk personal execution and net benefited the order quite a bit.

    All in all, an asshole, but probably not one who deserves to be court martialed.
     
  17. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    I think you're mixing up canon and fanon. Because Snape was not Draco's godfather.
     
  18. Dirty Puzzle

    Dirty Puzzle Slug Club Member DLP Supporter

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    Redemption's too loaded a word for this, imo. To ask if someone has redeemed themself, you're implying there is, in fact, a way to make up for the wrong, that some kind of atonement does actually exist. But secularly, that's not a given. It's borrowing religious semantics, but not carrying over the attached baggage. Leftist cancel culture does this Puritan bullshit all the time apparently without realizing it, though unsurprising since they forgot the Progressive movement had some deep Christian roots. Theologically, there is redemption because the sacrifice of Jesus. At the danger of oversimplifying, a kind of guaranteed atonement with attached concepts and steps.

    But secularly, I feel like redemption is a shitty way to judge people because most people either don't think there always is a way to atone for really shitty things, or they think it's pretty case by case, discernment more than anything. You could use the framework that society should be concerned with future actions, and that even if someone did something vile and unforgivable, if they're not a danger of continuing that behavior, then society has no further concerns. Some people think that's crazy.

    In Snape's case, especially as an historical figure in the HP universe going forward (though how much would go in the history books is up for debate), figuring out whether he was a "good" person or not just, well, isn't useful outside of personal contexts. People do this now, where they really want to moralize historical figures. They did what they did. We have to deal with it. Understand Snape, or why he did the things he did, because it's important to understanding how things ended up the way they did. Have an opinion on him, be vocal about that opinion, but I don't find a lot of use in fixating on his personal moral fibre when all is said and done. He was a cunt I'd no sooner wanna be in a room with than a pile of shit, but by the time the story starts he's opposing what amounts to blood supremacist fascism. It ultimately doesn't matter why he does it, just that he materially does. Had he lived past the war, maybe he'd end up in the way because he was still, ultimately, a bigoted shitstain. Or maybe he'd have been less of a cunt and grown past some prejudices. When it comes down to it, it's the Fascism/Not Fascism model of morality. If we're not talking about active fascism, then by all means, let's debate, let's advocate for discernment, let's give people the benefit of the doubt. If we're talking about fascism, all of that ceases to matter because it will all be hijacked every time and exploited.

    Ultimately, you can't be redeemed for a wrong if you aren't trying to make up for it. Strictly in terms of redemption, no, Snape wasn't redeemed. It can't be passive. The only thing he could potentially be redeemed for is Lily's death, as he did deeply regret that and switched on Voldemort because of it, but honestly? I think he wanted absolution more than redemption, and he wasn't going to get that. Snape's a pitiable man, more than anything, because even the people that thought he was a war hero weren't personally sad he was gone. Snape was never not a tool and a cunt, even when he was doing the right thing, and it's probably for the better he wasn't alive to influence post-war politics. What a waste. Edit: not a waste of the character, which is the best written in the entire series, but of a man.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
  19. Corvus Black

    Corvus Black Groundskeeper

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    I'd say no, he wasn't redeemed. The fact that he couldn't get over his childhood hatred of James Potter and treated Lily's son the way he did is proof he never matured. This is further highlighted in the way he went about teaching Potions. He actively sabotaged the education of most of the school during his teaching years, and that was when he thought Voldemort was truly dead, so you can't say him being an asshole was him playing a role.

    He never helped to shape Harry into a hero, so he can't claim credit for anything Harry did, and Snape dying in defiance of Voldemort doesn't automatically mean he was redeemed.
     
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