Original poster: hope_24
Post DH Snape.
Responding to the October challenge with some of my thoughts, as I'm too undisciplined to write a coherent essay.
One of the most frequent thoughts, and my own too, on post-DH Snape has been disappointment at the 'diminishment' of Snape's character. Snape, who had previously been regarded as complex and mysterious had suddenly been reduced to a man whose every motivation was explained by a long-standing infatuation with a woman. The character who was capable of both extreme selflessness and petty childishness, reduced, in one fell swoop, to a man seemingly stuck in adolescence. The ignominy of it all.
However, despite this, I've read several post-DH analyses (on this comm and others) discussing the psychological complexity of Snape. These often examine the unhealthiness of Snape's 'crush, his emotional neediness, the repercussions of his childhood, his ambiguous relationship with Dumbledore etc etc. These analyses would argue that instead of reducing Snape to a one note character, DH gave him yet more complexity (screwed up complexity, but complexity nonetheless;) This made me wonder, was DH really as dminishing to Snape as it appeared at first?
After all, it sort of confirmed a lot of fanon Snape conventions. Canon now gives us a Snape who can be sarcastic, misanthropic, bitter, angry - but who is also capable of affection, is deeply loyal, is emotionally needy, idealistic.......in short, a layered, complex, believable human being. A lot of fanon hypotheses were actually affirmed, more than anything.
This left me wondering though, why was I still infuriated by what DH had done to Snape?
First up, the queasy morality of DH, and how it related to Snape in particular. I'm not going to go into this in depth, as it's been done much better elsewhere (in mary_j_59's recent essay, Jenny Sawyer's review, The_Bitter_Word's review, Sigune's review, subtle_science's review and several of Sylvanawood's posts on dh_oh_shit) Suffice to say, the blatant double standards applied throughout turn my stomach. Condemning the character of an eleven year old boy who has suffered a neglectful (and at worse, abusive) childhood is wrong.
Secondly, when I considered the idea of an outwardly bitter and sarcastic man who inwardly still pined over the loss of childhood friendship and unrequited affection I found I could deal with it. The idea of him devoting his life to atoning for past sins? Well, I think it was messed up - for all sorts of reasons: Dumbledore's manipulations, Snape's emotional problems - but again (thanks to the various analyses I had read) I caould understand how it might happen. I could also read into the text and wonder about Snape's political beliefs. I like fanfic and reader-response theory, this didn't bother me too much.
What did bother me, phenomenally, was the idol to whom Snape had pinned all his hopes: Lily. I can understand Snape being psychologically screwed up. What I couldn't bear was the idea of him pining over, and devoting his life to such a fundamentally underwhelming creature. She just seems so shallow and sanctimonious. She laughs at his public humiliation. She takes up with the group who had bullied him continuously throughout his school career. Lastly, knowing that he has been largely neglected at home and ostracised at school, she abandons him to friends whom she herself knew were a terrible influence. This, this is the great love to whom Snape is willing to sacrifice his life?
Worse yet, whereas elsewhere it might have been possible to enetertain genuine authorial ambiguity and read into the text for added complexity, canon seems genuinely insistent that Lily was a fabulous, flawless woman without parallel. This is where the nasty morality comes into play again. It's OK to turn your back on your friends? Be unforgiving? Find bullying funny? Have double-standards?
So, overall, it wasn't the diminishing of Snape that bothered me (because I don't think he was) - but the diminishing of Lily. Given that the author does not seem to see Lily as diminished or flawed in any way - it was the skewed and worrying morality to be found in DH that bothered me.
Although I originally felt that Snape's character had been sorely diminished by DH - he actually shines through as the undimmed bright point in an otherwise morally murky tale.
I'd love to hear other thoughts on this. :)