…and that’s the way it oughtta be.
I meant to write about this almost two years ago, but I didn’t post my immediate reactions, because I didn’t want to spoil it for people who hadn’t read it yet. So that’s why the title isn’t exactly “news.”
But here’re my thoughts, and I may beforgetting some of the finer points I had put on this so long ago, but here goes:
Snape is good. It’s that simple. But because he killed Dumbledore, I suppose the burden of proof is on me to show you why.
Albus Dumbledore does some things that are out of character (or does he?). For instance, if you assume that Snape is bad, then Dumbledore has made a serious mis-judgment of him, and was very quite duped by him. I don’t believe Dumbledore could be so easily and fully taken. Point #1: If Dumbledore trusts Snape, then so do I.
Yet another out-of-character moment is Dumbledore pleading with Snape, “Severus, please.” I also won’t accept that Dumbledore would plead for his life. He’s not that type of person. Especially since he knows that, like Obi-Wan Kenobi before him, he’ll remain quite powerful in death. So then what was he pleading for? For Snape to do what they’d already agreed in advance that Snape was going to do. That he had to do. Point #2: Snape killed Dumbledore on Dumbledore’s own instructions.
We’ll get to the why in a minute; first, let me add some to that argument. Remember what Hagrid overheard? I’ll remind you: “I was comin’ outta the forest the other evenin’ an’ I overheard ’em talking — well, arguin’. … I jus’ heard Snape sayin’ Dumbledore took too much fer granted an’ maybe he — Snape — didn’ wan’ ter do it anymore … Dumbledore told him flat out he’d agreed ter do it an’ that was all there was to it.” Hmm, I wonder what the source of that argument could be about.
But Snape hated Dumbledore, says the book! Ah, really? Was the revulsion and hatred on Snape’s face at the time for Dumbledore? Maybe not. A mere chapter earlier, Harry has the same look on his face. Not for Dumbledore (who he was forcing to drink), but for what he was being forced to do to Dumbledore. Same words; Snape: “Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.” Harry: “Hating himself, repulsed by what he was doing, Harry forced the goblet back toward Dumbledore’s mouth.“
Why does Dumbledore freeze Harry on the roof? He was already out of sight and invisible. Because he knows where this is going, because he’d already worked it out. Snape’s coming up to kill him.
Finally, we know Dumbledore trusts Snape. So why would he give him a cursed job? That’s right, if you’ll remember, Dumbledore is well aware that the Defense Against the Dark Arts job is curesed, and that nobody can last there for more than one year. And yet, Dumbledore chooses this year (of all the years that he wants it so badly) to give it to Snape? Why? Because he knows that at this end of this year, Snape will be in a position that he must leave the school, anyway. He must maintain his cover of helping and protecting Draco (of which making the unbreakable vow is a part, btw.) All a part of the plan.
So, why does Dumbledore want Snape to kill him? For a lot of the same reasons that Obi-Wan Kenobi lets Darth Vader kill him. Harry must face Voldemort alone, as he is the only one that can end this for good. As long as Dumbledore is alive, Harry will rely on him as a crutch. Dumbledore must die for the good of Wizard-kind; for Harry. There is no other way. Dumbledore also knows that he can, and will, remain powerful after death. He can continue to teach Harry and communicate with him (maybe through the portrait in the Headmaster’s office, maybe in other ways). But Harry can no longer rely on his active magic. Harry must go alone.
Dumbledore doesn’t fear death. He’s said as much in the first book: “To one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
While Snape is fleeing from Hogwarts with Draco and the rest of the Death Eaters, one thing, and only one thing, out of everything Harry says, gets him upset: when Harry calls him a coward. Not a murderer, not evil…a coward. Why that so much? Maybe because Harry, not knowing the truth, can’t possibly understand the difficulty of what he just did, the sheer and utter bravery that Snape showed by doing the unthinkable. Point #3: He’s quite the opposite of a coward.
Finally, remember, this book is about Snape (like I read here, who says a lot of the same things I said, and from where I was able to pull some quotes, the title might as well be “Harry Potter and Snape”). Throughout the year, Snape does little things that clue us into the fact that regardless of what may be going on externally, Snape is and always will be perhaps the most important teacher Harry has ever had. He lets him off the hook about the Sectumsempra curse and let’s him keep the book he got it from, even though he reads his mind and knows that he has it.
And most importantly, as he’s fleeing Hogwarts, he continues to teach Harry lessons!! This is the most important line in the book: “Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and mind closed, Potter.” When Harry ultimately faces Voldemort the only chance he’ll have is if he can keep Voldermort, “the most accomplished Legilimens the world has ever seen,” out of his head. Snape knows it and Harry knows it. It’s the most important lesson Harry can learn, and he will need to learn it well. Point #4: Snape continues to teach Harry the only way he can win, even after he’s killed Dumbledore.
So there you have it, why I think Snape’s still good, and not gone over to the Dark side, despite the fact that he killed Dumbledore. Even more so if you subscribe to the theory that Dumbledore isn’t actually dead, and Snape only made it look like he’d killed him. I don’t buy this, but anything’s possible, I suppose.
For a lot more, including clues that Dumbledore is actually not dead, go here.