Post HBP, the question of Snape’s loyalties has arisen for obvious reasons. The two sides, Evil!Snape and Good!Snape, both have arguments; the Evil!Snape argument being a bit more direct and obvious and the Good!Snape argument being more complex and speculative.
Since I don’t know where else to start, we’ll begin with Dumbledore. First of all, Dumbledore has thus far been characterized as a wise, all knowing, virtually immortal wizard and incidentally the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. JKR has obviously made a point to show us that even a powerful wizard like Dumbledore has flaws. (i.e.- ignoring Harry in OotP). However, by stating the Snape has been on the dark side the entire time implies that Dumbledore’s optimism and trust resulted in his death, which would almost make the reader respect him less. I still have a ridiculous amount of respect for Dumbledore and firmly believe that he would not trust Snape unless he had a good reason (see theory below). I can’t see him being that reckless.
In regards to the pleading, it makes absolutely no sense that Dumbledore is pleading Snape to spare his life. In SS, Dumbledore said, “‘To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure,’” which implies that he does not fear death. Why then would Dumbledore be pleading for his life? It just doesn’t fit. The better explanation, in my opinion, is that Dumbledore’s death was planned.
Here’s what I think happened. Snape made the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa, binding him to a magical contract that he would kill Dumbledore if Draco failed to do so. Snape made the UV because Bellatrix was taunting him and it would have looked very suspicious had he not (in which case, Bellatrix may have run off to Voldemort claiming that Snape was a traitor). Seeing as Snape had practically no choice, he made the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa, his hand twitching within hers and taking a long pause before finally answering.
After making the Unbreakable Vow, Snape went straight to Dumbledore and told him what he’d done. Knowing Dumbledore he probably would have commended him on keeping up the act and told him to go through with it, accepting his fate. This might also explain why Dumbledore gave Snape the Defense Against the Dark Arts job. We find out that the job is cursed and that no teacher can last more than a year (because of Tom Riddle) and since Dumbledore knew that Snape would have to kill him, he decided to give DADA to Snape and convince Slughorn to come back to his Potions post to get the horcrux memory out of him.
Dumbledore knowing of his approaching death would explain his sudden urge to reveal everything he knew to Harry. He knew Harry would have to carry on without him and the only thing he could do was tell him everything he knew that could help him destroy Voldemort. Also, if Dumbledore already knew about the Unbreakable Vow then it would explain why he shrugged off Harry’s accusations of Snape after Harry heard Snape talking to Malfoy.
Moreover, in the chapter Elf Tails, Hagrid speaks of an argument between Snape and Dumbledore in the forest that he overheard. Hagrid says “‘Dumbledore’s angry with Sn-’” and Harry quickly demands to know why Dumbledore is angry with Snape. Hagrid then tells Harry that “‘maybe he – Snape – didn’ wan’ ter do it anymore… it sounded like Snape was feelin’ a bit overworked, tha’s all – anyway, Dumbledore told him flat out he’d agreed ter do it an’ that was all there was to it. Pretty firm with him.’” Sounds a lot like when Dumbledore was firm with Harry in the cave, saying that Harry had promised to obey him, doesn’t it? Obviously, Snape was getting nervous because Draco had tried to kill Dumbledore once, with the necklace. Perhaps this attempt jerked him back into reality and he was reminded of what he would eventually have to do and he tried to back out.
After the cave scene, Dumbledore keeps telling Harry that he needs to see Snape, further showing his trust in him. When they arrive on the grounds, Dumbledore tells Harry to get Snape and to speak to no one else. When Dumbledore hears noise on the stairs, he knows what is coming and freezes Harry because he knows that Harry would try to save his life and possibly get killed in the process.
He also knows everything that Draco has been planning, probably because Snape has told him everything.
Now back to the pleading. You’ll notice that Dumbledore is his normal polite self, despite his dwindling health, until Snape arrives. All of a sudden, he’s pleading. For what? For Snape to keep the agreement! “Snape gazed at Dumbledore…” Legilimency, we’ve learned in OotP, usually needs eye contact so this gazing is possibly their employing legilimency and speaking telepathically. Dumbledore verbally expresses his plea for Snape to end his life and Snape with “revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face” performs Avada Kedavra. It is my belief that the hatred is not necessarily for Dumbledore but for himself and what he was about to do (much like Harry when he was feeding Dumbledore the potion and hating himself for doing it).
When Snape tries to flee, He and Harry have a ‘duel,’ if you want to call it that. It wasn’t much of a duel, seeing as Snape never threw a curse but simply blocked all of Harry’s. Notice that Snape isn’t gloating as he usually would when he accomplishes something. Instead he merely screams “‘DON’T CALL ME COWARD!’” with his face “demented, inhuman” as if he’s in pain. Of course it hurts for him to be called a coward when he just did the hardest thing he’s ever had to do in his life.
Also, notice that Snape gives Harry a piece of advice while Harry is throwing curses at him. “‘Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter’” Instead of throwing a curse back at him, he gives him advice that will certainly help him when battling Voldemort and even stops a Death Eater from harming him. I’m sure Voldemort did say to leave Harry to him but Snape could have easily stunned Harry, taken him along, and presented him to Voldemort to be rewarded.
And the last reason is not a quote from HBP but from JKR herself in an interview.
There’s an important kind of redemptive pattern to Snape.
JKR: He, um, there’s so much I wish I could say to you, and I can’t because it would ruin. I promise you, whoever asked that question, can I just say to you that I’m slightly stunned that you’ve said that and you’ll find out why I’m so stunned if you read Book 7. That’s all I’m going to say. This really indicates that Snape will redeem himself in the reader’s eyes.
And finally about why Dumbledore trusts Snape. In Chapter 37, The Lost Prophecy in OotP, Dumbledore says “‘My- our- one stroke of good fortune was that the eavesdropper was detected only a short way into the prophecy and thrown from the building’” (843). However, in Chapter 25, The Seer Overheard in HBP, says that “there was a commotion outside the door and it flew open, and there was that rather uncouth barman standing with Snape,” (545). Here Harry freaks out about Snape giving Voldemort the prophecy. Do you see the inconsistency? If Trelawney remembered that Snape burst in, that means that she had finished giving the prophecy (because she never remembers giving a true prophecy), which also means that Snape heard the whole thing. Why then would Snape only deliver half of the prophecy to Voldemort? This, I think, is the reason Dumbledore trusts Snape.
JKR has a tendency to introduce important characters well before she reveals the character’s significance in the story. (ie- Mrs. Figg). Since JKR has already said that no extremely important characters will be introduced in book seven (though she has said that an auror we’ve heard about will become more important), it is safe to assume that RAB is someone we’ve already met. The only RB we’ve heard about so far is Sirius’ “idiot” brother, Regulus Black, who joined the Death Eaters. The note found in the locket was clearly addressed “To the Dark Lord” and, as Harry mentioned a few books back, only Death Eaters have been heard to call Voldemort that. We also know that Regulus “panicked about what he was being asked to do, and tried to back out. Well, you don't just hand in your resignation to Voldemort. It's a lifetime of service or death” (OotP). It is entirely possible that he found out about the horcruxes and decided to try and destroy them. We know that RAB knows of his approaching death because he says “I know I will be dead long before you read this.” He knows that leaving Voldemort's service is suicide. Another clue can be found in OotP; it’s very subtle and easy to overlooked by someone who isn’t specifically searching for it. In Chapter 6, entitled The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, in which they are cleaning 12 Grimmauld Place, JKR briefly mentions “a heavy locket that none of them could open” (116) among a list of things they found. This, of course, means that Regulus was unable to destroy the horcruz prior to his death and hid it at 12 Grimmauld Place. We can only hope that Kreacher managed to save it or it could be anywhere.
I'm looking for opinions, reactions, arguments, etc. So go crazy.
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