by Julia Isherwood
While reading Order of the Phoenix for the seventh time, I came to realize what the two most important chapters were to me, at least in regards to one of my favorite characters. Severus Snape has intrigued me since the first time he graced the pages in front of my eyes and I’ve been obsessed with him for years. He’s one of the most indepth characters Jo has created and therefore, it’s become my life, until she finally reveals what it is about him we are missing, to try all my psychological knowledge onto him.
What are these important chapters? “The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black” and “Snape’s Worst Memory.” Jo constantly throws stuff in our faces that we should catch and we mentally slap ourselves when we don’t catch it. We’ve been trained by now to see things she’s hiding in plain sight but she’s too good of a writer that we still don’t catch it. These two chapters, to me, are filled with an enormous amount of information about Snape that it seems no one has caught, except me. Which worries me because it makes me feel like this is completely off the wall.
I constantly hear theories that Character A is related to Character B, especially when it comes to Harry. So, Snape may very possibly be related to Harry. There’s enormous amounts of evidence in every book, at least in the way he protects Harry over and over again. And I don’t think it’s because he owes James a favor for saving him all that time ago. I believe Snape would have long ago repaid that debt. Not only that, but since Snape was a Death Eater and is in the Order, he should already know that Harry is protected by the blood spell Lily placed on him. After the first year and the protection he gave Harry, that should have been enough…shouldn’t it? Maybe not, if he’s family.
So far this is all a bit skeptical. But look at “The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.” We find out a lot in this chapter about the family trees of purebloods. We’re given a lot of info on Sirius’ family tree and being related to the Malfoys and the Lestranges, and even the Weasleys. But why is this information so important? It could have many uses, sure, like Narcissa taking the house since Sirius’ death, but why such an emphasis on the interrelations? This wouldn’t be the first time Jo has made large emphasis on one subject that has only one link to something completely different.
There’s enough evidence to safely assume both Snape and Potter clans are pure blood families. It gave James far more power to be so mean the way he was without getting major backlash from others (case in point, Lucius). Purebloods seem to be given far more room to act however they please because they are the “pick of the litter.” It doesn’t make them better, unfortunately for them. And Snape must be pureblood because how else would he have been able to become a Death Eater? I’m certain James would have laughed it off when Snape spat “mudblood” at Lily if he were the same thing. So would Lily. It wouldn’t have the same effect, thus, giving Snape more power.
So with that knowledge and the knowledge of pureblood wizards are forced to intermarry, there’s not such a small chance that James and Snape could be cousins. “It’s more the fact he exists, if you know what I mean…” is a very powerful statement coming from James. I’m sure most people can relate to family in this way. You’re an older brother/sister and you constantly have “problems” with your younger sibling mainly because they “exist.” They spoil your time when you’re friends are over, drive you up the wall, etc. For a long time I had no siblings, only cousins and felt the same why when I was a young teen. I wanted nothing to do with them; they brought me down. Now that I’m older, I see the difference and that they aren’t that bad. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t all still bickering at each other from time to time.
The same thing can be said for James’ and Snape’s relationship. James realizes the error of his ways and even though he still picks on Snape behind Lily’s back, he’s shown that he doesn’t really mean it to the full extent because he does save Snape’s life. Same thing most family would do.
Then we have “Snape’s Worst Memory.” I think Snape was once again protecting Harry. Snape constantly tells Harry how much he’s like his father, but never emphasizes any solid evidence. Snape is a character who has far more control over Harry than Harry nor the audience seems to realize. Harry has very little knowledge of his mother and father and everything he’s been told has been mainly negative. Even Sirius, who swears James was this wonderful person, isn’t a good source because Sirius was the same way as James.
Snape can hold it over Harry’s head how terrible his father was towards him and Snape now has the ability to control Harry due to not letting him have information about what was so terrible. I think he’s doing two things at once: taking out the years long aggression on Harry, yet protecting him against knowledge of how his father really was. The vision Harry saw in the Pensieve doesn’t seem as bad as the abusive nature of Snape’s father. It hints to the troubles that were a part of his childhood. The things seen inside Snape’s own head were more troublesome and horrible than what was in the Pensieve. Children can be cruel, in very rare cases will it effect an individual so horribly that it becomes our worst memories.
Problems with family leave far deeper mental scars with lasting effects. You can get rid of friends, you’re stuck with family. I know this from personal experience and am able to relate very well with Snape. So, maybe the memories Snape pulled from his mind were not his own worst memories, but those he thought would be the worst for Harry. He’s obviously smart enough not to deny that Harry is a very powerful wizard so he took precautions in case Harry was able to push back. It just doesn’t seem as though he’s protecting himself.
This may sound very farfetched, but it’s still possible. By Snape protecting Harry, he’s protecting the only family who’s never actually done anything to him. The only reasons Harry has misconceptions about Snape is because Snape placed them on him. He’s staying close without being close. Harry would never have to know about their relation, but Snape could still be there for him. It’s also a possible protection Snape is putting on himself. We’ve been shown just how his family has been unkind to him, especially if James and he are related. If Harry doesn’t know, Snape is protecting himself from his own family in fear that the vicious cycle would continue.