Comparing and Contrasting Natasha Romanoff’s and Severus Snape’s Redemption Arcs
After much delay, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Black Widow, has recently been released. This new film follows Natasha Romanoff in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, where she teams up with her foster sister to take down the Red Room, also known as the Black Widow program. The events in the movie fed into her larger character arc, in which she tried to make up for the lives she took when she was a Black Widow. In the Harry Potter series, Severus Snape was also a character that had a larger narrative of redemption. In today’s post, I compare and contrast both these character’s stories.
As a child, Natasha was forced to undergo the Black Widow program, which was a secret training program that involved taking young women and turning them into elite spies and assassins known as Black Widows, which both she and her sister were part of. As a Black Widow, Natasha was soon regarded as a master spy and one of the world’s greatest assassins. During her time as a Black Widow, she did a lot of things she would come to regret. Her time as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and as an Avenger was a way of making up for some of the pain she caused during this time.
Her time as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t covered in much depth, but we can imagine that she managed to do some good in the world. We know she definitely did this when she was an Avenger and helped save the world multiple times, first from Loki then from Ultron. In Black Widow, we see her take down the Red Room, thereby saving all the current Black Widows from Dreykov’s mind control and protecting other girls from undergoing the same horrific treatment she went through. Lastly, she spent years trying to prevent Thanos from killing off half the universe, and when that failed, she spent years leading the remaining Avengers helping reform the world. Her final act of redemption was seen in Avengers: Endgame when she sacrificed herself so the Avengers could get the soul stone and bring everybody back. Natasha’s narrative is a complex one. Forced into a life she did not choose, she made great strides in making sure her actions were redeemed, and I would say that she managed to achieve this.
Like Natasha, Severus Snape also had a questionable history. At the age of 11, Severus Snape was sorted into Slytherin House, where he became friendly with a group of Slytherins who later became Death Eaters. Even his friendship with Lily Evans couldn’t do much to dissuade him from their negative influence and the hurtful actions he committed during this time. Following his time at Hogwarts, he became a Death Eater and, while his time there was largely unknown, we know that he was responsible for relaying what he heard of Trelawney’s prophecy Voldemort, which ultimately led to the deaths of James and Lily Potter.
Lily’s death led to him abandoning Voldemort and serving as a double agent for Dumbledore, a role he played for fifteen years. As a spy for Dumbledore, he was able to glean some valuable information from Voldemort, plant false information for the Death Eaters to find, and help protect Harry from Voldemort. His actions eventually led to Voldemort’s death, and he lost his own in the process.
Looking at the two and their actions, it’s hard to compare them. They might have similar similarities in the respect that they joined their respective questionable groups when they were young and committed awful actions that they would come to regret. At the end of their narratives, they also both sacrificed themselves in their attempt to redeem themselves. However, Natasha was psychologically conditioned to act that way, so she had no choice, and she got out as soon as she was able to. While Snape might have had bad influences around him, he chose to act the way he did, join the Death Eaters, and recount Trelawney’s prophecy to Voldemort. As a spy for Dumbledore, his time did come to redeem his past; he still chose to bully Harry, Neville, and the rest of the Gryffindors. His choice to take his anger against James on Harry was still a choice he made and continued to make for years to come. Taking into account everything both Natasha and Snape did, I would say that Natasha did much more to redeem herself for her past actions.
What do you think of my assessment? Let us know in the comments!