Most of us would agree, Severus Snape must have been the busiest man in the Wizarding World.
I have been thinking about Severus and how he came to be Head of Slytherin House. I cannot remember any reference as to when Severus was given the Head of House position, so I will assume it was part of the 'deal' made between Dumbledore and Severus to bring him to Hogwarts as a staff member/spy.
I believe that Dumbledore most certainly wanted Severus under his thumb, he wanted to completely control every aspect of his life. What I cannot fathom is giving a damaged young man the horrible task of spying on Voldemort while maintaining a Professor's responsibilities, possibly brewing potions for the infirmary and being Head of the most complex and demanding House.
Surely, I thought, Jo was underestimating how many hours each day all those duties would consume, leaving no time for the Severus to sleep. If it is simply a plot hole, and she did not bother to calculate how much the poor man was expected to accomplish each day during the school year, then I could dismiss it without further thought. But given just how explicitly she described Severus' return to Hogwarts, and the extreme reaction Dumbledore had to Severus' confession, then the burdens that she had Severus take on become somewhat clearer.
Much has been said about the Calvinistic theme permeating the series. The phrase 'no rest for the wicked' comes to mind when you examine Severus' life. I wondered if this over-burdening of Severus might be construed as punishment. Really severe and inhumane punishment. Punishment that satisfies some notion (much discussed) that no matter what Severus does, it counts for naught, and his redemption is not only impossible, but he must also work tirelessly and without praise or assistance. Considering Severus' entire life seems to have followed this pattern, I have come to feel that it must have been intentional on the part of the author.
So, Severus' life in review: His youth a morass of humiliation and abuse. His teaching career a never-ending series of impossible expectations. His spying career a labyrinth of pain and deception, with a side order of constant fear. And finally, a devil's snare of protecting Draco, being Dumbledore's executioner, and protector of Hogwarts during that final, brutal year. His only reward for enduring such a miserable life was an early death, a release which cost him not only his blood, but his dignity and his privacy.
More and more, I must conclude that Severus' creator purposely choose to punish the character, from the cradle to the grave, without respite or relief.
I think this comment makes an excellent point about the need to KISS when it comes to analysis of literature instead of inventing long tortuous explanations based on loads of presupposition and not a lot of canon (such as the snapedom fen insisting that OMG their poow widdle woobie just HAD to use a time-turner, without any evidence to the contrary, or things like that).
(Guilty pleasure: however, that having been said, sometimes people who can hang good fanfic off the smallest of canon hooks really do make my day. XD )
//I must conclude that Severus' creator purposely choose to punish the character, from the cradle to the grave, without respite or relief. //
Translation: "HOW DARES that BITCH make Sevvie-poo pay the consequences of his mistakes and his flaws?! Sevie-poo is OMG PERFECT and EVERYONE must worship him! I know that becuase I know him BETTER than the author, OMFG!"}
Sorry, you nutjob. Snape wasn't perfect. He was horribly, terribly flawed and paid dearly for it... *and that's where his charm lies* Not in the Mary Sue version you have in mind.
Since when is giving someone a job and a position of authority "really severe and inhumane punishment"?
And, let's not forget, there were about 14-15 years out of the 16-17 or so years that he held that poistion that required no spying at all because the person he would be spying on was floating around an Albanian forest in a vaporous form.
Sounds like a pretty good "punishment" to me. Even Bellatrix recognized what a sweet deal Snape got. Definitely a better deal than perpetual depression in Azkaban or having your soul sucked out. (Now that's "severe and inhumane punishment".
Once again it must be asked: What book were these people reading? Perhaps they should take the advice JKR gave to Harmonians: Go back and re-read.
And the "OMG Slytherin is so complex and demanding"? Have they been reading one too many SlytherPolitics fanfics in which Slytherin is supposed to be an insanely complicated Byzantine hotbed of intrigues and politics, as opposed to, y'know, normal kids who just want to study, get their grades, then leave school and maybe become Minister for Magic? :P
However I wouldn't put it past Snape to purposely tip off the Slytherins about what to do properly in Potions just because he can be a spiteful bag of shite at times.
(Deleted/reposted because I JUST HAD TO USE THIS ICON. :P )
I am sure Snape cheated for his Slytherins so they got decent grades at times. I feel like Snape's social self never went passed his teen years and he was stucked forever in a 'us against them' mentality even as an adult. So abusing his head of house power to favorise Slyhterins and punish other houses would be perfectly fine with him.
Sometimes Snape's actions remind me of that guy in Slackers who gathered the hairs off that chick for like years and years, and actually once went incoherent and jumped up and down like an angry cartoon character before rubbing his face and trying to talk.
Yeah, but according to Snapefen, he was totally justified in being an utter shitbag to Harry Potter because like OMG the Slytherins all have Snapey under a magnifying glass and would totally write home the instant Snapey-poo was even remotely fair to Harry.
The kind of high school poliics I think of, at any rate, is a lot more self-absorbed and along the lines of which student tries to be the coolest than who can spot intrigues among the teachers. Oh well. :P
This person is arguing that Snape became Head of Slytherin on Day 1 of his new job teaching potions? Wasn't he like 19 at the time? (And, I presume, fresh out of whatever apprenticeship he took to be a Master, because that's what I've always assumed 'Master' means.) I mean, that's pretty dumb, even for Dumbledore.
I like to think that he became Head of Slytherin after the old Head retired. Maybe it was whoever taught astronomy before Sinistra, or something.
I think it was Slughorn, whom Snape replaced, so...
But really, Head of House duties aren't all that taxing. It's not like McGonagall spends time hanging about the Gryffindor common room counseling the students on a daily basis. The biggest role I remember was the job counseling thing. Otherwise it was mostly giving out notices, schedules and announcements, dealing with misbehaving students, and keeping abreast of Quidditch team goings-on.
It's almost like they want him to have a horrible crappy life so they can swoop in and save the day, or so in their own little world of Moon Logic, they can justify woobie-izing him by going "OMG that little pusbag Harry Potter has NO IDEA what Snapey-poo goes through for him".
And of course not to mention it lets them justify bagging on JKR for coming up with the character of Severus Snape in the first place. I can only wonder what Snapefen would do with themselves if they didn't have the Potterverse to let them recycle their hangups and issues.
Just read the five-cent tour of Lolita from Sparknotes and I gotta say, the sheer fucked-upness of that book makes the trials and tribulations of being an assbag to students while being Head of House seem like a picnic as far as I'm concerned.
Oh, I have no love for Dumbledore. Several things:
I think he deliberately allowed the Marauders to harass Severus. He couldn't have Remus, Sirius or James (all three really clever boys, much as I hate to admit that) and Severus ever be friends, lest they work out just how much Dumbledore was manipulating them all.
I agree with you that Dumbledore used Lily's death, and Severus' guilt for it, to continually keep Severus in line. If Severus had been able to work out his guilty feelings, he would not have been quite so eager to follow Dumbledores' plans to the grave.
I can not imagine his last year - utterly alone and cornered by both his masters. It hurts too much to contemplate. Her post- DH interviews just have me livid - even after his tortured life and ignoble death, she dares to question his honor, his loyalty. Stabbing the dead body is really unconscionable.
Oh, Lordy McLord, that person has to be kidding. Albus Dumbledore was so prescient he knew, 20 years ahead of time, that he needed to manipulate the Marauders and Snape just so all his chess pieces would be in order by 1997/8?
And as for Snape's death - that's the life of a spy. As I said elsewhere, chances are he'd have been up for trial and even if not sentenced to Azkaban, any reasonable person would probably strictly prohibit him from teaching in any capacity ever again.