J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has an annual tradition of apologizing for killing off characters on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. In 2015, Rowling apologized for killing Fred Weasley, leaving his twin brother George, as well as the rest of the Weasley family, distraught. Last year, Rowling apologized for Remus Lupin, the last of the Marauders, who left behind an infant son. Both of these characters were fan favorites. This year, however, Rowling apologized for killing off Professor Severus Snape, a controversial character. The responses to this announcement were mixed, as reported by the BBC News, with some fans glad that Rowling finally acknowledged Snape’s noble sacrifice, and others angry that Rowling bothered apologizing for Snape, that he deserved his fate, and wished that Rowling had apologized for certain other characters, such as Hedwig, Harry Potter’s pet owl, or Dobby, the house elf that died to save Harry and his friends from Bellatrix Lestrange.
OK, here it is. Please don't start flame wars over it, but this year I'd like to apologise for killing (whispers)… Snape. *runs for cover*
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2017
The Battle of Hogwarts is the fictional final battle in the Harry Potter series, where the entire school of Hogwarts, as well as the Order of the Pheonix, faced off against the series’ villain, Lord Voldemort, and his Death Eaters. The original battle, in the context of the story, took place on May 2, 1998. Many lives were lost during that battle, and the events that preceded it, far too many to list here. Although the Harry Potter series is a fictional story, many fans do not see it as such. The series has affected many lives, and fans have formed passionate and personal connections to the characters.
There are many characters that are universally loved by almost all fans, such as Rubeus Hagrid, the half-giant groundskeeper of Hogwarts and one of Harry’s first friends. There are some characters that are universally hated by almost all fans, such as Delores Umbridge, who took charge of Hogwarts during Harry’s fifth year. Many characters have a more divided fan-base. There are those that love Harry, Ron, and Hermione, the main characters of the series, and those that prefer other characters above them. Severus Snape, however, is one character that fans seem to be divided over the most.
Throughout most of the series, Snape is portrayed as a horrible person who is both verbally and physically abusive to his students. Snape clearly hates Harry, he insults Hermione, and picks on Neville Longbottom often. In Book 4 of the Harry Potter series, it is revealed that Snape was once a Death Eater, a follower of Lord Voldemort, and in the sixth and seventh books, it appears like Snape is still loyal to Voldemort. It is only after Snape’s death at the fangs of Nagini, Voldemort’s snake, that readers learn the truth behind Snape’s actions. As Snape is dying, he gives Harry his memories so that Harry can learn the whole story. While reading those memories, readers are shown a side of Snape that was previously unknown.
Snape was raised in an abusive home. When Snape met Lily Evans, she became his first and best friend. Snape was mercilessly bullied while a student at Hogwarts, by James Potter, Sirius Black, and their group. Snape fell in love with Lily and was hurt when she chose James. Yes, Snape chose to become a Death Eater after leaving Hogwarts, but his love for Lily and his desire to keep her safe caused Snape to turn away from evil and become a double agent, working for Dumbledore against Voldemort.
This revelation has fueled the division between the fans. There are those who see Snape’s memories as an excuse for his behavior, there are those who see the memories as explanations and cause for redemption, there are those who can appreciate Snape better after having seen his memories while still admitting that his behavior was unacceptable, and there are those who still see Snape as a cruel monster who deserves absolutely no pity.
J.K. Rowling has spoken on this issue in the past, as revealed in Time.
“Snape didn’t die for ‘ideals’. He died in an attempt to expiate his own guilt,” Rowling tweeted in November 2015. “He could have broken cover at any time to save himself, but he chose not to tell Voldemort that the latter was making a fatal error in targeting Harry. Snape’s silence ensured Harry’s victory.”
Despite the division around the character of Severus Snape, he was still a casualty of the Battle of Hogwarts and Rowling felt that he deserved to be honored for it. There are many other characters that died that day, and fans can only guess at whom Rowling will apologize for next year. In the meantime, all fans should raise their wands in remembrance of the Battle of Hogwarts.
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