Thursday, August 7, 2014

In Defense of Severus Snape

Snape as a child

I was already an adult when I first experienced the Harry Potter series. My parents were of the same mindset as most Christian families, that Harry Potter was evil and their children needed to be protected from it. I never really minded all that much, apart from missing out on the latest thing that had all the kids my own age salivating. So, when I did finally watch the movies and read the books, it was without the wide-eyed wonder I would have used as a child reader. I wasn't moved by the story. Oh, it was interesting, but nothing spectacular, and I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Ron was a jerk. Hermione was a know-it-all. And Harry, well, Harry goes it alone far more often than I liked in a child.

Fortunately for me and the best friend who has waited oh, so patiently for me to join her fandom, my opinions are prone to change. I wasn't ready to love Harry Potter when I read it 6 or so years ago. But I was ready when I plunked myself down in my office chair for a long work-day, and plugged myself into the audiobook version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I was hooked from that moment on. I couldn't wait to start my day so I could spend 6 or so hours with Harry and his friends. I love going to work every day anyway, but listening to Harry Potter made the day that much more enjoyable. I lost myself in that world, a world come alive through the voice acting of Jim Dale. I'm very much an auditory and tactile learner and the books themselves were too long, too burdensome, for me to fully enjoy reading. You must admit that Rowling got more verbose as she went along. I didn't remember much of them after my first reading. Now, I feel like I remember almost everything. Sure, some details have escaped me, but where I saw Harry's world in black and white before, now it's in vibrant color with scents and sounds and sights that before I couldn't even imagine. Jim Dale did it for me. He drew me into the world of Harry Potter, a feat I thought impossible.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

Which brings me to my topic for this post . . . Severus Snape.

Based purely on logic, MBTI studies reveal that Snape is an ISTJ. 

A lot of people would love him to be an INTJ, but that simply does not fit because Snape, as an ISTJ, utilizes internal sensing (Si), something an INTJ does not have. His functions go in order of: Internal Sensing (Si), External Thinking (Te), Internal Feeling (Fi), and External Intuiting (Ne). On some very basic levels, I understand how Snape sees the world because the ISFJ has Si as our top function too. Snape is caught in a  loop of memory, unable to break free from it. Whereas I try to forgive and forget through my Fe function, Snape can't do that because his 3rd function is Fi, internal feeling. Everything that reminds him of his past is seen in a negative light because that past hurts, but I'll dive into that more later on.

I could be like so many others in Potterdom and discount Snape entirely, but I won't do that because I need to examine the journey he takes to get from Point A (the little boy who is desperate for affection) to Point B (the man who bullies small children). Fortunately for me, because I waited so very long to read these books, I knew Snape's outcome before I ever read the series. I knew of his demise, but I also knew who he ultimately served, and it wasn't Voldemort. With this second reading, I immediately set myself to looking for bits and pieces about Snape that might help me see him in a different light from the cruel man I'd known him to be during my first reading. There was nothing, no real, genuine hint of the man underneath who betrayed, in fact, was constantly betraying, the Dark Lord, putting himself in danger every single day of his life to keep Harry Potter safe.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

This lack of hints about Snape's true loyalties led me to question why the books didn't have them. Was it a shortcoming on the part of the author, I wondered? Had she not planned Snape's true loyalties far enough in advance? No, I realized, that couldn't be the case because Snape saves Harry from Quirrell in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. So what is the excuse behind Snape's loathsome behavior? It was only because I was reading the books through my ears instead of my eyes that I suddenly realized the reason. The reader only ever sees Snape through Harry's eyes except for that one scene in Half-Blood Prince where Narcissa and Bellatrix visit him to discuss Draco's oh, so dismal future. Nowhere else is Snape seen apart from Harry's perception, until Harry is made privy to Snape's memories and by then it's too late because Snape is dead and Harry can never make amends. Any bias against Snape from the reader occurs because of Harry's hatred of the man. I noticed it, listening to the series, how deeply Harry feels everything. He never does anything by half. When he hates someone, he hates them. When he loves someone, he pretty much loves them, even Dumbledore despite his flaws. So when the reader sees Snape, we see him through the filter of malice that colors Harry's every thought about his least favorite professor. Don't mistake me. If the books were from Snape's perspective we would get the same skewed viewpoint from Snape about Harry because the both of them are Fi users, internal feelers, which means they are strongly aware of their own emotions and less aware of the emotions of others, even to the point of discounting the feelings of other people

When the reader looks at Snape solely through Harry's eyes, he is a monster. 

He is cruel and heartless with no good left in him. This is how Harry sees Severus Snape and so the reader is forced to see him this way too. The only way the reader can view Snape any differently is through Snape's own memories, those precious few moments where Harry isn't coloring everything he touches. How did Lily Evans see Severus Snape? Did she see a cruel monster? Certainly later, yes, but it was only after years and years of choices and hurt had built up inside Snape to the point where he started lashing out against the people he loved, or, the one person he loved.

Snape and Lily as children

The question is then, who is Severus Snape? He is known by many names and nicknames, some not so nice and some downright disrespectful. The closest Snape ever comes to obtaining someone's respect is Albus Dumbledore who calls him Severus with a deep-rooted affection behind the name. Harry, as we all know, calls him Snape. As a student, this is highly disrespectful since he should be calling him Professor Snape and I'm surprised Hermione let him get away with it. The one that hurts him the most, though, is Snivelous, the nickname from his childhood, the one and only gift from Sirius Black and James Potter. The nickname is ugly and derisive and roots a deep resentment in Snape that he spends the rest of his life yielding to instead of combating. For the moment, however, let's focus on the one name that is my personal favorite, the one Lily Evans called him . . . Sev. Think of the Potions Master Snape we see throughout the Harry Potter series. I don't know about you, but I can never, in my wildest dreams, imagine anyone calling that Snape a simple fond nickname like Sev. It doesn't fit the harsh, cold, empirical man who is so cruel to the non-Slytherin students in his class.

Am I the only one amazed at the friendship between Lily and Snape? 

They were in rival houses, the two houses with probably the strongest rivalry of all, but they were best friends. Imagine if Harry had been put in Slytherin. Do you think that Ron and Hermione would have stayed close friends with him? I doubt it, which is what makes Lily's fondness for Snape so unique. She saw something in him, some spark that snagged her attention, and kept her returning to their friendship despite, I'm sure, buckets of resistance from other Gryffindors. I admit, the way Rowling words Snape's fascination with Lily as a child is a little disturbing, staring at her as if he were hungry, but what does that mean in the eyes of a child? Snape's upbringing was horrible. He was starving for connection to someone, anyone, and then this perfect little girl comes along who also possesses magic. He needs the human connection with someone who understands what he is. Lily Evans gave him that connection. And only once did he ever call Lily mudblood. It was unforgivable, and I'm willing to bet that he beat himself up for it every day of his life thereafter. Snape, for the entirety of his friendship with Lily, didn't care that she came from Muggle parents, all he saw was her.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

I've had many a fascinating discussion recently about Snape and Sirius Black with a new friend whose very first crush was Sirius. We go back and forth and round and round about them whenever we meet. She loathes Snape, no empathy for him at all, and it's amusing to me because I feel much the same way about Sirius. All of the behavioral dysfunction the reader sees in Snape can also be attributed to Sirius. Snape is cruel to certain of his students. Sirius is hateful to his old house elf. Both of them are internal feelers which prevent them from seeing the other's point of view. Of course, my dislike of Sirius also stems from him being one of my least favorite personality types, the ESFP, also known as The Performer who is reckless, careless, and overall a bad egg. Ronald is an ESFP too, which explains a lot actually.

Ahem, anyway, one of the arguments I've heard to excuse Snape is that when Snape looks at Harry, he sees James. Why not? That's exactly how I perceive the relationship, a perception solidified when Harry actually looks into Snape's memories about his years spent teaching Harry. Every argument against Harry comes back to how much he is like his father. Snape sees a mini James Potter in Harry, and he can't move past it. Why? Because Si is is first function. Sorry folks, that's how it works. Si is my top function, and if Fi were my 3rd then I would be just like Snape, holding grudges forever. I don't do that thankfully, but I can see how he does because he has almost no other alternative. Harry would have needed to prove him wrong for there to be any alteration in their communication, but he doesn't do that. Instead, Harry is an awful lot like James, breaking the rules, sneaking out, not listening in class. He's a bad, disrespectful student to Snape, and only to Snape, so Snape's mind immediately zings to him being like James. I get it. I'm not excusing it or his own wrongful reactions to Harry, but I see how he arrives at that conclusion about Harry's character.

Think for a moment, just one single moment, what it must have been like for Snape to be working to save Harry Potter. I'll be the first to admit that he didn't do it for the boy. No, he did it for Lily. Perhaps his love is a selfish love, but it was all he knew, and Snape sacrificed everything he had, everything he was, his own life in order to try and save Harry Potter, a boy he purportedly hated. It's easy to defend someone you love. But it is so difficult to defend someone you hate. I'm not saying Snape didn't hate Harry. In his own way he did because let's be honest, he wanted to have children with Lily, to be in James' place at her side. That never happened and he turned bitter, and because of what he is as an ISTJ he couldn't move on from that damage. So, I'm not saying Snape didn't hate Harry, what I'm saying is that he protected him anyway. To me, that is massively telling about Snape's character. I'd like to think that I could defend someone whose very presence reminded me of bad experiences, but I'm not so sure I could. In that regard, Snape is better than me, more noble than me since he died in defense of Harry.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

Nothing will ever change Snape into a loving, caring individual. He made mistakes, a lot of them, the first and biggest being that he joined the Dark Lord as a way of lashing out against his enemies and the bullies in his life. It's unfortunate that Snape became a bully after being bullied. You would think that he, above almost anyone else, would know how that feels and would have made sure to never make the same behavioral choices as Sirius Black and James Potter. But he couldn't do it, he tied himself too fiercely to his memories and his pain that he couldn't see beyond it. He did love, but it was a love that could have been so much more if he hadn't tried to control Lily. At least he turned away from Voldemort and he tried, in his own way, to be of some help to Dumbledore and to Harry. Aren't those memories Snape has of Dumbledore beautiful? Harry was missing pieces to the puzzle, partially because Dumbledore isn't exactly a big sharer, but also because he didn't want to see Snape as anything other than evil. When we view people as our enemy, even when they do something to help us, we're too blinded to see it. Snape is beautiful and tragic and no better or worse than any of the other flawed characters in this series, excluding Dolores Umbridge who I hate with every fibre of my being.

Readers, do not base your opinion of Snape solely on the books.

Harry Potter, as much as I love him, is as biased against Snape as Snape is against him.

 Every evil glance and sneer Snape sent his way, every hateful look, could have had a multitude other connotations and meanings that Harry simply did not see because his own emotions got in the way. Snape is a mystery to the reader, possibly just as Rowling intended. I just wish she had fleshed him out more than she did, but then I wish that for most of the characters apart from the main three, not just Snape. What I do see of him, though, is a man shaped by pain, and loss, and lack of understanding from the people around him, Harry included. The only ones who tried to get through the barrier were Lily and Dumbledore, and he let them in. Sometimes all it takes is trying.

My final thought to leave you with is that Lily Evans' death saved not one, but two lives that night. She saved the life of her precious little boy, but she also saved Snape. He walked away from Voldemort. Her death broke his loyalty to evil, and I think that is something Lily would have been very glad to know. She loved him too, remember. Perhaps not romantically, but they were best friends for so many years, and you don't come out of that without some lingering affection for the other person. Snape is more than we can ever know, and that makes him so much more wonderful to ponder and contemplate than if we were given every deep, dark, morbid secret of his life. The questions can never be answered, but they will always be asked.

Thanks to Charity for doing the graphics for this post.

27 yorum:

  1. Lovely post, and well worth the wait!

    I have a dual relationship with Snape in the sense that I can both understand him and disapprove of his behavior. He is cruel. There is no other word for it. That isn't Harry's colorized version of him, it's the truth -- Snape is intentionally mean to his non-Slytherin students. He is particularly mean to Hermione, probably because she reminds him of Lily. Brilliant "Muggle born" student, who is good at everything she does. But I can also see the sadness in Snape -- it isn't evident, but I know it's there... always.

    From the start, I had an interest in Snape because he was not easily defined. Everyone's views of him were conflicting. Harry disliked him and distrusted him at once, and for a good reason; but throughout the series, parental and authority figures contradict Harry's view of Snape. "Why would he want to steal the Stone? He's one of the teachers protecting it!" "I might have killed you then, if it weren't for Snape muttering his counter-curse!" McGonagall trusted him. Lupin trusted him. Dumbledore trusted him. But Harry couldn't. Too much bad water under the bridge, too much emotion in his heart. I had faith in Snape because Dumbledore and Lupin had faith in Snape, and my heart broke when he killed Dumbledore. It sent me into a tailspin. Was he working for Voldemort all along? Were all of us wrong about him?

    I wanted Snape to be good to prove that not all noble people are nice people. In the end, that is what Rowling accomplished. Snape was mean and never pretended to be anything else, but he was noble in his sacrifice. Umbridge, by contrast, put on a facade of false niceties and hid her evil behavior behind moral vindications. Which is more evil and insidious? To pretend to be what you are not (good) or to be open and up front about what you truly are (mean)?

    Snape is not my favorite character, though he is tragic, but he always has a sad little corner of my heart.

    1. Glad you approve of my post! :)

      Hermione is my favorite character, hands down, but like you, Snape holds a special place in my heart.

      You raise some excellent points about Snape. I would much rather have a character be honest about their dislike instead of trying to hide it. That's why I hate Umbridge so much, but can't hate Snape. If anything, Snape hides the goodness he might have instead of displaying it for the world. He's bitter and sad and mean and he doesn't pretend to be anything else, yet he still has a noble heart and a desperate need to protect the only thing that Lily left behind.

      I wish Harry and Snape had been able to understand one another. I wish Harry had tried harder and I wish Snape hadn't been so cruel to him. They did one another a disservice with their behavior, and it's an unfortunate loss of a relationship. I love it when Harry tells his son that the bravest man he ever knew was a Slytherin and we know who he's talking about. He respects Snape's memory, but he can't look back with all that much grief, only regret that he never knew the real Snape. Imagine being so blinded by our own opinion of someone that we can't see beyond it? I can be that way too, and it's a little scary to be that biased.

      Snape isn't perfect, at all. My sorrow for him is that I see all his potential for greatness. He was such a talented wizard and if he hadn't been so bitter, he would have been a good man. The bitterness stole any kindness from him, and that makes him all the more tragic.

    2. Hermione is my favorite as well, followed by Lupin (my baby!!) and McGonagall. "We will have a night of well-mannered frivolity!" She cracks me up. I have characters I like less than others but only one I really hate, and that's Umbridge. I have never before or since actually swore out loud while reading a book, but she has that effect on me. THAT WOMAN....!!!

      Ahem. Back to Snape. I fear he and Harry were doomed from the start, as allies. When it came to Harry, Snape was utterly incapable of being rational. Rationals do not blame a child for their parents' actions, yet Snape found that inevitable. His hatred for James spilled over into his interactions with Harry and polluted their potential relationship, and that is partly the tragedy of Snape. His nobility toward the end doesn't excuse all that came before, but at least it redeems him somewhat. Snape is responsible, in large form, for what not only happened to the Potters, but also the Longbottoms... and we'll never know if he regrets what happened to all of them, or just was upset that Lily died. Even so, he's a tragic figure and probably the greatest character Rowling created -- and she created some real zingers.

      I think all of us are blinded by our own opinions. Even Elizabeth Bennet had to struggle to overcome her initial impression of Mr. Darcy! The important thing is to be aware of our prejudices so that if we need to, we can put them aside.

    3. Yeah, I hope Snape regretted more than just Lily's death because that would severely limit his empathy. Neville didn't deserve to live without parents any more than Harry did. Perhaps that was part of Snape's cruelty. He couldn't face all that he had done, all the damage he had caused so he reverted to meanness. It doesn't excuse his behavior, but it's a possibility.

  2. Like you, I had a hard time getting into the HP books at first. I read the first one in 2001, when the prof I was doing an internship for chose it as required reading for her creative writing class. I thought it was clever, but was not moved to read more. It wasn't until 2004 that I started getting interested in the series. Why? Because I kept seeing the trailer for Azkaban, and that choral rendition of "Double, double, toil and trouble" fascinated me. So I quick read the first three books before the movie came out so I could go see the movie knowing what was going on. And when I got to the end of Azkaban, I fell in love. With Sirius Black. Because there are few things that draw me in like someone wrongfully imprisoned. Unless it's someone who escapes from prison. Put those two together? Roll me over in the clover, baby!

    But guess who my third-favorite character is? Snape. And Ron is my favorite, which makes me wonder if I've got a fondness for ESFPs. Checked Charity's tumblr site, and I don't know a bunch of them, but Gabriel Martin? Oh man. Kaylee Frye? I want to be best friends with Kaylee. Captain Wentworth? My favorite Austen hero. Princess Anna? Love her. Oddly, though, she's got Buffy as an ESFP, and Buffy annoys me quite a bit. Ditto with Anakin Skywalker. Hmm.

    ANYWAY! Um, what was I saying? Oh, I love Sirius and Snape for many of the same reasons. They're both damaged, both seek love and acceptance but won't admit it, both have a big protector thing going on -- I feel like they're two sides of the same coin in so many ways. I LOVE what you say here about Harry's POV skewing how we see everyone, especially Snape. So very true! I'd never really articulated that, or seen anyone else say it, but now as I think back over the books, I very much felt that. One of the reasons I was drawn to Snape was that he was misunderstood -- by Harry as much as anyone. When Dumbledore died, I went super-ultra-loyal ISFJ and wore this pro-Snape pin to work for weeks.

    So, great post! I very much enjoyed reading it (except the parts where you said you didn't like Sirius, which I'm just blithely going to not think about anymore).

    1. There are a couple of ESFPs that I like, but not many. I mean, I don't even like Uhura and apparently Henry VIII is an ESFP and I HATE him. One that I do partially like is played by Anthony Andrews and I am marginally fond of Buffy, but on the whole, that type frustrates me. Ooh, except for Dracula and Lucy from the 1979 version which I absolutely LOVE. Had no idea they were both ESFP. So I guess I don't dislike the type as a whole, just the ones who take it to the extreme.

      Okay, back to the topic at hand, Snape. I'm thrilled you are able to like Sirius and Snape both. I'm sure it makes life a lot easier especially since so many people love Sirius Black. I wish I could, I really do. Maybe I could if I tried, but I was just pleased with myself for giving Harry a chance since I don't always like him either. And I tried to back off from Ron too. I just can't agree with a lot of his personal choices and his behavior. He's downright mean sometimes and that's uncomfortable behavior for one of the good guys to have, specially towards Hermione, my favorite character. Ah well, they're not perfect.

      The difference between Sirius and Snape is that Sirius is able to move on from many of his past experiences. He doesn't harbor them like Snape does. The actions of Sirius' teenage years were foolish antics of youth, and while he might regret them, he doesn't linger over them. Snape can't move on like that. He's locked in the memory and he's still angry about past affronts, even all these years later. I'm not approving that behavior, just acknowledging that's how he thinks. It's unfortunate. If he'd been a different type than he might have been able to move on.

      Glad you liked my thoughts on how we see everyone from Harry's perspective. And Harry is a very decidedly emotional individual who either loves or hates you, no in-betweens. You're good or evil, and he plunked Snape over into the evil side even when all of the adults in his life kept telling him he was front. That's what Fi for a first function will do to you, you're always right and everybody else is crazy when they disagree. At least Harry and Snape were both guilty of misunderstanding one another. Snape's behavior is unpleasant at best and Harry wasn't inclined to read him in any other way than guilty.

      Thanks for your response and I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    2. I'm finding it funny/odd/intriguing that you know a lot of people who love Sirius, and I know a lot of people who love Snape! Even in the blogosphere, I've met up with maybe 3 people who love Sirius, whereas Snape has this following. And your experience seems to be the reverse! How interesting!

    3. Healthy ESFPs are amazing. They are funny, quick on the draw and loads of fun to be around... even if their fast driving scares me half to death. Princess Anna is my favorite fictional ESFP EVER. That girl is awesome.

      Unfortunately, ESFPs on the whole get a bad reputation because on screen, most of them are immoral, reckless, impulsive, unfaithful, or total psychos. On one hand, you have Gabriel Martin, a healthy ESFP -- and on the other, you have Colonel Tavington, a psychopath. Henry VIII. King Joffrey. Impulsive. Reckless. Cruel. Controlling. Violent. Or you have the middle ground ESFPs like Sirius Black whose impulsive, highly-emotional, reckless behavior gets them... well, killed. =(

    4. I think it's the impulsive and reckless thing that can draw me in -- it makes me want to protect them!

    5. Oh, that's kind of you! Usually, ESFPs don't need protecting, though, since if you mess with them, they will kick your backside! ;)

    6. Of course! And yet, I even feel protective of people like Thor...

    7. *blinks at you a few times*

      ... right now, you are reminding me a lot of a Molly Weasley-esque female ESFJ I vacationed with in NYC a few years ago. Are you sure you're not a Fe-dom?

    8. Hee! Nope, read thru the page, and Dominant does have a few things like me, but the Auxillary FE is much more me. Especially this bit: "Your emotions can influence mine, so I am careful not to let too many people in. I want to take care of you, and protect you." Very me. I want to take care of and protect people/characters I love, but it takes me a long time to let someone in because once they're in, I'm committed.

      Speaking of ESFJs, I saw a car today that had a vanity plate that said ESFJ :-D I was like, "Wow, that's a committed MBTI fan!"

    9. HAH! That's awesome!

      My friend in California has a blue car whose plates say TARDIS. She gets complimented all the time by random "Doctor Who" fans. Her pizza was delivered in a Jurassic Park jeep recently (no joke -- it was painted the same and everything -- knowing I'm a fan, she sent me a picture of it!). So... people can take things seriously! ;)

    10. The thing with ESFPs is that the last thing they want you to do is protect them. They don't need "protecting" because they know who they are and what they want to do and heaven forbid you get in their way with a mothering instinct. Ron often didn't handle mothering instincts all that well and he wasn't even fully developed as an ESFP. Apparently the lower functions come on later in life so his final 2 functions aren't quite there yet. Out of all the types the ones I want to protect the least are the ESFPs because if they get themselves in trouble, it's their own fault. They know better and they just don't care and they usually hurt people in the interim to get what they want and that is no way to behave. *sighs* So sad.

      To be fair though, I realized this week that I work with an ESFP and I adore her. She's probably one of my favorite people in the department so in real life, I'm more inclined to like them. She's very well-adjusted too, so that helps, like Princess Anna. Now there's an ESFP I love! :)

    11. Today I went to see Hercules again with a friend, and there was a car in the theater's parking lot with the plates "HERQLES." We were like, "Well, we know what they're here to see!" My problem is, I'm dedicated to a lot of fandoms, and we can't get one car for everything I get into.

      I don't just want to protect ESFPs, I want to protect any character I love. And any real person. When I was first learning about MBTI and I found out that nicknames for ISFJs are things like "The Guardian" and "The Protector," I was like, "Whoa! So me!" It's like the button on my blogs says: Hugs are my department. I want to hug characters, comfort them, keep them safe, make them happy. And then go bash in their enemies' faces. In real life, of course, I don't actually do any bashing, just the hugging part. But for fictional characters, this translates to a "Do not mess with this person I love!" attitude for me. It's why I stop reading blogs written by people who think Thor is all brawn and no brain, or who think Boromir is a bad guy, or who call Sawyer unprintable words. Because I'll just get defensive of them, and then annoyed with the blogger, and... yeah. That way madness lies.

      And if they don't want me to protect them (Wolverine, for instance, would be so annoyed, wouldn't he?), I just hug them anyway and am there for them when they need me. Imaginarily, of course.

    12. My problem is, I'm dedicated to a lot of fandoms, and we can't get one car for everything I get into.

      Gee, what must THAT be like? ;)

      When I was younger, I seriously considered getting a plate that said "Lexana" on it, for my favorite Smallville pairing. I'm not someone who would pay extra $$ for plates, but ... it's still tempting. ;)

  3. I'm the same way. I have shredded people up one side and down the other for dissing characters I love and find it hard to like them or even interact with them after that. I have a serious problem with my inability to like people who hate the things that I love, or who love the things that I hate. =P

    But I also have very real, very tangible contempt for some characters and it tends to come out when interacting with their fans! I'm generally fine with the people who acknowledge the flaws in the character they are defending, but have little tolerance for those who excuse their bad behavior or refuse to acknowledge it. I refuse to excuse any bad behavior.

    Snape and Sirius are both self-serving jackasses whose behavior I refuse to overlook or justify because of their upbringing and traumatic childhoods. I like Snape, but I don't like Sirius. Their behavior is similar in that they are cruel, vengeful, resentful, and abusive but Sirius took it one step too far with me when he set up Lupin to potentially murder and/or bite Snape. Doing that to an enemy is bad enough, but he did it to a friend. Had James not rescued Snape, Lupin would have had to live with that emotional devastation and guilt for the rest of his life. Sirius gave no thought to "a friend" and to the end, saw the entire situation as one immense joke.

  4. You're both wondering, where have my posts gone, right? As it turns out, Rachel was not in fact insulting Charity, but I could not discern that fact from her final post, which shows the limitations of the online world since it doesn't show emotions with the words (I hate that!). So, while I can get Charity's reply back, Rachel, I can't find yours for some reason. It vanished into the ether. You can always write it again, if you want, or not, it's up to you. And, Rachel, I appreciate your clarifying your meaning, that helps me a great deal. I'm good with character discussions, but not when something feels like it's more of a personal attack to someone I've been friends with for years. So, that was a misunderstanding on my part, but I'm glad it was only a misunderstanding since I'd much rather that have been the case. So, feel free to continue, or not, but remember who your words can be construed, both of you. :)

    1. Oh, I'm so relieved. I've been in tears over this on and off all morning, thinking I had inadvertently lost two blogging friendships that I would be so sad to not have anymore. Thank you for forgiving and understanding!

      I think my comment mostly said that I am drawn to flawed fictional characters because of their flaws, because they need help in some way, whether it's to overcome their flaws or to deal with the aftermath of their actions. And so I love characters like Boromir and Sawyer and Wolverine and Sirius not because I think they're so wonderful and perfect, but because they are imperfect and can be unwonderful, and that means they need someone or something.

      Oddly enough, as a writer, I have a tendency to want my characters to be wonderful and perfect, and have to keep reminding myself that if I find perfect characters boring, other people will too.

      And I what I tried to explain was that when I earlier said in a comment, "But for fictional characters, this translates to a "Do not mess with this person I love!" attitude for me. It's why I stop reading blogs written by people who think Thor is all brawn and no brain, or who think Boromir is a bad guy, or who call Sawyer unprintable words. Because I'll just get defensive of them," that didn't mean that I actually jump to the defense of characters I love, claws out and fangs bared, when someone bashes them. I wish sometimes that I did, because it makes me feel wishy-washy to just turn away and ignore and walk off. At the same time, when I do try to get into a character-defense thing with people I don't know well, it tends to end with me being upset and furious, and I've come to the realization that it's just not worth it most of the time.

      It's different with people I feel comfortable with -- if it's a blog of someone I'm internet-friends with, or people I'm friends with in real life, I'm happy to bounce in and say, "Wait, no, please don't say Thor is all brawn and no brain! It's not true! Think about X and Y and Z reasons it's not!" Although if it's a real-life conversation, depending on the person, I might just say, "Um, no, I disagree." I'm really bad at expressing myself verbally -- I want to think through everything I say before I say it, and that doesn't work great for debating face-to-face. So unless it's someone I'm not intimidated by at all, I'm most likely going to growl in my head and change the subject out loud. If it's a blog I've just happened on cuz I was searching for pictures, or a blog I've only just started reading, I tend to close the window, eventually unfollow the blog if such experiences keep cropping up.

      Even look at my very first comment on this post -- I said I was going to blithely ignore that you don't like Sirius. You're someone I like, I feel pretty comfortable discussing stuff on your blog... but all I felt like saying was, "I'm sad you don't like Sirius. I'm not going to think about that and will just focus on the cool stuff you said about Snape."

      (Sometimes Rex in Toy Story reminds me a lot of myself: "I don't like confrontations!")

    2. Oh, dear, I am so sorry you ended up crying! That was never, ever my intention. Sometimes I absolutely hate the internet because misunderstandings can happen so easily, but this last one was my mostly fault. I tend to be highly overprotective of friends and family. The curse of the ISFJ. Charity can beat me over the head with it later, and I suspect she just might. Either that or roll her eyes.

      About writing flawed fictional characters, there is almost nothing harder in the world for me. Charity manages it quite beautifully in her work, but mine tend to be overly perfect. And, like you, perfect characters are ones I enjoy reading about the least, so why I write characters that way is beyond me. Although I did enjoy writing fanfiction about Lex Luthor and you don't get much more flawed than him. Now if I could just create my own flawed character.

      Well, at least now we know we can agree to disagree about one another's character preferences, at least some of them. For the most part, character disagreements don't actually bother me. They did when I was younger, but not so much now. I'm only defensive about a couple of them, and Snape isn't one of them, actually. Sherlock, yes, Snape, well, he's too much a jerk for me to be defensive about. I can "defend" some of his motivations based on his past experiences, but it's not worth getting "defensive" about. In that way, I think it's not so bad to walk away from character discussions sometimes. I used to get myself in a lot of unpleasant arguments in my younger years because I defended characters too emphatically. I finally realized it wasn't worth it, and in the end, does it really matter if someone does or doesn't love Thor or Wolverine? Although, I do love Thor, even though he does seem quite reckless, and well, not nearly as clever as his brother. He's still a sweetie. ;)

      So, we're all good, no worries. Like you, I hate confrontations, and when I'm not blogging as regularly, I forget what my blogger friends are like. This is a good reminder to be more involved so I can learn people's personalities. :)

    3. Rachel: … I think we need a group hug.

      (I tried to include a gif of people hugging but blogger wouldn't let me. Boo.)

      I’m sorry, my comment started this argument. That is so typically me. Assert an opinion, walk away from it, spend two hours peeling apples and picking pears off the tree in my backyard, and come back to find the place in flames. Oops, I did it again. Sowwy.

      One final thing about the Sirius and Snape thing, which isn’t inflammatory, merely something that annoys me – about myself: I can’t seem to figure out why I like some characters, and not others, particularly if their behavior is similar. Why Snape and not Sirius? No idea. Why do I love “Gladiator” and dislike “The Hunger Games”? No idea. Why does the modernization of Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock” not bother me, even though they have bastardized his character from the canon, but I can’t stand the thought of the Robert Downey Jr. movies that do the same thing? No idea. So take heart, my friends, in knowing that the things that annoy you most about me are not beyond my notice, and are slowly and steadily driving me insane. ;)

      Ooh, do we get to talk about writing now? Like Carissa said, I have the twisted, dark, tortured anti-heroes down pat. I am so darn good at it that I have to go to extremes to have my readers dislike any of my creations, because, as you point out, the mothering instinct and desire to see them “saved” or “helped” kicks in (… always with the ISFJ readers; what IS IT with you? :P). But with other characters… I don’t know, I either like the truly awful characters, who are completely unapologetic about it (like Loki… I’m sorry to say, I don’t like any of the Avengers team all that much, but I adore Loki, because he IS so unapologetic about his evil); or the truly NICE guys. Nice isn’t always boring – I also write some very honorable, decent characters who aren’t dull.

      Most of the time, I’m a peacekeeper. I walk away from conflict. If someone writes something on their blog that I disagree with, I may or may not respond and contradict them, mostly because I think a blogger’s blog is “home turf” and it’s not right to storm in and take the castle. But depending on my mood, how much emotion I have invested in the character, etc., I may assert a differing opinion and an explanation of why. I used to do that MUCH MORE OFTEN, which led to a lot of people either being in awe of my daring or hating my guts. (I’m starting to think that’s a major extrovert indicator; we might not LIKE conflict, but we leap into it anyway, because we can’t keep our mouths shut.)

      ANYWAY… I’m sorry if we made you tear up. I truly am. No, our relationship isn’t ruined. If you not liking Sir Percy didn’t wreck it, nothing will. ;)

      Carissa … the internet sucks. On the one hand, we get to meet new people! On the other hand, we get to accidentally on purpose insult them! *snort*

      I think we’re all protective. You should have seen me light into a cousin who flippantly insulted my brother once. I bit her head off, spit it into a tree, and when it fell back to earth, stomped on it. (Okay… that’s a metaphor. I snapped, “Don’t you EVER call him that again!” and, taken aback, she hastily apologized and all was well.) The thing is, *I* can criticize the people I love; other people can’t.

      Mmm, Lex. So deliciously bad.

    4. Group hugs are good! :-) ("Can I kiss the monkey? Blech! Hairball!")

      But... Lex Luthor? Is this perhaps a Smallville thing? Or the latest movie, which I haven't see? Because I like Gene Hackman quite muchly, but I've definitely never considered writing fanfic about him....

      My best friend (Tonto to my John Reid) and I spent oodles and oodles of time about a year ago figuring out precisely what it is that makes us love a story versus like it okay, and what the deal-breakers are for us on characters. I came to the realization that I only love a movie or book or TV show if I want to be friends with more than a few of the characters (the tipping point seems to be a minimum of 2 characters -- just 1 character that I want to be friends with doesn't cut it) and would love to hang out with them in their world. For my best friend, there has to be at least one character she would like to be.

      I also realized that any character I love will be helpful and nice. Maybe not helpful and nice to everyone, or all the time, but I have to sense that they are helpful and nice. (And yes, I find both Sirius and Snape both of those things. And Wolverine. This is why I can't love Spike on BTVS -- he's neither helpful nor nice.)(And perfect is different from nice. I love nice characters. It's perfect, unflawed characters that bore me.)

      So. If you start looking at the stories that you love (I sat and stared at my movie shelves and book shelves for hours, searching for patterns), I'm betting you'll figure out what that one thing is that draws or repels you. And once you have it, it will make soooooooo many things fall into place.

      (Have you seen the RDJ Sherlock Holmes movies? I was determined to hate them. But I don't. I don't love them, either, but they're not as repulsive as I'd expected.)

    5. Yes, it's a Smallville thing. Their Lex was brilliant. And dead sexy, too.

      Stories I love either have:

      + a fantastical imaginative twist
      + an emotional journey

      My favorite stuff usually has both. I choose melodrama most of the time because of its intense exploration of emotions under pressure. I like "Battlestar Galactica" because it forces people to make no-win decisions, thus dealing with the brutality of sacrificing a few for the many. I like "The 10th Kingdom" for the diabolical twist in the second half, which forces the main character to deal with her repressed emotions. I like "The Devil Wears Prada" because Andy must choose which of two people she wants to be. I put many of my own fictional characters through traumatic experiences, so that they can grow emotionally.

      True, sometimes this pattern breaks and I like something simply because it's fun, but 95% of the time, that's not the case. I hate superficial things. I either love something or walk away from it. I can't read, watch, or write anything that doesn't deal in emotions.

      I always liked Spike because he underwent the greatest emotional journey -- from a cold, sadistic but hilarious vampire to a vampire with a soul. Unlike Angel, he wasn't cursed with it -- he went to hell and back to get it, to become a better man. His redemptive arc represents, to me, symbolism of a life turned over to God -- because he chooses to pursue righteousness and must sacrifice to get it, other than having it forced upon him through guilt (Angel's story). Don't get me wrong -- I like Angel, but I like Spike too, and in many ways, he's the healthier vampire, since he has no guilt.

      Yes, I have seen the RTJ Sherlock Holmes movies. HATE.

    6. I remember The Tenth Kingdom! That came out while I was in college, and my fantasy-obsessed roommate watched it devotedly. And so I watched it too cuz it was on the TV and I couldn't avoid it. Though I couldn't tell you anymore what it was about, lol.

      I watched Battlestar Gallactica for a couple of seasons, mostly for Jamie Bamber. I loved him in the Horatio Hornblower movies, you see. But the only characters I liked much were Apollo and Starbuck, and in the end I didn't have enough of an emotional connection to them to continue the series. It was really inventive and cool, though.

      I like Spike a great deal -- he makes me laugh more than any other character in either series, and I rejoiced exceedingly when he transitioned to Angel because anytime he and Angel interact, the snark level is so deliciously high. My favorite ep of the final season was the one where he and Angel ride around Rome looking for Buffy -- I couldn't stop laughing! My hubby and his brother watched it with me and thought it was deadly boring, and couldn't figure out what was making me laugh. Sigh. And Spike gets one of my favorite moments in all of BTVS, when Buffy dies and he drops to his knees in anguish. Oh man, that kills me. But try as I might, I don't love him.


Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!