First the Miscellany: Angelina has been cast as Grendel's mother in an upcoming Beowulf film. At first I found this highly appropriate and funny. However, I later read a short description of her role on Rotten Tomatoes: "Jolie will play the queen of darkness, who tempts the Viking as he makes his way in the quest to become king." Ummmm, yeah: "She grasped out for him with grisly claws,/ and the warrior seized;/ . . .Then bore this brine-wolf, when bottom she touched,/ the lord of rings to the lair she haunted/ whiles vainly he strove, though his valor held, weapon to wield against wondrous monsters/ that sore beset him." Sounds verrry seductive. And Beowulf never had ambitions to be king nor was he a Viking, but whatever.
On to Snape. I will do the magic spoiler thing now, so highlight the text to read it. So, with Snape I'm of two minds. One is that JKR is telling the story straight and she has made it obvious that Snape is evil, once and for all. There will be no more twists and turns, just more of the same. This is JKR re: Snape in an interview:
MA: OK, big big big book six question. Is Snape evil?
JKR: [Almost laughing] Well, you've read the book, what do you think?
ES: She's trying to make you say it categorically.
MA: Well, there are conspiracy theorists, and there are people who will claim -
JKR: Cling to some desperate hope [laughter] -
. . .
JKR: Well, okay, I'm obviously – Harry-Snape is now as personal, if not more so, than Harry-Voldemort. I can't answer that question because it's a spoiler, isn't it, whatever I say, and obviously, it has such a huge impact on what will happen when they meet again that I can't. And let's face it, it's going to launch 10,000 theories and I'm going to get a big kick out of reading them so [laughs] I'm evil but I just like the theories, I love the theories.
So...it seems that hope for Snape is "desperate" but, of course, we don't know anything, really. Some unfilled holes I find in the Snape story:
1) Where is the "iron clad" proof Dumbledore claimed he had proving Snape's loyalty? He tells Harry that Snape had "remorse" - but the entire Order was in disbelief that this was the proof. I'm not ready to buy that we know the whole story. This is where my Lily theory comes in: Snape has been mysteriously and absolutely silent about Lily with Harry - quite unusual. I believe they had a relationship of some sort, and it helps to know they were both whizzes at potions (like minds perhaps?). I could hardly see Snape having "remorse" for James, but for Lily, perhaps. There is a telling (I think) moment in the aftermath of Snape killing Dumbledore where Harry says something like, "And we know what [Snape] thought of my mum - he called her a Mudblood." And the narrator tacks on: "But Harry didn't explain how he knew this..." This, of course, prompts the reader to remember that Harry never heard this from Snape's mouth EXCEPT in a memory from some 20 years ago. Could JKR be hinting that things had changed since that memory? Could Dumbledore's proof be related to Snape's relationship with Lily? Additionally, we know Snape is the Half-Blood Prince, so calling Lily a "Mudblood" may just have been an off-the-cuff way to insult her for show... There is also the intriguing nuggets from the interview - a) Lily had a choice to live or die, and she chose to die and b) when asked whether there was anyone else at Godric's Hollow that fateful night, JKR answered, "No comment." Hmmmm. Could Snape have been there? Did Lily have a choice because of Snape? Did Snape leave Voldemort because he killed Lily anyway? Speculations abound.
2) What exactly did he agree to in taking the Unbreakable Vow? Because JKR had to keep the reader in suspense regarding Malfoy's task, we never hear explicitly what Snape vowed to do when he and Narcissa. Could it have been something other than killing Dumbledore? I guess not because that was clearly Malfoy's task. BUT: Did Snape even know what he was vowing or was he ad-libbing on the spot? I guess it would be foolhardy to take the Unbreakable Vow for something you didn't know about... but this is a possibility since we never hear Snape state (or have stated to him) explictly what he must do.
3) In terms of my prior theory about Snape training up our hero by abusive methods and spoiling Malfoy, I think that's held true: Malfoy didn't have the mental/emotional strength to kill Dumbledore. Harry, on the other hand, was able to be obedient to Dumbledore and be courageous, even in the midst of the Inferi in the cave, with Dumbledore flippin' his wig.
4) Snape does refuse to hurt Harry (or let others hurt him) and stops Harry from using the Unforgivable Curses. He even "advises" Harry before he Apparates - he tells Harry that as long as one cannot perform Occlumency or non-verbal spells, one is weak. So, there's that. Of course, he's also patting himself on the back since he's great at Occlumency and non-verbal spells.
5) Snape is turning out to be as great a figure as Voldemort and Harry. These are their similarities: 1) they look alike 2) they're all 1/2 bloods 3) they all have a title ("Lord Voldemort," "The Half-Blood Prince," and "The Chosen One") 4) they all had abusive childhoods. Snape is more important than we all have thought - especially in light of the fact that book 6 is named after him. What does this mean??
On the whole, I refuse to believe that it's as simple as: Snape killed Dumbledore, Snape is evil. There must be more, even if "more" is not "Snape is good." I do know that both M and I felt depressed for a few days after finishing the book. I was shocked I felt so bad - I guess I watched my own personal hero murder someone who seemed like the only source of hope in the books.