Finally!! I FINALLY finished my copy of Half Blood Prince
, and can now enjoy reading this thread and the (no longer) spoilers therein!
I had read an oblique spoiler (in a up-and-coming news bit about the Goblet of Fire
movie, of all things) about the end of Dumbledore in this book. Basically, the reviewer said something about what a PR nightmare for Hogwarts it must be to have your headmaster killed by one of the faculty. Considering everyone there, and especially once I saw Snape take the Unbreakable Vow, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen....
Still, believe it or not, I cried when I read it. I was reading the book aloud to my husband (who has terrible dyslexia and can't read very well), and I had to stop a few times to regather my voice's strength.
I, also, am of two minds about Snape. He's unreadable. A very complex puzzle. You just can't tell what side he's on.
He's obviously a sadistic bastard who plays favorites. (This is the kind of abusive manager who keeps turnover rate at the local office obscenely high.) He delights in putting down students from other houses, artificially inflating Slytherin's standing. He's an acknowledged Death Eater with "anti-muggle" tendencies (imagine a nasty teacher in the deep south who used the "N" word a lot), and his borderline psychotic aggression towards Harry strains all boundries of belief. He made a vow to kill Dumbledore, and he is still in Voldemort's confidence. He turned Sirius over to the Ministry (to have the Dementors devour his soul!) when he surely knew the man was innocent. He could be just a complete heel, taking everyone in while plotting Dumbledore (and, by association, The Order's) downfall.
He could also have killed Dumbledore on his D's own orders, previously arranged in case Malfoy failed. (Notice that Harry partially overheard a heated argument between Snape and Dumbledore earlier on? If D gave Snape such an order, how do you think Snape would react?
)Dumbledore has been clearly set up as one who thinks well ahead, and would willingly chose martyrdom rather than cause anyone harm. And he inspires complete loyalty in those who follow him, to the point of following orders that seem sure will lead to his death. As transparently evil as Snape acts, in the end he has generally done the right thing.
And for all the similarities he has to the Big V (self-aggrandizement, lust for power, etc.), Snape has
the capacity to love. He obviously cares very much for Malfoy, even if he has no decent way of showing it.
So either we're going to have the worst traitor of all time, or someone so loyal (and, dare I say it, selfless
) that he's willing to be SEEN as the worst traitor of all time, even to be killed by the people he's serving, just to make sure V goes down. And we've got hints pointing both ways.
As an aside, one of the people who I feel the most sorry for in all this is Slughorn. The poor shit. His social skills are lacking, and he tends to enjoy power and influence too much, but despite his selfish streak he has a decent heart. Now he's had TWO favored students go horribly wrong under his tuteledge. Can you imagine how dreadful he feels by now?:urg