The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love Oct30

The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love

“I love Professor Snape,” my friend gushed. “He’s the real hero of Harry Potter. And his devotion to Lily Potter is so moving.” I simply nodded along, not understanding her fictional crush but unable to deny Snape’s good intentions; he does protect Harry throughout the series, albeit while mentally torturing the boy for being the child of a man he hated. But then again, maybe I could have denied it. In fact, maybe I could have pointed out that Snape is an obsessive, cruel stalker and not a romantic hero at all. For some reason, obsessive love is sentimentalized in books and media. And this is not a new trend. From Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine, to Bella and Edward, doing anything (and I mean anything) for your lover is portrayed as a desirable feat. I raise an eyebrow when I see the image of a glowing doe accompanied by a cloaked, crooked-nosed figure and the word “Always,” Snape’s key phrase. It’s plastered on memes, throw pillows, and iPhone cases as a testament to devotion, but that’s not what it really represents. Snape is a fascinating and well-developed character, but to use him as a model for romance is a disturbing sentiment of a narcissist culture. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “He makes no effort to grow as a person,” says Hannah McGregor, one of two feminist scholars who host the podcast Witch, Please. “He ultimately supports the regime that directly leads to [Lily’s] death, and in the wake of it, doesn’t meaningfully become a better person, just remains fanatically devoted to her as an object he wanted to own and never got to have.” Though many fans’ hearts were warmed by the reveal of Snape’s history with Harry’s parents in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a childhood feud with Harry’s dad and unrequited love for his mom doesn’t make the Hogwarts teacher a hero. It’s incredibly creepy that Snape continues to have feelings for Lily years after they stop being friends. Though he shouts something cruel at her as a teenager, which is what causes the rift in their relationship, he never tries to make amends. Instead, he holds on to his childhood feelings into adulthood—including his hatred for James—feeding the flames of his obsession with the desire to effectively own her. It’s not until her life is threatened that he rethinks giving up her family to Lord Voldemort. He doesn’t have a problem with Voldemort killing her husband or her son, just with killing her. Dismissing what is important to the other person is not a testament of true love, however; it’s the opposite. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “Severus Snape” by Ludmila-Cera-Foce (ludmila-cera-foce.deviantart.com). When someone tweeted to J.K. Rowling, commenting that “Snape held no malice against Harry (which Harry came to know, eventually),” Rowling replied, “That’s not true, I’m afraid. Snape projected his hatred and jealousy of James onto Harry.” Even after Lily’s gone, Snape isn’t moved to real love; the ways in which he mentally tortures Harry and belittles Hermione for being Muggle-born, just like Lily was, demonstrate his bitterness and lack of understanding what real love is. By treating her as an object and holding on to childlike memories of her, Snape has made Lily into something she isn’t—“When we find what we think to be a suitable ‘object’ for our idealistic affections . . . we invest more of ourselves than is appropriate—to the extent of worship. Rarely do we really know the other person well, but imagination and desire make up the difference,” writes Bruce Atkinson PhD. We’re attracted to these romances because we think it takes a special kind of person—a strong woman—to love a...

The Selfish Games of Littlefinger Jul05

The Selfish Games of Littlefinger...

From the Night King to Gregor Clegane, there’s no shortage of physically intimidating characters in Game of Thrones, but the ones that are most terrifying aren’t the biggest, strongest, or most brutish – they are the those like Tyrion, Varys, and Cersei, who connive and maneuver themselves into positions of authority, often with ruinous effect on those they perceive as enemies. Perhaps the most dangerous of these thinkers is Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger, a master puppeteer who is always several steps ahead of even the most intelligent and powerful players; he manipulates and eliminates “pieces,” as he calls them, on his path toward the throne. When we first meet him, we realize there’s more to Littlefinger than meets the eye. There has to be. He’s a slight man with only a low noble background, but has risen to an important rank as Master of Coin in the small council. As the series progresses, we see that Baelish is involved, sometimes as the mastermind, in so many of the major events, including the deaths of Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, and King Joffrey. He later takes Sansa under his wing, demonstrating to her how he manipulates people and proceedings by issuing bribes, placing his people in positions where they can influence outcomes, and even making “moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you” for a greater purpose. I don’t particularly like Littlefinger, and I know exactly why. He reminds me too much of myself. During my adolescence and into college, I was constantly scheming to figure out how I could use people to get ahead. Like a high school version of Game of Thrones, I plotted and used friends, family, teachers, and acquaintances to gain popularity, increase finances, and achieve...

Curses of Blood in The Lord of the Rings Mar08

Curses of Blood in The Lord of the Rings...

Middle-earth is a bloody place. The generational struggles of elves in the First Age, the War of the Ring, and even the adventures of a certain handkerchief-less burglar are all bloody stuff. Blood isn’t just for wetting swords, though; blood tells us something about who we are. But it doesn’t have the final word on who we’ll be. Middle-earth holds two tales that reveal the powerful pull of blood. In the First Age of Middle-earth, the elven prince Fëanor created jewels of unsurpassed beauty called the Silmarils. Fëanor was the greatest of the elves; he was exceedingly beautiful and unsurpassed in skill and understanding—he knew it, too. It was his pride that drove him to swear an irrational oath of vengeance against anyone who withheld the Silmarils from him after Morgoth, the dark enemy of the elves, stole the Silmarils and murdered Fëanor’s father. But the burden of blood tends to outlive its source; Fëanor’s sons nursed their own pride and took up the oath as the mantle of their house, following their father to war: “They swore an oath which none shall break, and none should take, by the name even of Ilúvatar, calling the Everlasting Dark upon them if they kept it not . . . vowing to pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends of the World Vala, Demon, Elf or Man as yet unborn or any creature, great or small, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days, whoso should hold or take or keep a Silmaril from their possession.” (The Quenta Silmarillion.) Pride was the weakness in Fëanor’s blood, first exploited by the subtleties of Morgoth and then passed on to Fëanor’s sons. When pride demands its right and blood is spilled, a...