September 13th, 2003

A Pocket Full of Murder

A thought about Snape and Neville...

Inspired by ajhalluk's latest (and deliciously snarky) post about fandom cliches that need to be retired, stat. One of these was the idea that Snape is bullying Neville out of some kind of "tough love", and it got me thinking about why Snape might resent Neville so particularly. Which led to an intriguing new idea:

When Trelawney first made her prophecy about the child who would be Voldemort's downfall, did Dumbledore and Snape have a disagreement as to which child it would be -- Dumbledore's preference being Harry and Snape's being Neville? Is part of Snape's resentment of Neville due to Neville's having apparently "let him down" in that respect?

If so, the way Snape treats Neville might be a combination of trying to force Neville into displaying some magical ability (I wouldn't call it "tough love", since no tender feelings are involved on Snape's part -- he's merely trying to prove he wasn't completely wrong about Neville's potential), and sheer frustration with Neville's spectacular (and often hazardous) incompetence in his class.

It probably doesn't help that McGonagall seems to find Neville equally frustrating to deal with (and she's generally considered a good teacher both in and out of canon, so it's not just Snape's personal teaching method that's at fault) -- and has even been known to take it out on him in public (see GoF, when she takes him to task for his inability to perform a simple Switching Spell, and basically tells him he's a disgrace to the whole school). She and Snape probably gripe about him to each other in the staff room, which only reinforces their respective perceptions of him as an embarrassment and a failure.

I suspect, however, that Neville is going to display a bit more gumption -- even and perhaps especially to Snape -- in Book 6. And I'm really, really looking forward to it. *rubs hands together*

P.S. Is it wrong of me to secretly hope that in Book 7 we find out that Neville was really the child of prophecy and the hero of the whole story after all? I mean, even aside from all the dreadfully mixed feelings this would be sure to cause in Snape, I think it would be way too cool. But I doubt JKR's going to do that...

P.P.S. I've just checked to confirm this -- it's after Dumbledore awards points for courage to Neville in PS/SS that we see Snape shaking McGonagall's hand with a "horrible forced smile". If he's been clinging to the hope that Neville might yet display some sign of child-of-prophecy potential and trump Harry in that respect, that smile might not have been quite as wholly artificial as Harry thinks...