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darth_gojira

Vader vs Snape essay

I know I haven’t done an essay here for years, and honestly I should have come up with this 10 years ago, but I think I’ve figured out finally how to articulate my feels about two very similar but very different characters.  They are both intended to be tragic, sympathetic villains, but how this is executed is very different. Most people will disagree with me on my conclusions, but I have to make my opinion said. If you know you won’t be convinced by my analysis, then feel free to skip this. I am comparing Anakin Skywalker with Severus Snape.

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The paralells start with childhoods. Anakin is born into slavery, and is kept in slavery with his mother by the junk dealer Watto. Severus is born into a mixed heritage household, and is abused by his father Tobias.  Slavery and child abuse are obvious traumatic experiences.

At a young age, their lives change-Severus goes to Hogwarts and meets Lily Evans, who befriends him, while Anakin is freed by Qui-gon Jinn and meets Padme Amidala, who befriends him. Anakin however does suffer the trauma of being separated from his mother, then having his new surrogate father Qui-gon killed very soon after.

The first main divergence is their teen years. Snape is a favorite of Horace Slughorn, but never makes friends besides Lily. Meanwhile, Anakin is groomed by both the Jedi and by Chancellor Palpatine, the former being stern and controlling of his emotions while the latter adulates with him and connects with him.

Then we get the seduction to the dark side.  This is the first point where Anakin is better written; while he hates the Sith in principle, he chafes at the Jedi’s monastic rules, and is constantly told he deserves better by Palpatine. Anakin is perfectly justified at being disgruntled with the Jedi, and Palpatine is enabling him, basically weaving a narrative that the Jedi have no redeeming qualities while the Sith are actually justified.  However, we never see Snape turn to the dark side. The timeline in the school years is very murky-we know he joined the Death Eaters, and that he had interest in the dark arts. We know he was bullied by the Marauders probably for this reason.  However, we don’t know why. It could be a lust for power-like Voldemort himself. It could be an ideological prejudice spurried by his hatred of his muggle father. Some assume the Marauders bullied him first and he joined the Death Eaters for protection, which doesn’t excuse him but is another possibility. No one person seduces him to the dark side-he seems to just be interested in it.

Both suffered trauma in their teen years-Snape was kept at arms-length by Lily, learned the Dark Arts, and constantly fought other students, while Anakin’s mother died in his arms, had his love forbidden by the Jedi, and then had his hand cut off. We see a commonality-a sense of entitlement.  Both Lily and Padme are the wiser ones of the couple, and set boundaries.  Then we get a key difference again: Padme eventually loved Anakin and just as passionately agreed to the affair, while Lily rejected Severus and instead fell in love with James Potter.

The next point is the death of the loved object. In many cases of emotionally unstable men, entitlement leads to the objectification of the love interest, and we see this in both cases. Anakin becomes so afraid of his wife’s death that he betrays the Jedi and joins forces with Palpatine, two things that she opposes, leading to the emotional trauma that kills her. Likewise, Severus becomes so jealous of James that he fights for Voldemort and helps Peter Pettigrew betray the Potters, asking Voldemort to kill James and Harry but spare Lily.

Another point of divergence comes-Voldemort never really respected Snape or viewed him as a valuable tool, and kills Lily, while Palpatine rescues Skywalker from death. Instead of Voldemort, it’s Dumbledore who comforts Severus and offers him a job. I could get into a “Why Palpatine is a better villain than Voldemort” essay here, but the point is the options. Dumbledore overlooks Severus’ issues and offers him a place to live and more importantly a chance for revenge. Anakin has no one to turn to-he’s killed his wife and tried to kill his friends. Palpatine is his only choice. So we get Professor Snape and Darth Vader. On the surface, this means that Snape has redeemed himself while Anakin has lost his chance.

But this isn’t the case. We now turn to the hero of each story. Severus doesn’t get involved in Harry’s childhood. He doesn’t care at all about him despite the whole world knowing his survival, and when he finally meets the boy, he is immediately prejudiced against him and assumes he’s just like James. Meanwhile Vader doesn’t even know his children are alive until the war brings him and Luke together as enemies. Again, we see Vader without a choice, and Snape with a choice he refuses to make.

Okay, we’ve met the kid, now what? Snape approaches Potter with cavalier abuse-he protects his life while disdaining it. He is put in the position of keeping alive something he hates. In contrast, Vader is obsessed with finding Luke and making him his apprentice. They’re both acting absolutely selfish, as barely restrained free agents determined to use the boy while not respecting him in the slightest.

The confrontation between Harry and Snape lasts 7 years, while Vader’s with Luke lasts only a few minutes. In this confrontation, the young idealistic hero is utterly at the mercy of the older man, but it ends with the realization  of the hero that their enemy is to be pitied and saved.
Then comes the last big difference: payoff.  Harry’s last fights with Snape are purely adversarial, while Luke confronts Vader with the explicit purpose of reclaiming Anakin Skywalker’s soul. The villain’s revelation to the hero comes in two very different times. Snape reveals the truth to Harry as he dies, a death simply due to Voldemort’s temper tantrums. In the end, there is no great enmity between Snape and Voldemort or Harry and Snape-he is simply someone caught in between fighting for himself.  Meanwhile, Vader’s selfishness accidentally leads to his redemption-his teaching the truth to Luke only prompts Luke to in turn confront Obi-wan and Yoda who tell him the rest of the story. Harry is told the rest of the story by Sirius, Remus, etc, long before he hears it from Snape.

Thus, when Luke seeks out Vader, while Vader is a pawn between Luke and Palpatine, the struggles is bigger than just good vs evil, it’s for the soul of a man. Snape dies unresolved-he’s still thinking about Lily, Voldemort is still alive, and he only refers to Harry as Lily’s son rather than see the good in James or Harry himself. Anakin’s death is key to the drama-he saves Luke from Sidious, killing his old master to save his own at the cost of his own life. It is a sacrifice, a purely selfless act in a selfish life. He is transformed. Snape dies with his body as broken as his soul-his moment is gone, his life was over long before, he gave up on everything after Lily’s death. Anakin, like Obi-wan, Yoda, and the galaxy itself, is saved by Luke.  Again, we could do another essay on while Luke succeeds at being the sacrificial hero while Harry fails-the sacrifices both work in those cases, but with Luke’s it relies on a character’s dynamics rather than magic-based deus ex machina technicality.

Both villains die in the hero’s arms. But compare their last words-“Tell your sister you were right about me” with “You have your mother’s eyes”. In the former case, Anakin is admitting to Luke his error, and is pleading for Leia’s forgiveness. It is one man to another, asking for forgiveness. In the latter, Snape isn’t thinking about Harry, or reflecting his own mistakes, or asking for forgiveness. He is still at his teenage stage-his only thought is Lily. Anakin doesn’t mention Padme-he knows Luke never met her, and the relevant issue is his war against his children. Snape never sacrifices because he does not grow past his entitlement. Anakin does.

Two of the most controversial things about the characters appear at the very end of the story; Anakin appears to Luke as his younger self, before his fall to the Dark Side, sitting alongside Obi-wan and Yoda, while Harry names his son Albus Severus and calls Snape the bravest man he ever met.
The former works-through Luke’s effort, Anakin is restored to his original virtue, and restored to the respect of Yoda and Obi-wan, who accept the redeemed Anakin. Luke burns Anakin the same way Anakin’s surrogate father Qui-gon is immolated; unintentionally, he has told Anakin he is a true father figure. The latter doesn’t-Albus Dumbledore’s arc in the books more resembles Palpatine than Obi-wan with his deceptions, machinations, and schemes. Furthermore, Harry disparages all the heroes he’s know, people who, unlike Snape, DID die for him. By focusing on Snape as the honored one, he elevates him to surrogate fatherhood, a position that Snape never accepted or even desired.  Snape had his chance to become who Lily wanted him to become, to outdo his old rival by replacing him, but his actions show it was never about that. He never grew past his adolescent crush and envy.  This is a symptom of a larger problem in the Potter books; in Return of the Jedi Luke stands with all his friends: Han, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, the droids, the Ewoks, Wedge Antilles, all his comrades. Harry is much more exclusive-he is only with Ron, Hermione, (again, I could do an essay on while Han/Leia succeeded while Ron/Hermione failed) and Ginny. The fate of the other characters isn’t important to him….or to Rowling.

In both cases, a relevantly minor character started off merely as an antagonist but grew to larger stature and the author reacted by focusing more on them. The problem is that Harry Potter’s story never became about Snape-he had no arc. His character was so ambiguous and mysterious that his story is given mostly in three big infodumps that still are murky. There’s no room to make him a central character, and he seems not to fit into the story of Harry vs Voldemort elegantly at all. He’s just another life caught in things-Ron Weasley has more pagetime and background. Meanwhile, Vader became so iconic that Lucas immediately changed the story to be about his relationships. While Luke was still the central character and the hero, Vader was always second in importance, and Lucas felt compelled to give him much-needed depth and tragedy by telling a prequel trilogy with a foregone conclusion that mostly served to exposit and give greater depth to the original films. It is revealing that J K Rowling has refused to make a much-demanded Marauders book. She feels her work is done-something Lucas has never considered.  It’s also odd that for an author that loves parenthood so much its considered more important than other character arcs (I’m looking at you, Epilogue, Molly vs Bellatrix scene and Remus hooking up with Tonks subplot) that she rejects it as being part of Snape’s redemption. She has said he is a morally grey character-but that’s one of the hardest things to do in literature. Snape switches from hero to villain chapter to chapter, while Anakin (despite the occasional outburst followed by instant remorse) goes through a clear transition.

I suspect that this is because Lucas always wanted something operatic in Star Wars, while Harry Potter was never meant to be operatic but grew into it. Despite what the naysayers endlessly whine, Lucas was in control of his entire creation from 1977-2005. Rowling lost control-to the films, to the fans, to her own characters.

I’ll add a third character from another 2000’s film property-Smeagol. Who is closer to Smeagol? Darth Vader. Like Smeagol, he was corrupted by an exterior force taking advantage of his own character flaws, acted selfishly, and was forced to do good by the offspring of his sad past. Now, Smeagol never redeemed himself in the way Darth Vader did-he died just as selfish as Snape, but his death, his life-it all had direct importance because of his connection and relationship with the One Ring of Power. Frodo is more mature than Harry-he never calls Gollum the bravest man ever or any such nonsense-the theme with Gollum is pity.
Indeed, the theme with both Vader and Snape is pity. They are pathetic characters, who last out, who attack others, who assert themselves brutally out of their own failed lives.  Most fans of Darth Vader have problems with this fact-so used to the 6 years of Darth Vader being the ultimate face of evil they don’t see a greater depth. Snape fans go the other direction-they focus on his obsessive love and sadness and neglect the moments where he did have control.

That’s my argument: Snape had more chances, more choices, more freedom than Vader had, mostly because he’s not that important. Anakin was important because of his power, and the sheer amount of trust given to him by everyone around him. Snape was never important. Their sense of entitlement from a sad tragic background is in common, but the devil is in the details-Vader learned he was important, and his entitlement stems from that, while Snape for all his talent and tragedy was never important, and resents that.
Snape’s importance was always a red herring from the first book (being demoted from the main villain to an ineffectual guard against the main villain in the last chapter), and while the fandom made him more important, that importance was never a fact in the books. Vader was important from beginning to end. Lucas kept that in mind.

To sum up, Vader is Snape done right. Or rather, he is what people want Snape to be. As both villain and hero, Vader makes the world follow him. Snape never has that importance. He dies before the final battle, a victim of a temper tantrum. Ironically, his fate echoes his old enemy and fellow Death Eater Peter Pettigrew.  Who does Anakin’s death most resembles? Harry himself.

TL: DR version-the prequels were awesome, Deathly Hallows sucked, George Lucas is a much better writer than J.K. Rowling, Snape is a petulant adolescent at his death, Anakin has the best tragic character arc.

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If you're interested or curious on what I've been working on, check out my blog:

http://davidsamateurpalaeo.blogspot.com/

And my fanfiction:
https://www.fanfiction.net/~darthgojira

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Well, I'm ending my hiatus. First, I'd like to plug my paleontology blog if any of the readers are into that thing: http://davidsamateurpalaeo.blogspot.com/

Next, I'm getting back into writing. I stopped because I was never popular, never seemed to get the readership. Then I realized something: from the beginning, I wrote for myself. So I'm going to write for me. I'm going to take the stories my head creates and put them out on print, no matter if anyone cares or not. I was thinking about this, since I've got a cold and can't look for jobs or do much else.

So, right now I'm deciding on what to do next. I've got some Harry Potter stories, but in one case I don't know how to write the middle of it while having the climax down pat. I guess I'll do the others, and read the books while I do so.

I've been thinking of also finishing my self-insert Star Wars trilogy-I started it 12 years ago and I really should finish it.

There's been a Godzilla fanfic in my brain for a while-in fact, several ideas have come to mind. I could have fun with those.

Finally, there's an original fantasy idea I've developed over the past year. It's a big stretch for me, but it might be a lot of fun.

Whatever the choice, I will post the work here first.

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Right now, I don't feel like even typing. I came down with some weird virus last week, and my gums hurt so much I can't eat solid food. I'm going to try to make it to school today. I thought I had gotten better on Tuesday, but that didn't work out.

I can't concentrate on homework. I can't concentrate on recreational writing. I can't even pay attention to the same book for a long time.

I'm too frustrated by everything. There's just so much I am unable to do. I used up my allowance. No one seems to pay attention to my fanfics. I can't even keep my mind straight to do homework. I'm writing now just in an attempt to try to and in an attempt to wake myself up.
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See, I'm a member of many fandoms, but only a few of them I truly have investment in. Almost all fandoms have what TVTropes calls "a broken base" aka a critical issue that divides the fandom almost irreparably.

So, here are my opinions

Star Trek: Not enough experience, but I like both Kirk and Picard, and I can't really decide between them, as I like both of them.

Star Wars: I love the original trilogy, like the prequels (with some reservations), and hate the Expanded Universe (although I do like the tech books)

Batman: Not much experience, but I enjoyed the Silver Age and the Adam West series, and I hate Frank Miller in general

Indiana Jones: I liked Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Temple of Doom, but I acknowledge them as bad and very inferior to Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Last Crusade

Sean Connery is THE James Bond. I like Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. I can't stand Daniel Craig

Godzilla: The Milennium series was an improvement over Heisei, but I only liked Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs Megaguirus. The others were very bad. Final Wars and All Monsters Attack were terrible (I'll write a comparative article on them later) . Destoroyah is a female, Kong and Godzilla fought to a draw, The Showa series was the best. Godzilla should be an anti-hero or destructive hero. He's going to save the day, but he doesn't care how many people die when they get in the way

Disney: I enjoyed King of Thieves and Lion King 1/2, but the rest of the sequels are absolutely awful

Horror: I like Lovecraft, the Twilight Zone, and Hitchcock. Slashers suck.

Transformers: I'd like to get into the series, but I have to say that both the animated movie and the recent live-action trilogy were some of the worst crap I've ever seen

Harry Potter: I'll try to keep it short: The first five books were great, the last two were terrible. Snape's a bad guy. I ship Neville with Hermione. It doesn't matter if Dumbledore is gay, but she should have put it in the books. The books are for both kids and adults. Rowling's interviews are not canon, and are awful anyway

Lord of the Rings: The movies actually improved on the books. I'm sick and tired of all the slash (seriously, one day I'm going to write some LOTR het). Balrogs have wings, but the one in Moria's had atrophied. Tom Bombadill is a Big Lipped Alligator Moment that has no business in the book.

Twilight: Sucks.

In case anyone is wonder, I do not care about Dr. Who. Yes, it looks good. No, I'm not interested.

Narnia: The first couple books were very good-Silver Chair, the Magician's Nephew, and, above all, the Last Battle were terrible

Simpsons: I like both new and old episodes

Clone Wars: I liked the cartoon. I hate the animated series. Ashoka Tano is the Wesley Crusher of Star Wars

Not interested in the Final Fantasy games. I love the music.

Sylvester and Tweety are the weakest Looney Tunes characters.
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I've been quiet for a while. School doesn't give me much time, and there's a lot of stress.

The other day I started thinking to myself. Why do I write? I look at this blog, and it's mostly romantic fanfiction about two particular characters. Why?

Is it to please an audience? Not really. I really don't think that many people look at this journal, and those who do aren't clamouring for me to write. I really don't think most people are going to bother.

Is it reflecting personal experience? Not my fanfics. I've had horrible experiences of heartbreak and frustration, and things don't look like they'd change anytime soon

Is it a personal fantasy?  I can't really say that it is; why would I write it down and share it to people? As much as I like the characters, I certainly wouldn't want to be in their shoes. I've never been discriminated against, or  been separated from my parents, or tortured,

Is it to practice as a career? I'm actually an anthropology major. I' have to learn how to write papers, and I'm terrible with them. I've got three research papers due in the next few weeks, and I'm so terrified of them I'm always procrastinating.

Is it to change people's minds? Maybe, I guess, but again, the series is over, most people have their opinions set, and again, most people aren't going to find this little journal.

Is it out of boredom? Not really. I've got a lot of homework, and have other little projects for myself. While I should make writing more of a hobby, it's not something I do every day, and I often get distracted with other things, so not really.

Alright, then, what is it? That's the problem. I don't know. I still write, and I will continue to write. It's just something I feel compelled to do. Maybe it's compensating for being a minority, maybe it's acting against my personal frustrations, maybe it's something entirely different. So yeah, I don't know why I write. Maybe I'm just crazy. I think it's a legitimate possibility.
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Title: Hermione gets an O
Universe: Harry Potter
Genre: Romance, PWP
Ships: Neville/Hermione
Rated : NC-17
Summary: The followup to "Neville Gets an O"
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.Originally posted here : http://twilight-sucks.livejournal.com/1584746.html

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Why are we focusing on Harry? He's not very interesting


I mean, this is what the first part of the year is like;


Harry: Ha ha ha! Isn't camping fun? There's Ron and Hermione. They're totally meant for each other and they're still bickering! That's so funny! I'm suddenly troubled. Where is my girlfriend? Oh, hello convenient girlfriend!

Meanwhile....

Neville: Hold the line! Make sure the injured are safe! Damn you, Snape, I'll see you hang for this! For Dumbledore! Come on, lads, give no quarter! Fight to the end! HOGWAAAAAAAARTS!

Back to Harry

Harry: Did I mention I was the Chosen One?

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Title: Potions Lesson
Universe: Harry Potter
Genre: Romance, PWP
Ships: Neville/Hermione
Rated : NC-17
Summary: Hermione. Neville. Late-night potions. Do the math :)
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