Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
I realise I’ve been talking a lot about Harry Potter in the past few weeks, but you’ll have to bear with me as I do so again with this particular topic. Warning, thar be spoilers ahead. (Major fucking spoilers for the last book/movie, so if you haven’t read or seen it by now DO NOT READ THIS POST.)
The Harry Potter series is full of character deaths. Perhaps not so many as other fantasy series, but a fair whack. They’re all written well enough to bring at least a tear to the reader’s eye — who didn’t choke a bit at Cedric Diggory’s death (especially in the film, with Amos screaming in anguish “That’s my boy!”), or sob like crazy when Sirius went beyond the veil in the Department of Mysteries? These characters were unequivocally seen as good guys, so their deaths hurt.
Not as much, however, as Snape’s death in the final book.
Many of you didn’t trust Snape after the ending of Half-Blood Prince, which I suppose is understandable — myself, I always trusted him, and knew the reasons behind his actions would be revealed and he would be good at heart. I was pleased to see myself vindicated, even as I cried out every drop of moisture my body possessed.
In Snape’s final moments, he gives Harry all his memories, and in a single chapter JK Rowling tells a devastating love story: that of Snape’s hopeless passion for Lily, how every action on his part was to protect her only child. She shows Snape’s pain in following Dumbledore’s orders to the very last — to have to kill the only man who had granted him his trust, his only real friend. And his refusal to accept that Harry Potter’s fate is to die — that they’ve been raising the child like a pig for slaughter, that soon all that remains of Lily in the world will be snuffed out, extinguished like a candle not allowed to burn out its full life.
Had Snape not been bitten by Nagini, had he not died giving Harry his memories, we never would have known all this. He never would have been vindicated. Harry would never know the truth — that Snape had grown fond of him, had grown to view him like the son he never had.
And so it is that Snape’s death is not only the saddest I can think of, but also the most satisfying — it’s only in death that he is redeemed, only in death do we see the true Severus.
This is what makes Severus’ death so truly poignant and heartbreaking. It is not until all sides of the story are known that we can see true goodness, brought about by nearly impossible choices.