'Professor Snape is alive and well and living inside my head'.
I typed this sentence into Google, and the first thing to come up in my Search Results was a delightful little essay from a fellow Snape-lover, who has verbalised, so nicely, just why it is that people obsess -- painfully, tangibly -- over someone who does not actually exist.
Those of you who DON'T obsess will wonder how it's possible. I can't explain, but I can tell you that typing out the words "someone who does not actually exist" felt a bit like blasphemy to me!
Back to the essay, though, "Who Loves Severus Snape?", written by a blogger named Agnieszka. Here are a few excerpts, and click here for the full essay if you need to read more! (Don't read if you are one of those people who has -- shock and horror -- not yet read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; the essay contains spoilers).
"Severus Snape is written to be loved and redeemed, but the love and redemption take place not within the text but within the experience of the reader. For the readers who love Severus Snape, there can never be real fulfillment because he is a fictional character, a creature of the imagination. But there can be real longing, as a fantasy about a fictional character is no less emotionally real than a fantasy about a living person who becomes fictionalized in the process of fantasy.
There is a similarity between loving a fictional character and loving a dead person. Both the dead and the fictional exist in the thoughts of the real and living. Rowling points to the idea that our manner of interacting with the dead is like unto the manner of interacting with fictional characters. When Harry interacts with the people brought back by the resurrection stone he is aware that they live in his imagination. At the end of Harry's interaction with the Dumbledore in the ghostly King's Cross, Harry asks
"Tell me one last thing," said Harry. "Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"
to which the King's Cross Dumbledore replies
"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it's not real?"
- from a blog entry by Agnieszka