Snape. Snape. Severus Snape.
I have very, very mixed feelings about Severus Snape.
I'm curious about his home life. The books hint that his parents fought and he didn't have a solid family. I think, for him, Hogwarts must have been an escape, and his negative experiences with his Muggle father and Petunia Evans could have been a building block for his later decision to become a Death Eater. It may have been anti-Muggle feeling that originally drew him to Lily.
Ah, yes, Lily Evans Potter--that crux of all cruxes. I am about to state what I assume is a fairly unpopular opinion: he did not truly love Lily, and the feelings he felt for her were pitiful, not admirable. I think he was obsessed with Lily, but he could not love her in a sustainable and mutually beneficial way. Had she returned his feelings, their relationship could never last. I read somewhere that James and Lily's patronuses complemented each other, showing that they were soulmates, rather than Snape's mere copy of hers, showing obsession. His continued feelings for her are sad and a product of questionable emotional health. That they never waned over twenty six or seven or eight years (only interacting with Lily herself for seven or eight of them) was abnormal and unhealthy. I think she was the only person he saw as totally 'good', and that may have been a cause. (By the way, can you believe that Snape died when he was only around thirty seven or thirty eight?)
I'd like to address James, also. It seems that the Potterhead community is quick to assign him blame. I think his conduct to these factors:
a) inbred, inter house rivalry towards Slytherin, including also a distaste for Dark magic
b) being raised as a rich only child
c) being a teenage boy.
I mean, seriously; Harry and, yes, Ron, are ridiculously mature for their ages. Would you give a middle or early high school boy magic without some trepidation? I doubt it. James was a result of the way he was raised and his circumstances. That doesn't justify his actions, but it does serve to explain them. You have to remember, also, that James was extremely non judgmental to his friends:
1) Sirius, from a family of Dark wizards and Slytherins
2) Lupin, a WEREWOLF
3) Peter, who most teenage boys would honestly just bully and make fun of into oblivion. Like, does he have any positive qualities? (And why is he a Gryffindor?)
I've been pretty harsh on Snape so far, but I readily admit the bravery of being Dumbledore's spy. He regularly put himself at the mercy of one of the most powerful wizards ever. If his Occlumency skipped a beat, just once, Nagini would feast.
But. What I have to say is, SNAPE IS A TOTAL JERK TO 11 YEAR OLDS. While MAYBE his cruelty to Harry is understandable (although understanding does not equate forgiving), he has no excuse for regularly insulting and demeaning Ron, Hermione, and most of all Neville, who never hurt a fly. Possibly the most damage incurred, however, is what he did to the Slytherins. He taught them to be above rules and that it's okay to be a jerkbucket, but also dangerously made it Us vs Them, which never ends well.
Okay, to wrap up this monster post; In my opinion, Snape had a freakishly hard life. He did a lot of good, but was extremely horrible to his students for no good reason. Also, Always is not a good symbol for love.
Same opinion? Different opinion? Tell me in the comments!