Tattoos and Harry Potter, or: Snape was Problematic, so Don’t Immortalize Him

“I don’t get it,” I told someone the other day over the phone, “Why would you get the word Always tattooed on your arm? It doesn’t make sense.”

In the books, the word–as heavy as it is–potentially signifies a kind of immortal love towards something or someone (in the books, it was Snape’s love for Lily, which–that’s a whole other blog post–) and I suppose one could make the argument that other connotations are the reason behind getting it tattooed. After all, it is a very personal choice.

severus-snape

However, in terms of specifically plucking out a quote from the books and putting it on your skin–there is only so much interpretation you can pop into the artwork yourself. “Always” to Snape and Dumbledore in that moment meant “I have never stopped loving her,” or–more accurately–“I have never stopped thinking about her,” because he definitely didn’t know how to express love in a healthy manner. And behind the “I have never stopped thinking about her,” lies the irrefutable idea that he hurt Lily, he hurt her son, and although his last action was to aid Harry in the quest, it definitely was not for Harry, or even for Harry’s mother. It was a selfish act on Snape’s part for himself (looking into Harry’s eyes to see Lily’s does nothing for Lily. She’s dead. She’s gone. Missing the dead is always a selfish human act, and so it was no different for him–) and that’s all there is to it.

It is not as if Always absolved him of his attitude towards Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Neville. Bullying his students in the Potions classroom had nothing to do with love or Lily. Being in love with someone’s memory for years and years does not take away from negativity harbored towards the rest of the world.

So … I still don’t understand it. Why immortalize a problematic character’s problematic flaws through a word with a definitive and distinctly disturbing background? Who knows. It just looks cool, I suppose. Don’t even get me started on the genocidal Death Mark.

Ayesha runs this blog. She received a Bachelor’s degree in English in 2014 and is currently an Instructional Assistant with a charter school in Southern California.

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2 thoughts on “Tattoos and Harry Potter, or: Snape was Problematic, so Don’t Immortalize Him

  1. You can get a tattoo because you appreciate the idea, or if that moment touched you. And the dark mark hardly specifically represents justifying a genocide. It’s all literature, and that’s what people are valuing.

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    • You’re definitely right about tattoos representing the appreciation and ideologies of an idea or instances in a book! The Dark Mark tattoo idea still doesn’t sit well with me for some reason. Perhaps because of the reason it was embedded into the Death Eaters’ skin? (The idea of Voldemort attempting to take over with the idea of magic folk being better than Muggles and Muggleborn folk.) It’s something I can’t quite get behind!

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