My Observations about some of the characters in Harry Potter
A collection of observations I have made about various characters in the HP universe over the years.
I started reading the books as an adult and at first, I thought it was an entertaining story. But let me tell you, my opinion of the Wizarding world as portrayed in the HP books is all kinds of messed up, and that's putting it politely.
Among some of the first people we meet in Sorcerer's Stone/Philosopher's Stone are the Dursleys and you can tell from the get-go that these are people you are meant to dislike. We also get to meet one of our first honest-to-goodness wizards, Albus Dumbledore. He looks like a wizard, he's got this neat gizmo with the funny name. He's dressed eccentrically, he's got the long white beard and hair, the boots and the cloak. He must be wise and good, he looks wise and good. But as the scene progresses, and indeed as the series progresses, it makes one wonder.
But as for my list let me just work my way down it.
Harry Potter - Almost sacrilegious to say there's something about Harry that I don't like. Maybe that's too strong of a phrase, rather maybe I should say I didn't like how he was portrayed. This is a kid that through no fault of his own got dumped into a lousy environment and was left to his own devices for years. He got screwed over by practically everyone. This kid was abused, neglected, marginalized, isolated, starved and no one, absolutely no one gave enough of a damn to even say "sucks to be you kid," let alone help him. I found Harry's portrayal in the books to be wildly unbelievable. The level of abuse is downplayed in the movies because after all, we've got to sell movie tickets. Most people say 'well the abuse wasn't really that bad,' or 'Harry didn't come right out and say his relatives were abusing him.' The child was living in a boot cupboard, that's abuse! Vernon says "We swore when we took him in we'd put a stop to that rubbish... swore we'd stamp it out of him." This strongly suggests they were physically abusing Harry. They called a child "freak" and either encouraged or simply did nothing while their son bullied the boy. In Chamber Of Secrets, Petunia swings a frying pan at Harry's head. This is not something someone would do if it was the first instance of trying to hit the kid. I see Harry as painfully naive, not really his fault he's a product of the environment he grew up in. But here's the thing, a large hairy man shows up and tells the kid in essence 'hey I knew your parents, they were special people who could do wonderful things and guess what you're special too. Now why don't you come with me to this magical place.' and Harry GOES with him! Am I the only one who finds this creepy as hell? It's a wonder Harry didn't end up in five different garbage bags scattered across the M25.
Back to why I found his portrayal so unbelievable. Kids that have been abused to the level portrayed in the books are not very likely to be anywhere near as well adjusted as Harry was in the books. The kid will likely have severe trust issues (more than even Harry shows,) he'll have PTSD (he was kept in a cupboard for 9 years for crying out loud.) The list could go on and on. I worked with abused and at-risk kids for 20 years, some of that time was working in a school for abused and emotionally disturbed young people. I worked with people who had over 100 years of combined experience in working with these types of children ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old. I say all that to say this. No one who wanted to keep their job in a school from the Principal/Headmaster-mistress to the crossing guard would have ignored a child like Harry. They would have noticed something was wrong on the very first day. How about the argument that the Dursleys told the school lies about Harry and everyone thought he was a troublemaker? I say that would only have made it worse. If a parent/guardian comes in and says 'my own child is perfect but we're also raising my nephew and he's a troubled child and by the way, everything he says is a lie. Wow, just wow the warning bells should be going off in this school official's head. The child would not be allowed to go home until the matter was investigated. I realize that the US and UK are different but I have a hard time believing things would be THAT different. This suggests to me that Dumbledore likely put some kind of spell or charm on the boy so that no one would notice or believe he was abused. This leads me to my next character.
Albus Dumbledore - He of the way too many irons in the fire. I know that JKR has said that Dumbledore is the epitome of goodness. She says that, and I think she believes it, (that is in and of itself quite disturbing.) But she is the author who created Dumbledore and she cares about him, perhaps more than she cares about any other character in the series. But if you take an objective look at the books the inescapable fact is that for someone who is the “epitome of goodness,” Dumbledore has done some really terrible things. The first thing we see him do in the books was to abandon an infant on a doorstep. He doesn’t even have the decency to ring the bell and tell Petunia that her sister is dead. He leaves a LETTER, it was almost as if he wanted to make sure from the outset that Petunia would be angry and made to feel as if she were not worth the effort to give her the news personally. She certainly wasn’t worth the effort to ask her if she’d be willing to take in her nephew. Also, Dumbledore KNOWS Harry was mistreated because he told Harry “you had suffered. I knew you would when I left you on your aunt and uncle’s doorstep. I knew I was condemning you to ten dark and difficult years.” He even says to the Dursleys, “he has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands.” And “…however miserable he has been here, however unwelcome, however badly treated, you have at least, grudgingly, allowed him houseroom." That ANYONE could think that the person who put an innocent child in that situation and can make these statements is the “epitome of goodness” should give any reasonable person cause to be concerned. I think JKR says Dumbledore is good because she wants him to be good. Like Dumbledore forever telling everyone he could that Severus has his complete trust, Dumbledore wants others to see Severus like he does. So many Dumbledore apologists make the point that he had no idea that the Dursleys were capable of abusing Harry. That Harry didn't tell anyone for certain that he was being abused. Those that really like Dumbledore see him as someone who made some unintentional mistakes but that he means well and is, "the epitome of goodness," and whatever else he did he loved Harry and had only the boy's best interests in mind. Unfortunately, there is one problem with that, and it's Dumbledore's own words that damn him, "...you had suffered, I knew you would." It is my opinion that Dumbledore was setting Harry up to be a martyr from the get-go. Dumbledore intentionally left Harry to be abused because that's exactly what he needed. He needed a child soldier who would jump through every hoop without question and would willingly go on a suicide mission. If Dumbledore had intended anything else he would have made sure to give not only Harry but some of his own people the vital information about the horcurxes.
Based on these things he did and SO many other reprehensible things a reasonable person might conclude that a.) Dumbledore will lie and manipulate anyone he has to, to achieve his goals. And b.) He is very much an ends justify the means person. But then again so was Hitler, he also did what he thought was “for the greater good.” I think the saddest thing about the HP story was that after everything Dumbledore put him through Harry still named his son after Dumbledore. My opinion is that if you read the books objectively it is painfully obvious Dumbledore did more to hurt Harry than Voldemort did and Dumbledore is not a good guy. he is the very definition of Cult of Personality. Dumbledore may not be evil, he certainly wouldn't think that he is evil. But that doesn't make him good. In the near future I hope to publish a multi-part series going into further detail my thoughts on Dumbledore.
Minerva McGonagall - she seems pretty much a non-entity, her only purpose seems to be a yes-woman for Dumbledore's mad schemes. She proves that she stopped caring long ago. She doesn't believe what she, herself tells the firsties every year "your house will be something like your family." Maybe that's why Harry sort of accepted that he was going to get the sticky end of the stick because Gryffindor House was almost just like his family. That's not a compliment. She could be just as biased against Gryffindors as Snape was. She proved she didn't give a rat's behind about Harry because she blew him off every time he went to her for help. It's clear that either she didn't care or it was on Dumbledore's orders that she not help the boy. If that's the case... make of that what you will. I can just see her hitting the single malt every chance she gets. What other reason would there be for her allowing Dumbledore to hide the Philosopher's Stone in a school full of children?
Ruebus Hagrid - He's loveable, you want to like him but this guy should never be allowed to be around children. First off isn't it interesting that Hagrid is the only person besides Snape that when Dumbledore is questioned about their fitness for one duty or another Dumbledore says in effect 'he has my complete trust.' Hagrid committed a crime on Dumbledore's orders. Did he understand that he was kidnapping Harry? Probably not, if anyone would have told him at any time 'hey you kidnapped Harry Potter, that is a crime.' Hagrid would probably shout 'never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of me." Hagrid's defense would be "Perfesser Dumbledore told me to do it," that is all he would understand. But transplant Hagrid into a Nazi POW camp as a Nazi soldier and he would be convicted of war crimes. I don't think Dumbledore kept Hagrid around because he felt sorry for his unjust expulsion, he kept Hagrid around because every Godfather needs his Luca Brazi. Dumbledore never knew when he was going to need ignorant muscle to do any dirty job and obey without question. Also, was Hagrid the person who normally went to investigate why a student didn't respond to a letter? Obviously not because Hagrid said that he was sent because Dumbledore expected trouble. I maintain that Hagrid was sent for specific purposes. 1. So Harry's natural curiosity would be peaked, 2. So that Hagrid could leak the info about the stone and Harry thus overwhelming the boy and showing him how very special he is. Think about it the kid goes overnight from being an abused slave to not only being a wizard but he's someone who all these adults swarm around wanting to shake his hand. They bow to him and call him Mr. Potter, not freak or boy. They tell him how proud they are to meet him. This is the early stages of indoctrination. 3. So that Hagrid could fill the child with "great man, Dumbledore" and the glories of Gryffindor. The last reason Dumbledore sent Hagrid was to intimidate the Dursleys and impress Harry. If it was solely that Dumbledore was expecting trouble why would he send someone who couldn't do magic? Dumbledore almost set Hagrid up to be murdered, remember Vernon had a gun and he could have shot Hagrid through the door. Then later when Hagrid has charge of a minor he leaves the kid by himself so he can go drinking. I can't begin to tell you how irresponsible that is.
Arthur Weasley - Poor Arthur I really feel sorry for him. Molly hooked this poor sap with a love potion. She doesn't respect him and teaches the children not to respect him. He's a decent guy but he's just another irresponsible adult in the HP universe. He leaves four of his kids to stay at school over Christmas so they could visit one grown son. Surely it would have been better for that son to pay his own way to come home to visit them. In CoS the boys sneak out with the car and what does he say? He wants to know how the car ran. Why did he even have this thing, he's violating the law that he wrote. I think it's because he wanted to be the only one that could get away with misusing muggle artifacts. In book three the family wins G700 and they blow almost all of it on a trip for the entire family including one gainfully employed adult son. They have just enough left over to buy Ron a new wand, how do we know this? Because in his letter to Harry Ron tells him "...most of it's gone on this trip." Why on earth would they throw money away like that? Percy has a full year of school left, the twins have three, Ron has five years, and Ginny six more YEARS of school. They are going to have to buy 18 sets of school supplies over the next six years. Even if the kids are on scholarship they still have to buy supplies because they cleaned out their vault to buy supplies in Ron's second year. Now granted the Christmas trip to Romania and the trip to Egypt may have been Molly's idea but what does that say about Arthur if he can't tell his wife no. Is he still under the influence of the love potion? It certainly sounds like it.
Molly Weasley - She's a mother figure and she's the only one Harry's got and compared to Petunia she is better or is she? At least Petunia instilled some life skills in Harry. Molly treats all of her kids as if they're mewling infants, she smothers them. She just takes over, acting as if she has the right to smother not only Harry but Hermione and Sirius too. She takes over Sirius' house and treats him like he's the visitor. She and Arthur both ignore that their sons had to rescue Harry. They told her that the Dursley's were starving Harry. In the movie, Ron tells her that there were bars on Harry's window. She does nothing. Arthur had heard about the warning Harry had gotten about magic use, did they not think to ask why? In book 4 She knows Rita Skeeter's reputation as the yellowest of yellow journalists yet she assumes that Rita is telling the unvarnished truth about the love triangle between Harry-Hermoine-Krum. What was going through her mind? 'I know Rita Skeeter is a liar but I'm sure this time she's telling the truth.' She's disrespectful to her husband, she tells her impressionable teenaged daughter and her friend that she dosed the daughter's father with a love potion, ha, ha, isn't it cute. She committed rape at least seven times. No wonder Arthur's the way he is, he has Stockholm syndrome.
Remus Lupin - Again another irresponsible adult. Up until nearly the end of book 3, he knows that Sirius Black is a murder who betrayed his best friend and his wife to their deaths, left their child an orphan, and murdered their last friend in cold blood. These are facts that he KNOWS. Black is a murderer, Black is after Harry. Well, maybe he doesn't absolutely know these things, from reading the book I got the feeling that he may have had some niggling doubts. Ok if he did why did he not voice those doubts to Dumbledore? He knew he wouldn't be believed because he's a werewolf. Ok, no one in the Ministry would pay attention to him, surely Dumbledore would at least have gotten a trial transcript for him to put those doubts to rest. I mean after all the great champion of the downtrodden, Dumbledore let him go to school when no one else would, Lupin could at least ask the question why would Sirius betray James? Wouldn't you want to know why? If he was afraid to go to Dumbledore why couldn't he go to McGonagall? Oh, wait she stopped caring a long time ago. Ok so maybe it's just fear, he's too afraid to ask why. Let's say he doesn't have doubts until Harry brings up having seen Peter on the map. Wait he knows the map can't be fooled, he knows it doesn't lie. He has proof that Sirius didn't murder Peter. Does he go to Dumbledore, McGonagall, anyone? No, he does nothing more than watch the map. Why doesn't he immediately go to Dumbledore and tell him that Sirius and Peter are unregistered animagi? Because he didn't want Dumbledore to think anything bad about him, Remus. He could have said, "I'm sorry Professor we did stupid kid stuff when we were at school." No, he didn't say anything at that point because the next logical question would have been why didn't you tell me at the beginning of the year? That's the question he didn't want to answer, not that they were irresponsible when they were students but that he was still irresponsible from the moment that he heard Sirius had escaped, certainly from the time that he started teaching that year. It was CYA nothing more. Then during DH he and Tonks get married, he makes the choice to have unprotected sex thereby risking that she'd get pregnant when he knows werewolves don't usually have children. He knew that there was enough of a risk to have a legitimate fear that the curse might be passed on. Yet he made the choice to take no precautions or does the wizarding world not have birth control. Then once she does become pregnant he wastes no time abandoning them and has to be shamed into going back by Harry.
Sirius Black - At least Sirius had extenuating circumstances. He rushed to the Potter's house and found that the worst had happened. Hagrid tells him that Dumbledore has ordered that Harry is to go to Lily's sister. Sirius knows that he can't hope to reason with Hagrid. If I had been Sirius would I have done something different? You betcha. The second Hagrid said that Dumbledore wanted to send Harry to Petunia I would have said, "let me kiss him goodbye first." Then I would have apparated straight to the ministry and talked to my colleagues in the Auror department. Now some people are convinced that canon establishes that Dumbledore cast the Fidelius charm and would have known Sirius was not the secret keeper. I have not been able to confirm this. All we know is that it is a very flawed means of security that takes a very large amount of power to cast. It is not inconceivable that Dumbledore cast the charm. But regardless even if Dumbledore didn't cast the charm Sirius knew that he was now the only person besides Peter that knew he, Sirius, wasn't the Potter's secret keeper. The whole point of making Peter the secret keeper was so that Sirius would act as the DECOY. So even before he set out to find Peter he knew that every single witch and wizard in Britain was going to know he had sold out the Potters. That was his purpose! Even if he didn't take Harry and run, why the hell didn't he tell Hagrid 'I wasn't the secret keeper.' He had to know he had a very large neon target on his back. If he didn't think Hagrid would believe him why wouldn't he go to Moody or any of his other coworkers and make an unbreakable vow, ask for veritaserum, ask for a legilimens, pensive, anything? Then after he escaped why on earth does he trust Dumbledore? He was part of Dumbledore's vigilante group yet Dumbledore couldn't be bothered to find out why one of his own soldiers turned traitor. Then when he finds out that soldier was wrongfully incarcerated without trial (can you say Gestapo tactics, children?) the head of the legislative and legal system in the UK wizarding world says there's nothing I can do. Why would you have anything to do with this wildly corrupt judge. Dumbledore had Sirius under house arrest for almost an entire year. The Order wasn't at Grimmauld for security and safety they were there to keep Sirius from making trouble for Dumbledore. Which was the exact reason for the Order to be guarding Privet Dr., to keep Harry under wraps. None of them actually protected the kid from anything.
Hermoine Granger - She is a very studious girl, I hesitate to say that she's as intelligent as the books and much of fanfic make her out to be. I see Hermoine as a very insecure and controlling young girl. She has an obsessive-compulsive need to always be right and always be better than everyone else. This is a terrible combination in a young person. She stifles the other students around her. She almost certainly hinders Harry's academic performance. It's no wonder that Ron and Harry are her only friends, and you really have to wonder why Harry would come within a mile of either Ron or Hermoine. Harry by necessity would have had to know how to size someone up instantly due to his abusive home life. He quickly saw that Malfoy was a bully and a snob, he might not have seen that in Ron right away, although I doubt it. I think it wouldn't have taken Harry long to be totally turned off by Ron's jealousy and bullying nature. Ron would have reminded Harry too much of Dudley and Vernon. Hermoine with her shrill and controlling ways would have been too much like Petunia. A real kid having gone through what Harry did with the Dursleys would likely have suffered a panic attack the first time Hermoine went off on him. I saw it happen many times in my time working with abused children.
I would characterize Hermoine as socially inept. It makes one wonder how engaged her parents were with her because if her parents were reasonably well-adjusted adults why did they not get this child some help? I would not be surprised if in her Muggle school she had been diagnosed as having either borderline or full-on Asperger's Syndrome. Hermoine is bossy, rude, demeaning to her peers and like Harry, painfully naive, but without Harry's excuse. Hermoine is also very narrow-minded and shows little respect or empathy for those around her. The first time we meet Hermoine she has rudely barged into the compartment that Harry and Ron are in and proceeds to display her insecurities. She claims to have "read ALL about Harry Potter," clearly she did not comprehend any of what she read about Harry because the first paragraph would have told her that Harry was famous for surviving when his parents were brutally murdered. His mother was murdered right in FRONT of him. Yet this supposedly intelligent child has the gall to say she knows ALL about him. She either is not capable of making the connection that Harry's fame equals dead parents or she recognizes it on some level but just doesn't care. It's almost as if the only thing she cares about is that she has met someone her own age that is a subject of one of her precious books. I can almost expect her to be a little jealous of that fact. Hermoine shows that she has nothing but disdain for the culture of the new world she has found herself in. She criticizes magical culture with absolutely no desire to learn and assimilate. She demands that magical society must conform to her worldview. She is nothing more than a tourist in the magical world. To me, she is the epitome of an "Ugly American,"
Ron Weasley: - Where do you start with this kid? Raging insecurities and inferiority. Despite growing up in a somewhat normal environment, at least when you compare it to Harry's upbringing. This boy has everything Harry would give his left nut for. Yet all Ron can see is that Harry has fame and money. Ron is one of those people who will look at what someone else has and say "yeah easy for you, you get everything handed to you." Why is that his regular mantra? Because that's what he wants, he's a lazy kid that doesn't want to work for anything. He wants everything handed to him. He sees that his siblings are each talented in their own ways and he thinks he has to compete with them, in his own mind he'll never be able to beat them so he just checks out before he even gets started. He'll be one of those people that will always blame somebody else for his failures. He will never be willing to give up the excuses because then he'd have to admit that his failures were his fault. Ron shows very little strength of character throughout the series, the only time he does was when he sacrifices himself in the chess match against McGonagall's chess pieces. I think Ron purposely went looking for Harry on the train because he wanted to make friends with the Boy-Who-Lived, I think that because you can't seriously expect me to believe the entire train was full. Then the first thing he asks Harry is if he can see the scar, yeah the scar Harry got moments after his mother was brutally murdered before his innocent eyes. Ron matures only a little from there. On Halloween, he is rude and bullies Hermoine because she was trying to help him, albeit in her overbearing way. But for Harry, Ron's actions would have resulted in Hermoine's death. Ron loses no time in dropping Harry out of jealousy because of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Harry takes Ron back not because he feels Ron truly regrets his actions but because Harry has zero experience with people treating him with respect and by now he thinks he deserves every crappy thing that happens, But also life is much less fun when "Hermoine is your best friend" Ron is the worst kind of soldier to be stuck with. Given the opportunity, I could very easily see him pulling a Peter Pettigrew. When you have little strength of character you will fold under the right kind of pressure, and it may not take that much. Case in point Ron abandoned a critical mission because he was hungry. He knew what was at stake, not only their lives but the lives of his family that he professed to care so much about. Which in my opinion was just the excuse he was looking for to run back home to his mother and more importantly her cooking. Ron has one thing in common with Hermoine, he is very close-minded. He is just as bigoted as he accuses the Slytherins to be. At the beginning of the series he tells Harry "there isn't a witch or wizard that went bad that wasn't in Slytherin." Even though at that point he knew that the Potters were betrayed by Black and he knew that Black had been a Gryffindor. He also mentions a squib cousin but very quickly says "we don't talk about him." Ron is the Gryffindor equivalent to Malfoy, and I don't mean that in a good way.
Cornelius Fudge - This man is not so much a politician but an appointed despot running a fascist regime. The first thing we see Fudge do is to arrest Hagrid without a shred of evidence, suspending Habeas Corpus. Does he take Hagrid in for questioning? Temporarily detain him in a Ministry lock up? No, he illegally imprisons Hagrid in Azkaban without questioning, without allowing Hagrid to consult a lawyer, nothing. Hagrid is guilty until proven innocent. All because "the Ministry has got to be seen to be doing something." But get this he does all this with the full knowledge and tacit approval of the CHIEF WARLOCK OF THE WIZENGAMOT, Dumbledore is the head of the legislative and judicial branches of the UK Wizarding community. Dumbledore is also is also the head of the ICW. But yet Dumbledore does absolutely nothing. In fact were it not for Harry, Hagrid would have likely died in prison. I could go on and on about what a bad idea it was to send Dementors to guard the school, but I suspect that was more to be seen as "doing something." The worst thing we see Fudge do, and man that is REALLY saying something, was the summary execution of Bartemius Crouch, Jr. Yes, Crouch was a bad guy, yes he was a Death Eater and was responsible for Bringing Voldemort back. But none of that justifies a summary execution. For more discussion on this point, I refer you to Chapter 2 of "Wait, What" by Publicola. Fudge is more than a corrupt politician or the equivalent to a ten dollar whore. He is just a mob of black-shirts away from being an all-out tyrant.
Voldemort AKA: Tom Marvolo Riddle - Tom makes a really good villain, he's brutal, vicious and single-minded. But when you look at his history, he looks like he was little more than a social experiment for Dumbledore. Here is a kid found in an orphanage during a time when it might have been only slightly better than living on the rough streets of London. Orphanages in those days were not the thing of Hollywood fancy. They were "...grim old barrack type orphanages, run like a prison, the homes were rough, hard and barbaric." The sexes and even siblings were split up and would have had little if any contact with each other. The inmates, as they were considered such, would have lost their sense of identity and belonging, and would have suffered great loneliness. Discipline was harsh, the slightest misbehavior resulted in a brutal beating. Bullying by older children and the staff would be the norm, not the exception. Depending on the place the food would have been meager either because of a lack of adequate funding or more than likely funds and supplies would have been stolen by unscrupulous staff. However, physical, emotional and verbal abuse would, sadly not have been the only kinds of abuse Tom Riddle might have encountered.
Dumbledore goes to meet with Tom and from the outset, his opinion about this child is set by his conversation with the Matron. A woman who is responsible for an orphanage full of children and Dumbledore gets her visibly drunk in the middle of the day. She doesn't like the Riddle child and she prejudices Dumbledore against him. This supposedly experienced educator takes the word of a drunken woman as gospel. When Dumbledore sits down with the child, you can see he doesn't like this boy. He gives the child the barest of information and asserts his dominance by frightening him and for all the child knows, destroys everything in the world Tom owns except for the clothes on his back. From Tom's point of view, Dumbledore is just another person who is going to torment and bully him. It is Dumbledore at this moment who teaches a traumatized little boy that the magic world will be just the same as the Muggle one, that might makes right. It is a lesson Tom has learned very early and it is reinforced by Dumbledore. Because Dumbledore doesn't like the child he chooses to not help the boy and leaves a child to his own devices. Tom was a very troubled little boy and if someone had recognized that fact and helped the child it is possible that two wars and numerous deaths might have been avoided. The brief glimpses we get of Tom were colored by Dumbledore's opinion of him. I think that these memories were slightly sanitized for Harry's benefit after all Harry had already been showing signs of empathizing with Tom Riddle. Dumbledore couldn't risk any more.
In the HP universe, JKR has established that memories viewed in a pensive are completely accurate unless there are visible signs of memory tampering. But the human mind simply does not work that way. When a human recalls something the mind is not "playing back" that memory ala a video recorder, a recollection is instead closer to the mind putting puzzle pieces together. And a person's memory of an event will change depending on the events that trigger the memory. Also to the brain, there is no difference between a recalled event and an imagined one. This is why science tells us that eyewitness testimony is not as reliable as most people think. My opinion is that Tom became Voldemort because Dumbledore and Hogwarts practically turned him into Voldemort. At eleven Tom was just as much a victim as Harry was, if not more so. If Tom hadn't lost his humanity and sanity due to the creation of Horcruxes he might have been able to take over the wizarding world. If Tom had been a bit saner he might have seen Dumbledore as his primary foe, not Harry. He might also have recognized Dumbledore's manipulations in not only his own life but Harry's and the many similarities the two had and used that information to get Harry on his side. After all from what we see in the books the only reason Harry didn't go dark is that JKR wrote it that way. According to the book since Tom's family was "bad" Tom was bad, and Harry's family was "good" so that's the reason for Harry's "goodness." Dumbledore made the same mistakes with Harry that he did with Tom and even worse ones. Realistically with actual human beings, Harry would likely have turned out like Tom did.
Severus Snape — I actually have quite a bit to say on the subject of Snape, however, since I am working on a Snape-centric fanfic right now and much of what I would touch on is going into the story I'm not going to go into great detail. You'll just have to look for my story. But I will say this, Snape, as written, is a horrible human being. He is a bully and a child abuser, both he and Dumbledore excuse it all away by blaming it all on his sad upbringing, the bullying he suffered in school and his deep and unrequited love for Lily Potter. (Can you see the tiny little violin I'm playing. That's called sarcasm, children) There is nothing going on in someone's life that gives them the RIGHT to mistreat another human being. Yes, we all have things we take out on those around us. but it doesn't mean we have the right to do so. People fell in love with Snape because of his portrayal by the late Alan Rickman. But as he was written he is utterly reprehensible.