In the end, yes. He had it difficult with his upbringing, and had it difficult at school- but in the end, we all are given choices, even if they are hard, and he chose poorly.
His choice to join the Death Eaters was one of convenience- he was in the Slytherin house, he was surrounded by people of a certain pursuasion when it comes to blood status, and didn't have the real freedom to go around saying 'muggleborns are ok!'
The thing is, there are Slytherins that have managed not to be Death Eaters- Any Slytherin can have his feelings and simply not talk about them.
Obviously he didn't have it so bad that he could not associate with Lily. Therefore, when she called him out on it, she was totally right. He didn't have to choose to hang with those creeps. He didn't have to learn dark spells. He didn't have to be so bitter. He didn't have to call her a Mudblood- which in the HP world is the equivalent of a racial slur.
I feel sorry for his character- but hey, he made his choices, and unfortunately, they had consequences. The worst of all was becoming a Deatheater and reporting to Voldemort about the prophecy. His actions truly came to roost when he realized his actions put the one person he ever cared about in mortal danger- and led to her death.
The saddest thing, is that he was just a child when he made most of his worst decisions. I think Dumbledore's words of 'we sort too soon' have more meaning than at first glance. The Houses can create such confelict, but they also set people down on a path from an early age- and those destinies are being determined when they are so young. If Snape had been a Ravenclaw instead, can you imagine how different things could have turned out? He wouldn't have had such pressure from his house- perhaps he and Lily would have been together- or he would have made real friends that weren't Death Eaters. Quite sad.
These are my thoughts exactly! (you're really good with words) and I agree wholeheartedly. He had quite a lot of "bad luck" (being sorted into Slytherin, having lousy parents, etc), but in the end, they were his choices, that made his path.
I think Snape made big mistake in his life (being Death-Eather, calling Lilly MudBlood), but he round this of wasting his life just to save Harry's skin. That makes Snape a hero, well everybody is making mistakes through the life, I wonder what would heppend if Lily would married Snape, not James...
I do think he kin of screwed up his life himself. True, his childhood had an awful effect on his personality and such, but in all honesty - HE started the fight with the marauders (James in particular). And hanging out with the wrong group was also his own fault. He could've chosen Lily over the deatheaters. And in all honesty, i think calling someone a mudblood was even worse back in the marauder's era than it was in the Trio era, which made Sev's "slip" even worse. And I really admire Lily for standing up on what she believed in. And I know people who don't like James and think Lily's a hypocrite for forgiving James and not Severus, then to them I say that James grew up - whereas Sev didn't. He still joined the Deatheaters, didn't he? And James was just a spoiled brat. He grew out of it and joined the right side - the Order. And that's why I think Lily made a right choice. Aaaand I'm talking too much xD Sorry.
WOOAHHH nuh-uh! Snape DID NOT start the fight with the marauders! James did. Even Lily asked James "What's he ever done to you?" and he couldn't come up with anything besides the pathetic line "It's more the fact that he exists." Disgusting...
But when they first met. it was Snape who sneered at James' wish to be a Gryffindor and told him something in the lines of "well, if you'd rather be brawny than brainy" (or something like this, I'm Estonian, and i haven't read the book in English) in an offensive way, it's understandable, why James might not have a particular fondness against him, don't you think? And do you honestly believe Snape wasn't an active partaker in their (for the lack of a better word) confrontations? And do you really think James would admit that Snape had ever er... done something humiliating/defeated him to Lily? He's huge ego would've never let him, at least that's what I think. And of course I think it was very foolish, immature and stupid and cruel of James (and other Marauders) to bully Snape, but that's just life. *shrug* We have school bullying going on all the time nowadays and not all of them turn out to betray their best friend and basically have them killed, now don't they? And don't take it the wrong way, I love Snape as much as anyone, I just think it was his own fault that his life turned out the way it did. *shrug* I used to hate James and the marauders with a real passion, and I used to totally ship Lily/Snape xD.