Severus Snape – Hero or Villain?

Harry Potter is the greatest literary series of our generation. And probably the next few generations after us; in fact, I’m pretty sure it will last forever. Just about everybody has read it, if you haven’t, do, or be the social outcast of society forever. However, during the reading of the books many questions are raised, not the first being the most hated man for six books: Severus Tobias Snape. Who really is he? Where do his true loyalties lie? Is he really the greasy haired git he’s made out to be?

Severus Snape had an unfortunate childhood. During the books, it is said that he was very lonely until he met Lily. He was the only child of sallow skinned, hooked nose Eileen Prince and supposedly abusive father Tobias Snape. The Prince family is rumoured to be a long line of purebloods who, it is said, have always been in Slytherin. Tobias Snape is a muggle; this makes Snape a half-blood. Glossing quickly over his ugly looks and badly fitting clothes that may only play a small part in his unpleasant personality we come to the crux of what I believe to be his Death Eater ways. Namely one James Charles Potter and Sirius Orion Black. During Snape’s Hogwarts days they somewhat isolated him form his peers. He seems to cope until that one fateful day in fifth year their Defence against the Dark Arts OWL. For what is made out to be the millionth time, Snape is flipped upside down and made fun of by James and the other Marauders. But, when his long time best (and only) friend Lily intervenes, in a fit of anger he calls her a mudblood. This ends their friendship. Eight years of being BFFs finished with one word. However, when Snape tries to make it up to her, she’s not very accepting. To appoint this is understandable but, after a while, surely you can agree that she’s just being stubborn. So from their on out Snape’s stuck with his Slytherin cronies. Really there was nowhere else for him to turn after being shunned by Lily. So was Snape tuning Death Eater James fault? Did he inadvertently kill himself?

In the first book Snape is immediately made out to be the bad guy by Rowling. During Harry’s first Quidditch match the golden trio believes that Snape was trying to kill Harry, then that he tried to steal the Philosophers stone. Apparently. This is emphasised by a scene that only appears in the film where Snape catches Ron, Harry and Hermione inside and accuses them of being; “Up to something.” The same night the trio goes down the trap door and discovers it is not in fact Snape, but Quirrel. However, throughout the first book he hasn’t helped how he is viewed by the collective group of Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs and Slytherins.

During the second book, Snape doesn’t have such a big part to play. Snape isn’t accused by Harry of being the Heir of Slytherin – Harry displaying a small amount of intelligence for the first time in the series. But, during the few chapters he does appear his character is noticeably different each time. During the first encounter with Snape, his behaviour towards the two boys (Harry and Ron) is completely justified. Harry and Ron have just crached Arthur Weasly’s car into the Whomping Willow. They risked the security of the Wizarding World and could’ve injured the tree or themselves (not that Snape seems to care about that!) He’s right in being annoyed by the two boys behaviour but who knows why it’s him who meets the boys first and not Mcgonogall or ever Dumbledore. Anyway. The next time we see Snape it’s after the attack on Filches cat after Halloween (not that anyone but Filch really cared much!) Here, Snape clearly doesn’t believe that Harry’s the one opening the chamber of secrets, yet tries to get hime banned from the Quidditch team anyway. Though this might’ve been a good thing after what Dobby did to that Bludger… Here Snape’s, dare I say it – dollop head –  side comes out to play; where he’s just down right nasty to Harry for no good reason. This is J.K. keeping Snapes character consistent and twisting our perceptions of him.

And then we move onto what is personally my favourite book. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. You get mixed feelings for Snape in this one. Personally, I fell bad for the guy when you get to the boggart scene, I mean a load of teenagers have just seen a version of you dressed up in drag, not good. But, consider this. Neville’s worst fear was Snape even though his parents were tortured into insanity by three different Death Eaters. That says a lot about Snape. But it’s not this that makes me hate Snape the most. It’s what happened in the last quarter of the book. He manages to get Lupin fired, just because of a childhood grudge and then tries to get and innocent(ish) man sentaced to a fate worse than death. And, I repeat, this all happened because of a childhood grudge.

The Goblet of Fire really emphasises Snape’s personal vendetta against Harry. In the scene where Harry’s name has just come out of the Goblet of Fire (and we won’t mention Michel Gambon’s acting)  he states that Harry’s attention seeking and has done it to improve his fame. As if. Harry hasn’t got the brains to pass a divination OWL let alone confound a magical object. Snape is just not a nice person in this book. He’s made it abundantly clear that he believes he has nothing to fear or hide from the Dark Lord and that he will return when his Dark Mark burns. And he does. After Voldemort is resurrected he (on Dumbledore’s orders) apperates back to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s side. And thus, the second Wizarding war begins.

Order of the Phoenix is a significant milestone in the harry Potter books; this doesn’t exclude Snape. While Dumbledore’s busy making mistakes, Snape’s teaching harry occlumency. From Snape the only advice Harry receives is clear your mind, before Harry receives – what seems to me – as a terrible invasion of privacy. Snape is combing through his every thought and memory, this justified by Dumbledore for: ‘The Greater Good.’ So, frankly, when Harry goes in to Snape’s pensive, I think he has every right after what Snape did to him. The at the end of the book a significantly different side of Snape is shown. it really is, after the Quidditch match incident in Philosophers stone, the first indication that Snape is on the side of the light. He successfully alerts the Order to Sirius’s rumoured whereabouts and Harry’s slightly worrying status. He’s not present at the battle, for obvious reasons, but- none the less, preformed his duty to the Order. I do struggle to  believe that during a battle such as that there was only one casualty  but Sirius’s death – I think – could indirectly be blamed on Snape. Had he have taught harry occlumency effectively, Harry wouldn’t have been loured to the ministry and Sirius wouldn’t be, well… dead.

The sixth book is all about Snape. It could’ve been called Harry Potter and the year it actually was Snape and it would’ve been a more accurate (and less confusing) title. As it is, we have Snape, the half Blood Prince, who wrote a very useful potions book that gave Harry top marks in his potions class. My question is: if he was that good at potions, why was he such a rubbish teacher? That much remains to be answered. At the start of the book, Snape makes an unbreakable vow to basically kill Dumbledore. As everyone’s reading this they’re all wondering how Snape is going to get out of this one. He doesn’t. Snape kills Dumbledore. This – in my eyes – was the ultimate sin. Not because I liked Dumbledore, no way! But because Snape betrayed him. he was supposed to be the good guy! And so harry was proved right. For now.

In Deathly Hallows everyone’s convinced that Snape’s bad. When I first read the book, I certainly was. In the first half of the book Snape doesn’t have a big part to play. We know he’s head master of Hogwarts; this is glossed over and only comes into effect in the second half of the book (or deathly Hallows part two). When Harry, the DA and the Order of the Phoenix break into Hogwarts, the scene in which Harry confront Snape in the great hall is possibly one of my favourites. Snape – at present – is most definitely the bad guy he’s made out to be. He has the school under a dictatorship and his punishments make Umbridge look like a pink, fluffy kitten. So the student rebel and Snape is thrown out of Hogwarts (the scene in the film is by far better than that in the book). And then comes the death that originally no one cried at. Snape is killed by Nagini because Voldemort believes that Snape is the master of the Elder wand and that by killing he will gain its allegiance. Snape is bitten by Nagini and dies. Before he does, however, he sees Harry and gives him his memory’s. Snape’s last words, “Look at me,” are the only thing through the series that betray his love for Lily. Then we come to see Snape’s memories, where we understand that Snape was on Dumbledore’s side all along, didn’t murder him and actually cares for Harry. Ish. He’s a good man after all, right?

Snape is a good guy because of his love for Lily. After he turned Death Eater, he still loved her. So when he delivered the prophecy to Voldemort he didn’t realise that it would be the Potters that would be targeted. When he does realise, this is what turns him to the light. But, to his sorrow, his efforts to protect Lily are in vain as the potters are betrayed by their secret keeper Peter Pettigrew. In turn, this leads to one of the most heart wrenching scenes in all of the harry Potter films. Snape, after the attack on Godrics Hollow is first on the scene and is seen cradling Lily’s dead body – tears streaming down his face. The loss that he’s feeling at that moment is as plain as day, displayed on his face, he’s not pretending that’s for sure. So Snape turned to the light for Lily, but was that a good enough reason?

In turn, Snape has a deep set hatred for not only James and Harry Potter but for Neville Frank Longbottom as well. The hatred for James is understandable and in turn, though a bit stupid, you can understand his loathing for Harry, but Neville, Neville is a different story. He hates Neville  because he could’ve been the prophecy child but wasn’t, if he had, Lily may not have died. So Snape hates Neville for something he cannot control. Just as he did to Harry for the same reason.

So, overall, all the evidence points to Snape being a good guy. His actions say other wise. He displays hatred for no good reason, is biased, bigoted and has never touched a bottle of shampoo in his life. But, he gave his life for the light and risked it countless time before that. So will I trust in Severus Snape? Always.

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