Severus Snape is one of the most complicated characters in the Harry Potter universe. From the day we saw him first during the Welcome Feast during Harry’s first year, we didn’t like him at all.
Cold on the outside, hard on the inside, but still able to act selflessly, there is no telling where to fit Professor Snape – into the good or the bad pile?
Was Snape a Villain or a Hero?
Snape ended up sacrificing his life to help Harry end the war, but before that, he wasn’t the nicest person to be around.
It isn’t easy to put one tag on Severus Snape. We think that Snape was a typical anti-hero. It means that although he was behaving like a villain for 99% of the story, his ultimate goal was that of a hero.
It isn’t easy to see Snape as a hero because of his character. He was a mean person and a cruel teacher. We can try and justify some of his actions, like favoritism towards Slytherin students or not standing incompetent students during Potions classes.
We know that Snape needed to keep his act during his years at Hogwarts, and as a Professor who taught a rather complicated and potentially dangerous subject as Potions, he needed to keep his students safe.
However, some actions are difficult, if not impossible, to justify, especially if we want to call Snape a hero. The time he was picking on Hermione for being hit with a teeth growing curse is unnecessary and a definitely cruel way of treating a self-conscious teenage girl.
The way he was prejudiced against Harry with an almost childish-like manner also didn’t earn him points. We know why Snape never revealed his intentions, but we feel there were times he went overboard a little.
We also can’t justify Snape’s desire to save just Lily. He was ready to let James and Harry die, as long as Lily was safe. It was rather selfish, and we know that he loved Lily a lot, but sending an innocent man and his infant son to death is not the top of the hero’s acts.
All those facts make Snape an unlikable person and not very much hero-like, but we can’t, with a clean conscience, call him a villain either.
Snape’s end goal was to put a stop to war and get rid of an evil dark wizard who threatened all innocent people, not only witches and wizards but also Muggles.
In the end, Snape went as far as to give up his life to protect Harry, and with his last breath, Snape helped Harry understand his mission and win the war.
Why Did Snape Turn Bad?
As a young boy, Snape was mistreated and bullied, which prompted him to learn and use dark magic.
Snape was mistreated by many people the whole of his life, starting with his father at home. He thought that going to Hogwarts would give him a much-needed respite, but he was mistaken.
The hatred for his father prompted him to learn about dark magic before even starting school, but events at Hogwarts only pushed him further.
For some reason, Snape seemed like an easy target to popular kids, like James Potter and his friends. He was bullied most of the time, which made him very determined to show all his bullies that he was stronger and better than they were.
By the end of school, Snape could easily defend himself against multiple opponents at the same time, and he was known for having a knack for dark spells. Snape even went as far as inventing some of the more dangerous spells.
Was Snape Loyal to Dumbledore or Voldemort?
Snape has been loyal to Dumbledore since the day Voldemort decided he would kill Snape’s beloved Lily.
After finishing school and ultimately separating from the love of his life, Snape joined the Death Eaters in hopes of gaining recognition and friends, but that changed after he delivered a part of the prophecy to Voldemort.
Snape didn’t know what the prophecy meant and was terrified to hear that Voldemort decided to kill Lily and James Potter. He went to Dumbledore to ask for help and offered him anything just to save Lily.
Since that day, Snape has done everything he could to help Dumbledore. He was even lying straight to Voldemort’s face, which to lesser people meant sure death.
Snape was a complicated person, but just because he didn’t go about with the Order of the Phoenix badge on his chest, he was loyal to Dumbledore, who, at some point, he probably considered his only friend.
Although it was difficult to understand his actions from the beginning, he went as far as sacrificing his soul to save Dumbledore’s humiliating death and keep his position as a spy in Voldemort’s Inner Circle.
Why Is Snape a Good Character?
We can’t say that Snape is a really good character. He had a good thing in mind, but he lacked the typical hero character.
Snape was a true Slytherin (although Dumbledore hinted otherwise), and thanks to his wit and cunning actions, he managed to get things done, even if the means were nobody’s favorite.
Being a complicated character means that Snape was good and bad at the same time. As explained before, some of his actions we simply couldn’t justify, but we could see where Snape was coming from in the end.
All that Snape went through during his rather short life would turn many people sour and cruel, but Snape still managed to make the right decisions in the most crucial situations.
Many people paint Snape as a hero and good character, but this is a very romanticized view. They forget about Snape’s true nature, brushing his treatment of others under the rug.
We think that Snape was an important character, a very complex one, which we need to dwell on for a while longer every time we read about him, double guessing almost all his actions.
We think he was a typical anti-hero, not entirely bad, but also not wholly good. Snape had many flaws, but he managed to do the right things in the end.