SEVERUS SNAPE is a fictional character in J. K. Rowling 's _Harry Potter _ series. An exceptionally skilful wizard, his coldly sarcastic and controlled exterior conceals deep emotions and anguish. A Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry , Snape is hostile to the series' protagonist, Harry , the moment he sets foot in Snape's classroom; this hostility is rooted in Harry's resemblance to Harry's father James, who bullied and harassed Snape during their time at Hogwarts . Though philosophically attracted to the Dark Arts and Lord Voldemort 's ideology of wizard supremacy, Snape's love for Muggle-born Lily Evans , Harry's mother, eventually compels him to defect from the Death Eaters. Snape becomes a double-agent on behalf of Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix , and protects Harry throughout the series.
A central mystery of the series concerns Snape's loyalties. For much of the series, Snape's actions seem to serve Harry's nemesis , Lord Voldemort, although Harry's mentor, Dumbledore insists that he trusts Snape. Snape dies at the hands of Voldemort in the final chapters of the seventh book, at which time his back story is revealed: as a teenager, Snape was a close friend of Harry's mother Lily, and he turned on Voldemort after the latter sought to kill Lily and her family.
Snape's character, which becomes more layered and enigmatic as the series progresses, was widely acclaimed by readers and critics. Rowling described him as "a gift of a character" whose story she had known since the first book. Actor Alan Rickman portrayed Snape in all eight _Harry Potter_ films , released between 2001 and 2011.
* 1 Character development
* 2 Appearances
* 2.1 _
* 2.7 _
* 2.7.1 Epilogue
* 2.8 _
* 3 Portrayal in films
* 4 Characterisation
* 4.1 Outward appearance * 4.2 Personality * 4.3 Magical abilities and skills * 4.4 Family * 4.5 Loyalties
* 5 Reception * 6 In popular culture * 7 References * 8 External links
In an interview, Rowling described Snape's character as an "antihero
". She has said that she drew inspiration for Snape's character from a
disliked teacher from her own childhood, and described Snape as a
horrible teacher, saying the "worst, shabbiest thing you can do as a
teacher is to bully students." However, she does suggest in the books
that he is generally an effective teacher. Although Rowling has said
Gilderoy Lockhart is her only character that she "deliberately
based on a real person", Snape was reportedly based, at least in
John Nettleship , who taught Rowling chemistry and employed
her mother as an assistant at
Wyedean School near
Rowling was less forthcoming about Snape than she was for other characters, because his true loyalties and motivations were not revealed until the final book. However, she hinted numerous times at Snape's important role, suggesting that people should "keep their eye on Snape". In 1999, answering a question regarding Snape's love life and the redemptive pattern to his character, Rowling expressed her surprise at the foresight. Rowling also disclosed that after the publication of _Prisoner of Azkaban_, there was one female fan who guessed Snape loved Lily Potter , making Rowling wonder how she had given herself away.
After the completion of the series, Rowling began to speak openly about Snape, discussing the contrast between his character arc and that of Albus Dumbledore . Rowling said "the series is built around ", and maintained that she always knew what Snape would turn out to be at the end and that she carefully plotted his storyline throughout the series. "I had to drop clues all the way through because as you know in the seventh book when you have the revelation scene where everything shifts and you realise...what Snape's motivation was. I had to plot that through the books because at the point where you see what was really going on, it would have been an absolute cheat on the reader at that point just to show a bunch of stuff you've never seen before." Rowling further said in an interview that she wanted Snape to find redemption and forgiveness: "Snape is a complicated man...he was a flawed human being, like all of us. Harry forgives him...Harry really sees the good in Snape ultimately... I wanted there to be redemption."
_HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER\'S STONE_
Snape first appears in _
_HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS_
Snape has a minor role in _
_HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN_
_Prisoner of Azkaban_ reveals more details about the connection between Snape and James. While in school together, Sirius once tricked Snape into almost entering the Shrieking Shack while Lupin was there, transformed into a werewolf. James realised the danger and stopped Snape, saving his life; this is the incident Dumbledore referred to at the end of the first book. Snape, however, believes James's actions were self-serving, to avoid being expelled.
_HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE_
Snape's role in the fourth novel, _
At the end of the book, Dumbledore attempts to convince a
disbelieving Minister for Magic ,
Cornelius Fudge , that
returned. As proof, Snape willingly shows Fudge the restored Dark Mark
on his arm. He is subsequently sent on a secret mission by Dumbledore.
This mission, as had been implied in _
_HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX_
In the fifth novel, _
Later in the book, Dumbledore has Snape teach Harry Occlumency , the protection of the mind from outside intrusion or influence. The sessions are made difficult by their mutual hostility and end prematurely when Harry uses Dumbledore's Pensieve to view one of Snape's worst childhood memories without the latter's permission. He sees the memory of Snape being bullied by James and Sirius, and of calling Harry's mother Lily a Mudblood (a highly offensive term). Only in the final book is it revealed that, prior to this confrontation, Snape and Lily had been close friends.
Towards the end of the novel, Dolores Umbridge – the school's politically appointed headmistress – captures Harry and interrogates him about Dumbledore's whereabouts. She sends for Snape, demanding that he provide the magical truth serum Veritaserum in order to force Harry to reveal any information he may be hiding. Snape claims that his supplies of the serum have been exhausted after Umbridge used the drug to force information about Dumbledore\'s Army from Cho Chang . It is later revealed that Snape had in fact supplied Umbridge with fake Veritaserum on the prior attempt. Snape then carries Harry's cryptic warning about Sirius' capture to the other Order members, allowing them to come to the rescue in the Department of Mysteries . Harry still holds Snape partly responsible for Sirius's death, believing Snape's goading spurred Sirius into joining the battle.
_HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE_
In the second chapter of _
At the start-of-term feast at Hogwarts, Dumbledore announces Snape as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Horace Slughorn , a retired Hogwarts teacher, replaces Snape as Potions Master. With Snape no longer teaching Potions, Harry enrolls in Slughorn's class and is lent an old textbook until his new one arrives. Harry finds marginalia , including a variety of hexes and jinxes seemingly invented by an unknown student, and substantial improvements to the book's standard potion-making instructions. The text is inscribed as being "the Property of the Half-Blood Prince". The notes greatly bolster Harry's performance in Potions, so much so that he impresses Slughorn. Snape, who maintains that he "never had the impression that had been able to teach Potter anything at all", is suspicious of Harry's newfound Potions success.
Later, during a fight with Draco, Harry casts one of the Prince's spells marked "For Enemies," and is horrified by the devastating wounds it inflicts to Draco's face and chest. Snape rushes to the scene and heals Draco, then interrogates Harry regarding the spell, using Legilimency to extract the source of Harry's knowledge (the Potions textbook) from Harry's mind. When Snape insists that Harry show him his Potions textbook, Harry hides the Prince's book and gives him Ron Weasley 's book instead. As punishment for the attack and knowing Harry is lying about the textbook, Snape assigns Harry detention during the final Quidditch match of the year.
Before leaving Hogwarts to accompany Dumbledore in locating another horcrux –part of Voldemort's soul– Harry discovers from Professor Trelawney that it was Snape who overheard the prophecy and told it to Voldemort, resulting in Voldemort hunting down Harry and his parents. Despite this and Harry's angry questions, Dumbledore avers his trust in Snape. Returning to Hogwarts after retrieving Voldemort's Horcrux , Harry and Dumbledore alight atop the school's astronomy tower. Gravely weakened by the horcrux's protective potion, Dumbledore tells Harry he must fetch Snape, but before Harry can leave, Draco suddenly arrives, intending to carry out Voldemort's order to assassinate Dumbledore, closely followed by other Death Eaters (followers of Voldemort), and Snape. Snape interrupts the planned murder, killing the headmaster himself. Harry, who is paralysed under his invisibility cloak by Dumbledore for his own protection, witnesses the kill, and is released upon Dumbledore's death. Enraged, he pursues Snape, Draco, and the Death Eaters as they flee the castle. Snape easily blocks Harry's spells and jeeringly points out Harry's mistakes, but never strikes back. During the confrontation, Snape reveals himself as the eponymous "Half-Blood Prince" (being the half-blood son of Muggle Tobias Snape and pure-blood Eileen _Prince_). Snape passes through the school gates and Disapparates with Draco in tow at the book's end. The full relationship between Dumbledore and Snape and the reason for Snape's actions remain unknown until the final book. In an interview, Rowling mentioned that at this point in the series, the Harry–Snape relationship has become "as personal, if not more so, than Harry–Voldemort."
_HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS_
Towards the end of the school year, Professors McGonagall , Flitwick , and Sprout force Snape to flee the school. Voldemort summons Snape to the Shrieking Shack . Erroneously believing Snape is the master of the Elder Wand and that Snape's death will make him the master of the Wand, Voldemort kills Snape by having his pet snake Nagini bite him through the neck. The dying Snape releases a cloud of memories and tells Harry, who has watched the entire scene from a hidden spot, to take and view them.
From these memories, Harry sees Snape's childhood and learns his true loyalties. In this vision, Harry learns that Snape befriended Lily as a child when they lived near each other. Upon their arrival at Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat placed Snape and Lily into Slytherin and Gryffindor Houses, respectively. They remained friends for the next few years until they were driven apart by Snape's interest in the Dark Arts; the friendship finally ended following the bullying episode that Harry had briefly seen in the fifth book, in which Snape calls Lily "Mudblood". Despite this separation and Snape's enduring animosity toward Lily's eventual husband James Potter, Snape continued to love Lily for the rest of his life.
The memories also show that as a Death Eater, Snape had revealed to Voldemort a prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney , causing Voldemort to attempt to prevent it by killing Harry and his parents. Snape, who had not realised until too late that the prophecy was referring to Lily and her family, asked Voldemort to spare Lily. Still in terror for her life, he also approached Dumbledore, admitted his actions, and begged him to protect the Potters. Dumbledore chided him for thinking only of himself and not of Lily's husband and child, but agreed and ensured that they were placed under the Fidelius Charm . In return, Snape secretly allied himself with Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix as a double agent against Voldemort, using his powers of Occlumency to hide his betrayal from Voldemort. However, Snape demanded of Dumbledore that his love for Lily (his reason for switching sides) be kept a secret, especially from Harry, because of the deep animosity he felt towards Harry's father and his mixed feelings towards Harry (who reminded him of both his love for Lily Potter and her death, and his animosity towards James Potter). Dumbledore agreed and kept the secret throughout his life, although questioning Snape's request to "never reveal the best of you". Even with his efforts to protect her, Snape felt responsible for Lily's death at Voldemort's hands.
Snape's memories then reveal that Dumbledore had impetuously tried to use the Gaunt ring which had been cursed by Voldemort, and had been suffering from a powerful curse. Snape's knowledge of the Dark Arts enabled him to slow the spread of the curse from Dumbledore's hand through his body, but he would have died within a year. Dumbledore, aware that Voldemort had ordered Draco to kill him, had asked Snape to kill him instead as a way of sparing the boy's soul and of preventing his own otherwise slow, painful death. Although Snape was reluctant, even asking about the impact of such an action on his own soul, Dumbledore implied that this kind of _coup de grâce _ would not damage a human's soul in the same way murder would. Snape agreed to do as the Headmaster requested. Snape's memories also provide Harry with the information he needs to ensure Voldemort's final defeat, in the form of conversations Snape had with Dumbledore.
Rowling noted in an interview that because Snape abandoned his post before dying or officially retiring, a portrait of him does not immediately appear in the Headmaster's office following his death. She adds, however, that she would like to think Harry made Snape's true loyalty and heroism known in the Wizarding world, and that he lobbied to ensure that a portrait be installed in the office. In a separate interview, Rowling discussed Snape's back story, saying she had planned it ever since she wrote the first book because the whole series is built around it and she considers him one of the most important characters of the seventh book.
In the epilogue to _Deathly Hallows_, set nineteen years after Harry defeats Voldemort, Harry has named his second-born son Albus Severus , after Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. As Albus is about to enter his first year at Hogwarts, he expresses concern that he will be sorted into Slytherin. Harry tells his son, "you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew."
_HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD_
When Draco and Astoria Greengrass 's son Scorpius Malfoy finds himself in an alternate timeline in which Voldemort won the Battle of Hogwarts, killed Harry and his allies and instituted a terrible reign of terror, he desperately searches for help in restoring history to its original course. He finds that in this reality Snape is still alive and still teaches at Hogwarts, and asks for his help. At first Snape is suspicious of him, since this timeline's version of Scorpius is a bully and a Voldemort stalwart. But when Scorpius shows that he knows of Snape having been in love with Lily, Harry's mother - Snape's most closely guarded secret - Snape becomes convinced that he does indeed come from a different timeline where Harry and his friends won. Snape then reveals that he, together with the fugitive Ron and Hermione Granger , maintain the last remnants of Dumbledore\'s Army - still waging hopeless resistance against the all-powerful Voldemort. In talking with Scorpius, Snape had learned that Harry would name his son "Albus Severus" and would regard Snape as "probably the bravest man I ever knew" - and is deeply moved. Though having guessed that in the other timeline he would die, Snape nevertheless willingly helps Scorpius recreate this timeline - and being discovered by Dementors , Snape sacrifices himself in order to cover Scorpius's escape.
PORTRAYAL IN FILMS
Rickman used this knowledge of Snape's ultimate loyalties throughout the films to decide how to play certain scenes, deliver specific lines, or use body language to convey specific emotions. When the directors of the films would ask him why he was doing a scene a certain way or delivering a line in a specific manner, Rickman would simply reply that he knew something they didn't.
Rickman himself refrained from talking about Snape, asking readers to wait and "see what unfolds" in the course of the novels; however, he did say Snape is a complicated person, very rigid and full of himself; in an interview he went further, saying: "Snape isn't one who enjoys jokes and I strongly fear that his sense of humour is extremely limited... But in his defence, I will add that he didn't have an easy adolescence, particularly during his studies at Hogwarts." He also said Snape is a fascinating character, and that he takes immense pleasure in playing such an ambiguous person.
Rickman's performance as Snape was widely acclaimed by critics, fans and Rowling herself. _ Entertainment Weekly _ listed Rickman as one of the most popular movie stars in 2007 for his performance as Snape, saying: "As the icy, humourless magic instructor Severus Snape, Rickman may not be on screen long—but he owns every minute." Rickman also noted fans' reactions; in an interview, he said he found "that people in general adore Snape. He is sarcastic, stubborn, etc, etc. But he is also fascinating. I have a lot of fun impersonating him." Rickman was nominated for several awards for his portrayal of Snape, and in 2011, was elected the best character portrayal in all the _Harry Potter_ films series.
In 2011, _Empire_ magazine published an open letter from Rickman to J.K. Rowling, ruminating on the ten years of working on the Potter films and thanking her for telling the story.
Snape is described as a thin man with sallow skin, a large, hooked nose, and yellow, uneven teeth. He has shoulder-length, greasy black hair which frames his face, and cold, black eyes. He wears black, flowing robes which give him the appearance of "an overgrown bat". The youthful Snape had a "stringy, pallid look", being "round-shouldered yet angular", having a "twitchy" walk "that recalled a spider" and "long oily hair that jumped about his face".
In the chapter illustrations by Mary GrandPré in the American editions of _The Prisoner of Azkaban_, _The Order of the Phoenix_, and _The Half-Blood Prince_, Snape is depicted with a moustache and goatee , long black hair, and a receding hairline.
Snape is generally depicted as being cold, calculating, precise, sarcastic, and bitter. He strongly dislikes Harry and often insults him by insulting his father James. As the series progresses, it is revealed that his treatment of Harry stems from Snape's bitter rivalry with James when they were in school together. In particular, James and Sirius bullied Snape, which according to Alan Rickman caused the already lonely boy to further "shut himself in". Rowling further described the young Snape as insecure and vulnerable: "Given his time over again would not have become a Death Eater, but like many insecure, vulnerable people he craved membership of something big and powerful, something impressive. was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater."
The adult Snape, on the other hand, is portrayed as very self-assured and confident of his abilities, to a degree that Rickman described as "full of himself." Director David Yates said Snape is a character with gravitas, authority and power. Snape typically displays a very calm and collected demeanour, rarely at a loss for words or taken off guard. His temper, however, is sometimes short where Harry is concerned and positively flares when dealing with his erstwhile tormentor Sirius, or when accused of cowardice. His otherwise impassive and aloof attitude seems to stem from his belief that people who cannot control their emotions are weak.
Like some other prominent members of Slytherin house, Snape is shown to be a clever and cunning wizard. He is intelligent and has a keen, analytical mind. In an interview, Rowling adds that Snape is immensely brave, and when asked if she considers Snape a hero, replied: "Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero , perhaps. He is not a particularly likeable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity—and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love and, ultimately, laid down his life because of it. That's pretty heroic!"
MAGICAL ABILITIES AND SKILLS
All seven novels show Snape to be a very powerful wizard and to have been outstanding while a student. He specialises in potion making and has talent and passion for the Dark Arts. Sirius claimed that Snape knew more hexes and curses as a first-year student at Hogwarts than most seventh-years knew. Particularly gifted in potion making, Snape added major improvements to his Potions textbook while still a student. Also as a student, Snape shows a rare gift for discovering new spells. Lupin describes Sectumsempra as Snape's "speciality" in _Deathly Hallows._ Snape is shown using this spell as a teenager against Harry's father James and in the aerial battle in the last novel when he accidentally hits George Weasley (acting as a Potter decoy) with it while actually aiming for a Death Eater who was trying to attack Lupin, causing George's right ear to be severed off permanently. Despite Sectumsempra's deadly power, Snape can also heal the wounds it causes. Snape is adept at reversing or containing fatal damage from other dark curses as well, due to his vast knowledge of Dark Arts, as he does when Dumbledore and then Katie Bell are cursed. Skilful in the arts of Legilimency and especially Occlumency , Snape is able to both access the minds of others and protect his own thoughts—indeed, though Snape does not care for the term himself, Harry forms the uncomfortable impression early in the series that the Potions Master is able to "read minds." Being an Occlumens, Snape is able to keep his betrayal from Voldemort, who is himself described as being "the greatest Legilimens" in history. According to Rowling, Snape is the only Death Eater capable of producing a full Patronus , which, like Lily's, is a doe. Snape is a talented duellist, able to hold off by himself (if only briefly) a group of three Hogwarts professors that included former duelling champion Filius Flitwick . Professor McGonagall later implies that Snape learned to fly without the use of a broom, a rare skill previously displayed only by Voldemort.
Snape's family background is mostly shown in flashbacks during the course of the last three novels. Snape was born to Eileen Prince, a witch, and Tobias Snape, a Muggle, making him a half-blood (hence the name, "Half-Blood Prince"). This is rare for a Death Eater, as remarked in the last book, though Voldemort himself also had a Muggle father. Snape spent his early childhood living with his parents in a small house in Spinner\'s End . Snape's family was a poor one and he is described as wearing ill-fitting clothes "that were so mis-matched that it looked deliberate". As a child, Snape was apparently neglected and his parents often fought with one another. Snape was very eager to leave his home to go to Hogwarts. Towards the end of the last novel, Harry draws parallels between his childhood, Snape's, and Voldemort's.
Snape's true loyalty was one of the most significant questions in the
series up until the end of the final instalment, _
The secretive attitude and gradual unfolding of Snape's character was broadly admired, with Stephen Fry , the UK audio books narrator, saying in 2003: "Most characters like Snape are hard to love but there is a sort of ambiguity—you can’t quite decide—something sad about him—lonely and it’s fascinating when you think he’s going to be the evil one..., then slowly you get this idea he’s not so bad after all." David Yates , who directed the final four films of the series, also expressed his views on the character, saying: "A character like Snape, where you're not really sure if he's a good guy or a bad guy, that gives you a latent tension... I think the coolest thing you can do with an audience is deny them a little bit of information." Despite being less than kind, the character quickly gained popularity within fandom to a level that surprised Rowling herself. Joyce Millman suggests in her essay "To Sir with Love" in the book _Mapping the World of Harry Potter_, that Snape is drawn from a tradition of Byronic heroes such as _Wuthering Heights'_ Heathcliff . Jenny Sawyer from _ The Christian Science Monitor _ commented on the character's development in the series. She claimed that Snape is the only protagonist who genuinely has a choice to make and who struggles to do the right thing, hence the only one to face a "compelling inner crisis". She believed the popularity of the character is due to the moral journey and inner conflict that Snape undergoes within the series, as it is the hero's struggle and costly redemption that really matter: " character ached for resolution. And it is precisely this need for resolution—our desire to know the real Snape and to understand his choices—that makes him the most compelling character in the Potter epic."
The final revelation of Snape's loyalty in _
IGN listed Snape as their 4th top _Harry Potter_ character, saying
that he makes "quite an impact in the _Harry Potter_ series", and
IGN's Joe Utichi called Snape his favourite _Harry Potter_ character
and praised his character development. Shortly after the release of
the final film,
IN POPULAR CULTURE
The character of
In a 2004 sketch on _
Saturday Night Live _ in which Lindsay Lohan
appears as Hermione Granger, Snape is portrayed by
Will Forte . Snape
has also been parodied in UK television. Comic Relief released a story
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* ^ "