Love him or hate him, Severus Snape plays a crucial role in the Harry Potter series as a complex and compelling character that most readers simply can't understand. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Does his difficult past absolve him of his many sins? His questionable actions might keep readers guessing, but even so, Snape was still named as the public's favorite Harry Potter character in a survey from Bloomsbury. In the words of Rowling, "Snape is all grey. You can't make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can't make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world."
So, would you like to know more about Rowling's most complex character? Here are 10 questions about Severus Snape, answered.
10. Why Is Snape Called The Half-Blood Prince?
Let's start with the "Half-Blood" part, shall we? If you'll remember, Snape's father (Tobias) was a Muggle and his mother, Eileen, was a witch. If a child has one parent who's a witch/wizard and one parent who's a Muggle, then they're classified as a "half-blood" under the blood purity classification. The "Prince" has been added because "Prince" was his mother's maiden name and he valued his mother's lineage over his father's.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hermione explains Snape's reasoning to Harry. "Snape must have been proud of being half a Prince, you see? Tobias Snape was a Muggle from what it said in the Prophet."
9. What's up With Severus Snape And The Marauders?
Potterheads have always wanted to know a bit more about Snape's interactions with The Marauders, a group of four Gryffindors who liked to break the rules and created the infamous Marauder's Map. As I'm sure you're already aware, James Potter was a member of The Marauders, and he and Snape had some serious beef. Given all the drama, fans took it upon themselves to make a surprisingly good and action-packed short film on YouTube called Severus Snape and the Marauders. The film was an instant success, catching the attention of Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, BBC America, Time, and more. It seems that fans just can't get enough of Snape!
8. Why Did Snape Kill Dumbledore?
Why did Snape end up killing Hogwarts' beloved headmaster? Because Dumbledore asked him to! According to Pottermore, Dumbledore was aware of his impending death from Marvolo Gaunt’s cursed ring and was also aware that Voldemort had recruited Draco Malfoy as an assassin. As a result, Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him because he knew that Draco would likely not succeed and maim his own soul in the attempt. He also preferred to die a quick death at the hands of Snape, who would be doing it as an act of mercy, as opposed to letting Lord Voldemort drag it out.
7. Why Was Snape Not An Obscurial?
According to Harry Potter Wiki, an Obscurial is "a young wizard or witch who develops a dark parasitical magical force, known as an Obscurus, as a result of their magic being suppressed through psychological or physical abuse."
As a child, Snape suffered through many years emotional abuse and neglect, even hiding and crying in a corner while his father, Tobias, shouted at and hit his mother. Snape also lived in a slum neighborhood and wore dirty, ill-fitting clothes. So, given all his years of emotional/physical abuse, how did Snape escape becoming an Obsurial?
Lucky for Snape, an Obscurus only forms when a young wizard/witch actively tries to suppress their magical capabilities. Instead, Snape learned to harness and control them.
6. How Many People Did Snape Actually Care About?
Snape is often depicted as a tragic, friendless loner who only ever loved Harry's mother, Lily, but is it possible that he had forged emotional bonds with other people? Most likely, yes. Snape clearly cared for his mother, even taking her last name (Prince) just so he could be associated with her. Given how much Snape knew about the Wizarding World before his arrival to Hogwarts, we can only assume that his mother had spent time teaching him. It's also possible that he sincerely liked Lucius and Narcissa. Snape would have never called Dumbledore his friend, but at the very least he respected him.
5. Why Did Snape Become A Teacher?
I would never describe Snape as a lover of children, so why did he choose to be a teacher instead of hawking his potions on Diagon Alley? Truthfully, Snape only became a teacher to protect Harry as penance for Lily's death. There's no doubt that Dumbledore took advantage of Snape's guilt over Lily's death by making Snape promise to protect Harry, and Snape used his role as a teacher to remain close to Harry. Teaching also served as a great cover for Snape's double-agent status, as Voldemort never suspected that Snape had switched teams.
4. Why Was Snape Such A Turd?
Starting in the first book, Snape is introduced as a cold-hearted snake of a man with little sympathy for anyone, including his fellow House members. He's mean, unfair, and downright unlikable, but what made him this way? Was it all because of his unrequited love for Lily (and her death), or was there another reason for his turd-like behavior?
As it turns out, Snape had quite a few reasons for being crusty. If you'll remember, Snape was raised in a pretty dysfunctional home and was mercilessly bullied by the Marauders as a teenager. I think it's obvious that Snape had a mean streak even before Lily died, as he called her a "Mudblood" when she tried to protect him from bullying. In the end, Snape had a bad upbringing and fell into the wrong crowd. Did unrequited love cause him to be cold-hearted, or did his coldheartedness cause his unrequited love? Most likely the latter.
3. How Did Snape Not Work Out That Voldemort Had Horcruxes?
Look, Snape was a pretty smart guy and highly skilled in the Dark Arts, so why didn't he know about Horcruxes? Throughout the books, he seems to possess all the same information about the Harry/Voldemort connection as Dumbledore, yet he continually fails to put two and two together.
The truth of the matter is, Horcruxes were a fairly obscure topic, even among Dark Wizards. Not only that, but chances are that Snape had stopped studying the Dark Arts after he switched allegiances, plus Dumbledore had removed all books on the topic from the library.
2. Why Did Snape Originally Become A Death Eater?
As a half-blood himself, why in the world did Snape wish to join a cult that would rule over and kill half-bloods and muggles (especially since he loved one)?! The answer is both simple and sad; he wanted to feel like he belonged, and he was attracted by the power and prestige. The reality is, his desire to belong to something powerful eclipsed his love for Lily, at least in the beginning. Yes, he was a half-blood himself, but so was Voldemort, and both of them had had bad experiences with their muggle fathers. In the end, his love for the Dark Arts drove Lily away.
"He never really understood Lily’s aversion," J.K. Rowling explains. "He was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater."
1. Why Did Harry Potter Name His Son After Snape?
A lot of Potterheads are still bothered by the fact that Harry named his second son (Albus Severus) after Dumbledore and Snape. Why in the world would he do such a thing?! One fan addressed this question to J.K. Rowling on Twitter, asking why he would do such a thing since he was so abusive.
In response, Rowling explained that, despite years of mistreatment and resentment, Snape did sacrifice his own life for Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts.
"In honoring Snape, Harry hoped in his heart that he too would be forgiven. The deaths at the Battle of Hogwarts would haunt Harry forever," Rowling tweeted.
Well, there you have it.