All the greatest lessons I learned from Severus Snape

Today, the world lost an amazing human being in Alan Rickman. From his role as Hans Gruber in Die Hard to the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, to Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Harry in Love Actually, he was as versatile and easy to watch (and listen to) on screen as they come.

The Internet is currently paying Rickman a much-deserved tribute – and overwhelmingly through the help of his arguably most famous role: Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. Whether you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series or not, it’s common knowledge that the character of Severus Snape is one that was shrouded in mystery until the very end of the story. We eventually learn the reasons his personality manifested the way it did, and the sad story behind a fate he seems to have known of all along by the end.

And Snape taught me a lot of great lessons during his tenure as Potions Master, Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and finally Headmaster of Hogwarts. These are the ones I still carry most closely to my heart, in large part thanks to Alan Rickman.

Not everyone is going to like you (and that’s OK)

Snape was the first character in the wizarding world whom we were introduced to who was easy to hate. He was a jerk to Harry and his friends right off the bat for seemingly no reason, and we were all on the trio’s side for a while. But then it becomes apparent that there were good reasons for it – and without Snape’s antagonism, Harry may not have remembered to keep his ego in check. If nothing else, Snape helped keep Harry’s head on straight. And we all need someone to do that for us once in a while.

Slytherins aren’t all bad

I love Albus Dumbledore – he’s one of my top five favorite characters in Harry Potter – but one thing he said to Snape always irked me: “Sometimes, I think we sort to soon,” implying Snape may have been a better fit somewhere other than Slytherin.

I have to wholly disagree, as much as it breaks my heart to disagree with Dumbledore. I think Slytherin is the house that gets the bad rap because of wizards who go bad, not the other way around. Slytherin is full of intelligent, ambitious wizards who think before they act, and the world needed more Snape-like Slytherins. So haters gonna hate.


Careful, thorough work is underrated – and often underappreciated

In American society, sometimes it can feel like the shortest path to the destination is the right one. However we can get the most done or acquired in the shortest amount of time and with the shortest amount of effort is the correct decision, right?

Wrong. Snape proved through a lifetime of dangerously playing a double-agent that the winding path can very well be the right one. He also excelled in subjects like Potions and Occlumency – areas of magic requiring lots of time and patience, but that proved their worth at just the right times for our hero. Snape taught me to have patience even when I feel my least patient and, in fact, probably to have it then the most.


Bravery isn’t always showy or obvious

In fact, bravery sometimes means doing the hard thing that makes you look like the villain instead of the hero. In Snape’s case, he played this role often, but most notably when he took Dumbledore’s life to keep up appearances of his supposed loyalty to Voldemort. We all know how that worked out, and many argue that although he wasn’t the boldest character, Snape was the bravest. Harry Potter even named one of his own children after Snape, and no one hated Snape more when he was alive than Harry.


Sometimes, words are not needed

One of the most poignant moments of the series is when Snape’s Patronus – a doe, like his lost love Lily – appears to guide Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor in the Forest of Dean. In this moment, we see that Snape’s greatest strength came from a place deep inside that he was able to express effectively, but on his own terms. And to guide Harry on the path of what he needed to do, all Snape had to do was show up.


True love lasts a lifetime

This is also a direct quote from Love Actually, spoken by the wife of Alan Rickman’s character, played by Emma Thompson. She is talking about Joni Mitchell, but it’s a sneaky commentary on what’s to come for their relationship in the film.

But in terms of what Snape taught me about true love lasting a lifetime…some things, we’ll just never get over. No matter how much time passes, there are always people who make such an impact on you that your life will never be the same without them.


Rest in peace, Alan Rickman. Thank you for bringing an ungodly amount of life to Severus Snape. We will miss you. Always.


(Images via Warner Bros.; GIFs via here, here, here, here, here, and here)

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