Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Severus Snape
In my continuing coverage of all things Harry Potter this month, I thought it would be appropriate to touch base with ol’ Snivelly Snape, the most complicated character in the book series. JK Rowling really is a genius for her creation of Professor Snape, the cruelest, most jaded and bravest wizard the world has ever seen.
EINTKILF Severus Snape
1. People are not always what they seem.
As aforementioned, Snape is an extremely misunderstood character. When we first meet him, he is inexplicably the meanest person Harry has encountered at Hogwarts.
“Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
And even though I found out this apparently means something like “I am sorry for Lily’s death,” obviously we/poor 11-year-old Harry have no idea what Snape means, or that he even knew Harry’s mom, so he just comes across as the worst. Regardless, as the series goes on, if you are intuitive, you start to think maybe Snape isn’t a terrible human being, but rather a hero.
2. Childhood grudges should eventually be dropped.
So it turns out, Snape went to school with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, James Potter, and of course, Harry’s mother, Lily. Not only did he go to school with the ol’ crew, but he (SPOILER ALE-oh god, just read the books, you guys) was super in love with Lily, even though she comes from a Muggle family and stuff. Clearly, Snape has a hard time letting anything go ever, and though that represents his love for Lily, well after her death, it also represents his intense hatred for James and Sirius (and Lupin, though he’s harder to hate). Snape’s hatred for James goes so deep that he mistreats Harry at school because of the fact that he reminds him of his father.
Just let it go, Snape. Feel, don’t conceal. James has been dead for a minute.
3. Do something because it is right, not easy.
Yeah, it is a Dumbledore quote, but it really applies to Snape because of the relationship the two had throughout the series. Snape—often accused of being associated with the Dark Lord Ralph Fiennes—really, really risked everything (most importantly, his life) to be a spy for the good side. Clearly, that was right, and it certainly was never easy—like he had to kill Dumbledore. I mean, that is really not good for your reputation.
4. Don’t lie to him.
5. Running away does not always mean cowardice.
“Kill me then,” panted Harry, who felt no fear at all, but only rage and contempt. “Kill me like you killed him, you coward —”
“DON’T —” screamed Snape, and his face was suddenly demented, inhuman. . .“CALL ME COWARD!”
It reminds me of how Marty McFly hates being called “chicken,” except way more serious. Obviously, calling Snape a coward is extremely inaccurate since he was running around, being the bravest, but how was Harry supposed to know that?
6. Don’t be a jerk.
“That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger. Tell me, are you incapable of restraining yourself, or do you take pride in being an insufferable know-it-all?”
Okay, but seriously. . . you can be super brave and secretive and a mysterious professor that has a huge heart for his first and only love, but I feel like calling students “insufferable know-it-all”s is just really rude. I know Snape is one of the best characters in the book, but he is really a huge, biased jerk. Never forget that.
7. “The mind is not a book to be opened at will and examined at leisure. . .”
“. . .Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing.”
Though he was being mean to Harry when he spouts off these lines, it is an awesome, and wholly true statement—especially with a mind like Snape’s. He clearly did not want people to just hop up in his brain and examine his thoughts.
8. Don’t discriminate.
Young Severus Snape: She’s just jealous that she’s ordinary, and you’re special.
Young Lily Potter: That’s mean, Severus.
As aforementioned, Snape has a thing about “mudbloods” and people who generally do not come from pureblood families, and even people who tend to like muggles. Rowling obviously is speaking volumes (seven of them, actually) about discriminating against people just because they are not like you. That all being said, Snape certainly could have benefited from being around Lily a bit longer.
Is that insensitive?
9. Trust Albus Dumbledore.
Harry, along with pretty much everyone else at one point or another, totally thought that Professor Dumbledore was losing his mind for trusting Snape. Of course, after Snape kills Dumbledore, it is pretty impossible to believe that Dumbledore was right, but of course he was. Dumbledore was always right. Everyone should trust him, even now, forever and always.
10. Love never dies.
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe. She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.
I’ve got nothing else to add to that, except for a million broken heart emojis.
Oh, and PS: shout out to Alan Rickman, for being the best man alive.