Even though I believe that this extraordinary man doesn’t require an official introduction, I came to realize that not everyone is in love with the Harry Potter series as I am. He goes by many titles – a Muggle-Born, a Slytherin, the Half-Blood Prince, a Death Eater, a professor, a man who’s bitter and spiteful, and a loyal man in love. This is how I see him.
1. He Is Powerful
In the beginning, we get to know Severus as a great Potions Master. He’s obviously extremely talented and very aware of it. As the story reveals itself through the books, the fifth one, “Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix”, tells us another two quite distinguishing skills this troubled professor has – occlumency and legilimency.
For those who are less familiar with the HP dictionary, when a wizard develops these particular powers, he’s capable to close his mind from foreign attacks and even enter another and basically read it. Finally, the whole series shows us how “enthusiastic” Severus is about the Dark Arts by his constant efforts to finally become the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.
If there’s something that the HP series taught us, as far as I’m concerned at least, it’s that power comes with great responsibility. This set of skills is quite brilliant and it was up to professor Snape to decide whether he will use them for good or bad.
“But I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things. Terrible! Yes. But great.” – Mr. Ollivander about Lord Voldemort to Harry in the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Although this gifted wandmaker was talking about Lord Voldemort here, I believe that we can apply this quote to Severus, as well. He would be magnificent on both sides, and we can feel rather fortunate that he chose the good one. However, the amount of his power often led us to think that he just might not do that in the very end.
2. He Is Mysterious
If we neglect his dark and sudden appearance, it’s still difficult to discover professor Snape’s intentions throughout the HP series because of that veil of mystery he’s constantly covered in. The first book, and the movie accordingly, shows him as the main suspect who seems to go after the Sorcerer’s Stone, that gives immortal life to the one who possesses it.
Although the third book sheds a bit of light on his character, because he jumps in front of a werewolf in order to protect the protagonist trio – Hermione, Ron and Harry – he still has an awful desire to give Harry’s innocent godfather to the authorities. Be that as it may, Dumbledore gives him a crucial part in the Order of Phoenix, when he once again confirms how he trusts him completely and allows him to act as a spy.
All this trust we came to put in him, just as the characters did, crumbles into the ground when he kills the greatest headmaster that Hogwarts had ever seen, Dumbledore himself. Unfortunately, his intentions weren’t clear until the very end, when everything is explained to Harry and us, the anxious readers, in one of the final chapters when Harry uses the Pensive – a smart little object that can revive memories – to find out the truth about how professor Snape never stopped loving his mother.
3. He Has His Mind Made Up
There are many things Severus teaches us, but being indecisive isn’t one of them. The first three parts are very clear about how much professor Snape hated Harry’s father, James, but not until the fifth book did we get to realize why.
During Harry’s occlumency lessons, he seems to manage to penetrate Severus’ mind and accidently sees a couple of disturbing memories when Severus is at Hogwarts and he’s being, well, bullied by James, Harry’s father, and his friends. That’s also when we catch a glimpse of Severus’ fondness for Lily, Harry’s mother.
I can’t bear to imagine having this terrifying internal battle. Harry’s resemblance of his father made professor Snape despise him and make him suffer throughout the series, but he also felt responsible and eager to protect their whole family when the prophecy found its way to Lord Voldemort’s ears. And not only then – when he came to Dumbledore and begged him to protect him and that failed, he remained in Hogwarts as a permanent teacher, and protected Harry until the very end.
4. He Is Flawed
Although J.K Rowling described professor Snape’s appearance as a shadow that lurks in the dark, a powerful incarnation of magic, he is only human – and a flawed one for that matter. He’s not quite capable when it comes to showing facial expressions, except maybe when he’s expressing disgust at the sight of Harry, but he has very strong emotions that enabled him to visualize his goals and eventually accomplish them.
This fact brought Severus’ character closer to me as a reader than anything else. As the HP series progressed, professor Snape gradually became a person, not someone untouchable, distant and inexplicable. He’s capable of love and hate, of bravery and patience, spitefulness on the other hand, but also being driven and determined, which kept him going the whole time.
5. He Is Loyal
Severus is not black or white, or necessarily good or evil. This is probably one of the greatest dilemmas I head with this layered character J.K Rowling so skillfully created; I was absolutely sure that Severus is unquestionably loyal – but I wasn’t sure where his loyalty lies.
Before the series ended, there were so many different theories that could point to one or the other, and both sides had strong arguments that couldn’t be so easily disputed. Even now, when the Second Wizardry War at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ended, there are still confronted sides about this issue.
Nevertheless, this is my humble way to pay tribute to two great men, Severus Snape and Alan Rickman, who both left a great void in the Wizarding World. Both of them will have a special place in my heart – always.