Snape is an antihero. Antiheroes are the characters in a story that oppose the hero of the tale, they create conflict and build up tension within the story as you never know what they are really up to. Antiheroes are the characters who did not fit into the traditional heroic role of the good-looking, honest, law-abiding citizen. It is the human flaws in our antiheroes and the fact their actions prove their noble intent in the end, that endear us to them. My favourite antihero of all time is Professor Severus Snape.
In the early books, Snape was written as a villain and is shown as bullying Harry and Neville. He dislikes Harry and basically any pupil outside his house. However, mixed with these negative character flaws he has positive features. He is a gifted Potionmaster and talented wizard. As well as demonstrating unusual bouts of bravery and dedication to Hogwarts which shows he possessed the saving good character traits of a tormented antihero.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – Snape is suspicious of Professor Quirrell and tries to warn him against performing acts against Harry and Hogwarts, he tries to unjinx Harrys broom in the quidditch match and dashes after the marauding ogre.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – sees Snape try to capture Sirius the man he initially thought killed his beloved Lily. However, instead of trying to kill him outright, he decides to take him to the dementors even though he could ‘Do it, you know.’ Thus, demonstrating his strong moral compass.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – At one point, Snape is named as a Death Eater by Igor Karkaroff, but Dumbledore comes to Snape’s defence, claiming that although Snape had indeed been a Death Eater, he changed sides before Voldemort’s downfall and turned to become a spy for Dumbledore. Later, Dumbledore assures Harry that Snape’s reformation is genuine, though he refuses to tell Harry how he knows this, saying the information, ‘Is a matter between Professor Snape and myself.’ However, his actions are still suspicious and like Harry many readers do not believe in the heroism of Snape.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 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 provides her with the magical truth serum Veritaserum in order to force Harry to reveal any information he may be hiding. Professor Snape claims that his supplies of the serum have run out after Umbridge tries to use the drug previously on Harry. Later in the book we find that Snape had in fact supplied Umbridge with fake Veritaserum on her prior attempt, in so doing he is protecting both the Order and Harry. Professor 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, even though Sirius had put been of Harry’s fathers gang that used to bully him.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape is seen protecting another child in his care when he makes the Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco Malfoy. Dumbledore asks Snape to be the one to kill him to further protect Malfoy and reluctantly Snape does. When Harry pursues Snape, Draco, and the Death Eaters as they flee the castle. Snape easily blocks Harry’s spells and points out Harry’s mistakes, but never strikes back, showing his true character.
Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Snape Uses his position as Head Master to protect school and students as much as he can and contain the evil Carrow’s. His dying memories show that as a Death Eater, Snape had revealed to Voldemort a prophecy made by Sybil 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, begged Voldemort to spare Lily. He also approached Dumbledore, admitted his actions, and begged him to protect the Potters. Dumbledore agreed and ensured that they were placed under the Fidelius Charm. In return, Snape 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. 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 still felt responsible for Lily’s death. The only friend he had ever had. He spent the rest of life trying to protect everyone except himself.
He was the bravest man in Hogwarts.
Rest in Peace Severus Snape, hero of the anti-Voldemort resistance.
by P.J. Reed – Author of Windorwold