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Is Snape Good or Bad in the End?

Is Snape Good or Bad in the End?

Is Snape good or bad? That’s the enigmatic question that fans of the Harry Potter series have grappled with for years. Severus Snape, the stoic Potions Master with a penchant for deducting points from Gryffindor, is easily one of the most complex characters in the Harry Potter universe.

On the surface, his perennial animosity towards Harry Potter and his strict, often harsh, demeanor paint a clear image of a villain. However, this only scratches the surface of his true character. Beneath his icy exterior, Snape was a double agent, secretly working against Voldemort and the Death Eaters while appearing to be one of them.

This duplicitous role forced him into actions and attitudes that could easily be misinterpreted, further shrouding his true intentions. His bitterness towards Harry was a mask, hiding his enduring love for Lily Potter and his commitment to safeguarding Harry as a tribute to her.

This article will explore the enigma that is Severus Snape, unmasking his actions and revealing whether he ultimately stands as a beacon of the light, or an agent of the darkness.

Was Snape Good or Bad?

In the end, Snape’s actions were both good and bad. He saved Harry’s life on multiple occasions, but he also treated Harry cruelly. He was motivated by love and a sense of duty, and he ultimately made the ultimate sacrifice to protect Harry.

While he may have made some mistakes along the way, his good qualities ultimately outweighed his bad qualities.

7 Examples That Show Snape Was Good

1. The Quirrell Incident During a Quidditch Match

In the first book and movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” Snape is seen muttering a counter-curse under his breath during Harry’s first Quidditch match. At this moment, Quirrell, who was hosting Voldemort at the time, was performing a curse to throw Harry off his broom. Snape, noticing the danger Harry was in, quickly starts counter-cursing in an attempt to save Harry.

This act of protection went unnoticed by most, as Hermione and Ron, who were looking for a culprit, set Snape’s robes on fire in their attempt to distract him, thinking he was the one hurting Harry. This incident is one of the first instances in the series that subtly hints at Snape’s true allegiance.

While the students and readers initially interpret Snape’s actions as malevolent, it later becomes clear that he was, in fact, working to protect Harry from harm. This act of safeguarding Harry from Quirrell’s curse underlines the complexity of Snape’s character and his covert efforts to shield Harry.

2. Snape’s Patronus Leads Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor

In an ultimate act of silent assistance, Snape utilizes his Patronus to lead Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor in “The Deathly Hallows.” Snape’s Patronus is a doe, identical to that of Lily Potter, Harry’s mother, and Snape’s unrequited love. When Harry is lost and without direction, it’s this doe that appears and leads him to the frozen lake where the Sword of Gryffindor is hidden beneath the ice.

The Patronus is crucial not only because it helps Harry to acquire a vital tool in the fight against Voldemort, but because it illustrates Snape’s deep and enduring love for Lily.

By using this uniquely personal spell to assist Harry, Snape once again undercuts the outward appearance of disdain for the boy, and underscores the true nature of his loyalties. His actions also underline his courage and strategic intelligence as a double agent working against Voldemort. This moment ultimately becomes one of the strongest evidence of Snape’s hidden goodness.

3. The Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy to protect Draco

Severus Snape’s decision to take the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy signifies another moment where his true intentions lean more towards the good than the evil. In the Half-Blood Prince, Narcissa requests Snape to protect her son, Draco, who has been assigned a deadly mission by Lord Voldemort – to kill Albus Dumbledore. This is a turning point where Draco could completely lose his innocence and fall into the Dark Arts irreversibly.

Snape agrees to the vow, promising to protect Draco and carry out the task if Draco fails. While it initially appears that Snape is siding with the Malfoys and Voldemort, his true motivation is far more noble. By agreeing to kill Dumbledore, he spares Draco’s soul from the consequences of committing murder.

His acceptance of the vow reflects his commitment to shield the young from the brutal world of the Death Eaters, underlining his concealed benevolence. The act that many perceived as a betrayal of Dumbledore was actually a sacrifice Snape made for the greater good, illuminating the intricate morality of his character.

4. Snape’s Intervention During the Shrieking Shack Incident

One notable instance that stands out in Snape’s complex relationship with Harry occurs during the dramatic climax in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” In the Shrieking Shack, Snape places himself between a werewolf-transformed Remus Lupin and the students, showing a clear intent to protect them, specifically Harry.

This act of bravery is one of the many instances where Snape, regardless of his personal feelings towards Harry, lets his sense of duty and his promise to Dumbledore take precedence. It demonstrates that even when facing a dangerous werewolf, Snape was willing to risk his own life to keep Harry safe. In the heat of the moment, this momentous act of courage shows a different side to Snape, one that is fundamentally good.

5. Snape’s Reluctance and Emotion in Dumbledore’s Death

In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, Snape is faced with the unimaginable task of killing Albus Dumbledore, a task that Dumbledore himself had entrusted to him. This event, one of the most poignant in the series, is a testament to Snape’s complex character and the lengths he is willing to go to in order to protect Harry.

The books and films both depict Snape’s evident discomfort and emotional turmoil in carrying out this task. He is reluctant, but he follows through because of his promise to Dumbledore and his commitment to the bigger cause of defeating Voldemort. Snape’s emotion during this act is a clear indicator that he is not inherently evil; rather, he’s a man thrust into impossible circumstances, making difficult decisions for the greater good.

Learn more about Snape killing Dumbledore.

6. Putting Aside His Animosity Towards James for Lily’s Sake

One of the most striking examples of Snape’s underlying goodness is how he sets aside his deep-seated animosity towards James Potter for the sake of Lily’s son, Harry. Despite his resentment towards James for his past bullying and for winning Lily’s love, Snape doesn’t let these personal feelings override his promise to protect Harry.

He sacrifices his own safety and risks his life repeatedly, even though Harry is a constant reminder of Lily’s relationship with James, the man Snape despised. This selfless act of protecting Harry for Lily’s sake, despite the pain it must have caused him, reveals a depth of character that goes beyond the simple dichotomy of good and evil. It is a testament to the complexity of Snape’s character and his ultimate allegiance to the greater good.

7. Snape Gives Harry His Memories

In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” Snape’s final act is one of the most revealing and emotionally charged moments in the series. As Snape lies dying, he gives Harry a collection of his most important memories, extracted as silvery strands of thoughts for the Pensieve. This final act is as much an act of protection as it is a plea for understanding.

The memories give Harry vital information for defeating Voldemort, such as the fact that Harry himself is the final Horcrux and that Voldemort must kill him for the Dark Lord to be vulnerable. It also shows the depth of Snape’s unrequited love for Lily, his guilt over her death, and his dedication to protecting Harry, a dedication that extended far beyond what Harry, or the readers, initially understood.

This selfless act shows Snape’s courage and dedication to the greater good. He puts aside his personal grudges and prejudices, and even sacrifices his life, to ensure Harry has the knowledge he needs to end Voldemort’s reign of terror.

Could Snape Be Bad?

While Snape’s actions ultimately contribute to Voldemort’s downfall and the restoration of peace in the wizarding world, his character is filled with shades of gray. His flaws and questionable choices throughout his life challenge the notion of good versus bad.

Despite his heroic acts and ultimate sacrifice, Snape’s behavior throughout the series is often far from admirable. His continual bullying and mistreatment of Harry and many other students, such as Neville Longbottom, is undeniably cruel. Additionally, his initial decision to join Voldemort’s ranks as a Death Eater and his loyalty to the Dark Arts also paint a rather dark picture.

Some argue that his love for Lily was more of an obsession, and his hatred for James and Harry might stem from jealousy and resentment more than from their actual deeds. Thus, his protection of Harry could be seen as driven by his feelings for Lily rather than genuine concern for Harry.

Read more: Why Does Voldemort Have No Nose?