The Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling, has captured the imagination of millions of fans around the world. One of the most fascinating aspects of the magical universe is the Patronus Charm, which conjures a protective guardian known as a Patronus.
In the series, the Patronuses of two characters, Severus Snape and Lily Potter (née Evans), are particularly intriguing. Both share the same Patronus – a doe – which has led to much speculation and discussion among fans.
In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind this similarity and explore the significance of their shared Patronus in the greater context of the Harry Potter story.
Why Did Snape and Lily Have the Same Patronus?
Severus Snape and Lily Potter had the same Patronus, a doe, because of the deep, unrequited love that Snape held for Lily. Snape’s love for Lily was one such profound emotional experience that influenced the form of his Patronus.
While Patronuses usually take the shape of an animal that represents an individual’s personality or emotions, they can also change over time based on significant life events or emotional experiences.
A doe Patronus symbolizes gentleness and grace, and it can represent someone who is deeply sensitive, intuitive, and alert. In the context of Lily Potter, it may reflect her nurturing nature and her deep love for her son and her friends.
For Snape, his doe Patronus represents his enduring love for Lily. Despite the many years and the many ways in which he and Lily were separated, his love for her never changed.
Snape and Lily were childhood friends, and over time, Snape developed strong feelings for her. However, their friendship fell apart during their time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry due to Snape’s involvement with the Dark Arts and his association with future Death Eaters.
Lily eventually married James Potter, which further solidified the unrequited nature of Snape’s love. It’s worth noting that Lily’s Patronus being a doe and James Potter’s Patronus being a stag is not a coincidence, as the two animals are male and female counterparts in the deer species, symbolizing their deep and lasting love.
Despite their estrangement, Snape never stopped loving Lily. After her death, his love for her continued to shape his actions, including his decision to protect her son, Harry Potter, and work as a double agent for Dumbledore against Lord Voldemort.
Snape’s Patronus, the doe, served as a lasting symbol of his enduring love for Lily and his unwavering devotion to her memory.
This rings especially true if we look at the little we know about Severus Snape’s life; we saw no joy or hope from his unhappy childhood to his seemingly disgraceful death. In fact, Harry sums it up quite nicely when he explains it to Voldemort:
‘Snape’s Patronus was a doe,’ said Harry, ‘the same as my mother’s, because he loved her for nearly all of his life, from the time when they were children.’Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
|Severus Snape||Lily Potter|
|Reason for Patronus Form||Snape’s love for Lily influenced his Patronus, causing it to take the same form as hers.||The specific reason for this form is never explicitly stated in the books. It may symbolize her gentle, nurturing nature.|
|Patronus Use||Snape uses his Patronus to guide Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor in “The Deathly Hallows”.||Lily’s Patronus is not seen in use in the books, but it is known to be a doe from Snape’s memories.|
|Death Eater||Formerly, but later became a double agent for Dumbledore.||Never a Death Eater; member of the Order of the Phoenix.|
|Occupation||Potions Master, Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and brief Headmaster of Hogwarts||After Hogwarts, she devoted her time to the Order of the Phoenix and raising her family.|
What Is the Significance of Severus Snape’s Patronus?
JK Rowling shared with fans during a 2007 live chat that Severus Snape was the only Death Eater who could cast a Patronus due to his deep love for Lily Potter. The other Death Eaters had no need to learn such a spell. They usually found themselves fighting alongside (not against) such foul creatures as Dementors.
The ability to cast a corporeal Patronus, in that it takes on a distinct shape instead of fog or vapor, is considered the mark of a highly accomplished witch or wizard. Severus Snape, therefore, was a highly skilled wizard who still had enough good and benevolence within him to create the doe-shaped Patronus.
Did Lily Know Snape Loved Her?
It seems very unlikely that Lily knew Severus’ true feelings towards her. There is no mention in any of the Harry Potter books that Severus ever admitted to his feelings, in fact, he insisted that they were friends.
Snape and Lily had been childhood friends who grew further and further apart in their adolescent years until the fateful day that Severus slipped and called Lily the unforgivable insult “mudblood”.
While Severus seems to have fallen for Lily quickly and hard, Lily approached their friendship cautiously and seems to have been mostly drawn to Snape because of his knowledge of the (to her) unknown magical world.
Why Did Snape Call Lily a Mudblood?
The “Mudblood” incident between Severus Snape and Lily Evans occurs in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” during a memory viewed in the Pensieve.
After a particularly nasty Defence Against the Dark Arts practical exam where James Potter and Sirius Black bully Snape, Lily tries to come to Snape’s defense. In his embarrassment and anger, Snape lashes out at Lily, calling her a “Mudblood,” a highly offensive term for a Muggle-born witch or wizard. The quote is:
“’No—listen, I didn’t mean—’
‘—to call me Mudblood? But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?'”Severus Snape and Lily Evans in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This moment marked a significant turning point in Snape and Lily’s relationship, leading to the end of their friendship. Despite Snape’s immediate regret and his attempts to apologize, Lily was deeply hurt and never forgave him.
Did Lily Love Snape Back?
No, we can be almost certain that Lily Potter did not harbor romantic feelings toward Snape. Her love for Snape was completely platonic. Severus was a childhood friend whom she grew more and more apart from due to his affiliation with the Dark Arts. Lily had no romantic feelings towards Severus Snape.
In the same live chat as mentioned above, Rowling also shared that Lily could have grown to love Snape romantically if he had chosen a different path, making it clear that Lily did not love Snape back. Their friendship started with a mutual need for each other-
Lily both appreciated and relied upon Snape’s knowledge of the magical world and how to navigate it. Snape had no friends or confidants and no escape from his unhappy childhood home besides Lily.
Severus was immediately infatuated with the stubborn and strong-willed (yet at the same time immensely kind) Lily. While Severus’ affection quickly grew into attraction, Lily’s feelings for Snape remained platonic throughout their friendship.
Who Loved Lily More Snape or James Potter?
Both loved Lily in different ways. James’ love for Lily was pure and genuine. In contrast, Severus’ love may have started out that way but grew into an obsessive, possessive, and all-consuming love.
This fact becomes especially obvious when Lily tells Severus that he is ungrateful towards James in “The Princes Tale,” and he replies that he won’t let Lily think of James as a hero, losing his temper. On the other hand, James once and for all proves his selfless love for his wife and son in his last action, when he sacrifices himself trying to stop Voldemort.
Read more: Was Snape Harry’s Real Father?
Why Does Harry Ask Dumbledore About Snape’s Patronus?
Curiously, Severus’ Patronus mimicked Lily’s, whereas James’ Patronus complemented and completed hers. This beautifully illustrates the difference between James’ genuine and Severus’ obsessive love for Lily.
Given the fact that his father, who also deeply loved and cherished Lily, had a different Patronus, it is understandable that he wanted to know Dumbledore’s thoughts on the matter. Harry understood that Snape’s love for Lily was responsible for his Patronus taking on the doe form.
Snape himself made this clear during the heartbreaking conversation he has with Dumbledore when learns that, in the end, Harry will have to die to defeat Voldemort.
“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”
“For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!”
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Did Snape Love Harry?
Snape did not love Harry. He was not only a spitting image of his mortal rival, but his very existence was a constant reminder of Snape’s unrequited love for Lily. However, it was also this same love for Lily that Snape chose to defend and protect Harry as well.
Snape was incapable of seeing beyond Harry’s appearance to notice that there was a lot of Lily in him, so he continued to loathe Harry for the rest of his life.