Severus Snape, a character deeply etched in the hearts of Harry Potter fans, has always presented an enigma. A stern Potions Master, a devoted member of the Order of the Phoenix, and later the unassuming Headmaster of Hogwarts, Snape’s relationship with the series’ protagonist, Harry Potter, is intricate and layered.
While his treatment of Harry often seemed driven by a deep-seated hatred as we discuss in another article, the truth is far from this initial impression. The layers of his complex demeanor unravel as we delve deeper into the narrative, revealing that his attitude towards Harry was underpinned by a blend of regret, love, and an unwavering sense of duty.
Why Does Snape Love Harry?
Snape loved Harry because he was a part of Lily. Harry had Lily’s eyes, her hair, and her smile. He even had her kindness and her compassion. Snape knew that Harry was not James Potter.
He was not the same person who had bullied him at Hogwarts. Harry was Lily’s son, and Snape loved Lily more than anything else in the world.
Some fans have theorized that Snape could, in fact, be Harry’s real father, a fascinating proposition we explore in depth in this separate article.
Why Does Snape Protect Harry?
Although Snape’s love for Lily was the most important reason for his protection of Harry, Snape’s loyalty to Dumbledore and his belief in Harry’s destiny also played a role. He knew Harry was the only one who could defeat Voldemort, and he was determined to help him fulfill his destiny.
1. Because of Snape’s Love for Lily, Harry’s Mother
One of the most poignant revelations in the series was Snape’s enduring love for Harry’s mother, Lily Potter. Snape’s love for Lily was profound and was the primary driver of his actions. His Patronus, a doe, was the same as Lily’s, symbolizing his everlasting love for her.
When Harry was targeted by the Dementors in “Prisoner of Azkaban,” Snape was the one to fetch the dementor-repelling potion for him. Snape’s love for Lily extended to her son, leading him to protect Harry at all costs, even if it meant risking his own life.
2. Snape’s Loyalty to Albus Dumbledore
Snape’s loyalty to Dumbledore was another key factor in his efforts to keep Harry safe. As a former Death Eater turned double agent, Snape promised Dumbledore to protect Harry from Voldemort. This was evident during the Quidditch match in “The Philosopher’s Stone” when Snape tried to counteract Professor Quirrell’s jinx that was meant to throw Harry off his broom.
Read more: Why did Snape Kill Dumbledore?
3. Snape’s Sense of Duty
Snape’s feeling of duty towards Lily also prompted him to protect her son. When he realized that Voldemort had targeted the Potters because of the prophecy he had partially overheard, Snape was consumed with guilt. He felt responsible for their death, especially Lily’s, and therefore, he felt a strong obligation to safeguard Harry.
4. Snape’s Unseen Actions
Many of Snape’s protective actions were unseen or misunderstood at the time. For example, throughout “Order of the Phoenix,” Snape gives Harry Occlumency lessons to protect his mind against Voldemort’s intrusions.
Snape also steps in to save Harry when he’s in the Shrieking Shack with Werewolf Lupin and Sirius Black in “Prisoner of Azkaban.” Lastly, his crucial role in the Battle of Hogwarts can’t be understated. His subtle hints to Harry about the Sword of Gryffindor and his control over the situation under Voldemort’s rule saved many lives and played a pivotal role in Voldemort’s downfall.
5 More Examples in the Books and Moves of Snape Helping Harry Potter
In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, Snape made the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy to protect Draco Malfoy, but it also indirectly served to protect Harry. Snape fulfilled this vow by killing Dumbledore himself, a task that Voldemort had initially assigned to Draco. This action ensured Draco wouldn’t bear the burden of becoming a murderer, and also saved Harry from being exposed to further danger.
“Will you, Severus, watch over my son, Draco, as he attempts to fulfill the Dark Lord’s wishes? […] And will you, to the best of your ability, protect him from harm? […] And should it prove necessary… if it seems Draco will fail… will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?”Narcissa Malfoy to Snape in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” when Death Eaters invade Hogwarts, Snape ensures that he is the one to confront Harry, which prevents any of the other Death Eaters from hurting him.
In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” Snape, under his patronus, a doe, leads Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor. It is instrumental in Harry’s mission to destroy Horcruxes.
During the high-risk extraction mission from Privet Drive in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, Snape attempts to remove a Death Eater’s curse aimed at Harry, but accidentally strikes George Weasley instead.
When Harry was caught with the Advanced Potion Making textbook, Snape did not push further to find out how Harry knew about the secret notes, even though he suspected Harry had his old book.
Read more: Was Snape Good or Bad?