Severus Snape: hero or villain?


Also known as the Half-Blood Prince, Severus Snape is one of the most important characters in the Harry Potter franchise. Snape is described as a skinny man with sallow skin, a curved nose, long greasy black hair, and black eyes. He is always seen in an elegant black robe.

Severus Snape falls in the category of the most conflict-ridden Harry Potter characters. He has a lot of devoted fans under his belt – and he had them long before Lily Potter showed up in the last book. At the same time, he has many unwavering detractors, who maintain that he is a tyrant and a creep.

Plenty of questions have been raised about the Harry Potter books, and one of those questions revolves around one of the most hated fellows in the books – Severus Tobias Snape. Who is Snape really, and where does he place his true loyalties? Is a hero or a villain?

Neither a hero nor a villain

We cannot classify someone like Snape as either a typecast hero or villain without looking at his entire character as well as who he truly is as a person. Snape was born of a Muggle father and a witch mother. He grew up with Lily Evans and developed a close friendship the magical girl next door who was the daughter of Muggle parents.

As young children, Snape and Lily did everything together. They were both excited to receive their Hogwarts letters welcoming them to join the same school. All this while, there was one vital character who kept foreshadowing Snape’s future and the choices he makes after he leaves Hogwarts: Petunia Evans, Lily’s sister.

As a child, Snape developed a habit of treating Petunia with condescension. More often than not, he would mock Petunia as a pure Muggle, even in the presence of Lily. Snape is shown as someone who despised all non-magical people, but he only articulated it towards Petunia in the beginning of his story.

At Hogwarts, Snape is sorted into the Slytherin house, where he befriends a gang of Dark Magic practitioner, a group that would later become the first Death Eaters after graduating from Hogwarts. Lily confronts Snape concerning his choices. He appears gentle but does not disprove her allegations of him being a racist who would like to join Voldemort after his graduation from Hogwarts.

Snape joins the Death Eaters after Hogwarts, participating fully in all actions they were doing. He kills, maims, and tortures in the name of Lord Voldemort. When Lily Evans gets threatened, however, Snape intervenes and pleads to Albus Dumbledore to sympathize with her family.

Dumbledore can’t defend the family, but he assigns Snape to become a double agent for the Order of the Phoenix, a resistance movement that arose during the first Wizarding War. Its key objective is to stop Lord Voldemort along with his minions.

Snape is shown to protect Harry throughout the novels, although he also seems to be a bully who antagonizes Harry throughout his school years. It’s only in the final book where he is revealed to be performing the true, noble task he was allocated by Dumbledore.

Therefore, Severus Snape was born a villain but died a hero. He is the most complicated character in the entire series, and trying to fit him into either of the two categories is impossible. Severus Snape is a multifaceted character; hence neither a villain nor a hero.