Harry Potter was one of the best things that happened during my adolescence. I adore and admire all the characters of the book, and still crave to be a part of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Not to mention, even now I read/watch the series whenever I can.
Each time that I revisit Harry Potter series, I think that The Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra is Rowling’s version of Aabra Ka Daabra and the film-makers were highly inspired by the Old Age TV Mahabharat, which I used to watch every Sunday, when I was a child. 😀
As each Harry Potter fan has a favourite character, I too have one – somehow it is not Harry – or Hermoine – or Ron, it is Professor Severus Snape. The lanky haired, complex, cold, mean and aggressive Snape! That tough exterior hid a soft heart that forever loved Lily Evans and a person who was forever scorned and bullied by peers. A hero who suffers more than the world knows, makes all the difference in the lives of the wizard world and, receives no credit for it. He undergoes shame and slander just to fulfil his promise made for love.
I love the way Snape’s character grows darker in each of the series but ends shining, with his death, he becomes glorified in the minds of the viewers.
The “Half-Blood Prince”, offspring of a witch and a Muggle, had a sad life all through his existence. A troubled childhood, fighting parents, jilted love and disrespect by classmates is what he received in his life. He had no friends, the friends of the girl he loved made fun of him, how difficult would it have been for him to survive! The only thing that he had was his acumen, and he put it to best use to become an extremely skilful wizard. Although, he was genius as a Potion’s Master at Hogwarts, he always craved to teach Defence against the Dark Arts, but he wasn’t seen worthy for it. You can add it to the long list of woes he had.
It was an obvious decision for him to follow the Dark Lord and become a Death Eater. He was the person who was loved by none, had no friends; he chose the ones who made his existence feel worthy. He was a flawed human being. His choices took him away from his only love interest and he became a catalyst in her nemesis – but not any of it was intentional.
The whole of Harry Potter series is based on pillars of love, friendship and choices. Harry Potter, Lord Voldemort and Severus Snape are the three people who from their lives show the different outcome of each. All three of them possess equal strength and intelligence, however, Harry comes out victorious because of the choices he made and the bond he shares with his friends and dead parents. Voldemort didn’t value any of these, he wished to be a lone King, and Snape wasn’t lucky enough to have any good friend, he made a wrong choice, however, he realised it and chose love, no matter how unrequited it was.
The love of his life was killed by Voldemort because of him, in a bid to ingratiate himself with him. As soon as he realised he has been the doom in her life, he pleaded to Dumbledore to save her, who in return asked him to work for him, and spy on Voldemort, therefore Snape become a double agent. Notwithstanding Dumbledore’s greatest efforts to protect the Potters, Lily and James died. Snape was shattered and distraught, but Dumbledore urged him to ensure Harry’s safety out of respect for Lily’s memory. Snape dedicated the rest of his life to protect and train Harry in spite of the fact that he did not like him. When Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts, Severus was torn by his close likeness to James, and his eyes which so resembled Lily’s. He was driven by his hatred of James, and tormented Harry throughout his years at Hogwarts. One can find some validation in Harry’s alikeness to his father, and his disrespect for the rules. How torturous had it been to Snape – James Potter all over again!
Imagine how difficult it had been for him to protect and save someone who reminded him of the person he hated the most, and also the person he loved the most. For most part, he kept his love strong and did his best to train Harry the arts of wizandry, hidden behind the wall of sarcasm. His biggest challenge was to hide his mind from Voldemort, had he known what Snape was up to everything would have been destroyed. Also, he had to teach Harry Occlumency, to shut down the telepathic connection between him and Voldemort. During one of those times, Harry reads his mind and sees how his father used to torment Snape, funny that didn’t change Harry’s mind-set about him!
An interesting parallel between Harry and Snape can be seen here – Snape’s hatred for James Potter didn’t stop Snape from becoming a skilful wizard but Harry’s loathing of Snape stopped him from learning the very things that only Snape was capable of teaching him.
In every series, barring the end, Snape caused nuisance for Harry and his friends, which makes everyone mad at Snape. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; where Dumbledore tells Snape that the Harry has to die in the end, Snape snaps out at him and the following conversation happens:
Snape, “I have spied for you, and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter –”
“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”
“For him? shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!”
This is where I feel, he had developed liking for Harry but didn’t want to admit (even to himself). And we all know how manipulating Dumbledore was; to avoid any speculations on his love for Harry he castes the ‘Doe’ with the Patronus spell. The casting of the Patronus charm lights up the softness of Snape’s character. WHY – He still loves Lily and is ready to do anything for her, like protecting her son & keeping him alive. LOVE is the most important thing for him, he is sacrificing everything he has for it, a love which will never come back to him, no matter what he does! It shows the vulnerable side of his, he is deeply pained to realise that Harry has to die, yet he could cast the Patronus charm – mind you, which can only be cast keeping in mind the happiest thoughts from one’s life. Snape’s Patronus was a doe, just like Lily’s, showing that his love for her was far stronger than his allegiance to Lord Voldemort. [Snape was the only Death Eater who was able to perform a Patronus.] This is proof enough that not only Snapes was incredibly talented but also his love goes past information – he comes to know about Harry’s death – still his love remains deep within him. His love is connected to joy – joy for the capability to love the one that is in his heart. It is this love that fetches enough delight, to produce a Patronus. Isn’t that brilliant!
Severus Snape was an interesting character who truly represented the constant theme of Harry Potter series that love has the power to redeem us. A dark character, who for his love was inspired to do good deed in the world instead of allowing his tough past to justify his evil actions; Voldemort lacked this essential transformative love, or, any kind of love for that matter. The Malfoys were one set of dreadful people who were redeemed by the love they had for one another.
Severus Snape is one of the strongest characters of the whole series, and it feels sad to see that he doesn’t even get an apt recognition for his heroic deeds. His character remains mysterious till the very end.
Well, it may have escaped your notice, but life isn’t fair.
A day after I wrote this post, Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman, the superb actor who immortalised the character of Professor Severus Snape on-screen, passed away.
Though, nothing can fill the void that you have left, you will be in our hearts…