In fiction, hatred is a great and captivating tool that can be used in any number of ways. The hatred that the villain no doubt harnesses to power his or her evilness is one example. Another example lies in the use of hatred as a captivation tool. There are many examples of authors creating characters who are so despicable, so unlikable, that the reader can do nothing but hate them. Or at least, that would be the case for most normal people.
Severus Snape is one such character. The man, if you can call him that, bullied an 11-year-old boy simply because he looked like his father. Snape was a Death Eater and was one of the people responsible for the death of James and Lily Potter. Yet those aren’t the things that stick with me about him the most.
In Goblet of Fire, Hermione is accidentally hit with a curse that made her front teeth grow uncontrollably. By all accounts, this was a painful and highly embarrassing curse. In what universe would a teacher look at that and say “I see no difference?” How can you not hate the man at that moment? There are innumerable other examples of this throughout canon that make Snape a thoroughly despicable character.
Yet, by the epilogue, Harry has named one of his sons after the man. Albus Severus Potter. When you’re a bad person, one good service does not make you redeemable. It just doesn’t. Darth Vader was an evil asshole in Star Wars. Refusing to kill his own son at the end of the trilogy does not erase the millions of people he ordered killed. The same with Snape. Just because he gave Harry some memories (which incidentally caused Harry to walk to his death, not something that Snape would cry about), doesn’t make him a good man.
Did he do good things? Well, outside of first-year where he prevented Harry from falling from his broom (which he was only marginally successful at), I’d have to argue no. Did he prevent Harry from getting injured by Voldemort at the end of books 1, 2 and 4? No. Did he do anything but hinder Harry at the end of book 3? No. In book five he apparently took hours to alert the Order of the Pheonix when Harry took off to the MoM (after all the kids flew to London which would have taken hours, yet the Order was still late in getting there). At the end of book six, he kills Dumbledore. Sure Dumbles asked him to do so, but he still did it. Moreover, he did it with an AK, which we know requires an immense amount of hatred in order to cast properly.
So what good did he do? Well, he didn’t support Voldemort. Bully for him, I guess. Should his betrayal of old Voldie really erase all the sins that came while he was a death muncher? Maybe. I can see that. I can see his spying as a good thing. However, does it excuse all of the bad things he did after he crossed sides? No. No, it doesn’t.
He still treated Harry and every non-Slytherin like trash. He still was a terrible teacher. And he still was a despicable human being all around. What on Earth did he do to redeem himself beside not supporting a terrorist (which should not be the high bar on being a good person, BTW)? The answer has to be nothing, it just does. And because of that Albus Severus Potter is horribly named.
If we look at the world of Fanfiction, there are a lot of Snape supporters out there. This has always intrigued me, so I looked at a few of these stories. The few that I’ve been able to stomach are stories where Snape isn’t anything like he is in canon or he is just playing a role. In these cases, he can be a good character. That being said, I still don’t consider him a favorite of mine.
I’m well known for my inability to see redemption in bad people (cough*Draco Malfoy*cough). No matter my views, it seems pretty hard to make the pairing of Snape/Hermione or Snape/Harry fit into a proper scenario that both makes sense and is fun to read. Not only is he way too old (seriously, pedophile much Mr.Snape?), but he isn’t a good person! Maybe in a world where Harry or Hermione are evil too, it might work, but as they are portrayed in canon? It makes no sense, and it never will. At least for me.
Severus Snape may be the most hated character in the HP Universe. He’s JKR’s tool for creating conflict between Harry and everything that is Slytherin House (along with Mafloy). She wanted Harry to consider Slytherins evil scumbags. Snape, as Head of House, is the biggest tool she had to have that narrative flow throughout the books. His whole “redemption” at the end of book 7 has always seemed to be a tacked on. LIke, “Oh yeah, Snape is good after all, just ignore all the crappy things he did during books 1-6.”
I’ll never like Snape in canon or in fanfiction. What about you? Do you have strong feelings about Snape’s character? Let me know in the comments below!