What’s Eating Snape?
by Sarah and Jackie
After Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Severus Snape became nothing but an extremely bad-tempered professor with a particular loathing for Harry. After we found out that he actually saved Harry during the Quidditch match, we automatically assumed that he was a good guy who was just overly grumpy. But we never did find out what was really going on with him. We acknowledged this, and, being the Harry Potter freaks that we both are, decided to figure out exactly what the deal was. After a long discussion and a look through the books, we came to a conclusion. Snape is just evil. Now, we know what youre thinking, of course Snape is evil, I could have told you that. But we don’t mean evil in an ”I’m just a grumpy jerk and I had a terrible childhood and now I’m going to take it out on you” type way. We mean actually, truly evil.
First of all, why does Snape hate Harry so much? JKR wants us to assume that it is because of Harry’s father – that Snape hated James, and now he hates Harry. But this theory does not seem logical. If you look back at all the people that Snape has ever loathed, his reasons are very obvious – anyone in his position would hate them too. For example, Snape hates James, Sirius and Lupin because they teased and taunted him, and basically made his school life hell. Snape hated Lockhart, but Lockhart was an arrogant git, and everybody hated him (except Hermione). Snape hated Umbridge, but once again, Umbridge was a total cow and nobody liked her either. The point is that in Snape’s position, most of us would have the same feelings towards the same people. But why Harry? Harry has never done anything to Snape personally, and the logic behind Snape hating James does not seem to be enough to justify his hatred for Harry simply by association.
Secondly, we have always assumed that Snape is just a really nasty good guy – that just has a miserable personality. Why else would he have saved Harry’s life in the first book? But this assumption doesnt seem to mesh with the evidence. Snape is constantly referred to as evil, he is always affiliated with the Dark Arts, and he even calls Voldemort the Dark Lord, something that even Harry points out is a sign of a Death Eater. Snape even was a Death Eater at one point. We know that Dumbledore trusts him for reasons unknown, but Dumbledore has never been the best judge of character (i.e. Quirrell and Moody the impostor). Dumbledore can be too trusting, and this has led to problems in many of the books.
A huge coincidence (or is it?) that we noticed involves Harry’s escapade into Snape’s Pensieve (in OoTP) and an event at the World Cup (in GoF):
James whirled about; a second flash of light later, Snape was hanging upside down in the air, his robes falling over his head to reveal skinny, pallid legs and a pair of greying underpants. Many people in the small crowd cheered; Sirius, James and Wormtail roared with laughter.
Order of the Phoenix, UK version, page 570 – 571
One of the marchers below flipped Mrs Roberts upside down with his wand; her nightdress fell down to reveal voluminous drawers; she struggled to cover herself up as the crowd below her screeched and hooted with glee.
Goblet of Fire, UK version, page 108
We all have realized by now that there are no coincidences in J.K.R.’s books. So what does this mean? The most logical explanation is that Snape was one of the hooded Death Eaters at the World Cup. After all, what cures humiliation better than humiliating someone else? And this is just too much of a coincidence to be ignored. J.K.R. said in an interview that we shouldn’t feel too sorry for Snape (although many people’s reaction after reading the fifth book was to do just that).
The way that Rowling writes involves a lot of distraction tactics. There have been many cases that she has mentioned something and never fully explained it, but one of her greatest talents as a writer is that she does it in such a way that the reader tends to either forget about it or just accept it as normal. For example, in the first book, the name Nicholas Flamel is mentioned, and then quickly forgotten. It becomes much more relevant later on, and the readers find themselves asking why didnt I catch that??. Snape is like Flamel, except he is mentioned a lot more and in greater detail, but we have never reached the part where we figure out his purpose. We are so used to Snape’s attitude and character that we forget the fact that we have never been given an explanation. Snape has been the evil good guy for five books, and it has gotten to the point that readers are so used to it that they don’t even wonder why.
OUR THEORY – Snape is still a Death Eater
Reasons for it
– We already mentioned that Snape is constantly affiliated with the Dark Arts. We know he has been trying to get the DADA position for years. Sirius says in the fourth book:
Ever since I found out Snape was teaching here, I’ve wondered why Dumbledore hired him. Snape’s always been fascinated by the Dark Arts, he was famous for it at school. Slimy, oily, greasy haired kid he was … Snape knew more curses when he arrived at school than half the kids in seventh year and he was part of a gang of Slytherins who nearly all turned out to be Death Eaters… Snape’s certainly clever and cunning enough to keep himself out of trouble.
Goblet of Fire, UK version, page 460-461
The Ultimate Guide to Harry Potter,by Galadriel Waters, says that if J.K.R. repeats it, then it is important, and J.K.R. has been repeating Snape’s affiliation with the Dark Arts since book 1.
– As also mentioned, Snape still refers to Voldemort as the Dark Lord, something which only Death Eaters seem to do.
– Snape hates two students more than any other at Hogwarts; Harry and Neville. As we said, Snape does not hate people without good reason. What connection do Harry and Neville share? One of them can kill Voldemort, the other one could have. Both of them are mentioned in the prophecy as potential threats to Voldemort. If Snape is indeed a Death Eater, then he only knows the part of the prophecy that Voldemort knows – that is, either Harry or Neville had the power to kill Voldemort.
– The World Cup – Pensieve connection. It is likely that Snape could have been the Death Eater who sent Mrs Roberts upside down in the air.
Contradictions to our Theory
-Voldemort says the following at the end of GoF:
One, who I believe has left me forever — he will be killed, of course…
Goblet of Fire, UK version, page 565
We are assuming that he is referring to Snape. If our theory is true, then why would Voldemort hate Snape so much?
Rebuttal: If you consider all the people that we know are Death Eaters, many of them have tried to prove to Voldemort that they are the most loyal of them all. For example, Bartemus Crouch Jr. worked at Hogwarts for a year in disguise just to prove his worth to Voldemort. Wormtail chops off his own hand just to show Voldemort how loyal he is. It seems to be a running competition amongst the Death Eaters concerning who is the most loyal and devoted to Voldemort and his cause. Snape could simply be winning.
It is possible that Snape managed to get everybody to think that he was on Dumbledores side, even Voldemort himself. If you consider the position that Snape is in, he has access to any and all information that Voldemort could need – he knows the secrets of the Order, Dumbledore, Hogwarts, and Harry. This could all just be Snape’s coup de grace. If he goes back to Voldemort with this wealth of information about the enemy, he would be honoured above all the other Death Eaters. We all know that one of Snape’s most defining characteristics (other than the fact that hes a complete ass) is his intelligence. He could pull it off.
– Dumbledore trusts Snape, for reasons that we have yet to find out. Dumbledore is usually right in his assumptions, so how could Snape be a Death Eater?
Rebuttal: Snape is an expert Occlumens, which seals the mind against magical intrusion and influence (OotP, UK version, p. 468). If someone uses Leglimency against him, he would be able to lie effectively, and never be caught.
We realise that some of this theory sounds like we are reaching a bit, but everything seems to add up. There are some holes in the fine points, but basically, we think were on to something here. If anyone has any comments or questions, please email us at email@example.com