I Still Despise Snape
It has been said time and time again, but I think it deserves repeating: I loathe Severus Snape. Perhaps I don’t detest him to the same level as I do Umbridge or Voldemort, but he’s certainly up there. When I was younger and reading the series for the first time, I hated Snape with the same childish abhorrence that is usually reserved for peas and other green vegetables that parents force on their kids. Over time, I began to see that Snape had what even I would have to call “redeeming qualities,” and my hatred began to die away. I’ve finally decided that I agree with a 2015 tweet from J.K. Rowling: “Snape is all grey.” That being said, in my opinion, he is a very, very, very dark gray – almost black even.
Many Snape supporters like to point out that, in the end, he saved Harry’s life. Others will point to the fact that he risked his life to infiltrate Voldemort’s inner circle. The most cited example, however, is that he was only mean to Harry because he was harboring resentment toward James.
Now, I can’t deny any of these facts, but I don’t see how this could ever eradicate the myriad of other petty, ridiculous, and perhaps even illegal things he has done to Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom, and basically any other non-Slytherin student. For one thing, he didn’t try to save Harry out of the goodness of his heart but to repay a debt. Furthermore, he originally infiltrated the Death Eaters out of opportunity rather than a real desire to do good. Still, even I cannot deny the good in the results.
The thing that makes me hate Snape the most, though, is his simple disrespect for the students. Look, I’m no saint, so it is not like I can comment on Snape holding childhood grudges for decades, but I can criticize him for letting it cloud his teaching. For seven years, he torments Neville to the point that Neville’s worst fear in life is Snape. As hysterical as it was to see Alan Rickman dressed up as Neville’s gran, it is still a terrible realization. During that same time (and for undoubtedly longer), Snape ruthlessly picked on students in classes, ignored Slytherin students’ behavior, and indulged deplorable behavior by his favorite students. From ignoring eye-witness claims that Draco Malfoy cast the teeth enlargement spell on Hermione to being disappointed when he did not kill a student’s pet, Snape’s behavior is something that would have gotten him fired from any nonmagic school.
One of the other truly insane things about Snape is his obsession with Lily Evans. His childhood friendship with Lily was obviously invaluable, but by the time they began to grow up, Snape became the guy who always complained about being in the so-called “friend zone.” Hate me all you want, but his lifelong devotion was not as admirable as it seemed. It is one thing to mourn the loss of youthful love; it is another thing to actively seek to ruin her future happiness. And yet that is exactly what Snape did. He joined the Death Eaters, and upon discovering that Voldemort was after the supposed love of his life, he fought for Lily’s safety and hers alone, ignoring her husband’s and baby’s. Then, he let his anger simmer for ten years until he could take it out on Harry, the innocent bystander.
Let me be clear, though. Even Snape’s terrible and sometimes childish behavior cannot outweigh the good he did. In the same way, the sacrifices he made do not make up for his atrocious actions. This is really important to understanding Snape and maybe even human nature, but I digress. Essentially, the duality of Snape is something that cannot be ignored and really should be considered before proclaiming him a great hero. That being said, however, I still really despise Snape.