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Harry Potter and Severus Snape: Analysis and Comparison of the Two Characters

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A character that I found to be of the same importance in the entire Harry Potter series other than Harry Potter is Severus Snape. Both of these characters share a unique love/hate relationship within the entire series. The interaction of love/hate between both these characters is seen since the first book Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. To readers, that isn’t even the start between how long the history of love/hate the Potters and Snape have in the series. Since Severus Snape was a young boy, he had a deep emotional attachment for the mother of Harry Potter, Lily Potter. This deep emotional attachment to Harry’s mother will soon be the main cause of

why Snape has such hatred but love for Harry with risking his own life and soon dying later in the series to defeat Voldemort. A confused, young, and curious Harry takes all these actions all the wrong way which makes him despise Snape for almost the whole series. A relationship built of deep secrets and miscommunication makes a very emotional and detailed friendship. The more continuations of the books we got, the more detail we are given about why and how Snape does what he does in the series for the pure love he as for “the boy” Harry Potter and his mother Lily Potter. Severus Snape and Harry Potter have a long history among one another that is built of hate, love, and Lily Evans Potter that at the end of the series builds one of the strongest bonds among most characters.

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In the first book and movie Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, the first interaction between Harry and Snape is introduced by hate. The first interaction among them two is when Snape asks Harry “Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” (Rowling 544). To the reader that text may just be a way to humiliate Harry the first day of school in front of all his classmates as he obviously wouldn’t know the answer but the meaning is deeper later in the series. Harry immediately dislikes Snape due to his unfair treatment and cold demeanor thinking just simply that he hates popular kids. In the book The Order of the Phoenix, Harry’s hate for Snape increases as he blames Snape for Sirius’s death, concluding that his baiting Sirius made him wait too long for Sirius to die. The blame of Sirius’s death comes right after Snape taunts Harry with his worst memories with the spell Protego. In the book, “Reading Harry Potter Again”‘ by Giselle Anatol she states, “he tells Harry cruel part-truths about his father in order to wound him— ugly” (81 Anatol). In the book The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, Harry’s Hatred for Snape grows beyond hate. Snape makes it clear that he could care less about the death of Sirius in a disrespectful way. Once Snape kills Dumbledore, Harry’s hatred for him, according to J.K., now most likely surpasses his hatred for Voldemort himself. After Snape kills Dumbledore, Harry was casting spells at him. In the book, the Half-Blood Prince Harry states “fight back you coward” (Rowling 604) to Snape and “his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning house behind them—”(Rowling 604) Snape then states “DONT—CALL ME COWARD!” (Rowling 604). Harry swears to kill Snape for everything he has done.

In the final book The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, it is clear that Harry has more hatred for Snape more than Voldemort. Moments such as chapter 9 “A Place to Hide” in where it becomes the highest point of hatred Harry ever had for Snape by becoming obsessed with meeting Snape again. The hatred among both Harry and Snape shows character growth that would lastly tight up the entire series.

The first sign of love between Snape and Harry is seen in the first book and movie Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. During the Quidditch game, there was a conflict where Harry’s broom was under a spell and Harry first thought it was Snape as he was mouthing spells. He learns late in the book that Snape was placing a “counter curse” against Quirinus Quarrell protecting Harry. When Dumbledore tells Snape that a part of Voldemort lives in Harry and for Voldemort to die, Harry must die, first he reacts with “I thought… all these years… that we were protecting him for her. For Lily” (Rowling 182). Snape then becomes more aggressive telling Dumbledore “You have kept him alive so that he can die at the right moment? —You have used me” (183). After he becomes more emotional for Harry’s wellbeing stating, “I have spied for you and lied for you, put me 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—”(Rowling 185). Dumbledore then questions Snape on how he truly feels after all these books, “have you grown to care for the boy, after all?” (185). In book 7, The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, the hatred Harry has for Snape continues until the final few chapters when he learns of Snape’s role and his dedication to his mother. From that point forth, he does his best to publicly clear Snape. Harry knows what Snape truly is and what he’s done, but understands that Snape is the result of bad circumstances that weren’t too different from what he went through. In the novel “Methods of Rationality” by Eliezer Yudkowsky he states some information about Snape being “he was a double agent, Snape lives lies within lies for seventeen years, risking everything for good as he once did for evil as a Death Eater” (81 Yudkowsky). Harry finally realizing this lasted him his whole life with him having a baby boy and naming him “Albus Severus Potter” and he states “you were named after two headmasters of Hogwarts, one of them was a Slytherin and he was the bravest man I’ve ever know” (Rowling 9).

The history between Harry and Snape goes past Harry’s existence when Snape was a young child. The biggest difference of an intermedial perspective from the novels to books of Harry Potter is all the background information about Snape and Lily Potter that the movies leave out. In the novel, we are informed that by the age of 10, Snape found Lily Evans as she lived near him and watched her from a distance and discovered that she was in fact a witch. They both ended up going to Hogwarts together but then were divided by Snape being chosen to be a part of Slytherin and Lily Gryffindor. One day Snape overheard a conversation between Sybill Trelawney and Dumbledore in which Lonny foretold of a prophecy that would later be associated with Harry and Voldemort. He goes to Voldemort and tells him of the prophecy. Voldemort knew it had to be about Harry or Neville and he decides to go after Harry Potter. In the article “Harry Potter Fans and Severus Snape: A Love-Hate Relationship”. he states what Snape had in mind as a Death Eater stating “he felt as he had the magical power to take his cult-leader Voldemort down, and vowed to Dumbledore that he would do “anything” to keep Lily safe” (3 Dahlenburg) . When Lily died, Snape states in the Prisoner of Azkaban, “he looked like a man who had lived a hundred years of misery” (Rowling 203). Snape kept saving harry all year and Dumbledore believes it’s his way of making him and James even after saving him all those years. “then he could go back to hating your father’s memory in peace” (Rowling 217). James’ best friend Remus Lupin was a werewolf and was brought out to the shrieking shack where he would transform. Snape was very interested in where Lupin was going every month and serious code Snape or the entrance to the shack was and how to get passed the tree. He followed series instructions and when he was almost at the shack, James grabbed him at great personal risk of his own and saved Snape from being killed by the Lupin. Snape refused to admit he did it for him but rather to save his and his friend’s own necks. He was very upset that he was in James’s debt. He talks to Dumbledore about how he told Voldemort to spare Lily’s life and Dumbledore responds “you disgust me — you do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?” (Rowling 219). In the book, “Ravenclaw Reader”. by John Pazdziora he dives into Harry’s relationship with death by stating “Harry Potter is about love and death, but if I had to choose one over the other, I’d say the books are about death” (31 Pazdziora). Until the last two movies of the Deathly Hallows is when we are given what is interrupted by the books. Voldemort needs to kill Snape to be the true owner of the elder wand with his snake Snape spoke “juvie” Harry was in his invisibility cloak and saw him dead. Snape tears of memories which make Harry realize the truth that he was a triple agent, that he was always loyal to Dumbledore, the truth that Harry must die for Voldemort to die, and the truth that Snape loved Harry’s mother “The green eyes found the black, but after a second, something in the depths of the dark pair seemed to vanish, leaving them fixed, blank, and empty. The hand holding Harry thudded to the floor, and Snape moved no more”. (Rowling 571) The movie version does an excellent job of transforming the text into the big screen with the same emotions as in the book. As I read Deathly Hallows for the first time I always had Allan Rickman and Daniel Radcliffe in my mind when this scene happened and to see it on the big screen for the first time was a dream to me.

The hatred and love Harry and Snape have for one another is a long history that is surrounded by Lily Potter which creates one of the most emotional bonds in the entire series. From the first to the last book and movie by J.K. Rowling, the hatred between both Harry and Snape was seen in every novel from the biggest situation to the smallest. But every action that was done among the two was done in some way or form to build one another characters and defeat Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Snape’s bravery was not taken for granted by having Harry finally finding out his reasoning for everything he had done since he first met him at Hogwarts. After Harry saw the memories Snape wanted him to see, his respect for the man grew and he learned to love Snape. The memories brought Harry back to his mother Lily Potter and the importance she was to Snape and him. In conclusion, Snape could be seen more as a father figure that Harry never had, and Harry can be seen as the son Snape never had.

Work Cited

  1. Anatol, Giselle. “Reading Harry Potter Again”. New Critical Essays. Press 2015
  2. Dahlenburg, Meg. “Harry Potter Fans and Severus Snape: A Love-Hate Relationship”. The Isthmus, 4 June 2017,
  3. www.theisthmus.com.au/2017/06/harry-potter-fans-and-severus-snape-a-love-hate-relationship/.
  4. Pazdziora, John. “Ravenclaw Reader”. The St Andrews University Harry Potter Conference, 17 November 2015
  5. Yudkowsky, Eliezer. “Methods of Rationality”. LessWrong. Press 2016
  6. Books: Sorcerers Stone, Order of Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
  7. Movies: Deathly Hallows Pt1 & Pt 2

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