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Severus Snape: The Man Behind the Mystery

By Devina (The Charmed One)

    He’s possibly the most hated teacher of all…Severus Snape. There’s no doubt that he loathes Harry in particular, all Gryffindors in general, but favors students from Slytherin.

    He was definitely considered flat-out evil until the revelation that he was a member of the Order. Although it didn’t help that he was a Death-Eater before that.

    We don’t know much about his childhood, but we can hazard a guess, basing them on the information we have through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry saw that, and I quote, “a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy cried in a corner…a greasy-haired teenager sat alone in a dark bedroom, pointing his wand at the ceiling, shooting down flies…a girl was laughing as a scrawny boy tried to mount a bucking broomstick” When I read this, I stopped. I simply couldn’t believe it. Could the boy be Snape? Was there a deeper reason for his evil behaviour? Was he a victim of circumstances?

    It’s quite obvious that Snape had an awful time at home. I’m guessing the hook-nosed man was either his father or an uncle. Most likely the father. His parents never got along and he was made to suffer. I think it’s the reason why Snape tried to excel in school. Also, his deep interest in the Dark Arts could also be explained through this. I think Snape hated his father for treating his mother in such a manner and childishly decided he would take revenge on him someday. Being a wizard, what better way than to learn hexes, curses and the like?

    It didn’t help that, at Hogwarts, he was sorted into Slytherin. I’ve referred to this in a previous article: sorting him into Slytherin was like giving him the license to behave in whatever way he wanted to.

    Besides, he wasn’t really accepted in school either. We don’t know much about his relations with his house members, but we do know he was lonely. We know that after the all-important OWLs, instead of hanging out with his friends, as you’d expect a normal 15 year old to do, he went through his paper. Alone. Besides, if he weren’t lonely, why would he sit alone in room shooting down flies? Wouldn’t he send owls to his friends? Reading their letters? Perhaps even getting together with a friend to play wizard chess, practice Quidditch? I can guess that he learnt how to fly a broom at school…he wasn’t very good at it, thus explaining part of his hatred for James’ arrogance over his special abilities. It couldn’t have contributed to his self-esteem with people laughing at him, teasing him and making him the butt of all jokes.

    Things like this do tend to make a person feel bitter and revengeful. Honestly speaking, don’t blame Snape for taking points off Gryffindors. Blame the Marauders. Yeah, I’m not kidding around here. I mean it. He’s just channeling his hatred for them by taking it out on their house, namely, Gryffindor.

    Ok, so we know that his life at Hogwarts was pretty much miserable. What happened after that? We have the knowledge that he was a Death-Eater, a servant of Lord Voldemort. Why?

    Power and ambition? Perhaps. He wasn’t a very popular figure at school, never had power there…Voldemort must have been enticing people to join his ranks based on some reward. What corrupts people better than power, money, and ambition?

    It’s a distinct possibility however; that he joined the Death-Eaters the same reason Sirius’s brother did…to uphold the purity of blood among wizards. We have already witnessed him being one of the wizards who abused Muggle-borns by calling them Mudbloods.

    There is a chance he was an undercover operative for the Order. The Order was most probably formed after Voldemort came to power. It’s true we don’t know when exactly Snape joined them, but he could have been the perfect agent. He was known among the Hogwarts School for being an expert with the Dark Arts. It would make sense that he would be accepted into the Death-eater fold. Plus he hated James Potter, who in their right mind would think of Snape helping him?

    But there came a time when Snape left Voldemort’s fold. According to Dumbledore, he left just before Voldemort’s downfall and turned spy for the good side. That does, in a way, put rest the theory that he joined the Death-Eaters as a spy from the beginning. But he did turn spy. Why?

    Maybe he realized what Voldemort was doing was basically mass genocide (Uh, I know that ‘genocide’ essentially implies mass destruction of a particular race of people; just added the extra ‘mass’ to emphasize his brutality).

    Lily Evans, a central character in this story. What did Snape feel for her? How does she enter into his decision? If she had anything to do with his decision, it was because she was the only one who treated him with emotions besides contempt and loathing. Another idea that does come to my mind, is that Voldemort might have threatened to or carried out some harm to someone Snape cared about? Lily? Perhaps.

    So what is Snape doing now? He’s teaching Potions at Hogwarts and is constantly applying for the DADA position. For all we know, he could be it next year! *shudders* He’s also an Order member and that somehow redeems him.

    But the thing that has been on almost everyone’s mind is what did Dumbledore ask Snape to do? Quite a few people think he’s infiltrated Voldy Hood and his merry gang of Death-Eaters. But for some reason, I can’t really agree with that.

    In Goblet of Fire, Voldemort mentions that there was one who had left him forever and one who was too cowardly to return. Most likely, the one who had left him forever was Snape. Voldemort mentioned that he would pay for that. Voldemort isn’t the sort to forgive and forget. Note that he was cruel even to Wormtail who returned to him later. Voldemort would probably sniff out any sort of spying tactics on Snape’s part, unless Snape was a double agent all along. But that theory is pretty weak.

    No, Snape must have done something else. But what? Hopefully, the next book can give us some sort of clue.

    Till the next article, adios!

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