Severus Snape has been lobbying for the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher since the beginning of the books, but Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster, refuses to give it to him. His reasoning is not directly explained, but the simplest answer is that Snape is the best Potions teacher they've ever had and would be hard to replace if he took a different role.

He is unfair in his treatment of students, penalizing those of Gryffindor in every way he can think of (in once case, he docked them points because Hermione Granger helped Neville Longbottom fix his potion, but he would have docked some anyway and hurt Neville's toad if she had not) and showing favoritism to those of Slytherin, his own house.

Although he is a very suspicious and underhanded person, Snape is completely loyal to Hogwarts and to the good side. In Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, the kids suspected him of working with Voldemort, but it turned out he not only wasn't, but he was actively trying to stop the person who was.
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In the movie, he is played by Alan Rickman. He has straight black hair, nearly shoulder-length, and shifty eyes. His movements are fluid and sneaky, rather like a snake.

Professor Severus Snape is Hogwarts' Potions teacher and the head of the Slytherin house. Snape has a habit of favouring Slytherin students over students from other houses, making the lives of Gryffindor students a living hell. But he also has a habit of making Harry Potter's life miserable whenever he can. He does not achieve it often, but he sure tries.

Snape's favourite student is Draco Malfoy, son of evil Death Eater Lucius Malfoy. He helps the boy in everyway he can if the prize is humiliating Harry and his friends (and also getting some more points for Slytherin, on account of the Cup of Houses).

ATTENTION: MAJOR SPOILERS from Books of the Harry Potter series

Even though Snape's got the perfect look and attitude to fit the big bad villain's part, he actually saves Harry's life on the first book. He gives Harry and his friends Hermione, Ron and Neville a hard time though. They hate him and are usually suspicious of him, even after the life-saving episode. The children are, of course, quite right to be suspicious.

On the fourth book, we find out he was one of the Death Eaters, the followers of Lord Voldemort, but only for a short time. He came back to the "good side" before Voldemort's fall and was a spy for the Ministry of Magic in the meantime. Voldemort's feelings towards Snape are not clear though, as the Hogwarts Professor becomes a spy for Dumbledore once more when the Order of the Phoenix returns in book 5. The author does not make it clear what kind of spy work Snape does nor if he even actually pretends to rejoin Voldemort. But Dumbledore keeps on trusting him and, in the end of Book 5, Snape actually tries to help Harry and Sirius before the whole Ministry of Magic tragic episode. Snape also becomes Harry's Occlumency teacher.

That's how we get a glimpse of Snape's years as a student at Hogwarts. He was the enemy of Sirius Black (Harry's godfather and best friend of James Potter, Harry's father), Remus Lupin, Peter Petigrew and James Potter himself. Sirius, who was one of the few to know that Lupin was a werewolf, tried to trick Snape into "bumping into" Lupin on a full moon. Obviously, after being saved by James Potter, Snape wasn't too happy about Sirius' clear attempt of murder. During one of the Occlumency's classes, Harry manages to see one of Snape's memories. J.K. Rowling also takes us thru an episode when Sirius and James taunt Snape for the (apparently) simple fact that he exists. Lily, future wife of James and Harry's mother, is seen to defend Snape and show deep anger towards James. However, Snape calls her mudblood and she becomes angry at all of them.

Snape was played on the Harry Potter movie series by brilliant english actor Alan Rickman. Rickman managed to *become* Snape so perfectly that it's hard to read the books and not visualize Rickman's face and style.

Return to The Harry Potter Project.

Well, first off, spoilers ahead, as they say on the internet. If you are one of the three remaining people who have not read the Harry Potter series, but plan to, then don't read this.

I have written before that the Harry Potter books are occasionally marred by the presence of gimmicks and hand waving to move the stories along. And yet, there are parts of the books that are written with great authenticity and subtlety, and the character of Severus Snape is one of those high points. Throughout the first six books, the motivations and characteristics of Snape are called into question, with hints and red herrings being brought up in every book as to whether Snape is a double agent, a triple agent, or something else entirely. Snape has a pathological dislike for Harry and his friends, has admitted to having practiced the Dark Arts and being a follower of Lord Voldemort, and generally being unpleasant and angry. And yet Albus Dumbledore, the wisest of the wizards, trusts him implicitly, and states so over and over. Up until the end of the sixth book, when Snape kills Dumbledore, seemingly in cold blood.

And just when the mystery is closed, it is reopened up in the final chapters of the last book: Snape was not evil at all, but was a deep cover agent working for Dumbledore, who killed Dumbledore on his own orders to preserve his cover, and because Dumbledore was doomed by a curse to die soon. And Snape's motivation for rebelling against Voldemort was a long-burning love for Harry's mother---whose death he had inadvertently caused, giving him a mixture of fierce loyalty to the downfall of Voldemort, and a good amount of self-loathing, as well as paradoxically placed loathing for Harry. All of which, if it doesn't make sense here, makes sense after reading the books, and in retrospect. While this sounds like a cavalscade of information in summary, it is all subtly and artfully laid out in the books.

In addition to being a tortured soul, there is another important fact about Snape, and the reason that I held to him being good all along, was that Snape was really smart. This is an important point, because while most of the Death Eaters were motivated by a desire for wealth, power, or the ability to indulge their sadism, Snape's interest in the Dark Arts seems to be a matter of academic interest. When his home life is shown, he is revealed to live in a cramped cottage filled to the ceiling with books, a fact that endeared him to me. Since Snape's academic and intellectual nature seem to be such an important point, I didn't believe he could truly be devoted to the mixture of thugs and psychotics that made up the Death Eaters.

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