Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)

Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)

Is he a loyal double-agent? Or has he really crossed over to the Dark Side for good?

These questions about Snape's loyalties have been haunting us for basically the entire series, and particularly since we saw Snape murder Dumbledore at the end of Half-Blood Prince.

But we finally get our answers in the final installment of the series.

Drumroll, Please…

Snape is…a loyal double agent! And a very, very brave one, to boot. In fact, he might be giving Harry a run for his money in terms of sheer gutsiness.

As it turns out, Snape was working with Dumbledore all along and following his lead. Even when he killed him.

Confused? Let us explain. Remember when Dumbledore got that ganky rot on his hand from handling one of the Horcruxes (in Half-Blood Prince)? Well, as it turns out, the curse was eventually going to kill Dumbledore. Snape could try to help Dumbledore stave off the effects of the curse temporarily, but it would have eventually overtaken the Headmaster.

Knowing all that—and aware that Draco had been given the job of killing him—Dumbledore asks Snape to be the one to finish him off. That would accomplish a few things:

  1. Prevent Draco from having to murder someone. Dumbledore wasn't keen on the whole "making kids murder" thing.
  2. Help Snape convince Voldemort once and for all of his loyalty to the Dark Side.
  3. Give Dumbledore a quick death, as opposed to a long, painful one at the hands of that gross curse.

Snape didn't love the idea, but he clearly did what he was told to do—and without anyone knowing. Based on the fact that McGonagall chases Snape from the building once Harry arrives to search for the Horcrux, we're guessing that she, like basically everyone else, had no idea Snape was still working for #TeamDumbledore.

So, just to recap, Snape had to pretend to pal around with evil people and put himself in constant danger without alerting any of his true allies (the good guys) that he was working for them. Imagine how brave you'd have to be to do that (and how lonely it would be).

He Doesn't Like Harry…But He's Been Protecting Him the Whole Time

We only learn all this intel about Snape's true loyalties when Snape gives Harry a memory (via his tears) to throw into the Pensieve. And that's not the only bombshell that gets dropped in that recollection.

Just to be clear: Snape has always disliked Harry, because Harry reminds Snape of Harry's father. And Snape hated Harry's father.

But why? Well, among other reasons, there's the fact that Snape loved Harry's mother. In the Pensieve, Harry gets to see some of the history that led to that jumble of feelings, including Snape's childhood bonding with Harry's mother and James Potter's less-than-nice treatment of Snape.

After seeing how things played out…we have to say, we feel a bit bad for Snape. Other students (including James) didn't treat Snape well, and he spent basically his whole life loving a girl who didn't return the feels.

Rough stuff.

In Snape's memory of Lily's death and the aftermath, we learn that Snape has been protecting Harry basically since his parents' death. As Snape grieved, Dumbledore asked him to turn that feeling to a good purpose:

SNAPE: You said you would keep her safe.

DUMBLEDORE: Lily and James put their faith in the wrong person, Severus. Rather like you. The boy survives.

SNAPE: He doesn't need protection; the Dark Lord has gone.

DUMBLEDORE: The Dark Lord will return. And when he does, the boy will be in terrible danger! He has her eyes. If you truly loved her…

SNAPE: No one can know.

DUMBLEDORE: I shall never reveal the best of you, Severus.

So, yeah, Snape was in extra agony because his friends on the Dark Side (as you know, Snape took a brief turn there) were responsible for his beloved's death. However, he did agree to try to atone by keeping Harry safe from evil, and he really didn't want credit for it.

We're not sure why he doesn't want people to know he's a good guy, but that's our Snape: crusty and cantankerous even when he's being heroic.

Unfortunately, Snape felt a wee bit bamboozled when he realized later that Dumbledore was still totally prepared to let Harry die for their cause. Well, more than prepared: Dumbledore believed that Harry had to die in order for Voldemort to be defeated:

SNAPE: So, when the time comes, the boy must die?

DUMBLEDORE: Yes. Yes. He must die.

SNAPE: You've kept him alive so that he can die at the proper moment. You've been raising him like a pig for slaughter.

Like us, Dumbledore was surprised at Snape's anger at this news:

DUMBLEDORE: Don't tell me now that you've grown to care for the boy?

Snape wasn't about to go that far, of course—but he responded by releasing his Patronus, a doe. (Which, coincidentally, was also Lily's Patronus.)

DUMBLEDORE: Lily? After all this time?

SNAPE: Always.

So, yeah, he was still so in love with Lily that his protective spirit animal matched hers, even after all those years. Because of that love, he wasn't thrilled to hear that Lily's son would now have to die, too.

(Oh, and side note: Remember that doe Patronus that led Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor in the previous installment of The Deathly Hallows? Guess we know now it was Snape giving Harry an assist there.)

He…Dies

So, as if the tale of Snape's covert heroics and unrequited love isn't sad enough or you, here's the kicker: He dies.

Voldemort believes that Snape is the true "owner" of the Elder Wand, and so he kills his "buddy" in order to change the wand's allegiance.

Harry is watching as all this happens and tries to help, but it's too late. However, he does do Snape a solid on one front: He allows Snape to stare into Lily Potter's eyes one last time before he dies:

SNAPE: Look at me. You have your mother's eyes.

It's a sad ending for sure, but we're at least glad that Snape got to pass into the great beyond looking into the eyes of his beloved…as manifested in her teen son's face. (Oh, man. That's a little twisted.) Snape was a tortured but full-on hero, and so we'd say he deserved some peace and bliss in the end.

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