Complex Characters: The Tragedy of Severus Snape

Most people who know me know I am a Harry Potter fan. This series changed the trajectory of my life. I cannot overstate the impact it had on me and my dreams for the future.

Before continuing, please watch the YouTube video below from user kcawesome13.

Now that you have been punched in the feels, let’s talk about Snape the complex hero.

So I love a complex character, be it hero or villain. It is a mark of a great writer when they can bring you fully developed complex characters. Snape is one of my favorites; next time, we will talk about a complex villain.

Snape had his flaws: he bullied kids. And I am talking straight up bullied them. It’s understandable because he came from an abusive home. Does it make it right? No. Do I feel for him? Yes. Can he still be a hero with flaws? Yes.

Snape had an extreme hatred of Harry because of who Harry’s father was. Leaving aside the fact that James ultimately ended up with Lily, the only person to ever show Snape kindness, James also tortured and humiliated Snape from the get go. Imagine if Ginny Weasley fell in love and married Draco Malfoy. I think Harry might not be so keen to be buddy buddy with the children of that union.

Snape also probably still harbored anti-muggle sentiment because of his abusive father. Everybody has issues when it comes to their parents. Even the most well-adjusted of us (and frankly, I almost want to meet that unicorn) have issues with our parents. I can fully believe that Snape looked down on muggles and muggle-born with a certain disdain, in part colored by his father.

All this is balanced against the fact that he ultimately did the bravest thing in the whole series because he loved the right woman. Snape duped Lord Voldemort the whole series, protected Harry, and died a complex hero because he loved Lily Potter.

The difference between Snape and Voldemort was the love Snape had for Lily. Snape, however, spends the whole series being hated by almost every character, and millions of readers.

The triumph of Harry Potter is tempered with the tragedy of Severus Snape.

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