Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Severus Snape (born January 9, 1960) is a fictional character in the Harry Potter series of novels. He is the Potions Master and Head of Slytherin house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a principal setting of the novels. He seems to hate Harry Potter, and his checkered past breeds distrust from Harry of his motives. Nonetheless, Albus Dumbledore seems to trust Snape without question and so far in the books, that trust seems to be justified with Snape apparently demonstrating a firm loyalty to the headmaster.
In the Harry Potter movies, the character is played by Alan Rickman.
The enmity between Harry Potter and Snape begins in Harry's first year, from the moment that they first see each other. Snape is described as having the physical appearance of a classic villain: tall, thin, "hook-nosed" and "oily," and clad from head to toe in forbidding black robes, "like an overgrown bat". His name may come from the Imperial Roman Severan Dynasty, noted for their dictatorial ways and despised by the rest of the Roman elite as being (Phoenician-descended) outsiders. Though Harry is repeatedly reassured that Snape is one of the professors guarding the Philosopher's Stone, his estimations based upon Snape's attitude and his concept of events leads him to believe that Snape is attempting to steal the stone.
However, further reading of this series of books reveals that appearances can be deceiving as we learn that Snape is actually one of the heroes. When Lord Voldemort rose to power the first time, Snape served him as a Death Eater; his left arm still bears the Dark Mark that showed his allegiance to his evil master. At some point before Voldemort's downfall, it seems that he changed sides, and became a double agent for Dumbledore.
Much of Severus Snape's dislike of Harry Potter seems to arise from a rivalry between Snape and Harry's father, James Potter, when they were both attendees at Hogwarts. At first, it is hinted that Severus was obsessed with the Dark Arts, which seemed to put off James' clique. It was said that as a first-year Hogwarts student, Snape knew more hexes and curses than most seventh-year students; furthermore, his bookish and "nerdy" demeanor and appearance made him an outsider and an object of scorn by the "popular" set.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is told that this dislike may be due to the perpetration of a dangerous "prank" pulled by Sirius Black (James Potter's best friend), in which Sirius used deceptive means to lure Snape to the Shrieking Shack where he could have met either permanent injury or death at the hands of Remus Lupin in his feral werewolf form. Snape's life was saved by James Potter; Snape believes, however, that Potter had actually been involved in the plot and only decided to intervene out of fear of the Marauders' expulsion from Hogwarts. Later, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we also learn that Snape's dislike of Harry is the consequence of a grudge spawned as a result of a humiliating public incident of unprovoked malicious maltreatment (hazing and bullying) suffered at the hands of James Potter and Sirius Black during their fifth year at the school.
Snape shows his hatred of Harry whenever they come into contact. Referring to Harry as "a nasty little boy who considers rules to be beneath him", Snape invariably gives the boy poor marks in Potions, harangues him verbally, and has even attempted to have Harry (and Ron) expelled from school. Despite Snape's loathing of Harry, he has saved the boy's life on more than one occasion; futhermore, he is a member in good standing of the Order of the Phoenix, and as such thwarted Dolores Umbridge in her attempts to discredit Harry. However, Rowling has warned readers that "you shouldn't think he's too nice. Let me just say that. It is worth keeping an eye on old Severus Snape, definitely" .
For a time during the course of the fifth book, Dumbledore assigns Snape the task of giving Harry lessons in a branch of magic called Occlumency, the protection of one's mind from outside intrusion or influence. Snape is assigned this task because he is extremely skilled in both Occlumency and its companion art of Legilimency, both proficiencies undoubtedly useful in his undercover work among the Death Eaters. The classes were cut short, however, when Harry was caught using Dumbledore's Pensieve (borrowed by Snape that he might sequester private memories during Harry's Occlumency lessons) to observe "Snape's worst memory." Viewing this memory proved to be an unpleasant shock for Harry, who discovered that his father and Sirius had been arrogant bullies who persecuted Snape much as Dudley Dursley and Draco Malfoy persecute him. It seems that Harry's best strategy in dealing with Snape might be to emphasize their common ground and shared trait of being considered "outsiders." Only time (and J.K. Rowling) will tell if the two ever reach any kind of reconciliation.
Some fans have developed a theory that, in subsequent volumes, Snape will prove to be secretly a vampire, or to have a medical condition resembling vampirism, in much the way that another Hogwarts graduate and former professor, Lupin proved to be secretly a werewolf. This disclosure might help make James Potter's hazing of Snape seem understandable, while at the same time allowing Snape and Harry Potter to reconcile. Various clues are adduced both in support of and against this hypothesis.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details