June 16, 2017

Severus Snape Is the Actual Worst

My best friend, who introduced me to Harry Potter, and I have long been anti-Snape. This spring, I embarked upon the task of writing an academic essay (for funsies) on why Snape is actually the worst (apart from Voldemort and Umbridge, whose statuses as terrible people are rarely questioned by the fandom). I wanted to be very accurate, so I reread all of the books and put sticky tabs by every instance where Snape displayed how terrible he was in interactions with Lily, Harry, Neville, Hermione, and others. I double and triple-checked that I was citing quotes correctly, and the aforementioned best friend read and critiqued the essay. It came out at a grand total of 13 double-spaced pages (plus a works cited page), and now I'm going to share them here with you. I'm only going to include an excerpt, since it's so long, but you'll find the rest in a Google Doc link below. :)

Why Severus Snape Is the Actual Worst
By Emma B. Saska

The world of Harry Potter is filled with gray characters, ones who are neither fully good nor fully bad; in that, they are much like real people. One such gray character is Severus Snape However, many fans and J.K. Rowling herself often excuse Severus Snape’s actions because he was in love with Lily Potter (née Evans) and supposedly sacrificed himself to save Harry. In reality, Snape is more black than white, and he deserves little praise or adoration because he was obsessive and a bully.
Perhaps, perhaps Snape’s obsession with Lily could be excused and we could write him off as a gray character, but only if he had not been openly abusive to Lily’s son, the boy he promised Dumbledore he would protect. It is not Harry’s fault Voldemort killed the woman Snape loved, yet Snape constantly acts as if it is. From Harry’s very first day at Hogwarts, he senses the professor does not “like Harry at all” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 126). The book later states: “At the start-of-term banquet, Harry had gotten the idea that Professor Snape disliked him. By the end of the first Potions lesson, he knew he’d been wrong. Snape didn’t dislike Harry—he hated him” (Rowling, “Sorcerer’s Stone” 136).
From day one of potions class in Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, Snape singled out the 11-year-old boy as a particular target. He starts off by saying, “‘Ah, yes, Harry Potter. Our new—celebrity” (Rowling, “Sorcerer’s Stone” 136), and goes on to interrogate the boy with potions-making questions that most first-year students would not have the answers to. It is acknowledged in the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, that Harry does not like Snape, but it is also stated, “Harry’s loathing of Snape was matched only by Snape’s hatred of him, a hatred which had, if possible, intensified last year, when Harry had helped Sirius escape right under Snape’s overlarge nose” (Rowling 175).
In classes throughout the years, Snape picks on Harry. During a Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) class in Half-Blood Prince, Snape mocks Harry as the teenager tries to answer Snape’s question. “‘Oh, very good…Yes, it is easy to see that nearly six years of magical education have not been wasted on you, Potter. Ghosts are transparent,’” Snape says; a few paragraphs later, “‘A five-year-old could have told us as much,’ sneered Snape” (Rowling, “Half-Blood Prince” 460). In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry actually suspects Dumbledore had to stop Snape from giving Harry a failing grade in potions.
Snape bullies most of his students, but another one that he singles out is Hermione Granger. Hermione is intelligent and eager-to-please, but Snape never likes when she knows the answer to his questions in class. Hermione is also willing to help others learn; when Neville was struggling with his potion in Prisoner of Azkaban, she offers to help him fix it. Snape interrupts her to say, “‘I don’t remember asking you to show off, Miss Granger’” (Rowling, “Prisoner of Azkaban” 126). Later in the same book, he calls her an insufferable know-it-all when she is only trying to answer his questions. All of her classmates—who generally think she is a bit of a know-it-all—are furious with Snape, and Ron verbally defends her, earning himself detention. During a confrontation even later in the book, Snape yells at Hermione and calls her “a stupid girl” (Rowling, “Prisoner of Azkaban” 360), and a few chapters after that, he yells at her once again when she is only trying to state the truth. Even worse, though, is what happens in Goblet of Fire. Harry and Draco Malfoy get into an argument and pull their wands on each other; their spells ricochet off of each other, and Draco’s hits Hermione, causing her front teeth—which were already a tad large, and which Hermione was already self-conscious about—to grow at an exceedingly fast rate. Snape comes across the students and when the damage done to Hermione is pointed out, the following happens:
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”
Hermione let out a whimper; her eyes filled with tears, she turned on her heel and ran, ran all the way up the corridor and out of sight. (Rowling, “Goblet of Fire” 300)
No authority figure should ever be permitted to get away with saying something so rude to a young student. Adults should not pick on children and teenagers for anything, whether it be physical appearance or for behavior in the classroom.

Link to the rest of the essay: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EwxZKzmBWE8-Y4Youkeajchd7fCWRu3KgXEePRZgMhQ/edit?usp=sharing


  1. I will die on the hill of Severus Snape being a horrible person. His treatment of Neville absolutely kills me, and I can never understand people that justify that. Great job Emma!! :)
    -Monica @ Tomes Project

  2. is the essay deleted? i would've loved to read the rest :(

    1. Hi, I'm not sure what happened to the linked essay because I didn't delete it! I've updated the link, so hopefully it'll work now. :)


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