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In Severus Snape, J. K. Rowling created an obvious anti-hero who deserved better. A villainous character in appearance and temperament, his dark presence belied his true intentions. Snape filled the anti-hero role valiantly to the very end. Despite his presentation, he was always on the right side of history. Despite the book series’ titular character, Severus Snape is in fact the true hero of the entire story.
In contrast to Harry Potter, who is a seemingly bland character, Severus Snape is the pinnacle of fictional characters and character arcs. His early presentation in the story only portends a villainous end. It should be noted that Snape was hired by Dumbledore to be a professor at Hogwarts, so it should be in the readers mind that despite his appearance, he is to be fully trusted. Gilderoy Lockhart’s brief tenure at the school is the argument against that belief. Harry Potter is the full blooded protagonist from the very start. This is never in doubt from beginning to end. As a result, Snape’s antagonism towards Harry is a huge red flag and paints Snape as the anti-hero or the villain to some. The antagonism has a clear source and that is Harry’s late parents. Snape was childhood friends with Harry’s mother Lily and it is revealed later in the story that he was in deep love with her. On the other hand. Harry’s dad James Potter was enemies with Snape and often bullied him, while also taking Lily from him. Harry reminds Snape of his father and there is a clear hatred due to it.
Despite the animosity, Snape fulfills his duty to protect Harry from various villains throughout the story. He muttered counter spells to prevent Quirrel from knocking him off his broom during a Quidditch match in the Sorcerer’s Stone. He protects Harry, along with Ron and Hermione, from Lupin, who had transformed into a werewolf. Snape spends a considerable amount of time teaching Harry how to close his mind to prevent Voldemort from reading it. There was plenty of evidence that Snape was a hero, but his dark history was blinding.
Snape was also willing to kill Dumbledore, the most beloved wizard in the wizarding world, to continue his mission as a mole among the death eaters and to protect Malfoy, while also destroying the Elder Wand’s power. He knew his life was in grave danger by taking these actions and fulfilled his duties until the very end. He never cracked, until he was fatally bitten by Nagini. He stayed alive long enough to shed a couple of tears for the pensieve. Snape’s betrayal almost seemed like destiny, but in retrospect, it should have been seen coming from a mile away. Credit to Rowling for paining such a dark and negative picture of Snape throughout the story leading up to the apparent betrayal.
Severus Snape appears to the typical villain turned good, but it is far more complex. Snape ultimately was never a villain, but the presentation of his character created an image of a dark villain in waiting. He is the anti-hero, who is ultimately the hero of the entire story.
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