(Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling’s opinions about trans people are harmful. Please support and respect trans people instead of spreading hate).
One of the supposedly great moments of the Harry Potter series was the redemption of Severus Snape, when it turns out he’s been working for the good of everyone and trying to save the school. Wow! Who could have called it? However, do a few good deeds really excuse all of the horrible actions he’s taken throughout the series? While I’m not really in a position to say whether he’s achieved redemption or not, here’s a reminder of some of Snape’s actions.
He Was a Death Eater
Perhaps you can say that someone indoctrinated into the ways of the Death Eaters might not realize the full extent of their atrocities. Whenever Snape joined, he stayed into adulthood, long enough that other people his age were already having children. The only reason he left, as far as I can tell, is because the murder affected someone important to him. The Death Eaters were going strong at this point and Snape must have known what was happening and of their cruelty, but he still stayed quite a while and committed who knows what crimes.
Threatened to Poison a Child’s Pet
Remember that time that Neville wasn’t doing well in potions and instead of helping him Snape got angry and threatened to poison Neville’s toad? Thanks to an intervention from Hermione, we didn’t have to see whether he actually meant it, but really, the act of uttering this threat is still despicable. It’s animal abuse and child abuse all in one!
Neville was Terrified of Him
The boggart was fun, right? Showing everyone their deepest fears and such, but in a therapeutic way. I feel like the fact that Neville’s greatest fear was Snape is played for laughs but if you look at the above example Neville had plenty of reasons to be afraid of Snape. First off, Neville is the kid that faced off against Hermione to try to save Gryffindor’s honor even though he must have known it would end poorly and also the kid who was exposed to the horrors of the world at a very young age, so I feel like it’s incorrect to take his fears lightly. Boggart Snape is in the crowd with mummies, dementors, banshee’s – who are heralds of death. Snape has given Neville plenty of reasons to view him as a monster. Lupin really should have taken this time to go inform Dumbledore of this development and gotten Snape fired or stuck in some sort of training, but apparently everyone just agreed that this was ok?
Insulted Hermione After Malfoy had Cursed Her
Remember that time when Harry and Malfoy were fighting? Ok, not that specific time, the other time. There really were so many of these. But anyway, Harry and Malfoy were fighting and fired spells at each other. I guess their aim was pretty terrible, because both hit people in the crowd instead of each other. Malfoy’s curse affected Hermione, making her teeth grow larger at an alarming rate, but when Harry and Ron angrily pointed this out, Snape said that he didn’t see any difference. What? How could you say this to someone? Snape actively encouraged bullying by allowing the Slytherins to get away with it, but also by participating himself.
Refused to Teach Harry Occlumency
The fact that Voldemort was able to invade Harry’s brain proved to be a pretty dire problem, so it was good that there was a way to fix it. What wasn’t good is that Snape got worked up over Harry seeing his memories. Sure, I’d be annoyed as well, but he had a responsibility to save this kid in pain from the clutches of Voldemort, and when he didn’t, he played a part in almost allowing Voldemort to get his hands on the prophecy and getting Sirius killed. Could this all have happened even if he had taught Harry? Maybe, but we’ll never know, will we?
Was Snape brave to try to betray Voldemort? I would say he was. But one doesn’t need to be a good person to be brave. Without Snape, Harry would not have been able to have defeated Voldemort – he probably would have broken his neck falling from his broom stick in his first year – and some of Snape’s actions were admirable, but taken as a whole, Snape was not a great role model.