- Severus Snape is one of the most divisive characters in the entire “Harry Potter” series.
- He was a double agent, so many character details were kept a secret.
- His mother was a witch and his father was a Muggle, leading to the moniker “The Half-Blood Prince.”
According to the official Wizarding World site, his last name is based on the Old Norse word “sneypa” meaning “to outrage, disgrace or dishonor.” Seeing as he was a double agent, this also fits.
But his surname also holds ancestral significance in England, where it’s tied to families who lived near the snæp (boggy land) in North Yorkshire, the Lowlands, and Suffolk.
On a 2019 episode of the UK game show “There’s Something About the Movies,” actor Tim Roth said that he was offered the role of Snape the same year he was cast in Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes.”
He ultimately turned down the “Harry Potter” role, paving the way for Rickman’s iconic portrayal.
As far as readers and viewers know, Snape was the only Death Eater to cast a Patronus spell throughout the series. Snape anonymously sent a silver doe into the Forest of Dean to help Harry with his mission in the final book/movie.
Since his happiest and most loving memories were with Harry’s mother, Lily, his Patronus took the same form as hers — which is what made Harry follow it in the first place.
However, Snape isn’t the only villainous character in the series that uses a Patronus. Dolores Umbridge also casts a Patronus (in the form of a cat) during “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
But based on the description of the position on Wizarding World, it seems like Snape was destined for the role.
The site reads, “The popular idea of a Potions expert within the wizarding community is of a brooding, slow-burning personality.”
Although we know he wasn’t always this way, Snape seemed to have grown into the position quite comfortably by Harry’s first year.
His father was neglectful and sometimes abusive, which may have contributed to Snape’s disdain for Muggles. At some point during his school years, he decided to reject his father’s name entirely, giving himself the moniker “The Half-Blood Prince” with his mother’s maiden name instead.
Snape’s family lived on Spinner’s End, which is shown as a run-down street in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” insinuating that Snape’s family wasn’t very wealthy.
In the book, we learn that James Potter and his friends were bullying Snape, and Lily came to his defense. Instead of accepting her act of kindness, he rejected her and called her a “mudblood” — an insult to witches and wizards with Muggle parents — despite his own impure bloodline.
Their relationship seemed to be permanently damaged from that day on.
This partially influenced her decision to make Snape — a hated teacher among Hogwarts students, especially Harry — the Potions Master.
Professor Slughorn, his Potions Master, was very fond of both Snape and Lily, so they were both likely a part of his elite student group, the Slug Club. However, it’s never clearly mentioned in the books, probably because Slughorn only liked to show off the students he was most proud of.
The professor questioned Snape’s loyalty, especially after he killed Dumbledore, so he likely wouldn’t have highlighted him even if he was one of his favorite students back in the day.
In the film, as Harry is holding a dying Snape in his arms, the professor uses his final words to repeat a line we’ve heard from several other characters throughout the series: “You have your mother’s eyes.”
The book, however, is a bit more subtle. He simply says “Look … at … me …,” presumably, so he could see Lily’s eyes one last time.
Rowling described him in one 2015 tweet as “grey,” with both saint-like and devil-like tendencies.
In a 2007 interview with Bloomsbury, Rowling joked that Skeeter would probably have gone on to write a biography titled “Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?” after the character’s death.