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In her answer to another question, Slytherincess mentioned this from a chat with JK Rowling :

From a web chat:

Jaclyn: Did Lily ever have feelings back for Snape?

J.K. Rowling: Yes. She might even have grown to love him romantically (she certainly loved him as a friend) if he had not loved Dark Magic so much, and been drawn to such loathesome people and acts.

SOURCE: http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/7/30/j-k-rowling-web-chat-transcript ... :)

What is it that drew Snape so strongly to Dark Magic™ that JK says he loves it?

The other dark wizard's seem to have a fixation on power, and merely use Dark Magic as a means to an end. Even their favouring purebloods is, in part a play for power over the 'less powerful' mudbloods.

So why is/was Snape in love with Dark Magic?

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I'm not enough of a psychologist to spin an answer out of this, but if you think back to that scene where he is cowering from his father: you're looking at a downtrodden, helpless, powerless child. I think it's natural to be attracted to powerful magic and the power and mystique of dark magic especially. People who are bullied become bullies, people who are abused become abusers – Au101 Feb 6 at 4:02
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Yeah, because not a single person here would jump at the chance to study that stuff if they could. – Misha Rosnach Feb 6 at 8:54
    
The two posts I linked to in my answer are very closely related to this one. Not sure if close enough to call this a dupe? – Rand al'Thor Feb 6 at 13:39

JK Rowling has gone some way towards addressing this in an interview (emphasis mine):

Nithya: Lily detested mulciber,averyif snape really loved her,why didnt he sacrifice their company for her sake [sic]

J.K. Rowling: Well, that is Snape’s tragedy. Given his time over again he would not have become a Death Eater, but like many insecure, vulnerable people (like Wormtail) he craved membership of something big and powerful, something impressive.

J.K. Rowling: He wanted Lily and he wanted Mulciber too. He never really understood Lily’s aversion; he was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater.

That said, I think Snape's family history must have had at least some influence on his choice. He grew up with an abusive Muggle father and a witch mother, which presumably instilled a prejudice against Muggles in him from an early age. This is already visible in the way he interacted with Lily and Petunia as children (see HP and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 37: The Prince's Tale).

So it was natural that he should seek to spend time with others who had similar prejudices - namely, Death Eater types - and from there the step to Dark magic is but a small one.

See also these excellent answers.

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This is a good answer, but it addresses more why Snape wanted to join the death eaters. If that was his end goal, then I don't see why he would love Dark Magic. – AncientSwordRage Feb 6 at 13:50
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Funny how JKR uses "attraction to the dark side". Maybe she had dinner with Lucas that day. – Kalissar Apr 6 at 10:09

“The Dark Arts,” said Snape, “are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible.”

Harry stared at Snape. It was surely one thing to respect the Dark Arts as a dangerous enemy, another to speak of them, as Snape was doing, with a loving caress in his voice?


Did you hear him talking about the Dark Arts? He loves them! All that unfixed, indestructible stuff —” “Well,” said Hermione, “I thought he sounded a bit like you.”

“Like me?”

“Yes, when you were telling us what it’s like to face Voldemort. You said it wasn’t just memorizing a bunch of spells, you said it was just you and your brains and your guts — well, wasn’t that what Snape was saying? That it really comes down to being brave and quick-thinking?”

Looking at the way Snape talks about the Dark Arts, he respects the magic itself deeply. The study and respect of the Dark Arts is not inherently wrong, and in fact we can see a thrill learning the Dark Arts. In fact Hermione even points out, that the way Snape talks about dealing with the Dark Arts, is how Harry himself views handling it. Your guts, your wand, and a dash of courage/bravery.

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But when he was at Hogwarts I suspect his love was due to learning it's applications not from learning how to defeat it. – AncientSwordRage Feb 6 at 10:29
    
+1; I'd forgotten this quote. But Snape's apparent adoration of the Dark Arts as an adult doesn't necessarily tell us why he was attracted to them in the first place. – Rand al'Thor Feb 7 at 2:29

Snape's actions mirror those of his father in a way. He saw how powerful (through violence) his father was, to the point where his mother would stand by and accept such bad treatment, but confused his mother's refusal to leave his father with loyalty and love. So Severus equated power with "love"/ women respect powerful men. Being a DE would also transform him from being powerless and a "nobody" to being powerful and thus winning the loyalty and love of Lily. He mistakenly thought Lily would never leave him in the same way that his mother never left his father, because of that power. He was too blind to see that Lily accepted him as he was, because nobody else had unless he could prove himself worthy. He also wanted to feel valuable and part of something great ... may have desired comrades/brotherhood like the Marauders had. Sometimes we try so hard to prove ourselves to those who don't matter (DEs and Voldemort regarding Snape), and end up devaluing or losing the love of those who accept us as we are, because we aren't impressed with our current state (just my thoughts).

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Can you offer any evidence of these assertions? – Valorum Apr 6 at 9:21

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