I know it has been mentioned and debated countless times that how despite being a bad guy in first 6 books how Snape turned out be a Hero and one of the most important plot character [spoilers..oops] but there are few things that I have always doubt about and am not able to understand at all.

As we all know, Snape loved Lily and Hated James because he was famous and eventually Lily chose him over Snape. Lily was married to James but even then, he kept on loving Lily and hating James for the rest of his life. But Harry was the only son of Lily! So what if his face resembles James, he was still Lily's (His love of life) only child whose eyes reminded him of her so much..then why he always tried to make his life miserable and get him out of Hogwarts?

Snape knew that Harry was in far greater danger outside Hogwarts rather inside. At Hogwarts all the teachers and security measures and above all Dumbledore is present to take care of any trouble that might threaten Harry's life.

I know some of you might say that he did it to make sure his cover was not blown so that all the sons and daughters of current/ex death eaters now studying in Slytherin house are always there to vouch for his cruelty and his efforts were fake or something..but truth is all those efforts were genuine and Snape would have been genuinely happy if Harry was suspended.

In book 2, when Ron and Harry accidentally hit the Whomping Willow, Snape did his best to get them thrown out of Hogwarts..too bad McGonagall didn't agree on that and neither did Dumbledore.

There are many repeated occurrences in books where Snape did his almighty best to get Harry suspended from Hogwarts and if not then make his life miserable.

Now in book 7 we came to know that he always had Harry's best interest in heart and did all those things to protect him - What I am not able to understand is - How you can protect someone by throwing him out of a school where everybody is there to protect/help him to some muggle family who don't even consider him a human?

How you are suppose to protect someone from one of the most feared and well equipped in dark arts wizard if you don't even let him finish his primary wizard education? If Harry was thrown out of Hogwarts, which Snape did his best to achieve, how was he suppose to understand the DADA and other advance magics to equip himself against Voldemort. Snape was literally trying to get Harry murdered by Voldemort or one of his death eaters all those years.

  • A character having conflicting emotions and acting against his better judgement at times is confusing to you? That's just the reality of a complex character. Humans are like that. Yes, even cold and calculating Severus Snape sometimes lets his hatred of James get the better of him. Keep in mind, in telling Voldemort about the prophecy - the only reason he went after the Potters - Snape is at least partly responsible for Lily's death. So his own guilt and hatred get in the way of what he should be doing. Basically Occlumency lessons on a larger scale. Sometimes he couldn't get over himself.
    – BMWurm
    Nov 3, 2015 at 10:26
  • 1
    Snape never really wanted Harry thrown out of Hogwarts "permanently"... Temporary suspensions are meant to teach students lessons. Harry was such a jerk... How did Snape get the opportunity in the first place? Wasn't Whomping Willow going to kill Harry inside Hogwarts campus?
    – user931
    Nov 3, 2015 at 10:29
  • @SS-3.1415926535897932384626433 Snape mentions expulsion more than once, and that is not a temporary suspension. Nov 3, 2015 at 11:56
  • 1
    A couple of things. First, expulsion would not necessarily mean he would leave Hogwarts. Hagrid proves that. Second, I'm not sure on the timing, but did Snape always understand that Harry had to he the one who killed Voldemort? The expulsion attempts could have been before Dumbledore told him that. Most of the expulsion threats seem to come in earlier books from what I remember. I could be wrong about that though.
    – Alarion
    Nov 3, 2015 at 14:31
  • @SS-3.1415926535897932384626433 and Alarion - Snape wanted Harry's permanent suspension and not some temporary and he repeatedly tried to get him out of Hogwarts forever. If it had been temporary, neither Harry nor anyone else would have bothered about it.
    – Harsimrat
    Nov 3, 2015 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


These are not the thoughts of a rational man, these are the thoughts of an emotional man

What you have to understand is that Harry was a constant reminder of Snapes lost love. A constant reminder of his failure, he caused Lily's death by reporting the prophecy to Voldemort.

It can also be transference, he could push his feelings of guilt onto Harry. With this frame of mind it would be Harry's fault that Lily died, he (harry) was the reason that Voldemort went to the house, the reason that Lily gave her life, the reason he lost his love.

The angle of thought above focuses on Human psychological behaviour, the case of Harry being born and Snape blaming him for his mothers death is not an uncommon one. We can witness this in many examples although the most common one may be the death of a mother during childbirth. Logically you, as an outsider, will think that this is absurd but it still happens. As a fictional example, this is the case between Tyrion Lannister and Tywin Lannister.

Harry is also a constant reminder of the other reason he lost Lily, James. Harry is the manifestation of the love-induced hatred that Snape has for James. (This should not be mistaken for his hatred of James because he was a bully, this is much more severe) Harry is not only figuratively an embodiment of his love-induced hatred he is also physically James, everything about Harry screams James everything except his eyes. Harry is a corrupted reminder of Lily poisoned by James, he is singularly the closest and furthest thing to Lily that Snape has access to. The fact that it takes Snapes death for him to show the most remote edge of kindness towards Harry, is a testament to the strength of his emotions.

Snape is probably awash with emotions when he sees Harry (unless he has the emotional range of a teaspoon). He 'Always' loved Lily, and would see her and his history with her every time he saw Harry, with this influx of emotion anyone would act irrationally. Guilt, Sadness, Anger and Love all manifesting together would craze even the most logical among us. Heck in the Harry Potter universe love is powerful enough to defeat Voldemort on no less than 3 occasions.


In your comment, you seem to be thinking logically about the whole relationship. What you really have to understand is that an influx of any emotion (chemical changes in the brain) makes us irrational. We literally cannot think normally because our brain flooded with chemicals altering the way we think. To equate it to an in universe example, think of Amortentia (The Love Potion) this alters the way the recipient thinks in order to induce a Love like state.

  • How can you even say it? Snape's failure was because of his liking to dark arts. Lily befriends with Snape ages ago before James comes in the picture. It was Snape's fault that he chose dark arts over Lily..not Harry's. Also Voldemort went to the house of Potters to kill them because Snape told him the prophecy not because of Harry. Neville could also have been the victim of the attack. Snape told Voldemort and Voldemort chose Potters..it is not fault of Harry or Neville. If you see big picture..Snape was responsible for all the mess from the start..why would he blame Harry?
    – Harsimrat
    Nov 3, 2015 at 15:04
  • Projection is a real thing. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection
    – Alarion
    Nov 3, 2015 at 15:11
  • @Harsimrat I don't particularly want to discuss any of this in the comments, would you prefer to take it into chat? I can explain it more in depth and then edit the answer. Nov 3, 2015 at 22:44
  • 2
    This is a very good answer. Really very good
    – Au101
    Nov 3, 2015 at 23:19
  • @Harsimrat He blames Harry precisely because it is his own fault and not Harry's. People tend to blame anybody and their mother for their own mistakes before owning up to them. You're right in saying he is not acting rationally or logically, he is infact acting as a bittered and defeated human being, who is - at least partly - responsible for his own downfall and in order to live with that guilt he projects it on the visual copy of his enemy. All of which of course makes him one of the most complex and multifaceted characters in the entire saga.
    – BMWurm
    Nov 4, 2015 at 14:50

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.