I know of this question

Why did Snape want the Dark Arts job?

But my question is a bit different.

I want to know even when Snape knew that the dark arts job was jinxed by Voldemort himself and nobody lasted more than a year in this job, why would he want this job?

  • 3
    Did he know? Dumbledore knew, but I don't know if he shared that info with anyone but Harry,
    – DavidS
    Aug 3, 2017 at 12:56
  • 3
    @DavidS The curse was common knowledge amongst the students. When Snape gets the job Harry or Ron says, "Well, at least Snape won't be here next year". They have all become resigned by now to the fact that they'll get a new teacher every year. Aug 3, 2017 at 17:27
  • 17
    Wait, was there actually some kind of real curse? I thought that was just a popular rumor based on stringing together coincidences, like the rumor of the State quarter curse
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 3, 2017 at 18:18
  • 3
    @T.E.D. -- Looks like there was, though you have to go to Rowling, personally, to find that answer, though even with that, the best is a hint that Voldemort cursed it. Still kind of strikes me as a "curse" a la Chicago Cubs.
    – Shauna
    Aug 3, 2017 at 19:15
  • 2
    Maybe Voldemort lifted the curse once a Death Eater was DADA teacher.
    – RichS
    Aug 3, 2017 at 20:41

7 Answers 7


He knew that he would have a new job anyway within the year.

Namely, Headmaster of Hogwarts.

This explanation holds for the year that Snape was actually appointed DADA Professor. Why he wanted the post before then is explained further down.

The summer before his appointment as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Snape discovered that the current Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, had only a year to live.

"You have done very well, Severus. How long do you think I have?"
Dumbledore's tone was conversational; he might have been asking for a weather forecast. Snape hesitated, and then said, "I cannot tell. Maybe a year. There is no halting such a spell forever."
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33, The Prince's Tale).

Snape therefore knew that there would be a vacancy for the position of Headmaster within a year. It was Dumbledore's intention that Snape should take this position in order to safeguard the Hogwarts children.

"Lord Voldemort foresees a moment in the near future when he will not need a spy at Hogwarts?"
"He believes the school will soon be in his grasp, yes."
"And if it does fall into his grasp," said Dumbledore, almost, it seemed, as an aside, "I have your word that you will do all in your power to protect the students of Hogwarts?"
Snape gave a stiff nod.
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33, The Prince's Tale).

"And Severus, if you are forced to take part in the chase, be sure to act your part convincingly...I am counting upon you to remain in Lord Voldemort's good books as long as possible, or Hogwarts will be left to the mercy of the Carrows..."
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33, The Prince's Tale).

Bearing in mind this wider picture, it doesn't matter much whether Snape spends his final year as a full-time teacher teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts or Potions. But, since a position needed to be found for Slughorn and since Snape had wanted to teach DADA for as long as anyone could remember, Dumbledore gave Snape the Defence Against the Dark Arts job.

The DADA curse and Snape's desperation to hold the position were both widely known.

Professor Snape, the Potions master, was staring along the staff table at Professor Lupin. It was common knowledge that Snape wanted the Defence Against the Dark Arts job, but even Harry, who hated Snape, was startled at the expression twisting his thin, sallow face.
(Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 5, The Dementor).

"Well, there's one good thing," he said savagely. "Snape'll be gone by the end of the year."
"What do you mean?" asked Ron.
"That job's jinxed. No one's lasted more than a year...Quirrell actually died doing it. Personally, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for another death..."
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8, Snape Victorious).

So, taken together, Snape would have known about the curse. It didn't faze him, though. He knew that he had a good shot of becoming Headmaster under Voldemort if he played his cards right. Even if Dumbledore were to confound his diagnosis and live for more than a year the curse need not bother Snape. He can leave Hogwarts and become a full-time Death Eater (and spy).

What about all the previous years when Snape still wanted the job?

It's true that Snape wanted the job, even before he knew that he might go on to become Headmaster. If Snape knew about the curse and had no clear idea what he would do after the DADA job, why would Snape still seek after the position?

Presumably, he assumed that he would be able to stay at Hogwarts. He can simply go back to teaching Potions come the end of the year. We know that he liked it at Hogwarts and that he enjoyed the comfort and safety of the castle. And, despite his obsession with Defence Against the Dark Arts, he obviously also loves Potions. He was an expert Potion-maker with a decade of experience in the job. There's no reason why, if he'd hired a temporary or inferior Potions teacher, that Dumbledore wouldn't give Snape his old job back at the end of the year. Ron at least thought that that was what might end up happening.

"He might just go back to teaching Potions at the end of the year," Ron said reasonably. "That Slughorn bloke might not want to stay long-term, Moody didn't."
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8, Snape Victorious).

  • 2
    While he could have been playing the long-game for headmaster from the beginning (given Dumbledore's age), the fact that he'd have the job in the length of a standard DADA teacher's term would only be the case in Deathly Hallows. What about all the years prior?
    – Shauna
    Aug 3, 2017 at 19:08
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    @Shauna Why he wanted it all the years before is less clear than why he accepted it. Like I say, presumably he thought he could go back to teaching Potions after a year. Just because you have to quit as DADA teacher doesn't mean you have to die or anything. Aug 3, 2017 at 19:55
  • You win again! ;) I was writing an answer that said basically the same thing about the job not being a death sentence and Snape being able to return to teaching Potions after his year of teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.
    – Obsidia
    Aug 3, 2017 at 21:23
  • 1
    @Bellatrix Sorry, I hate it when that happens! It was a bit of an afterthought for me since at first I thought the question was about why Snape wanted the job specifically during Half-Blood Prince. Aug 3, 2017 at 21:31
  • @TheDarkLord Oh that's okay! :) Your answer is excellent, and covers all the aspects of why Snape wanted the job, both before and after he actually got it. Besides, we're on the same side here. ;)
    – Obsidia
    Aug 3, 2017 at 21:39

I can't confirm his reasoning from any specific quotation from the book, but it is very likely that Snape believed he could break the curse. He would have no motivation to break it for other teachers, but had he held the position himself, he would have likely done everything he could to break the curse. The curse would have already been a decade old at any point in Harry's Hogwarts career, plus Snape had access to libraries and continued learning in order to research how to break it.

It is not unreasonable to believe that Snape had powers the Dark Lord didn't know of. For instance, Snape was the superior legilimens and Voldemort never understood Snape's motivation.

Also, to some extent, Snape broke Voldemort's curse on the ring horcrux/hallow. He told Dumbledore that he could have done more had Dumbledore a.) Called him sooner, and b.) Not actually worn the ring.

Snape's Dark Art powers definitely rival Voldemort's.

  • 7
    Wasn't Snape more distinguished in occlumency, not legilimency?
    – BlackThorn
    Aug 3, 2017 at 18:47
  • 12
    "Snape's Dark Art powers definitely rival Voldemort's." Requires citation. Aug 3, 2017 at 19:56
  • 10
    @TheDarkLord it's pretty clear that that's an argument that follows from the previous points.
    – Nick T
    Aug 3, 2017 at 19:58
  • 2
    Voldemort is presented as the most powerful Dark wizard in history (Grindelwald in #2), not Snape. This is not in question in canon. Aug 3, 2017 at 20:10
  • If Dumbledore didn't wear the ring the curse would be irrelevant. It only activated on wearing it. So Severus wouldn't have needed to do anything 'more'. And as @TBear points out it's Occlumency that Severus was so great at.
    – Pryftan
    Aug 3, 2017 at 20:29

Loyalty to Dumbledore.

Dumbledore needed Slughorn, which meant Snape had to step down as Potions Master. The only plausible way for that to happen, without exposing to Voldemort that Snape was on Dumbledore's side, was for Snape to be given the job he'd always wanted: the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Accepting the position was risky, but not suicidal - Slughorn was only staying a year, so Snape could reasonably expect to return to his old job after that, making the curse moot.

It is also plausible, though in my opinion less likely, that having Voldemort's consent to take the position meant the curse would not take effect. Magic doesn't usually work quite like that in Harry Potter, but it isn't entirely out of the question.

Of course, I'm assuming here that you're talking about Half-Blood Prince. If you meant to ask why Snape originally asked for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, well, for one thing we don't know for sure that he did - it was certainly rumoured, and he told Bellatrix that he had, but he might have been lying.

It is also possible that he did not at that time know about the jinx.

Although the jinx had already been in place for ten or so years when Snape first took his position at Hogwarts, that was during the First Wizarding War; many wizards lost their lives in that time, and those with the skills necessary for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job would be particularly at risk, so it would not necessarily have been obvious that whatever misfortunates may have befallen them were due to a jinx rather than to the hazards of war. Only once the war was over, and DADA professors continued to suffer unlikely misfortunes anyway, did the presence of the curse become more obvious.

It is my opinion that Dumbledore was already aware of the curse, and that may well have been one of the reasons he did not give Snape the DADA position. That's just speculation, though.

  • This is a more elaborated version of my answer. I really like this.
    – ullstrm
    Aug 4, 2017 at 8:13

Maybe he actually didn't want it the other years. It might just be a rumour circling around.

The only time he's allowed to take the position is when Dumbledore already knows that Snape will have to kill him in the end of the year. Since the job is cursed anyway, it's a very convenient way of finding a teacher to a subject that's been filled with crap-teachers for most of the years.

Unfortunately, I do not have any quotes to back this up. But again, is there any canon material from Snapes POV that he actually did want this job before year six?

  • 1
    "While I endured the Dementors, you remained at Hogwarts, comfortably playing Dumbledore's pet!" (said Bellatrix) "Not quite," said Snape, calmly. "He wouldn't give me the Defence Against the Dark Arts job, you know. Seemed to think it might, ah, bring about a relapse... tempt me into my old ways." ----- So Snape wanted the job. Aug 3, 2017 at 14:14
  • 1
    @DheerajKumar He might have been lying to Bellatrix, he never tells her the whole truth.
    – Obsidia
    Aug 3, 2017 at 19:29
  • 1
    @DheerajKumar As already stated, that is a quote of a double agent. I'd not take it as proof that he ACTUALLY wanted the job. Snape is one of the most cunning, sneaky and smart characters in the whole universe. I'd say he most certainly did have everything under control, and was of course in tight cooperation with Dumbledore himself.
    – ullstrm
    Aug 4, 2017 at 8:11

Maybe, if there is a real curse, Snape asked Voldemort about it and got an answer along the lines of, "It does not affect Death Eaters", or, "Here's how to break it".

Or maybe the curse is a myth. At least two people who appear to be affected work for Voldemort and thus should not be affected, unless Voldemort being very stupid or thinks he is going to get what he needs before the year is done and is willing to take a cursed job because of it.

The curse might just be a fluke. The rumors of a curse made only the desperate take it and the desperate do not keep the job for long, thus making the curse a self-fulfilling prophecy. Weirder things have happened in real life. Look long enough for a curse or a haunting and one is going to find one.

  • 1
    Do you have any proof of this, any evidence, any sources?
    – Obsidia
    Aug 3, 2017 at 21:45
  • 1
    Voldemort may have told Snape about the curse. Do we know that he did, though, from Canon? Also, the curse is definitely real, as confirmed by Dumbledore in Lord Voldemort's Request. Aug 3, 2017 at 21:45

I disagree with the idea that Snape knows of the curse. Dumbledore always knew about it, so he didn't allow Snape to teach Defense because he would have presumably left the school. Once Dumbledore realized he would be dying within year's end, he was all right with the potential of Snape leaving, even if it didn't work out that way. So Snape never was aware of any curse, and Dumbledore allowed him to take the job when it fit into his plans. It's certainly true there were many rumors of a curse throughout the books, but Dumbledore never confirmed that to Harry until well into Book 6 in the chapter Lord Voldemort's Request, so it seems unlikely anyone was truly certain a curse existed, and much less likely that Lord Voldemort was the one who cursed it.

  • This is an interesting theory. Do you have a source that supports this? Or it is headcanon?
    – amflare
    Aug 4, 2017 at 17:09
  • It's certainly just theory, but I don't think it's possible to develop anything more than an opinion on whether Snape knew given what's in books. There is not anything in the books where Snape has any sort of explicit discussion regarding the Curse, even in the Prince's Tale, when Snape and Dumbledore are discussing matters after Dumbledore tried on the ring and Snape tells him he only has about a year to live. The only scene where the Curse is concretely referenced as truly existing is Dumbledore and Harry's conversation. (apologies if I broke some seriousness rule on discussing fiction)
    – the_SJC
    Aug 7, 2017 at 17:11
  • No worries, you didn't break any rule. I'm merely prompting you to consider fleshing out your answer a bit. By and large, we like to avoid purely opinion based answers. If you can provide some sort of backing for your opinion, however, then it is more acceptable.
    – amflare
    Aug 7, 2017 at 17:39

In Potions, Snape puts his heart and soul. In DADA he knows "from and to" exactly those spheres that are useful for him. The true vocation of Snape is still Potions, not DADA.
However, every year, from the time he joins Hogwarts, he submits an application to Dumbledore for the post of DADA. And Dumbledore denied it, thus that everyone knows about it. Why would he (and Dumbledore) need this? There is only one answer to this question - this is necessary to create the impression for Voldemort (and, for greater reliability, the entire magical world in general) has the impression that Snape and Dumbledore don't have everything smooth in their relations. This assumption is documented from the mouth of Snape himself.
Further. The impression is created so well that bought by Lupine and kindly invites Snape to conduct a lesson of DADA in his absence. Snape, as part of maintaining the legend, is forced to accept this "gift". He needs him? No. Is he ready for the lesson? No. He has a lot of things to do, he has no time to refresh all this nonsense for preschool children about some Kappas, Hinkypunks and other Grindylows. They never interested him and didn't interest now. And in general he was angry at Lupine as a thousand devils.

  • So your answer is that he didn't want the DADA job?
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 30, 2017 at 9:10
  • Snape thought that Voldemort was finished before book four and still wanted the DADA job before then. So it can't have been to keep up appearances. Nov 30, 2017 at 12:28
  • 1
    Nov 1, 1981 Dumbledore offers a new goal in life for Snape (You could not save the mother, but you can help her son). We see how much Dumbledore trusts Snape at this moment - telling to the ex-Eater that Voldemort has not gone and he will return, only with the full certainty that the given Death Eater is really wholly "ex". Nov 30, 2017 at 15:57

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