Severus Snape seemed like a complete lone nerd type from whatever details about him are in the books.

Why would he bother hanging out with future Death Eaters (Nott etc...) in Hogwarts when the downside was basically extra bad for him (Lily drifting away and not liking him) and the upside was slight (for Snape's personality type, hanging out with a clique isn't a great deal of an upside). He seemed too logical and analytical for such a poor decision.

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    I agree that Snape was extremely logical and analytical, and that he was academically brilliant. But Snape's emotional quotient was very low and underdeveloped. Snape's Worst Memory in OotP showed us that Snape came from a loveless home and had an alcoholic father. The memories in The Prince's Tale in DH show how starved for affection and friendship he was. He was bullied and the idea of a brethren (the Death Eaters) was appealing to him. Even the most logical, brilliant mind sometimes cannot overcome these kinds of emotional vulnerability. My two cents anyway. :) Aug 26, 2012 at 0:44
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    I don't know why A Slytherin didn't make her comment an answer. It is perfect in that is true to both the world of HP and real life. I've known kids just like that. Way to smart to hang with a group of good-for-nothings, but they find a belonging there where they are counted on for their intelligence and protected from bullying. The group becomes the emotional family for kids that don't know their worth in other ways. Jan 13, 2013 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


JKR explains this:

Q: Lily detested Mulciber, Avery. If Snape really loved her, why didn't he sacrifice their company for [Lily's] sake?

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. 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.


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    Frankly, I would downvote JKR if I could. Does she even know a SINGLE smart geek? When it's a choice between ANY "membership" and affections of a girl, THE GIRL WINS no questions asked! Aug 26, 2012 at 2:39
  • @DVK - Heh, especially at that age :) Aug 26, 2012 at 5:34
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    I disagree with DVK and Keith's assessment. At that age, most guys have little concept of long term consequences of their actions. Snape desired Lily for her company and for her kindness, but did he love her yet? Was he truly willing to live his life for her instead of for Snape? I don't think so. I think that's why Rowling calls it Snape's greatest tragedy. He was unwilling to put Lily's needs before his own, and chose the Death Eaters companionship for what they could give him: power. All the people who mocked "Sniveling Snape" would certainly fear Snape the Death Eater. Aug 26, 2012 at 14:54
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    Snape had a clear choice to make: he could love Lily, and live his life with her in peace and quiet, or he could choose the Death Eaters, and finally end his years of torture at the hands of his enemies. As a child who grew up in a loveless world, I don't think Snape truly understood love. He understood fear and power far more. I don't think Snape really loved until he found out that Lily was a target of Voldemort. It was then that Snape chose to love her more than his own position. He knew he would be largely hated and mistrusted by both Death Eaters and most of the Order from then on. Aug 26, 2012 at 14:59
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    Well, not going to keep arguing in comments, but again.. I say as one, with background that you really don't know (and thus, really shouldn't assume much about), you may have seen them, but not having been one, you really don't understand them. (Internal reasons and external signs are NOT the same thing; that's why DSM warns about self-diagnosis) The situation you describe actually REINFORCES what I'm saying; the girl in question becoming an icon/avatar for everything he never had and wants. Regardless; if you would like to continue this debate offline one in chat with me, feel free :)
    – K-H-W
    Jan 18, 2013 at 18:03

Snape came from a loveless marriage. Hogwarts was his fantasy escape. However, from his first moment on the Hogwarts express, he is emotionally attacked by James Potter. His low self-esteem meets the reality that Hogwarts is no paradise. At the speech before the Sorting ceremony, Minerva McGonnigle tells the new students that their "House will be like their family". Hermione doesn't initially find this - possibly, neither does Severus. What he does experience is being attacked by James Potter and his friends (He later constantly refers to being attacked four against one). Where can he find allies, helpers and possibly friends - his house - Mulciber and Avery. Bad choice possibly, but Severus's immediate need is help and protection from James Potter and co. Moreover, James Potter NEVER ceases to bully Severus - Even Sirius Black admits this - "Because he exists". Is this any different from the Nazi or Deatheater attitude to Muggles? In sum Snape becomes a deatheater because of James Potter and his bullying

  • Conveniently left out: Snape's first verbal attack on the others was entirely unprovoked. And I daresay that when the opportunity presented itself, Snape retaliated against James and Sirius.
    – EvilSnack
    Jul 16, 2016 at 21:58

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