We know from the books that Severus Snape always wanted DADA teaching position.

Is there any canon (books/interviews/pottermore) confirmation of why exactly Dumbledore didn't want that to happen in the first 5 years (or, for that matter, even before Harry went to Hogwarts, as the DADA teachers changed every year evers since before the First Wizarding war, when Voldemort came to seek the job)?

I can think of 4 possible reasons, but am interested in actual canon confirmation:

  1. To help maintain illusion that Snape wasn't fully trusted, for Voldemort's sake

  2. To help maintain illusion that Snape wasn't fully trusted to those who didn't trust an ex-DeathEater Snape, and would have made a lot of noise and complaints had that happened (I'm sure Barty Crouch Sr. would).

  3. To avoid any risks to Snape as a chief Voldemort mole (as in, the 1-year-curse of the job could have caused Snape some damage, like it killed off Quirrell or permanently damaged Lockhart).

  4. Because Dumbledore - just like he didn't trust himself with power of being a Minister of Magic - didn't trust Severus Snape who used to be "up to his ears in Dark Arts" to be too close to Dark Arts again. As in, he was worried that Snape may be seduced by the lure of the Dark Side.

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    I thought it was only because somebody needs to teach potions, and Professor Snape is the best for that job.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 22:37
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    @b_jonas - everyone knows (in-universe) that Snape's been after DADA job for years. Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 0:27
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    @DVK that doesn't really counter b_jonas's point. If there wasn't a suitable Potions alternative but there was a suitable DADA alternative, and Snape could do both, he'd get put on Potions. Commented May 7, 2014 at 12:46
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    @DVK You've missed my point. If the choice is between good potions teacher (Snape) and good DADA teacher (other), or bad potions teacher (other) and good DADA teacher (Snape), you pick the one where you have two good teachers. Commented May 7, 2014 at 12:54
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    @HarryJohnston: I think that the Half-Blood Prince convincingly establishes Snape as a solid potion maker considering how well Harry is able to do with the slew of notes that Snape had included in the text book when it was his. Whether that makes him a good teacher or not is a different matter, but Snape undoubtedly has a solid grasp of the material.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 20:45

4 Answers 4


In an interview, J. K. Rowling stated:

when Professor Dumbledore took Professor Snape on to the staff and Professor Snape said I'd like to teach defence against the darks arts please and Professor Dumbledore felt that that might bring out the worst in Professor Snape

(transcribed from a recording)

So, your reason #4 seems to be correct. From canon it's unclear if any of the other reasons you've described come into play.

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    So, it's basially my reason #4 then? And FYI, you can find the interview by Googling for it, and either checking Google Cache, or WayBack machine (www.archive.org) Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 3:07
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    Interestingly, she prefaced that with, to answer it fully would give an awful lot away about the remaining two books. I wonder how she'd answer now. Commented May 7, 2014 at 12:46
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    Isn't it also because he wanted to keep Snape at Hogwarts? Unless I'm mistaken, no former DADA teacher ever stayed on staff in a different role. Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 21:13
  • @ChrisSunami I think that to say that has nothing to do with it is just silly at best. Of course it has something to do with it. He needed Severus safe! But the part that always confused me is how was he sure that Severus would live from the job and thus be able to complete his task? Perhaps he would rely on his skilfulness but even so it seems potentially risky. That doesn't make Dumbledore change his method very often, though, so that's arguably entirely irrelevant.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 22:18

I'd say the combination of #4 (didn't wanted Snape too close to Dark Arts) and #5 : he knew the job was cursed (he says it himself in Half Blood Prince :

"Oh, he definitely wanted the Defence Against the Dark Arts job. The Aftermath of our little meeting proved that. You see, we have not been able to keep a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor for more than a year since I refused the post to Lord Voldemort."

) and he wanted to keep Snape safe and at Hogwarts for more than a year (no proof on this, but it seems quite reasonnable).


Yes. In Half-Blood Prince, Snape tells Bellatrix:

"He didn't want me any nearer to the Dark Arts than he could help. Didn't want to tempt me with my old habits."

In short, Dumbledore did not want to tempt Snape to fall back into the Dark Arts and actually becoming loyal to Voldemort's cause.


Even though J.K. Rowling said that it might bring out the worst of Snape, I don't think it was reasonable. Snape had seen the worst side of him supporting Dark Magic and by extention, the Dark Lord, when the only love of his life died, trying to protect her child. So he wouldn't have gone back to his past life again so easily. I think, reason #3 would have been more appropriate and reasonable. Albus might not have wanted to lose Snape who was a valuable ally. Also, he needed Snape to keep a close eye on Potter while he was being prepared by both of them for the Battle-which-mattered-the-most. You see, Snape was always there to protect Harry except in the Chamber of Secrets and the graveyard where Voldy got a new humanly body (sans a proper nose).

  • Forgot to add: This is all Rowling's fault. She created a novel with 7 instalments and yet it gives the feeling of a short story. So many questions still remained unanswered by the books.
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 18:46
  • And since when is Dumbledore reasonable...? :)) He's not. And just because Rowling implied this - maybe even Dumbledore said it, I don't recall - doesn't mean the other points aren't relevant; of course he had to keep Severus safe. But that doesn't mean it is or isn't reasonable for Dumbledore to be that way. Besides that: 'I knew my brother, Potter. He learned secrecy at our mother’s knee. Secrets and lies, that’s how we grew up, and Albus . . . he was a natural.'
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 22:21

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