Severus Black was an enigmatic wizard who played an important role in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. He was a complex character whose loyalties and motivations were often shrouded in mystery. In the opening paragraphs, we’ll provide quick answers to some key questions about Severus Black to introduce readers to this controversial figure.
What was Severus Black’s background?
Severus Black came from a troubled home life. He grew up in Spinner’s End, a working-class neighborhood, with his witch mother Eileen Prince and his Muggle father Tobias Snape. His parents’ relationship was dysfunctional and unhappy, and Severus was often neglected and possibly abused as a child. This left him bitter and isolated from a young age.
What house was Severus Black sorted into at Hogwarts?
Severus Black was sorted into Slytherin house during his time as a student at Hogwarts. This indicates that the sorting hat detected ambition, cunning, resourcefulness and other Slytherin traits in his character.
What was Severus Black’s relationship with Lily Potter like?
Severus Black formed a close friendship with Lily Potter (then Lily Evans) in their childhood years before attending Hogwarts. They bonded over the discovery of their magical abilities. Their sorting into Gryffindor and Slytherin respectively put a strain on the friendship over time. However, Severus carried a torch for Lily well into adulthood.
How did Severus Black get involved with Voldemort and the Death Eaters?
Severus Black fell in with a Slytherin crowd at school that included many future Death Eaters. His unhappy home life and experiences with bullying and prejudice as a child made him vulnerable to the ideology of Voldemort. Severus officially joined the Death Eaters shortly after leaving Hogwarts and relayed a prophecy about Harry Potter’s role in Voldemort’s downfall that set the Dark Lord on the Potters’ trail.
Why did Severus Black turn against Voldemort?
When Severus Black realized that Voldemort interpreted the prophecy as pertaining to Lily Potter and her infant son, he pleaded with Voldemort to spare her life. After Lily was killed, Severus experienced tremendous guilt and remorse. He then defected from the Death Eaters and vowed to protect Harry at great personal risk as a way to honor Lily’s sacrifice.
What was Severus Black’s role in the books?
Severus Black served as Potions Master at Hogwarts and later assumed the role of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and Headmaster. To the students, he often appeared cruel and biased against Gryffindor house. In truth, he worked secretly under Dumbledore’s orders to undermine Voldemort’s attempts to return to power and prevent Harry’s demise.
How did Severus Black die?
Severus Black was killed by Voldemort’s snake Nagini. This occurred when Voldemort believed that Severus was the true master of the Elder Wand, so he had to eliminate Severus to gain full control of the wand’s power.
Was Severus Black good or evil?
Severus Black’s morality is complex. He practiced the Dark Arts and supported Voldemort’s evil actions for a time. However, his enduring love for Lily and subsequent espionage against Voldemort for the Order of the Phoenix show his capacity for goodness. His harsh demeanor belied someone struggling with inner demons and painful losses.
What is Severus Black’s legacy?
Severus Black remains a divisive figure even after death. Some in the wizarding world view him as a hero who risked everything to take down Voldemort. Others are unable to forget his past as a Death Eater. Nevertheless, Severus played a pivotal role in Voldemort’s defeat. His complicated but ultimately courageous choices were key to the fate of the entire wizarding world.
Severus Black’s Early Life
Severus Black was born on January 9, 1960 in Spinner’s End, a working-class neighborhood in a mill town in northern England. His mother Eileen Prince was a witch and his father Tobias Snape was a Muggle. Severus’ parents were an ill-matched pair who lived in extreme poverty. Tobias worked in the local mill while Eileen was unemployed. Their unhappy marriage may have been abusive.
From a young age, Severus exhibited unusual abilities that were the first signs of his magical powers. However, his parents argued often and Severus was neglected. Lily Evans, a young girl who also lived in Spinner’s End, befriended Severus and that friendship blossomed into their first love of magic as Severus noticed Lily’s natural magical abilities as well. They imagined themselves leaving Spinner’s End behind and attending Hogwarts together one day.
These dreams became reality when Severus and Lily both received their Hogwarts acceptance letters. This allowed Severus to escape his painful home life and enter the wizarding world for the first time.
The Hogwarts Years
Severus Black arrived at Hogwarts anxious but enthusiastic to gain new knowledge and abilities. He excelled in his studies, particularly favoring Defense Against the Dark Arts and potions. However, James Potter and Sirius Black repeatedly bullied and humiliated him. The “Marauders” as they called themselves, targeted Severus for his poverty, odd appearance, and interest in the Dark Arts. Severus grew to bitterly hate James, whom Lily befriended even though James often hexed Severus.
Severus fell in with a group of Slytherins who later became Death Eaters, including Avery and Mulciber. As a talented wizard, Severus yearned for recognition and respect, which drew him deeper into the Dark Arts. His friendship with Lily gradually ended over their opposing alignments – Gryffindor versus Slytherin, James versus Severus. The intense humiliation and peer rejection Severus suffered during these formative years left their mark.
One incident in particular permanently ended Severus and Lily’s friendship. After O.W.L. exams in their fifth year, James harshly bullied Severus in public. Severus called Lily a “Mudblood” in his humiliation and anger, confirming her worst fears about him falling in with the future Death Eaters. Lily refused to forgive him, despite his repeated apologies.
Becoming a Death Eater
After leaving Hogwarts, Severus’ fascination with the Dark Arts drew him fully into Voldemort’s inner circle. The Death Eaters operated secretly, building their numbers and strength until they could openly challenge the Ministry of Magic. Severus was one of their most skilled and ardent new recruits. He adopted the title “Prince” as his alias among the Death Eaters, in honor of his witch mother’s maiden name.
Severus’ particular talents with potions and spell invention made him a dangerous and valuable Death Eater. He remained bitterly jealous of James Potter. As members of the Order of the Phoenix, James and Lily were committed to fighting Voldemort’s evil ambitions. Severus likely reveled in the opportunity to oppose his childhood nemesis.
However, Severus still carried a torch for Lily. Though he pushed her away, he never stopped loving her. When Voldemort gained knowledge of a prophecy about a child with the power to defeat him, Severus realized with horror that Voldemort believed it referred to Lily’s young son Harry.
Turning Spy Against Voldemort
Severus begged Voldemort to spare Lily’s life when the Dark Lord targeted the Potters. He offered Dumbledore his services as a double agent, vowing to do anything necessary to protect her in atonement. However, Severus failed to also secure Harry and James’ safety through Dumbledore’s efforts. Lily refused to step aside when Voldemort killed James and tried to murder infant Harry. Her loving self-sacrifice saved Harry’s life and destroyed Voldemort’s physical form.
Overwhelmed by guilt over Lily’s death, Severus fully devoted himself to Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix from that point on. Acting as a spy, he used his status as a Death Eater to feed critical information about their plans and movements back to Dumbledore. Severus reported on the Death Eaters for years while Voldemort was disembodied and weak.
Severus assumed the post of Potions Master at Hogwarts, which gave him credibility with the weakened remnants of the Death Eaters as their children attended the school. On Dumbledore’s orders, he kept a close eye on Harry throughout his years at Hogwarts following Voldemort’s return.
Severus Black’s Sacrifice
Severus protected Harry multiple times over the course of the books, while hiding his true loyalty to Dumbledore and reason for protecting Lily’s son. He tried to save Harry from Quirrell’s cursed broomstick during a Quidditch match, brewed the Wolfsbane potion for Lupin while he taught at Hogwarts, and taught Harry Occlumency to block visions Voldemort sent him.
However, he maintained his hostile facade until the end. Severus killed Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower in Harry’s sixth year, but was in fact following Dumbledore’s own plan to spare the headmaster suffering from a cursed injury. Harry failed to understand the deeper plan in Dumbledore trusting Snape, and hated him as a traitor.
Severus took over as Headmaster at Voldemort’s appointment, but continued working secretly against him. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort believed that eliminating Severus would give him complete mastery of the legendary Elder Wand. Nagini killed Severus, but not before he passed along essential memories to Harry revealing his true loyalties and affection for Lily, and Dumbledore’s full plan.
Severus Black remains a man of many contradictions even after his death. He spent years devoted to evil through the Death Eaters, but sacrificed everything to honor the woman he loved. His heroism went unrecognized for years before Harry learned the truth. Rowling herself has commented that Severus is “all grey” – neither fully good nor evil.
The complex and conflicted Severus Black played an integral role in the downfall of Voldemort. His troubled past and sacrifice for love offer lessons in how people can change. In the end, Severus embodied the indomitable human spirit that always hopes and strives for good, no matter how far one has fallen.
|Year||Key Events in Severus Black’s Life|
|1960||Born in Spinner’s End|
|1971||Begins attending Hogwarts and is sorted into Slytherin|
|1976||Completes his Hogwarts education|
|1977||Officially joins the Death Eaters|
|1980||Overhears prophecy and informs Voldemort, who targets Potters|
|1981||Lily Potter is killed; Severus becomes a double agent against Voldemort|
|1991||Starts teaching as Potions Master at Hogwarts|
|1996||Kills Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower|
|1997||Becomes Headmaster of Hogwarts under Voldemort’s control|
|1998||Killed by Nagini during Battle of Hogwarts|
|Book||Severus Black’s Notable Actions|
|Sorcerer’s Stone||Counters cursed broomstick jinx against Harry|
|Chamber of Secrets||Brews Polyjuice Potion to help uncover Heir of Slytherin|
|Prisoner of Azkaban||Brews Wolfsbane Potion for Lupin|
|Goblet of Fire||Summons Voldemort’s Death Eaters after Triwizard Tournament|
|Order of the Phoenix||Teaches Harry Occlumency|
|Half-Blood Prince||Takes Unbreakable Vow to follow through on Dumbledore’s plan|
|Deathly Hallows||Passes crucial memories to Harry before death|