Let’s take a look at the character “Severus Snape” from “Harry Potter”. He is intruducted as the ugly, unfair teacher that bullies maincharacter Harry Potter. Through the seven book, he is discovered as an active death-eater, but after his death revalled as the tragic hero that pledged his life to the revenge for Lily Potters death. But is that him, a tragic hero? Or is he, even after all the good he has done later, still a villian for following Voldemort, causing Lilys’ death and bullying Harry?
To answer this question, we have to take a look at Snapes’ past. As the child of an unloving mother that grow up without siblings and father he was used to be alone. Then he met Lily Evens, who just had discovered she was different from normal mundanes. He guided her into the magical world, and at his side she became a great witch, catching all the light, while he remainded in the shadow, not that it ever bothered him, though to that he became a great wizard himself (he invented numberless sells even as a teenager, on oft them the Sectumsempra, which is more or less a killing curse). He loved Lily, and J.K. Rowling revalled that Lily might have fallen for Snape too if he hadn’t lost her friendship by fraterizing with the death eaters. And that’s were Snapes’ tragic story becomes dark. Bullied by the Marauders and left by his family, he fell more and more into the dark arts and became a death eater. Lily turned from him, and so his downfall was sealed. It was Snape, who heared Trawlaneys’ prophercy and told Voldermort about it, which let Voldemort to murder the Potters. According to JKR, Snape never killed in the name of Voldemort, except Dumbledore, but that’s an other story. Anyway, he watched his mates murder helpless people, zivilists, children. He let them, which for me is almost as cruel as raising the wand himself. He bullied Harry, pushed him down, even though Harry was a good student, and a good person, only because of his lookalike to James, who even Harry was ashamed of when he found out what James had done to Snape. But anyway, Snape never got over this hatred for the Potter family, their friends and the Gryffindor house. So far, so good.
But his hatred for Gryffindor was actually the first thing that made me rethink my opinion. Snape and McGonagall are always on a fight, but the moment Umbridge showes up, they are without hesitation on the same side. Both are great wizards, both have lost all family, friends and love interest. Anyway, they do their best to be a good teacher and stand loyal to Dumbledore. And because of this, nobody is more shocked then McGonagall when Snape kills Dumbledore, for she was always the one who trusted Dumbledore in trusting Snape, and who even became beloved foes. As it is shown in the books many times, McGonagall is completely mindblown when she finds out about Snapes betrayal, she can’t believe it. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the movies, when McGonagall raises her wand against Snape, with a face, so sad and tired, and Snape lowers his wand for a second, not wanting to have to fight her. And when she with heavy heart attacks him, he only defends himself, he doesn’t fire back. He, who invented spells like Sectumsempra and never lost a duel in all the books, flies without firing back. He has to keep alive the role he plays, but he can’t harm McGonagall for it. She was weakend due to the curse that had hit her, but he just can’t. He can’t risk her. The other thing about him is, that after Lilys’ death everything but revenge loses count for him. By trying to protect Harry without anyone noticing, he risks his honor, his reputation. Just remember when wants to be the referee at the quidditch match after someone tried to kill Harry in it, and everyone thought he wanted to save Slytherins’ win. He used wandless spells to match up the curses Quirrel casted at Harry. He in the end lost everything he had left by playing the role of Voldemorts’ lieutenant, of Dumbledores’ murderer. But he did. He did it to finish what Lily died for. To honor her sacrifice. He is in the end, what Dumbledore was afraid Draco would become if he was the one killing him. And that’s also where my opinion differs from most potterheads. I don’t think it was Tom Riddle Dumbledore reffered to when he said: “Once I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices.” I think he meant Snape. Snape who could have had everythink he ever wanted, but made the wrong choices in all the situations that mattered. And so Snape pushed Draco away, he took away his own chance to let someone else be the monster that killed Dumbledore, he saved Dracos soul by killing Dumbledore. And when he died in the boatshouse, he gave all of him to the boy he hated most in all the world: Harry. He gave him everything. He laid open his whole life and soul to Harry. Because finally his will to do good, his love for Lily was stronger than his pride.
In the end, I think about Snape as an fallen angel. He had a bad childhood, but Lily was his chance. His chance for good. But he lost her to his pride, he fell for dark arts and the death eaters. But when Lily was in danger, he gave everything to save her, bagged Voldemort to spare her. And he WANTED to. Remember, when Voldemort told Lily to step aside? He didn’t waste a thought on killing James, but with Lily he hesitated. But that’s an other story. But when Lily then died, Snape died with her. He pledged his life to end the war she died for, and when he had played his part, he died. He never lived for himself since her death. He was a cruel person, no dobt. He was pride and cunning and filled with hatred, and that’s why I think he really belonged in Slytherin, but he had one thing that was worth more to him then all of this: His love for Lily. And it was his love for her that made him fall, but also to rise again. He was never on a side after she died. He didn’t care for Dumbledores plans, his principes. He only cared for Lily. He never truly was Voldemorts’ man, as Harry says in Deadly Hollows. But he also never truly was Dumbledors’. He was Lilys’. Always.