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Love him or loathe him, Severus Snape is quite a character, as Harry Potter fans surely know. And he has quite a story, which unfolds in pieces throughout the eight feature adaptations of J.K. Rowling's beloved series. The video below, which has been making the rounds recently, tells Snape's story by organizing scenes from the films chronologically. (Major Harry Potter spoilers ahead, obviously...)
Youtube user Kcawesome13 posted the above video a while back, and if you sat through all fourteen minutes of it, you'll see that it tells the story of Severus Snape (portrayed mostly by the great Alan Rickman), from the days when he and Lily Potter were BFFs, through his tormented years as a Slytherin at Hogwarts, to his Death Eater days and through his turn as Harry Potter's potion's teacher. It all leads up to Snape's final years, including having to send Dumbledore out the window of the Astronomy tower, and Snape's eventual death at the hands of Voldemort.
These scenes were presented to us in the Harry Potter movies at various points, but because the story centered primarily around the titular character, Snape's role was usually tied to Harry's, and his background was doled out on a need-to-know basis. The truth about his motivations wasn't revealed to us until the end, and it proved to be one of the many great aspects about the conclusion of this story. The above video ties it all together well. Capturing the events of Snape's life, as presented to us throughout the films, except in chronological order.
Fair warning: I'm about to go full Harry Potter nerd here, because this video prompts all sorts of thoughts about Severus Snape, both as a character and as he related to the overall story of the books and the films.
I'm not Anti-Snape, but I also don't feel compelled to romanticize the character, without at least acknowledging both the good and the bad. After all, he was a Death Eater, serving Voldemort faithfully, doing who-knows-what kind of terrible things... until the woman he loved was in danger. It seems only fair to wonder: If the mother of the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord hadn't been Lily Potter, would Severus Snape have ever left Voldemort's side? We don't know. But it is made clear -- as emphasized in the video above, when we see Snape reveal his Patronus-- that Snape's reason for protecting Harry, and putting his own life on the line to defeat Voldemort, was out of love for Lily, specifically. "Always" Lily.
By comparison to being a Death Eater, Snape's nasty attitude toward Harry pales, and can be chalked up to a combination of grief, rejection and justified distaste for Harry's father, and Snape's school rival, James Potter. Still, his behavior toward Harry is a reflection of his personality and character, and it demonstrates that love and compassion don't always go hand in hand.
Snape may have hated James and disliked Harry, but his love for Lily proved that he had a very crucial redeeming quality, which served the story as much as it served the character's design. Love is one of the major themes in the Harry Potter books and movies. Love was Voldemort's blindspot, and it proved to be his downfall on more than one occasion. It caused him to nearly be destroyed when he tried to kill Harry when he was a baby, and it led to Voldemort's eventual defeat at the end of the series. For direct evidence of that, we need only to watch that scene where a dying Snape encourages Harry to take some of his most personal memories, and use them to defeat Voldemort.
For direct evidence of his love for Lily, watch Snape use his final breaths to ask to see Harry's eyes, which we're reminded often, look just like Lily's. Snape almost always saw James when he looked at Harry, but in his final moments, he saw Lily.
I think it's fair to argue that Snape's redemption was due to a combination of grief, remorse, vengeance and love. In fair Slytherin fashion -- as a proud Pottermore-sorted Slytherin, no judgment -- his motives are all driven by his own interests. But Snape acted, fought and died in the name of love, which is one reason he's such a great character, as well as a fine demonstration of a different kind of bravery and heroism.
RIP Severus Snape, and points to whatever house KCAwesome hails from, for his or her efforts to give Snape's great story its own cinematic adaptation.
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