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Harry Potter Character - Severus SnapeSeverus Snape (born January 9, 1959) is a fictional character in the Harry Potter series of novels by J. K. Rowling. He was appointed Potions teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry shortly after completing his education at the school, and became Head of Slytherin house.
Snape's physical appearance is that of the classic villain: thin, "hook-nosed" and "greasy," and clad in forbidding black robes "like an overgrown bat" [HP1]. Harry Potter intensely dislikes and distrusts Snape for his chequered past and his apparent animosity towards him.
Severus Snape was born to Tobias Snape, a Muggle, and Eileen Prince, a witch. The youthful Snape is described as having a "stringy, pallid look," being "round-shouldered yet angular," and having a "twitchy" walk "like a spider" and "long oily hair that jumped about his face." As a first-year student at Hogwarts, he knew more hexes and curses than most seventh-years, while his bookish demeanour and unattractive appearance made him an outsider and an object of scorn. Harry learns that Snape was extremely unpopular and lonely in his teens, resulting from, or perhaps fueling, his interest in the Dark Arts. Snape's Classmates included Harry's father and mother James and Lily Potter, Harry's godfather Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew.
Details of his early life are incomplete, but Harry comes to suspect that Snape suffered neglect by his parents and may have been abused by his father. He comes to these conclusions through his botched lessons in Occlumency, when he sees three scenes from Snape's memory. In the first, a boy is crying in a corner while a hook-nosed man shouts at a cowering woman. In the second, a teenager is sitting alone in a dark bedroom shooting down flies, and in the third a girl is laughing while a scrawny boy tries to get on a broomstick. [HP5]
Snape suffered relentless and vicious teasing and bullying at the hands of Sirius Black and James Potter, much as Dudley Dursley and Draco Malfoy persecuted Harry. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry learns that, while they were still students at Hogwarts, Sirius Black - one of James Potter's best friends and later Harry's godfather - lured Snape to the Shrieking Shack where he could have been killed or seriously injured by Remus Lupin in his werewolf form. James warned Snape of the danger and thereby saved his life, but Snape believed that James was involved in the plot and only intervened out of fear of expulsion from Hogwarts. However, Snape feels indebted to James for this favor.
Much of Snape's disdain for Harry seems to stem from the rivalry between him and Harry's father James while they were students together at Hogwarts. Snape invented a number of spells, one of which James Potter used against him - causing Snape to hang upside down in mid-air. Harry's mother Lily defended Snape against James while James was tormenting him, professing her detestation of the boy she was later to marry. Harry illicitly watches these memories in Dumbledore's Pensieve, where Snape has placed them to keep them hidden from Harry.
Snape became a Death Eater, but at some point before Voldemort's first defeat also became a member of the Order of the Phoenix. His motivation for joining either side is unclear; both Voldemort and Dumbledore appear to trust him and believe that he is spying on the other, but few seem certain which side he is on.
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