Reflections on One Man’s Motives, Bravery, and Sacrifice

An excerpt from Chapter 53: Severus Snape – The Ultimate Double Agent

So what is left to say about Snape?
That he was brilliant, brave, and a superb double agent.

Perhaps Harry says it best nineteen years later when discussing the possibility to his son that he may end up in Slytherin:

“Albus Severus, . . . you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”

Significantly, Harry is told by Snape at one of his Occlumency lessons that Voldemort – when he was attacking Mr. Weasley and Harry was seeing it – realized that Harry was there and that Harry was able to see the attack through the snake’s (or Voldemort’s) eyes. When Harry asks how Snape knows this, Snape merely states, “it is enough that we know.”

And just as significantly, at one point Snape actually admits that he is the inside agent, the person who is spying for Dumbledore!

But Harry fails to understand the significance of what Snape had just told him! (Just as most if not all of the readers of the fifth booked failed to understand the significance of these words as well!)

Snape’s admission occurs in Book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, during one of Harry’s Occlumency lessons:

“Perhaps,” said Snape, his dark, cold eyes narrowing slightly, “perhaps you actually enjoy having these visions and dreams, Potter. Maybe they make you feel special — important?”

“No, they don’t,” said Harry, his jaw set and his fingers clenched tightly around the handle of his wand.

“That is just as well, Potter,” said Snape coldly, “because you are neither special nor important, and it is not up to you to find out what the Dark Lord is saying to his Death Eaters.”

“No — that’s your job, isn’t it?” Harry shot at him.

He had not meant to say it; it had burst out of him in temper. For a long moment they stared at each other, Harry convinced he had gone too far. But there was a curious, almost satisfied expression on Snape’s face when he answered.

“Yes, Potter,” he said, his eyes glinting. “That is my job. Now, if you are ready, we will start again . . .”

Yes, Potter, that is my job. Wow! A clear revelation of the truth – that is instantly ignored and given no significance – until much later when we know the truth about a very good double agent named Severus Snape!

And thanks to Snape, the story ends well. Indeed: “All is well.”

5 comments on “Reflections on One Man’s Motives, Bravery, and Sacrifice

  1. aspenlinmer says:

    I love your post! It is totally right on track with what I see when in Severus when I reread the HP books. There is so much going on with him that is beneath the surface. I love rereading and thinking about what Severus was going through at different points of the story or when he says different things…

    One that I really like is from book six…
    Harry and Snape were going through the same emotions (the same type of hatred) within hours of each other and both for things they were doing to Dumbledore (that they did not want to do) because Dumbledore demanded it of them. How different things could have been if they could have seen their own feelings in the other when interpreting events.

    Chapter 26 – page 571 – “Hating himself, repulsed by what he was doing, Harry forced the goblet back toward Dumbledore’s mouth and tipped it, so that Dumbledore drank the remainder of the potion inside.”
    Chapter 27 – page 595 – “Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.”

    It’s like you said…”A clear revelation of the truth – that is instantly ignored and given no significance” by the first time reader or other characters. How differently the word hatred is understood and felt when the full story is known.


    • How are we doing so far, aspenlinmer – enjoying the posts????

      • aspenlinmer says:


        I especially loved the “For Your Eyes Only: Answers to Order of the Phoenix Quiz!” It’s really unusual I find a quiz that I don’t know all the answers to…especially from my favorite book in the series. 🙂


  2. […] response to a previous post, aspenlinmer drew an interesting comparison between the revulsion that both Harry and Snape feel or […]

    • lynnboughey says:

      Thanks so much for your comment aspenlinmer! We have decided to write a new post to everyone in response to your insightful comments. Also, although we tried some test blogs in December, our site was not fully operational until March. We hope to post much more frequently from now on and respond to comments much more quickly as well.

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