Perhaps one of writer J.K. Rowling’s best and most complex characters is Professor Snape, a character whose allegiance was ambiguous, doubted, and speculated about until the very end. Despite good qualities like his love of Harry’s mother, Snape remained one of the series’ most villainous characters, from his antagonistic treatment of Harry and his friends to his murder of headmaster Dumbledore. So of course some fans are left wondering why Harry would name one of his children, Albus Severus, after such a man.
True to form, Rowling has some insightful answers, which she provided after a fan asked that very question, describing Snape as “abusive towards everyone.”
Initially, Rowling responded by saying, “Snape died for Harry out of love for Lily. Harry paid him tribute in forgiveness and gratitude.” And although she could’ve left it at that, Rowling had more to add.
Rowling responded to another fan who said Snape held no malice against Harry, which Harry eventually understood–not so, Rowling said. “That’s not true, I’m afraid. Snape projected his hatred and jealousy of James onto Harry.” She continued, saying “the decision goes to the heart of who Harry was, post-war.”
And finally, she pointed to both Snape’s good and bad qualities.
“Snape is all grey,” she said. “You can’t make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can’t make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world.” She continued: “In honouring Snape, Harry hoped in his heart that he too would be forgiven. The deaths at the Battle of Hogwarts would haunt Harry forever.”
Rowling also expanded some on Snape’s character and motives, saying that he died not for “ideals” but rather “in an attempt to expiate his own guilt” and that he could’ve broken his cover at any time but instead remained silent, ensuring Harry’s success.
And while that settles the Snape debate for now, it’s surely just a matter of time before Rowling’s next fan Q&A session.