Second Character Saturday Alan Rickman: Severus Snape

Blogger’s Note: When I started to thinking about Secondary Character Saturday somehow Alan Rickman kept coming to mind. He’s been around for a long time, he’s been in a LOT of great movies, and he’s almost always in the secondary character spot. He’s PERFECT for this blog segment. But WHICH Alan Rickman role to feature on Secondary Character Saturday? Ah that’s the rub. He’s done everything from rom-com, to Shakespeare, to comic science fiction, to serious drama. Which side of A.R. do I show? Frankly, I couldn’t decide. So I’m claiming the month of MARCH as Alan Rickman Month! (He’s also one of my all time favorite actors so I wont mind spending a month researching him and maybe re-watching a few movies!)

Snape topper

Who: Professor Severus Snape

From: The Harry Potter series

By: J.K. Rowling wrote the fabulous and engaging books. The movies were directed with varying degrees of success by different people. For my money Alfonso Cuarón saved (the movie) franchise from generic blandom with his wickedly good HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and David Yates brought the magic in HP and the Deathly Hallows 1&2.

Released: The character of Severus Snape first appeared in June  of 1997 when Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Great Britain.  We first got to see A.R. as Snape in 2001 with the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Pros: He’s brilliant, of course. He’s got fantastic wand skills and is so fab at potions that he literally rewrote the book. He’s inventive, hard-working,  intuitive. He protects Harry even though he can’t stand him. He teaches Harry Occlumency so he can keep Voldemort out of his mind. He’s acts as a double agent for Dumbledore. And he’s loyal to Lily, his one true and unrequited love. Having made both Lily and Dumbledore (and Narcissa Malfoy) promises he stops at nothing to keep them. He’s the perfect Slytherin.

Still from HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Snape rushes in front of Harry, Ron and Hermione to protect them from a werewolfe. Maybe he's just being a good teacher/adult. But I doubt whether some other teachers at the school would have done the same. [Image courtesy: Warner Brothers]

Still from HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Snape rushes in front of Harry, Ron and Hermione to protect them from a werewolf. Maybe he’s just being a good teacher/adult. But I doubt whether some other teachers at the school would have done the same. [Image courtesy: Warner Brothers]

Cons: Well… he’s mean. He’s REALLY mean to Harry! And that’s just not right! (OK I’ve got that off my chest. But lets face it, Snape isn’t the meanest one of the lot. He’s got nothing on Umbridge.) He’s a bully and he takes out his resentment for what James Potter did to him on Harry.  He’s spiteful, malicious, angry, bitter, resentful, and cruel.  He always favors Slytherin . He’s a double spy for Voldemort. He’s a Death Eater. And he KILLS Dumbledore! He’s the perfect Slytherin.

Most Shining Moment: I agree with Harry Potter Blog Spot who picks Dumbledore’s Death as Snape’s Shining Moment For to honor Dumbledore’s wishes and protect Harry’s (and Draco’s) life, Snape risked the damage his own soul that this horrific act would bring.” [Harry Potter blog spot] It is the crowning action of commitment, loyalty and self-sacrifice, while on the outside (and to the reader)  it looks completely the opposite.

Least Shining Moment: All the times he was meaner than he had to be to Harry and the other students who weren’t in Slytherin … and when he killed Dumbledore.

The Mary Grandpre illustration of Half-Blood Prince.

The Mary Grandpre illustration of Half-Blood Prince.

Yeah, I know I sound schizophrenic, but things with Snape are COMPLICATED. And nothing in the books was more complex and, dare I say, misleading, than Snape’s killing Dumbledore. When it happened it was THE WORST THING EVER in the HP universe and I didn’t think I could ever forgive Snape. Up until then Rawlings had given me enough ammunition to  forgive away his nastiness towards Harry. But this? How could he be redeemed from this? Hmmmm.  Things have changed.

He remained true to himself by remaining loyal to Dumbledore and his lost love. As the stakes and danger increased for him, and Dumbledore pushed him to greater acts of spying and risk, Snape met these challenges bravely, even if irritably, to protect the son of the man he loathed and thereby preserve the memory of the woman he loved. [Ibid]

Something clearly resonates with Snape. He was the top pick of for favorite character in a poll done by the H.P. British publisher Bloomsbury. He received 20% of the votes in the poll that asked readers to rank their favorite 40 characters. (Hermione came in second. Harry was a distant 5th!)

Not to take anything away from the Snape Rowlings painted on the page, but Alan Rickman’s nuisanced performance as the greasy haired potions professor had a lot to do with that high rating. He’s delightful to watch throughout the series. (He makes the first couple of movies bearable with his dark, snarkiness). And as Snape’s story arch progresses Rickman’s performance builds in a measured, restrained, mysterious pace. He respects the character enough not to give anything away. He’s multidimensional in a very limited scope of dimension, many shades of black, as it were. And he’s fun to watch … right up to the moment he makes you cry.

Found this piece of Fan Art on Pinterest (with Maggie's help -- thanks Maggie!) And can not find any one to attribute it to. Sorry.

In another life wake up. by Lily-fox

Sorry the text is small in the comic:This is what it says…
Snape wakes from the dream to find his daughter at his bed side.
She asks “Are you awake?”
He reaches out to touch her red hair — she looks so much like Lily “Yes.”
She smiles “Mommy says pancakes are ready.”

Life is good.


Frankly… (if you haven’t guessed) I’m not a big fan of the HP movies. (LOVED the books — so don’t kick me out the club — but he movies… for the most part … eh.) But Rickman was always worth watching.


So which other A.R. characters should we tackle this month? We’ve got 4 more Saturdays in the month so get your votes in!

  • Hans Gruber (Die Hard’s evil bad guy)
  • Alexander Dane  (Galaxy Quest’s classically trained science officer)
  • Dr. Blalock (the life saving doctor in Something the Lord Made)
  • Judge Turpin (the evil judge in Sweeny Todd)
  • Steven Spurrier (the wine snob from Bottle Shock)
  • Alex (the grief-stricken stranger in Snow Cake)
  • Jamie (the cello playing ghost in Truely, Madly, Deeply), or
  • Col Christopher Brandon (from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensiblity)  — Yeah, I’m doing Branon.

To see how Rickman “elevates the role of a villain from the plain ol’ bastard to a bastard coated bastard with bastard filling.”…go to the excellent blog The Many Faces of Alan Rickman.


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

9 responses to “Second Character Saturday Alan Rickman: Severus Snape

  • Cynthia Tussey Harris

    A friend and I were just talking about Alan Rickman the other day and his character of Snapes-the half-blood prince.

    • ritalovestowrite

      I know, right? For so much of the books Snape was kind of a Darth Vader character for me. The guy you love to hate. Then WHAM at the end everything changed. I really respect Alan Rickman for not giving away too much in his performance early on in the movies.

  • Peter Galen Massey

    Something very tragic heroish about Snape, isn’t there? He and Dumbledore are well matched because they are both compromised: Dumbledore by his sister’s death and Snape by Lily’s. No wonder they were friends, on some level. Dumbledore at least was loved. Snape wasn’t and perhaps didn’t want to be / didn’t know how to be. I think you are right about Rickman making Snape indelible. I was always impatient to seem more of him. Him and Maggie Smith.

  • ritalovestowrite

    Oh, yes, you’ve gotta love Maggie Smith too. 🙂

  • Lynn Reynolds

    A Month of Alan Rickman?!??! My head will explode! But since you asked: 1) Colonel Brandon Colonel Brandon Colonel Brandon
    2) Jamie from Truly, Madly, Deeply (although really this would be my number one for all Alan Rickman roles, but also it should not be included on Secondary Character Saturday because he is definitely NOT a secondary character in that one)
    3) I have to put in a vote here for one you didn’t mention – his starmaking turn in “Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves.” Yes, Kevin Costner was a very bad Robin Hood but Alan Rickman was a magnificent Sheriff of Notthingham. In fact, the whole movie should have been “Nottingham: Prince of Sheriffs.” Or something like that. You get the point.
    4) Everything else. Because I just can’t choose.

    • ritalovestowrite

      @ Lynn — I think Nina is the primary character in the Truly, Madly, Deeply because she is the center point of the love triangle, and she is ALIVE. That said. I simply, completely, and utterly melt when Jamie plays the cello. It / he WILL be featured on a Secondary Character Saturday soon. … Robin Hood — perhaps. I think of Hans Gruber as his star making role, but if you want to vote for Robin Hood I wont stop you. 🙂

      • Lynn Reynolds

        I think they came out within a year or two of each other, so he was just suddenly everywhere. Hans is great too. I won’t object to any Alan Rickman related postings, I can assure you of that!

  • Secondary Character Saturday: Alan Rickman: Steven Spurrier (Bottle Shock) | ritaLOVEStoWRITE

    […] Second Character Saturday Alan Rickman: Severus Snape ( […]

  • Secondary Character Saturday: Alan Rickman: Jamie (Truly Madly Deeply) | ritaLOVEStoWRITE

    […] Second Character Saturday Alan Rickman: Severus Snape ( […]

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