Snape has always treated Harry with pure and utter loathing during the whole Harry Potter series and always looked for a chance to put him down during class. But was his helping/saving of Harry for Harry's sake, or for the sake of helping Lily's son?


3 Answers 3


Yes, he did

The whole purpose of Snape's actions throughout the series is to protect Potter. From the first movie (where he tries to neutralise Quirrell's spell during the Quidditch game) to the agonised conversation he has with Dumbledore about Potter's fate confirm this.

It could be that he is protecting Potter because that is the only way Voldemort can be defeated but his motivation for that is because Voldemort killed Potter's mother. We could suppose that his motivation was just to get revenge for the murder of Lily and caring for Harry was just a means to that end. But his last living act—he donates his memories to Harry so Harry can understand his motivation—suggests he wants Harry to understand why he behaved the way he did towards him. Those memories also explain some of the motivation for his harshness with Harry: Harry has some of the less noble characteristics of his father (who stole the love of Snape's life from him and who was sometimes a bully to Snape). So he loves Harry because he is Lily's son but hates some of his characteristics because he is also his father's son. So he cares for him but also has some reservations about his character.

Moreover, for his role with Voldemort to be convincing, he has to act as though he dislikes Potter. He can pull this off convincingly partially because of his dislike for Harry's father and Harry's behaviour when he emulates his father.

Those mixed motivations show that, ultimately he cares for Harry, but not without reservations.

  • 2
    Using hate for something good, only Prof. Snape can do.
    – Vinay
    Jun 17, 2018 at 17:10
  • Do you have any quotes that are more explicit? I think it's plausible to see everything Snape does for Harry as motivated by his love of Lily, and his trying to atone for being a part of the movement that killed her. He gives Harry the memories so that his motivations will be understood. (He also probably didn't mind showing Harry evidence of what a *sshole his father was.)
    – swbarnes2
    Jun 21, 2018 at 17:49
  • 1
    @swbarnes2 Quotes are hard when the primary language of some of the key revelations is entirely visual. Harry doesn't learn Snape's history because of Snape's exposition but because he sees it in Snape's memories.
    – matt_black
    Jul 3, 2018 at 0:13
  • 1
    I don't mean quoting Snape, I mean quoting the text. It's pretty easy to show Snape's animosity to Harry, I don't think that's at all at odds with him feeling he has to protect him solely as a gesture to his love for Lily.
    – swbarnes2
    Jul 3, 2018 at 16:59

No, he didn't.

This question was directly addressed by Professor Dumbledore to Professor Snape himself in the book (as well as in the movie) when Snape expresses his disgust at Dumbledore's revelation of Harry having to die at the cost of Voldemort's fall.

From the thirty-third chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, "The Prince's Tale":

“So the boy . . . the boy must die?” asked Snape quite calmly.

“And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential.”

Another long silence. Then Snape said, “I thought . . . all these years . . . that we were protecting him for her. For Lily.”

“We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength,” said Dumbledore, his eyes still tight shut. “Meanwhile, the connection between them grows ever stronger, a parasitic growth: Sometimes I have thought he suspects it himself. If I know him, he will have arranged matters so that when he does set out to meet his death, it will truly mean the end of Voldemort.”

Dumbledore opened his eyes. Snape looked horrified.

“You have kept him alive so that he can die at the right moment?”

“Don’t be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?”

“Lately, only those whom I could not save,” said Snape. He stood up. “You have used me.”


“I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter —”

“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”

“For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!”

From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

“After all this time?”

“Always,” said Snape.

The patronus of Snape here signifies his love for Lily and that his only motivation for protecting Harry was because he was Lily's son.

  • 2
    I'm not convinced that this demonstrates Snape's lack of concern for Harry. In fact, to me, the text shows snape did care (and don't forget what the patronus was doing at this point!)
    – matt_black
    Jul 16, 2021 at 11:17
  • It's also worth noting that Snape doesn't refer to Harry by name in the quoted portion at all – only as "the boy" or as "Lily Potter's son". It's clear what matters to him in that regard... (Or at the least, that's the image he wants to project outwardly.)
    – V2Blast
    May 5, 2022 at 18:11

In a way, yes. Mostly, especially to start with, he only took care of Harry for his mother, Lily, the love of his life. Towards the end though, especially that last dying scene, I believe Snape did begin to show affection for Harry.Harry with Snape as he dies

  • This does not add any new information to the other answer.
    – Tode
    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:34

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