Some people don’t get it. “Why Professor Snape?,” they ask. He’s mean to kids. He’s ugly. No one wanted him; he’s probably a virgin. How can anyone find him sexy?
1. Because smart is sexy. Competent is sexy. And you know that’s what he wants in a mate.
2. Because sarcastic is funny. Because bitter tastes good. Because every time he opens his mouth, he delivers.
(And brilliant, bitter, funny male virgins? Enough said.)
3. He’s always there, just when you need him. He knows what you need and how to do it. Being a Legilimens, he also knows what you want. Think about it.
4. The Rickman effect. Readers loved Snape before the movies were made, but Alan Rickman’s contribution doesn’t hurt. He’s got the swoop, the menace, and the voice. Snape’s voice is silky in the books, but the resonant timbre of Rickman’s voice turns those aural vibrations into full-body experiences. No wonder he was once cast as the voice of God in Dogma.
5. Because he’s hideous, bless him, hook-nosed and greasy. He’s the archetypal cranky teacher who needs to get laid. It’s all the more embarrassing because everyone can see the passions seething in him, how much he loathes being mocked and being too ugly for the pure, good women who are out of his league. But he makes something of himself anyway. He’s magnetic. In any scene he’s in, you can’t take your eyes off the man.
6. He likes women. When women come to him for help, he risks his life to give it, even if he has to protect their ungrateful brats. He knows how it feels to be powerless or unwanted. If you’re in an enchanted sleep, he’ll brew the potion to wake you up. There’s a reason his wizard name is Prince.
7. He’s a bad boy and a good boy in one. The billowing black cloak. The unspeakable evils he’s seen. Don’t call his bluff; we don’t even know all the things he could do. But his greatest power is self-control. He reminds his students to call him sir. Yes, sir. Oh, yes.
8. He’s endlessly rewarding. Some mysteries are easily explained; some fizzle out. But the more you read Snape, the more you learn of him, the more thrilling he becomes.
9. He knows how to atone. He chooses what is right, never what is easy. He assumes a thankless life that guarantees he will be universally hated, universally mistaken for evil, and resists the human urge to protest his innocence and burst forth with his truth. He withstands these tests, even when people cry out to him at their moment of death, because his commitment is to something greater. He forgoes recognition, forgoes adult love, turns his formidable gifts to pulling off the unspeakable under conditions that are unthinkable—accepting that his achievements will never be known. He will never claim the role of hero. Against all instinct, he wills himself to do what must be done. And we, the readers, are his witnesses. Of his many sacrifices, we see that the costliest was the renunciation of his human right to show his true self when he tells the books’s hero with his dying breath, “Look at me.”
10. Look at you? Yes, sir. Looking at Snape is the money shot. J.K. Rowling took an enormous risk, gambling the climax of her epic series on her ability to build up Snape’s ambiguity to a screaming point and then pull off an unspoiled reveal at the end. And what do we see when all is revealed? A vision of love so white-hot that it dazzles. The recognition of Snape’s true self is what brings completion. That’s hot. That’s romantic. And that’s what has me coming back to Snape again and again and again.