He may have been Head of house Slytherin. He may have seemed like the epitome of evil, hell bent on thwarting Dumbledore and Harry, but we know Severus Snape was so much more than that. A complicated man who, despite everything and, in the end, did what was asked of him by Dumbledore and, in doing so, gave the ultimate sacrifice: his life.
In dying the way he did, Snape showed us what it is to be a different kind of hero—an unseen hero. A tarnished man with a conflicted soul who harboured a deep hurt that, quite possibly, shaped who he became throughout the whole series. Intentional by Rowling? Undoubtedly! I mean, what better kind of hero can you have than Severus Snape?
Bitter, yes, twisted, maybe. But in his love for Harry’s mother, Lily, Snape dug deep and found something deep inside himself, and did the right thing when it mattered.
I think, for me at least, when I learned that his patronus was a doe, as silver doe at that, I knew he wasn’t all bad. Especially when he used his patronus to lead Harry to the sword of Gryffindor, which Ron then used to destroy the locket Horcrux.
And for every bad thing he appeared to do, he also did a lot of good things. He tries to save Harry from Quirrell’s broom jinx. Makes Wolfsbane potion for Lupin every full moon, and saves Draco Malfoy when Harry uses the spell, Sectumsempra, on him. And then, even as he is dying, he gives Harry his memories by way of explaining his past, and more importantly for us to know, reasons for his behaviour—like the fact that Harry’s father, James, bullied him.
He was far from perfect, but for me, at least, here was the perfect example of a flawed hero.
Long live the Silver Doe!