Why is Snape so Sexy?
June 23, 2009
Fact: Severus Snape is sexually attractive.
You can argue the above fact all you want, but even if you do not agree with that statement it is still true. I maintain that it is a universal truth; just more true for some. A lot of heterosexual females (and I am going to go out on a limb and say a lot of homosexual men) find Severus Snape to be very attractive, both physically and intellectually. This has caused some raised-eyebrows; particularly from his creator, J.K. Rowling.
In an interview on WBUR Radio in October of 1999, J.K .said (in response to a question), “Who on earth would want Snape in love with them, that is a very horrible idea (http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1099-connectiontransc2.htm).” She has also called him, “a deeply horrible person (http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/0999-familyeducation-abel.htm),” and finds the idea of fans loving him, “a very worrying thing (http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/news_view.cfm?id=80).” She has also expressed dismay on many occassions that her bad boys (Lucius, Draco, Snape) are the ones that fangirls (and some fanboys) seem to love the most.
Despite her warnings to stay away from Snape, the fandom is rife with Snape fanart, Snape-centric fanfic, Snape merchandise, Snape podcasts (http://snapecast.com/), Snape dolls (*cough, cough*), essays about Snape, and random things given over to the “bat of the dungeons.” This seems like a shocking anomally. Why are we so obsessed, attracted to, and dare I say in love with “a deeply horrible person”?
I have to be honest here, and must therefore confess that there is not a whole lot in canon to support the idea of an “in-anyway” attractive Snape. This implies that we as readers have read something into his character that J.K. never intended to be there–I am not saying that it must then not exist, but rather that the various things that make him attractive to us as fans were not meant to be interpreted and then built upon in the way that we as members of the fandom have.
Physical descriptions of Snape (“hook-nosed,” “sallow-skinned,” “lank, greasy hair,” etc.) are not very flattering. Despite this, when I conjure up images of Snape I see tall, slender (yet well-muscled), pale Romanesque features, impeccably-tailored, graceful hands with long, slender fingers; penetrating eyes, thin, sensually sneered lips and, yes, impossibly greasy hair. This description does not jive with the spirit of what I believe J.K. was going for, but it doesn’t really go against her descriptions either.
From what J.K. has provided us, we know that he is extremely intelligent and powerfully magical. From this, we derive passionate, intense, strong, bittingly sarcastic, caustic wit, etc. Despite the hovel where he lives, his book collection and elf-made wine have added to the idea that he is a closet hedonist. His clothes have induced a sense of Victorian repression and his actions have caused readers to extrapolate the notion that he lives with a very high moral code, albeit a slightly twisted one. After the seventh book, all of his “evil” actions seem justified because of his lost love, guilt, resenment, and self-loathing. On top of that, his work as a double agent paints the picture of a truly self-less individual.
We read in Snape the archetypal anti-hero, the dramatic and misunderstood man who only needs love to make him whole. We find in him a twisted sort of Heathcliff; and thereby romanticize and jusitfy his actions and motives. We love the ideal of a tortured, romantic Byronic hero; whose greatest character flaws are also the very things we find most attractive. And like Heathcliff, it is easy to gloss over the less desirable aspects of Snape.
I think that J.K. provided the seeds for the Sexy Snape, but was suprised when the blooms were not at all what she had intended. Ultimately, though, I think that the reason we find Snape so attractive is because he envokes savior-type feelings in us. If only someone loved him, then… Yes, this is a little unrealalistic and yes this is probably not the healthiest attitude, but there you have it.
Conclusion: Snape is sexy because J.K. un-intentionally wrote him that way and we as member of the fandom added and expanded to that because of our savior complexes (ironic, I know).
It also does not hurt that he is played in the movies by Alan Rickman…