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The Harry Potter moment that paints Snape in a different light

What makes the Harry Potter series so easy to revisit is not only its engaging story and deep mythology, but its complex characters, principally among them: Severus Snape. When we first meet Professor Snape, he has all the trappings of an antagonist fans can easily root against. He's cold. He hates Harry Potter. He's partial to Malfoy. But as the series progresses, Snape becomes a beloved character. He's loyal to Dumbledore and constantly protects Harry, even if Harry (and the audience) don't quite realize it. Upon rewatching the films, fans can see many instances of Snape protecting Harry, but one in particular is a perfect example of why the potions master is easy to love.

In the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (a.k.a. the Harry Potter movie Daniel Radcliffe hates), Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) come face-to-face with Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) as he transforms into a werewolf. With the help of the Wolfsbane potion, Lupin is normally able to keep his wits about him after his transformation, but on this night, Lupin did not take the potion. All the commotion around Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) had him a bit distracted. Seeing the kids in danger, Snape (Alan Rickman) immediately runs to their aid. As the unhinged werewolf approaches, Snape uses his body to shield the trio from any danger.

Dolores Umbridge is the opposite of Snape

Snape often shows his disdain for Harry throughout the series, taking points away from Gryffindor and mocking Harry for his fame during his first year. But Snape's heroic actions overshadow his words, as he repeatedly protects Harry from Voldemort. The same cannot be said of another Hogwarts professor, one who appears to be the inverse of Snape in every way. 

In a reddit thread created by user Slim_Brady12 we see an image created by MaryyxSlytherin that shows Umbridge cowering behind Harry and Hermione juxtaposed with the image of Snape's instinct to shield them. This comparison highlights all the other interesting ways we can contrast the two characters. While Snape drapes himself in black robes and a bad attitude while all along protecting Harry and his friends, Dolores Umbridge always sports pink, has a personality like "poisoned honey," and (literally) tortures Harry, making her the actual worst villain in Harry Potter.

Take this scene from Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix as a case study: When Harry and Hermione lead Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest to find Dumbledore's "secret weapon." Umbridge, clearly out of her element, treads carefully behind Harry and Hermione, letting them take the brunt of whatever dangers they might face. A lot of good it does her. After insulting and attacking a group of centaurs, Umbridge is soon grabbed and taken away.

One reddit user in the thread called SneakySpider82 wrote that they loved this scene in the film in which Snape protects the kids, because it made Snape's "bravery broader and nobler," while Umbridge's scene showed her to be "cowardly."  

Though Snape might appear to be one of Harry's biggest antagonists, he's actually one of the wizards who helped him most against Voldemort, shielding him when he could. Umbridge, however, cowered behind Harry when danger approached.