Whether you’ve read the Harry Potter books or watched the movies, one of the most eminent moments of both is when Severus Snape killed Albus Dumbledore. The death of a beloved character is shocking enough, and the fact that he’s killed by one of the most disliked characters is even more interesting. The question is why did Snape kill Dumbledore?
The main reason that Snape killed Dumbledore was out of loyalty to him, because Dumbledore knew he was already dying from a curse. He also knew Voldemort had commanded Draco Malfoy to kill him and he didn’t want Draco to have to live with that.
A lot of people view Snape as the villain of the story and think that he killed Dumbledore out of anger or even jealousy. But the truth is actually much deeper than that. Keep reading to explore the numerous reasons behind Dumbledore’s death, and why Snape had to be the one to kill him.
Why Was Snape The One Who Had to Kill Dumbledore?
Snape was already a feared professor at Hogwarts, and also not a well-liked character in the series. Killing Dumbledore solidified his villain status, especially in Harry’s eyes. So, if he had a choice, then why would Snape commit such a horrendous act?
The truth is, Snape really didn’t have much choice. Dumbledore tried on the cursed Horcrux ring that was meant to kill anyone who put it on. He immediately took it off, but the damage was already done. He would have suffered a painful and humiliating death from the curse, so he pleaded with Snape to help end his life before it got to that point.
Dumbledore also knew that Draco Malfoy had been ordered by Voldemort to kill him, or Voldemort would kill him and his family. He knew Draco might hesitate and not be able to do it. Dumbledore also feared that there was a chance Draco would kill him, and that would push him over to the dark side. Snape bore the burden so Draco wouldn’t have to.
Additionally, Dumbledore was aware that Snape was still faking his allegiance to Voldemort and pretending to be a loyal Death Eater, but in reality, he was still loyal to Dumbledore. Snape feigned loyalty to Voldemort to ultimately protect Harry from him because he didn’t protect Harry’s mother whom he loved.
How Did Snape Kill Dumbledore?
Dumbledore was one of the most powerful wizards at Hogwarts. So how did Snape kill him? He performed the Killing Curse, Avada Kevadra. In the Harry Potter universe, there are three Unforgivable Curses and the Killing Curse is one of them.
However, death from the Killing Curse was immediate and pain-free. Snape possessed the power needed to cast the spell. The silver lining was that when Snape performed the spell to cast the curse, Dumbledore died instantly. Snape saved him from dying a painful death and also saved himself by killing him this way rather than a torturous death.
Why Didn’t Dumbledore Stop SnapeFrom Killing Him?
Dumbledore didn’t stop him because ultimately it was his idea. Dumbledore was already dying from the Horcrux cursed ring. He knew he only had about a year to live, and he would continue to grow weak and vulnerable. He didn’t want to die that way, so he begged Snape to kill him instead when the time came.
Dumbledore lived up to his reputation of being one of the greatest wizards ever and planned his own death with Snape’s assistance. Dumbledore knew that deep down, Snape was loyal to him and would grant his wish to die with dignity. Further, since Snape killed Dumbledore out of mercy, his soul was unharmed.
How Did Snape Feel About Killing Dumbledore?
Snape was very conflicted about killing Dumbledore. He did not want to kill him but did it out of mercy and loyalty to Dumbledore. However, Unforgivable Curses require a certain level of concentration, emotion, and power. The person casting the spell has to want to harm the other person.
If you have seen the film, Snape does appear angry when he casts the death curse. He was angry, but not out of hatred for Dumbledore. Snape was angry with him for pleading with him to end his life. He was also angry with himself for being so loyal to Dumbledore that he agreed to carry out his wishes.
Snape had already proven he was good at mastering emotion and keeping up appearances while pretending to be a loyal Death Eater for so many years. So he knew what emotions he would need to draw out to successfully cast the death curse.
He also saved several people by completing this task. He saved Dumbledore from dying a humiliating death and Malfoy both from being harmed by Voldemort if he failed, and his soul from turning dark if he succeeded. He also saved himself.
Snape had made an unbreakable vow with Narcissa Malfoy, Draco’s mother. She knew that Voldemort planned to kill her entire family if Dumbledore wasn’t killed. She pleaded with Snape to look after Draco and the unbreakable vow was made. If Snape broke the vow, then he would die.
There was also the issue of the Elder Wand. The Elder Wand held incredible power and was in the possession of Dumbledore. The power of the wand is transferred from one wizard to another through death.
If Malfoy had killed Dumbledore, then given the wand to Voldemort, the amount of power Voldemort would have access to would have been devastating. However, Snape killed Dumbledore, then gave the wand to Draco who gave it to Voldemort so the power wasn’t transferred.
The bottom line is, while this one act made Snape seem like more of a villain than ever, it was actually one of his bravest acts that showed his loyalty. Harry couldn’t see it and didn’t know all the details but every decision Snape made, good and bad, protected Harry and honored Snape’s vow to protect him from Voldemort.