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Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8



View Poll Results: Snape's main feeling for James would be...
Loathing 25 15.53%
Contempt 16 9.94%
Envy 27 16.77%
Hatred 17 10.56%
Jealousy 59 36.65%
Regret 0 0%
You're evil for restricting the options and not even putting up my favourite. 17 10.56%
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  #1381  
Old August 19th, 2008, 4:01 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

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Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
We also have the OWL exams in OotP, Snape's Worst Memory, where he had written twice as much as all his neighbours (or something), which was a clear indication that he knew more than others.
In general, the highest academic marks go to the students who spot the issues raised by the question and answer in a concise and accurate fashion. For the most part, when students write long laborious answers, they are providing much more information than is asked for, either because they are unsure of the answer and want to cover every possible base, or simply relating everything they know about the issue. Either way, strict professors often mark one down for the former and unless the latter is spot on, they will be marked down for that as well. Because Snape was fascinated with the Dark Arts at that time; I would imagine he would expound on that topic, showing how the defense could be headed off or defeated. While that is pure speculation, I would imagine that would not be given extra credit as the issue would have been defense, not dark arts.

But to be honest with you, I feel JKR was merely attempting to show Snape's fascination with the dark arts and that he struggled otherwise. She had James and Sirius finish first and signal one another that they felt the test was a cinch - Sirius tilting back in his seat in ease and James having time to doodle a snitch with Lily's initials - after rereading his answer. Again, supporting the idea that they were at the top of their class, imo - whereas Snape was writing frantically at the end and later pouring over his exam sheet as if he were worried about his performance, imo.

I am not an unfair person; if Snape had been stretched back in his seat smirking at the end of the exam and James and Sirius had been writing furiously, I would interpret this scene just the opposite and feel Snape had likely had the better performance. But the scene was not presented that way, in my honest opinion.

And note too that I could interpret James and Sirius' actions as meaning they were stupid and just didn't care, that they gave up early because they didn't know the answers. But that would be contradicted by their gestures afterward and their subsequent conversation; by Sirius later saying he didn't need to review transfigurations because he had it all down; and by McGonagall saying that they were bright - exceptionally bright. A professor can only reach that conclusion based on a student's work product, answers in class, etc., imo, and if they were bright but got horrible grades because they didn't apply themselves, they would hardly be recognized by one who was studious as the cleverest students in the school, without qualification.

Quote:
His spells were definitely extraordinary.
I feel that is a matter of opinion and I totally respect your view. However, in canon, no character indicated that Snape's spells were extraordinary in nature and that is what I was attempting to show; the in-story perception of Snape as a student by other characters as opposed to the reader's perception.

Quote:
Also, we have ample actual evidence to make a judgment whether he was brilliant or not - the entire Potions textbook (done while he was still a student),
I feel that Snape had a decided knack for potions. Again, this does not indicate that he excelled in anything else in my opinion. There is no canon that indicates that he did (with the exception of the dark arts which is not the same as DADA, imo.)

Quote:
his duelling abilities (against Minerva and the duelling champion Flitwick), his truly exceptional ability - he can fly; his ability to fool Voldemort and all the Death Eaters for all those years; his Potions expertise, etc. He was definitely very clever. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?
This is the adult Snape, I was speaking only of these individuals as students at Hogwarts. I believe a great number of students that were not extraordinary while at Hogwarts went on to excel in certain areas as adults. And just as an aside, Voldemort taught Snape how to fly; he did not achieve that ability on his own or invent it. He was still flying on a broom in 7 Potters when Voldemort was flying on his own. (DH-Fallen Warrior/Sacking of Severus Snape.)


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Last edited by wickedwickedboy; August 19th, 2008 at 4:41 pm.
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  #1382  
Old August 19th, 2008, 4:18 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
We also have the OWL exams in OotP, Snape's Worst Memory, where he had written twice as much as all his neighbours (or something), which was a clear indication that he knew more than others.
With all due respect, I don't think that is a clear indication of anything. As a person who has marked papers, it's my experience that sometimes people write a lot because they know a lot while other times, they know nothing and are just hoping that if they blather on enough, they'll hit on something that will answer the question (or at least impress the marker). Without knowing his OWL mark, we don't know how good he is. We do know that he managed to mess up a DADA fact when he taught Lupin's class (the Kappa mistake), so that's not bolstering his case. He got to teach DADA, but Dumbledore had trouble filling that position (and took on some pretty incompetent professors in that role) and he needed to bring back Slughorn as the potions instructor while keeping Snape employed. So, again, I'm not sure that's a clear indication either.

I simply don't think that we have enough information to judge the relative intelligence of the majority of the people in the HP universe. Dumbledore is widely regarded as brilliant and Crabbe is widely regarded as dumb as a box of hair. I think everybody else falls somewhere in between.

And intelligence is really hard to measure. Most experts now agree that there are several types of intelligence. Somebody may be brilliant at math, but have the social skills of a rock. If they are so smart, why can't the figure out how to interact with other people? If somebody is brilliant at History, why can they also suck at Physics? It's probably because there are several different types of intelligence. Howard Gardner defined 7 - Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Spatial, Musical, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal. I guess in the magical world, they would add a few more.

Snape seems to be good at Logical things, but I'm not sure where he would fall on those other spectrums. He's probably pretty good at Intrapersonal, but he really, really sucks at Interpersonal, in my opinion.

I think Snape is intelligent in some fields, but not in all areas of intelligence. And that's normal. Dumbledore makes some pretty big mistakes and Crabbe turns out to be a wiz at Dark spells. Few people are good at everything or suck at everything. People will value different things. It's all good.

ETA:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
his duelling abilities (against Minerva and the duelling champion Flitwick),
I don't recall Snape beating Flitwick in a duel (can you refresh my memory?). The closest thing I can come up with is when Snape took out Flitwick in HBP when Flitwick comes to get him to join in the defense of the castle. I wouldn't call that a real duel because Flitwick never expected that Snape would be a "traitor". Snape essentially ambushed Flitwick there. Being a dueling champion (in a controlled atmosphere) doesn't mean that you are always ready to zap an ally at the drop of the hat. And one duel proves little. Harry beat Voldemort in several duels and I think most people would still say that Voldemort was the better dueler. I think it's more complicated than that.


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Last edited by wingardium713; August 19th, 2008 at 4:44 pm.
  #1383  
Old August 19th, 2008, 4:56 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

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Originally Posted by Pearl_Took View Post
With all due respect, Wick, this is an argument conducted purely from silence. All we know about Lily's academic record is that she was brilliant at Potions ... are we to assume, then, that she was a mediocre student? I would say that was unfair to Lily's character and I certainly think it is unfair to Snape's.
Not at all and I agree with you. We know nothing about Lily. She may have been brilliant at potions and brilliant at other things too. But no one called her the cleverest student in the school, exceptionally bright or having had extraordinary achievements. So the most we can say was that Slughorn felt she was brilliant at potions.

We have more evidence for Snape. We know that he was writing frantically at the end of his exam and JKR contrasted that showing those she had called "exceptionally bright" and "cleverest students in the school" (James and Sirius) finish earlier and look relaxed. Afterward, they exhibited their knowledge talking about it and eschewed further study because they already had it down, whereas she showed Snape pouring over his exam as if worried about is performance (OOTP - SWM). Snape was in all 7 books and the same people spoke about him to Harry as spoke about his parents. If JKR wanted us to know that Snape had been exceptionally bright, there was ample opportunity for her to have at least one person say so - unlike with Lily whose past was kept extremely vauge and secret throughout the series, presumably on purpose. All we get about Snape however, is that he was able to present fine potions the first time he tried them - and not even as well as Harry did from Snape's own notes. This is certainly not enough for us to conclude that he was "exceptionally bright" or "cleverest in the school" - or even among the cleverest in his year, imo. But I feel I can conclude that he was likely good in potions.

Quote:
I disagree with Rowling about Hermione being a genius, actually. Hermione is extremely bright and extremely hard-working but that does not make anyone a genius. Geniuses are very rare people indeed. And I don't think Hermione is one, based on what we see in canon. But I digress.
She said "near" genius.

Quote:
The guy who invented the logics puzzle in PS/SS had been a mediocre student? Sorry, Wick, but I don't buy it. The evidence points to a brilliant Potions Master showing impatience (unfairly, to be sure) with a nervous and apparently incompetent student (Neville). Snape has high standards as a teacher and he wastes no time in letting his students know it.
Again, we are not talking about adult Snape, who I agree had become an excellent potions master by the time we meet up with him 11 years into his career. I was speaking about the student Snape.

I would only ask why Snape's high standards did not extend to Hermione. She could produce perfect potions and he snubbed her anyway. He did not encourage her nor did he ever commend her work out of hand - making her an example for the others. People try to say it is because he had "high standards" for her as well. but that makes no sense to me. She was clearly showing an excellence far beyond what was expected and Snape wouldn't even acknolwedge it; instead he referred to her as a 'know it all'. She was. But not in the bad sense Snape inferred, she really did know it all! This smacks of acute jealousy, something unfortunately seen in professors from time to time.

Just as an aside, many and I mean many, very logical people are mediocre students. Good at logic does not equal excellent student. The man who has performed numerous perfect scores on pure logic Law School entry exams for over 10 years - runs a preparation course and is deemed a master of logic - dropped out of Law school after a year and a half...not doing well...attitude problems . So many things factor into a student's ability, not merely logic.

Quote:
With all due respect, I just don't think we see any evidence from canon to prove this is how Snape felt about Draco's academic achievements, let alone anybody else's. Just being really honest here.
I was merely referring to the pride he seemed to take in Draco's potion over Hermione's, despite hers being at least equally perfect. Why would that be? (Unless his smirk was not pride and meant something else; I agree it could have)


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Last edited by wickedwickedboy; August 19th, 2008 at 5:24 pm.
  #1384  
Old August 19th, 2008, 5:36 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwickedboy View Post
We have more evidence for Snape. We know that he was writing frantically at the end of his exam and JKR contrasted that showing those she had called "exceptionally bright" and "cleverest students in the school" (James and Sirius) finish earlier and look relaxed. Afterward, they exhibited their knowledge talking about it and eschewed further study because they already had it down, whereas she showed Snape pouring over his exam as if worried about his performance (OOTP - SWM).
Snape sounds a bit like Hermione. In that she frequently worried about her academic performance.

How a student behaves during an exam is not, IMO, an indicator of how bright they actually are. Some bright students can afford to be relaxed -- like James. Others are far more highly strung and neurotic about how well they've done -- like Hermione (who had a lot to prove, being Muggleborn, or so she felt). The same behaviour applies equally to mediocre students: some fret about their poor performance, others couldn't care less.

I've known clever and well-deserving people go completely to pieces under the pressure of the examination system, so I don't think that Snape's behaviour after his OWL exam, as contrasted with the Marauders' demeanour, proves anything.


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  #1385  
Old August 19th, 2008, 5:42 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearl_Took View Post
Snape sounds a bit like Hermione. In that she frequently worried about her academic performance.

How a student behaves during an exam is not, IMO, an indicator of how bright they actually are. Some bright students can afford to be relaxed -- like James. Others are far more highly strung and neurotic about how well they've done -- like Hermione (who had a lot to prove, being Muggleborn, or so she felt). The same behaviour applies equally to mediocre students: some fret about their poor performance, others couldn't care less.

I've known clever and well-deserving people go completely to pieces under the pressure of the examination system, so I don't think that Snape's behaviour after his OWL exam, as contrasted with the Marauders' demeanour, proves anything.
So JKR specifically wrote the scene that way to show...nothing? I think if she was trying to constrast how different "brilliant" students were reacting to an exam, she would have definitely had someone mention, or let it be known in some way, that Snape had been a brilliant student. She had 7 books to do so after all, and a multitude of interviews over the years.

My point is not to make a contest out of this. My point is that canon states James and Sirius were the cleverest students at the school. Since Snape was not said to also be the cleverest, he may have begrudged them this. The whole thing was simply to find a possible reason why Snape might have begrudged Hermione's brilliance. In the end that may not be the reason why Snape treated her in the manner he did anyway - it was merely a possibility.


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Last edited by wickedwickedboy; August 19th, 2008 at 5:52 pm.
  #1386  
Old August 19th, 2008, 5:51 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearl_Took View Post
Snape sounds a bit like Hermione. In that she frequently worried about her academic performance.

How a student behaves during an exam is not, IMO, an indicator of how bright they actually are. Some bright students can afford to be relaxed -- like James. Others are far more highly strung and neurotic about how well they've done -- like Hermione (who had a lot to prove, being Muggleborn, or so she felt). The same behaviour applies equally to mediocre students: some fret about their poor performance, others couldn't care less.

I've known clever and well-deserving people go completely to pieces under the pressure of the examination system, so I don't think that Snape's behaviour after his OWL exam, as contrasted with the Marauders' demeanour, proves anything.
I don't think how they behaved during an exam showed anything about their intelligence, just their confidence. Hermione always frets about how she does on exams a lot, even though she's the brightest witch of their age. We see that she isn't very confident in how she did on the OWLs in HBP when she is going into hysterical sobs as the owls arrive. She's shocked when she gets ten Outsandings. Snape we see writing frantically also. Peter was trying to look on other students' papers for answers. Neither of them seemed very confident. Afterwards, Peter has to double-check with his friends about whether he got the right answers or not. James, Sirius and Remus keep their cool the whole time and don't worry too much about it. We know that they ended up getting good grades because of the canon examples from PoA that wwb provided.

I don't really think what you said applies, since James and Sirius aren't mediocre students. And they probably do care about how they've done, even if they don't show it.

Another point: maybe it turns out that neither the Marauders + Lily or Snape ware the brightest students in their class. There are still dozens of students that we don't know about (Lupin was only one of two Gryffindor prefects, what about the other one?). But the discussion seems to be who was smarter, Snape or the Marauders.


  #1387  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:01 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwickedboy View Post
So JKR specifically wrote the scene that way to show...nothing?
When I first read that scene, Wick, I thought it showed how obsessed Severus was with the Dark Arts and how fascinating he found them.

It also showed me how hard-working he was and that he took exams seriously.

It didn't occur to me that JKR might have been making a point about his academic mediocrity. If she was, the point remains very obscure, IMO.

I remember girls in my class talking endlessly about exam papers after they'd done them. A sign of stress, to be sure, and maybe Severus was very stressed.

Maybe. I'm still not convinced.

Quote:
My point is not to make a contest out of this.
Neither am I (but does canon actually state that James and Sirius were the cleverest in the school? We know from Madam Rosmerta that they were both very bright ... is it claimed anywhere that they were the cleverest in the whole school?)

Quote:
Since Snape was not said to also be the cleverest, he may have begrudged them this. The whole thing was simply to find a possible reason why Snape might have begrudged Hermione's brilliance. In the end that may not be the reason why Snape treated her in the manner he did anyway - it was merely a possibility.
OK, I can accept that as a possible -- and plausible -- theory for why he was so down on Hermione. Or maybe her anxiety to please just got on his nerves since he is not the most patient of teachers to put it mildly!

But, really, I just don't think there is enough canon here to prove the point.


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  #1388  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:12 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
We also have the OWL exams in OotP, Snape's Worst Memory, where he had written twice as much as all his neighbours (or something), which was a clear indication that he knew more than others.

His spells were definitely extraordinary.
WWB: You phrased "1 and 2 in their class" as if it is a measurable quantity in the books,while the teachers just call them clever or good. We know that Lily and Severus were in the same class and they were good students because Slughorn says so.

To disregard what Slughorn says is to miss one of the key foreshadowing statements in the entire series. He is speaking the truth and sets up the whole Snape/Evans story in Deathly Hallows, because obviously Snape-Lily-Harry are all using the same Potions Book, written by young Severus.

McGonagall and Hagrid are biased about the Marauders - they were all in the same House, as was Dumbledore. Actually, Slughorn comes off as less biased than anyone because he thought Lily was an excellent student, and gives Severus his due also, as he should. Slughorn also praises Sirius and Regulus but gives absolutely no mention to James at all, bringing into question his status as a brainy student.

Snape rewrote the textbook that was ahead of his own level, and invented new spells. Severus also has healing ability, dueling ability, and the capability to fly (possibly learned from Lily). Therefore, he might have been top of the class too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearl Took
(but does canon actually state that James and Sirius were the cleverest in the school? We know from Madam Rosmerta that they were both very bright ... is it claimed anywhere that they were the cleverest in the whole school?)
Lupin says they were the cleverest in the school, I think, but they were his friends, and he is leaving out Snape and Lily - and himself. I think that speaks more to Lupin's hero worship or bad self-esteem than anything else.

Madam Rosmerta was not a teacher, and she says they made her laugh - nothing about the brightness factor.


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Last edited by silver ink pot; August 19th, 2008 at 6:15 pm.
  #1389  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:14 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

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Originally Posted by Pearl_Took View Post
When I first read that scene, Wick, I thought it showed how obsessed Severus was with the Dark Arts and how fascinating he found them.
Me too, and the way he was still writing frantically at the end and later pouring over his notes, made me assume he was worried about his performance. But that was merely my first impression.

Quote:
It didn't occur to me that JKR might have been making a point about his academic mediocrity. If she was, the point remains very obscure, IMO.
I don't think that was her point, myself. I think her point was to show that McGonagall, Dumbledore and Lupin were not lying about the other two. She showed the contrast to make this more evident, imo. I would doubt those three people if she'd shown James frantically writing out a laborious answer and then pouring over his exam afterward while Sirius scratched his head with a puzzled expression on his face. And if either of them had reacted like Hermione I would wonder too; the only reason we don't wonder about Hermione is because we know how she is - a worry wort - but always coming up with brilliant marks. But she couldn't show them as worry worts - because we knew nothing else about them and we might get the impression that they really had something to worry about.

Quote:
Neither am I (but does canon actually state that James and Sirius were the cleverest in the school? We know from Madam Rosmerta that they were both very bright ... is it claimed anywhere that they were the cleverest in the whole school?)
Yes. I put the references in my above post for all 3 quotes. That one is POA-Wormtail, Moody, Padfoot and Prongs.

Quote:
OK, I can accept that as a possible -- and plausible -- theory for why he was so down on Hermione. Or maybe her anxiety to please just got on his nerves since he is not the most patient of teachers to put it mildly!
Agreed; it was only speculation on my part. As I said, there may have been another reason.


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  #1390  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:14 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingardium713
his duelling abilities (against Minerva and the duelling champion Flitwick)
Like wingardium713, I fail to find when Snape duels Filius. Snape assaulted Flitwick during the battle at Hogwarts in HBP, but Flitwick was unprepared for such an attack (which can hardly be called a duel). In fact, I would say Flitwick overpowered Snape in their one true meeting (though Flitwick was backed up by McGonagall and Sprout). It was his enchantment of the suit of armor that caused Snape to flee the castle in The Sacking of Severus Snape.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwickedboy
In general, the highest academic marks go to the students who spot the issues raised by the question and answer in a concise and accurate fashion. For the most part, when students write long laborious answers, they are providing much more information than is asked for, either because they are unsure of the answer and want to cover every possible base, or simply relating everything they know about the issue. Either way, strict professors often mark one down for the former and unless the latter is spot on, they will be marked down for that as well.
I agree. As a professor, I generally grade highest for the most direct, correct answers. However, the O.W.L. exams are not graded that way. Hermione gained 'O's in all of her O.W.L.s except for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and she put all she knew into her answers, just like Snape (she debated putting the counter to hiccuping in her Cheering Charms answer; to me, that implies she had already written enough sufficient information but continued to write what she had memorized). However, she got an O in Charms. Thus, Snape would probably have been given a high grade for his lengthy answers in his favorite subject's O.W.L.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwickedboy
But to be honest with you, I feel JKR was merely attempting to show Snape's fascination with the dark arts and that he struggled otherwise. She had James and Sirius finish first and signal one another that they felt the test was a cinch - Sirius tilting back in his seat in ease and James having time to doodle a snitch with Lily's initials - after rereading his answer. Again, supporting the idea that they were at the top of their class, imo - whereas Snape was writing frantically at the end and later pouring over his exam sheet as if he were worried about his performance, imo.
I agree that this scene demonstrated Snape's obsession with the Dark Arts. However, I do not think he was worried about his performance in this particular O.W.L. I read this scene as if Snape were trying to prove to the examiners that he was the best in the year in Defense Against the Dark Arts: not James or Sirius. This is why, I believe, he wrote such long answers; he was trying to best his two nemeses and leave the examiners in no doubt that he knew more about the Dark Arts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwickedboy
I feel that Snape had a decided knack for potions. Again, this does not indicate that he excelled in anything else in my opinion. There is no canon that indicates that he did (with the exception of the dark arts which is not the same as DADA, imo.)
While Defense is not the same as the Dark Arts, I would still say canon supports Snape's brilliance in both subjects. He calls Defense Against the Dark Arts his favorite subject, and his understanding of the Dark Arts (see his opening speech in HBP) would easily have translated to suit the subject: defending against the Dark Arts he knew so well.

I would also say canon supports Snape excelling in Potions. Slughorn's remark to Snape at the Christmas party ("never had a student produce finer on a first attempt, I don't think even you, Severus -") is, to me, evidence that Snape's first attempt at the Draught of Living Death exceeded Slughorn's expectations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathlyH
She's shocked when she gets ten Outsandings.
I do not think Hermione was shocked. I was exactly the same type of student as Hermione, and while I always feared getting a bad grade (this was the cause of Hermione's hysterics upon receiving her O.W.L. results, I believe), I always expected to achieve high marks. I would simply attack my own performance as a way to make myself feel better if I did not do well. I believe Hermione did the same.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathlyH
Another point: maybe it turns out that neither the Marauders + Lily or Snape ware the brightest students in their class.
Considering Lupin (almost a neutral party when he was saying this, and he is one of the characters we can normally trust to be correct) said, in canon, that Sirius and James were the top students in the year, I would not dispute this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathlyH
But the discussion seems to be who was smarter, Snape or the Marauders.
I believe they were all intelligent, but in their own fields (as students). As a student, Snape seems to be more specialized in his intelligence (more reserved for Defense Against the Dark Arts and Potions), whereas Sirius and James were, similar to Hermione (but more naturally intelligent, I think), more brilliant in all subjects.


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  #1391  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:16 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwickedboy View Post
So JKR specifically wrote the scene that way to show...nothing? I think if she was trying to constrast how different "brilliant" students were reacting to an exam, she would have definitely had someone mention, or let it be known in some way, that Snape had been a brilliant student.
Snape's vocabulary alone marks him as someone of above average intelligence. His spells are remarked on in canon as exceptional- Ron calls the Prince "a genius", and Harry's internal dialogue shows he is impressed with their cleverness. And we know (by your standard of explicit mention) of no one else who invented spells or corrected Potions in childhood. Albus Dumbledore says several things that suggest he respects Snape's skills in DADA: "You have done well", "I am fortunate to have you", and a comment I do not recall precisely in HBP) - and if Snape did not exhibit those skills in school, this would indicate he was an underachiever, not that his mental gifts are mediocre. I actually think it is possible he was something of an underachiever, and was overlooked by his teachers. It would be one more reason to be attracted to his junior DE friends, since it is quite clear that among the DEs, Snape is respected as a dangerous and powerful wizard. (See e. g. the reaction to his appearance on the Tower, or Cissy's comments about him). In summary, Snape is characterized as a bright human being.

I did not think the point of the contrast was to show that Snape and/or the Marauders were either bright, or brighter that one another. No one's brainpower is mentioned in the chapter. You're pulling in evidence from a brief mention two books ago, and seem not to want to accept the body of evidence regarding Snape's brains from similarly remote portions of the series.

I thought the point was to show the ginormous size of James and Sirius' egos at the time, and contrast them to Snape's insecurity. The point (about James' ego) continues to be made in the same chapter, including explicitly, ("arrogant, bullying toerag") by Lily. The point is reiterated in Harry's conversation with Lupin and Sirius in the next chapter, with the comment about James needing to shrink his head before Lily would date him. I see no need to look further for the purpose of the contrast.

Quote:
My point is not to make a contest out of this. My point is that canon states James and Sirius were the cleverest students at the school.
Actually, canon does not state this. Minerva McGonagall, their Head of House and the teacher of what is likely their best subject (Animagi), expresses this opinion, and it is up to us to evaluate what that means.

Quote:
The whole thing was simply to find a possible reason why Snape might have begrudged Hermione's brilliance. In the end that may not be the reason why Snape treated her in the manner he did anyway - it was merely a possibility.
Or maybe what he does not like is what he says he does not like, in different scenes. Her answers are straight out of the book. He wants others to answer. Perhaps he would prefer to see evidence that she thought issues through. He may or may not be aware of some of her extracurricular applications of magic, but this trait is not in evidence in his classes.


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  #1392  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:16 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Snape when he's talking about James to Lily talks about how everyone thinks he's a big Quidditch Hero more than anything else and he seems to think Lily was also impressed because of that IMO.

Snape never talks in an envious way about James or Sirius's intelligence and I think that was because he did not think them extraordinarily intelligent, perhaps because he thought and knew that he was as intelligent or perhaps even better than them. He seems to be only jealous of James because he think Lily fancies him. He was right IMO, but Lily did not acknowledge it to him, then.


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  #1393  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:40 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

One interesting line from OotP shows Snape's method in "not praising" Hermione.

Quote:
Harry, who was sweating profusely, looked desperately around the dungeon. His own cauldron was issuing copious amounts of dark grey steam; Ron's was spitting green sparks. Seamus was feverishly prodding the flames at the base of his cauldron with the tip of his wand, as they seemed to be going out. The surface of Hermione's potion, however, was a shimmering mist of silver vapour, and as Snape swept by he looked down his hooked nose at it without comment, which meant he could find nothing to criticise.

At Harry's cauldron, however, Snape stopped, and looked down at it with a horrible smirk on his face.

'Potter, what is this supposed to be?'
(I find that last line funny, but I realize not everyone does.)

So Snape could "find nothing to criticize" about Hermione sometimes - that is a plus, not a minus.

And the point is, Snape does not overpraise Hermione the way Lupin and McGonagall do. And one reason is that he knows Draco is jealous of her grades, which are often higher than his, and which Lucius mentions in Book Two at Borgin's shop.

Why would Snape want to draw more attention to Hermione when she is already the target of the DEs as (a) Harry's friend and (b) a Muggleborn?

And lets not forget that Snape never praises Lily, even though he obviously thought highly of her, and loved her. His silence speaks louder than words. So often in the books it is not all the stuff people rattle on about (like grades and cleverness), but the big "unsaid" things that matter.


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  #1394  
Old August 19th, 2008, 6:44 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

While in real life writing a lot on an exam may not be an indication of anything, in a book it is an element which is there for a reason and means something. I agree with wickedwickedboy that it might have been an indication of his love for the Dark Arts, but it may be an indication of his being a knowledgeable person as well.

And it doesn't matter who taught him to fly. He could, Voldemort could, no one else could. Therefore, extraordinary ability. If it were so easy, everyone would be doing it, and Aurors wouldn't be amazed at seeing it.


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Old August 19th, 2008, 6:45 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by zgirnius View Post
Snape's vocabulary alone marks him as someone of above average intelligence. His spells are remarked on in canon as exceptional- Ron calls the Prince "a genius", and Harry's internal dialogue shows he is impressed with their cleverness. And we know (by your standard of explicit mention) of no one else who invented spells or corrected Potions in childhood. Albus Dumbledore says several things that suggest he respects Snape's skills in DADA: "You have done well", "I am fortunate to have you", and a comment I do not recall precisely in HBP) - and if Snape did not exhibit those skills in school, this would indicate he was an underachiever, not that his mental gifts are mediocre. I actually think it is possible he was something of an underachiever, and was overlooked by his teachers. It would be one more reason to be attracted to his junior DE friends, since it is quite clear that among the DEs, Snape is respected as a dangerous and powerful wizard. (See e. g. the reaction to his appearance on the Tower, or Cissy's comments about him). In summary, Snape is characterized as a bright human being.
I respect your view and Snape may have been bright. We simply don't have any comments about his overall performance at Hogwarts. I would take Slughorns comments to mean he did well in potions - but that too is an assumption. Nonetheless, that is all I can conclude from that - but together with the writing in the potions book, I feel comfortable in that conclusion. I also think he knew a lot about the dark arts.

Quote:
I did not think the point of the contrast was to show that Snape and/or the Marauders were either bright, or brighter that one another. No one's brainpower is mentioned in the chapter. You're pulling in evidence from a brief mention two books ago, and seem not to want to accept the body of evidence regarding Snape's brains from similarly remote portions of the series.
But I didn't say this . I said just the opposite in fact in my above post. I think she was simply showing James and Sirius as she had three professors characterize them in the book. My opinion about Snape's actions during and after the exam has no value beyond just that, because we have no comments about him. And this was not the main point of the scene in my judgment; it was just a "characterization" point.

Quote:
I thought the point was to show the ginormous size of James and Sirius' egos at the time, and contrast them to Snape's insecurity. The point (about James' ego) continues to be made in the same chapter, including explicitly, ("arrogant, bullying toerag") by Lily. The point is reiterated in Harry's conversation with Lupin and Sirius in the next chapter, with the comment about James needing to shrink his head before Lily would date him. I see no need to look further for the purpose of the contrast.
I think this was a major point of all of SWM; to show James had an ego and was arrogant - and Snape was insecure. Not the only major point, however.

Quote:
Actually, canon does not state this.
Actually it does, word for word. POA - Wormtail, Moony, Padfoot and Prongs.

Quote:
Minerva McGonagall, their Head of House and the teacher of what is likely their best subject (Animagi), expresses this opinion, and it is up to us to evaluate what that means.
I respect your view, but actually it is not McGonagall that says this. She calls them "bright - exceptionally bright." (POA - Marauder's Map) I agree readers must evaluate what "bright - exceptionally bright" means.

Quote:
Or maybe what he does not like is what he says he does not like, in different scenes. Her answers are straight out of the book. He wants others to answer. Perhaps he would prefer to see evidence that she thought issues through. He may or may not be aware of some of her extracurricular applications of magic, but this trait is not in evidence in his classes.
That is another possibility. I was only giving one myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoana View Post
While in real life writing a lot on an exam may not be an indication of anything, in a book it is an element which is there for a reason and means something. I agree with wickedwickedboy that it might have been an indication of his love for the Dark Arts, but it may be an indication of his being a knowledgeable person as well.
Agreed and I said both things as well. And we know he was knowledgable in the dark arts - which is what the exam pertained to, except in a defensive posture. What he wrote remains a mystery though and I don't mean that in a negative sense. It may have been anywhere from brilliant to confused rambling - we simply have no idea as he never spoke about it or made any indication to tell us with certainty how he felt about it or ultimately did.

Quote:
And it doesn't matter who taught him to fly. He could, Voldemort could, no one else could. Therefore, extraordinary ability. If it were so easy, everyone would be doing it, and Aurors wouldn't be amazed at seeing it.
Actually, it was some of the new magic that Voldemort worked out (Fallen Warrior) and so he taught it to Snape I would imagine. I don't think anyone else knew how to do it except Voldemort at that time. I have always said Snape was talented as an adult. I feel that he would not have had a problem learning to fly once Voldemort taught him how. He wasn't like Peter! And I agree with you that everyone seeing it (who hadn't known about 7 Potters) would be absolutely amazed at the feat, imo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
One interesting line from OotP shows Snape's method in "not praising" Hermione. (I find that last line funny, but I realize not everyone does.)
That cracked me up too when reading it. . But of course from Harry's POV it would not be funny coming from Snape.

Quote:
So Snape could "find nothing to criticize" about Hermione sometimes - that is a plus, not a minus.
I think that is better than making a negative remark. However, it cannot be said that he praised her work in that scene. The problem is, even the smartest and most intelligent kids thrive from praise; it reinforces their desire to study and become even better students. Sometimes, negative comments can help in this regard - but ALL negative comments and gestures is not good, imo. . The thing is, if Snape had been so encouraged in his youth (which Slughorn was wont to do), you would think he would understand this. So I think he did understand it, because I think he did receive praise from Slughorn. The trouble is that Snape didn't receive similar praise in all of his courses like Hermione did - he wasn't given a time turner that we know of to take extra classes, etc. So that is why I proposed that he may have felt jealousy in regard to Hermione - because he would have liked to have been like her in his youth.

Quote:
And the point is, Snape does not overpraise Hermione the way Lupin and McGonagall do. And one reason is that he knows Draco is jealous of her grades, which are often higher than his, and which Lucius mentions in Book Two at Borgin's shop. Why would Snape want to draw more attention to Hermione when she is already the target of the DEs as (a) Harry's friend and (b) a Muggleborn?
But how do we know that the Death Eaters that sat in the back of the class monitoring it were always awake? I would think they would become bored watching class after class of potions students. Even if they were awake, I would think Snape would be able to slip Hermione a note when returning her exam indicating her excellent work or something. Seriously, I doubt any Slytherin student would write home to daddy merely because Snape said "good job" to Hermione with a normal expression. As it was, he had to have given her good marks or we would have heard about it from Hermione - not to mention we did hear about it from Draco. Until GoF, there was no DE organization in any case.

Quote:
And lets not forget that Snape never praises Lily, even though he obviously thought highly of her, and loved her. His silence speaks louder than words. So often in the books it is not all the stuff people rattle on about (like grades and cleverness), but the big "unsaid" things that matter.
I respect your view, but I would disagree because god forbid Snape to speak about Lily at all (god here being JKR). That would have blown the whole DH surprise party!

I answer your first post below Silver, sorry I had missed it in the onslaught of posts! (this is getting long )

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
WWB: You phrased "1 and 2 in their class" as if it is a measurable quantity in the books,while the teachers just call them clever or good.
Every quote I gave was from a professor's viewpoint. "cleverest students in the school" more than covers being 1 & 2 in their class, imo. (POA - WMPP)

Quote:
We know that Lily and Severus were in the same class and they were good students because Slughorn says so.
Slughorn says Lily was good at potions; he also infers that Snape turned in good potions on his first efforts - but not as good as the ones Harry had turned in using Snape's own book. I feel this does not indicate they were overall "good students", merely that Lily was, and Snape likely was good at potions.

Quote:
To disregard what Slughorn says is to miss one of the key foreshadowing statements in the entire series. He is speaking the truth and sets up the whole Snape/Evans story in Deathly Hallows, because obviously Snape-Lily-Harry are all using the same Potions Book, written by young Severus.
I respect your view; I did not disregard Slughorns statement - maybe you missed my post on that, but I repeated it above in any case. There is no evidence whatsoever that Lily ever even saw Snape's potion book in canon. It is a possibility, but it is not stated that she ever did in canon. Slytherins and Gryffindors do not sit together and we don't know how Snape felt about sharing his work at that time, imo. I am certain Lily had her own potions book and the insinuation that her expertise had anything to do with Snape, in my opinion, questions Lily's intelligence, so I would have to disagree on principle unless JKR indicates this was the case. Slughorn did not say Lily was brilliant because she was tutored by Snape, or worked with Snape or was a friend of Snape's - he merely said she was brilliant of her own accord.

Quote:
McGonagall and Hagrid are biased about the Marauders - they were all in the same House, as was Dumbledore. Actually, Slughorn comes off as less biased than anyone because he thought Lily was an excellent student, and gives Severus his due also, as he should. Slughorn also praises Sirius and Regulus but gives absolutely no mention to James at all, bringing into question his status as a brainy student.
I would have to disagree if you are asserting that McGonagall was speaking out of bias at the time; there would be no point in her attempting to build up the character of a person she perceived to be a murderer in my view. Most people, if they could call things, would do so, i.e., 'I could have told you he'd be a murderer, he was bright, but always failed in school - a complete wastral'. But she did not do that, she said that in spite of his being exceptionally bright, he'd turned out to be a murderer. Why you feel Slughorn would have no bias but McGonagall would I do not understand. I don't think any of them were speaking with bias. Slughorn menitoned specific students and he was inordinately fond of Lily (OOTP). He didn't mention Snape then either, does that place Snape's ability in question? Later, when speaking to Snape, he compared his work to Harry, intimating Harry's work was better, so I am not understanding how your point shows what you indicate. Dumbledore's comment was not said to shower praise on Gryffindor; he was not head of house, but the Headmaster of everyone - so all students reflect on his position. His remarks about Cedric in his eulogy I think show that he did not have bias in this regard. Nonetheless, everyone's interpretation will differ and if you feel all of this canon should be discounted, I respect your opinion, but I do not discount it because it was never proven to be untrue in canon, imo. I was asked to provide canon, I did; it is in the books themselves, and your decision to discount it does not remove it from canon into the realm of fan fiction, imo.


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Last edited by wickedwickedboy; August 19th, 2008 at 7:35 pm.
  #1396  
Old August 19th, 2008, 7:16 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by WWB
But how do we know that the Death Eaters that sat in the back of the class monitoring it were always awake? I would think they would become bored watching class after class of potions students. Even if they were awake, I would think Snape would be able to slip Hermione a note when returning her exam indicating her excellent work or something. Seriously, I doubt any Slytherin student would write home to daddy merely because Snape said "good job" to Hermione with a normal expression. As it was, he had to have given her good marks or we would have heard about it from Hermione - not to mention we did hear about it from Draco. Until GoF, there was no DE organization in any case.
Hermione does get excellent grades from Snape, which is why her performance in Slughorn's class is so frustrating for her. Snape has always made it easy by writing his own recipes on the board - the same ones that are in Harry's book!

Lucius mentions Hermione by name to Draco in CoS, and he might have even mentioned her to Snape as well. Draco defends his grades by saying that Hermione is given preferential treatment by the teachers. (Funny - that's the same thing everyone says about Snape and the Slytherins!)

Snape wouldn't risk blowing his cover by assuming that Draco wasn't paying attention.

We see that in OotP, when Snape warns Harry to say he taking "Remedial Potions" instead of Occlumency lessons, and indeed - Draco barges in and wonders what they are doing, and Snape lies to him.

Snape's office door banged open and Draco Malfoy sped in.

'Professor Snape, sir - oh - sorry -'

Malfoy was looking at Snape and Harry in some surprise.

'It's all right, Draco,' said Snape, lowering his wand. 'Potter is here for a little remedial Potions.'


There's the evidence right there that Snape is covering up things to the Slytherins - along with numerous statements Dumbledore makes to Harry about not wanting Voldemort to see things in Draco's or Harry's minds.


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  #1397  
Old August 19th, 2008, 7:20 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Green_Woods View Post
He seems to be only jealous of James because he think Lily fancies him. He was right IMO, but Lily did not acknowledge it to him, then.
Perhaps because there was nothing at that time to acknowledge. Lily was not responsible for Snape imaginings. IMO.


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Old August 19th, 2008, 7:42 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
To disregard what Slughorn says is to miss one of the key foreshadowing statements in the entire series. He is speaking the truth and sets up the whole Snape/Evans story in Deathly Hallows, because obviously Snape-Lily-Harry are all using the same Potions Book, written by young Severus.
I'm sorry, but I don't think that is obvious at all. We know that the Potions Book in question is a NEWT level text book (Harry and Ron both had to purchase a copy when they were unexpectedly allowed to take the NEWT level Potions course). We know that Snape called Lily a "Mudblood" after their DADA OWL exam. It would also appear from the memories in TPT that Lily decided not to be friends with Snape after he called her "Mudblood" and I believe that occurs shortly after the "Mudblood" incident (since Snape threatens to sleep outside the Gryffindor common room).

That indicates to me that Lily stopped being friends with Snape before they started NEWT level potions. I don't think Lily would continue to copy off of Snape in potions if she had openly declared that she wasn't going to be friends with him (she doesn't seem that cold to me). Slughorn didn't say "Lily was fabulous at potions and suddenly became completely useless at NEWT levels", so I don't think he noticed a significant change in her grades during her last two years. This indicates to me that Lily must have been able to do potions quite well on her own. Well enough to be raved about by the Potions master several years later.

I think it is quite possible for two students to be good at potions during the same year without either of them relying on the other.

I have also never thought that all of the updates to the Snape's potion book were done the first time during class (some probably were). I always assumed that he kept the book as a reference for a while and udpated it. I thought it was a living reference. And that he might have been experimenting with the potions both before and after he took the course. He wrote the spell for Leviocorpus in the book and that was a spell he introduced to the school prior to taking NEWT level potions. Did he just scribble that spell in every textbook he owned or was he using the book in 5th year? (it was originally his mother's book so he would have it available to him prior to 6th year) This is what makes me think that this was a book that he used over the years and updated as he came up with better ways of doing things. To me, the potions book would be kind of like a recipe book for people who are inclined to make potions outside of class.

I don't think this diminishes his skills as a potions maker, but I think it does show his life long dedication to the subject. Just my opinion.


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  #1399  
Old August 19th, 2008, 7:53 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
Hermione does get excellent grades from Snape, which is why her performance in Slughorn's class is so frustrating for her. Snape has always made it easy by writing his own recipes on the board - the same ones that are in Harry's book!

Lucius mentions Hermione by name to Draco in CoS, and he might have even mentioned her to Snape as well. Draco defends his grades by saying that Hermione is given preferential treatment by the teachers. (Funny - that's the same thing everyone says about Snape and the Slytherins!)

Snape wouldn't risk blowing his cover by assuming that Draco wasn't paying attention.
I agree with all you have said. That was my point too. Snape wasn't covering with respect to Hermione or he would not have given her good grades. What is the distinction between coldly saying "good job" and giving her high marks? Malfoy (who was not a practicing DE in CoS, as he admitted to Voldemort in GoF) heard about the good marks - better than Draco's - why didn't he use this information against Snape?

Quote:
We see that in OotP, when Snape warns Harry to say he taking "Remedial Potions" instead of Occlumency lessons, and indeed - Draco barges in and wonders what they are doing, and Snape lies to him.

Snape's office door banged open and Draco Malfoy sped in.

'Professor Snape, sir - oh - sorry -'

Malfoy was looking at Snape and Harry in some surprise.

'It's all right, Draco,' said Snape, lowering his wand. 'Potter is here for a little remedial Potions.'


There's the evidence right there that Snape is covering up things to the Slytherins - along with numerous statements Dumbledore makes to Harry about not wanting Voldemort to see things in Draco's or Harry's minds.
I agree wholeheartedly that when it came to Order business, Snape lied to all of the DEs and Voldemort directly - as well as their children and in fact he'd lie to any good-siders children too if asked about it, imo, it was imperative to keep things like Harry learning occlucmency a secret. But in my view, this has nothing to do with his in class behavior - he was not on Order business at that time and there is absolutely no canon indicating that Dumbledore advised him to be mean to the children to fool the kids of the DEs because Voldemort would return one day. Saying 'good job' to Hermione would not have placed Snape in a position of jeopardy in my opinion.


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Old August 19th, 2008, 9:35 pm
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Re: Severus Snape: Character Analysis v.8

I agree with that, Wicked - his little empire of the classroom is his private bullying space, it seems to me, that has nothing much to do with his role as spy - save for keeping Draco believing that he was on the side of evil, of course, so no funny business was reported back to Lucious...sorry, Lucius...

I rather wonder if Dumbledore's take on the intelligence discussion above is that it's not how intellectual a person is, but what they do with that ability that really matters (I use intellectual there because I think intelligence comprises much more ...including emotional intelligence...)

And whatever the level of Snape's smarts (I happen to think they're stratospheric but that's just me ) the use he puts them to is phenomenal, is it not? Absolutely integral to Voldy's downfall? We at at least all agree on that don't we?


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