14

In Book 6, Snape takes over the DADA class, and begins to teach them how to cast spells nonverbally.

Given his proficiency (we can see in the books his skill at it, particularly after his first departure from Hogwarts), it stands to reason that this is not a newly acquired skill for Snape.

In the first book, Quirrell is jinxing Harry's broom, and we find out later that Snape was muttering a countercurse.

My question is:

Why didn't Snape just nonverbally cast the countercurse?

  • 15
    Because JKR hadn't invented non-verbal spells by the time she wrote the first book? – Rand al'Thor Mar 22 '16 at 17:35
  • 5
    Perhaps it was easier to concentrate? Do you know anyone who talks to themselves when they are concentrating? – Ellesedil Mar 22 '16 at 17:42
  • 4
    @randal'thor She had. Quirrell snaps his fingers to conjure up ropes to bind Harry, for instance, without saying anything, and I'm sure there are other instances of non-verbal spells as well. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 22 '16 at 18:34
  • 3
    No need not to? I'm struggling to see the strategic advantage in hiding that you are speaking when you are in a crowd full of shouting and screaming supporters... It's not like he was in a duel. – The Giant of Lannister Mar 22 '16 at 18:45
  • 4
    Sporting events are not known for being conducive to concentration, and he was actively countering Quirrell's curse. – zzzzBov Mar 22 '16 at 18:47
13

I would say because it was not necessary to cast the spell non-verbally.

In this scene Snape is concentrating on casting the counter-curse to keep Harry on his broom. To maintain the counter-curse he needs to keep his eyes on Harry.

The person casting the curse (Quirell) also needs to keep his concentration on Harry:

“No, no, no. I tried to kill you. Your friend Miss Granger accidentally knocked me over as she rushed to set fire to Snape at that Quidditch match. She broke my eye contact with you. Another few seconds and I’d have got you off that broom.

- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17

credit to Janus Bahs Jacquet for the quote in the comments

(My emphasis). Quirrell's curse loses its effectiveness when his concentration is lost.

We might infer that it is therefore very unlikely that Snape would have been spotted by Quirrell casting the counter-curse - Quirrell's eyes would have been on Harry. Snape may well have made this calculation himself.

Also, with regards to anyone else spotting Snape... as far as Snape is concerned, he is protecting Harry - he has nothing to hide, so why hide that he is casting the counter-curse?

There is no strategic advantage to be had in Snape hiding that he is casting the counter-curse, and therefore it is more trouble than it is worth to cast the spell non-verbally.

  • as a note, I am positive there will be a quote in the books regarding Quirrell concentrating on Harry. He explains to Harry that the curse was broken when he got distracted by the fire (same time Snape was distracted). However, I do not have the books to hand (no e-books for me). If someone can dig out the quote I'm happy for them to add it in for me. – The Giant of Lannister Mar 22 '16 at 18:59
  • 4
    Hermione knocks over Quirrell when she's trying to get to Snape. “No, no, no. I tried to kill you. Your friend Miss Granger accidentally knocked me over as she rushed to set fire to Snape at that Quidditch match. She broke my eye contact with you. Another few seconds and I’d have got you off that broom.” (Ch. 17) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 22 '16 at 20:21
  • @JanusBahsJacquet ah got you. Well remembered. – The Giant of Lannister Mar 22 '16 at 20:25
-2

To move the plot along, letting the reader/viewer know that Snape was doing something and to let the other characters know Snape was doing something. Remember this is early in the first book/film.

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