Professor Severus Snape is the least likely of all the Hogwarts professors to be recognized for his words of wisdom. In fact, most of Snape’s utterances are sure to reflect something negative, like how old Neville is abysmal at potions or how Harry's fame doesn’t reflect his abilities as a wizard. Snape is actually pretty good at putting his students down, which begs the question as to why Dumbledore allowed him to be a professor in the first place.
Still, as audiences have gotten to know the potion's master over the years, his cynicism and pessimistic mindset have proven to be warranted. Along with his harsh upbringing, being bullied by James Potter at school, and trying to find a home in Voldemort's wrath, it’s no wonder that Snape's legacy as a teacher reflects his harsh demeanor. He did have a few quick and witty words to share with his students, however. Here are Professor Snape’s 10 best teaching quotes at Hogwarts.
10 "It May Have Escaped Your Notice, But Life Isn't Fair"
Snape is the first to admit that life doesn’t always turn out the way you imagined it. In fact, Snape’s path is so far beyond what he envisioned for himself that it is possibly the reason why he is so bitter as an adult.
That, and the fact that he’s forced to teach Harry, the son of the deceased love of his life. It kind of puts him at a predicament. Snape says this to Harry in what seems to be an act of tough love. But deep down, it probably comes from his distorted background and the unlikely path he took.
9 "Are You Incapable Of Restraining Yourself, Or Do You Take Pride In Being An Insufferable Know-It-All?"
Not many teachers are willing to call out their students when they’re being a nuisance. The least of which are those who are brown nosers or, as Snape puts it, “insufferable know-it-alls."
Snape says this to Hermione, who is pretty young at the time, which must have taken a toll on her self-esteem. Thankfully, Hermione bounces back from this comment (although he's not exactly wrong). To add insult to injury, he even takes points away from Gryffindor for Hermione being so enthusiastic about her education.
8 "It Is Easy To See That Nearly Six Years Of Magical Education Have Not Been Wasted On You"
There are a few rare circumstances where Snape's comments to Harry are actually humorous. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he asks Harry how to tell the difference between an Inferius and a ghost. Harry starts with the fact that ghosts are transparent.
Snape relishes in this answer, as he goes on to embarrass Harry in front of the entire class. This is probably done more out of his own hatred toward him, rather than as a teachable moment, but it also does point out that Harry sometimes doesn’t think too critically when it comes to his studies.
7 "The Mind Is A Complex And Many-Layered Thing, Potter – Or At Least, Most Minds Are"
During Occlumency lessons, Snape tries to teach Harry how to relax and block his mind so that Voldemort can’t use their connection against him. Harry has immense trouble in this subject, which is both infuriating and satisfying to Snape.
He knows that Harry must succeed at this in order to protect him and the wizarding world at large, but he also loves the fact that Harry doesn’t always excel in everything. Snape does a fair job of putting Harry in his place even with subtle comments like this.
6 "Clearly Fame Isn't Everything, Is It, Mr. Potter?"
Even before meeting Harry, Snape makes the assumption that he will be just as egotistical as his father. While Harry is taking notes in his first ever potions class, Snape calls him out, full of unprecedented wrath.
He lets Harry know that while he may be proud of his fame, not everyone is impressed. Obviously, this comment doesn’t mean much to Harry, as he doesn’t have the same mannerisms as his father, but this abrupt dislike from a teacher is probably the spark that ignited Harry’s own hatred for his professor.
5 "Moronic Though Some Of This Class Undoubtedly Are, I Expect You To Scrape An ‘Acceptable’ In Your O.W.L., Or Suffer My... Displeasure."
Snape’s imminent displeasure isn't strictly aimed towards Harry. Snape doesn’t seem to get along well with children, which again, makes his position at Hogwarts even more questionable.
This quote is something he says to the class at large. His students, who are well-adjusted to his unpleasant commentary, take it in stride. This type of direct ridicule does works on some students, like Hermione, who strives to impress her teachers with her studious regimen.
4 "Fighting Them Is Like Fighting A Many-Headed Monster"
This quote comes from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Snape is educating his class on the Dark Arts. He knows all too well the draws of the Dark Arts, but he knows their setbacks as well.
This is how he chooses to describe fighting dark witches and wizards. He goes on to say that the Dark Arts is indestructible and mutating, which in his natural way saying that anyone who has to face them is almost certainly doomed.
3 "Control Your Emotions. Discipline Your Mind!"
This teachable quote says a lot about Snape. It’s pretty much the point in time when it’s very clear how and why his emotions are so in check. Harry is very unlike Snape because he has an immense emotional stride, making it harder for him to block out unpleasant or even pleasant memories.
Snape, on the other hand, is equipped to push out both, which is presumably why he takes no pleasure in anything. It’s a great tactic in order to teach him how to use Occlumency, but Harry never fully grasps this concept.
2 "As There Is Little Foolish Wand-Waving Here, Many Of You Will Hardly Believe This Is Magic"
In his introduction to Harry’s first potions class, Snape speaks to them about the art of potion making. Referring to spells and charms as “foolish wand waving" is very telling of the immense amount of ways that magic can be administered.
This specific quote probably goes over the little 11-year-olds' head. However, it’s impressive that Snape wants to fully educate his students so that they can see how potions are just as powerful as any other form of magic.
1 "If Longbottom Suffocates, It Will Mean A Lot Of Tedious Paperwork..."
When Dolores Umbridge has Harry and his friends captured by the Inquisitorial Squad, Snape enters the room under Umbridge's false pretense that he will supply her with Veritaserum. While this quote isn't in a classroom setting, it goes to show that he’s willing to give out a tongue lashing to anyone at any time.
Crabbe, at this moment, is holding onto Neville as they all stand in Umbridge's office, and Snape makes a point that he should lessen his hold. He says it in such a way that makes it seem as if Neville getting injured would only serve as an inconvenience to him. He comes across as blasé in this exchange, but if you think about it, maybe he was actually concerned for Neville’s well-being.