Skip to main content

A Key Difference Between Snape And Queenie's Abilities, According to JK Rowling

With the arrival of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find them comes new opportunities for Harry Potter fans to learn about J.K. Rowling's magical world. In one case, that includes legilimency, or the ability for a witch or wizard to see into someone else's mind. Severus Snape could do it, and so can newcomer Queenie Goldstein, whose ability came in handy when Newt was thinking about Leta Lestrange. But why is it that Queenie was so easily able to tap into Newt's thoughts?

The question came from a fan inquiring about Queenie's ability to thumb through people's thoughts at will...

See more

To which J.K. Rowling responded:

See more

To further elaborate on the original question, here's exactly what Snape says to Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

Only Muggles talk of 'mind reading.' The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be pursued by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing, Potter... or at least, most minds are..."

Snape goes on to explain the skill a bit further...

It is true, however, that those who have mastered Legiimency are able, under certain conditions, to delve into the minds of their victims and to interpret their findings correctly.

In Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Queenie's ability to dig into people's minds and pluck out information and feelings seems effortless. From the way J.K. Rowling describes it, she's simply a natural at the skill, born with the ability to read minds. Snape, on the other hand, had a bit of a gift for it, but he had to work to get better at it. So it's not something he could do naturally, and it seems likely that there would be limits to his strength and control of the ability.

From Rowling's answer, it also sounds like even Queenie has limits. And that's just as well. It would probably be impossible to keep a character like that around if they could read any mind at any time at will. Queenie's not infallible, and it's likely that someone with a lot to hide would master Occlumency to ward-off Legilimens. Gellert Grindelwald could prove to be an example there. Or anyone else presenting opposition to Newt, Tina, Jacob and Queenie. If she were able to see everything Grindelwald was thinking, there wouldn't be much challenge in defeating him, would there?

Still, that Legilimency is such a natural ability for Queenie is such an interesting thing about Alison Sudol's character. It's an ability we might automatically apply to someone villainous, given that its use is almost always going to be a huge invasion of privacy. In Queenie's case, from what we saw of her in Fantastic Beasts when she uses it on that guy at MACUSA, and on Jacob and Newt during separate occasions, she doesn't seem to have any shame about exercising her gift when she needs it. And somehow, this doesn't detract from her charm. If anything, it gives her otherwise genuinely sweet personality a bit of an edge. Plus, I mean, it does come in handy...

Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk - Copyright: (c) 2016 WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED