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The Elder Wand is an extremely powerful artifact that many a wizard would lie, cheat, steal and kill for. Dumbledore had hoped that he might die undefeated as it's owner, so that the wand's power would be broken. In the end of The Deathly Hallows, Harry too put it away in the hope that he will die undefeated and break the wand's power. For Harry this is an unlikely outcome, given his choice of professions.

But why did neither Dumbledore or Harry think of simply snapping the wand (as in the movie), and thus effectively destroy it? As we learn in The Deathly Hallows, a broken wand is no easy thing to repair. Harry's powerful phoenix feather wand could only be repaired by the power of the Elder Wand. A wand as powerful as the Elder Wand likely could not have been repaired, or if it could it probably would recover a mere shadow of it's former power.
And on the off chance that someone could repair it to full potency, two or more pieces would be easier to hide more effectively than one whole one. Or in Harry's case he would have had knowledge of muggle methods that could have rendered it into dust or utterly burned it away.

So why did no one in the books think to physically destroy the wand, instead of trying to sit on it until death?

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This question which almost answers itself. In a world where power is defined by magical puissance and wizardly might, who WOULD break what is arguably one of the most powerful weapons in existence? Especially with the threat of Voldemort (and his crazed band of Deatheaters-in-waiting) always waiting in the wings. Harry did, because from his perspective, he did not think he could be trusted to protect the Elder Wand, nor did he think he could be trusted to not abuse it. He had been too long in the shadow of Voldemort. The only use for a Doomsday weapon is no use at all. Harry passed the test. –  Thaddeus Dec 28 '12 at 22:16
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You're assuming the Elder Wand can in fact be broken. The fact that it can be broken in the movie version means less than nothing. –  Kyralessa Dec 29 '12 at 2:20
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@Kyralessa Indeed, you are right. And if you have book or WoG canon that indicates the Elder Wand cannot be broken I'll be happy to accept that. But until proven otherwise there is no reason to believe it can't be broken. –  Xantec Dec 29 '12 at 4:36
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Actually, if you're asking why it wasn't broken, I'd say the burden of proof is on you to prove that it can be broken, since there's no obvious evidence for it, and since the movies do not constitute evidence for anything. You might just as well as why Harry & Co didn't shoot Voldemort with their handguns, arguing that the book never explicitly says they don't carry handguns. –  Kyralessa Dec 29 '12 at 18:39
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Well to be fair, the last three people alive to know where the elder wand is, is Harry, Ron and Hermione. There's no need to break it, as most of the wizarding world don't belive it exists. And suppose someone does get the elder wand, so what, it's not going to work well for them, unless they kill/beat harry. when harry dies, so does the power of the elder wand. –  Chris S Feb 4 '13 at 12:54

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

In the case of Dumbledore, I think he was very clear while talking with Harry in the King's Cross scene in Deathly Hallows that the Hallows were pretty irresistible to him. I'd suggest that Dumbledore was able to harbor the Elder Wand, but perhaps he was just unable to destroy it. By that I mean he was emotionally unable to destroy it - he just couldn't bring himself to do it because that latent connection between wand and master was still intact.

Tales of Beedle the Bard suggests that the Elder Wand may not have been able to be destroyed. It might not have been a physical possibility:

Believers in the Elder Wand, however, hold that because of the way in which it has always passed allegiance between owners – the next master overcoming the first, usually by killing him – the Elder Wand has never been destroyed or buried, but has survived to accumulate wisdom, strength and power far beyond the ordinary.

Tales of Beedle the Bard - page 102-103 - Bloomsbury - The Tale of the Three Brothers

The wand was created by Death, according to the legend. It passes from one wizard to another usually through death. Tales of Beedle the Bard notes that the manner in which it is passed from one wizard to another - death - is what keeps the wand strong and safe from destruction. Perhaps the wand cannot be destroyed by any human or wizard means, even if someone wanted to deliberately do so. Perhaps the wand can only be destroyed by Death (its creator). I know that @Pureferret already touched on this in his answer, but I wanted to expound on why the Elder Wand possibly cannot be destroyed.

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With Pureferret's answer deleted you may want to look at incorporating what you were expounding on. –  Xantec Dec 28 '12 at 20:16
    
Don't forget the connection between dumbledor and the grindlewald whom he got the wand from, the wand being the only thing he now has to remember him by. Likewise between Harry and Dumbledor –  Pureferret Dec 28 '12 at 20:31
    
Suggesting that the Elder Wand may have taken on a life of its own over the years doesn't really indicate that it is a physical impossibility that it can be broken, does it? –  Xantec Dec 29 '12 at 4:36
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@Xantec -- No, I don't think so. But I do think the fact that the Elder Wand has never been destroyed in and of itself might possibly indicate the wand might be unbreakable. Yes, many antiquities survive thousands of years, but were they always in use? The Elder Wand was likely in service for centuries, during a time when dueling meant to the death, so hardcore. I expect there were many opportunities for the wand to be damaged or destroyed. Yet it was not. –  Slytherincess Dec 29 '12 at 5:32
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So the Elder Wand is also like the One Ring, as nobody can bear to think of its destruction, not even when standing on the rim of the crater of the volcano where it was forged? –  b_jonas Dec 29 '12 at 17:28

Many of the previous owners of the Elder Wand didn't possess the morality and will to break such a powerful object, as they figured that having it would make them more powerful and invincible. That's proved false when, after the Peverell brother who owns it boasts about his new found invincibility at a hotel/inn, a stranger gets irritated and slits his throat in his sleep. After that, the trail, as Ollivander says, is a bloody one, with people believing that the only way to truly be master of the Elder Wand was to kill the previous owner. Dumbledore got his hands on it, and when he and Gellert Grindelwald were young and fresh out of Hogwarts, the two planned on going on an adventure to find all three Hallows.. Dumbledore soon realized, at the cost of their friendship, that Grindelwald wasn't doing things "for the greater good," but so that they could put Muggles in their rightful place for oppressing all magical people. Dumbledore refused to believe that this was true, until his brother Aberforth proved it to him, and Dumbledore and Grindelwald dueled in a battle which ended with Dumbledore's sister Ariana's death. Dumbledore decided then that three objects as powerful as these Hallows should never be united until they could be safely placed in the hands of someone who could do the right thing. Harry was given the Wand, and at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book), he throws it into the lake so that hopefully nobody will find it. In the movie, however, Harry does snap it, and Ron grimaces, so there you go.

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This is pretty much what A Slytherin said. However, Harry did not toss the wand into the lake. He put the Elder Wand "back where it came from," which would have been Dumbledore's tomb. –  Xantec Jan 10 '13 at 1:38

Dumbledore planned for the Elder Wand to die with him when Snape killed him.

Maybe he intentionally wanted Voldemort to then get the Elder Wand since Voldemort would never be able to use it well because he is not the true master.

Wouden't Voldemort be a lot weaker using The Elder Wand (that he wasn't master of) then his wand?

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