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Why was Hagrid's wand snapped in two when he was expelled from Hogwarts? Why was he banned from performing magic? Yes, he was expelled from Hogwarts after being framed by Tom Riddle as being responsible for Moaning Myrtle's death via Aragog the Acromantula. But why did he receive this punishment?

‘What’ve you been feeding [the pumpkins]?’ said Harry.

Hagrid looked over his shoulder to check that they were alone. ‘Well, I’ve bin givin’ them – you know – a bit o’ help.’

Harry noticed Hagrid’s flowery pink umbrella leaning against the back wall of the cabin. Harry had had reason to believe before now that this umbrella was not all it looked; in fact, he had the strong impression that Hagrid’s old school wand was concealed inside it. Hagrid wasn’t supposed to use magic. He had been expelled from Hogwarts in his third year[...]

Chamber of Secrets - page 90 - Bloomsbury - chapter 7, Mudbloods and Murmurs

Why would Hagrid's wand be snapped in two and he not be allowed to do magic when:

  • Attendance and completion of an education at Hogwarts was not compulsory by wizarding law¹; homeschooled children were allowed to do magic for their lessons, and then do magic fully when they turned 17.
  • The Weasley twins dropped out of Hogwarts after practically destroying parts of the castle with fireworks (and conjuring an awesome swamp on the fifth floor), yet were allowed to do magic despite not completing Hogwarts or any kind of homeschooling curriculum (that we know of).
  • No Death Eater character that we know off was banned from using magic, despite their crimes and devotion to Voldemort. I don't recall any Death Eater wands being snapped and the owner banned from performing magic after being convicted of Death Eater crimes (Please do correct me if I'm wrong.). For example, Bellatrix Lestrange's wand was not snapped in Goblet of Fire when she received a life sentence in Azkaban and, as we know, her wand played a fairly significant part in Deathly Hallows.

¹I realize in Deathly Hallows Voldemort made attendance at Hogwarts compulsory; however, by that time, Hagrid had been cleared of the charges of being responsible for Myrtle's death and was allowed to use magic again.

12

Why Was Hagrid's Wand Snapped?

And

Why was he banned from performing magic?

Because Hagrid, apparently, commited murder. This is very logical, I mean: you don't want to leave a murderer with a wand nor do any magic.

In fact, it surprises me that he didn't end up in Azkaban (for Myrtle's murder) as well. It is very likely that Dumbledore fought against this imprisonment (or was he actually sent and I just forgot? Perhaps...)

Attendance and completion of an education at Hogwarts was not compulsory by wizarding law¹; homeschooled children were allowed to do magic for their lessons, and then do magic fully when they turned 17.

That is okay, because the children won't go out murdering people.

The Weasley twins dropped out of Hogwarts after practically destroying parts of the castle with fireworks (and conjuring an awesome swamp on the fifth floor), yet were allowed to do magic despite not completing Hogwarts or any kind of homeschooling curriculum (that we know of).

Yeah, but they did not commit murder. Also note that when they did that, Hogwarts was under a very... unusual administration. Clearly Umbridge could have tried to charge them, but shortly the administration returned to Dumbledore, who would, very likely, remove any charges from Hogwarts to the twins.

No Death Eater character that we know off was banned from using magic, despite their crimes and devotion to Voldemort.

All Death Eaters that the ministry recognizes as Death Eaters were actually sent to Azkaban. The Death Eaters that were not sent (and thus kept their wands) like Lucius are those who lied to the ministry saying they were under the imperius curse or something like that.

  • 3
    I agree with most of your answer, but what of Bellatrix Lestrange? She most definitely murdered in the employ of Voldemort, and went to Azkaban for it. Yet we see clearly once she escapes she reacquires her old wand, unsnapped. – Gabe Willard Dec 8 '12 at 2:58
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    @GabeWillard: When you see Bellatrix outside Azkaban, it is after Azkaban's break-out. From that point forwards, the dark times begin: the ministry begins to get corrupted. We could even say that it was an indirect ally of the Death Eaters. Basically: from the moment Bellatrix got out of Azkaban, there no longer was any proper control over the Death Eaters. She could appear in public and no one would do anything, as seen in Deathly Hallows when Hermione disguises herself as Bellatrix - everyone is surprised to see her around, yet, no one challenges her. – Voldemort Dec 8 '12 at 4:26
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    But before the break-out, control over criminals was more proper. So Hagrid was affected :) – Voldemort Dec 8 '12 at 4:27
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    But she had her wand, which according to your answer, Death Eaters who were sent to Azkaban lost their wands. Where'd she get it, if it was destroyed when she was imprisoned a long time before the break out? – Gabe Willard Dec 8 '12 at 5:22
  • 4
    Even if Hagrid was entirely guilty, he still wouldn't have been guilty of murder. At best, it would be manslaughter and then only if they could have proven negligence on Hagrid's part. Let's remember, his offense had zero to do with actual magic as well - it wasn't like he pointed his wand at somebody and messed up a spell. Instead his pet supposedly broke loose and bit someone. Additionally, Barty Crouch, Jr - Who did murder someone - didn't have his wand destroyed when he was sentenced. – sarge_smith Dec 8 '12 at 8:36
17

The answer is simple... Racism. Hagrid was the victim of targeted racism for the majority of the books, much like every other non-human magical creature in J.K.'s world. Just like Lupin was fearful of being cast out for being a werewolf, Hagrid basically got the "special punishment" because he was half giant. I'm sure the only thing that prevented him from being put down like Buckbeak was Dumbledore himself. Even the headmaster of Beauxbatons is concerned about how she would be received if her ancestry was known, telling only Hagrid and a few other trusted individuals. Basically, I don't think that there was anyway that Hagrid was going to graduate Hogwarts as if it hadn't been that incident, he would have gotten the blame for another one.

  • Totally agree. HP world could seem fairy and childish in many ways, but it hides a dirty face often missed by most of it's readers. – Bardo Dec 7 '12 at 8:37
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    I'm wondering if you can document any of your statements? Where is the "special punishment" verified as racism? It's true Madame Maxime was sensitive about her Giant heritage. I don't think we can project that Hagrid would have been expelled for something else if he hadn't been removed from Hogwarts for the Chamber of Secrets incident. We simply don't know that -- it's speculative. :) – Slytherincess Dec 7 '12 at 15:37
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    @Bardo - There are millions and millions of Harry Potter readers. I think it's a bit presumptuous to speak for "most of its readers" and what insights Harry Potter readers do or do not have about the series. Speaking for myself, the racism in Harry Potter is completely obvious. As well, J.K. Rowling has gone on record stating the parallels of her universe to the Nazi regime was purposeful. And I just Godwin'ed myself. :) – Slytherincess Dec 7 '12 at 15:44
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    It is true that its speculative. I, however, think that J.K. was paralleling things like the entrance of Indians and Asians into the boarding culture of England. As a non-human magical wielding individual, how could Hagrid not be the focus of the powerful people that can't deal with members of their own race who are born to the wrong sort of parents? As you say, the racism in the books is readily apparent to you, and if there was a quote that answered your question, I would have used it. (and you would have probably not needed to ask). – sarge_smith Dec 7 '12 at 18:51
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    Now THAT's speculative. – Bardo Dec 10 '12 at 13:25
7

I believe the existing answers are incorrect. The existing answers argue that Hagrid's wand was snapped only because the crime he got expelled for was particularly heinous, or because of some prejudice against him. I do not think this is the case. Rather, his wand was snapped because he got expelled; wand-snapping is the standard procedure for expelled students. I think this can be supported in several ways.

It does not seem to be a secret that Hagrid's wand was snapped. For example we have the comment from Mr. Ollivander in Philosopher's Stone:

"Good wand, that one. But I suppose they snapped it in half when you got expelled?" said Mr. Ollivander, suddenly stern.

Note that Mr. Ollivander supposes this, as if it was a matter of course for an expelled student's wand to be snapped. Additionally, he doesn't say that it was snapped when Hagrid was convicted for murder; he says that it was snapped when Hagrid was expelled, implying that the snapping was tied to the expulsion rather than the murder.

The quote cited in the question also supports this. Note that Hagrid is apparently concerned that people will find out that he is doing magic. If the wand-snapping was a unique punishment for his case, it is likely that most people wouldn't even know that he had received such a punishment. In fact, the reason for his expulsion itself seems to have been somewhat of a secret. So the fact that onlookers would assume that Hagrid's wand had been snapped would seem to indicate that wand-snapping is actually the standard procedure for expelled students.

Moreover, Harry explicitly associates Hagrid's not being supposed to do magic with his expulsion. Yet at this point in the story, Harry doesn't yet know why Hagrid was expelled. He certainly doesn't know that Hagrid was accused of murder. He is thus apparently assuming that wand-snapping is simply a function of being expelled.

Then we have Hagrid's description to Harry in Philosopher's Stone as to why his wand was snapped, and why he is not supposed to use magic:

"Be grateful if yeh didn't mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts", he said. "I'm — er — not supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin'. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an' get yeh an' stuff — one o' the reasons I was keen ter take on the job —"

"Why aren't you supposed to do magic?" asked Harry.

"Oh, well — I was at Hogwarts meself but I — er — got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wand in half an' everything. But Dumbledore let me stay on as gamekeeper. Great man, Dumbledore."

Hagrid seems to link the wand-snapping to the expulsion. He makes no mention of unique circumstances. Indeed the words "an' everything" strongly indicate that the regular procedure was followed.

Finally, there is another case of expulsion in the books. Harry was expelled from Hogwarts in the beginning of Order of the Phoenix. Let's look at the letter he received:

The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand.

So Harry — who had not murdered anyone — was to have his wand destroyed. Moreover, the letter does not explain that this is a unique response particular to Harry's situation.1 It seems that the letter expects that the recipient would not be surprised at this consequence. Of course, if wand-snapping is the standard procedure for expulsions then it would probably be well-known, and that would account for why the Ministry feels no need to explain the punishment.

Of course, this leads to the question of why the wands of expelled students are destroyed, while wands do not seem to be destroyed even for committing significant crimes. We can suppose a simple answer to this. If someone is convicted of a serious crime, wand-snapping would be considered unnecessary. Criminals in Azkaban can't do magic anyway. If there is some change in circumstance that would get them released from Azkaban, that same circumstance would probably be enough of a reason to allow them to use magic. If they escape Azkaban, or are otherwise on the run from the law, snapping their wands would be pointless. You have to catch them to get hold of their wands, and even if you destroy their wands there is nothing stopping them from procuring new wands as soon as they get the chance.

The reason why an expelled student's wand is snapped, might not even be a punishment per se. It may simply be that someone without a magical education cannot be trusted with a wand. This would explain why home-schooled children would be allowed to have wands — they can be trusted with wands because they are still getting a proper magical education. A student who was originally at Hogwarts, and then expelled, will likely not have the opportunity to get a proper magical education. Indeed, in Hagrid's case he had no family to help him or otherwise provide him with an alternative magical education. In fact, we could even argue that if an expelled student would get an alternative education (e.g. by going to another school, or by having a qualified individual teach him) the Ministry would allow him to have a wand and use magic.

This would also explain why Fred and George were allowed to keep their wands and use magic. They left Hogwarts in their seventh year, and towards the end of that year itself. They already had a magical education so there was no reason to not trust them with wands. Perhaps it is thus possible that even if a student was formally expelled, his wand would not be destroyed if he was far enough into his education.


1. Harry does receive a follow-up letter which might be thought to indicate that the wand-snapping is separate from the expulsion:

Further to our letter of approximately twenty-two minutes ago, the Ministry of Magic has revised its decision to destroy your wand forthwith. You may retain your wand until your disciplinary hearing on 12th August, at which time an official decision will be taken.

Following discussions with the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Ministry has agreed that the question of your expulsion will also be decided at that time. You should therefore consider yourself suspended from school pending further inquiries.

It might seem as if the letter is saying that the decision on wand-snapping will be independent of the decision on expulsion. However, it is possible that that it is actually affirming the correlation between the two. It is only because the expulsion is being reconsidered that the wand-snapping is being considered. In fact, if Harry is not expelled then he will necessarily need a wand. If Harry's expulsion is upheld then he is in the same situation as before this follow-up letter. So the only reason to reconsider the wand-snapping is that he might not actually be expelled. Thus, this would still fit with the assumption that wand-snapping is a function of expulsion.

  • Kinda confirmed by this answer to Students expelled from Hogwarts, breaking of wands, and complete education. Wand-breaking seems to be common place for expelled students. – Jenayah Dec 14 '18 at 6:50
  • @Jenayah What are the chances that I would have had that quote? It's not from the main books, and it's not even from something JK Rowling said about the main books; it's something she said about something that's not even in the main books. – Alex Dec 14 '18 at 6:54
  • just pointed to more info :) as for your chances - you will have read pretty much all HP questions by the end of the year, so you may remember some JKR-additions by then ;) – Jenayah Dec 14 '18 at 6:56
  • @Jenayah But there are some things that I might try to deliberately forget. (E.g. this.) – Alex Dec 14 '18 at 6:58
  • Excellent reasoning, nice deductions and wonderful answer! – Simpleton Jan 1 at 18:02
2

When you mentioned in your question that the Death Eaters never had their wands destroyed, for some reason I thought back to what Dumbledore says in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince about Voldemort's early years at Hogwarts, and his group of young followers (budding Death Eaters):

"Rigidly controlled by Riddle, they [young Death Eaters] were never detected in open wrong-doing, although their seven years at Hogwarts were marked by a number of nasty incidents to which they were never satisfactorily linked ..." [Chp. 17, pp 339 Bloomsbury].

So, this might explain why the Death Eaters never had their wands confiscated or destroyed when they were at school, at least - they were never caught. I'm not sure whether you thought about the Death Eaters' school years when you were writing your question, but ... there you are :)

  • But that wouldn't work for Bellatrix when she was so open about what she had done. Not only open but also acted as if she was seated in a throne. She showed no remorse whatsoever and knew for sure that Voldemort would be back. And she was right too. Besides that Bellatrix comes later. Remember that Narcissa is her sister and Narcissa marries Lucius - who is prefect (I think it was and not head boy) when Severus comes in. So the quote you cite doesn't apply here, I'm afraid. It'd be a good theory otherwise, though. – Pryftan Jan 8 '18 at 22:24
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Because Hagrid was technically expelled for committing murder. Why would they give a so-called murderer a weapon? Also, the ministry wouldn't want a barely trained magician on the loose, Why do you think they invented the trace in the first place.

  • How is this different from the accepted answer? – Mat Cauthon Oct 2 '18 at 2:57

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