This week's hp100 challenge is about wands. Whilst trying to think up an idea (still don't have a good one), I got thinking about wands and some discussions I've had about them in the past.
What exactly does a wand do? It seems to both amplify and direct magical force. We've seen people do magic without wands -- Harry freeing the snake, blowing up Aunt Marge, etc. Dumbledore seems to do a fair amount of wandless magic. When Ron's wand is broken and taped back together, it seems to direct the magical energy in unpredictable ways. (Interestingly, Hagrid's broken wand, concealed inside his umbrella, seems to work just fine.)
They say that the wand chooses the wizard, but I sometimes wonder if that's just Ollivander's sales gimmick. We've seen a few instances of people doing magic with a wand that's not their own: Ron's first wand is a hand-me-down from Charlie (and why would Charlie get a new wand?), Barty Jr uses Harry's wand to conjure the Dark Mark in GoF, in CoS Lockhart uses Ron's wand to cast Obliviate and expects it to work without mishap. Neville improves drastically in his DADA spellcasting even though he's using his father's wand. When Ron gets his new wand (fourteen inches, willow, containing one unicorn tail-hair) I don't see that his magical ability improves at all as a result.
Here's my theory: wizards could do as or nearly as powerful magic without wands, but it would take more training to channel and direct the magic. Because they are taught to work with wands, they are nearly helpless without them. It's a method of control of wizards, devised long long ago.
But then again -- from GoF: So that's clause three of the Code of Wand Use broken, for a start. No non-human creature is permitted to carry or use a wand. House elves seem to be able to do quite powerful magic without wands -- would the amplification powers of wands make the elves far too powerful? As well, in the same scene, they note that the Dark Mark can only be conjured with a wand.
I suppose, though, if wizards have been using wands for thousands of years, all new spell development uses wands.
Some other random points:
* I only just noticed that when Harry waves his wand in Ollivander's, it shoot out sparks in red and gold -- Gryffindor colours. That's kind of disturbing, actually. Co-incidence? Prophecy?
* How did Voldemort get his wand back?
* Harry's wand is eleven inches long (Ron's is fourteen -- fourteen!) yet he seems to carry it in the back pocket of his jeans. Wouldn't it jab him in the back all the time? In PoA, he tucks it inside his t-shirt for a Quidditch game. Again, it seems rather tricky to pull off.
* Everybody's wand is unique and people seem to be able to easily recognize their own and other's wands. In PoA, [Lupin] separated Harry's, Ron's and Hermione's wands and threw each back to its owner. Yet, Fred and George can make fake wands that fool people. That could be some sort of all-purpose illusion, though.
* Does Sirius have a wand in GoF or OotP? (I'm out of time before work to check.) ETA: of course Sirius has a wand in OotP. D'oh. But I wonder if it's his original wand or if they got him a new one.
Hmm, all that and still no drabble idea.