Hey everyone, Welcome to another installment of Harry Potter Theory. In today’s theory, we’re going to be discussing the real reason that Neville Longbottom was so bad at magic – because, let’s face it, when you think “Neville Longbottom,” you do NOT think “great and powerful wizard. ” But have you ever considered why that may be? Have you ever thought that Neville’s poor magical performance may not have been his fault AT ALL? Okay. So, what exactly are we talking about here? Well, as some of you Harry Potter super fans out there may know, there’s a popular theory that suggests the REAL reason Neville was bad at magic was because of his…WAND.
Yes, that’s right. Nothing to do with Neville’s skill or ability to learn. But his wand. You might be wondering how this could be possible. After all, as Diagon Alley’s famous wandmaker, Ollivander, explains: “The wand chooses the wizard.
That much has always been clear to those of us who have studied wandlore…” Ah yes. The wand chooses the wizard. Not the other way around.
Which brings us to an important point. Like most magical things in the wizarding world, a wand isn’t any old object devoid of – for lack of a better word – life. In fact, they’re quasi-sentient. Unlike muggle school supplies, it’s not just something that a witch or wizard could quickly pick up from a shop on their way home one day.
In fact, according to wandlore, each wand is thought to have its own “personality” of sorts – that is to say, just like PEOPLE, no two wands are alike. And even if multiple wands are made of the same materials, they will be fundamentally impacted by whoever they choose as their master. Sure, how they perform can be best predicted by wood type, core material and owner. But sometimes, even then, a wand could surprise you… Alright. So, back to Neville and his wand.
The big question here is: How could a wand that CHOSE Neville be the very reason he’s unable to wield it properly? As it turns out, Neville’s wand isn’t NEVILLE’S at all. It actually originally belonged to his father, Frank Longbottom, before he and his wife, Alice, were tortured to insanity by Death Eaters when Neville was a baby. Terrible thing…but we won’t get into that here… Okay.
So, Neville inherited his father’s wand by way of his Gran, Augusta Longbottom – Frank Longbottom’s mother. Augusta was very proud of her son, Frank, as both he and Alice had been powerful Aurors, that is to say, protectors against the Dark Arts. So, it’s reasonable to think that by giving her grandson Frank’s wand, she may have been trying to transfer her son’s exceptional wizarding skills onto Neville. Or perhaps, as an older, more conservative witch, Augusta didn’t want to spring for a new wand.
Whatever the reason, Neville ended up inheriting Frank Longbottom’s wand. At this point, with Ollivander’s emphasis on how the wand chooses the wizard, you may be wondering if inheritance is an acceptable way to acquire a wand. Well, technically, yes. It is.
In fact, there are three different ways, according to the laws of wands, that a witch or wizard can take possession of a wand. They are: A new wand selects a witch or wizard; A wizard wins another wizard’s wand; and A wand is inherited. Let’s take a closer look at all three, shall we? Okay, so the first way to acquire a wand, we’ve already covered in this theory. That is, a witch or wizard visits a wandmaker and the wand chooses its master.
It’s important to note that this is, without a doubt, the absolute best way to come by a wand. It’s believed by those who study wandlore that when a wand chooses a witch or wizard, that witch or wizard will have the best mastery over their wand and the magical power they wield. HOWEVER, a wizard should technically be able to channel his magic through any wand. Which brings us to the following two ways to become the new owner of a wand. The second method is to “win” it.
This can happen in any number of ways, from disarming another witch or wizard to winning a duel. The allegiance of the wand will be affected by how serious the confrontation between wizards is. For example, a practice duel as part of a lesson at Hogwarts would not affect a wand’s loyalty to its owner. What’s more, taking possession of a wand in this manner is not NEARLY as effective as having a wand choose its master – because wands tend to remain quite sentimental and almost always maintain some form of allegiance to their original owner.
Which brings us to the third and final way in which a wand and wizard can end up together: inheritance. This is, of course, how Neville came to possess his first wand. While this method of acquiring a wand CAN work, as we’ve discussed in great detail, it’s not nearly as effective as having a wand choose the wizard. And while familial ties may help with the wand’s allegiance, inheriting a wand is thought to be only SLIGHTLY better than picking up a random wand off the street…So, ya.
It’s not ideal. So, if Neville’s wand never chose him, this could explain A LOT about his magical mishaps throughout his early years at Hogwarts. What’s more, with Frank Longbottom still alive while Neville used his wand, it’s even more likely that the wand remained loyal to Frank, rather than Neville. Add this to the fact that one of Neville’s strongest subjects was Herbology, the study of magical plants, which was relatively light on wand work, and you can start to see that perhaps Neville wasn’t entirely to blame for how poorly he did in school.
With a different wand, he may have been GOOD – or even GREAT – at magic much earlier on, Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Well, hold on! Sure, Neville started out as a bit of a dud but didn’t he come into his own later in the series?” I’m glad you asked. During the Battle of the Ministry of Magic in the fifth book (slash film), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a Death Eater broke Neville’s wand (and nose – poor bloke just couldn’t catch a break, could he?). SO THEN, after this battle, he, of course, needed a new wand. He went to Ollivander’s to purchase one. And after all that time, Neville finally came to own a wand that CHOSE HIM! From the end of the Order of the Phoenix onwards, Neville suddenly wasn’t such a laughable character anymore.
In my opinion, it’s not completely obvious right away. There’s not much to be said about Neville Longbottom’s magical competency in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. But by year seven, while Harry, Hermione and Ron are away from Hogwarts searching for horcruxes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Neville’s star begins to rise. In the absence of Harry, Neville assumes a leadership role within Dumbledore’s Army.
And he is instrumental in defeating Voldemort. Not only is he the one to kill Nagini, Voldemort’s seventh horcrux and pet Maledictus (a cursed individual who eventually becomes a beast) he did so by pulling the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat. This is a feat in itself, as the Sword of Gryffindor only reveals itself within the Hat to “a true Gryffindor. ” An event that further aligns Neville’s quality as a wizard with the likes of Harry Potter – because, as you may recall, the Sword of Gryffindor also appeared for Harry way back in the Chamber of Secrets.
Sure, you could argue that those things could’ve happened even if Neville’s ability to perform magic hadn’t improved. He could’ve just been a great leader for the D. A. And, technically, he didn’t use his wand to pull the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat or kill Nagini. BUT, I like to think that the students in Dumbledore’s Army looked up to Neville for both leadership and magical skills.
So, there you have it! The real reason Neville was bad at magic very well could’ve been his inherited wand. And once he got himself a new one, he definitely seemed to become a more powerful wizard, wouldn’t you agree? This, of course, brings us to the end of this theory! If you enjoyed the content, I’d be grateful if you liked it and subscribed to the channel. As always, happy to hear your input on this and other Harry Potter theories – just leave them in the comments below. And please feel free to share any topics you’d like to see in upcoming theorys! You guys always have great ideas.