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The Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law

by David Haber

Elemental transfiguration is the magical art of physically converting one thing into another. But as with all types of magic, there are limitations to what you can do with transfiguration, as we learn in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Hermione mentions the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration. But she only tells us one of them. What are the other four? I think we know two more, and can guess another.

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Reader Comments:

I think the fifth exemption is to produce new living beings. We can transfigure a living person but cannot produce a whole new living being. Or else the number of wizards would be much greater than the muggles.

Posted by Anvi from Mumbai, India on May 1, 2008 04:01 AM

i think the 5th one must be love..all through the books we hav discussed so much about love and in HBP we see that slughorn clearly states tht amortenia ( love potion) is something that cannot create love but only brings about a deep infactuation..and that love cannot be i think it must be love

Posted by anju from chennai,india on May 1, 2008 04:46 AM

I was thinking about all things we really need to live: Food (exception), shelter (no exception), clothing (n.e), Health care (e.) and education. Well, at least we know it's not knowledge/education. We know this can be changed, look at the Confundus Charm. I think we can rule out everything that we can touch. So, books (so Hermione), probably won't be one of the exceptions.

Hold on! Stroke of inspiration! What about the weather? We know that, in the books, there's a lot of rain, snow and storm. I guess wizards would do something about nasty weather, wouldn't they? So, why doesn't it happen? Gamps's Law of Elemental Transfiguration!

Posted by MissMoonlight from Netherlands on May 1, 2008 06:31 AM

Anvi: I think new living beings would fit under bringing someone back to life, same restriction.

Anju: Yes, you can't really make someone love you, but that's not a Trasnfiguration exception, it's a POTIONS restriction.

I think MissMoonlight has something, there! Weather! Even Wizards can't change the weather. Any more evidence from the books to support this theory?

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles on May 1, 2008 07:14 AM

I think a good possibility for a restriction is that you can't completely transfigure yourself into another wizard. Harry couldn't just utter a spell and become Dumbledore and be able to fight voldemort that way. Even if you use pollyjuice you are still the same wizard with the same abilities inside. You have to work at becoming a great wizard. Otherwise you could say a spell and be able to work all other spells at once and there would be no need for Hogwarts.

Posted by Dave Porter from New Mexico on May 1, 2008 10:31 AM

I think the las restriction is that you cannot "clone" yourself. As far as money, I think the serial # stamp circumvents it, magically. maybe the same way in that if I buy something with ten singles, all with the same serial no. no one accept the other nine bills...

Posted by Nat Aiken from Bronx, N Y on May 1, 2008 12:56 PM

but how does snape fix malfoy's wounds after harry uses sectumsempra on him in the half blood prince. it was snape who used sectumsepra accidently on george's ear so why cant it be fixed or summoned, it must have got somewhere. accio george's ear and then magic it back on. sectumsepra must be a really unreliable curse sometimes it can be healed sometimes not. in half blood prince snape tells malfoy that he may have a considerable amount of scarring so maybe.

about the whole weather thing, they can prevent weather from affecting them. in half blood prince dumbledore makes harrys clothes warm when they are by the cave so that he doesnt feel the cold. dementors make everything go cold so why can wizards? i think they cant do mass areas to go warm but they can in small areas?

Posted by alex b. from London on May 1, 2008 2:22 PM

Regarding Harry and Draco: Ah! I'm glad someone brought that up!

Remember, I said it's all in the intention of the spell caster. When Harry cursed Draco with sectumsempra, he really didn't mean to hurt him, Harry could never really mean to hurt anyone fatally (except maybe You-Know-Who). So, there was no intention on Harry's part to inflict permanant damage. So, Snape could fix it.

HOWEVER, when Snape cursed George, he did it in the heat of battle, and he meant it. Dark intention, which cannot be undone. He had to mean it, not just look like he did, or else You-Know-Who would have found him out...

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on May 1, 2008 2:36 PM

but Snape invented Sectumsempra, didn't he? So he must have invented a way to heal Sectumsempra wounds too, but nobody else knows about it.

Posted by Lovisa from Sweden on May 1, 2008 3:06 PM

When I first read through the article I started to wonder if #5 would be conjuring up a person's soul or spirit. Someone else said human life, and I guess this would be under the same umbrella as that. Otherwise Voldemort would have been able to conjur up a whole army of living, thinking human beings to fight for him.

Posted by china from Texas on May 1, 2008 3:24 PM

I'm not sure that creating new living beings would be the same as bringing people back to life, but I guess I can see where you're coming from.

As for love: I think this actually might be a possibility. Who says it necessarily has to be potions?

I don't think weather could be one because if you'll remember in the seventh book it was raining in the ministry of magic, and Ron was sent to stop it. So that shows that wizards CAN control the weather.

Posted by Alex F from Hintin WV on May 1, 2008 4:14 PM

China: Isn't that my #4 in the article?

Alex: Everytime we've seen a Wizard fooling around with Love, it was a potion. Gred and Forge had a love potion in their store. It was a potion in the chocolates that made Ron fall in love with Romila Vane. As for Merope and Tom Riddle Sr., Dumbledore himself says he believed it was a potion, although he concedes it could have been the imperious curse. Neither of those are transfiguration.

Also, at the ministry, that was indoors fake weather created by Wizards to begin with, it wasn't real outside planet weather.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles on May 1, 2008 8:05 PM

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