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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: (Page 11)

I think the answer is obvious:You can't transfigure a muggle into a wizard. If you could, why would there be squibs?

Posted by Canada on July 10, 2008 07:06 AM

Well, it shouldn't be love. Magic and love is pure rubbish, it is even scientifically possible to make someone love an specific person by the proper hormones and stimuli.
Maybe transferring magic as Canada said...

Posted by aldo on July 11, 2008 9:37 PM

I'm convinced that it's neither love nor knowledge, because of the fact that these aren't 'things'.
What about this:
1) Food
2) Money, gold or any other metal (such as cauldrons)
3) Genes.
A few examples:
- Can't change a magical person into a non-magical (and vice versa)
- Can't change your age
- Near-sightedness (explains why Harry still needs glasses)
- When a rat is turned into a cup, the cup genetically stays a rat (only the appearence changes). So, when you transfigure the cup back into the rat, it's the same rat as before (not a white one instead of the original grey one for example)
When Pettigrew transfigures himself into a rat, it's only his appearance that changes. "The rat" keeps thinking like Pettigrew.
4) Wands
5) Patented things (such as schoolbooks for example. Or clothes...?)

Still there are a lot of things that can not be transformed by any wizard but only by very talented wizards. Maybe Arthur and Molly Weasly aren't talented enough to transform their house into a bigger one...?

Posted by Saskia from Belgium on July 13, 2008 08:22 AM

food is one exeption gamps law of elemental transfiguration. but in the goblet of fire in the first task Cedric diggory converts a stone into a dog. if that is possible, anyone can convert a stone into a chicken or maybe some other animal which can be cooked and eaten.

Posted by mb from india on July 18, 2008 01:05 AM

Because we know for sure that food is an exception, we have to assume that food you'd try to make from something you transfigured into an animal would simply not be good food, because it tasted bad or had no nutritional value, as if it had the food traits of the original thing, not what it was transfigured into.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on July 18, 2008 09:53 AM

i think that someone earlier may have mentioned this, based on George's ear, but i'm guessing that one cannot change their body; Add or remove like liposuction etc. Otherwise, wouldn't all witches and wizards be the "Perfect" body!

Posted by scout on July 18, 2008 4:40 PM

I would guess that five is magic itself.

You can't give someone magic, remove magic, get better magic, or summon magic from noithing. And I'm talking about magic, not magical things: wands, tea-cup/rat morphs, or even potions. Potions are a invention by wizards, they are just a mirror of the witch or wizard who made them's magic (I read something where J.K. said that). And itsn't it J.K.s way to "say" something, have us think one thing and have it be totally different?

As for making something living, take Fudge's Gerbil. He could have done one of several things. It seems he transfigured it, but I don't think he could have remade a real life, I think he made it to replicate a life. Eat, breath, but I dought it can even have the not-very-complex Gerbil thoughts. i.e. it is not a fully formed life. Because, notice, he didn't start its life. It was not blind and furless as newborn baby Gerbils are. So he either summoned it, summoned a life and made it grow are a amazing speed, or my thory of a incompleat life.

The same thing with the kittens in Trans. They were probably Trans. in the first place and are simply being returned to the same state. Where does it say that they are "real" in the first place?

Posted by Bela from US on July 22, 2008 08:06 AM

i think the fifth exception is wands. you cannot convert any article into a wand otherwise people wouldnt buy wands.
further reference comes in CoS when ron breaks his is stated in PoA that ron buys a new wand.
in DH when lucius wand was taken by he who must not be named,he remaind wandless even though his wife ha a wand and could transfigure something into a wand for him if it was possible... the same goes for harry.

Posted by naved from delhi india on July 29, 2008 01:34 AM

Dave, you said earlier on that you believe it possible to bring someone back to life with transfiguration - but why then was Dumbledore so desperate to use the Resurrection Stone to bring back Ariana from the ? Also you said that Fudge transfigured something inanimate into a living being - but the teacup was never alive, so it never d, it was an object and Fudge turned it into a living creature. I think we need to clarify first whether Transfiguration just refers to objects or non- living things such as money or food.. I think this is why you can't produce food out of thin air, it has to be there first, because it is "alive" in some way, as it comes from a living source - either animals that supply meat or plants which supply different kinds of food, flour for example or vegetable extracts?

Posted by Siena from Nottingham. UK on July 30, 2008 04:40 AM

Sienna, I don't think I said you could bring someone back to life with transfiguration. I said you could create a living thing, like a gerbil. Gerbils and people are a big difference!

That's a REALLY GOOD reason why Dumbledore would need the stone to bring Ariana back. Because of Gamps' laws, he couldn't bring her back using transfiguration!

And, I think you got what I said about the Gerbil thing backwards. Yes, the thing was not alive before it was turned into a gerbil. But AFTER it was a gerbil, it is now alive. It's former, original condition doesn't matter, it's alive now. Is it moral to it? (By transfiguring it back...)

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on July 30, 2008 1:11 PM

Here are my guesses:

2) Gold, metal, or other such items.
3) Charmed objects (i.e. horcruxes)
4) Clothes (?)
-Because if you could just transfigurate yor clothes then there wouldnt be such a fiasco with wizards trying to drees like muggles, they could just transfigurate their clothes.
5) Im still a little confused about the fith, it's either:

Posted by Callum from Australia on August 9, 2008 05:27 AM

Page 3: "I think that the 5th principal exception is time. A wizard cannot tamper with time (without a turner of course- all of which were destroyed) or else harry could put a stop to his parents from the get go. He'd be able to warn Sirius with his 2 way mirror.....etc. etc.

Posted by Bryan from Sturbridge,MA on May 5, 2008 1:25 PM"

It is one of the more possible exceptions to the laws. Time is very complicated and philosophically speaking, you cannot change time or space. Time turners turn back time, but what if actually you are meant to have that time as is? Like when Harry and Hermione use the time turner to save Buckbeak, it's a possiblility that that time they had was fated to happen (thus, Dumlbledore is psychic or knows better divination that Trelawney) and that is what a timeturner is created for. The time turner turns to a certain limit, no farther past or further futured. So meaning that a time turner only goes back in time to the time occurred already that you have gone into to the occurred time in which you have already been in and is in.

The law of time is that the time expansion cannot be changed or else all wizards would be changing every history. For example, the eras in which witch huntings/burnings were going on they cannot change, or else all us muggles still wouldn't know (or distinguish between) of such things as 'magic' and 'mysterious hallucinations'. Also, the time in which dark wizards like Voldy or Grindelwald are unchangeable, possibly because it cannot change. Wizards and/or magic cannot change the time that has past, they can only use magical objects to calculate the time they can go back in but not necessarily change it much. Obviously, the change they think they might be doing is not much really a change in time, because their time is spent in two spots (or more?) that what happens in that time is what is meant to occur and much of what they are doing is really not much change in time itself. For instance, when Harry thought he saw his Dad produce the patronus to ward off the hundreds of Dementors, it was actually him the whole time. He might not have known it, but the second time he went through it all, it had already occurred as is and that is why Dumbledore knew to let them use the time turner turning it three times to do what what was fated to happen. So time turners don't necessarily turn back time so that you may correct it, rather turn back the time you may have limited to, to do exactly what that time is created for that has already happened.

I know that is comlicated explainations, but time is complicated.

1) bringing objects such as food, money, clothes and other material objects of necessity from thin air

2) resurrecting a soul from the

3) healing wounds from a curse or unhealable magical misshap from a limited amount of time

4) changing genetics of humans/creatures to a certain degree (Ex: Tonks has ability to metamorph herself so she has that genetically inside her magical powers)

5) going back in time and changing it and/or limited time (/space)

alot of your guys's answers or predictions are based off simple things that i have stuck into the number one spot... material objects and such that are basically in one category that you can expand on...

thinking broader to a humans extent, more worldly wide occurances could be bounced off these laws and more exceptions could be added on... it's like the many theories and laws to gravity, motion, etc...

Posted by Pang from Lansing, MI on August 13, 2008 6:36 PM

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