Beyond Hogwarts

Search Beyond Hogwarts:

Reference Desk:
Beyond Hogwarts FAQ
Wizard to Muggle Currency Converter
Harry Potter Spelling Reference

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.

> Read the full article

Pages:  <<  <  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24  >  >>

Reader Comments: (Page 15)

Clothing is a good point, Elizabeth from Austin. One thing though; Lupin just might have not been very good at spells involving fixing clothes - rather like my sons steadfastly resisting any effort on my part to teach them to sew. A sad failure, I know. Also, remember that Tonks admitted to being rotten at any spells involving housework - I have a lot of time for Tonks! I think you're on the right track though. It has to be physical, touchable things. Not abstract concepts like love or free .

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on December 4, 2008 05:15 AM

The first and second exceptions are alright but I do not agree with the third and the fourth ones because Elemental transfiguration is the magical art of physically converting one thing into another. Healing a wound or bringing back the is no physical conversion of anything.

Posted by Ruina from The Burrow on December 14, 2008 09:08 AM

Pinch yourself on the arm and tell me your skin is not a physical thing! Healing a wound simply means repairing the same thing as the skin on your arm.

Admittedly, bringing someone back from the is a bit more complex, but you can't deny there is a large physical component of being alive. Your cells breath and multiply. You blood pumps, your brain works on electrical energy. All physical things.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on December 14, 2008 10:50 AM

I'm not a fan for of "love" suggestion This is not a tangible "thing", as David said. It's an emotion.

We really gotta love the Weasleys here. They are the shining beacon in this quest. We can look to them for nearly every answer, due to their impoverished state, and determine what a wizard *would* have if all he needed to do was wave his wand.

I agree with:
1) Food
2) Money
3) Dark Curses /: Personally, I would lump these last two together - they're a bit too similar in the biological department IMO, and I'm not so sure that "", despite it's biological components, constitutes a tangible "thing" anyway.
Not all biological functions are taboo obviously. Though apparently Harry cannot fix his eyesight, the Potterverse contains Animagi, Metamorphigi, and Werewolves - so some physical traits are certainly magically alterable. Also, when Malfoy cursed Hermione's teeth to grow overly large, Hermione convinced Madam Pomfrey to reduce them a bit beyond their original size. ( I forget which book this was.. CoS?)
Which makes me wonder why Harry can't get his eyesight fixed!

4) Domiciles, or maybe building materials: Large spaces or buildings, apparently are untransfigurable. You can make a place unplottable, or hide it with a Fidelius charm, but we never see anyone substantially alter a large building in one fell swoop. You *could* magically build or redecorate a place brick by brick, if you had the bricks, but I doubt you could make an entire, finished building appear (or change) with a single swish'n'flick, or likewise, make building materials appear from nowhere or from other materials. Because otherwise, again, even the Weasleys would create for themselves something a little fancier than the Bungalow. (I know it's "homey" and they like it, but it's still barely held together and a bit embarrassing to them) Or then again, perhaps they simply aren't that good at transfiguration. Every wizard has his own unique strengths, weaknesses, and talents.
We know Hogwarts was built by the great four, but perhaps they levitated each brick in place?

5) (5, IF you count and curses together)
Clothing, apparently. We see Molly Weasley magically knitting a sweater in CoS, not making one appear ready-made. The clothes the Weasleys wear are old hand-me downs. No one altered the horrible "tux" that Ron had to wear in GoF.
(This begs the question however, of Scabbers/Pettigrew and all other animagi - they don't come back to human form in the nude, and they don't wear clothes as animals, so *something* magical must be happening with the clothes!)

So, apparently, thanks to the Weasleys, it seems that money, food, clothing, and housing apparently cannot be magically created or transfigured. Nor can be stopped or certain dark curses of a biological nature reversed.
Essentially, this lists all the necessities and basics of life.

But what of Books?
Ron's, Fred's, George's, and Ginny's books for Hogwarts all had to be bought at Diagon Alley, they couldn't be brought forth magically either.
Do we have a 6th candidate? Which idea should I chuck? Or merge more of them? Perhaps "knowledge" itself places limits on transfiguration, and a wizard can only transfigure that which he implicitly already understands?
I'm more confused now than ever, lol.

Posted by Grymmditch on December 17, 2008 2:36 PM

I think theres something in weather because its horrible weather at Hogwarts and when they are in the country in the books, if they could change it dont you think they would?!

Posted by alanna from uk on December 18, 2008 03:17 AM

I definitely agree with food & money, and I'd say that is good too, although wouldn't it technically be "souls" that you're talking about? I'm really not too sure, though...
What I really wanted to talk about was food and money. I think that the laws of magic have some basis in science. When you said that you couldn't make more money if you had some, but you could make more food if you had it, I immediately thought of mitosis. Even though I know most food is technically "" when you eat it (and this would kind of contradict the principal), wouldn't making more food be like forcing the cells to undergo rapid mitosis? You couldn't do that to money because they're elements with atoms, not living cells that multiply.

Posted by Holly from New York, NY on December 24, 2008 3:30 PM

"Perhaps "knowledge" itself places limits on transfiguration, and a wizard can only transfigure that which he implicitly already understands?"

Actually, David Eddings, if anyone has read his Belgariad etc, comes up with a similar notion. His wizards/sorcerers study ceaselessly to expand their minds for this very reason. Another application in writing fiction is that it is impossible for an author to create a convincing character who is more intelligent than s/he is.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on December 25, 2008 06:43 AM

There was some talk earlier about number 5 being Humans, as in you can't transfigure a human into anything... But doesn't Madeye turn Malfoy into a ferret in GoF?

I have no other suggestions that haven't already been said however.

Posted by Poppy from Christchurch NZ on January 11, 2009 03:50 AM

Poppy, I said that I thought transfiguring an animal into a human would be an impossibility. With all those animagi scurrying around, not to mention Malfoy the bouncing ferret, it is possible to turn a human into an animal. I can explain my reasoning again if you like, but it's somewhere back on this thread.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on January 13, 2009 06:39 AM

Maybe the fifth exception is hair as doesn't it strike anyone as odd that there are bald wizards in the series? (like Horace Slughorn for example)If they can regrow bones, why not hair? maybe they can't because it's an exception to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration

Posted by booksmart from New York on January 17, 2009 12:32 PM

I think that instead of money in general, its anything that costs an excessive amount of money.ex: clothes, wands, houses, books, etc. But as for the 5th one, I don't know.

Posted by Andrea from New York on January 17, 2009 2:47 PM

Ron creates new life in CoS, slugs. Christmas crackers create food for mrs. norris (mice). cloning can be done T.M. Riddle would have cloned him self CoS. And Voldemort can come back to life. There is a loophole in the story. Weather can be changed (hurricane).

Posted by matthew from monterey on January 26, 2009 12:12 AM

Pages:  <<  <  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24  >  >>

Featured Discussions | The Septology | Harry's World | Harry Potter Movies | Dumbeldore Is Not Dead | FAQ is not affiliated with or approved by
Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros., or J.K. Rowling
Original Content Copyright © 2006-2010 David Haber, All Rights Reserved