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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 2)

i dont think it can be weather because we see that when harry goes to the ministry of magic with mr. weasley, he tells harry about the weather control when harry asked him about the weather outside. we also see he mentioned that there were storms when there was a strike for pay raise. so this proves that weather is not the 5th element since it can be controlled and changed.

Posted by anju from chennai on May 2, 2008 04:01 AM

Maybe it's that you can't really transform yourself into another person. There is Polyjuice Potion, of course, but it only makes you change into the other person externally, your appearance change into that of the person you wish to transform into - but your feelings, your soul,your brain, in short: your true self - is not altered.
Another possible solution is that you can't make yourself immortal (without making a horcrux and thus damaging your soul obviously) or protect yourself from or harm (harm both physical and emotional).

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on May 2, 2008 06:09 AM

With regards to the use of Sectumsempra - only two people have used it (as far as we know: Harry and Snape. Molly wouldn't have known the spell, and even if she did, only Snape knew the counter-spell.

Also, there is a difference between closing a wound and transfiguring a wound into healed skin! Draco's wound had the two sides present, so (even if with some difficulty) Snape was able to draw the two edges together. Had George's ear been there, and had Snape been present, it's more than likely that he would have been able to reattach it. Molly was not right about the spell - does it mean that Sectumsempra wasn't "dark magic" after all?

What it seems to leave us with is that you can't transfigure injuries into healthy tissue, you can only heal them via potions or non-transfiguration spells.

Posted by Goff Morgan from Wales, UK on May 2, 2008 11:44 AM

I think the person who invents spells can counter them. However, once they , their dark spells can't be reversed, only modified, like Mad Eye Moody's eye, or Mr. Weasley's snake bite wounds.

Posted by Nat Aiken from Bronx, NY on May 2, 2008 1:58 PM

That's possible, Nat, but not necessarily true always. Didn't someone say the causer of some of Mad Eye's injuries were in Azkaban? (Not .) And Snape wasn't , but Molly still couldn't undo the sectumsempra.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on May 2, 2008 4:08 PM

Speaking about Sectumsempra, Molly wouldn't have been able to heal George's ear, Snape invented the spell himself. But we know that Snape knows how to heal the sectumsempra spell because in HBP, he heals Malfoys wounds by uttering a spell that sounded to Harry like sing-song.

Posted by Rob on May 2, 2008 7:13 PM

I think the fifthe rule is that you can't transform totally into an animal or a person or thing. you can use the polyjuce potion only to change into someone's appearance only for a limited amount of time. you could transform yourself into something or someone, but probably won't work well because it might be against the rule itself! you also could become animagus, but not forever. wormtail had to change back, didn't he? and unless your scientifically insane, you probably wouldn't eat rat food for the rest of your life, just to stay away from . i'm guessing wormtail probably turned into a human once in a while to steal some food from the weasley kitchen or the hogwarts kitchens, too. lastly, i would just like to ask a question: why doesn't JK rowling just read our comments because unlike other websites, our comments are from the real fans, not just some people who think harry potter stinks (gasp!)?

oh, and that person, i don't recall who, that was turned into a bone, he was so he doesn't count. i think it was barty crouch sr....

Posted by Alicia from nashville, tennessee on May 3, 2008 12:41 PM

I think the last principle is Love. J.K is always talking about love and how Lily Potter saved Harry because of her connection threw Love.

Posted by Amy from Dallas, Texas on May 3, 2008 12:44 PM

I was on some group, and we discussed the 1st law. some one said that if you have food and can make more, then wizards should be able to increase the amount of everything they have like clothes (Lupin could have good clothes). We all know they couldn't with clothes and books (every student had to buy new books or borrow old ones) so, I think the 5th law is that you can't make more of anything that costs money but food.

For the 3rd one, there might be exceptions, for example you can heal the wounds for dark curses if there is a countercurse like Snape did for Draco, but as for a werewolf wound, nothing can heal it.

Posted by Mrs. Prongs from Richmond, Virginia on May 3, 2008 2:06 PM

Dave H: Just because the only time we've seen wizards messing with love was with potions, doesn't mean that arificial love cannot be created another way.

W've seen many different things done different ways, such as: the invisibility cloak, and dissillsuionment charms. The polyjuice potion is a potion, but it also transfigures, and I'm sure that a truly sed wizard could change their appearance just as good as a polyjuice potion can.

Posted by Alex F from Hinton WV on May 3, 2008 2:38 PM

Food, life, money, information and love.
Aren't they?

Posted by Monchi from Tokyo on May 4, 2008 01:15 AM

i highly doubt its love because even if love may be the most powerfull thing and all, it just doesn't seem to fit. i mean, ya they used love potions for most pseudoloves, but if the law was just love, it wouldn't make sence, would it? voldemort could never love and hated instead. harry could love, but could hate as well. i'm not even going to bother bringing dumbledore into this because his love went way out of line and that's basically all we know about love in the world of hp. so i doubt its love.

Posted by alicia from nashville, tennessee on May 4, 2008 08:37 AM

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