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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 4)

I have some ideas here:
- Wands are not apart of the 5th law because Harry ends up fixing his wand with the elder wand
-Also weather is not the 5th law because i think it was the 5th or 6th book that the prime minister was having trouble with tornadoes and these weather problems really came from Voldemort. (don't tornadoes count as weather?)And weather just seems like a stupid law to me.
-Love has to be the 5th law because it would be something that JK Rowling would do because love is brought up so many times in the book.
-also about clothing, i think we have got something here because in the 4th book Ron is trying to remove the lace from his dress robes and is not successful in his attempts

i hope this helps!

Posted by Laura from Paris, Texas on May 11, 2008 10:04 PM

Concerning love I agree that whatever restrictions are upon it, it doesn't have anything to do with transfiguration. For me, the same counts for bringing back the , creating life or healing cursed wounds. Some other suggestions are more convincing:
- Wands: I think that wands are a good suggestion. Yes, Harry ends up fixing his wand, but is not creating one; fixing doesn't have to be a form of transfiguration.
- Clothes and money/gold for the earlier named arguments
- Shelter: why would all the wizards at the quidditch world cup bring tents with them?

This would bring me to five exceptions, all related to some form of basic needs:
1) Food
2) Clothing
3) Shelter
4) Money (well, its the most basic need of all, since it can provide for all the others)
5) Wands (quite a basic need for wizards, right?)

Posted by Ruud from Riethoven, Netherlands on May 13, 2008 4:58 PM

I think it has to do with self gain--you can't transfigure something into money--or Ron would have been doing it--

Posted by Pamela Sue from Ark on May 14, 2008 3:30 PM

And Snape didn't mean the Secumsepra for George, but for the person attacking George.

i think love is the 5th exectption.

Posted by Sarah on May 15, 2008 08:50 AM

Wait a second, how did Dumbledore make oak matured mead appear 'out of thin air' (JK's own words) in the Dursleys house in the begining of HBP? Is drink not considered 'food', and therefore not an exception to Gamps law?

That opens up all sorts of possibilities then. When does a 'drink' become a 'food'? Could you make smoothies and shakes appear out of nothing, or are they considered food too? You could certainly survive for a long time off of many types of drinks if you didn't have any food.

Posted by Mike from Seattle, WA on May 15, 2008 12:48 PM

Mike: We don't know for sure that he conjured it from scratch. All we know is that he made it appear. He probably summoned it from someplace. He would have prearranged this, but that's not unlikely, because he knew he'd be visiting. It's like planning ahead and buying a bottle of wine to take with you when you visit someone.

After all, the food at the feast just "seems to appear", but we know that's not conjured from scratch, it's made by the house elves and somehow sent up to the tables above them. Dumbledore just did a similar thing with the mead.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on May 15, 2008 3:31 PM

"Madam Rosmertas finest oak-matured mead, said Dumbledore," when he summoned the drink in dursley's house. so surely it was not conjured out of nowhere, why otherwise there be pubs etc. everyone could just conjure it. i think for all purposes all drinks (water, butterbeer etc) classify under food only.

Posted by swati from India on May 15, 2008 8:59 PM

ya, that makes sense I guess. I wonder what the limits of conjuring and transfiguration are. Technically air is made of matter and has water in it too. If you were a powerful wizard, could you transfigure air into something drinkable?

And what really defines something as 'food'? You can make 'non food' appear, but not 'food'. Hermione conjures birds, couldn't you just eat them? You can transfigure stuff into animals too, couldn't you eat the animals (sorry vegitarians)? If Hermione was so good at transfiguring cups into mice etc, why couldn't she transfigure a pinecone into a rabit or something, when they were hungry in the woods?

Just some fun hypotheticals

Posted by Mike from Seattle on May 16, 2008 09:19 AM

i was thinking about what things magic couldn't fix, when it struck me. Wands. Like if a wizard's wand is snapped in half, like hagid, for instance, it can't be fixed. And remember Ron's wand, the one that was a hand-me-down? it was defective and eventually broke, and they weren't able to fix it, or else someone would have. It's such an inconvenience for a student not to have a working want, if it could be transfigured and made whole again, McGoagall would have done it. Yeah, they definitely can't fix wands. and that's why Olivander disappearing was so bad, because they couldn't just fix old wands if they broke.

Posted by Rachel on May 16, 2008 4:57 PM

I think it is also love as Slughorn and Dumbledore quote love cannot be made. But only manipulated and twisted. That would fit into JK's description of love conquering all.

Please keep bringing new riddles and storys from the world of Harry Potter. Keep the Harry Potter flame alive.

Posted by Snowy from Barking on May 18, 2008 11:58 AM

An exception might be in making someone magic. She very specifically says that one either does, or does not, have magical powers. Otherwise there wouldn't be any squibs.

Hmm. Not sure if this would be strictly considered transformation, or a charm.

Posted by Perdie from Arlington, MA on May 18, 2008 8:30 PM

I think the last exception is magically blocked to transfigure objects. Examples? Gold, houses, wands, hallows, horcruxes, etc. Gold is made by goblins, they could put charms on the gold to not to be transfigured or summoned. Thats why you put your gold in gringotts. What else we saw in gringotts? Very powerful and most important objects, like gryffindor's sword, hufflepuff's cup and the sorcerer's stone(or philosopher's whatever).

Posted by İzzet from Turkey on May 19, 2008 07:55 AM

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