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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 6)

I think the 5th exception is to turn a muggle into a wizard, because of course muggle can't do magic so you can't transform them into wizards. If you come to think of it we can never be truly sure what are the exact 5 exceptions to gamp's law of elemental transfigaration unless J.K. gives us some more clues with an 8th book.

Posted by Apoorva from Dehradun,India on May 30, 2008 11:01 PM

yea i think the weather idea was good. but we must remember the weather concept in the ministry of magic, where i think its magical maintainance decides wat type of weather the magical windows in the ministry show. so maybe that would contrdict this idea, but then again, that isnt the real external weather, so that may not count.

i think JK Rowling gave us a hint in HBP in the cave, where dumbledore tried stuff with the basin and the potion. there might be somethin there because he couldnt transfigure it in any way watsoever.

another idea would be that of Fedilius charm or similar protective charms. i think it might be an exeption to gamps law of elementry transfiguration that fidilius charms cannot be transfigured to change their nature, and similar charms cannot be transfigured to change their nature. i cannot say there's proof for this, but if there was a way to transfigure these charms voldemort and eaters would hav been able to get into privet drive, but then again, maybe voldy wouldnt have been able to bear being in there because of his inability to understand the love, which is what the protection around privet drive was based around.

anyone think im makin sense here?

Posted by Ayoub from Kuwait on May 31, 2008 1:17 PM

also, and this has been botherin me for a while. i think the last Exception to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration has something to do with the Room of Requirement and is related to how it operates. i mean, think aout it. there isn't another room in the entire HP series like the Room of Requirement. it's like the room has a sort of spell about it like that of the Lestranges' vault at Gringotts. i am refering to the failure of the Summoning Charms, first at gringotts in DH where they couldnt summon the horcrux from inside the vault. but we don't know if this is due to the magic of the vault or because, like the one in the cave, this horcrux cannot be summoned, or if the charm only failed becos of the spells cast on the vault in question, or both. but even in the room of requirement in Dh when, near the end, Harry, Ron and Hermione try to summon the final horcrux [excluding nagini], the room prevented it.

in conclusion, i think the final exception is that you cannot untransfigure or retransfigure somethin that has been transfigured, the original transfigurer intending to transfigure it in a certain way permanently.

i know it sounds confusing, so i'll give another example of this. In OotP and DH when harry and friends are in 12 Grimmauld Place, they cant take down a single portrait or family tree or anything tha has been stuck with a permanent sticking charm. im sure if this could have been undone, the Order would have been prodigious enough to bring it down, especially dumbledore and most certainly prof mcgonagall, the transfiguration teacher.

Posted by Ayoub on June 1, 2008 04:51 AM

Also, i was wondering if there is a contradiction in the book. bear in mind that hermione tells us that food is an exception, and neville tells us that the room doesnt provide food.

bearing this in mind, how does one explain how dobby, during all those times Winky was drinking, dobby could bring her up to the Room of Requirement and found antidotes there. wouldnt antidotes be considered as coming under the same category as food? i mean, no one would have potions for meals, but wouldnt there be food-related ingrents in these antidotes?

Posted by Ayoub from Kuwait on June 1, 2008 04:56 AM

I don't think time or love or anything like these can be right because its elemental transfiguration. If you look up element it is a real physical thing that makes up something else.

I also don't think it can be bringing someone back from the , healing wounds or the weather. Transfiguring is turning something in to something else. Bringing someone back from the isn't turning them in to something else, its reviving them and healing whatever ed them, as well as bringing their soul back from wherever it has 'gone on' to. Although we know it can't be done, i don't think thats because its an exception.

Also healing cursed wounds isn't turning something in to something else, mrs weasley could transfigure Georges ear because there was nothing to transfigure, the ear had been cursed off therefore it was no-longer there. Snape was able to heal Draco's wounds after harry cursed him because the flesh was there still and the cuts could be transfigured. It could not be because Harry had not intentionally meant to hurt Draco, because, for example, if Harry and pointed the curse at Draco's leg instead and it had been cursed off, i doubt Snape would have been able to repair the damage. Snape was able to heal him because he had created the curse and knew the counter curses. I don't think healing has anything to do with Gamps laws.

As for the weather, Voldemort created hurricanes in the Half Blood Prince, therefore it can't be an exception.

But these are just my opinions.:)

Posted by Anonymous on June 2, 2008 11:56 AM

I think the antidotes the room provides are not really an exception. They're at Hogwarts, there's probably plenty of antidotes in the infirmary, so the room could get them from there, or maybe even potions' students having to make them in class...

But true, it's not allways very clear.

Posted by Adinda from Belgium on June 4, 2008 09:33 AM

nr. 5 isn't hard to find is it?
it is not possible to produce love.
it has been told to us several times i am sure, altough i do not know precisely when;).

Posted by JW from Holland on June 6, 2008 11:13 AM

Yes, you correctly point out, you cannot create love by using magic.

BUT! We're talking about the five exceptions to ELEMENTAL TRANSFIGURATION. Elemental means "things", and transfiguration means "change". So, elemental transfiguration means "changing things", like changing a tea cup into a rat.

HOWEVER, Love is an EMOTION, a FEELING. It is not a THING. It is not an element that can be transfigured. You can affect it with a potion, but not transfiguration.

So, even though you cannot create love with magic, it is not the fifth exception of elemental transfiguration that we're looking for.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on June 6, 2008 6:08 PM

Anonymous, doesn't Fudge say in HBP: "It was no hurricane. It was the eaters. And... We suspect a giant involoved."
I think the commocion looked like a hurricane to the muggles, but it simply wasn't there. Tell me, what would you think:
a) "Aaaah! A Giant!"
b) "Aaaah! A Hurricane!"
I'd say we'd all think about a hurricane before suspecting a giant involved, to be honest.

Posted by Deep Purple from The Netherlands on June 8, 2008 06:03 AM

I dunno if anyone already said it, but about the sectumsempra curse. Snape didn't mean to hit george, remember? He saw one of the eaters pointing his wand at one of the harry's so he tried to chop of his hand, but instead he hit george (to people at page 2 or so..)

Posted by Juno from Curacao on June 9, 2008 2:20 PM

In the second book doby´s bludger was intentionaly cursed to follow harry and maybe hurt him but his arm was healed, plus, juno, snapes curse was meant to hit the eater it just hit george by accident. anyway i think that the intention of the person who doesthe curse has nothing to do with it just how serious and bad the curse itself is

Posted by rui from athens on June 13, 2008 10:49 AM

I don't think black magic has anything to do with elemental transfiguration. I think it is more practical, like food and money. I don´t see black magic in that list. I think we are only certain of food and money. We have to think more practical and look for hints in the books.

Posted by Claudia from Netherlands on June 15, 2008 06:04 AM

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