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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 7)

I don't think it's love. It's definately not love. Love has absolutely nothing to do with transfiguration. But I think the fifth law is that you can't change a magic something into a muggle something. You can always bewitch a muggle something because Sirius's motorcycle was bewitched to fly.

Posted by chiqadie from bird's nest, the hollow tree on June 15, 2008 6:15 PM

Dear Adinda from Belgium,

i think you'll find you have overlooked something. if indeed the room of requirement could have gotten antidotes from the infirmary, then it could just have easily gotten food from the kitchens, dont you think?

Posted by Ayoub from Kuwait on June 16, 2008 02:41 AM

To rui from athens

again, you have overlooked more than one thing:

1) dobby cursed the bludger, not harry's arm.
2) it was proffessor lockhart that technically removed all harry's bones because of his ineptitude
3) even so, harry's bones couldve been regrown because he already had bones in other parts of the body, so it could have been multiplied or transfigured in some way so as to imitate the bones in his other arm, so i dont think your point is, on the whole valid, but i could be wrong with point no. 3

Posted by Ayoub from Kuwait on June 16, 2008 02:50 AM

How about Gamp's 5th exception could be that you can not create a dwelling. You can enhance it but you can not create it out of thin air. We saw examples of how wizards improved the living space of a tent but the Weasley' dwelling was large enough for the Weasley' but not very special. If wizards had the power to conjuger up any dwelling, the Weasleys and all wizards would live in fantastic dwellings.

Posted by Lou from Columbus, OH on June 16, 2008 10:40 AM

I'd say knowledge! (I hope no one has said that yet.) Why would wizards go to a wizarding school if they could make themselves smarter with a spell? And you can't Transfigure brains can you?

Posted by lyd from MI on June 16, 2008 4:46 PM

Lyd! Good point! I never considered that!

BUT... we don't know what makes one person smart and another not. However, I'd personally say, yes, you can't get knowledge by magic, but I'd also say this is not a transfiguration thing. It's more a spell or a potion. So, even though it's true, it's a magical limitation, it doesn't count to our five transfiguration exceptions.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles on June 17, 2008 07:11 AM

I think it would be safe to say that emotion/being can not be transfigured.

It makes sense, for it encompasses an enormous area of thought, instead of just "love."

You cannot use magic to make someone love you, or hate you, or want to you. Now, there is ONE exception, being the Imperius Curse. However, that doesn't put thoughts into your head, it merely makes you a puppet for someone else.

Perhaps that would be the fifth exception? State of Being?

Posted by Nek'rahm from Apalachin, New York on June 17, 2008 08:44 AM

Once again, Imperius and spells that puts thoughts in your head, that's spells, not transfiguration. So, it may be a magical limitation, but it's not one of the five exceptions of transfiguration we're looking for.

Posted by David Haber from Los Angeles, CA on June 17, 2008 09:27 AM

I think we could add one thing to #3, which is the one about not being able to mend certain wounds.

If you were able mend disordes or abnormalities that you were born with, why would Harry not have his eyes fixed, so that he would not have to wear his glasses, which naturally would have made lots of his challenges during the 7 books easier?

So any disease or disorder that you inherit cannot be mended or cured.

I wondered if it would classify as transfiguration or as a spell, but thought I would post it anyway.

Posted by Tommy Hansen from Denmark on June 21, 2008 10:21 AM

well I think things as big as earth itself can't be transfigured. so it has a limit in the way that things that are too big can't be changed into something else.

Posted by Carni from netherlands on June 21, 2008 3:25 PM

I also think that the fifth principle is knowledge. Dumbledore is well known for his knowledge and there are not many wizards as smart as him so wizards can't make themselves smarter.

Posted by Arda from Turkey on June 22, 2008 2:41 PM

I think it could be something along the lines of 'not being able to transfigure anything without leaving a trace'. And by trace I don't, necesarrily, mean a physical trait, but perhaps some flaw that can be revealed by magic.

Say, if this wasn't the case, there must be other things than money which you can transfigure and profit greatly from. I realize this excludes things of magical value, as that obviously can't be created.

Generally I think it makes most sense to just assume that transfiguration of clothes, houses, furniture etc., lies way beyond the average wizards power.

Posted by Avi on June 24, 2008 05:33 AM

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