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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 9)

well with this the principe of transfiguration the ''we have souls and they'll go to heaven'' theorie is smashed into little bits. I mean, if someone creates a working flamingo from a tennisracket would it be any less then a born flamingo? and if you could transfigure animals why can't you make humans? well the brain would be a little more complicated but it really doesn't seem impossible for me. (as far as impossible goes in the word of harry potter) therefore It seems weird you can't bring people from the if you can turn a cup into a thinking gerbil. reanimating (and fixing up) a body can't be much more difficult...close the wounds, let the heart pump,and if neccesary fix the brains. well if is caused by dark magic I guess you can't do much anymore but if not would this theory be any more then zapping a person with those electroshock thingies? dunno the right word but I know they are there.

Posted by carni from netherlands on June 26, 2008 2:57 PM

I have wondered for a long time about the exceptions of the Law of transfiguration. I think, one exception must be that you cannot transfigure anything you have to buy with money. Because if this would be possible, none of the Weaslys would have to go to Hogwarts with second-hand robes (or dress robes) or books, or rusty cauldrons. Or Ron would have been able to transfigure his old broom into a Firebolt. Or Lupin would not have to wear shabby clothes. Do you agree? Or have I overlooked something?

Posted by Loony from Salzburg on June 27, 2008 12:47 PM

Don't they transfigure rats into water goblets somewhere in the books? Ron's still has a tail? Or is that just in the film? I think it's in chamber of secrets but may be getting books and movies mixed up!

Posted by Joe from England on June 29, 2008 2:25 PM

Joe: Yes, they do transfigure rats into water goblets. But that doesn't have the same moral implication as doing it, for the first time, the other way around.

Rat -> Water Goblet. You can easily change it back. Nothing ed. No problem.

Originally a Water Goblet -> Rat. Now, you're morally bound not change it back, because you would be ing the new rat.


Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on June 29, 2008 2:30 PM

I think there are several possibilities of why Snape could heal the Sectumsempra wounds and Molly couldn't.

1) Time - Snape got to Draco several minutes after the wounds were inflicted, however it was a fair while longer before Molly could attempt George - although she said the excuse was Dark Magic.

2) Knowledge - As has been said, Snape invented the spell and would probably know the countercurse for it (the song-spell) so that could well be it.

3) Amputation - This is, I think, the reason. While Draco was badly cut, nothing was actually really cut off, so the skin really only had to be 'knitted' back together, rather than completely regrown. However George's ear was completely removed, and therefore couldn't be grown back. It could be 'cleaned up', so bleeding could be stopped and skin could heal, but the ear itself couldn't be regrown. This is, I think, the most likely.

Posted by Tom from Victoria, Australia on June 29, 2008 5:16 PM

In the third exception I don't think the intention of the spell caster changes anything. To even make a dark magic spell work, your intention has to be to use it. (Bellatrix says so in the Order of the Phoenix when Harry tries to use an Unforgivable curse.)The fact that Harry did not know what the Sectumsempra spell did does not matter because he still meant to use it. I agree with Tom from Victoria on why Molly couldn't heal George, but Snape could heal Malfoy. Amputation seems to make the most sense. This could also explain Moody's injuries. He lost his eye and a chunk of his nose, probably from dark magic, so he could not grow them back. Bill's wounds don't apply to this because I think cursed werewolf bites are different from dark magic spells.

Posted by Anonymous from Arizona on June 30, 2008 10:48 AM

I've been wondering for a while whether it's one of the small mistakes J.K. Rowling made.... writing that there are five exemptions while there are really just four... she admitted that she hasn't thought it all through 150%..which is fair enough. Just wondering.. if David Haber cannot find it, it's probably not there..!

Posted by Siena from Nottingham, UK on July 2, 2008 04:23 AM

Tom from Victoria, I think your #1 and #2 are correct but #3 is wrong. One of my friends got his leg completely torn apart from his body, and after they arrived to the hospital, they tried to fix it, and it worked. His both legs are equally perfect right now. I don't think this is the reason.

I think:

1) Gold
2) Food
3) Soul
4) Extremely complex objects that are beyond your magic ss
5) Extremely magical objects that are beyond your magic ss

Gold, obvious. They are enchanted by goblin magic. They can't be summoned/transfigured into. Remember, Hermione's galleons were just fake.

Food, as Ron and Hermione says.

Soul, as Carni from Netherlands says. He stated it beautifully.

4) Objects like clothes. They aren't plain clothes like a piece of wood or a goblet, they are made by thin strings attached to each other, making it extremely complex objects. There are a lot of examples. Another example: Voldemort makes his Inferi out of bos, not out of thin air, because it is extremely hard. Even Voldemort is unable to do.

5) Obvious. Horcruxes? Hallows? Goblin-made objects? Wands? Some of these objects can be summoned(Accio) some of them can't. Its just the matter of your magic ability. Like potential. A weak wizard with stick wouldn't beat a great wizard with a normal wand: Think of Grindelwald and Dumbledore, or other stick-carriers. The unbeatable wand is not unbeatable, its just very hard to beat the wearer, because of the great power comes from the instrument.

I hope this makes sense:)

5) Objects like

Posted by İzzet from İstanbul on July 2, 2008 08:29 AM

well if clothes are a problem. why fur isn't? or a whole nerve-centre or organs or brains? if you can make an animal I think a pair of socks can't be a problem. on the other hand. you can't go into a store and just copy or multiply the goods can you? and maybe there's a spell to make things un-transfigurative?

Posted by Carni from netherlands on July 3, 2008 12:54 PM

carni, good point. i'm sure there is a spell to make things untransfigurative which voldemort must have used on the potion in the basin in the cave. similar thing i think is permanent sticking charm.

Posted by swati from India on July 3, 2008 9:03 PM

izzet from istanbul, I think that Dark Magic would have inhibitting effects on the regrowth of limbs and extremities, it's not simply the reattachment and all.

Posted by Tom from Victoria, Australia on July 4, 2008 04:51 AM

All of the five rules relate to something that would change everyone's wealth or something not everybody has. Knowledge is the 5th rule, if all wizards had knowledge, they wouldn't need to go to Hogwarts.

Posted by Whittney on July 4, 2008 4:56 PM

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