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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 14)
I think Wikipedia is wrong because transfiguration is physical. This is what I think they are:
1. Money is enchanted by goblin and wizard magic not to be transfigured otherwise it would defeat the purpose of money and people would transfigure everything and the economy fails. This is also used into things that can't be enchanted. These can't be conjoured duplicated or transfigured.
2. Organic Materials [cells](Plants, and body parts and blood) Including food. You can't make new cells or body parts: if you lose your eye you get a transplant, human or artificial however when Wormtail lost his arm Voldemort could not make an organic arm but a silver arm. Also since all our food is organic it falls under the same category. These can be transfigured but not conjoured.
3. The Unknown: You can't create something that you don't know what it is or information. Therefore to heal certain dark spells such as Sectumsempera or the Ring's curse you need experience in the Dark Arts. You can't turn something in an exotic fruit which you've never seen or tasted or a book you never saw.
4. Abstract things such as love and soul (or life) since weather is technically abstract it can't be transfigured (though you can vanish clouds or charm water into clouds).
5. Energy: I don't know how no one noticed this but energy is got to be one of the 5! Energy can be transfigured, that's the point of energy however it cannot be destroyed or created, if you put all the Universe in one long but single equation the varaints (x, y and z) change however if you substitute the varaints into numbers and add them they always be the same as long as you use the same unit and not miss anything. When you conjure something you don't create it but its taken from somewhere else.
Also time can be charmed. Books aren't transfigured because they are unknown if you never read them and if you did, you have to keep the book in your mind which is pretty hard otherwise you may find some blank pages or some missing ideas or maybe enchanted not to be transfigured for buisness purposes.
Posted by Lostdiadem from Malta on September 11, 2008 1:27 PM
I think that land/space is a possibility. in the books we see nothing to suggest that for instance a forrest can be created out of thin air, or completely vanish. weve seen pieces of land and space transfigured so they appear smaller than they actually are, ie. hogwarts appearing like a ruin to strangers, or hermiones bag etc.
New land can not be created, but the properties of existing land can. The same for space, new space can not be creeated, but as with hermiones bag, the quantities of an existing space can be increassed.
Posted by jepetto from Ireland on September 14, 2008 10:13 AM
You might be right, Elizabeth, I don't really remember, i should read that part again (every time I read a book I read all the ones before it and I'm reading the 4th now, I need a while).
Yet there's another subject to be addressed here, and it's the fact that many people take too litterally whatever is in the books, not realizing that just because something is written in a particular way doesn't mean that it IS that way, but just the way Harry perceives it, as the books are written (for the most part) in his perspective.
For instance, in the first book, Harry sees the food appear in his plate out of thin air, but in the fourth book we learn the food is cooked and teleported to the plate by house elves, hence, it doesn't really appear out of thin air.
A better example is, perhaps, when at the beggining of the 4th book we see it all from Frank Bryce's perspective, and J.K. writes that Frank heard the word "Quidditch", which "doesn't exist". Take notice that J.K. doesn't say "the word 'Quidditch', which Frank never heard before", or "the word 'Quidditch', which Frank assumes does not exist". No, it's written as if the word doesn't actually exist, but we know the word exists, although we might not know that if we read that book without having read the others before it.
What I mean, I hope you understand, is that people are taken litterally what the books say in order to give proof for their theories about what is and what isn't possible to transfigure, and they shouldn't do that. So, when Slughorn says that Felix Felicis is Luck in a bottle doesn't really mean is an abstract concept that has taken physical form, it's just an expression. The same way we call "pigtails" to a hairstyle, but we don't really mean that a girl is a mutant with hog's tails spontaleously growing out of her head. Maybe that's not the best example, but the best ones I know are in spanish, sorry.
Posted by Dreadjaws from La Paz, Canelones, Uruguay on September 23, 2008 05:22 AM
I think that space can't be included in the law since the room of requirements can go from the size of a broom cupboard to a massive area of hidden objects, and when they say that the room of requirements can do everything but food someone says that its because of the law.
I think the 5 are Food, Kwoledge (an essay or book), Energy, real body parts (Voldemort can't give Wormtail a proper one and harry needs a potion from madam pomfrey, and maybe something like a potion that isn't natural (no one can conjure veritaserum)
Posted by James from Auckland on October 6, 2008 11:38 PM
I think James has made an important point with his last idea, that you can't conjure veritaserum. It seems to me that, while possibly the most complex form of magic, Transfiguration is also the most basic, it's using your magical power to make something physically happen. All the other branches of magic, while having magical components, use physical things, such as the ingrents in potions and the tea leaves and crystal balls in divinition.
I think it's very possible that Transfiguration and spells came first, and then these other branches of magic, like potions, were invented to try to get around the limitations of Transfiguarion.
So, perhaps, taking a closer look at what's possible via the other branches of magic that don't seem to be possible via Transfiguration might be another way to discover, for sure, what the limitations of Transfiguration are.
Love potions, for one example, pops into my head as something invented because wizards could not transfigure someone else to like them...
Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles on October 7, 2008 10:27 AM
But surely transfiguration is changing one physical thing into another, different physical thing? So Hogwarts isn't actually transfigured to BE a ruin; it just LOOKS like a ruin to Muggles. We can't see its true form. Another example of this would be the memorial to Harry's family in Godric's Hollow. If a wizard was looking at it at the same time as a Muggle they would see it differently at the same time. This is not transfiguration. On the other hand Fudge really does change the Prime Minister's tea cup into a gerbil so that is transfiguration because the physicality of the thing is changed; the tea cup/gerbil chews on the PM's speech and he gives it to his niece as a pet. I think transfiguration must have to do with changing the physical nature of things. Obviously you can turn something inanimate like a tea cup or a rock into a gerbil or labrador because people do this in the books.
And I'm not too sure about the love potions, Dave. Dumbledore and Harry consider two possible ways in which Merope Gaunt could have bewitched Voldemort's father; a love potion and the Imperius Curse. So there is a way to alter the thinking of another person. Although I still don't think that counts as transfiguration, because Tom Riddle Senior's physical being was not altered. Merope didn't turn him into an old man or a newt or anything like that. Even if she used the Imperius Curse Tom was still the same physical being.
Not much further along the way though to working out what the other exceptions to Gamp's Law are though. Food, drink - Harry uses the Aguamenti spell to refill that bottle Slughorn and Hagrid are knocking back after burying Aragog, but it had to have drink in it to start with - money, otherwise the economy would be in dire straits like the Weimar Republic of Germany in the 1930s where the government literally made money.
I wondered if one exception might be that you can't change a true dog into a human for example. My reasoning is that although the dog (an animal) arguably has a soul (anima, which is the root of "animal") it does not have a rational soul like a human. To create a true human out of the dog you would have to create a rational soul. To me that is starting to get very close to challenging the boundaries of life and . When Sirius transforms into a dog he knows who and what he really is although his emotions become less complex. I doubt that it is possible though to do it the other way around and change a dog or any other animal, or a tea cup for that matter, into a human.
Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on October 13, 2008 05:46 AM
Many people are saying love and i think thats definately one. someone mentioned the theory about love potions being made because you can't actually transform something like hatred into love.
and many other abstract things like time for instance isnt erally a thing is it? its not really an idea either is it? its not like you can piont to your clock and transform it to something that just normal.
and the other one i saw was weather. okay whoever posted that was right: weather is just what we call the condition outside. its not a direct thing its just there. so unless you can point your wand at it, it cand really be transformed.
so i came up with the conclusion that nouns can really only be transformed except for of course foodand the other ones. but all the other ones like verbs, adjectives, and all that junk cant really have a wand pointed at it. unless you change the adjective eccentric into a noun and say the eccentric wore a lion hat that really roard to the quidditch match, it doesnt really make sense. so...and oh yeah. nouns dont always have to be a person, place, or thing, they could also be an idea. an idea like love, passion, happiness, hatred, envy... you cant really transfor envy into adore, now could you?
Posted by miss cissy from malfoy manor on November 22, 2008 1:34 PM
Actually I intended to sum up the whole things as 'abstract objects'. Thus, it may include love, information, knowledge, memory, etc.
Information and knowledge cannot be transfigured, because if it is so, there is no need for the students to study at Hogwarts, just transfigure their brains to learn something.
However, memory can still somehow be transfigured. Prof. Slughorn transfigured his memory with Tom Riddle because he's so embarrassed to have discussed about horcrux.
Or is it the memory that was in the pensieve that is transfigured? This explains why his original memory is kept intact in his mind.
Posted by fallen angel from Knockturn Alley on November 25, 2008 12:40 PM
Respectfully, I still submit, not all change is transfiguraion. Transfiguration is the physical change of something. You can change your mind, is that transfiguration? No. You can make someone fall in love with you, but that's not transfiguration. It's another kind of magic altogether, probably involving potions.
Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on November 25, 2008 2:33 PM
I think the fifth exception to Gamp's Law would be interfering with free ..
Think about it..
Posted by Jorge Berebichez from St. Petersburg, FL on November 25, 2008 4:57 PM
Once again, I hate to be a wet blanket. They're not Gamp's Laws of Magic. They're Gamp's Laws of ELEMENTAL Transfiguration.
Yes, certainly, there is probably magical limits to what you can do with free . But this is not an ELEMENT, not a "thing". It's not one of the 5 exceptions we're looking for.
Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles on November 25, 2008 5:56 PM
i think someone else brought this up, but i think the 5th law is clothing. it sounds weird, but 1- Lupin never transfigured himself some new clothes, and 2- all a house elf would have to do to be free is to conjure a piece of clothing. I assume, here, that the 5 Laws apply to house-elf magic too, even though it's different from humans' magic.
and i'd have to disagree with Jorge, the imperius curse interferes with free .
Posted by Elizabeth from Austin, TX on December 3, 2008 6:06 PM
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