In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fake Moody transfigures Draco Malfoy into the amazing bouncing ferret, then Professor McGonagall arrives and says

“Moody, we never use Transfiguration as a punishment!” said Professor McGonagall weakly. “Surely Professor Dumbledore told you that?”

What I find interesting is that, after transfiguring Draco, Barty Crouch Jr. points his wand at the ferret, which then starts bouncing and falling to the floor. This strongly reminds me of the Imperius Curse he used on a spider and on students:

Moody reached into the jar, caught one of the spiders, and held it in the palm of his hand so that they could all see it. He then pointed his wand at it and muttered, “Imperio!”[...] Moody jerked his wand, and the spider rose onto two of its hind legs and went into what was unmistakably a tap dance.[...] “Total control,” said Moody quietly as the spider balled itself up and began to roll over and over. “I could make it jump out of the window, drown itself, throw itself down one of your throats . . .”

and then

Moody began to beckon students forward in turn and put the Imperius Curse upon them. Harry watched as, one by one, his classmates did the most extraordinary things under its influence. Dean Thomas hopped three times around the room, singing the national anthem. Lavender Brown imitated a squirrel. Neville performed a series of quite astonishing gymnastics he would certainly not have been capable of in his normal state.

Now, I know that Unforgivable curses may be performed non-verbally (Can the Unforgivable Curses be Done Non-Verbally?) - although maybe it's a very advanced skill - and that Moody wasn't sentenced to Azkban for Imperiusing students, because they gave him permission. However, in this case, Draco clearly gave him no permission whatsoever. It seems to me that there are three possibilities:

  1. either this was not the Imperius Curse but something else(Levitation charm?) and,therefore, was completely legal,
  2. or this was, in fact the Imperius Curse but technically on a Transfigured human, and therefore considered equivalent to an Imperius Curse on an animal, again completely legal,
  3. or this was the Imperius Curse on a human being without permission, and this was somehow not noticed by Professor McGonagall.

My question is: is it possible to cast the Imperius Curse (and possibly, the other Unforgivable Curses) on transfigured humans without any punishment whatsoever?

  • 5
    Answer: Number one.)
    – Mithical
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 8:29
  • BTW, on Moody's Pottermore page, it says he's good at non-verbal spells. But this is SPOILER!!! Barty Crouch Jr, not Moody, soo...
    – Mithical
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 8:51
  • 3
    It's pronounced levi-oh-sah
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 8:55

1 Answer 1


Use of the Imperius curse on a fellow human is punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban.

In the example of Moody and the ferret, it's clear that the answer is (1) - it's not the Imperius curse, but a simple locomotion-style charm. Look at the paragraph is question.

Moody started to limp toward Crabbe, Goyle, and the ferret, which gave a terrified squeak and took off, streaking toward the dungeons.

"I don't think so!" roared Moody, pointing his wand at the ferret again ­ it flew ten feet into the air, fell with a smack to the floor, and then bounced upward once more.

"I don't like people who attack when their opponent's back's turned," growled Moody as the ferret bounced higher and higher, squealing in pain. "Stinking, cowardly, scummy thing to do..."

The ferret flew through the air, its legs and tail flailing helplessly.

First of all, the ferret it described as bouncing, not jumping or any other gymnastic feat.

More importantly, however, is the fact that ferret-Malfoy is clearly aware, afraid, and struggling to get free. This is not the behaviour of someone under the Imperius curse. Typically, under the curse, one is completely placid while obeying commands. When Harry is first put under, he feels it as...

...the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness. He stood there feeling immensely relaxed, only dimly aware of everyone watching him.

Doesn't sound much like the squeaking, flailing ferret to me.

  • I see where you're coming from, but the explicit question asked was is it possible to cast the Imperius Curse (and possibly, the other Unforgivable Curses) on transfigured humans without any punishment whatsoever? and the first sentence answers this.
    – DavidS
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:51
  • Maybe next time I should read the whole question before criticising the answers. :-)
    – ibid
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:53
  • What's your source that any use of the Imperius Curse is punishable with life in Azkaban? Unless I'm misremembering, the only source we have of the legality of the Unforgivables is Croody saying specifically that “The use of any one of them on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban.” He does this at the same time as he himself performs all three on animals (and on humans) without being sent off to Azkaban, so clearly it's not automatic, but he also limits it to humans. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 12:53
  • @JanusBahsJacquet fair point, I'll amend the wording. The question of the legality of using the curse on an animal is an interesting one...I imagine his demonstration would fall into the same sort of category as a dissection - acceptable in certain situations, but if you do it on your own it's animal cruelty.
    – DavidS
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 14:18
  • @DavidS Well, a dissection is on an already dead animal, but I see your point. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 15:00

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