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One of the first spells students at Hogwarts are taught is how to transfigure an animal into a goblet.

In fact, Ron attempted to turn Scabbers (who turned out to be Peter Pettigrew in disguise) into a goblet and got half way there.

Ron attempts to turn Scabbers into a goblet

Is it possible (or at least a possibility supported by canon) to transfigure a human into an inanimate object? If so, why wouldn't Dumbledore transform Voldemort into a lovely end-table or footstool?

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    Because Voldy would be able to stop him? And Voldy also knows dark magic, so he might do magic while being a footstool? – user3459110 Jul 21 '14 at 10:24
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Yes.

One example is Horace Slughorn, who transfigures himself into a couch to try to hide himself from Dumbledore or visiting Death Eaters:

Dumbledore swooped, plunging the tip of his wand into the seat of the overstuffed armchair, which yelled, “Ouch!”

“Good evening, Horace,” said Dumbledore, straightening up again.

Harry’s jaw dropped. Where a split second before there had been an armchair, there now crouched an enormously fat, bald old man who was massaging his lower belly and squinting up at Dumbledore with an aggrieved and watery eye.

Half-Blood Prince, chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)

Note also that Slughorn seems to be able to untransfigure himself despite having no hand with which to use a wand, although we don’t know how.

Alternatively, a character is turned into a bone and buried:

“Dumbledore told me to go and look for my father. I went back to my father’s body. Watched the map. When everyone was gone, I Transfigured my father’s body. He became a bone… I buried it, while wearing the Invisibility Cloak, in the freshly dug earth in front of Hagrid’s cabin.”

Goblet of Fire, chapter 35 (Veritaserum)

As for Voldemort, remember that he’s an incredibly skilled wizard. Dumbledore could try to turn him into a footstool, but that probably be very difficult and Voldemort would try to stop him. I don’t think there’s much canon support for transfiguration during duelling.

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    However, one person in your examples does the trasfiguration willingly by himself, the other one was dead. I doubt one could force a transfiguration on another wizard. Otherwise Azkaban would probably be full of pink fuzzy footstools. – Mark Jul 21 '14 at 10:52
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    Given how complicated transfiguration is there are probably easier spells to use while dueling, however I think you've proved it's possible. – Liath Jul 21 '14 at 12:12
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    @Mark, or perhaps it's considered inhumane. – Paul Draper Jul 21 '14 at 16:10
  • I always interpreted the first passage as Slughorn simply being so fat that Harry mistook him for an armchair... but this makes more sense. – ApproachingDarknessFish Jul 21 '14 at 16:38
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    I always thought Slughorn's "transformation" was just an illusion. Wasn't there something about humans transfigured to animals losing any human mental faculties and being incapable of transfiguring themselves back? As such, I'd assume a living human transformed to an object would also lose any human (or living) mental faculties and be unable to transform back on their own. – Shisa Jul 21 '14 at 16:41
3

Extremely Likely, Yes.

As it stands, there is no indisputable canon instance showing the transfiguration of a living human being into an inanimate object.

According to the books, Human Transfiguration is a very tricky and difficult sub-branch of Transfiguration with lot of potential to easily go wrong. Students at Hogwarts don't start learning this until Sixth Year.

We know some things about Transfiguration:

  1. A human corpse can definitely be transfigured into an inanimate object. (Canon source: Crouch Sr's corpse to single bone)
  2. Parts of humans may be transfigured into an inanimate object. (Canon source: an article in The Quibbler)
  3. Transforming smaller living animals to inanimate objects seems to be an easy task to do.

Logically, it seems easy to come to the conclusion that though the human (or rather sapient - there's no reason to assume transfiguring a house-elf, or centaur, or gnome would be easier) transfiguration is much more difficult, it is highly likely to be possible, because at the end of the day, a human is still an animal and rules shouldn't be too different.

And if all else fails, and direct human-to-inanimate transfigurations are impossible in the HP world, then there's still the possibility of a two-step transfiguration - transfigure the human to an animal and then the resultant animal to the inanimate object.


Human-Corpse-to-Bone

The only instance in the books of an entire human-body being transfigured into an inanimate one is when Barty Crouch Jr. transfigures his father's body to dispose of it:

"When everyone was gone, I Transfigured my father's body. He became a bone... I buried it, while wearing the Invisibility Cloak, in the freshly dug earth in front of Hagrid's cabin."

However, it's worth noting that the human in this transfiguration is a dead body, and the object to which it is transfigured is something that is already a part of it. It is entirely possible that transfiguration of a corpse no longer qualifies as Human Transfiguration - we have no canon evidence to prove or disprove this.


Note: Untransfiguring Yourself aka Human-to-Armchair??

Both HP wiki and alexwlchan mention Slughorn's armchair disguise as a transfiguration. However, there's no canon evidence that it is and a lot of canon evidence that it isn't. Namely -

  1. Slughorn yelled "Ouch" as soon as Dumbledore poked him - a transfigured chair would neither feel pain nor be able to yell.
  2. We know that Animagus form is difficult precisely because it allows the animal form to retain (simplified) human thought in animal form and untransfigure themselves without the wand movements they'd be unable to make as an animal, and that humans transfigured to be animals ootherwise, do not do so. So it seems highly unlikely that this limitation would not extend to transfigurations to inanimate objects (ie. without the capability of thought at all)

Of course, #2 also means, just as in the case of human-to-animal transfigurations, it would be impossible for a witch or wizard to untransfigure themselves, once transfigured, so another wizardly accomplice would definitely be required to avoid being trapped forever as a cushy chair.

-2

"It is impossible to transfigure animate objects into inanimate objects."

Source: Accio Quote, presumably from the Pottermore website.

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    This is completely disproven by the books. -1. – JohnP Jul 21 '14 at 22:23
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    How so? As stated above, Slughorn's transformation may have been an illusion, and Crouch was dead when he was turned into a bone. As far as I can tell, all the tidbits on the website can ultimately be traced back to Rowling herself. – Archagon Jul 21 '14 at 23:04
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    Chamber of Secrets - Chapter 6? - Lesson is turning beetles into buttons, with the quote "Ron's mood was not improved by Hermiones showing them the handful of perfect coat buttons she had produced in Transfiguration". McGonagall transformed her desk into a pig and back again, and in the movies the lesson where they were supposed to be turning animals (i.e. Scabbers) into cups (As evidenced by the original question, even). It's common. – JohnP Jul 22 '14 at 3:55
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    Correct answer, but no upvote due to lack of research. Accioquote cites its sources and it wouldn't hurt to actually check what source they do cite. And no, it definitely wasn't from Pottermore, which wasn't even around in 2007 at the time accioquote posted that. – ibid Mar 22 '18 at 5:57

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