How do the Elixir of Life work? (SPOILER-esque?)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ninclow, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. Ninclow

    Ninclow Fourth Year

    Joined:
    May 8, 2016
    Messages:
    131
    High Score:
    0
    In the sixth book, Dumbledore said that : "While the Elixir of Life does indeed extend life, it must lie drunk regularly, for all eternity, if the drinker is to maintain the immortality. Therefore, Voldemort would be entirely dependant on the Elixir, and if it ran out, or was contaminated, or if the Stone was stolen, he would die just like any other man."

    This makes the Elixir of Life sound like it is some kind of deadly poison that, if taken repeatedly, somehow acts as its own antidote or something. That sounds kind of odd to me...

    I'm not quite certain as to how to check the authenticity of this little piece of information, but I were wondering... How does this quote on quote "immortality" work? If the image portraying Flamel is genuine and he walks around being 600 years old in the movie but look like (in my opinion) even younger than the actor's real life fifty-five years of age, so my theory is this: The Elixir of Life is actually connected to time-related magic and freezes your internal/biological clock, rendering your body "frozen in time", not unlike how vampires in a vast majority of mythos never age once turned. So - time moves around you, but you yourself if frozen in time, kept from aging or getting fatally ill by some magically potent medical properties of the elixir, but if you stop taking it after let's say a century, that would be fatal because all the years you "cheated off on" by being "frozen in time" will catch up with you all at once, just like what we heard on the time-turner page on Pottermore:

    "All such experiments have been abandoned since 1899, when Eloise Mintumble became trapped, for a period of five days, in the year 1402. Now we understand that her body had aged five centuries in its return to the present and, irreparably damaged, she died in St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries shortly after we managed to retrieve her."

    And the rapid aging is too much for your rapidly aging heart to take.

    So - that's my theory based on the image of potential Flamel, at least, what's yours?
     
  2. AmerigoCorleone

    AmerigoCorleone Seventh Year

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Messages:
    284
    "He would die just like any other man"
     
  3. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,184
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    This is something that I am going to be including in my next update to my headcanon doc, but to tease:

    We know that transfiguration changes things genuinely and physically "at the molecular level". We also know transfiguration is permanent unless reversed. We also know that transfiguration is used in healing.

    All of this would seem to imply that transfiguration should be able to be used to reverse the effects of ageing, and achieve "eternal youth" immortality: simply transfigure yourself into a younger version of yourself (or indeed, a younger version of someone else). But the absence of immortal wizards doing this is conspicuous.

    We must therefore conclude that there is some magical property which attaches to people such that their "true age" survives magical transformations, and that this property results in the body reverting to its true age if subjected to a magical transformation. We can also see supporting evidence for the existence of this property in the continued efficacy of Dumbledore's age line in the face of aged-up Weasley twins.

    In the case of Elixir of Life, I'd postulate that when you stop taking the elixir, your body will return to its "true age". So if you take it within your normal life span, you can stop without dying, though you will age rapidly. But if you are older than is natural, you will die of age rapidly.

    Incidentally, this could provide the second of Gamp's exceptions: youth.

    By similar reasoning, one can argue from the absence of all wizards being thin and beautiful that appearance also cannot be permanently transfigured into beauty, with the wizard's magic remembering what he is supposed to look like. So the third exception would be beauty.
     
  4. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Messages:
    5,328
    Location:
    Hbg., Germany
    All I see in this quote is that the Elixir extends your life by a certain, finite amount. And while there is nothing that prevents you from drinking it regularly, you have to do so, or you'll just age and die when the last dose you drank fades.

    Pretty much like polyjuice potion.

    And speaking of which, @Taure, that sounds like something you'd have to consider. Strictly speaking, wizards could transform into a more appealing form that way, so there can't be a fundamental, magical issue here -- except the non-permance. Whether forever drinking polyjuice of young people will keep you forever young is something that's at least not a priori obvious.

    (Conceptually, I say it doesn't, simply because that is what the Elixir is for, you wouldn't need it otherwise -- but maybe that is a slight cop-out for an argument.)

    At any rate, the reason why no one transfigures themself into a younger!themself might be simply that it's ridiculously complicated and risky. The more interesting question is whether de-age potions exist, in my opinion. We know of beauty stuff like pimple remover; "less fat" or "smooth skin" or "full hair" is not of a fundamentally different quality than that, so I'd be inclined to say more aye than nay. Permanent, youthful beauty must be attainable, magically. Not least because Metamorphmagi exists, unless you want to go with base forms.

    And still, old-looking wizards exists. Stan is also pimply. The absence of countless youthful-looking wizards can't therefore work as an entirely certain proof of the absence of ways to make oneself look that way. Permant or non-permanent. Perhaps it's, again, cost and complexity. We are underexposed to rich people. Maybe Narcissa buys all sorts of stuff that will keep her looking like thirty until she's 130 and so does the owner of Nimbus Brooms we never see.
     
  5. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Unspeakable

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Messages:
    721
    Location:
    Darujistan
    I've always thought of the Elixir being something which either a) stops ageing temporarily, or b) reverses ageing temporarily. To wit, Dumbledore's explanation of the Flamels' eventual fate (they have enough of the elixir left to set their affairs in order) corresponded to the elixir just halting ageing in its tracks for a bit. If you're thinking biologically, I'd say that when it is active within the body, it heals damaged DNA (allows for perfect DNA replication, in other words) and repairs cell damage perfectly: something the body becomes increasingly incapable of as it grows older. Since the effect of the elixir doesn't last very long, I'd say it gets consumed in the body (i.e. metabolized). A person would have to keep on taking it in order to remain alive.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
  6. Alistair

    Alistair First Year

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    Messages:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Not sure I'm sold on this. Just looking at Canon, if wizards had a 'base' form that they revert to for lack of a better word, Hermoine wouldn't have been able to fix her teeth as she did. As far as we know, whatever Pomfrey did to shrink them slightly smaller than their natural state after she got Hexed was permanent. That being the case, and taking the fact that transfiguration can permanently alter appearance to it's logical conclusion, I would suggest that there can only be two main reasons why 'ugly' wizards exist.

    1.) Lack of ability. Magic may be able to correct any visual imperfection, but not every wizard can. That being the case it comes down to cost and availability. A decent plastic surgeon can make most people at least more attractive, but most people don't get the surgery as they don't want the hassle, the cost or thery're happy with their body. This, to my mind explains Stans pimples.

    It also brings us onto point 2.

    2.) In a world where anyone can look however they want with a flick of the wrist and a few words, what defines beauty? As a general rule in the 'muggle' world, the beauty standard is whatever is least easily attainable. For many years a 'heavier set' woman with porcelain skin was the standard because only the rich could afford to sit sheltered from the sun and eat excessively. This is still broadly true in some less developed countries today. In the developed world however, the standard is (as a sweeping generalisation) for tall slim women with a tan and for 'buff' gym body blokes. This seems to be because most people today living a sedentary lifestyle with ready access to good food have to actively work to achieve this.

    So how would this apply in the wizarding world? I suggest that in a situation where physically at least anything is easily attainable, a societal standard of beauty is not something to strive for, and if it is, the desire to buck the trend and be unique, ie individuality, would be the standard to attain.

    So maybe to Harry, as an effectively 'muggle' outsider, wizards are strange and 'ugly', but they are out of choice. They chose their appearance to best reflect their personality. So McGonnagal comes across as a prim, strict older woman with a 'schoolteacher vibe', Dumbledore has the appearance of a genial, eccentric grandparent, Lucius is collected, aloof, imposing and charismatic, Fudge is affable and approachable (but unfortunately doesn't have the strength of character, so comes across as bumbling and easily lead), whilst Voldemort is imposing and terrible to behold. The wizard chooses their 'skin; just as much as does Tonks, it's just more 'fixed'because it does take more effort than just thinking. Plus Tonks' 'fluid' nature does seem to suit her personality quite well anyway.
     
  7. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

    Joined:
    May 31, 2012
    Messages:
    343
    We have plenty of examples of beauty being judged by the same exact standards as in the real world, Hermione in GoF being the prime example. Or Fleur, if you don't buy the idea of Veela having some kind of natural mind control field.

    Also the quote of Flamels having enough elixir to "set their affairs in order" seems to suggest that they have at most a year left before they die; that would suggest that stopping using the elixir doesn't simply leave you as a baseline mortal who starts aging normally again, but rather you rapidly catch up with the "real" age you should be. That makes it look more like polyjuice than something that just stops aging.
     
  8. Ninclow

    Ninclow Fourth Year

    Joined:
    May 8, 2016
    Messages:
    131
    High Score:
    0
    To me, it sounds more like rather than making a cup-full of potion when needed, he made rather large quantities and stored it somewhere safely, so when Dumbledore protected the stone for them, they still had a fairly large supply of potion at hand and Dumbledore merely confirmed that yes, once they ran out of potion, they would die. (Why Flamel simply did not make another stone is beyond me).
     
  9. James018

    James018 Third Year

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Messages:
    82
    High Score:
    0
    Perhaps you can only make one? Perhaps it takes too much time? Perhaps they were genuinely tired of life and would have destroyed the Stone soon anyway?
     
  10. TRH

    TRH Seventh Year

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    223
    Location:
    On Your Six
    Any of that might have been true, but Quirrell had already been dealt with by the time they decided to destroy the first stone, so I assume they didn't make another for the same primary reason they destroyed the first - to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
     
  11. James018

    James018 Third Year

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Messages:
    82
    High Score:
    0
    True - although, if they were able and willing to create another Stone, they could easily have faked their deaths at the destruction of the first Stone, and kept the second Stone's existence secret, along with their own. In fact, J.K.R.'s word is the only sure evidence we have that they didn't do this.
     
  12. Download

    Download Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Messages:
    1,637
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Using the opportunity to fake their deaths has been done in many fics.
     
  13. Zombie

    Zombie John Waynes Teeth Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Messages:
    1,488
    Location:
    Within the Garden of Nurgle.
    High Score:
    2,094
    Did they ever state that the Flamels died in canon? Or was it just implied by the words of Dumbledore that they would die.
     
  14. Goten Askil

    Goten Askil Slug Club Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2015
    Messages:
    196
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    France
    Rowling said on her website that he died before book 6. I don't know if he's ever mentioned in the books after PS.
     
  15. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Headmaster DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    I've always disliked the idea of the Flamels dying, or choosing to die. They're really not that old when you think about it. An HP wizard can live 3 times longer than a muggle, hitting as high as 200. The Flamels are only 3 times older than any other wizard, if not as little as twice as old depending on how old you think Marchbanks is. In fact, age in HP has never made any sense. The Weasleys were in their 40's, maybe close to 50, but they had aged like roadkill. If anything, wizards and witches should stay relatively youthful for a long period of time. I much prefer a system where the age is stretched out proportionally, so that way when you see a sorcerer who can tuck his beard into his belt, you pucker up.
     
  16. Zombie

    Zombie John Waynes Teeth Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Messages:
    1,488
    Location:
    Within the Garden of Nurgle.
    High Score:
    2,094
    I've never taken her website to be canon. I just have a hard time. Its for her to fill holes after the fact when she should have did it during the story telling, and she's pretty much kililng the magic of everything. Sure, some of its interesting, but in regards to the Flamels, it was never stated they were dead, so in my mind they're not dead.

    Agreeing with what Sauce says, there is way too many inconsistencies in age in general. So, personally, I guess my headcanon is always going to be that they were able to save themselves and were just kept off radar, because who really has the ability write someone with that much age effectively?
     
  17. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Headmaster DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    On the note of wizarding ages, I want to bring up a (partially retconned) answer from one of Rowling's interviews.

    I don't have the epub for Philosopher's Stone on this device, but McGonagall is described as having black hair. She is seventy years old and still has black hair, and I don't think she could be described as being overly vain.
     
  18. bhaijarduk

    bhaijarduk Squib

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Gender:
    Male
    This could be explained if we assume that only the theoretically ideal transfiguration is perfect and the real practical transfiguration is never completely perfect. We already know that there is not clear line between failed transfiguration and acceptable one from the book, seeing as you can have a transfiguration done by a, inexperienced student have some macro properties of its original being left, it would make sense to have lots of more microscopic imperfections too that are just not noticed as easily.
    If this kind of practical magic always comes with at least some microscopic or molecular imperfection, that would explain why you can't just use transfiguration to fix all injuries or heal people or stay young. A bunch of molecular imperfections can easily make your transfigured body part incompatible with the rest of your body, while outwardly it might look and act like an actual body part.
     
  19. Heosphoros

    Heosphoros Third Year

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Location:
    Brazil
    I've never been very fond of the time catches on trope, always felt a bit of a cop out, usually to kill the immorally imortal villain without getting ones hands dirty. But since canon is what it is, here my headcanon.

    Like the physical body seeks balance through homeostasis, so does the "magical body". The Elixir would work by injecting the body with an heavy duty dose of life force (not very fond of this term, but whatever) , rejuvenating it and keeping healthy. Said external input would reduce the body's life generating quality (much like taking steroids can cause hypogonadism). Perhaps the first few doses of elixir only causes a slight atrophy, leaving the person to be sickly while the body recovers its capacity. But constant use eventually cripples this mechanism, making the user dependent of the elixir to survive.

    Regarding the lack of use of transfiguration to keep eternally young, a more AU idea of mine is that as a wizard ages his body becomes increasingly resistant to magic, as if his body keeps getting "realer" with time. This resistance isn't very effective against dark magic, but potions and transfiguration are required in ever greater amounts of quantity and quality in order to keep up with time. So only the most vain and resourceful bother with keeping themselves young and beautiful, the majority only bothering with keeping healthy.
     
  20. Alistair

    Alistair First Year

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    Messages:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    In fairness though, if wizards can be expected to hit 150 with at least some regularity, adjusting for muggle lifespans she'd only be around 35 or 40 in 'muggle' years (UK life expectancy in the '90's being around 77).
     
Loading...