Tolkien fans--so...Orcs are mutilated Elves? Wha..?

Apparently every who’s read the LoTR series got this but me, but apparently Sauron or Morgoth or someone got his hands on some Elves, mutilated and corrupted them and now their evil breeds true? Also,per the movie, they can be mixed up in vats, per Saruman.

If this is correct, has anyone tried to rescue/save an orc? Can an elf be de-orc’d?

Any background/info on the Orcs=Elf thing would be appreciated.

Evil cannot create, only corrupt. And Tolkien’s metaphysics were not very strong on “forgiveness.”

The origin of the Orcs is explained in the Silmarillion, not the LOTR.

Orcs are just evil, no one in Middle-Earth has ever tried to rehabilitate one. But Vetinari did in Unseen Academicals.

Right. And, yes, the basic gist is as Fenris describes: it was believed that, at some point during the First Age, Morgoth captured a number of elves, corrupted them, and bred them into what became the orcs. (OTOH, Treebeard tells a somewhat different story to Merry and Pippin about their origin, but he might not have known the full story.)

AFAIK, Tolkien never described anything like an attempt to de-orcify or redeem an orc. By the point in time of LotR, the orcs had been breeding as orcs for many thousands of years, and were probably hundreds of generations removed from their elf forebears.

Morgoth created the orcs from elves. How he did this is unclear, only that Morgoth took some elves as prisoner, and eventually from his dungeons orcs emerged.

“Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressëa, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor [later Morgoth]…by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the race of the orcs, in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes.”

Yes, orcs in LOTR are always chaotic evil. But can a rational creature be doomed to evil at birth? Tolkein never liked this idea, and tried various explanations–perhaps Orcs were really some sort of animal, or were automatons with no free will, animated by their masters.

The LoTR books don’t have any of the Orcs as corrupted elves stuff in it, or growing them in vats. The corrupted elf stuff appears in the Silmarrillion, and the vat stuff is an invention of Peter Jackson’s. Saruman did breed orcs with humans to get a different, more powerful (or at least less annoyed by light) version of “half orc.” That is certainly in the books.

Don’t forget that the Silmarillion wasn’t finished, by Tolkien’s standards. He was constantly revising his ideas, and I’ve read that he was strongly reconsidering the idea of elves being corrupted into orcs, and if he had completed the Silmarillion himself, that idea might well have been consigned to the dust bin.

Maximum Charisma: 12

Nothing was ever finished by Tolkien’s standards.

At very least, this would be an issue that could be explored empirically. Fine a new-born Orc and try to raise him among humans. See if he can be taught moral behavior.

(It worked for a Klingon!)

JRRT struggled with the origins and fate of the orcs. He was re-writing the canon to have them derived from men at one point, and he also didn’t care for the idea that orcs were irredeemably evil.

Unfortunately he never untangled those particular knots.

On the other hand, it failed with a Jem’Hadar, who are a lot closer to orcs than Klingons in their origins.

Yes that’s right.

A previous poster is bound to have mentioneed this, but JRRT grew very uncomfortable with the idea that Orcs are Always Chaotic Evil near the end of his life.

When I used to DM, a paladin found that red dragon eggs do, in fact, detect as evil. Other DMs are free to do otherwise, of course.

As has been pointed out, this was a sub-plot of Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals: the answer was yes, but the orc in question wondered who would teach the humans moral behaviour.

The Valar have the power to create sentient life: giant intelligent eagles, talking top dogs, dwarves, ents, dragons. They can also breed ordinary wolves to contend with top dogs. Wonder how they’d fare when it comes to breeding MMA fighters?

IIRC, there’s a bit in ROTK where (Sam?) overhears a pair of orcs talking amongst themselves as if they were just two regular guys who’d been conscripted into Sauron’s army. I got the impression that there must be some sort of “civilian” orc populations out in the hinterlands of Mordor, with families and farms and markets and all, and that the orcs the heroes of the book actually encounter are either just savages or the worst of the worst.

Orcs lacked free will, whether due to genetics or due to Morgoth’s or Sauron’s control. That’s clear enough with the orc pairings we were treated to: Ugluk-Grishnakh, Snaga-(big orc), Shagrat and Gorbag. That they did their task unquestioningly and efficiently attests to this.

I always ask an Orc what his origin is before I pig-stick him.

No, they don’t. This is made quite clear in the story of Aulë creating the dwarves. Only Eru can give true life.

The examples you cite show the complete opposite. If they lacked free will, then they wouldn’t have the conversations they had about non-mission-specific topics, wouldn’t complain about the food or reminisce about previous battles. They’d be robots, and they’re clearly not. Also, orcs under the same master wouldn’t scheme against each other, that’s not efficient.

The dwarves were already alive and sentient when Eru caught Aule. The sole right to give “true life” is not a limiting factor. What about the ents? What about Morgoth’s creations?