In the last two days, for completely unrelated reasons, two people have asked me the same question: “Were Tolkien’s Orcs created by raping Elves?”
My first answer was no.
My second answer was there’s an account of the possible origin of Orcs in The Silmarillion, but it’s undercut by the narrator’s use of the phrase “it is said that” beforehand.
My third answer is “Hey! Let’s ask the Dope!” So here’s a few questions:
What explanation of the genesis of Orcs do you find most persuasive?
Do you think Orcs have free will, as is implied by the conversation Samwise overhears while infiltrating Barad-dur, or is their consciousness the projection of the current Dark Lord’s will, as is implied by their reaction to the destruction of the One Ring?
Where do new Orcs come from? Do we take it that female Orcs, like female Dwarves, look so much like the males that outsider have difficulty distingushing the two genders? Or are the females all slaves? How do we account for their extremely high rate of reproduction? Do they rape female Children of Iluvatur whom they capture and add to their ranks that way? Or is there another option?
I have my own opinions, but I’ll leave 'em for later. So…anyone…? Bueller?