Tolkien thread: let's take a whack at the origin & nature of orcs

If the Orcs have free will, why are they invariably evil? I think it must go something like this: The Orcs have, through no fault of their own other than their birth, an utterly corrupted nature. Everything we consider evil and abominable is delightful to them; everything we cherish is anathema to them. An orc could, purely theoretically “choose” to be good- but there would be no way in mind or body that that choice could be anything but a torment to the orc. The Orcs simply don’t have the natural capacity for reform; they’re stuck the way they are. The only way an orc could choose to be good would be to choose to die. The only way an orc could be reformed would be to be changed into something other than an orc.

Hold your tongue, knave. There’s absolutely nothing in this literature that is inconsistent with natural history, with certain minor exceptions.

“Hey, Elrond! Where’s your dad? Still off driving Venus?”

“Shut up, you guys!”

This neatly illustrates the problem of an evil spirit invading a tree that isn’t a Huorn already.

“Muahahaha! I’ve taken over the biggest living creature in all Arda: a colossal tree! In this mighty form, at last I shall crush… wait… What the hell?! Where the fuck are my legs?! Shit! SHIT!”

I’ll take that as an apology, since neither the Doc, nor Jim, nor yourself would get into either a Tolkien or a Lewis thread if it were meant for logic. :stuck_out_tongue:

Which part of the “Rhymers are smart-asses” memo did you skip over? If I’d written that I was going to hit the Malacandra signal & *you *had complained, I’d have claimed **well, he’s back **is number two. If well, he’s back had complained I might have gone to Terrifel, or perhaps that delusional maniac Fabulous Creature. :wink:

Two things:

  1. Hobbits aren’t related to humans; they ARE humans. For that matter, so are Elves. I don’t think it’s correct to capitalize “human” in this context, because it’s not a division used in the professor’s work. Hobbits are a subset of Men; it’s just not immediately apparent to the non-angelic characters because, for whatever reason, the halflings split off from their larger cousins sometime during the 1st Age and developed differently.

I divide the Children into three categories:
Possessing souls bound to the Circles of the World so long as the Earth lasts: Elves, and perhaps Orcs.

Possessing souls that pass beyond the circles of the world after their physical death: Men, of whom Hobbits are a subset.

Possessing souls whose fate after death is unknown: Dwarves. (Though I think the Eldarian position that Dwarves lack souls is full of crap and that the Dwarves’ claim that they join Aule is probably correct.)

  1. Obviously it’s canon that Elves & full-size Men are interfertile, and strongly implied that Orcs & fs-Men are, but what about Hobbits? I know that Farmer Maggot seemed to think that Sharkey’s henchmen might rape Rosie & other halfling lasses, but that’s not quite the same thing.

Or be a pre-existing, natural being, & be corrupted by Sauron’s tyranny.

I know all about diaereses, Jim. But I’m not typing this in Word, nor am I on my computer, and I don’t have access to the character map. Also, I’m lazy.

I think I was unclear. I wasn’t doubting your assertion; I was just wondering where you read it–in letters, one of the HOME volumes, or someplace else. I’d like to read it.


Now wait a minute. You’ll note from my location I live in Middle Earth and very near Bree.

Again science cannot play into this. Elves and Humans might be interfertile but are clearly not the same race despite this. That Hobbits are a near Human species and still interfertile seems very likely. But now this gets into a discussion of scientific classification which really does not fit well in the time of the Lord of the Rings which is clearly magical and mystical in nature and defies science at every turn.

The Dwarves have souls, Tolkien was fairly clear on that. In fact they will even get to work with Aulë after the world is changed again to rebuild it.

I was correcting the ‘r’ on fëa not the lack of the ë (alt 0235).

The “Books of the Lost Tales” are volumes I & II of the 12 volume set. I can’t point you to the exact location with ease.

Yes, and adding the “r” makes it plural, does it not?

See? Plural. Needs an “R,” it does.

Or, to put that in Fabulous Creature mode:

You’ll pay for this, Superman. Oh, how you’ll pay.

And you’ve just paid; thanks for the pointer.

Stop pointing out the logical inconsistencies in my arguments, damn it! You people in the reality-based community are always doing that.

Sorry for the drive-by, but I’ve other fish to fry today.

However, this essay on the nature of orcs is pretty well-researched and based on the entire body of JRRT’s works. I don’t know if you folks have seen it:

You know we only put up with drive-bys from you because you’re Batman, right? :slight_smile:

I note it, but I’m too well-mannered to mention it in company. :smiley:

Apropos of nothing, I’ve posted a remarkin Great Dates to atone for my earlier insult.

There is also this one:

You are correct, it is feär. It just looked so wrong to me as fear that I was hasty in posting.

Well, the only thing we have to fear is…


Y’all are your own special brand of nuts, you do know that, right? :smiley:
I think that any discussion of the orcs has to depend upon what basic concept you are going to accept. This is true of most of the Professor’s works. His constant efforts at revision past the mid-50s, following the publishing of LotR, in order to make his creation more perfect causes difficulty in any discussion of these issues. Are we to accept orcs as they existed in the 19teens? Or the 1920s? Or the time of The Hobbit? Or the time of LotR? Or at his death, as represented to some extent by The Silmarillion?

Personally, I try to accept the mythology as it was set at the time that The Lord of the Rings was published, for a very simple reason: that’s the mythology we grew up with, the one that is most public, the ONLY mythology essentially carved in stone (though there were even changes made to that work in later editions, IIRC). I also believe that the mythology present in The Silmarillion, as it was published, was intended to be in close harmony to the mythology present in LotR. We see deeper into that mythology, we see it in more detail, and we see things only hinted at by that mythology, but we don’t see too many directly conflicting aspects.

With that in mind, I think the issue of orc origins presents one primary issue that has to be disposed of in answering it: what happens when an orc “dies”?

We know what happens to the Firstborn when they “die”. If orcs are corrupted elf stock, then presumably they are also “immortal” as that phrase is used in these works. But that would imply that “dead” orcs end up in the same place “dead” elves do, and I for one have trouble imagining that happening. The whole damn place would be innundated with orcs now. So, unless Manwë (character map, btw, should always be available through Programs>Accessories>System Tools in the windows area) has some special way of penning them up in their own little corner of Mandos, I would prefer to think that something about the orcs is sufficiently different to make them no longer subject to the “immortality” of the elves.

Please note that, in developing this set of thoughts, I am purposefully ignoring the Professor’s post LotR attempts to reconcile the situation. I am aware that he posited a number of ideas for this, even to the point of suggesting that the fëa of an orc would not heed the call of Mandos. I prefer to think that the “spirit” or “soul” is incapable of resisting the summons of death intentionally. Instead, spirits which remain bound to the living earth do so not by their volition, but rather because of some intervening process. With orcs, I think the intervening process is simple: if Mandos is able to re-embody spirits, why couldn’t Melkor? So I posit the following concept: orc spirits, upon death of the body, naturally gravitated to Melkor/Morgoth, who used them to re-animate more orcs.

This concept solves some of the conflicts in the materials. It means that the bodies of the orcs do not have to be “immortal,” which accords with something I believe is found in the Akallabêth to the effect that the orcs didn’t live as long as the Númenoreans did.
It also helps solve the fecundity of the orcs; in addition to regular mating procedures, Morgoth could have developed some ability to produce young orcs through parthenogenesis. These offspring would not naturally be ensouled (lacking the creation via the normal method of conception), but might become ensouled by action of Morgoth. One presumes that this method was passed on to his lackey, Sauron.

Now this doesn’t solve all issues, but it does seem to avoid conflict with what is canon, and it also helps, in my mind, explain how it is that orcs work in Middle-earth. They have free will, but they end up either corrupted, in which case they end up at the top of the orc chain, or they end up enslaved, in which case they are simply controlled into behaving as they do through propaganda, torture, etc. Further, there isn’t any reason to believe that orc communities wouldn’t simply kill any orc child that showed “good” tendencies. And over time, as the “good” orc spirits are killed off (one presumes the Morgoth/Sauron would hardly be willing to re-ensoul them!), there isn’t much of anything left but evil orcs.

Now, think what this means once Sauron is disembodied for good at the end of the Third Age. Presumably, Sauron never bothered to teach the re-embody trick to anyone else (one gets the idea Sauron wasn’t too willing to have competing Maia around). So now, when an orc dies, the spirit no longer is being summoned by a competing power. Either it heads to Mandos, or some aspect of the death keeps it attached to Middle-earth. I don’t see Mandos as being particularly sympathetic to the re-embody the orcs position. :smiley: And over time, they simply start fading away, much as the elves do, since they are not very fecund inherently…


::sighing:: I will be revenged for this slander. Flying monkeys, velociraptors, blah blah blah.

Except when you’re waiting at the public library for your morning tutorial appointment and killing time on the 'Net on a computer set up with the expectation it will be used by old people who often spend time looking for the “any” key, homeless people who sometimes vomit in the periodicals section, and junior high schoolers trying to find bare boobies. In such a case, a wise library IT department might block most features from use.

Bring them on! I’ll simply turn the whole thing over to Pyanfar to arbitrate. Since I’ve already sent her the most exquisite and delicate pearls, I’m sure I know the outcome. :smiley:

Yeah, I remembered too late that sometimes they block access to the accessories. You might try asking the library nicely if they could map a shortcut to the desktop for Character Map. Or you could do like I do when advanced CRS hits and simply start trying aimless alt- combinations. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have a friend who works at this library who would doubtless do it for me. But why bother? If I’m using the library computer it means 1 of 2 things. Either I’m aimlessly killing time like this morning, or I need to send an email quickly and their wirelss is down. In either case, bothering my friend seems to seems a waste of time for very little benefit.

By the way, what’s CRS?