The Orc Problem

Rob Harding

Active Member
Yeah, and it makes them LESS inteResting, not MORE.

anyway that is how i perceive it.
Huh. Totally opposite. I find Tolkien’s flat war-fodder orcs less interesting as read at an initial glance. Sam’s hinted insight proves a peek at something I find more interesting. Obviously Tolkien originated much of modern fantasy and is a genius in terms of world building, but I think a lot of character work since that builds on his premises is far more engaging for me personally as a reader
 

Odola

Active Member
I appreciate JRRT himself had an orc problem, but I’m saying that textually perhaps there doesn’t need to be one. We could accept it as enrichment to the reality. In the same way character flaws and discrepancies add to the world’s richness.
I do consider JRRT "orc problem" is more a derivate of the more basic "elf problem". How exactly do elves differ from humans. How exactly an unfallen but only marred race works. When we have only elves in the story this is not necessary to be resolved. But if he wanted to understand the exact mechanism of how such a race can get corrupted, not having a total understanding of how elves actually work starts to be a problem. But he loved elves too much to dissect them. So he sough for other solutions. But imho his first instinct was right. The "elves to orcs" solutions is both the most logical and most elegant one. We just have to accept not to understanding the exact mechanism of the transition. We want to understand evil according to the "understand you enemy" premise. But as we see in Saruman, this can be dangerous and it if safer to curb down this our desire to understand the methods of the enemy a little bit.

(The only other solution which would kind of work is if there was a third of children of Eru which Melkor found before the have woken up, transported them still in unwoken state into Angbad and corrupted them even more thoughout the he did men. [Like duck hatchlings the orcs would consider Melkor their father.] But this brings other problems.)
 
Last edited:

Rob Harding

Active Member
Sorry, I think you’ve lost me there. I don’t really understand what you mean by ‘how elves work’. Elves are elves. There a race of people, no? Sorry, I’m not trying to be intentionally obtuse I just don’t quite get the point being made.

The more we discuss it the more I don’t really have an issue with orcs at all. I’m not sure they are anything more than a race of people potentially descended from elves. I’m not sure I personally see a problem therein anymore. We see they are beings with individual motivation and agency and aren’t just a homogenous hive mind of evil. They are are a race of creatures. What happens to them after death might be unknown but it frankly doesn’t need to factor anymore into the story anymore so than what happens to humans right? I think the question I want to ask to address the premise of the initial question is this: is there actually an Orc Problem? #orcsareorcs
 

Odola

Active Member
Sorry, I think you’ve lost me there. I don’t really understand what you mean by ‘how elves work’. Elves are elves. There a race of people, no? Sorry, I’m not trying to be intentionally obtuse I just don’t quite get the point being made.

The more we discuss it the more I don’t really have an issue with orcs at all. I’m not sure they are anything more than a race of people potentially descended from elves. I’m not sure I personally see a problem therein anymore. We see they are beings with individual motivation and agency and aren’t just a homogenous hive mind of evil. They are are a race of creatures. What happens to them after death might be unknown but it frankly doesn’t need to factor anymore into the story anymore so than what happens to humans right? I think the question I want to ask to address the premise of the initial question is this: is there actually an Orc Problem? #orcsareorcs
This is exactly what I meant in the beginning. To me there is no orc problem at all. But I just trying to understand, why Tolkien had one. And it comes down for me to 2. points.
1. He modeled orcs after a kind of humans he met. So in his mind the human-orc connection was strong.
2. He loved elves too much to deconstruct them to see how they work to understand how they could be broken. (Watching Melkor over the shoulder taking them apart was too much for him to bear.)
 
Last edited:

Rob Harding

Active Member
This is exactly what I meant in the beginning. To me there is no orc problem at all. But I just trying to understand, why Tolkien had one. And it comes down for me to 2. points.
1. He modeled orcs after a kind of humans he met. So in his mind the human-orc connection is strong.
2. He loved elves too much to deconstruct them to see how they work to understand how they could be broken. (Watching Melkor over the shoulder taking them apert was too much for him to bear.)
I personally never had a problem with the orcs except that I wish we knew more. I still feel that way but now also I feel like there’s enough ways to reconcile it that I don’t fully understand why there ought to be an Orc Problem save in Tolkien’s own mind. And even them I’m a little mystified why it presented a problem
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
A tangential question (but not sure where else to put it): at what point are most elves aware that orcs came from elves? I'm scratching my brain to think where the point for this knowledge to spread widely would be. This is possibly due to the fact that a single idea was never committed to by Tolkien himself. Am I missing something?
 

Odola

Active Member
A tangential question (but not sure where else to put it): at what point are most elves aware that orcs came from elves? I'm scratching my brain to think where the point for this knowledge to spread widely would be. This is possibly due to the fact that a single idea was never committed to by Tolkien himself. Am I missing something?
I do think it is only a conclusion that the "wise" among themselves have come to and most beyond this circle of academics never really care to bother.
 
Last edited:

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I am sure the wise absolutely are unsure :)

Elves like to believe orcs are men, men like to believe orcs are elves, orcs think of themselves as orcs. I see a pattern...
 
A tangential question (but not sure where else to put it): at what point are most elves aware that orcs came from elves? I'm scratching my brain to think where the point for this knowledge to spread widely would be. This is possibly due to the fact that a single idea was never committed to by Tolkien himself. Am I missing something?
Good question. No idea. I can only imagine it would have come after long debate and a lot of similar philosophizing about what is and isn’t possible based on the facts known. I suspect the Elf message board was quite lengthy and have a mental image of everyone kinda rolling their eyes a lot at postings from “CelebornTheWize”
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
Are we basing the whole idea of orcs healing people on the drink they give to Pippin when he can't stand up? I would point out that they are not interested in healing him, only in making him able to walk (run) on his own so they don't have to carry him any more. It's not healing, it's strengthening. It's drinking from the Entwash that heals the hobbits.
 

Odola

Active Member
Are we basing the whole idea of orcs healing people on the drink they give to Pippin when he can't stand up? I would point out that they are not interested in healing him, only in making him able to walk (run) on his own so they don't have to carry him any more. It's not healing, it's strengthening. It's drinking from the Entwash that heals the hobbits.
That is not the point.
The point is that completely corrupted beings would never have medicines with them in the first place. As I've put it "There is no pharmacy in Barad-Dur." Medicines are means to actively fight sickness//illness/deficiency/ill health/corruption - they are trying to restore the original state which was health and well-being. Which means those using are aware of the fact that something is "wrong" with them. When someone has completly given in into his/her corruption, s/he doesn't fight it anymore. The whole concept of medicine is foreign to him/her.

Edit:
this part gets often overlooked:

"‘Now for the other!’ said Uglúk. Pippin saw him go to Merry, who was lying close by, and kick him. Merry groaned. Seizing him roughly Uglúk pulled him into a sitting position, and tore the bandage off his head. Then he smeared the wound with some dark stuff out of a small wooden box. Merry cried out and struggled wildly.

The Orcs clapped and hooted. ‘Can’t take his medicine,’ they jeered. ‘Doesn’t know what’s good for him. Ai! We shall have some fun later.’

But at the moment Uglúk was not engaged in sport. He needed speed and had to humour unwilling followers. He was healing Merry in orc-fashion; and his treatment worked swiftly. When he had forced a drink from his flask down the hobbit’s throat, cut his leg-bonds, and dragged him to his feet, Merry stood up, looking pale but grim and defiant, and very much alive. The gash in his forehead gave him no more trouble, but he bore a brown scar to the end of his days.
"

The texts says there is an "orc-fashion of healing". I bet there is no "Nazgul-fashion of healing", nor a "Shelob-fashion of healing", nor a "Sauron-fashion of healing " - not for a long time anymore.

Orc can still recognise good, and also what's good for others. They value medicine and healing. Imho that's proves that "all is not yet lost with them". Irmo could achive a lot, were he there.
 
Last edited:

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I disagree, but it is ok.I get the basic point, yet still Orcs are using a good thing for a purely selfish and not a humanitarian purpose.I think it is also a characteristic of that sort of evil to use a good thing for bad purpose. And while i agree Shelob or Ungolianth would not heal anyone i am sure Sauron would, and if through some Orc Underling, if it suits him.
 
Top