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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Silmarillion discussion: Valaquenta
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The Gardener
Registered User

Jan 10 2013, 10:57am

Post #51 of 92 (390 views)
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M for Bad? [In reply to] Can't Post

Listening to something on Morte D'Arthur made me wonder if Tolkien chose M words for baddies Melkor and Mordor and Morgoth for example because of this work. Of course, there are exceptions like Sauron.


Mim
The Shire

Jan 10 2013, 1:29pm

Post #52 of 92 (345 views)
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The reserves [In reply to] Can't Post

They were the secret weapon, but Sauron never got a chance to use them.


Mim
The Shire

Jan 10 2013, 1:35pm

Post #53 of 92 (376 views)
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Perhaps... [In reply to] Can't Post

But they are referred to specifically using male pronouns. I think Tolkien did intend them to be male. I honestly don't think there's ever a very satisfactory explanation of where orcs come from. We get the story of them as corrupted elves, but if that is how the race was created we don't ever get told how it perpetuates itself. I think there are some specific references to orcs being bred to be a certain way, which would imply fairly standard reproduction, but we never see any orc children or orc females. Like I said before, I think how orcs reproduce is something that exists outside the text.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 10 2013, 2:55pm

Post #54 of 92 (397 views)
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Married gods and single heroes [In reply to] Can't Post

That seems to hit the nail on the head - Tolkien seems determined to marry off his gods (that is, he does this far more than the needs of his plot seem to dictate, including making up "filler wives"). By comparison, The Hobbit and LOTR are full of bachelors, widowers, and males whose romantic status is never touched upon. For example, if Legolas or Boromir or Thorin Oakenshield has a picture of his love to sigh over during nights camping in the wilderness, it is not important enough to the story to relate.

While the Valar seem very deliberately paired-off, I'm quite sure if we can say that LOTR and Hobbit have single males "far more than the needs of his plot seem to dictate". Two reasons might reduce WAG-count. Firstly, Tolkien is from a time and society where ladies would usually be strictly non-combatants, and kept away from physical danger where possible. Secondly, single people are often a staple for stories - one less tie to keep them at home ("Goldberry is waiting"), and the opportunity to introduce a romance sub-plot for them. Indeed, the "romance breaking out during the quest" sub-plot is now hackneyed enough to prompt Evil Overlord Rule #98:


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"98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution."
http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html


Also, I agree that LOTR needs lots of strong relationships, but that romantic relationships aren't the only ones strong enough for his purposes. For example, from a plot point of view, Frodo needs to be accompanied by someone who will never desert him no matter what. That can be his loyal gardener-batman-friend Sam as compellingly as it could have been is loyal wife/girlfriend.

Perhaps one difference is that the gods can either do their stuff at a distance, or at least be magically back home for tea. So married life is less of a handicap to their role in the plot?

Amazorcs! Love it. Wink My own guess is that JRRT did not need to consider the problem of orc family life for his story, & so did not work anything out. We're left free to imagine. So the Uruk-hai as an equal-opportunity horde is an arguable solution (who's to say what is under all that armour? ). So is the idea that Orcs are sterile clone troopers and new batches must be hatched- or something similar - as required. There is a "hatching scene" in Peter Jackson's film to suggest that is the line his script-writers went for. Or we could posit that orc-girls are a downtrodden domesticated lot at home, well away from the army encampments of Mordor. Or there are many other solutions, I expect.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 10 2013, 3:42pm

Post #55 of 92 (362 views)
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when do you want to start the next chapter? [In reply to] Can't Post

The discussion of this chapter is still bubbling along nicely, but at some point we'll want to move along to the next chapter. How soon, do you think? And who is willing to set up a thread & write a starter post to get discussion going?


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jan 10 2013, 4:16pm

Post #56 of 92 (352 views)
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You assume wrongly... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Since Orcs are a construction of Sauron, or a perversion, I assume that they are not capable of reproduction and so could possible be thought of as neither male nor female, simply orcs



If Orcs were purely a construction of Sauron's then you might be right. However, they were fashioned from corrupted and magically perverted Elves (and possibly Men as well). I see no reason to doubt the existence of female Orcs, especially in light of Gollum's habit of feasting on goblin young during the period when he was dwelling beneath the Misty Mountains.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Eldineth
Registered User

Jan 10 2013, 4:25pm

Post #57 of 92 (336 views)
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Wait... [In reply to] Can't Post

Didn't you mean Morgoth?
In anyway, before everything, orcs were elves and elves do have gender. It's hard to imagine a female orc pregnant for example, because we are used to "girlish" females.
But see, dwarfs were a creation of Aulë and still there are female dwarfs. They are not exactly "girlish", but they are females yet.


Eldineth
Registered User

Jan 10 2013, 4:26pm

Post #58 of 92 (330 views)
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Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 10 2013, 4:37pm

Post #59 of 92 (335 views)
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Young goblins as a gollum-snack; good point. Though just to be awkward.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...if you wanted to stick with the asexual orc theory, you could imagine that Gollum is sneaking around snatching young goblins shortly after they emerge from some magical cloning ooze (or whatever). Maybe they don't hatch full-size....

I expect that neither theory can be completely ruled out, & we have to take our picks...

Shocked "asexual orc theory" was not something I ever expected to find myself publishing to the Internet Smile


Eldineth
Registered User

Jan 10 2013, 4:56pm

Post #60 of 92 (309 views)
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Good point. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you and NoWizard, together, have said everything I wanted to say about marriage between characters.
Most of heroes are lonely, and that's because they can not just settle, they have to make things happen.
But the leaders that don't actually act and are more kind of a "mentor" usually get married, though this is not Saruman's case.


(This post was edited by Eldineth on Jan 10 2013, 4:58pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 10 2013, 5:59pm

Post #61 of 92 (332 views)
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Orc sex [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope that title isn't offensive, but it's what we're talking about.

I can't remember where, but I think it's in The Sil, when Melkor is stirring up trouble in Middle-earth, that Tolkien says "and orcs bred like flies." I'm pretty sure that's what he says, but as everyone's observed, he steers clear of mentioning sex, has few female characters, and we never see or hear any dialogue quoted from a female dwarf, so my conclusion is that lady orcs exist and have babies, but Tolkien didn't feel like writing about them.

He also avoids describing pregnant women. Elves make babies, but we never read anything like, "And many lady Elves who were heavy with child died on the Grinding Ice (or the flight from Gondolin's fall, etc)."


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 10 2013, 6:11pm

Post #62 of 92 (351 views)
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You probably just greatly increased the number of hits this thread will get from search engines :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Gwenhwyfar
The Shire

Jan 10 2013, 7:54pm

Post #63 of 92 (359 views)
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Orc domesticity [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
my conclusion is that lady orcs exist and have babies, but Tolkien didn't feel like writing about them.



I agree. I've always thought, particularly since Tolkien was in a real war, that he invented orcs because he needed an enemy that could be unequivocally evil and not very person-like so that his heroes could be unequivocally right to fight and kill them. The closest encounter a hobbit (the species of protagonist with whom the reader can most closely identify) has with a human enemy is the scene in Ithillien when a dead warrior from the south prompts Frodo to wonder about him as a person, why he left home, and if he would have preferred to stay there. (Apologies -- my book is in another state or I would give the exact quote!) That passage seemed so achingly personal to me, I wondered if it was an echo of Tolkien's own emotions during WWI. While I don't believe LOTR is an allegory of either world war, it seems impossible that somebody who experienced war could keep his thoughts about it from shaping the way he invented a war in his fiction. No real war can be satisfactory if it involves human enemies because most humans (even if they are required/persuaded to follow an evil leader, such as Hitler) are not 100% evil. Tolkien's sympathy for Gollum -- who had a tiny but real chance at redemption & joining the good guys -- and this nameless warrior from the south indicates that, to him, the concept of war that goes "They may not be totally evil but we have to fight them anyway because they are attacking us" is a very troubling one. I think Tolkien's love of old poems and sagas depicting glorious warfare was at odds with his compassion for real people. So -- much as he did when, unsatisfied with the "moving" of Birnam Wood in MacBeth, he created Ents -- I think Tolkien's dissatisfaction with real warfare prompted him to make a world in which glorious fighting was actually possible.

In that case, thinking too hard about orc families with wives and children would invalidate their purpose. I think biological reproduction must be happening, but that the thought of orc babies would have been unbearable to an author who positioned their species as an enemy whom it is always acceptable to kill. No people in Tolkien's world start evil, even if they become very evil later by their own choices; the fact that orcs are ruined elves allows that rule to still apply: they started out good but were pushed past the point where they could possibly be redeemed. Innocent orc babies who've never hurt anybody (even if they grow up to do so) would upset the concept, so that's why I think Tolkien didn't want to think about them.


(I hope I didn't get too far off topic!)


(This post was edited by Gwenhwyfar on Jan 10 2013, 7:56pm)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 10 2013, 10:08pm

Post #64 of 92 (334 views)
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Great point: "really evil of heart" = incompatible with babies [In reply to] Can't Post

Great post Gwenhwyfar.
My copy is on a different continent to you, I think. But by the magic of the Internet, I can help you out! Your quote is from Two Towers (of herbs and stewed rabbit), and is also one I found really moving:

Quote
It was Sam's first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that be could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would really rather have stayed there in peace..."


The passage is all the more effective for being a momentary interlude before Sam is disturbed by the ongoing battle- in particular, the enraged Oliphaunt.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 10 2013, 10:23pm

Post #65 of 92 (307 views)
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I just don't think [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's strength was in writing about women, women's issues, or romance. He came from a generation and a time where women were really secondary citizens. His female characters of any importance were all unique archetypes. Eowyn is the only human that seems more on the mold of a more modern woman, trying to find her own path in life, yet still stuck in the traditions of her people of glory and war. Galadriel is the councillor, the wise matriarch; and Arwen barely exists in the books, but it's clear she probably had a lot of influence on Aragorn, the man she loved. She no doubt worked behind the scenes to help him, it's just not detailed.

So, as an author on romance and sex, Tolkien barely shows up.


Gwenhwyfar
The Shire

Jan 10 2013, 11:41pm

Post #66 of 92 (340 views)
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Yay for electronic magic! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, noWizardme -- that is the quote I needed! Of course it was Sam's moment -- that makes sense (if I'd thought about it) because Frodo had been damaged by the Ring enough that by this point Sam was best able to serve an "everyman" role. I agree that the moment's brevity is significant; maybe Tolkien was implying that, when good folk get swept up into wars, the violence of the environment prevents them from following their empathetic impulses or taking such trains of thought further?

It is also striking that the narrator is our source of information about Sam's feelings here, rather than anything Sam himself ever says out loud. Maybe he just didn't have the words.


The Gardener
Registered User

Jan 11 2013, 6:48am

Post #67 of 92 (353 views)
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Wow! I did start something there! [In reply to] Can't Post

What a fascinating discussion started by my idea that orcs were asexual. I think I must agree however that I was wrong, although the idea of orc females doesn't fit with mine or Tolkien's ideas of the female much does it? I think with many of you that Tollkien hadn't really worked t his one out. It would have been much better if he had left out that bit about young goblins and then I could stick to the idea of them being asexual.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 11 2013, 1:27pm

Post #68 of 92 (340 views)
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Sam vs. the Valaquenta (stylistically I mean) [In reply to] Can't Post

In writing terms that quote from Sam in Ithlien contrasts just as much as can be from the style of Valaquenta. Perhaps we have thoughts about the contrast and the effect it has on us as readers?

As Sam looks at the dead man in Two Towers we get the narrator inside Sams head. i think thats partly not to destroy the pace of things: there's no time for him to soliloquise before the Oliphaunt is upon them. And, I suspect, we're seeing an image that Sam is doomed to replay mentally and reflect upon many times in later years. Such is often the lot of combat veterans; I agree it is tempting to see this asree ting Tolkiens own war experience. Having the narrator tell us what Sam is thinking allows Tolkien to collapse that initial moment into the later reflections. The words used to describe Sam's thoughts are simple, and the sentence structure modern. Its only one of the voices JRRT uses in this chapter. What actually snaps us back to the present moment is a commotion and Damrod (one of Faramir's company) shouting

Quote
"Ware! Ware! ...May the Valar turn him aside. Mumak! Mumak!"

A very different way of speaking! Its also one of the only three times the Valar are mentioned in the story itself. (Hooray for the search function on eBook readers!)

As we've already discussed, Valaquenta is more like something from a textbook. And the language is deliberately antique. No narrator is there as a direct point of view when, say, Melkor ...

Quote
...descended upon Arda in power and majesty greater than any of the other Valar, as a mountain that wades in the sea and has its head above the clouds and is clad in ice and crowned in smoke and fire...
(Ainulindale)

The writing is vivid and visual here, but we feel like we're being given a traditional image of a long-ago event, rather than witnessing it direct.


telain
Rohan

Jan 11 2013, 4:29pm

Post #69 of 92 (274 views)
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"light-years" away from the subject, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

... I'd like to bring up a "nature of evil" possibility from another (gasp!) sci-fi/fantasy tradition: Star Trek.

In one episode of Deep Space Nine (I believe it is "The Abandoned") a child from a race of genetically-engineered soldier/killers (sounds like orcs, yes?) is accidentally brought aboard the Federation space station. Due to accelerated growth the child matures, but even with the "care and feeding" from the forces of good the child/young adult exhibits the characteristics of a born killer.

This could be a good analogy for the orc reproduction question: beings so twisted and "engineered" that they have no other outcome but to be evil -- even as children.

I agree with many here who suggested Tolkien was a bit prudish on the subject (and maybe just had the good sense or good taste not to discuss the reproductive habits of orcs?), but also with the idea something so universally(?) good, the having and raising of children, could also be applied to something so desperately evil would undermine the very evilness of the thing.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 11 2013, 4:47pm

Post #70 of 92 (257 views)
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I meant "the word 'valar' appears only 3 times in the text ( not inc. appendices)" // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


telain
Rohan

Jan 11 2013, 4:51pm

Post #71 of 92 (268 views)
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the importance of being social [In reply to] Can't Post

I think we've got something here. Loneliness is somewhat of a state of mind (rather than "married" or "not married"), and perhaps Tolkien was trying to highlight the unnaturalness of characters who:
A) rejected relationships with other people, and/or
B) made no attempt to reach out to others in a positive way.

"Solo" characters like Bilbo, Gandalf, and even Valar like Ulmo and Nienna, certainly lead/led interesting -- sometimes extraordinary -- lives, but they did not become twisted or evil. Yet there is something different about the courses of their lives as compared to married characters (or characters that are entrenched in family/social relations). I wonder if Tolkien was saying something about the not-necessarily-bad way marriage ties people down? Would Bilbo or Frodo have gone on their adventures if either had been married? Would Ulmo or Gandalf have risked what they did to help the peoples of M-e if there was one person in their lives that they were more focused on?

In fact, if I were to expand this a bit further... (oh, why not?)

If the Ring is a character and if one's relationship with the Ring becomes all-encompassing (to the point of points A & B above) then is that the crucial turning point to evil? Is that why it is so important for Sam to be on the journey to Mordor with Frodo? To be a positive relationship to counter the isolation and self-centredness that the Ring encourages? If Denethor's wife had still been alive, would he have driven himself mad with use of the Palantir?


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Jan 12 2013, 5:29am

Post #72 of 92 (281 views)
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*mods up* // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Xanaseb
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2013, 1:01pm

Post #73 of 92 (290 views)
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Ok, this is just me quite at random entering the world of the Reading Room, but.. [In reply to] Can't Post

... 'The Enemies' are grouped separately in the org chart, with no link to Eru/Illúvatar, should they not have a line to Eru aswell? Eru created the Ainur, some turned evil, but nevertheless.

--I'm a victim of Bifurcation--
__________________________________________

Join us over at Barliman's chat all day, any day!
__________________________________________


(This post was edited by Xanaseb on Jan 12 2013, 1:05pm)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2013, 5:23pm

Post #74 of 92 (241 views)
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I see what you mean [In reply to] Can't Post

On the other hand, thinking of this as an "org chart" are the Enrmies still working for Eru, or have they left to form their own start-up Smile?


Xanaseb
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2013, 8:58pm

Post #75 of 92 (226 views)
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Ah! of course. Sorry, thought the lines meant that they came about -by- Eru ;) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

--I'm a victim of Bifurcation--
__________________________________________

Join us over at Barliman's chat all day, any day!
__________________________________________

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