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does any one wish tolkien invented at least one good orc?
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Sep 9 2013, 5:42am

Post #26 of 37 (258 views)
ha! x2!!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

didn't see this, rembrethil -- perhaps we should organize a fanfic event -- write a 2,500 word short story about a pitiable orc.

cheers ---


aka. fili orc-enshield
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Sep 9 2013, 12:23pm

Post #27 of 37 (247 views)
Thanks for the citation... [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
"They would be Morgoth's greatest Sins, abuses of his highest privilege, and would be creatures of begotten Sin, and naturally bad, (I nearly wrote "irredeemably bad'; but that would be going too far. Because by accepting or tolerating their making- necessary to their actual existence- even Orcs would become part of the world, which is God's and ultimately good)."

That seems to explain it pretty well and leaves it open.

I thought that Tolkien had addressed this issue at least once in his letters and I appreciate the confirmation. I don't know that this represents his last word on the subject. However, at least he did not consider the common goblin to be completely irredeemable. Again, raising an Orc (or Half-orc) away from his breathren and other negative influences seems to be the best hope of finding a "good" Orc (or Half-orc).

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

Aunt Dora Baggins

Sep 9 2013, 7:52pm

Post #28 of 37 (235 views)
You might enjoy [In reply to] Can't Post

Terry Pratchett's "Unseen Academicals". That's already a spoiler, but really, based on your question, you might.

"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


Sep 9 2013, 10:35pm

Post #29 of 37 (223 views)
Two points about irredeemability [In reply to] Can't Post

I think JRRT leaves the door open for the conceptual possibility of redemption . He states in Letters 'I not deal in Absolute Evil' with the closest to that concept being Sauron (not Melkor, and not Orcs) He also discusses that behavior depends very much upon who your Captains are ... Implying I think that the social structure and choices of the more powerful trickle downwards.

Maybe we could hold out hope... I like to think so! Smile

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!

Fredeghar Wayfarer

Sep 10 2013, 8:11am

Post #30 of 37 (212 views)
Always wanted to see this [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a hard time with the idea that an entire race is evil, especially given Tolkien's Christian views of redemption and free will. Surely, somewhere in Middle-earth, there must have been an orc that rejected Sauron and his wars. That said, I'm not sure you could call such a creature good, per se. More indifferent or neutral. The orcs had been so thoroughly corrupted over the centuries and bred into such a fierce, bestial race that I imagine even a "good" orc would be fairly brutish and violent. He just wouldn't be actively trying to wipe out the Free Peoples. A "good" orc would probably behave much like creatures in nature -- acting out of self-preservation. If he killed, it would be for food or defense, not for the sport of it or because his dark masters told him to.

As others pointed out, there isn't much opportunity in Tolkien's work to show such a character. Orc society was pretty much dominated by Sauron. They either got in line and served in his army or they'd be of no use to him and likely wiped out. So for all we know, there WERE good or at least neutral orcs in Middle-earth. But they were either slaughtered by their more evil kin or were living in isolation somewhere in the Misty Mountains and never entered into the story.

Someone mentioned good orcs sounding too "fan fiction." That's a fair point. I have to admit that I created such a character in my own fantasy stories. I love the idea of characters that play against type or choose to be individuals against society's expectations.


Sep 10 2013, 4:17pm

Post #31 of 37 (201 views)
some Pitiable and good thoughts... [In reply to] Can't Post

Pitiable and good aren't the same - Gollum is pitiable enough to be spared repeatedly (by Bilbo, escaping from the Misty Mountains; by Gandalf, after he has finished questioning him; by Frodo when he and Sam catch Gollum; by Frodo, when he could easily allow Faramir's archers to shoot Gollum in the pool, and then finally by Frodo and Sam on the slopes of Mount Doom). Each time, they are tempted to kill him, and calculation suggests that might be wise. But they can't quite make themselves do it when there is no immediate need. It doesn't seem to be a calculation that Gollum might have good in him and be redeemable (except in Gandalf's case): it's empathy and not being violent without need. And without that pity, the Ring would not have been destroyed.
(That got me wondering what we'd have to do to have a moment of "good" for Gollum, as well as "pitiable". So fan-fiction has been committed this day (though only 240 words of it) - any feedback on that effort is welcome, of course)

Not sure why empathy and no unnecessary killing doesn't apply to orc wounded or orc prisoners after the various battles. But actually I think that Tolkien started by making the orcs the non-pitiable "Legions of Terror" of the piece, then humanized them by writing dialogue such as the Shagrat/Gorbag section already quoted. Oops - understanding leads to sympathy. So Tolkien realized he'd got himself into a moral quandary, but doesn't, I think argue his way out of it convincingly. But I'm not sure that inventing a "good orc" would have unstuck him - it would have put him one side of the fence - I think that Tolkien's story needs the merciless killer enemies, and Tolkien the kind-hearted man, Christian and ex soldier can't quite imagine completely non-redeemable intelligent crteatures. So he balances precariously on the fence - having a Good Orc would have brought him down on one side.

Or, the following line of argument would be possible, though more than a bit scary: I offer it more as an intellectual exercise than as "how I think things are":
  • Orcs (or at least some orcs) are twisted elves
  • What happens to elves if they die - they go to the Halls of Mandos, a kind of afterlife: they might stay there (good Wifi, I expect) or might be reborn as elves again (Glorfindel did the latter, for example)
  • Do slain orcs go to Mandos? Do they get a chance to be un-orced and even re-elved? Might their un-orced souls prefer this to being stuck as an orc?
  • Therefore, Is killing your enemy orcs in order for them to be recycled through the afterlife the only way of "saving" them?

As I say, scary it's so easy to make an argument justifying orc-genocide. Did I wake up as Saruman this morning?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

Semper Fi

Sep 10 2013, 6:34pm

Post #32 of 37 (187 views)
No Orc genocide as long as good guys fight male soldiers [In reply to] Can't Post

In no Tolkien works we find references of good guys raiding Orc pits and slaughtering female Orcs and younglings. Hence why they keep multiplying. It's kind of silently understood that since they breed in the manner of Illuvatar's children, there are females and children. But all good guys always strictly fight armed armies of adult males. So everyone knows that women and children exist but are off limits for kills or something.

"RadagaStoner deserves no mercy!" Tauriel the Radagast Slayer, the Chief of Inglorious Elfguards

Tauriel saved us from Itaril. Never forget.

The Shire

Sep 11 2013, 12:54pm

Post #33 of 37 (168 views)
That's very philosophical (O_O) [In reply to] Can't Post

I read your fanfic and it was awesome! My headcanon also contains this idea of A Moment of Brief Smeagol Lucidity right before he (and Gollum) fell into the lava. A heartwarming (idk that's how i felt?!) alternative ending.

The whole idea of a good, or at least non-inherently-evil, or perhaps inherently-evil-but-able-to-overcome-this-evilness orc sounds really cool. Considering it now, i'd have preferred PJ and fellow scriptwriters to include such a thing in The Hobbit plot as their unique adaptation thing, as opposed to including Azog. Yknow, include the nature vs nurture theme instead of some (speculated not confirmed) back-from-the-dead theme. But that's just a thought i honestly don't mean to bring back any debate battle over the whole orcs in AUJ thing i'm over that too! /holds an olive branch/

This is NOT a cup of coffee.

It's a photo of a cup of coffee. All representations of things are inherently abstract. 😏👉👉

The Shire

Sep 11 2013, 2:38pm

Post #34 of 37 (163 views)
Idk if this analogy fits; [In reply to] Can't Post

I had this headcanon that the orcs, as soldiers from Sauron's side, might've been trained as such just like how hunters would train their hunting dogs. So you'd see these dogs hunting down game birds and deers, though they otherwise wouldn't. Or, like, training an animal circus performer to do some stunts, which i think is unfair and degrading since it's against their will but i'm not gonna rant about animal rights abuses here....

Anyway i've been holding on to that idea since I first read FOTR as a kid.....until i realised orcs were actually rather more of the "pure evil" kind. And then now it's been proven that Prof kind of left it open to interpretation. Either way, books belong to their readers and different interpretations are cool! u__u

Another observation regarding orcs is that they quite obviously have a hierarchy in the form of "military ranks", with subordinates reporting to their commanders.

In the case of Saruman and his Uruk-hai (hope they count), they seem rather brainwashed and loyal (in the twisted sense).
However for Azog and gang many lower-ranking orcs seem to act out of fear of punishment rather than loyalty. I'm not too sure though 'cause my memory's not very reliable and although i know a bit of anthrozoology i'm not confident enough to use that on deducing orc behaviour.....

So if we assume Azog and his cronies are doing their own thing and not in servitude to some higher power (how likely is that now? I've fallen behind on speculations), we can assume that this social order of Alpha to Omega orcs is a natural orc thing and not just some imposed military ranking system. Whoops okay i've kind diverged from the Good Orc topic; i'll stop here.

Lastly, on the theme of nature vs nurture, there is this other concept called the fundamental attribution error (wikipedia article), which is a psychology thing that i don't even have to try explaining because i know next to nothing on psychology. Idk if that's even relevant to justifying the possibility of orcs being able to harbour good intentions under the right circumstances (whatever they might be).

Feel free to correct me on any of my assumptions 'cause i don't expect all of them to make sense! O_O

This is NOT a cup of coffee.

It's a photo of a cup of coffee. All representations of things are inherently abstract. 😏👉👉


Sep 11 2013, 3:24pm

Post #35 of 37 (159 views)
I don't. [In reply to] Can't Post

I prefer my good guys to be completely good, and my bad guys to be completely bad. I don't enjoy ambivalence.

At the same time, I am troubled by the fact that the Orcs were, if I recall correctly, Elves at one time, before they were twisted and corrupted. I think I would be less uneasy if I knew they were created "from scratch" as evil counterparts to the Elves.

"BOTH [political] extremes are dangerous. But more dangerous are team fanboys who think all the extremists are on the OTHER side." (CNN reader comment)

It is always those with the fewest sensible things to say who make the loudest noise in saying them. --Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)

The Shire

Sep 18 2013, 6:33pm

Post #36 of 37 (135 views)
I know it's a dark place to go... [In reply to] Can't Post

But, if they are all half-breeds, then the orcs must certainly be an abomination and a product of rape and incest. Chilling.

If that is true about the Elves, then the Christianity comparison still holds true with Angels falling into darkness.


(This post was edited by Mat on Sep 18 2013, 6:36pm)


Sep 22 2013, 5:31pm

Post #37 of 37 (177 views)
I am not much of a fan of that idea [In reply to] Can't Post

While there are some good books that involve plots like that, I don't think that would work well for Lord of the Rings. The Orcs just aren't built like that, . Besides, that is what Gollum was for :P

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