[LMB] Reading in different languages

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Fri Oct 15 21:42:46 BST 2021

Tolkien played with pretty much every possible explanation for orcs:  they
were corrupted animals, they were biological robots, they were the remnants
of mutated and corrupted elves, some were lesser Maiar, etc.

It's really quite strange, because he was completely comfortable with the
idea that evil could corrupt a soul by force; why shouldn't an entire
species be corruptible?  Especially if they are also under the constant
spiritual influence of a major power?  But Tolkien wanted souls to come
from Eru, even though some early bits suggest that the thing that is so
special about the Children is their ability to generate new souls, and so
'good' orcs would have to be possible.

Ignoring the reality that people are shaped by their environments, and a
corrupted society created by amping up all of the destructive tendencies
already present in all creation isn't likely to contain exceptions which
are tolerated, there may have been good people among the orcs, just as
there may have been good people among the fighting forces of WWI.  But, as
Tolkien himself said, "we were all orcs".

I just go with the basic explanation:  elves and humans with their basic
emotional drives altered, their gross physiologies changed, and linked
directly to the will of evil archangels, are going to be orcish.  There's
nothing preventing good from being chosen despite that - it's just very,
very, very unlikely.  And it probably resulted in quick death.

Matt G.

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