What are the Orcs in Lord of the Rings exactly?

Two of the trickiest things that come with figuring out what Orcs are in Middle-earth are their lifespan and afterlife. While we don’t get a specific average number of years, J.R.R. Tolkien repeatedly makes it clear that Orcs are short-lived individuals. They reproduce quickly and die off just as fast. Not very Elvish of them. Honestly, it isn’t even very Human — at least by some Middle-earth standards. In “Morgoth’s Ring,” he sums this up by saying, “They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart from these ills they died and were not immortal,” adding, “indeed they appear to have been by nature short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as the Edain.”

While most Orcs die quickly, there are specific cases where they’re long-lived. For example, Bolg (one of the primary villains in “The Hobbit”) lives at least into his 140s. Tolkien touches on these long-lived leaders in “Morgoth’s Ring,” saying, “Thus it was that the histories speak of Great Orcs or Orc-captains who were not slain, and who reappeared in battle through years far longer than the span of the lives of Men.” His explanation, in this case, is that these unique individuals are Maiar (spirits) like the Balrogs who take on terrifying oversized Orc forms, since their job is to direct the armies.

With the exception of these leaders, Orcs appear to be mortal. They live short lives and it’s unclear if Orcs can be redeemed. It’s an unsatisfactory answer, but it comes from an authentic author reluctant to retcon existing material or to offer half-baked solutions. Regardless, one thing is clear. Orcs were and remain some of the most iconic and terrifying villains in all of fantasy media.

To read more about Middle-earth, check out 5 Lord of the Rings movie changes Tolkien hated — but Peter Jackson did anyway.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button