0

I've read many posts and discussions on the origin of the Tolkien orc, yet in everything I've read, not once has this idea I've wondered about been answered with any wisdom, or references to add weight to the theory.

Elves corrupted may have been the first orcs. Men bred with orcs to make Uruk-hai. Goblins of Moria, Snaga corrupted hobbits, and so on and so on. But were the Dwarves ever crossed with orcs, or corrupted into some sort of stout breed of buff goblin?

2
  • 2
    Not sure where the Snaga bit comes from, it being simply a word for "Slave" used by Orcs and it being made pretty clear that Sauron never took notice of Hobbits until he became aware Bilbo had the One Ring.
    – IG_42
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 20:39
  • Can Dwarves breed with anyone but Dwarves? They were created as a separate project from Elves and Men, and by a different deity. Arguing from biology tends to miss the mark with Tolkien, but at least on biological terms Dwarves would almost certainly be entirely unsuitable for interbreeding. Are there any examples of Dwarves interbreeding with other races?
    – Misha R
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 22:05

2 Answers 2

6

Probably not, and hybrids between orcs and other things probably aren't as much of a thing as you suggest.

As far as I remember, it was never confirmed, in-universe or out-of-universe, that Orcs were descended from Elves. It's just one story, and Tolkien often emphasises that nobody but Morgoth their creator really knows.

Unfinished Tales says that another theory is that they're descended from the Drughu or Druedain, a strange sort of offshoot of humans whose descendants appear in Lord of the Rings as the "Wild Men" or "Woses" of Druadan Forest.

The Uruk-hai do seem to be part human, though the idea that they're literally human-orc hybrids isn't entirely confirmed. Treebeard speculates about it:

It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men?

And Aragorn later refers to them (to Merry, who's been telling him about Isengard) as "half-orcs":

"And there were battalions of Men, too. Many of them carried torches, and in the flare I could see their faces. Most of them were ordinary men, rather tall and dark-haired, and grim but not particularly evil-looking. But there were some others that were horrible: man-high, but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed. Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree: only he was not so obviously orc-like as most of these were."

"I thought of him too," said Aragorn. "We had many of these half-orcs to deal with at Helm's Deep."

But as far as I remember it's never confirmed whether these people were literal hybrids between humans and standard orcs or whether they were humans "corrupted" in the same way as elves (or Druadan, or whoever) hypothetically were. Tolkien seems to use orcs as somewhat allegorical for humans gone to the bad, so from the story's point of view the distinction wasn't that important.

The small snaga orcs being descended from hobbits, though, is one I've never heard of that I remember. Lord of the Rings just talks as if some orcs are naturally smaller than others. (The orcs, or rather "goblins", of the Misty Mountains in The Hobbit vary a lot in size, too.)

So, hypothetically, a wicked being might be able to create an orc-like creature that's part dwarf, just as Saruman creates orc-like creatures that are part human. But I don't remember any mention of any such thing in The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales or Lord of the Rings.

3

Dwarves are noted for their exceptional "stubbornness" making them extremely resistant to having their wills dominated.

While Orcs were originally created from broken and twisted Elves by the Dark Lord Morgoth the Dwarves were unbreakable as the Vala Aulë intended when he created them in the Silmarillion knowing that Melkor as he was known at the time was a danger to them.

because the power of Melkor was yet over the Earth; and he wished therefore that they should be strong and unyielding.

This stubbornness extended to the point where even the Rings of Power couldn't entirely enslave them and transform them into wraiths as they did to Men though they were not entirely immune to their influence.

They used their rings only for the getting of wealth; but wrath and an overmastering greed of gold were kindled in their hearts, of which evil enough after came to the profit of Sauron.

To put it simply Dwarves were created to resist control and neither Dark Lord was able to totally dominate their wills making them unsuitable or even impossible to cross with Orcs.

1
  • Good one! I was vaguely thinking that Dwarves might be too tough either to be transformed or to be controlled even if they were transformed, but I didn't think there might actually be references to back that up directly! (Well, at least fairly directly, wraiths aren't the same thing as orcs of course, but it's as close as it's likely to get.)
    – A. B.
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 1:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.