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  1. #1
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    The Question of Female Orcs

    Orcs are ruined, disfigured and corrupted Elves, so it stands to reason that there would be females, and that Orc reproduction works in the same way as with any other mammal. So where are the female Orcs?

    I have two theories that make any sense to me:

    -One is that the females are kept at the Orc strongholds, like Mordor, Isengard or Moria, to be used specifically as breeders.

    -The other is that since the Orcs are so warped and ruined, that the females actually co-mingle and even go to war alongside their male counterparts, physically appearing utterly indistinguishable from the males.

    I know there is that scene in the movies where Orcs are being pulled out of membraneous mud-pits, but if one reads the Silmarillion, this is not canonical. Plus, in the movies, it seemed as though all the Orcs "born" this way were Uruk-Hai, and therefore crossbreeds of Orcs and "Goblin-Men", so I can see that as being some kind of foul sorcery applied by Saruman.

    What do you guys think?

  2. #2
    Many different theories on this. I've even read the proposal that all orcs are female ( The Science of Middle Earth).

    I've personally gone along with the theory that orc females were kept back at the cave, in not very nice conditions and treated poorly.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elricgodslayer View Post
    Orcs are ruined, disfigured and corrupted Elves, so it stands to reason that there would be females, and that Orc reproduction works in the same way as with any other mammal. So where are the female Orcs?

    I have two theories that make any sense to me:

    -One is that the females are kept at the Orc strongholds, like Mordor, Isengard or Moria, to be used specifically as breeders.

    -The other is that since the Orcs are so warped and ruined, that the females actually co-mingle and even go to war alongside their male counterparts, physically appearing utterly indistinguishable from the males.
    What Tolkien said himself was more like the first one. There were Orc-women, but they don't appear in the tales.

    I know there is that scene in the movies where Orcs are being pulled out of membraneous mud-pits, but if one reads the Silmarillion, this is not canonical. Plus, in the movies, it seemed as though all the Orcs "born" this way were Uruk-Hai, and therefore crossbreeds of Orcs and "Goblin-Men", so I can see that as being some kind of foul sorcery applied by Saruman.
    Not canonical as regards Uruk-hai either. What it appears to reflect was Tolkien's very first idea of where Orcs had come from (before he'd had the notion of them being corrupted Elves), that Melko (as Tolkien called him way back then) had made Orcs from 'stone and slime'. Apparently borrowed as a concept by PJ for use on-screen, that made for a straightforward, visually immediate explanation of what Saruman was up to (dark magic) and allowed for an 'instant' army that suited the movie version of the plot, rather than having to go into the far nastier details of what Saruman had 'really' done over the course of many years in order to create the Uruk-hai.

  4. #4
    There is at least one female orc in The Return of The King:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_RgNLI1rYY

    The female orc is the one who says "catapults!". Just listen to her voice, that is a woman.

    EDIT: And I strongly believe that this goblin from Moria is also a female:

    Just look at those beautiful eyes, stunning!
    (:
    Last edited by Magpiefood; Jan 17 2013 at 07:05 PM.

  5. #5
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    Yes I know about how Tolkien went back and forth on the origin of the Orcs until he settled on the corrupt Elves concept. He couldn't have Melkor creating them from rocks and slime, or from anything for that matter, since he had established that evil cannot create, it can only warp and destroy.

    Magpiefood, I've heard that many of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings were played by women so they wouldn't look so bulky in the prosthetics.

    The idea that Orc women would be kept solely as breeders makes the most sense, but that tidbit with Gimli about how Dwarf women are often mistaken for Dwarf men is what gave me the idea of Orc women being equally as disgusting and warped as Orc men, causing the two to look identical to the eyes of Men, Elves, Hobbits and Dwarves. It's an interesting theory, in my mind, but I am well aware that the first theory is the more likely one.

  6. #6
    My personal view on this will always be that both the Orc and Goblin women were all equally as bloodthirsty and as skilled in battle as the Orc men and Goblin men.

    I don't think the Orc men are crueler against their women, I think they are treated equally. Equally as bad. When as ruined as an Orc, going through all the endless pain everyday from their mutilation, I don't think they care about gender roles anymore. It's just war, and the stronger will always survive.

    I tend to look at the Goblins as if they are animals, wolves or monkeys. In the wild most females hunt just as much as the males. Or as for the lions, the lionesses are the ones doing the hard work there.

  7. #7
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    We don't know anything about Orc females because the professor never included them in the narrative.

    It is my personal belief that he left out this disturbing graphical image precisely because it was crude and he did not see a need for it. Note that we have virtually no sexual references in any of Tolkien's writing. I think that he didn't see it as necessary and probably only would have cheapened his creation.

    Today's world is very different than the world that JRRT lived in. We expect today's stories to leave nothing out. That was not the case in the middle of the last century.
    "Just like Mary Shelly, Just like Frankenstein, Break your chains, And count your change, And try to walk the line"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boraxxe View Post
    We don't know anything about Orc females because the professor never included them in the narrative.

    It is my personal belief that he left out this disturbing graphical image precisely because it was crude and he did not see a need for it. Note that we have virtually no sexual references in any of Tolkien's writing. I think that he didn't see it as necessary and probably only would have cheapened his creation.

    Today's world is very different than the world that JRRT lived in. We expect today's stories to leave nothing out. That was not the case in the middle of the last century.
    I know, that's why this is all speculation. As for disturbing sexual images... Túrin and Niënor. Oh lord.
    As narsty as that is, Orc breeding pits might just have been narstier, so you have a good point.

    Magpiefood, I know this has nothing at all to do with Tolkien's Orcs, but in Elder Scrolls Orc women are treated as complete equals in every way to Orc men, and that struck me as something they would probably do. That is why I like the idea of Orc women fighting along side the men, and we just can't tell which is which because they are all grotesque.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magpiefood View Post
    My personal view on this will always be that both the Orc and Goblin women were all equally as bloodthirsty and as skilled in battle as the Orc men and Goblin men.

    I don't think the Orc men are crueler against their women, I think they are treated equally. Equally as bad. When as ruined as an Orc, going through all the endless pain everyday from their mutilation, I don't think they care about gender roles anymore. It's just war, and the stronger will always survive.

    I tend to look at the Goblins as if they are animals, wolves or monkeys. In the wild most females hunt just as much as the males. Or as for the lions, the lionesses are the ones doing the hard work there.
    To draw a parallel with real history, and knowing that Tolkien didn't imagine them fighting alongside the men, I can imagine the Orc-women being bloodthirsty all right but they'd have their Orcish 'fun' by coming out after a fight and finishing off wounded enemies by cutting them up slowly and cruelly with knives. In real life, some especially fierce tribeswomen in some parts of the world were considered to be worse then the men (i.e. the men would give you a cleaner death - if the women got you then you'd die by inches, screaming). People of Tolkien's generation would have heard such dark tales from Britain's colonial wars, and elsewhere.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    To draw a parallel with real history, and knowing that Tolkien didn't imagine them fighting alongside the men, I can imagine the Orc-women being bloodthirsty all right but they'd have their Orcish 'fun' by coming out after a fight and finishing off wounded enemies by cutting them up slowly and cruelly with knives. In real life, some especially fierce tribeswomen in some parts of the world were considered to be worse then the men (i.e. the men would give you a cleaner death - if the women got you then you'd die by inches, screaming). People of Tolkien's generation would have heard such dark tales from Britain's colonial wars, and elsewhere.
    Yeah, that could very likely also be an option. Considering that women naturally have weaker physics it could be too dangerous to go out in the fiercest battle, it would be safer for them (or to use bows). And although women can withstand physical pain better than men, I think that when eventually broken mentally, it's berserk all the way.

    (I'm a girl myself btw, so no need to flame me for sexism ;P)

  11. #11
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    I don't think Tolkien ever settled on a fixed origin for Orcs, the idea that they were corrupted from elves is not absolute and this is discussed in some of the later volumes of The History of Middle-earth along with a few other interesting ideas, like Maiar who had taken on Orc form. Goblin imps are mentioned in The Hobbit though (Gollum was fond of eating them apparently - or at least of squeezing their necks) and so must be regarded as 'canon'. There is also the possibility that orcs breed with other races to pro-create, Celebrian's torment at the hand of the orcs does raise some questions. Though I personally doubt that Tolkien had this in mind when he wrote about this, I have heard it argued on other forums.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metafur View Post
    I don't think Tolkien ever settled on a fixed origin for Orcs, the idea that they were corrupted from elves is not absolute and this is discussed in some of the later volumes of The History of Middle-earth along with a few other interesting ideas, like Maiar who had taken on Orc form.
    It's 'fixed' as far as LOTR goes, though, and in consequence the published Sil takes the 'Orcs from Elves' angle too. The tales were never rewritten with the later ideas in mind.

    Goblin imps are mentioned in The Hobbit though (Gollum was fond of eating them apparently - or at least of squeezing their necks) and so must be regarded as 'canon'. There is also the possibility that orcs breed with other races to pro-create, Celebrian's torment at the hand of the orcs does raise some questions. Though I personally doubt that Tolkien had this in mind when he wrote about this, I have heard it argued on other forums.
    Tolkien was quite plain about how Orcs procreated ('the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar', he tells us, i.e. in the same way as everybody else) so that mention of 'Goblin imps' in The Hobbit goes along just fine with that. Orcs and Men only seemed to interbreed when someone really evil (first Sauron, and then Saruman) made it happen.

    And about Celebrian, that seems to be a case of Tolkien leaving it up to the reader's imagination; you can imagine whatever horrible cruelties you like, he doesn't need to spell it out for you. The only thing I would point out there is that it was possible for Men in Sauron's service to be more cruel than Orcs, so it seems even Orcs drew the line somewhere. Where that might have been is, again, an exercise for the reader's imagination.
    Last edited by Radhruin_EU; Jan 24 2013 at 04:30 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elricgodslayer View Post
    Orcs are ruined, disfigured and corrupted Elves, so it stands to reason that there would be females, and that Orc reproduction works in the same way as with any other mammal. So where are the female Orcs?

    I have two theories that make any sense to me:

    -One is that the females are kept at the Orc strongholds, like Mordor, Isengard or Moria, to be used specifically as breeders.

    -The other is that since the Orcs are so warped and ruined, that the females actually co-mingle and even go to war alongside their male counterparts, physically appearing utterly indistinguishable from the males.

    I know there is that scene in the movies where Orcs are being pulled out of membraneous mud-pits, but if one reads the Silmarillion, this is not canonical. Plus, in the movies, it seemed as though all the Orcs "born" this way were Uruk-Hai, and therefore crossbreeds of Orcs and "Goblin-Men", so I can see that as being some kind of foul sorcery applied by Saruman.

    What do you guys think?
    I have not read all the posts, so someone may have already pointed this out, but Tolkien (either in one of his essays in the Histories or one of his letters) stated that they procreate after the manner of Men and Elves.

    The movies were grossly lore-breaking in that point. The creatures specifically called out by Tolkien in LotR as "uruks" are in fact of a greater breed. The Black Uruks of Mordor are related to the first Orcs who were much like the Istari: demonic, rather than angelic, spirits given material form (obviously by the time of LotR they are degenerated simply into powerful Orcs.) The Uruk-hai are Black Uruks who were outcast and chose to serve Saruman...they were not bred by him. The goblin-men are something else entirely, cross-bred between Orcs and Men (half-orcs, if you will, such as the sly Southerner in Bree, who was the end result of a &&&& of his mother by an Orc.) EDIT: Heh, you can probably figure out the edited word, and no, it's not obscene.

  14. #14
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    Can someone please elaborate on the original orcs being Maia like and the black uruks of mirror please.

  15. #15
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    Tolkien himself tried but in a sense failed at such an attempt of elaboration I recommend reading the essays under the section "Myths Transformed" published in Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle Earth Vol. 10) because the "sub-creator" himself pondered a lot on the nature and origin of the "Orkor", thankfully for us mostly on paper

    That said, I'd love to chatter about the subject when I'm feeling a little bit less lazy

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berephon View Post
    (half-orcs, if you will, such as the sly Southerner in Bree, who was the end result of a &&&& of his mother by an Orc.) EDIT: Heh, you can probably figure out the edited word, and no, it's not obscene.
    This has always led to greater questions to me, especially as the half-orc in question goes back to Bree to seek its mother (he says 'where is it?')

    First, OK, human pregnant with an orc. It's fairly unrealistic she's even alive to tell the tale, but OK, we'll roll with it. Would she not terminate the orc-baby (potion, whatever, there were ways.) She bears the orc - in Bree, where the skirmish orc later tries to find her? - and, for whatever reason, doesn't hit it over the head with a brick. There's no realistic way it can journey back to Saruman - I won't believe she'd raise little Orckie like her own - so let's assume she birthed it around a more orcish place, like the forge, or some breeding ground. But then, what, orc pre-natal care? Orc midwifery? Pregnancy isn't easy at the best of times and is probably less so in orcish captivity. So do the orcs impregnate en masse and just assume a quarter might survive the birthing process - that seems a waste of food, resources, water and space. Do they actually make an effort to keep the pregnant humans alive in order to bear healthy orcbabies? Are orc pregnancies especially robust?

    Yes, I sat there pregnant once and thought of all this. Probably in the throes of morning sickness and thinking "nah, no one would go through this for an orc."
    'A cage,' she said. 'To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.'

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Lilka View Post
    This has always led to greater questions to me, especially as the half-orc in question goes back to Bree to seek its mother (he says 'where is it?')

    First, OK, human pregnant with an orc. It's fairly unrealistic she's even alive to tell the tale, but OK, we'll roll with it. Would she not terminate the orc-baby (potion, whatever, there were ways.) She bears the orc - in Bree, where the skirmish orc later tries to find her? - and, for whatever reason, doesn't hit it over the head with a brick. There's no realistic way it can journey back to Saruman - I won't believe she'd raise little Orckie like her own - so let's assume she birthed it around a more orcish place, like the forge, or some breeding ground. But then, what, orc pre-natal care? Orc midwifery? Pregnancy isn't easy at the best of times and is probably less so in orcish captivity. So do the orcs impregnate en masse and just assume a quarter might survive the birthing process - that seems a waste of food, resources, water and space. Do they actually make an effort to keep the pregnant humans alive in order to bear healthy orcbabies? Are orc pregnancies especially robust?

    Yes, I sat there pregnant once and thought of all this. Probably in the throes of morning sickness and thinking "nah, no one would go through this for an orc."
    Your talking about the "squint-eyed southerner" I presume.
    I'm not sure where you get the impression that his mother was a Breelander, or that he was in Bree to look for his mother?
    It's not even altogether certain that he was even really a half-orc at all, but I've always assumed that he was.
    A clue to his origin was in the description of him as a southerner, I've always thought that he was probably a part orc, most likely a product of Saruman's breeding experiments, and if that much was true then his mother was most likely a Dunlander, or even possibly from Rohan.
    Any human females used in Saruman's vile experiments would most likely be captives from his many raids into Dunland or Rohan, and would have no choice in the matter.

    The Southerner himself was a spy sent by Saruman, originally to spy out the Northern lands and to help procure pipe-weed and other goods from the Shire for Saruman. My memory on some of these things is a little vague, given how long it's been since I read some of the material, but I believe he may have been working on behalf of the Nazgul while he was in Bree, given how quickly they showed up at the Pony after he and Bill Ferny witnessed Frodo's shenanigans there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    The Southerner himself was a spy sent by Saruman, originally to spy out the Northern lands and to help procure pipe-weed and other goods from the Shire for Saruman. My memory on some of these things is a little vague, given how long it's been since I read some of the material, but I believe he may have been working on behalf of the Nazgul while he was in Bree, given how quickly they showed up at the Pony after he and Bill Ferny witnessed Frodo's shenanigans there.
    That is correct, the Witch-king forced him into Mordor's service rather than Saruman's.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    Your talking about the "squint-eyed southerner" I presume.
    I'm not sure where you get the impression that his mother was a Breelander, or that he was in Bree to look for his mother?
    There's another one, then, a half-orc whose description in the deed states he has come to Bree to wreck revenge on the one that is the cause of his lowly half-orc status.
    'A cage,' she said. 'To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    The Southerner himself was a spy sent by Saruman, originally to spy out the Northern lands and to help procure pipe-weed and other goods from the Shire for Saruman. My memory on some of these things is a little vague, given how long it's been since I read some of the material, but I believe he may have been working on behalf of the Nazgul while he was in Bree, given how quickly they showed up at the Pony after he and Bill Ferny witnessed Frodo's shenanigans there.
    There is a mention near Orthanc where Merry or Pippen notice that there are plenty others who look like the Southener, who appear to be half-orcs. The southerner is said to be on the human end of the scale.

    I think there is another mention (likely by Gandalf or maybe Aragorn, I doubt many others would know) about rumors of Saruman crossbreeding orcs and humans.
    Last edited by yawumpus; Feb 21 2013 at 02:08 AM. Reason: hopefully included all the words this time.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Lilka View Post
    There's another one, then, a half-orc whose description in the deed states he has come to Bree to wreck revenge on the one that is the cause of his lowly half-orc status.
    What do you mean by "description in the deed"?
    Are you talking about the books or the game here, I assure you there was no half-orc born in Bree in the books

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by yawumpus View Post
    There is a mention near Orthanc where Merry or Pippen notice that there are plenty others who like the Southener, who appear to be half-orcs. The southerner is said to be on the human end of the scale.

    I think there is another mention (likely by Gandalf or maybe Aragorn, I doubt many others would know) about rumors of Saruman crossbreeding orcs and humans.
    You are quite correct. This was said by Merry when describing the events shortly before the Ent attack on Isengard.

    "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. It seems plain now that that Southerner was a spy of Saruman's; but whether he was working with the Black Riders, or for Saruman alone, I do not know."

  23. #23
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    While Tolkien didn't discuss female orcs going to war, he did write that some elf women were warriors, and that "there was less difference in strength and speed between elven-men and elven-women that had not borne child than is seen among mortals" ("Laws & Customs Among the Eldar", Morgoth's Ring, p. 213). I think there may be another reference in The Silmarillion, but I'm not sure.

    If orcs are descended from corrupted elves, then it's likely that there would be strong female orcs and that some of them would go into battle, if they wanted to. The bulk of the orc forces would be male, though, as someone would have to take care of the food preparation, clothing creation (probably no laundry chores), and children, and it probably fell primarily to the females.

    *shrugs* Interesting question!
    Last edited by ferdinanda; Feb 21 2013 at 02:19 PM. Reason: typo
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    Since Sauron is making a final push to once and for all “eat all of Middle Earth” it would seem likely that many of the females Orcs would also be going to war. He cares little for them. It is a matter of numbers in wars of this type. He has little need for large numbers of birth-ers to repopulate after a successful war. His need for birth-ers was to swell his ranks and that is now over.

    Probably the females have been schooled in the art of fighting for a decade or more at this point. Of course he might have an eye on the possibility of an unsuccessful war, and repopulation in that event, but I doubt it. I think he was putting all his eggs in one basket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RKL View Post
    Since Sauron is making a final push to once and for all “eat all of Middle Earth” it would seem likely that many of the females Orcs would also be going to war.
    You can't say that given that Tolkien doesn't mention even a single one. Pure speculation, based on nothing.

 

 
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