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Dwarves and Orcs in BOLT 2

baragund

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As I am making my way through BOLT 2, I am noticing some interchangeability between the references to dwarves and orcs. It is as if JRRT at some point considered them to be one and the same. A clear example of this is found in "Turin and the Foaloke" where the famous Mim the petty dwarf from the Published Silmarillion is described alternately as a dwarf and as an orc.

CT did not address this in his commentary. Does anybody have insight on this? Did JRRT consider dwarves to be an inherently evil race at one time? What caused his perception of dwarves to evolve?
 

Confusticated

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regarding the evolution of the race

From the time of Lost Tales even to the Quenta Silmarillion of the 30s, the dwarves were more dark in nature, but were getting less evil. For example in Noldorinwa and later in Quenta Silmarillion (so this is through the 30s), the dwarves are said to be in some things more like Melkor's people than elves, but it said the dwarves did not serve Morgoth. It was also in the Quenta Silmarillion that the idea of Aule creation the dwarves came in, but at this point the dwarves are without spirits... at least according to Pengolodh. That is found in Lhammas in HoME V.

But I really don't know enough about this, so hopefully a better answer is probably coming from someone who does. I haven't read Quenta Silmarillion in HoME V in full, but just used it to look this information up. But from what I did find it looks like the dwarves are about the same in it as they are in Noldorinwa (1930) and so still evil, but I could be wrong.

But because the evolution was sort of gradual I wonder if the publication of The Hobbit (and consequently writing of LotR) was a big factor in the evolution of the race of dwarves?


PS: In Later Quenta in HoME XI you can read about the development in the 50s of the tale of the origin of the dwarves, and here the element of Iluvatar granting them will of their own comes in.
 
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jallan

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Your account seems accurate to me, Nóm.

As to Baragund’s reading that Mîm was considered to be an Orc, I don’t thank that interpretation is justified.

The only passage in “Turambar and the Foalókë” that I can see that might suggest this is:
... and behold the Orcs had fled thereform at the death of Glorund, and only one dwelt there still, an old misshapen dwarf who sat ever on the pile of gold singing black songs of enchantment to himself.
The passage makes good sense if we consider Mîm an Orc for it could be interpreted to mean that the Orcs had all fled save one, a dwarfish Orc.

But if we don’t consider Dwarfs to be Orcs, the passage also makes sense. The Orcs have fled and only a Dwarf (who is not an Orc) still dwells there.

I think the latter sense is what Tolkien meant. Certainly, though Tolkien in his early writings does make Dwarfs in general a folk tending to evil, I don’t think any passage other than this could lead any to think that Dwarfs are Orcs.
 

Hirila

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I remember something that JRRT said in the foreword to The Hobbit...
Something about having invented the word "orc"?
I might be completely wrong. But if I am not, perhaps this gives some clarification wether Mim was an orc or not...

If I am right, then the word "orc" means something similar to "goblin". (JRRT sometimes uses both words for the one race of orcs/goblins.)
A "goblin is, according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary: "an ugly or grotesque sprite that is mischievous and sometimes evil and malicious". And Mim, the dwarf, could be a mischievous dwarf, an orc, in that sense.
 

Aulë

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Yes, it is said that the word 'goblin' is an English translation of the word 'orc' (which is what Hobbits call goblins).

(2) Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds). Orc is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these creatures, and it is not connected at all with our orc, ork, applied to sea-animals of dolphin-kind.
 

jallan

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Hirila posted:
I remember something that JRRT said in the foreword to The Hobbit...
Something about having invented the word "orc"?
It is quite complex actually.

Orc referring to some kind of demonic being occurs in some Old English glossaries and in the form orc-néas in the Old English poem Beowulf. There is speculation that the word is derived from Latin orcus 'death'.

Look up orc and orcnéas at A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: ONWEORPAN-ORGANE.

Tolkien borrowed the word for the goblin creatures of his mythology. But he decided that since it did not make sense that a borrowing from Old English could purportedly exist ages before the Old English language itself existed and because Old English orc did not mean quite the same as orc and various related forms in his legendarium that the identity of form should be taken a conincidental.

From Morgoth’s Ring (HoME 10), “The Annals of Aman”, Christopher Tolkien’s commentary to §127:
The word for in ‘Orcs we may name them; for in days of old they were strong and fell as demons. Yet they were not of demon kind’ (an observation of Ælfwine’s) suggests that Orcs is Old English (cf. orc-nēas in Beowulf line 112), conveniently similar to the Elvish word. This would explain why Ælfwine said, in effect, ‘We may call them Orcs, because they were strong and fell as demons, even though they were not in fact demons.’ In a letter of my father’s written on 25 April 1954 (Letters no. 144) he said that the word Orc ‘is as far as I am concerned actually derived from Old English orc “demon”, but only because of its phonetic suitability’ ...
 

Snaga

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There are similar difficulties or hints in The Nauglafring which concerns the dwarves closely of course, and shows them at times working closely with orcs.

However, it is clear that dwarves and orcs are distinct.

Christopher Tolkien in his commentary writes:
... the Dwarves in the original conception were altogether more ignoble than they afterwards became, more prone to evil to gain their ends, and more exclusively impelled by greed; that Doriath should be laid waste by mercenary Orcs under Dwarvish paymasters was to become incredible and impossible later. It is even said that by the deeds of Naugladur 'have the Dwarves been severed in feud forever since those days with the Elves and drawn more nigh in friendship to the kin of Melko'; and in the outlines for Gilfanon's Tale the Nauglath are an evil people, associates of goblins. In a rejected outline for the Tale of the Nauglafring the necklace was made 'by certain Uvanimor (Nautar or Nauglath)', Uvanimor being defined elsewhere as 'monsters, giants, and ogres'. With all this compare The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F (I): 'They [the Dwarves] are not evil by nature, and few ever served the Enemy of free will, whatever the tales of Men may have alleged.'
It is known that The Hobbit was not originally written to be part of the wider mythology, and so the issue with the nature of the dwarves presumably didnt become problematic until the drafting of the Lord of the Rings, at which point the issues would need resolution.

However the Necklace of the Dwarves was never re-written on the scale of the original. Even so, subsequent outlines for the Sil dropped involvement of orcs in the tale, but its not entirely clear if this was just a short-hand, simplification for elegance (the orcs aren't necessary to the tale), or a rethink of the nature of dwarves.
 

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Yes... I did not mean to suggest that the dwarves of Tolkien's mythology became good at the time of the writing of The Hobbit (in 30s first age writings they were not), but rather that as a result of them being such a good race in The Hobbit the dwarves become even more wholesome. It is in Post-LotR First Age writings that the dwarves seem to have jumped from orcish to a purely good race that was resistant to evil.

Another factor might have been that he wanted them created by Aule, yet knew Aule couldn't give them freewill and so had to make them kindled by Iluvatar. I suggest this because it was around the same time that he started to bother about the origin of orcs. And I probably don't need to say that if Iluvatar kindled dwarves with freewill, they'd obviously not be evil... oh wait... 'Men'... hmmm ;)

But as for why the dwarves were already evolving a little before that I do not know. It could be that for reasons in the stories he needed them to be a bit more like people than monsters? If they were going to have any friendly exchanges with the Eldar, then they would have to be a race with more good in them. He also ended up having them associate with men in their early days out east, so I guess they were just more useful to the tales as a good race.... hmm who knows... maybe they'd have become just as good if not for them being good in The Hobbit & LotR?
 

Walter

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Jakob Grimm in his Deutsche Mythologie (transl. by J.S. Stallybrass: Teutonic Mythology) mentions the connection between Dwarves dvergar and Dark-Elves döckâlfar or Black-Elves svartâlfar and it can also gathered from Sturluson e.g. this passage
Then Allfather sent him who is called Skírnir, Freyr's messenger, down into the region of the Black Elves, to certain dwarves, and caused to be made the fetter named Gleipnir.
.

I cannot help, but to me Tolkien's Orcs and Dwarves, especially in his earlier writings, closely resemble these Germanic/Nordic tales, where the Dwarves, btw., are often portrayed as malevolent or evil and greedy.

There is some more information about Orcs gathered at the TolkienWiki:
Orcs and Mythology/Orcs

----
Jallan do you happen to know if there's an index available of this scan of the Clark Hall dictionary, or which edition that is? The pages don't seem to correspond with the 4th edition, though...
 
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jallan

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Walter posted:
I cannot help, but to me Tolkien's Orcs and Dwarves, especially in his earlier writings, closely resemble these Germanic/Nordic tales, where the Dwarves, btw., are often portrayed as malevolent or evil and greedy.
Yes.

And then the matter of The Hobbit came to Tolkien (originally without any connection to his Elvish history) and suddenly Tolkien was looking at things from a Dwarvish viewpoint.

It made all the difference. Dwarves who tended to be greedy and stubborn but who had a deep love for jewels and metals of the earth for their own sakes were more interesting than Dwarves who were almost purely evil and might as well be Orcs.
 

wayne vincenzi

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I think several others (like Jallon) have pointed out Tolkien's earlier takes on dwarves
and the significance of Orcs. Tolkien's world is not new, but it is more of a retelling
of many other past folklore /mythologies. England itself stems from many past cultural
events, Anglos,Saxons, Danes, like most nations a host of peoples through history
intertwining to make up its contemporary fiber. Most of the invasion/migrations are of
Northern European decent as far as England goes, although the Southern seems to get
largely overlooked for the Latin influx that came from Rome. There are quite a few
historical books that talk about Roman influence when it comes to Arthurian Legendary
but for some reason many historians seem to call up less about the people of the Latin
background and more about its influence in a the classical theme sense, such as Greek or the Latin language, more of an idea then of the actual genetics.
Personally I think it has to do with the perpetual word war between European cultures
that always view life in a superior manner from north to south. (things like the many invasions of North Africa into Europe getting less voice, or the Spanish being ruled by the moors as something detrimental to the Spanish) In any case I digress.
Tolkien's world largely comes from Northern European culture. The linguistic and mythos of things like Dwarves and Orcs are numerous and varied.
Dwarves are a fairly common theme among many much older works such as the tales
of Sigfried and the Nibelungenleid. Dwarves and Goblins and many other names
for the same types of creatures are numerous and varied. Kobalds, brownies,elves, or dark elves. There are many small differences, I am lumping a lot of different cultures
and fine nuances together, but on the whole the difference between Orc(which was really a prefered sound to Tolkien rather then Goblin) and Dwarf was slim.
Tolkien ended up creating his own universe from the borrowings of his lingustic
love. Luckily for us when Tolkien wrote the Hobbit, he ended up getting more into
the side of the Dwarves we know and love. Really, when it comes to an altering of
peoples, Tolkien did more the change the nature of Elves then orcs or Dwarves.
Elves often could be the same as Goblins in many counts of mythology.
Tolkien took from the High Elf writings of Elves. High Elves folklore has always been
the most interesting and revolves a lot more around the aristocratic.
Joseph Campbell and Jung get more into universal thoughts of humans themselves
and try to move away from cultural ideas. There is something to be said in that, as nearly every culture in the world has its own version of the same creatures
as orcs, dwarves and elves. Personally I think Tolkien tapped as much into the
world of literature as he did into the linguistic. The worlds of writers from Spenser, Milton,Dunsany, Malory, and a host of others all add to the mythologies. Somehow
what makes up an Elf is a constant flow of language and expressions of our innermost
fears and loves. yay Elves, yay Dwarves yay Tolkien, to borrow from yayGollum :)
 

King Naugladur

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In "The Nauglafring", the earliest conception of the Silmarillion chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath", King Naugladur (my namesake, :D) wires Orcs to aid him in his raid against Tinwelint's (Thingol's) realm. But, the Book of Lost Tales is filled with elvish bias and Tolkien himself abandoned it. Thus, we may consider "The Nauglafring" as non-canon and drop the Dwarf-Orc alliance.
King Naugladur.
 

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