Document Type

Unpublished Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2015


From the time of Middle-earth’s creation, a complex society of hierarchies has existed both within and among the different races and creatures in Tolkien’s world. The race-constructed hierarchies speak to the way in which the different races understand themselves and those around them, just as people do in today’s modern society. While embarking on the journeys of this world with Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, with Frodo and the fellowship’s journey across Middle-earth to destroy the ring and Sauron in Mordor in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and from the creation of Arda and Middle-earth until the Third Age in The Silmarillion, the reader begins to get a greater understanding of the multifaceted intricacies the creatures of this world create in view of their differences. However, what role do the creatures of Middle-earth accept for themselves if they were mere corruptions of another race by someone or something that is seemingly purely evil? The Orcs present this existential question throughout Tolkien’s world, most engagingly in The Lord of the Rings. The reader is left to determine for themselves not only how the Orcs are viewed by the rest of Middle-earth, but also how they understand themselves, where they come from, and if they are inherently evil because of the way in which they were created. Understanding the Orcs’ racial identity will first be examined by understanding their creation story, then by examining the way in which they live and function among other Orcs, both with and without a formal leader, and lastly by addressing the way other races in Middle-earth refer to and understand Orcs as a creature in their world and obstacles on their journeys. Essential to this discussion is the determination of whether or not the conception of an inferior and superior race is a conscious ideological construction.


A paper completed for English 4610.