4. Conclusions

 

The following three points of interest summarise the results of this paper.

 

1. The otherness of the inimical creatures in Tolkien's works is visualised largely through visual and verbal characteristics. (Chapter 3.1)

The Orcs are the monstrous Other in Tolkien's works � but not monstrous enough to be completely inhuman. Their looks signify a racial Other, just as their way of speech set them apart as a race. Moreover, their behaviour is patterned in order to connect them with beasts (the Other is dehumanised) and ruthless brutality (the Other is demoralised). But they remain within the group of sentient beings, which is emphasised through a few poignant comments in the works of Tolkien. However, this Othering process only creates the appropriate response within the framework of a certain culture.

 

2. Their otherness is motivated philosophically in Tolkien's extensive commentary to his own work. (Chapter 3.2)

By comparing what Tolkien himself writes about Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon poetic masterpiece, with his own storytelling techniques in The Lord of the Rings, I have reached the conclusion that the purpose of the Orcs (similarly to Beowulf's Grendel) is to provide a mirror image of the fallen human. This is one of Tolkien's conscious aims. The fact that the Orcs are irredeemable and therefore an unchristian feature of The Lord of the Rings, is no hinder to their existence. Primarily, just as Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings takes place in a pre-Christian setting, although written or compiled by a Christian author. Therefore, all-too-obvious Christian notions would upset the illusion of authencity. Secondarily, Tolkien has no difficulties in fathoming the idea that some souls might, indeed, be irredeemable after their fall. Hell must have been created for a purpose.

 

3. By comparing how Tolkien uses the words he coined for his �Others� as applied to the real world, we gain insight into another meaning of the Orcs � the general fear and loathing among intellectuals in the early 20th century of the so-called �masses�. (Chapter 3.3)

 

Compared with his fellow intellectuals in Britain in his time, Tolkien stood apart as a stubborn late Romantic with no modernist ambitions whatsoever. His esthetic ideals were quite conservative and humble, and politically he cheerfully declared himself an anarchist or an old-fashioned monarchist when it suited his moods. His values and ideals were conservative, certainly partly due to his Catholic beliefs, but also because of a lack of interest in the world outside university. However, he not only rejected industrialism because it polluted nature, but also because it created a type of people that he could not feel any affinity to. This particular notion is echoed among many authors of the time, both in the field of fiction and most blatantly in the field of non-fiction, where the image of a West corrupted by the rise of mass culture and democracy mixed with the notion of a threat of foreign masses flocking to the borders. The Other becomes an amalgamation of the differences perceived in race, culture and social class. Interestingly, Tolkien's views are modified by the fact that he perceived himself also as a kind of Other in the context of religion and social class. Therefore he actively spoke out against racism and anti-semitism when he happened to encounter such sentiments, and he utterly disliked nationalism of the �vulgar�, chauvinist kind. That was Orc behaviour.

 

With his ambition to create a mythology for England, Tolkien proved himself to be a child of the age of nationalism. However, he succeeded in creating a mythology that in spite of its obvious traces of Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythology (and the more hidden Finnish elements, as well as the Celtic nuances that some might perceive) has become close to universal. In fact, The Lord of the Rings has set a standard for many fantasy writers to follow, and it is almost disturbing to notice how many of them set their own �secondary creations� in a world so similar to Middle-earth. [1] In this perspective, Tolkien's humble words to Milton Waldman about his creative ambitions become almost moving:

 

I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd. [2]

 

Today, we can only state the facts � Tolkien's �absurd� ambition was a devastating success. However, one reason for the undying popularity of his mythology might be that all the great nationalist romantic myths that once flourished in Europe are dying out. Immigration influx, youth cultures and globalisation have forced most nation-states to view themselves from an outside perspective and to question old self-images. The intellectuals have had to come to terms with the �mass society�, and new generations have grown that take their rights for self-expression for granted in ways that would bring Ortega y Gasset to the brink of despair. There are, undoubtedly, more Orcs than ever in the world � but we tend to see the Orcs somewhere else than in ourselves, as always.

 

The modernist intellectuals had difficulties accepting deficiencies in the society or in their fellow humans. Partly this was due to a Nietzschean ideal of the superhuman � but this is only a fragment of the explanation. Another, more serious reason lies in the liberal humanists� idealistic ambition to reform humanity � and their bitter disappointment as humanity fails to produce Utopia. The response of the liberal humanist � as Ortega y Gasset declared himself to be � is to look for other answers. The idea cannot be faulty � the problem has to be humanity's nature. And thus the modernist evolves to a racialist, a fascist, or a nihilist. Ultimately, the modernist intellectuals' fate is ironic, as John Carey stages them as the intellectual �Orcs� of the 20th century.

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5. Sources

���������������������������������������������������

5.1 Primary Sources

 

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel: The Hobbit or There and Back Again. George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1978�������

The Lord of the Rings. The Fellowship of the Ring.

The Lord of The Rings. The Two Towers.

The Lord of the Rings. The Return of the King.George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1954, 1966

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. A selection. Ed. HumphreyCarpenter, ass. ed. Christopher Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin, New York 2000

The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1983

The Silmarillion. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1977

The History of Middle-earth Volume 10. Morgoth's Ring. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. HarperCollins, London 1994

The History of Middle-earth Volume 12. The Peoples of Middle-earth. Ed.Christopher Tolkien. HarperCollins, London 1997

 

5.2 Secondary Literature

 

��� Arvidsson, Stefan: Ariska idoler � Den indoeuropeiska mytologin som ideologi och vetenskap. (�Aryan Idols. The Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science.�) Symposion, Stockholm 2000

���� Bertens, Hans: Literary Theory � The Basics. Routledge, London 2001

���� Carey, John: The Intellectuals and the Masses. Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939. Academy Chicago Publishers, Chicago 1992

���� Cassuto, Leonard: The Inhuman Race. The Racial Grotesque in American Literature and

���� Culture. Columbia University Press, New York 1997���������������������

���� Europe � The Return of History. Ed. Sven T�gil. Nordic Academic Press, Lund 2001

���� Halmesvirta, Anssi: Turanilaisia ja herrasneekereit�. Aatehistoriallisia tutkimuksia brittil�isest� rotuajattelusta. (�Turanians and Gentleman Negroes � Studies in British Racial Thought�) Societas Historica Finlandiae, Helsinki 1993

���� Harvey, David. The Song of Middle-earth. J. R. R. Tolkien's Themes, Symbols and Myths.

���� George Allen & Unwin, London 1985

���� Into Darkness Peering � Race and Color in the Fantastic. Ed. Elisabeth Anne Leonard,

���� Greenwood Press, London 1997

���� Michalson, Karen: Victorian Fantasy Literature � Literary Battles With Church and Empire. Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston 1990

���� North, Michael: The Dialect of Modernism. Race, Language & Twentieth-Century Literature. Oxford University Press, New York 1994���������������������

���� Ortega y Gasset, Jos�: Massornas uppror. (�The Rebellion of the Masses�) Natur & Kultur,Stockholm 1934

���� Rosebury, Brian: Tolkien. A Critical Assessment. Macmillan Press Ltd, London 1992

���� Spengler, Oswald: Der Untergang des Abendlandes. Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte. (�The Fall of the West�)Wilhelm Braum�ller, Wien und Leipzig 1919

���� Tolkien and the Critics. Essays on J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Edited by Neil D.

���� Isaacs and Rose A. Zimbardo. University of Notre Dame Press, London 1968

5.3 Electronical Sources

 

http://gutenberg.net

The Project Gutenberg web site.

Morris, William: The Roots of the Mountains; Wherein is Told Somewhat of the Lives of the Men of Burgdale. Transcribed from the 1896 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition.

http://www.ibiblio.org/gutenberg/etext04/rtmt10.txt

Mirrored on: http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=6050

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[1] For example, the successful authors Guy Gavriel Kay (The Fionavar Tapestry, Sailing to Sarantium), Tad Williams (The Dragonbone Chair), and David Eddings (The Belgariad, The Malloreon) all write about worlds that are more than just topographically similar to medieval Europe and Middle-earth. Kay even includes some creatures called Svart Alfar and Urgachs that are remarlably similar to Orcs and Uruk-hai.

[2] Letters 145

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