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Minas Tirith Forums » The Hobbit » Goblins vs. Orcs?
Author Topic: Goblins vs. Orcs?
Roll of Honor Lillianna
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If this has been asked before, please direct me to the thread with the answers.

What I want to know is what is the difference between the Goblins mentioned in the Hobbit and the orcs in LOTR? Is there any difference at all?? Are the Goblins merely a different name for the orcs? I don't remember if their description is the same as the orcs description. Any insight would be helpful.

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Imbëar
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This answer appears in the beginning of the Hobbit, and the Lord of the Ring, if I am mistaken.

But, to be more helpful. The words are interchangeable. Goblin is a familiar term for the monsters we knew in the Elder Days as Orcs, Urukí, the "terrors."

Imbëar

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Aiwrendel
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I think part of the confusion comes from Gandalf's statement to Bilbo just before they enter Mirkwood:
Before you could get round Mirkwood in the North you would be right among the slopes of the Grey Mountains, and they are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description.

It sounds like they are different things, and there are theories that there are subtle differences, but they are really all the same race.

Here is a thread on this subject:
Of orcs and goblins

There is another that I can't find at the moment. It brilliantly explained the subtle differences while explaining that they were really the same. Try the Search feature at the top of this board.

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Roll of Honor Snowman of Forochel
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I look at the term orcs the same way I look at the term men. Men are comprised of many different sub-races, such as the rohrimm, haradrim, and variags, so are the orcs. Goblins, hobgoblins (uruk-hai), half-orcs, oleg-hai, are all sub races of orcs. This is just my way of looking at it, so please don't consider it written law.
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Roll of Honor Lillianna
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ah, thanks for the insight! []

Aiwrendel, thanks for the link to the thread! I probably should have checked the search thing first.....I had forgotten about that.

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Imbëar
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I was under the impression that Olog-hai, Trolls, were not actually giant Orcs.
Of the Trolls: "That Sauron bred them none doubted, though from what stock was not known. Some held they were not Trolls but giant Orcs; but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind, whom they far surpassed in size and power"(414, Morgoth's Ring).

From this section of the text, I rather conclude that the largest servants of the Shadow were actually Maiar incarnate:
"But always among them (as special servants and spies of Melkor, and as leaders) there must have been numerous corrupted minor spirits who assumed similar bodily shapes. (These would exhibit terrifying and demonic characters.) / The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) as Orcs - in character and origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident that they were corruptions of primitive human types."

And so I return to the semantics. Are the creatures the same, or is 'troll' being used in the Northern manner - applicable to all unknown supernatural creatures, against which human iron fails? In the sense that an Orc is simply a "terror," or evil spirit, a troll would, too, be a terror.

Other thoughts?

Imbëar

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Shards of Narsil
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quote:
They are different names for the same race of creatures. Of the two, "Orc" is the correct one. This has been a matter of widespread debate and misunderstanding, mostly resulting from the usage in the The Hobbit (Tolkien had changed his mind about it by The Lord of the Rings but the confusion in the earlier book was made worse by inconsistent backwards modifications). There are a couple of statements in the The Hobbit which, if taken literally, suggest that Orcs are a subset of goblins. If we are to believe the indications from all other areas of Tolkien's writing, this is not correct. These are: some fairly clear statements in letters, the evolution of his standard terminology (see next paragraph), and the actual usage in The Lord of the Rings, all of which suggest that "Orc" was the true name of the race. (The pedigrees in Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia are thoroughly inaccurate and undependable.)

What happened was this. The creatures so referred to were invented along with the rest of Tolkien's subcreation during the writing of the Book of Lost Tales (pre-The Silmarillion). His usage in the early writing is somewhat varied but the movement is away from "goblin" and towards "orc". It was part of a general trend away from the terminology of traditional folklore (he felt that the familiar words would call up the wrong associations in the readers' minds, since his creations were quite different in specific ways). For the same general reasons he began calling the Deep Elves "Noldor" rather than "Gnomes", and avoided "Faerie" altogether. (On the other hand, he was stuck with "Wizards", an "imperfect" translation of Istari ('the Wise'), "Elves", and "Dwarves"; he did say once that he would have preferred "dwarrow", which, so he said, was more historically and linguistically correct, if he'd thought of it in time...)

In the The Hobbit, which originally was unconnected with the The Silmarillion, he used the familiar term "goblin" for the benefit of modern readers. By the time of The Lord of the Rings, however, he'd decided that "goblin" wouldn't do - Orcs were not storybook goblins (see above). (No doubt he also felt that "goblin", being Romance-derived, had no place in a work based so much on Anglo-Saxon and Northern traditions in general.) Thus, in The Lord of the Rings, the proper name of the race is "Orcs" (capital "O"), and that name is found in the index along with Ents, Men, etc., while "goblin" is not in the index at all. There are a handful of examples of "goblin" being used (always with a small "g") but it seems in these cases to be a kind of slang for Orcs. Tolkien's explanation inside the story was that the "true" name of the creatures was Orc (an anglicised version of Sindarin Orch , pl. Yrch). As the "translator" of the ancient manuscripts, he "substituted" "Goblin" for "Orch" when he translated Bilbo's diary, but for The Red Book he reverted to a form of the ancient word.

[The actual source of the word "orc" is Beowulf: "orc-nass", translated as "death-corpses". It has nothing to do with cetaceans.]


from http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/3786/goblin.html

[ 05-28-2002, 02:16 PM: Message edited by: Shards of Narsil ]

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cian
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We all know that Tolkien used 'goblins' a lot in The Hobbit, but note how he describes a part of Bilbo's adventure in the prologue to The Fellowship Of The Ring:

quote:
"The party was assailed by Orcs in a high pass of the Misty Mountains as they went towards Wilderland; and so it happened that Bilbo was lost for a while in the black orc-mines deep under the mountains, ..." JRRT
From Etymologies (as the entry _stood at the time_ that is [] ):
Root "ÓROK- *órku goblin: Q. orko ... N. orch, pl. yrch ..."

[ 05-28-2002, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: cian ]

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Aldaron of Lorien
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i always believed that they are basically the same. as orcs go, goblins are small, hobgoblins are slightly larger, and orc is just the comman name for a large group. if i think goblin, i think wolf riders. it is said that orcs come in many sizes. im rambling, but, if you think about it, who in middle-earth has only one name. hobbit=halfling. estel=aragorn=strider=etc. arwen=evenstar. its all so confusing, since every region has a common name, and then there are all the elven and human langueges.

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cian
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Tolkien used "goblin" in a description referring to the rather large nasties of Saruman's band however. And called Azog a Goblin, as well as a great Orc.
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Rothrandir
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I seem to recall the (Silmarillion?) stating that Trolls were made in mockery of the Ents. also, though i am not at all certain, i seem to remember it being said that the Nuzgul bird things were made in mockeyry of the Gwaihir and his buddies.

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Eldorian
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Orcs are in mockery of elves for Melkor created them.
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Roll of Honor TheGentleman
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Mirithan - that is one theory yes, but it isn't the definitive answer. There is nowhere that it is specifically stated that Orcs are Elves, although a lot of people believe it.
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