Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Orcs, and even stranger things have become synonymous to fantasy and these races are almost always used for something. It can be to illustrate racial tension in the culture of the writer or it can be used in an allegorical sense equating a race to a group of people who were being killed for just being who they were. The most famous example of the latter is the Dwarves in JRR Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings.” He uses the Dwarves to symbolize the jews in Nazi Germany by having them being killed by the Orcs or Uruks who represented the Nazis. But, there is another way to work with other races in fantasy work that I don’t believe has been really explored to much.
Classism. Now, don’t worry this post isn’t going to be my very own communist manifesto. Races can be used to demonstrate classes. Taking a look at Elves, Dwarves, and Humans the picture can be painted that the Elves are at the top of the wealth pyramid and symbolize the illustrious 1% or the .001% of people on the planet in developed countries that control 99% of the wealth of the world. The Humans can be used to symbolize the middle class, they can make as much as the Elves but they don’t have the lifespan to accumulate as much wealth as an Elven family making it impossible for them to overcome the Elves. Finally, Dwarves are the working class and the poor. Why do I say this? Because, if there is a society run by Elves then the Dwarven kingdoms wouldn’t flourish, their society wouldn’t become as great as it could have been or it wouldn’t be seen that way in the eyes of the Humans or the Elves.
This is an idea I am working on in another project I am working on that is a modern fantasy work that really plays off of classism and class warfare where Eves are the 1% and control the wealth and the government of the world. I have not seen this symbolism done but I could be wrong, someone may have beat me to it. But, I am curious as to how you write other races in fantasy works. Do you use them to symbolize systemic racism in society of do you use them for classism or do you have them represent something completely different that I have not even listed? Please let me know. I would love to talk with you about these ideas.