Tom Bombadil

Discussion in 'J.R.R. Tolkien / Lord of the Rings' started by dustyboy316, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. dustyboy316

    dustyboy316 New Member

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    Well I havce been re-reading The Lord of the Rings and I was wondering what the signifcance of Tom Bombadil is? Is it just filler to make it more interesting?

    I know later they mention Tom Bombadil (although I forget why... that's why I'm re-reading it haha). But would he take all that time to just mention him later?

    Edit: Is this in the right forum?
     
  2. Tolman Muggworts

    Tolman Muggworts claymore wielding hobbit

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    I think that they only mention him a couple other times. I guess that his significance is that he saves the four hobbits from old man willow, and from the barrow they get stuck in. I think some time in the two towers, Sam wishes that tom was there to help him or something like that.
     
  3. jeremiah.l.burns

    jeremiah.l.burns Callo

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    I've recently started up The Silmarillion. Now follow me on this passage from it:

    Aulë [one of many Gods of sorts] has might little less than Ulmo [another God...of water]. His lordship is over all the substances of which Arda[the world] is made. In the beginning he wrought much in fellowship with Manwë [second in command, if you will, of all the Gods...God of Winds]and Ulmo; and the fashioning of all lands was his labour. He is a smith and a master of all crafts, and he delights in works of skill, however small, as much as in the mighty building of old. His are the gems that lie deep in the Earth and the gold that is fair in the hand, no less than the walls of the mountains and the basins of the sea. The Noldor [Elves] learned most of him, and he was ever their friend. Melkor [another God of sorts...very evil... who proceeded Sauron...and whom Sauron served before becoming the Dark Lord himself after Melkor's defeat] was jealous of him, for Aulë was most like himself in thought and in powers; and there was long strife between them, in which Melkor ever marred or undid the works of Aulë, and Aulë grew weary in repairing the tumults and disorders of Melkor. Both, also, desired to make things of their own that should be new and unthought of by others, and delighted in the praise of their skill. But Aulë remained faithful to Eru [The One...the head of the Gods...the big kahuna] and submitted all that he did to his will.
    The spouse of Aulë is Yavanna, the Giver of Fruits. She is the lover of all things that grow in the earth, and all their countless forms she holds in her mind, from the trees like towers in forests long ago to the moss upon stones or the small and secret things in the mould. In reverence Yavanna is next to Varda [a Goddess] among the Queens of the Valar. [The Gods as a whole] In the form of a woman she is tall, and robed in green; but at times she takes other shapes. Some there are who have seen her standing like a tree under heaven, crowned with the Sun; and from all its branches there spilled a golden dew upon the barren earth, and it grew green with corn; but the roots of the tree were in the waters of Ulmo and the winds of Manwë spoke in its leaves. Kementári, Queen of the Earth, she is surnamed in the Eldarin [Elvish] tounge.


    ~The Silmarillion, Valaquenta


    Sound like anyone we know? Now let me quote from The Lord of the Rings...

    'Fair lady!' said Frodo again after a while. 'Tell me, if my asking does not seem foolish, who is Tom bombadil?'
    'He is,' said Goldberry, Staying her swift movements and smiling.
    Frodo looked at her questioningly. 'He is, as you have seen him,' she said in answer to his look. 'He is the Master of wood, water, and hill.'
    'Then all this strange land belongs to him?'
    'No indeed!' she answered, and her smile faded. 'That would indeed be a burden,' she added in a low voice, as if to herself. 'The trees and the grasses and all the things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves. Tom Bombadil is the Master. No one has ever caught old Tom walking in the forest, wading in the water, leaping on the hill-tops under light and shadow. He has no fear. Tom Bombadil is master.'


    And another passage....

    In a chair, at the far side of the room facing the outer door, sat a woman. Her long yellow hair rippled down her shoudlers; her gown was green, green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of dew; and her belt was of gold, shaped like a chain of flag-lilies set with the pale-blue eyes of forget-me-nots. About her feet in wide vessels of green and brown earthenware, white water-lilies were floating, so that she seemed to be enthroned in teh midst of a pool.

    And finally,

    'Who are you, Master?' he asked.
    'Eh, what?' said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. 'Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, for yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He mande paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings nd the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fewarless--before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'

    ~The Fellowship Of The Ring, 'In The House of Tom Bombadil'


    There are obvious similarities between Aulë and Bombadil, and Yavanna and Goldberry. There's also the fact that Arda was wrought much through music and song, and the key fact that Tom barely stops singing throughout his part of the book. Goldberry even sings a bit! Tom must be one of the Valar...and my guess is he is Aulë, which means Goldberry is Yavanna. I've yet to finish The Silmarillion and there's a great deal more Tolkien related history that can be read....so I can't say for certainty...but it sounds right to me.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2004
  4. kartaron

    kartaron Hunter / Gatherer

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    I like the idea but Gandalf says that Bombadil would not be able to resist Sauron alone. He also says that Bombodil would not recognize the importance of the ring if he were placed in charge of it.

    The Encyclopedia of Arda has a very thorough article on him

    http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/
     
  5. frodogurl49

    frodogurl49 Jedi Sabermistress

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    I do believe the significance of tom was to get the hobbits along on their first leg of the journey. If you notice, they are almost always helped along from one person to the next.
    home>tom>strider>arwen>elrond>thefellowship>Galadriel>thefellowship>they branch off here
    Sam and frodo: smeagol>faramir>smeagol>healing house>home
    Merry and Pippin: The orcs>the ents>they branch off here
    Merry:The roherians>eyowen>the healing house>home
    Pippin: Gandalf>The gondorians>the healing house>home.
    I know I probably missed a thing or two, but that is the general Idea.
     
  6. jeremiah.l.burns

    jeremiah.l.burns Callo

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    Interesting points...but not exactly correct, at least not in your first "stage". Arwen was never a key factor for the fellowship in any way shape or form. She's mentioned first AFTER the party reaches Rivendell, and she's in fact barely mentioned in the entire book, let alone the trilogy.

    Tom only played a small part in FotR, but his significance as a character...as a person in MiddleEarth is certainly much greater than a "helping point" along the way, I think.
     
  7. kartaron

    kartaron Hunter / Gatherer

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    do believe the significance of tom was to get the hobbits along on their first leg of the journey. If you notice, they are almost always helped along from one person to the next.

    That is exactly what I think bombadil is, with a slight twist. I think he is exaggerating the ineptness of the hobbits. As a comparison the hobbits are meaningless against the near invulerability of bombadil. I mean how humiliating would it be to be rescued (not once but TWICE) by this bizarre, singing, cryptic, yellow suited, faery? By the end of the first book they are learning to defend themselves and by the scouring of the shire they are pretty formidable and confident. He also presents some humor between the black riders and the barrow wights.
     
  8. curunir's bane

    curunir's bane Kwisatch Haderach

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    I always thought that Tom showed the hobbits that there was ancient good in the world, and not just evil.
     
  9. jeremiah.l.burns

    jeremiah.l.burns Callo

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    Tom's most important role in the book, as karatron hinted at, may be to be a break up between all the dismal action surrounding the dark riders.
     
  10. Curufeanor

    Curufeanor Master Noldori Elvensmith

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    I, like Jeramiah, believe that Tom is one of the Ainur, if not Eru himself. But there are a few arguments that would say that he is not one of the Ainur, as even Sauron and Gandalf are both Maiar, and even they fall victim to the ring's power, as Sauron is absolutely addicted to it being that it is part of himself, and Gandalf is tempted by it. Gandalf even says that they cannot 'send this thing' into the west, as the rest of the Ainur and those in Aman want nothing to do with it, nor anything else that ails those in ME.

    He seems to me, that if he is not one of the Ainur, he is just some phantom presence of ME. I have thought of him at times as Tulkas, but Tulkas could take Sauron 1 on 1, with ease. There are so many contradictions as to who and what Bombadil is, he just becomes a strange mystery that maybe noone will ever find out the answer to whom or what he is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2004
  11. isengard111

    isengard111 The Master Chief

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    Yet I read somewhere that Tom was like Ungoliant: both have unknown origins. (In my thoughts) the best possible explanation for Ungoliant is that she was a Maiar under Morgoth (like the Balrogs) before breaking away. Tom would have been one of the good Maiar under Eru, except that he broke away to be himself in Middle Earth.
     
  12. kartaron

    kartaron Hunter / Gatherer

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    "Tom is one of the Ainur, if not Eru himself"

    The encyclopedia of arda website has a quote from tolkien that Bombodil is definately not Eru.

    "the best possible explanation for Ungoliant is that she was a Maiar under Morgoth"

    I think there is a story in unfinished tales that places ungoliant as an equal to Eru (chaos to Eru's structure)
    I havent read through the unfinished tales so I may have been informed wrong. I think either way (Maiar or Eru equal) the relationship between her and Morgoth would be imbalanced.
     
  13. isengard111

    isengard111 The Master Chief

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    Not if she managed to suck up a whole lot of light. And don't forget the Two Trees and the Wells she drank in Valinor.