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  1. #1
    Veteran Sergeant helvexis's Avatar
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    tom bombadil questions

    ok so yes i know that there re loads of theories as to who he is and hat his part in the world is but one i havent heard... probably for good reason havent read any of the books for a long time is as an avatar/aspect type of eru just keeping a spare eye on his children.. its not something i expect answered really but just another theory as to the eldest

    oh and another question how did the hobbits come to be i know where they came from and such but i dont remember any reference to hairy footed midgits in the music of eru and the valar and well the valar have created life eg dwarves. so if not in the music then how although it doesnt really say anything in the music about giant eagles but you still get them.. so probably just something that wasnt mentioned

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Tom Bombadil was deliberately kept an enigma by Tolkien. He might have been the first spirit to inhabit the world, and might be representative of unadulterated nature in it's benign form. While he has a form in Middle Earth, his being probably isn't wholly present, since while he can affect nature, nature doesn't always have an affect on him.

    I don't think he is an avatar or aspect of Eru, as that would diminish God. He might have been one of the simpler but powerful spirits at the beginning of the universe, that was sent as a caretaker of nature.

    As regards Hobbits, they might have been a practical joke. Who says that Eru doesn't have a sense of humour?

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Well I would say that he is something more than a Maiar because the One Ring has hold over Gandalf, Saruman, etc but has no influence on Bombadil.

    So I would have to say that he would be some sort of middle ground Valar between the Wizards/Balrogs/miscellaneous and the Valar lords such as Manwe.

    The wikipedia page for Bombadil has a rather more ignoble origin for the character:
    Tolkien invented Tom Bombadil in honour of a Dutch doll which had been flushed down a lavatory.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Bombadil seems more like a throwback to a classical nature spirit, being an embodiment of middle earth. The reason why Sauron could eventually defeat him is, I think, because Sauron can ultimately corrupt and destroy all the good things of nature given enough time.

    I've always been very curious about this character as well. He's such an anomaly in all the structured panoply of Tolkien's world.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Bombadil wasn't very well-thought out, I feel (from an editor's point of view). He really added nothing to the story, and his removal from the first movie was warranted.

    Really, I've always felt that he was put in only for Tolkien to show off more of his silly poetry (rather than his good stuff), and it's quite possible that Bombadil's wife (whose name escapes me, was it Goldlily?) was another reference to his own wife, with Bombadil being Tolkien himself - as the only character 'untouched by the Ring', and above the story yet part of it.

  6. #6
    Chaplain DeadInTheHead's Avatar
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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Her name is Goldberry

    I always thought of Tom as being the spirit of the world itself - like a male, Gaia-figure.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    ive allways though that hes the god and his little area is a gardern of eden and goldberry is his eve. So the ring mean nothing to him just a shinny borbal, and his area is the home of the entwives.
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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Tolkien had a deep admiration for nature and I think Bombadil is just a personification of what Tolkien loved. His ability to be unaffected by the ring suggests that Bombadil is entirely content with his existence; much like nature which has no "intent" for good or evil and simply is.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Is it clear whether Bombadil's the eldest of all beings in existence or just the oldest of the beings on Middle Earth? That one of Bombadil's names means eldest and fatherless and that he's called the eldest so often seems to to suggest both that Bombadil was the oldest of all beings and, in the case of the former, that he was not created by Eru as he would presumably be were he not Eru. He's also called 'the master',which would be a pretty appropriate title for Eru, though this needn't mean anything more than that he is the master of his small domain. For Bombadil to be the eldest of all beings he would have to be Eru I think as it is written that Eru made the Ainur before anything else was made.

    This theory allowing Tom Bombadil to be the eldest of all beings gives it considerable strength if it is taken that the evidence for Tom Bombadil being eldest of all is good. Personally I don't think it is that good but it's not non-existent and him being called fatherless isn't too bad. Neither is the evidence provided by the fact that Bombadil says that he was there before the dark lord. But Tom says that this was before the dark lord came from outside, strongly suggesting that Bombadil is only the oldest on Middle Earth because, while Melkor did indeed come to Middle Earth from without, he was created by Eru and did not come suddenly come from the darkness. Surely Eru would mention having made that same dark lord were he indeed speaking.

    Tom Bombadil seems to be utterly uninterested in what’s happening outside his domain, which Eru, as a whole at least, surely would not be. But Tom Bombadil might be a small part of Eru and could in that case be a part uninterested in what happens in most of Middle Earth, while the ‘main part’ of Eru decides what happens in the rest of Middle Earth. That Bombadil does nothing outside his small area of land seems to me to suggest that Bombadil is not Eru watchng over his children as surely Eru would not stand idly by watching his children being attacked by Sauron. I don't see why Eru should look after his chldren only in such a small area of Middle Earth.

    The way that Gandalf talks about Tom Bombadil seems to me to suggest that he is not Eru in any way, as surely Gandalf would not speak of Eru in any form as someone likely to lose the ring or fail to appreciate its importance and would speak of him more carefully. However Gandalf might not be aware of Tom Bombadil being Eru in some way.

    The fact that Bombadil is so mysterious supports in my opinion the theory that he is Eru as Eru is left pretty mysterious himself and his motivation in particular for doing so man things seems to be to be left a mystery.

    I think personally that there's nothing that can really explain Tom Bombadil's nature.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Is it clear whether Bombadil's the eldest of all beings in existence or just the oldest of the beings on Middle Earth? That one of Bombadil's names means eldest and fatherless and that he's called the eldest so often seems to to suggest both that Bombadil was the oldest of all beings and, in the case of the former, that he was not created by Eru as he would presumably be were he not Eru. He's also called 'the master',which would be a pretty appropriate title for Eru, though this needn't mean anything more than that he is the master of his small domain. For Bombadil to be the eldest of all beings he would have to be Eru I think as it is written that Eru made the Ainur before anything else was made.

    This theory allowing Tom Bombadil to be the eldest of all beings gives it considerable strength if it is taken that the evidence for Tom Bombadil being eldest of all is good. Personally I don't think it is that good but it's not non-existent and him being called fatherless isn't too bad. Neither is the evidence provided by the fact that Bombadil says that he was there before the dark lord. But Tom says that this was before the dark lord came from outside, strongly suggesting that Bombadil is only the oldest on Middle Earth because, while Melkor did indeed come to Middle Earth from without, he was created by Eru and did not come suddenly come from the darkness. Surely Eru would mention having made that same dark lord were he indeed speaking.

    Tom Bombadil seems to be utterly uninterested in what’s happening outside his domain, which Eru, as a whole at least, surely would not be. But Tom Bombadil might be a small part of Eru and could in that case be a part uninterested in what happens in most of Middle Earth, while the ‘main part’ of Eru decides what happens in the rest of Middle Earth. That Bombadil does nothing outside his small area of land seems to me to suggest that Bombadil is not Eru watchng over his children as surely Eru would not stand idly by watching his children being attacked by Sauron. I don't see why Eru should look after his chldren only in such a small area of Middle Earth.

    The way that Gandalf talks about Tom Bombadil seems to me to suggest that he is not Eru in any way, as surely Gandalf would not speak of Eru in any form as someone likely to lose the ring or fail to appreciate its importance and would speak of him more carefully. However Gandalf might not be aware of Tom Bombadil being Eru in some way.

    The fact that Bombadil is so mysterious supports in my opinion the theory that he is Eru as Eru is left pretty mysterious himself and his motivation in particular for doing so man things seems to be to be left a mystery.

    I think personally that there's nothing that can really explain Tom Bombadil's nature.

  11. #11
    Veteran Sergeant helvexis's Avatar
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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    yeah thats pretty much it nothing will really explain his nature but its fun to speculate

  12. #12

    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Didn't Tolkien refuse to explain Bombadil because he felt there needed to be some mystery left in middle earth? I respect that wish, personally. I tend not to think about who or what Tom is, and am just content with the fact that Tom is awesome.
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  13. #13

    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Tom Bombadil is purely and engima and a conundrum for everyone, possibly even Tolkien, to wonder about. I always have a sneaking suspicion that Tom is one of only two things.

    1. A Tolkienesque practical joke.
    Tolkien seems to have created extensive histories and backgrounds on nearly everything in LOTR, indeed he was always very believable - his intention - in his histories of races and individuals. Tom is an exceptional individual with practically nothing else written about him. Tolkien seems to have had a good sense of humour and something like this would be a nice little enigma for his reader.


    2. Tolkien looking to be in the story a little.
    Tolkien always seemed to denigrate any attempt to deconstruct his writings and was usually adamant his story was not influenced by his own experiences. the big example being the Shire and its scouring and the way in which the industrial aspect is used by Sauron/Saruman whilst the good guys are in touch with nature.

    i have to say that for all his protestations i am very much convinced that Tolkien's experiences and outlook influenced hbis writing. perhaps Tom was an avatar of Tolkien, as it was the closest he would ever come to inhabiting Middle Earth.

    Just my opinion.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Quote Originally Posted by skallagrimsson View Post
    perhaps Tom was an avatar of Tolkien
    I have thought this for several years. As a writer and someone who cared so passionately about an entire world of his own creation, it would not be surprising for Tolkien to want to be a part of that world.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Tolkien smoked a pipe, and I believe he's generally depicted as Gandalf.

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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Here is an interesting quote from Tolkien in one of his letters, which I happened across while looking for something else.

    In a letter to Naomi Mitchison (a proof reader for LOTR), 25 April 1954

    "Tom Bombadil is not an important person - to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment'. I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an invention (who first appeared in the Oxford Magazine in 1933), and he represents something I feel important......I would not, however, have left him in if he did not have some kind of function.....Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron." (Page 179, 1981 Unwin, first edition hardback, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)

    I cut some sentences out about the nature of the book good vs evil, beauty vs ruthless ugliness etc but clearly Tom has relevance in terms of Nature vs greater industrialisation which is something Tolkien was clearly concerned about, he did cast a race of gardeners as the heroes! So to say Tom 'is Tolkien' seems reasonable to me.

    But, narratively Tom's influence is in question here, has Tom become so tied to the Old Forest that without it his is nothing? That certainly seems to be the tie a nature Maia has to his environment. To me anyway.

    Anyway thought the quote might be interesting to you all.
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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    In one of Tolkien's letters, Tom Bombadil was effectively compared to being like biology without animal husbandry, as in being knowledge for its own sake without seeking to use it for purposes of power (in any form, even constructive uses). Tom Bombadil could be seen as an entity celebrating the world as it is, without trying to do anything with his knowledge, even though he might be capable of doing so (as evidenced by his saving of the hobbits). Even the Valar and other Maiar such as Olorin/Gandalf seek to wield power if only to bring about the furtherance of their goals of aiding the Children of Iluvatar or ordering the world. The total disinterest in power is why the Ring has no hold on Tom although Sauron's victory would have ultimately brought about his demise through being overpowered by Sauron's greater might. By contrast, Gandalf is aware of the terrible temptation and hold the Ring would have over him if he were to ever have it.

  18. #18
    Chapter Master brightblade's Avatar
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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    Superb, Iracundus. Which letter was that? Have been dipping in and out but haven' tried in earnest to find that one and was feeling lazy! lol

    I feel that understanding Tom's disinterest in power is essential in understanding the point that Tolkien is trying to get across. Something I feel he felt deeply about. Something I happen to agree with.
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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    If you consider that Tom already had a great deal of control over his environment, his disinterest does not appear that noble.

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    Chapter Master brightblade's Avatar
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    Re: tom bombadil questions

    True, it makes the power completely irrelevant. Tom isn't noble. His actions and ethics can be calle noble. At the end of the day Tom is just Tom, an aspect of nature. IMHO.
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