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Thread: Tom Bombadil...

  1. #1
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    Tom Bombadil...

    Lets talk about one of my favorite characters in The Lord of The Rings series. What is he exactly? From what I read from the book, Tom was around way back in the beginning, He claims to remember "the first raindrop and the first acorn," and "knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless — before the Dark Lord came from Outside." Is Bombadil one of the Ainur, the reason why I asked was because of his power with music. Could he be a manifestation of Middle-earth's inherent properties? I don't know how strong this last argument could be, I only just read it from wikipedia, but I wanted to bring at least two different possibilities to the table.

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    Also Tom Bombadil is the indisputed Master in his realm.

    There are different theories, one that tolkien let it to be an intended mystery, what I like about the character is that he definetly not a Maiar but more powerful because the ring doesn't affect him he might be a Valar, the power of earth or something similar.

    Tolkien often said he was the spirit of the dying nature in England, he is also capable of defeating dead spirits not an easy feat, one of my favorite characters from Lord of the Rings.

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    Some explorations you might enjoy: http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Theories_about_Tom_Bombadil

    As a writer, perhaps Tolkien didn't even specifically define the character, other than the spirit of vanishing nature. Since he indicated he meant for it to be an enigma, perhaps spirit of disappearing mystery might be more appropriate? ;-) Sorry for being a bit trite, but such is the nature of the character!
    [center]Click here for our community [url=https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0As1T2ZXLPqhTdE05T21qYklYRFF3emVuM18zTnU0aGc&hl=en]LOTRO store pricelist, conversion rates and pictures[/url], please contribute too![/center]

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElffriendNick View Post
    Lets talk about one of my favorite characters in The Lord of The Rings series. What is he exactly? From what I read from the book, Tom was around way back in the beginning, He claims to remember "the first raindrop and the first acorn," and "knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless — before the Dark Lord came from Outside." Is Bombadil one of the Ainur, the reason why I asked was because of his power with music. Could he be a manifestation of Middle-earth's inherent properties? I don't know how strong this last argument could be, I only just read it from wikipedia, but I wanted to bring at least two different possibilities to the table.
    LOTR; The fellowship of the ring say it clearly twice. When the hobbits ask Tom's wife, who or what is him she answer with tittle that correspond only to Elru Iluvatar. Then again the elves at Rivendel gave the same kind answer to the Hobbits, they call him the father of all things.

    Tom Bombaldil is also 1 of my favorites, with all the power he posses he took the humble shape of a old man. Not even a tall man but a medium man of very ordinary looking. & he didnt choose to live on a castle but a hut in the woods. & you gotta love that he knows how to find joy on the simple things.
    Last edited by YamydeAragon; Oct 15 2013 at 12:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YamydeAragon View Post
    LOTR; The fellowship of the ring say it clearly twice. When the hobbits ask Tom's wife, who or what is him she answer with tittle that correspond only to Elru Iluvatar. Then again the elves at Rivendel gave the same kind answer to the Hobbits, they call him the father of all things.

    Tom Bolbaldil is also 1 of my favorites, with all the power he posses he took the humble shape of a old man. Not even a tall man but a medium man of very ordinary looking. & he didnt choose to live on a castle but a hut in the woods. & you gotta love that he knows how to find joy on the simple things.
    I love Tom Bombadil, I've always loved the concept of a deep dark forest that is hostile and in the midst of it lives a happy little man who has the power to control it. A little man who fills others around him with happiness. A man that lives in a cheery little house in the middle of the forest. I wish that they would have had enough time to stick Tom in the film, although I'm not sure if I would have been happy with the way the Peter Jackson would have portrayed him.

    I wonder if he might have been a Valar who took on an earthly form. Because he seemed to have power mainly over plants, I remember Tom saying something in FOTR about other things being out of his control.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElffriendNick View Post
    ...I wonder if he might have been a Valar who took on an earthly form. Because he seemed to have power mainly over plants, I remember Tom saying something in FOTR about other things being out of his control.
    On the Red Book he do more than controlling plants, he control animals of several kind he control the water, the earth & even the dead. If he was a valar he must have beeing the one that is over all others Manwe, & that 1 didn't have the custom to take a humble appearnce thought he also was humble at heart. Melkor & him where similar in power & nature, but was this fine distinction that lead them to totally opposed paths.

    Tom said to the hobbits that didn't have control over the fate of Arda. If he was Elru Iluvatar he have already given that power to the men kind. The will of the men will decide what Arda will become on the end of times. This is why when he showed to the ainurs the meaning of that glorious song he stop the vision just before the end & never revealed it to them but told them they will know it when that time comes.
    Last edited by YamydeAragon; Oct 15 2013 at 12:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YamydeAragon View Post
    On the Red Book he do more than controlling plants, he control animals of several kind he control the water the earth & even the dead. If he was a valar he must have beeing the one that is over all others Manwe, & that 1 didn't have the custom to take a humble appearnce thought he also was humble at heart. Melkor & him where similar in power & nature, but was this fine distinction that lead them to totally opposed paths.

    Tom said to the hobbits that didn't have control over the fate of Arda. If he was Elru Iluvatar he have already given that power to the men kind. The will of the men will decide what Arda will become on the end of times. This is why when he showed to the ainurs the meaning of that glorious song he stop the vision just before the end & never revealed it to them but told them they will know it when that time comes.
    True, I have only read The Adventures of Tom Bombadil once and that was a long time ago, I didn't take that into account.

  8. #8
    This is one of those debates that have always irked me.

    Definitively, the only statements made by the Author were that he declined to specify Tom's Middle-earth 'status', while he acknowledged the 'real-life-Tolkien-family-history' of the little garden-gnome-doll they had come to know as, "Tom Bombadil".

    Thus, 'the intrepid' have been left sifting through any 'hints' that might be provided from narrative, as if the Author had set for them a puzzle.

    He didn't. As far as the Tom Bombadil of FotR is concerned, he can not be considered to be anything other, neither more nor less, than the first of the Ainur to enter Arda: this would make him Maiar, according to measures of stature; that's it; nothing ever said, anywhere, makes him out to be anything more, or anything less; ergo,

    1.) he is (the) Maia who was first of all the Ainur to enter Arda,
    2.) else, he is something that no reader can possibly define, in which latter case the entire discussion is pointless.

    Unfortunately, a lot of 'bad information' has already entered into this thread:

    Bombadil did not give himself the title of Eru, neither did Goldberry: "Eldest and fatherless" and, "he is the Master" is all that that is claimed.

    The elves did not call Bombadil, 'father of all things': they called him, "Iarwain Ben-adar", "oldest and fatherless".

    Tom Bombadil did not 'control plants', 'animals', 'water' or 'undead': he overpowered Old Man Willow in a contest of will, owned pets that responded to spoken commands (as Beorn's pets also did), found Goldberry 'in' the Withywindle, and defeated and dispelled the Barrow Wight.


    This poster, me, does not have power over the fate of Arda: this does not make me Illuvatar; Bombadil's sharing of this same feature does not make him Illuvatar, either.

    Gandalf clarified to the Council of Elrond the (lack of) relationship between Bombadil and the One Ring: "rather [than Bombadil possessing power over the One Ring], the Ring has no power over [Bombadil]: he is his own master"; there is nothing more that needs to be said on this matter, beyond --perhaps-- "one thief knows another".

    No one present at the Council believed that Bombadil could withstand Sauron: "last, as he was first, he will fall"; while they could not know everything about Bombadil, they perceived that 'his Power' could not withstand the might and malice of Sauron. Gandalf further clarifies that Bombadil is limited by the boundaries that he (Bombadil) has set: he is 'the master' only within his own, small land. Again, consider, "one thief knows another": we can effortlessy postulate how it is that Gandalf is the only one to understand Bombadil; or why, upon returning to Bree-country with the Hobbits, wished to visit with this particular 'moss-gatherer'.

    HoG
    Last edited by Tathlethril; Dec 20 2013 at 07:55 PM.

  9. #9
    Harper summed up the real available info pretty perfectly.
    One detail: Bombadil does not have to be the *first* spirit to have entered Ea, he only claimed to have entered it before it was formed into Arda. Rather he was in the first group who came with the Valar apparently.

    What Tolkien meant Bombadil to represent is another question. Be it the embodiment of nature, an intrusion of the narrator incarnate, an allegory or whatever. But his nature in-verse is quite clear I'd say.
    Last edited by Egorvlad; Oct 15 2013 at 05:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harper_of_Gondolin View Post
    ...
    Is on Tolkiens books, i recomend you to review them.

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    J. R. R. Tolkien's own words:

    "And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)."


    From: Letter to Naomi Mitchison; Letters, 174
    (The Letters of J.R.R. ed. Humphrey Carpenter, Boston (Haughton Mifflin) 1981)

  12. #12
    http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/t/tombombadil.html

    This is the best discussion on the subject that I've read that doesn't completely make my eyes bleed.

  13. #13
    Haha I just posted a thread asking this same question...
    So weird, how do two strangers post near identical threads around the same time...

    How do I close my thread?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by YamydeAragon View Post
    Sincerely, to your question about who is Tom Bombaldil. The clues are on the Tolkien's books: The Red Book & LOTR. You better read them instead to end up denying what is written as someone already did, because feel like reading them.
    I'm honestly not trying to be a smart-alec here, but anyone who claims to 'know' who Tom Bambadil is, doesn't understand the question.

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    Shameless blog plug in 3...2...1...

    http://masteroflore.wordpress.com/20...-tom-bombadil/

  16. #16
    I've always wanted to contribute to a thread about Tom Bombadil, but I always ran into a ton of speculation, from myself and others, at what exactly he is or represents.

    I think Tom B was clearly created at some point in time (actually, at the very start of time). However, he atypical of the rest of creation, namely he is not tainted by a bad creation. However, look at his set boundaries - a forest, or perhaps... perhaps it was once a garden - a beautiful garden that he was to protect and oversee. Sound familiar? I contend that Tom B. may be a representation of what the original creation was supposed to embody - perfection, except that the garden is now far from perfect; he alone is left. Compare this story to a certain religious book that talks about a garden and a man (and later includes a woman). That story ended in corruption. Tom's story maintains perfection rather than corruption it at least for himself. Hence, staying perfect, he is not bothered by wrongdoing or evil power. It exists in his world, but it cannot dominate him personally; he appears oblivious to the problems of his world. I would go deeper into Tolkien's religious beliefs and Tom's relation to them, but I don't think everyone wants to hear such an opinion on these forums.

    Again, just how I've always looked at him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew88 View Post
    Tom's story maintains perfection rather than corruption it at least for himself. Hence, staying perfect, he is not bothered by wrongdoing or evil power. It exists in his world, but it cannot dominate him personally; he appears oblivious to the problems of his world.
    I think that's fair. Tolkien often personified the "perfection" of nature through various characters, Yavanna being the most prominent. If Tom was a nature spirit in the same kindred as Yavanna, then his character makes a little more sense. As fun as it is to speculate, I think Tolkien's quote is really the end-all: "I don’t think Tom needs philosophizing about, and is not improved by it", even if I don't totally agree with it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew88 View Post
    However, look at his set boundaries - a forest, or perhaps... perhaps it was once a garden - a beautiful garden that he was to protect and oversee. Sound familiar?
    No, it really doesn't. Garden is your word, not one Tolkien used or implied in that context. Bombadil was by inspiration the spirit of the (English) countryside, so the connection you're trying to draw just isn't apparent. This really has nothing so obviously in common with the Genesis creation myth - Tolkien's version of the creation is very different, he tries hard not to make it blatantly Judaeo-Christian. I think you're reading something into this that simply isn't there.

    Besides, Middle-earth's 'Eden' was somewhere else entirely, off in the east somewhere. And I seem to remember that Bombadil was said to have chosen the boundaries of his land for himself.

  19. #19
    Yes, "garden" was my comparison, and I know Tom B. set his own boundary. However, I would love to have a debate over Tolkien's creation account in comparison to his theological belief - that religious book I mentioned does not simply describe creation in its first few chapters (from the opinion of one who works with it for a living). However, while Tom did choose his own boundary, notice that he had little power to stop its corruption. He has power to combat the forest's evil, but he couldn't keep the forest from being corrupted.

    Furthermore, "garden" is not a terrible comparison; if you know the religious account I am referring then you know the garden had at least two trees (with many others being implied). We might have understood it best as a forest and not a modern understanding of what a garden is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew88 View Post
    Yes, "garden" was my comparison, and I know Tom B. set his own boundary. However, I would love to have a debate over Tolkien's creation account in comparison to his theological belief - that religious book I mentioned does not simply describe creation in its first few chapters (from the opinion of one who works with it for a living). However, while Tom did choose his own boundary, notice that he had little power to stop its corruption. He has power to combat the forest's evil, but he couldn't keep the forest from being corrupted.
    You didn't phrase it that way, you implied Bombadil had been set to 'protect and oversee' it (like Adam was tasked to look after Eden?), rather than having simply chosen a place for himself. As for the Old Testament (why on earth are you bring coy about naming it when it's so obvious that's what you're referring to?) it does indeed contain all sorts of things in its first few chapters but where's the relevance? You've not really made a case at all, you've just assumed something, on the vaguest of pretexts (Tolkien's faith).

    Furthermore, "garden" is not a terrible comparison; if you know the religious account I am referring then you know the garden had at least two trees (with many others being implied). We might have understood it best as a forest and not a modern understanding of what a garden is.
    The garden of Eden had fruit trees in it. not an unreasonable thing to find in any garden. Leaping from that to it suddenly being a forest seems a bit convenient. As Genesis goes (KJV): 'And the LORD God planted a garden eastwards in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food: the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.' Now that 'eastwards' thing does creep into the Sil's version, with Man being placed to awake at Hildorien in the east of Middle-earth - but there the commonality ends. Tolkien didn't wish to force an interpretation on his readers, but you seem to me to be forcing something on his words.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    You didn't phrase it that way, you implied Bombadil had been set to 'protect and oversee' it (like Adam was tasked to look after Eden?), rather than having simply chosen a place for himself. As for the Old Testament (why on earth are you bring coy about naming it when it's so obvious that's what you're referring to?) it does indeed contain all sorts of things in its first few chapters but where's the relevance? You've not really made a case at all, you've just assumed something, on the vaguest of pretexts (Tolkien's faith).
    You also said previously, "This really has nothing so obviously in common with the Genesis creation myth."

    I am sorry that you misread my intentions; I had no intentions of casting doubt on Tom's choice of setting. It is clear, however, that you understood my point that Tom is very similar to Adam except for the obvious end of Adam's story, which I will assume you must know. It is precisely this difference in story upon which I make my point - that Tom's existence as an "enigma" coincides with his story being rather parallel to Adam's and, thereby, mankind's fate of ultimate corruption.
    Furthermore, I would not think that Tolkien's faith, or anyone's, should be something to ignore when examining a piece of literature. You write about what you know. Tolkien knew languages, older languages at that, and he knew ancient literature. He also knew his faith. Perhaps you cannot see it, but I make a claim that the entirety of Tolkien's middle earth history can find major and minor similarities to his faith's beliefs. Now, I will stand alongside those, which includes JRRT himself, who say that his writings are not allegorically connected to the Bible. However, I think it is silly to ignore some very obvious trends. If you like, we could start a new thread about these comparisons; I would be happy to contribute.


    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    The garden of Eden had fruit trees in it. not an unreasonable thing to find in any garden. Leaping from that to it suddenly being a forest seems a bit convenient. As Genesis goes (KJV): 'And the LORD God planted a garden eastwards in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food: the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.' Now that 'eastwards' thing does creep into the Sil's version, with Man being placed to awake at Hildorien in the east of Middle-earth - but there the commonality ends. Tolkien didn't wish to force an interpretation on his readers, but you seem to me to be forcing something on his words.
    Convenient? I agree. You may not like the comparison, but you cannot deny that something that has trees sounds like it could be considered a forest.
    For example, you quoted Gen. 2:9 which describes the "garden."
    And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.(emphasis mine)(KJV)

    The Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon states of the garden that is was a garden "especially one planted with trees."

    Every tree (albeit with the description as "pleasant to sight" and "good for food") makes it sound more like a forest scene with an abundance of vegetation. I do all this only for the sake of saying, "Hey, it could be understood as a forest to some extent." How many trees do you think are edible because they were apparently all there? How many of each of those trees were present? How many trees does it take to equal a forest? Does it sound like there were only a couple of trees? In my opinion, there were many trees.

    Let me clarify my opinions by saying that if you are expecting an exact replica from the Genesis account, you would be disappointed. I agree that they are not identical. However, I do not think that it is a stretch to see such a comparison. The "Old Forest" has clearly been around a long time in middle earth. Maybe, just maybe, there is an allusion to the famous story that shows how Eden would have looked after Adam's sin. The only difference is the enigma of a person untainted by evil.


    On a side note, I do not name that book outright when I do not have to because I am unsure of the forum's regulations regarding mentioning of religious beliefs because it causes people to go crazy. My allusion to this book is only for the sake of explaining my view especially because Tolkien believed in the same book; thus, it is relevant. Furthermore, my lack of naming said book did not prevent you from understanding my reference. Therefore, be assured that I attempt to diminish such obvious content in a place where it may be extremely unwelcome. From the tone of your reply, you did not seem to thrilled by it, and I had not even named it.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew88 View Post
    You also said previously, "This really has nothing so obviously in common with the Genesis creation myth."

    I am sorry that you misread my intentions; I had no intentions of casting doubt on Tom's choice of setting. It is clear, however, that you understood my point that Tom is very similar to Adam except for the obvious end of Adam's story, which I will assume you must know. It is precisely this difference in story upon which I make my point - that Tom's existence as an "enigma" coincides with his story being rather parallel to Adam's and, thereby, mankind's fate of ultimate corruption.
    You have no real basis for that as far as I can see. Tom's existence doesn't really coincide with that in any evident way, you've just tried to juxtapose the two. I can't see how his story parallels Adam's in any meaningful way, since you've forced that 'garden' thing of yours upon it. Neither can I see what point Tolkien would have been making if he had, given how odd a being Bombadil is.

    Furthermore, I would not think that Tolkien's faith, or anyone's, should be something to ignore when examining a piece of literature. You write about what you know. Tolkien knew languages, older languages at that, and he knew ancient literature. He also knew his faith. Perhaps you cannot see it, but I make a claim that the entirety of Tolkien's middle earth history can find major and minor similarities to his faith's beliefs. Now, I will stand alongside those, which includes JRRT himself, who say that his writings are not allegorically connected to the Bible. However, I think it is silly to ignore some very obvious trends. If you like, we could start a new thread about these comparisons; I would be happy to contribute.
    What I'm saying is that you're reading too much into it, making wild assumptions on no basis I can see other than Tolkien's faith. That makes it extremely tenuous.

    Convenient? I agree. You may not like the comparison, but you cannot deny that something that has trees sounds like it could be considered a forest.
    Oh yes I can, and I do. My garden has trees in it too but it could in no way be described as a forest. Eden's trees were said to be those which were pleasing to the eye and which provided food; if we were to use any word other than 'garden' for that, it'd be 'orchard'. It was a garden, it was tended, and designed to be a beautiful place which provided bountifully for Adam. The word 'forest' has different implications.

    Let me clarify my opinions by saying that if you are expecting an exact replica from the Genesis account, you would be disappointed. I agree that they are not identical. However, I do not think that it is a stretch to see such a comparison. The "Old Forest" has clearly been around a long time in middle earth. Maybe, just maybe, there is an allusion to the famous story that shows how Eden would have looked after Adam's sin. The only difference is the enigma of a person untainted by evil.
    Woah, hang on. Eden didn't change because of Adam's sin, he and Eve just got booted out of it. And by contrast, the Old Forest was a surviving fragment of the wild forest that had once covered much of Middle-earth: it had never been any sort of paradise, nor anything like a garden; it had always existed in a state of nature.

    On a side note, I do not name that book outright when I do not have to because I am unsure of the forum's regulations regarding mentioning of religious beliefs because it causes people to go crazy. My allusion to this book is only for the sake of explaining my view especially because Tolkien believed in the same book; thus, it is relevant. Furthermore, my lack of naming said book did not prevent you from understanding my reference. Therefore, be assured that I attempt to diminish such obvious content in a place where it may be extremely unwelcome. From the tone of your reply, you did not seem to thrilled by it, and I had not even named it.
    As I said, skipping round it when it's very evident what you're referring to seems pointless. We're not supposed to discuss religion but I take that as a meaning that we should avoid discussion of religious belief, doctrine and observance; religious symbolism is another matter, since that can't be entirely avoided when discussing Tolkien's work.

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    Im with radhruin on this for once, Tom Bombadil is not Adam or any Biblical analogy thats just silly and plain dumb.

    I hate religion and its also forbidden in discussion forums

  24. #24
    No offence Drew, but if I follow correctly your argument goes something like this.

    Adam and Eve lived in a garden, gardens sometimes have tress.

    Tom and Goldberry lived in a forest, forests have lots of trees.

    Therefore Tom and Goldberry "must" be Adam and Eve.

    Did I miss anything?

  25. #25
    No offence Drew, but if I follow correctly your argument goes something like this.

    Adam and Eve lived in a garden, gardens sometimes have trees.

    Tom and Goldberry lived in a forest, forests have lots of trees.

    Therefore Tom and Goldberry "must" be Adam and Eve.

    Did I miss anything?

 

 
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