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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Who is Tom Bombadil?
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JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 13 2013, 11:22pm

Post #51 of 63 (341 views)
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Character [In reply to] Can't Post

The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining. That is why Frodo failed and why Galadriel resisted the temptation to wear it. She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar - as AinurOlorin should heartily agree. Wink


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jun 14 2013, 3:28am

Post #52 of 63 (358 views)
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Function between wearing it and being tempted to wear it [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo fell to it because he possessed it and and wore it therefore its influence on him was greater. Galadriel never wore it so it did not have a hold on her all it could do was tempt her to wear it that was her test. If she would have failed and put on the Ring we are led to believe she would have fallen.

Tom wears the Ring like Frodo and yet is not affected both physically and in his will... This is more impressive then Galadriel's simply not putting it on... Does character have to do with it? I am sure it does, but why is his nature and character different from Gandalf and Saruman? For Tom chose to put the Ring seemingly knowing it would not affect him physically and it would not affect his will...

Not all who wander are lost


AinurOlorin
Half-elven


Jun 15 2013, 7:02am

Post #53 of 63 (321 views)
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Indeed, my friend. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wink

In Reply To
The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining. That is why Frodo failed and why Galadriel resisted the temptation to wear it. She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar - as AinurOlorin should heartily agree. Wink


"Hear me, hounds of Sauron, Gandalf is here! Fly if you value your foul skins, I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this circle!"

"Do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."


dik-dik
Lorien


Jun 16 2013, 10:48am

Post #54 of 63 (322 views)
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Re: TB [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining.


I agree that it's Tom's nature that is defining in his unaffectedness by the Ring - but rather his human nature so to speak (or rather his character... struggling to find an English equivalent for the word in my native language). All in all, because of the unique characteristics given to him in one of JRRT's letters, as an observer who unlike others doesn't wish to 'do' anything with the knowledge he has. For me that's quite independent on his origins, on 'what' he is, and he can happily be a Maia of a one-of-a-kind temperament for me.


In Reply To
She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar -


I'm not sure I understand you - what should there be with Maiar against Noldor?

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 16 2013, 4:18pm

Post #55 of 63 (316 views)
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Nature & Comparison [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
The ring as a test of character? It may be that for a while, such as it was with the Hobbits, but ultimately, I believe it is Tom's being or intrinsic nature that is defining.


I agree that it's Tom's nature that is defining in his unaffectedness by the Ring - but rather his human nature so to speak (or rather his character... struggling to find an English equivalent for the word in my native language). All in all, because of the unique characteristics given to him in one of JRRT's letters, as an observer who unlike others doesn't wish to 'do' anything with the knowledge he has. For me that's quite independent on his origins, on 'what' he is, and he can happily be a Maia of a one-of-a-kind temperament for me.


In Reply To
She knew it was more powerful than her will or her nature. As it should be with Maiar against Noldar -


I'm not sure I understand you - what should there be with Maiar against Noldor?

Heh, I'm not going to accept the twisting of my use of "nature" to mean character - the very thing I argue against - but nice Orwellian try with that one. Tongue

In "Maiar against Noldar," I meant that the One Ring has the essence of Sauron, a Maiar. In a contest between a Maiar like Sauron and a Noldar elf like Galadriel, Sauron wins handily and mightily. It was also a sly reference to AinurOlorin's persistent and well-argued discussions on these forums about how the writers of The Hobbit appear to be making Gandalf, a Maiar, subservient to Galadriel in the name of Boyen's "feminine power," contrary to the spirit of Tolkien, the factual history of Middle-earth, and the lineage of the various races. AinurOlorin doesn't like the emasculation of Gandalf simply to artificially elevate Galadriel. Neither do I. It's not even in the feminist ideal to elevate a woman at the expense of a man because it is still conditional on men being more equal than women. It is the wrong sort of lesson for feminism.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 16 2013, 4:19pm)


RustyF
Registered User

Jun 18 2013, 9:15pm

Post #56 of 63 (292 views)
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Tom Bombadil as a type of Adam [In reply to] Can't Post

I know that Tolkien despised allegory, so please don't take this response as Allegory. Take it instead as a theology student who uses the language of metaphor and type to define the undefinable. With that understanding, I will use a character that I know a little about from the Bible (Adam) to help describe a character that is more
mysterious (good old Tom Bombadil).

First, let's look at some things about Adam. He is the first, the eldest. He communes with nature. He has a special relationship with nature. He named the animals, and in Biblical days and culture that meant that he had some authority or influence over them. He "discovered" his wife, after waking up from a rib transplant surgery. Adam is this perfect man, made in God's image and made to live forever. These are the things we know about Adam before the fall. Before he ate of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

Now, Tom has a special relationship with nature, he communicates with animals and trees. He discovers his wife. He has been around since the beginning. Several similarities are seen.

Now, let's play a what if. What if we pictured an Adam who had never sinned. An Adam who hadn't succumbed to the desire for wisdom and power that the Tree of Knowledge promised to give? What if this Adam had continued to live in nature, with his wife, in perfect harmony with the world. If that had happened, this Adam would not be tempted by the desire of power. This Adam would not have had any special power over the ring, but the ring would not have had any special power over him. The ring would not corrupt him or influence him, because the "will to power," the basic impulse drive that causes humans to desire to exert their authority onto others, would not be present in this Adam's life. This Adam would be the ideal man, the man who has learned to live in harmony with nature, the man who would be so unique, so different, that he wouldn't fit into a clearly defined category.

I am not saying Tom Bombadil is Adam. That's not what I'm saying at all. What I am saying is that Bombadil represents something innocent and pure. A creature who has never succombed to the desires and temptations for greed & excess & power. A man who never lost his original authority over nature because he never sold if for the desire for more.


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 18 2013, 9:31pm

Post #57 of 63 (298 views)
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Responsibility To The Greater Good [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll answer this way.

If Tom Bombadil was unable and powerless to help Middle-earth because he was confined to his portion of it by his very being, or essence, and incapable of any more, I find no fault with him.

If, on the other hand, he could have affected the outcome for the greater good of all the inhabitants of Middle-earth, I fault him for standing aside and not coming to the aid of his friends and neighbors, for I believe it is told that eventually even Tom would fall.

Innocence does not survive without the support of those with knowledge.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jun 18 2013, 10:18pm

Post #58 of 63 (315 views)
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That's my theory, too // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Narn_i_Chin_Hurin
Registered User

Jun 20 2013, 9:39pm

Post #59 of 63 (280 views)
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Bombadil can make the ring disappear [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmmm, besides the ring not affecting Bombadil, isn't it key that he can make the ring disappear? This suggests, to me, that he is not Maia (Gandalf can't make it disappear), and it seems he's more like the only other thing that can make the ring "disappear"--the fires of Mount Doom, or the very fire of middle-earth. In other words, Bombadil is the embodiment of some aspect of middle-earth--perhaps not a nature spirit, but an entity that arose simultaneously with the earth's creation, after the Ainur but before everyone else, and he's thus the "master" of middle-earth. I really like RustyF's analogy to Adam, I think he's onto something--not literally Adam, but a similar relationship to the world, as Rusty F notes.


JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 20 2013, 10:08pm

Post #60 of 63 (276 views)
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Disappear? [In reply to] Can't Post

Please acquaint me with where Tolkien wrote that Bombadil can make the One Ring disappear. That would be interesting.


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 20 2013, 10:14pm

Post #61 of 63 (276 views)
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It's in FOTR [In reply to] Can't Post

in The House of Tom Bombadil chapter. When Tom asks Frodo to show him the Ring, first he puts it on and doesn't disappear, and then he "spun the Ring in the air - and it vanished with a flash. Frodo gave a cry - and Tom leaned forward and handed it back to him with a smile." In addition to that, he can see Frodo while wearing it.

Silverlode

"Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dűm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone."



JWPlatt
Grey Havens


Jun 20 2013, 10:28pm

Post #62 of 63 (277 views)
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Disappearing Trick [In reply to] Can't Post

That is interesting to recall. Bombadil seeing Frodo, I remember, and is part of why I use "inert" as the word to describe the One Ring's interaction with Tom. It is possible I didn't remember the ring toss because I took it for sleight of hand instead of magic - so it did not impress me. In any case, I'll have to go back to read it fully and rethink the word "inert" unless Bombadil can do that with any object such that the ring is no different from anything else.


(This post was edited by JWPlatt on Jun 20 2013, 10:28pm)


Narn_i_Chin_Hurin
Registered User

Jun 21 2013, 9:41pm

Post #63 of 63 (277 views)
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master and caretaker [In reply to] Can't Post

It could be sleight of hand, but it always seemed more important to me when I read it, part of Tom's power over the materials of the world--the ring is imbued with Sauron's power, but it is made from metals of the earth, we can assume, and perhaps that's why Bombabil has mastery over the ring (and can make it vanish). Taking the previous quote from Tolkien that says Bombadil represents the English countryside, and following RustyF's Adam analogy, perhaps Bombadil somehow combines the ideas that middle earth itself is enduring and neutral but also is meant to be used by the Children of Iluvatar, used in harmony with it, but not to despoil it recklessly. Bombadil does live in a type of farmhouse, after all, with suggestions of a garden, not in the forest--he is tied to the land, but also master and caretaker of it.

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