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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
What exactly is Tom Bombadil?
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Ardamírë
Valinor


Apr 27 2013, 6:43pm

Post #101 of 111 (81 views)
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Different strokes for different folks. [In reply to] Can't Post

I still can't accept this, even if it's what Tolkien thought. It makes Gollum totally not responsible for his actions, which is something I can't get behind.

I like his view on Gollum's need to satisfy both desires. And I also understand that logic needed Gollum not to repent. I just don't agree that it's Sam's fault. Smile

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Apr 30 2013, 11:32pm

Post #102 of 111 (74 views)
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What is Tom Bombadil? An humble idea. [In reply to] Can't Post

This idea may have been put forth before, and I've tried to read through previous threads and posts to see, but don't remember this particular idea. If it has been discussed, please let me know.

What if Tom Bombadil is a Maia, the Spirit (or a Spirit) or personification of Middle-earth itself? He may have entered Middle-earth very shortly after it was created, along with--or even before--the others of the Valar and Maiar. It would fit with what Tom states about himself in The Fellowship of the Ring, when he tells Frodo that he is "Eldest" and "Master"; he was there before "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." Tom is Master, not because he dominates by strength of will, but because nothing really has any power over him, having been there before anyone or anything else. The Barrow-wight that captures the Hobbits flees from Tom, because it has no power over Tom. As an innate being of Middle-earth, Tom really has no "active" power, as in might and strength or of an aggressive nature, of his own. His Power may be more passive, the Power he has by his existing--"He is", as Goldberry says. So he could not really be destroyed by Sauron, but would not be able to stop him, nor wish to; however he would have no place to live in a world transformed into a place of pain and darkness by Sauron.

Tom's personality and characteristics include a great Joy of life and a love of Song, and he seems to be on the "good' side of things, he does not like evil and darkness. Even his clothing seems to reflect the sky and sun: "Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow".

This is rather rambly, but I was trying to get my thoughts organized into something, hopefully, that makes sense. Thanks!

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'


CuriousG
Valinor


May 1 2013, 12:23am

Post #103 of 111 (59 views)
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I think it's a great statement, not rambly at all [In reply to] Can't Post

There are several possible explanations for him, and one I like would be yours about him being an Ainu who got to Arda before Melkor did. Why not? And if he got there first, he wouldn't have been involved in the Valar-Melkor battles, like a neutral Switzerland.

Though for me he does have power in his songs, which tame Old Man Willow and drive away the Barrow Wight. His songs aren't about dominion, but about restoring things to a natural existence. The willow should be a willow instead of a hobbit-eater, and the wight should vanish in the sunlight instead of hanging around like a ghost. I think that goes with your idea of him being Middle-earth as it's supposed to be. Which would align him with the good guys aside from his neutrality.

And I really like your connection of his clothes' colors to the sky and sun! Never thought of that before.


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 1 2013, 11:47am

Post #104 of 111 (63 views)
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funny you should mention this [In reply to] Can't Post

 
... as this is pretty much my own take on it, aragalen.

for my part, i'm not so intrigued with the mystery of tom's origins, because, from the get-go, i suppose i've just accepted him as goldberry has stated, "he just is."

however, when i have wandered into wondering, i just feel (feel more than think, because it doesn't feel so intellectual to me) that tom could be the spirit of middle earth. so at least you've got company.

cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


Ardamírë
Valinor


May 1 2013, 1:59pm

Post #105 of 111 (61 views)
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I don't think... [In reply to] Can't Post

He can be the spirit of all of Middle-earth. In the Council of Elrond, doesn't someone say that his power wouldn't extend beyond his own little land? I'm more inclined to think he's just the spirit or incarnation of the Old Forest (area).

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


CuriousG
Valinor


May 1 2013, 6:17pm

Post #106 of 111 (48 views)
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True, but [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf says Bombadil lives in his own little land with borders that only he can see, which makes me think that Bombadil is limiting himself to a certain area by choice. But that's not a big deal. He could be, as you say, a spirit of the local area who's chosen his own borders, which would be consistent with his maverick personality.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 1 2013, 6:32pm

Post #107 of 111 (44 views)
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I think he has chosen his space [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Gandalf says Bombadil lives in his own little land with borders that only he can see, which makes me think that Bombadil is limiting himself to a certain area by choice. But that's not a big deal. He could be, as you say, a spirit of the local area who's chosen his own borders, which would be consistent with his maverick personality.




Because he knows it well, it has all the water that Goldberry needs, and the cast of characters that he knows, even Old Man Willow - with whom he coexists and does not seek to change; even the Barrow Wights are left alone until they interfere with the living. I think too that the Old Forest is a bit of a time warp - men don't live there, or hobbits; it doesn't get developed or changed very much - like the power a Three ring without a magical item. As an observer and someone who seems to represent an ancient sense of 'being' without owning, it is a good place to just 'be'.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Valinor


May 1 2013, 8:04pm

Post #108 of 111 (40 views)
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That's a great observation [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I think too that the Old Forest is a bit of a time warp - men don't live there, or hobbits; it doesn't get developed or changed very much - like the power a Three ring without a magical item. As an observer and someone who seems to represent an ancient sense of 'being' without owning, it is a good place to just 'be'.

It's not a friendly place, but it preserves the past, and it can't harm him, so it fits with what he wants out of life, which is just being. (and singing)


Darkstone
Immortal


May 1 2013, 9:07pm

Post #109 of 111 (34 views)
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Or a manifestation of the Burkean Sublime [In reply to] Can't Post

In which the apprehension and engagement is positve, as opposed to the negative results shown in, for example, David Lindsay and HP Lovecraft.

Indeed, Lindsay's The Haunted Woman (1921) has what appears to be (IMHO) a very deadly version of Bombadil.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Aragalen the Green
Gondor


May 2 2013, 4:39pm

Post #110 of 111 (26 views)
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I agree with you. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tom's interactions with other beings seem to be on his own terms. He visits the Shire, and Farmer Maggot, but there does not seem to be any mention of others visiting him. In my opinion, Tom is interested in the beings that inhabit Middle-earth, but more as a curious observer. However, I do not think it was merely chance that brought Frodo to Tom. Frodo needed to see what the power of Sauron would affect in Middle-earth--even the entire or being of Middle-earth itself--and he needed Tom's help in escaping the Barrow-wight. If Frodo had not escaped, the Quest would have been over at that point.

In Reply To
Because he knows it well, it has all the water that Goldberry needs, and the cast of characters that he knows, even Old Man Willow - with whom he coexists and does not seek to change; even the Barrow Wights are left alone until they interfere with the living. I think too that the Old Forest is a bit of a time warp - men don't live there, or hobbits; it doesn't get developed or changed very much - like the power a Three ring without a magical item. As an observer and someone who seems to represent an ancient sense of 'being' without owning, it is a good place to just 'be'.


'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


May 2 2013, 4:40pm

Post #111 of 111 (29 views)
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Power in his songs [In reply to] Can't Post

Very good point!

In Reply To
Though for me he does have power in his songs, which tame Old Man Willow and drive away the Barrow Wight. His songs aren't about dominion, but about restoring things to a natural existence. The willow should be a willow instead of a hobbit-eater, and the wight should vanish in the sunlight instead of hanging around like a ghost. I think that goes with your idea of him being Middle-earth as it's supposed to be. Which would align him with the good guys aside from his neutrality.


'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'

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