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Chapter 7 1. Discussion: Postponed until tomorrow : ( - Aelric
Sorry guys, today is shaping up to be a horrendously busy
one. I have the questions written out, I just don't think I'm going
to be able to post them today. So to eliminate confusion, I will
begin the discussion tomorrow (Tuesday May 2nd).
My humble apologies to
you all! We can blame it on the two guys that called in sick and
stuck me with their duties as well as my own....grrrrrrrrrr!!
We will await your
convenience, oh steward! Be well! - Patty
Think we have to
accept this. - Lorgalis
Return to Book I Discussion Index
Chapter 7 2. Discussion: Who the %&*$(% is Tom Bombadil?! - Aelric
"Fair lady!" said Frodo again after awhile. "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 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 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
OK! Here we go! I know,
I know, the age-old question that we have all discussed before.
Fortunately, we have some new folks around that may not have been
afforded the same chance as some of us "older" folks. So let's hear
it! Who the heck IS this guy? Is he Eru? One of the Valar? A
Maiar? Is he an anomolous character of Tolkien's? Gandalf, Elrond
and others at the Council speak of him with high honor, Aragorn
knows of him, and it would seem that even Farmer Maggot speaks to
him on accassion. So who is this guy that acts so silly but is all
powerful, at least within his own land?
Any help with references is welcome, so I'm going to start a
reference thread and a discussion thread. I don't currently own a
copy of Tolkien's Letter's and my Book of Lost Tales is packed away
somewhere, so all I have is the LotR text. So post any and all
supporting references and let's try to hammer this out...
What does Tom look
like? - Blue
We have a pretty good description of his clothing, and his brown
beard, and his blue eyes, and ruddy complexion, but also of his
approximate size, ie. bigger than a Hobbit - taller, not
necessarily stouter, but not as large as one of the big people.
Somewhere, and I can't remember where, I read that Tom is
supposed to be something like 4 feet tall and 3 feet broad.
Which is quite a stout fellow, and quite a sight to be dancing
and capering about in his boots! (Of course, the implication
here is that the typical Hobbit, who is quite a bit shorter, and
NO STOUTER - is more or less round (just like Carcaroth's Bounce
a Baggins Game, I guess).
Somehow, I always
pictured Tom as being thinner. Maybe that's because I always
associated Tom with the Jethro Tull tune "Songs from the Wood"
and figured he looked (and acted) like Ian Andersen. For those
of you too young to have any idea what I'm talking about, Ian
Andersen was a true anomoly in rock music - a front man/vocalist
who played the flute. He would frequently play the flute while
standing on one foot, hopping about like a madman. Reminded me
of Tom in so many ways.
statistics - Kimi
Here's a thought: if we take "broad" to mean his
circumference instead of his diameter, we get someone who's
plump rather than of cartoon dimensions. 36" round the waist
would put him just within the safe guidelines for heart
disease. All that unhealthy food, eh?
thinking Cartman! - GaladrielTX
Respect mah authoritah!
My image of
Bombadil has always matched a (Hildebrant?) illustration
from one of the old calendars. Stocky, but not excessively
fat, carrying a water lily on a lily pad over his head,
plausible. - Eledhwen
He'd be practically a cube. Perhaps someone measured wrong?
and I can't remember where" - Kimi
In my message below?
stories begun but soon abandoned was the tale of Tom
Bombadil, which is set in 'the days of King Bonhedig' and
describes a character who is clearly to be the hero of the
tale: 'Tom Bombadil was the name of one of the oldest
inhabitants of the kingdom; but he was a hale and hearty
fellow. Four foot high in his boots he was, and three feet
broad. He wore a tall hat with a blue feather, his jacket
was blue, and his boots were yellow.' "
We also know that
"his face was red as a ripe apple, but creased into a
hundred wrinkles of laughter." (The Old Forest), and
he has "deep brows" (In the House of Tom Bombadil)
Dohhhh! - Blue
hee! - Kimi
Blue, a new piece of foolishness for your
collection: the Leader of the Opposition, having
lost the last election, wants to re-brand her party.
The description she's come up with:
I am not
making this up. She is not joking.
thought..I think that Tom is to LOTR what Bilbo's song in the
Hall of Fire is to Rivendell--"seems to fit somehow" (to
paraphrase Frodo) - EowynII
Bombadil thoughts - Kimi
Your "Reference" and "Discussion" threads have been abandoned,
Aelric! This is a mixture of both, anyway.
Bombadil is not Eru.
A correspondent asked that, and Tolkien said quite firmly that
that was not the case. I haven't got "Letters" with me today, so
can't quote exactly, but he left no doubt on that point.
Other than that, I
agree with those who have described him as an anomalous
character, left over from Tolkien's earlier writing. He's fun,
but he doesn't fit into the Middle-earth cosmology very well.
Tolkien had the character pre-written, and used him here (�I put
him in because I had already �invented� him [�] and wanted an
�adventure� on the way.�, as I quoted below).
2 ways of looking
at this - Hengist
one is what is he in the story what did tolkien mean him to be -
lets look at all the forgotten scripts that jrrt wrote
or what does he mean
to the reader - what image does he conjure up
So im now going to ramble on my thoughts which seem to tally
with some others here, at least in part.
Tom to me is nature,
he is the world (already pointed out) His concerns are with the
world and the inhabitants of the world, which is why the ring
has no power of him and he has no power of it.
He deals with the world and things/ people of the world. By the
world i mean middle earth of course. I sense that there are 2
types of beings in ME those of ME and those not. In this case
the elves are not of ME, theyre tied to other realms and are
otherwordly. The hobbits are in contrast tied to ME and are very
close to the earth and nature. This is why they feel such awe
for tom and goldberry. In a similar way the ents are also "deep
rooted" in ME and again i believe this is why the hobbits seem
to be able to get on so well with ents.
there is a hypothesis called the gaia principle which i believe
reasons that our earth is like a living organsim with everything
on it part of the "body" of the organism and that if one bit
goes wrong it all goes wrong. I like to think of tom as the
embodiment of that principle in ME.
What i like about tom
is that as far as i know jrrt never said what he was so no one
can ever say this is the true tom. That way im free to chose how
i see tom knowing im just as right as anyone.
Isnt that the test of great literature - that no matter how it
is analysed or revised or copied the original can still inspire
the magic of ones imagination.
personaly i dont want
to know who or what tom is - that ould spoil the fun!
Who is Tom
Bombadil? - Blue
Tom is the Green Man, Jack in the Wood, Puck, Robin Goodfellow,
and known in many cultures, and by many names.
Goldberry is a Naiad,
perhaps Nomia or Aegle, Melite or Lilaea (I vote for Lilaea,
only because of the repeated references to water lilies)
Now, if you want to
know how they fit into Tolkien's cosmology...your guess is as
good as mine. But, the real key is the passage in The Council
of Elrond, in which it is said that Tom is know by many names
and by many peoples.
About Puck - GaladrielTX
I can't quite reconcile Puck with the character of Bombadil.
Perhaps I am not as familiar with the figure of Puck et al.
as you are, having only read of him in A Midsummer Night's
Dream. Yet, as Shakespeare presents him, at least, he's a
"knavish sprite" who plays pranks and is always meddling in
people's affairs. He is also subject to Oberon and Titania,
whereas Bombadil is Master. Do other legends portray Puck
Tom is a square
peg in a round hole. - Annael
I believe that Tom is a "cameo appearance" by a character
Tolkien created apart from his "Middle-earth" work, but liked so
much he wanted to plop him into the story. He probably did this
in the early stages when the story was still just a sequel to
"The Hobbit," before the "tale grew in the telling" and became
the much darker tale rooted in the history and languages Tolkien
had been developing for so long. When he rewrote the story
backwards to make it all consistent, he couldn't take Tom out
because it would mean redoing several chapters, and he couldn't
come up with any explanation that fit into his invented world,
so - he copped out. I don't think Tom can be made to fit; maybe
that's what Goldberry was trying to tell us.
Agreed! - Pteppic
Some additional info on Tolkien's motivation for keeping Tom
in, though: In the first 1954-letter Kimi quoted (which btw
was dated 25. april - my birthday, hehe! - and written for
Mrs. Naomi Mitchison) He says:
"I mean, I do not
really write like that: he is just an invention[...], and he
represents something that I feel important, though I would
not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely."
And, from Kimi's
other 1954-letter(this letter was dated September for Peter
"But I kept him
[TB] in, and as he was, because he represents certain things
otherwise left out."
My point is that
Tolkien thought TB was important enough to keep. As he says
in the letter for Naomi Mitchison:
"I would not,
however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of
Tom B is a
character created outside of LotR. But I think he was a
little more important than an initial mistake which was too
much trouble to correct.
It may seem like
I'm coming on a little strong about this, I mean three
quotations, just to prove my tiiiny point(!), but I don't
really feel that strongly about it. I simply had to justify
my spending 40 minutes on the subway reading through
"Letters" looking for references.
writing process . . . - Annael
How's this: Tolkien may have stuck Tom in on a whim, but
once Tom got in there, he took on additional importance
and couldn't be deleted without leaving something
essential out of the story.
This is one
of the mysteries of writing. Characters and other
aspects show up and become far more than the writer
intended. I don't know where these inspirations come
from; I don't think any writer does. Tolkien was wise
enough to allow this "guidance" full rein; I think this
is one of the reasons why the book is as good as it is.
This what I
believe as well... - Aelric
Tom is an anomaly within ME. Tolkien liked the character
and placed him in LOTR for personal affection.
Re: Cameo - Malbeth
If that's the case, JRRT would probably have gotten a kick
out of reading this thread with all of our speculations ;)
I lready expected
you discussing alone... - Lorgalis
The question of "Who is Tom Bombadil?" is a really nice one. I
can not remember having read anything about him in the
Simarillion or the Unfinished Tales.
Some people argue he
could be Aule and Goldberry Yvanna. This argument could be
supported by the following:
Aule of all the Vala most dearly loved all the Children of
Iluvatar, that's why he made the Dwarves...
The reason he was not affected by the ring was he was more
powerful than Sauron but could not challenge him because his
part in the affairs of Middle Earth were dictated by the
Ainulindale. Much as Ulmo could only help Turgon and Tuor but
could not actively oppose Morgoth because he had not sung that
part in the Beginning...
Re: Aule and
Yavanna - Malbeth
I'm of two (or more) minds regarding whether T&G might be
Valar (see post below), but Aule in particular doesn't seem
to me to match up with Tom's personality. Aule was a smith,
a maker of artificial things, where Tom is utterly natural.
Also, Aule is proactive; he couldn't standa waiting for the
Children of Iluvatar and thus created the dwarves, while Tom
is more patient. Finally, I would think that Aule as Tom
would be fascinated by the ring. Rings of power trace back
to Celebrimbor, pupil of Feanor, pupil of Aule.
Just my opinion,
True, - GaladrielTX
and Goldberry doesn't seem much like Yavanna. Yavanna
is deeply troubled by the hurts that Morgoth and his
servants inflicted on the living things of Arda.
Goldberry seems much too carefree to be the same
entity. (Although I did notice on this read that both
she and Yavanna wear green dresses. Coincidence? Hmm.)
Discussion Thread - Aelric
Ok, debate away!
quirky idea that struck me: - Kimi
what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before
the river and the trees [....] He was here before the Kings
and the graves and the barrow-wights."
Apart from its
relatively-obvious obvious meaning, is it just possible that
there's a little joke here? Tom as a character was written
before LOTR was begun. He could be called "Eldest" in that
I know that some
of "The Silmarillion" was written earlier than "The
Adventures of Tom Bombadil", but still...
I have no idea if
this is true or not, it's just a bit of fun.
thoughts on Tom (and Lady Goldberry) - EowynII
I've never been sure what to think. I've read in numerous
places that Tolkien disliked allegory of any kind, so this
leads me to think that Tom does not necessarily represent
Eru, or even one of the Valar. That being said, however, I
will state that Goldberry's description of Tom does lead one
to believe that he is an entity of the highest order...and
if you think about it, isn't God really at one mysterious
and familiar? (This can apply to Goldberry too, per Frodo's
reaction to her.) Besides, Tolkien was a staunch Catholic,
and I can't help but think that his faith may have somewhat
pervaded his writing, even if he didn't want to admit it.
Still...after reading the Silmarillion, it seems odd that
Eru would come to Middle Earth...and also that he would have
a "spouse", being at once surrounded by Ainur but also lofty
and solitary...so....still, Tom mentions "his making and his
doing"...and...Elrond speaks of Tom reverently, but no as if
he was Eru, or God, if you will....ACK. What am I saying?
Okay...say if Tom
is not Eru, but a Valar? Which one, then? His character
doesn't fit or match with any of the Valar, at least how
they are described in the Sil., and neither does Goldberry,
really. I'm not satisfied with saying Tom is Aule and
Goldberry is Yavanna...but I cannot suggest alternatives.
Are they Maiar?
Hmmmmm. Not sure on this...remember that Gandalf was Maiar,
and was worried about the effect the Ring might have on him
if he possessed it...the Ring has no power over Tom.
Goldberry could possibly be, though...she has a "Melian-esque"
vibe about her...
What does it mean
when it's said that Tom is "Eldest" and "First"? He came
before all things (except maybe the Ents) If he was not God/Eru,
then we must assume that he was created by Eru at some
point...but the Sil. is silent on this. Where did Tom come
Maybe we're just
not meant to really know.
confused, darn it.
What I think
about Tom. - Eledhwen
I don't subscribe to the Maia view and I'm not at all sure
about the Valar one. I'll have to think about that. When I
brought this up in Barliman's, Gandalf there suggested that
Tom is, quite simply, the Earth. He is of it, is it, what
you like, but he is a separate being, with no relation
except in shape to anyone else. This would explain why the
Ring has no power over him - he is too great. If he were
Maia or Valar, I think it would - remember Sauron is a Maia
and the Ring has power over him, because he made it; and
Morgoth was ensnared by love of power. The Ring affects
everything but Tom. Therefore he must be greater, more
primeval, and after all, the Earth, Arda itself, was there
on, in the council of Elrond... - Patty
when he is mentioned I believe Elrond actually says
something to the extent of..oh yeah, I forgot about
him...I don't think, if he were all that powerful he
would have been forgotten to be bidden to the
council..at least Galadriel wasn't there because she was
True. - Eledhwen
But Elrond is thinking about people - Sauron, the
Elves, the D�nedain, and so on. In times of crisis
not many people remember the lands we live in, and
certainly never separate from the peoples who live
there. Tom worries about, and in my theory, IS
nature, and he cares little for people. So it's
natural that each party would forget the other.
but Galadriel and the others of the White Council - GaladrielTX
took a more active interest in the affairs of ME,
compared with Tom. It doesn't seem likely that Tom
would leave the Old Forest for the Council of
Elrond. That doesn't mean he wasn't more powerful
than the greatest elves.
"He is" and I
am. - septembrist
I have always been struck by Goldberry's response to Frodo's
question of Bombadil's identity. It is exactly the same
response that God gives to Moses' question - "I Am". It is
a statement of existence with no beginning or end, a
statement of timelessness. Thus, I am led to believe that
Tom is Valar if not Eru himself who is master but does not
I am afraid I cannot offer any supporting proof or
references. I only have my LOTR and my Sil is packed in a
I eagerly await everyone's comments.
"feel" to the hobbits... - Malbeth
Are they Valar, Maiar, or some other such 'holy' being? How
would a Vala or a Maia seem to a hobbit? Here's how Frodo
felt about Goldberry, and it probably would apply to Tom as
"He stood as he
had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the
spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen
and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal
heart; marvelous and yet not strange."
Wouldn't a Vala
or a Maia seem more distant than an Elf, because he or she
is a higher-level being? Maybe that's not true; Valar and
Maiar are presumably similar in some way to Il�vatar, and
both Elves and Men (and hobbits?) are equally the Children
of Il�vatar. Certainly Gandalf, especially Gandalf the Grey,
didn't feel too "keen and lofty" to the hobbits. Help, I'm
confusing myself! Anyone???
Reference Thread - Aelric
This is just so folks can go over some references that they may
not have. Save your is discussion for above. : ) Please tell
us where your reference comes from!
My ideas, with
a reference this time.... - Jester_rm
Don't usually use references, and this one is not "canon",
but it coincides with my impressions.
Bestiary (by David Day) under the listing for Maiar..
"Many other good
and stron spirits came to inhabit Middle-Earth. These were
perhaps Maiar, like Melian, yet from the histories this
cannot be learned. Chief of these, in the tales of Middle
Earth, is he whom the Grey-elves named Iarwain Ben-adar,
which means both "old" and "without father". By Dwarves he
was named Forn, by Men Orald, and by Hobbits he was called
Tom Bombadil. He was a very strange and merry spirit. He
was a short stout Man, with blue eyes, red face and brown
beard. He wore a blue coat, a tall battered hat with a blue
feather, and great yellow boots. Always singing or speaking
in rhymes, he seemed a nonsensical and eccentric being, yet
he was absolute master of the Old Forest of Eriador where he
lived, and o evil within the World was strong enough to
touch him within his realm.
who may have been servants of the Vala Ulmo, also lived
within the Old Forest. One of these was the River-Woman of
teh Withywindle, and another was her daughter Goldberry, who
was Bombadil's spouse."
This ties in with
my impression that there were other spirits at the time of
the Song of the Ainur other than the Valar and Maiar, which
would have included both Tom Bombadil and Ungoliant (a
creature of the "outer darkness") I think Tom was a spirit
from "outside" the limits of Ea, who was called or came upon
Middle Earth and decided to stay. Since his origin was
actually from beyond the specific creation that was Middle
Earth, nothing created therin would have a hold or pull over
Thanks for the
info, Kimi - Malbeth
The "cameo appearance" theory is looking stronger and
Tolkien: A biography": - Kimi
"Among other stories begun but soon abandoned was the tale
of Tom Bombadil, which is set in 'the days of King Bonhedig'
and describes a character who is clearly to be the hero of
the tale: 'Tom Bombadil was the name of one of the oldest
inhabitants of the kingdom; but he was a hale and hearty
fellow. Four foot high in his boots he was, and three feet
broad. He wore a tall hat with a blue feather, his jacket
was blue, and his boots were yellow.'
"Tom Bombadil was
a well-known figure in the Tolkien family, for the character
was based on a Dutch doll that belonged to Michael. The doll
looked very splendid with the feather in its hat, but John
did not like it and one day stuffed it down the lavatory.
Tom was rescued, and survived to become the hero of a poem
by the children's father, 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil',
which was published in the Oxford
1934. [summary of poem follows: see Blue Wizard's post] By
itself, the poem seems like a sketch for something longer,
and when possible successors to The
being discussed in 1937 Tolkien suggested to his publishers
that he might expand it into a more substantial tale,
explaining that Tom Bombadil was intended to represent 'the
spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside'.
This idea was not taken up by the publishers, but Tom and
his adventures subsequently found their way into The
Lord of the Rings."
references from "Letters": - Kimi
(1937) �Tom Bombadil, the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford
and Berkshire countryside�
Bombadil is one [enigma] intentionally.� �Tom Bombadil is
not an important person � to the narrative.� My paraphrase
of the next section here: both sides, good and evil, want a
measure of �control�. Tom has no desire whatever to control.
He represents a pacifist view.
(1954 � another
letter) �I put him in because I had already �invented� him
[�] and wanted an �adventure� on the way.� [Annael�s
�cameo�!] �[he is] a particular embodying of pure (real)
natural science: the spirit that desires knowledge of other
things, their history and nature, because
they are �other� and
wholly independent of the enquiring mind[�.]�
And last but not
least (from the same letter):
�I don�t think
Tom needs philosophizing about, and is not improved by it.�
Not that that
should stop our discussing him!
Return to Book I Discussion Index
Chapter 7 3. Discussion: Who the $%$^&* is Goldberry?! - Aelric
The Hobbits looked at her in wonder; and she looked at each
of them and smiled. "Fair lady Goldberry!" said Frodo at last,
feeling his heart moved with a joy that he did not understand. He
stodd as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but
the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and
lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart;
marvellous and yet not strange. "Fair lady Goldberry!" he said
again. "Now the joy that was hidden in the songs we heard is made
plain to me.
O slender as a
willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by living pool! Fair River-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves laughter!
Again, who is this
person? There is even less to go on here than with Tom Bombadil.
She has a magical air, but she is no elf. So who is she? What the
heck does "River-daughter" mean anyhow? A daughter of Ulmo then?
Yavanna? A Maiar?
Just as before, I will set up a separate reference thread. Any help
is more than welcome!
Cameo of the Embodiment of Nature- - Robin
My speculation lies in three areas, all covered my members of
this esteemed board.
That Tom and
Goldberry are the physical manifestations of Nature in Middle
Earth-Blue notes Puck, et al. Supported by his harmonious life
in the Old Forest and Elronds hints at the Council.
The idea of the Cameo
as proposed by Annael. Kimi supports this by stating in Tolkiens
letters that Tom was ready-made character whom he desired to use
in a story.
Malbeths idea of a
Mystery, I feel has merit, only because of Tolkiens background
in Catholicism. This is not to say that Mysteries are wholly or
originally Catholic-but given Tolkiens background I feel this
does have some affect on his writing. Tolkien alludes to many
things, but ultimately concludes with-Tom and Goldberry are Tom
and Goldberry, and that's that.
There is a bit
more information - Blue
about Goldberry in "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", one of
Old Tom Bombadil was
a merry fellow;
bright blue his jacket was and his boots were yellow,
green were his girdle and his breeches all of leather;
he wore in his tall hat a swan-wing feather.
He lived up under Hill, where the Withywindle
ran from a grassy well down into the dingle.
Old Tom in summertime
walked about the meadows
gathering the buttercups, running after shadows,
tickling the bumblebees that buzzed among the flowers,
sitting by the waterside for hours upon hours.
There his beard
dangled long down into the water:
up came Goldberry, the River-woman's daughter;
pulled Tom's hanging hair. In he went a-wallowing
under the water-lilies, bubbling and a-swallowing.
"Hey, Tom Bombadil!
Whither are you going?"
said fair Goldberry. "Bubbles you are blowing,
frightening the finny fish and the brown water-rat,
startling the dabchicks, and drowning your feather-hat!"
"You bring it back
again, there's a pretty maiden!"
said Tom Bombadil. "I do not care for wading.
Go down! Sleep again where the pools are shady
far below willow-roots, little water-lady!"
Back to her mother's
house in the deepest hollow
swam young Goldberry. But Tom, he would not follow;
on knotted willow-roots he sat in sunny weather
drying his yellow boots and his draggled feather.
Up woke Willow-man,
begun upon his singing,
sang Tom fast asleep under branches swinging;
in a crack caught him tight: snick! it closed together,
trapped Tom Bombadil, coat and hat and feather.
"Ha, Tom Bombadil!
What be you a-thinking,
peeping inside my tree, watching me a-drinking
deep in my wooden house, tickling me with feather,
dipping wet down my face like a rainy weather?"
"You let me out
again, Old Man Willow!
I am stiff lying here; they're not sort of pillow,
your hard crooked roots. Drink your river-water!
Go back sleep again like the River-daughter!"
Willow-man let him loose when he heard him speaking;
locked fast his wooden house, muttering and creaking,
whispering inside the tree. Out from willow-dingle
Tom went walking on up the Withywindle.
forest-caves he sat a while a listening:
on the boughs piping birds were chirruping and whistling.
Butterflies about is head went quivering and winking,
until gray clouds came up, as the sun was sinking.
Then Tom hurried on.
Rain began to shiver,
round rings spattering in the running river;
a wind blew, shaken leaves chilly drops were dripping;
into a sheltering hole Old Tom went skipping.
Out came Badger-brock
with his snowy forehead
and his dark blinking eyes. In the hill he quarried
with his wife and many sons. By the coat they caught him,
pulled him inside their earth, down their tunnels brought him.
Inside their secret
house, there they sat a-mumbling:
"Ho, Tom Bombadil! Where have you come tumbling,
bursting in the front-door? Badger-folk have caught you.
You will never find it out, the way that we have brought you!"
"Now, old Badger-brock,
do you hear me talking?
You show me out at once! I must be a-walking.
Show me to your backdoor under briar-roses;
then clean grimy paws, wipe your earthy noses!
Go back to sleep again on your straw pillow,
like fair Goldberry and Old Man Willow!"
Then all Badger-folk
said: "We beg your pardon!"
They showed Tom out again to their thorny garden,
went back and hid themselves, a-shivering and a-shaking,
blocked up all their doors, earth together raking.
Rain had passed. The
sky was clear, and in the summer-gloaming
Old Tom Bombadil laughed as he came homing,
unlocked his door again, and opened up a shutter.
In the kitchen round the lamp moths began to flutter;
Tom through the window saw walking stars come winking,
and the new slender moon early westward sinking.
Dark came under Hill.
Tom, he lit a candle;
upstairs creaking went, turned the door-handle.
"Hoo, Tom Bombadil!
Look what night has brought you!
I'm here behind the door. Now at last I've caught you!
Barrow-wight dwelling in old mound
up there on hill-top with the ring of stones around.
He's got loose again. Under earth he'll take you.
Poor Tom Bombadil, pale and cold he'll make you!"
"Go out! Shut the
door, and never come back after!
Take away gleaming eyes, take your hollow laughter!
Go back to grassy mound, on your stony pillow
lay down your bony head, like Old Man Willow,
like young Goldberry, and Badger-folk in burrow!
Go back to buried gold and forgotten sorrow!"
Out fled Barrow-wight
through the window leaping,
through the yard, over the wall like a shadow sweeping,
up hill wailing went back to leaning stone-rings,
back under lonely mound, rattling his bone-rings.
Old Tom Bombadil lay upon his
sweeter that Goldberry, quieter than the Willow,
snugger that the Badger-folk or the Barrow-dwellers;
slept like a humming-top, snored like a bellows.
He woke up in morning
light, whistled like a starling,
sang, 'Come, derry-dol, merry-dol, my darling!'
He clapped on his battered hat, boots, and coat and feather;
opened the window wide to the sunny weather.
Wise old Bombadil, he
was wary fellow;
bright blue his jacket was, and his boots were yellow.
None ever caught old Tom upland or in dingle,
walking the forest-paths, or by the Wythywindle,
or out on the lily-pools in boat upon the water.
But one day Tom, he
went and caught the River-daughter,
in green gown, flowing hair, sitting in the rushes,
singing old water-songs to birds upon the bushes.
He caught her, held her fast! Water-rats went scattering,
reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering.
Said Tom Bombadil:
"Here's my pretty maiden!
You shall come home with me! The table is all laden:
yellow cream, honeycomb, white bread and butter;
roses at the window-sill and peeping round the shutter.
You shall come under Hill! Never mind your mother
in her deep weedy pool: there you'll find no lover!"
Old Tom Bombadil had
a merry wedding,
crowned all with buttercups, hat and feather shedding;
his bride with forgetmenots and flag-lilies for garland
was robed all in silver-green. He sang like a starling,
hummed like a honey-bee, lilted to the fiddle,
clasping his river-maid round her slender middle.
lamps gleamed within
his house, and white was the bedding;
in the bright honey-moon Badger-folk came treading,
danced down under Hill, and Old Man Willow
tapped, tapped at window-pane, as they slept on the pillow,
on the bank in the reeds River-woman sighing
heard old Barrow-wight in his mound crying.
Old Tom Bombadil
heeded not the voices,
taps, knocks, dancing feet, all the nightly noises;
slept till the sun arose, the sung like a starling;
"Hey! Come derry-dol, merry-dol, my darling!"
sitting on the door-step chopping sticks of willow,
while fair Goldberry combed her tresses yellow.
know..? - Aradan
...if "The adventures of Tom Bombadil" were written before
or after the Lord of the Rings? (Publishing date doesn't
count, because the poems could have sat in a box under the
professor's bed for years before being sent to the
publisher.) My theory is that Bombadil and Goldberry belong
to an earlier, more flippant, phase of the professor's
writings and he simply didn't know how to incorporate them
into his overall vision.
Well, who the
$%$^&* is the River-woman? - Idril
If you're going to discuss Goldberry's origins, you also
need to discuss her mother's. Goldberry is clearly
identified in LOTR and the Adventures of Tom Bombadil as the
So who is the
River-woman? She sounds like a water spirit that has taken
on physical form. My guess is that she's one of the less
powerful followers of Ulmo who, for reasons known only to
herself, embodied herself as a woman and dwelt by the River
Withywindle. Goldberry is her child by an unknown father.
(Perhaps one of the Dunedain?)
Of course, this
is pure speculation that's backed up by the flimsiest of
textevd. Tolkien may have intended all three -- Tom
Bombadil, the River-woman, and Goldberry -- to be mysteries.
Mysteries - Malbeth
Idril, I've had the same thought today - that they are
SUPPOSED to be mysteries; maybe even to Tolkien himself.
One of the beauties of LOTR, especially pre-Silmarillion,
were the many references to past events and people that
the reader didn't really know much about. The fact that
was such a deep history that the characters knew but we
the readers didn't, somehow added something, at least
Tolkien, all this history was very real and intimately
known. Perhaps he didn't want to explain Tom and
Goldberry even to himself. I assume there's nothing
substantive on the subject in his letters or other
sources I haven't read (like HoME series), or one of our
esteemed TORNadoes would have posted it already.
But what does
it tell us? - Lorgalis
In the end we see, they should not be Aule and Yvanna,
because they have been living near the river and Old Man
Willow far too long to be in Valinor all the time as well.
What strikes me is the other part in this chapter, when it
comes to Tom telling stories about old times. He was already
there when the elves went westwards!
I always thought
of the two as being maia. But What then with the putting on
of the ring? And Tom could also see Frodo though he put on
the ring and turned invisible. That is something I do not
remeber even Gandalf being able to.
question remains: Who are they?
I'm of the
"Maia" idea.... - Jester_rm
or another spirit similar to the Maia. Maiar were of
different strengths, as were the Valar...One may be more
powerful than another. If Tom was a Maia, his power may
exceed that of the rings to corrupt him. Although I
believe that Gandalf says that he would put it aside and
forget it....could that be the extent of the rings
ability to influence him? Not strong enough to corrupt,
but strong enough to misdirect?
As to hiding
from Gandalf, I don't believe the situation was ever
addressed. For the majority of the story, Frodo and
Gandalf are apart. The only time spent together before
the destruction of the Ring is from Rivendel to Moria,
and Frodo does not use the ring during that period.
Also, I don't believe there is a case of Bilbo using the
ring to "hide" from Gandalf, except after getting out of
the goblin caves and sneaking past Balin into the camp,
which could be just that he was not expected or noticed,
not that he was invisible. Hobbits were clever and able
to hide themselves rather well, and walk quietly when
necessary, invisible or not.
I'm with you, Jester, and a lesser one at that.. - Patty
see my post below about his being "forgotten" by
Elrond to be bid to the council.
TB and wife have always been my least favorite of
all Tolkien. I don't mind enigmas, but if they are
going to be so light-weight as to sing tra la lillie
all day then they need to be fleshed out.
Discussion Thread - Aelric
Go for it!
Malbeth's comments below. - Kimi
I think Goldberry is a water nymph. Descriptions of her
frequently use water imagery:
"The sound of her
footsteps was like a stream falling gently away..."
"She held a
candle, shielding its flame from the draught with her hand;
and the light flowed through it, like sunlight through a
"Her shoes were
like fishes' mail."
As I said for
Tom, though, she doesn't fit all that neatly into Tolkien's
cosmology. I see from the poem that Blue Wizard posted that
Goldberry, like Tom, pre-dates LOTR.
they're natural. - Malbeth
Reading this chapter more analytically than before, I
noticed something for the first time. Virtually every
description of colors or sounds concerning Goldberry or Tom
use comparisons with nature. For example:
"...her gown was
green, green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of
"...and as she
ran her gown rustled softly, like the wind in the flowering
borders of a river."
There are many
examples for Tom also. They are more natural than anyone or
anything else in LOTR. I think that is the reason for Tom's
'power' over the ring; it's not a matter of power, but the
fact that the ring is unnatural and therefore not even in
the same realm as Tom.
Definitely. - Eledhwen
If anyone's had the time or patience to read the 'Faerie
Realm of ME' that Rue and I wrote, then you'll see that
we decided that Goldberry was effectively a 'faery'. Not
of the same kind as our hero Isheen (he's a Brownie),
but nevertheless of the faerie world and not of ours.
Here's what Rue wrote when we were discussing this
the River's Daughter...she is the Daughter of a Nym!
Granted this would be a somewhat of a shinto/kami slant
on Tolkien, yet he wrote of kami when he made Ents...so
So there. By Nym Rue means a powerful spirit, of each
element I believe, therefore 'Riverdaughter' = daughter
of the Nym of the water, attracted therefore to water
but not dependent on it. Naturally this theory is
tangled up in what you believe Tolkien thought about
'faeries' or 'fairies', but I reckon he believed in
them, there are enough poems and things relating to the
subject, many relating also to Bombadil.
Link to story
Reference Thread - Aelric
Post any references here so that everyone can get a look at
them. Please state where the reference comes from! Thanks!
Return to Book I Discussion Index
Chapter 7 4. Discussion: Dreams - Aelric
After traveling for only a week, the hobbits have endured
hardships and have been hunted. And seemingly by chance, they come
across Bombadil and they are safe at least for a couple of days.
They are given food and rest, and afforded the chance at their last
peaceful night's sleep until Rivendell. Yet their dreams are
disturbed by visions: Pippin and Merry of one sort, Frodo of quite
another and Sam the log.
How do these different
"visions" (or in Sam's case, "non-vision") help to futher define the
characters, up to this point and also beyond this point?
More specifically, how is
the dream of Frodo's explained? Pure premonition here or something
else? The Ring?
Dreams theory - Pteppic
I just had a thought(gasp!). The evil creatures around Tom and
Goldberry's house (Old Man Willow, barrow wights and such) all
seem to have power over sleep. Could it be that some malicious
"beast" outside the house was influencing the dreams of the
hobbits, drawing on their biggest fears? Merry and Pippin were
obviously pretty shaken by their experience with Old Man Willow,
and Frodo was very concerned about Gandalf's whereabouts, so
that could account for their dreams. Sam was (if we go along
with this theory) a tougher nut to crack. This could be because
Sam wasn't that afraid of anything specific. As Blue says: "he
now knows that he has some part to play, although he does not
know what it is. And that is sufficient for Sam." Sure, there
probably were aspects of the future that worried him, but those
would be vague, due to their being in the future.
I don't know, this
might very well be a lot of toothless drivel, after all it's
past midnight and I'm rather tired (worn out is more like it),
so my brain isn't working properly. Deal with it as you may.
warning . . . - Annael
not to heed noises, and that nothing could pass within the doors
or windows, was interesting. Were folks who stayed at Bombadil's
prone to scary dreams or visions, and if so, why?
The house of
Tom Bombadil... - Pteppic
...is surrounded by danger. There're the barrow wights, the
trees, and probably other things we never learn about. I'm
with Blue on this one. I think Goldberry is simply assuring
them that whatever lurks outside the walls can't reach them.
Scary dreams - Malbeth
Tom could read the "dark and strange" thoughts of the trees,
and probably the other living things, of the Old Forest.
Maybe these thoughts affect the dreams of those sleeping
nearby. Of course, it would be normal for Merry and Pippin
to have nightmares about Old Man Willow, but Goldberry's
warning seems to indicate something more.
I think she
understood... - Aradan
...the trepdition that the hobbits must be feeling on what
was their first ever trip outside the Shire.
Hobbit nature! - Eledhwen
She knew they'd probably dream, and was merely reassuring
that it was only dreams and nothing tangible could come in.
I don't think
she was referring to dreams necessarily - Blue
But rather, she knew that the trees and wights and other
beings might approach the house in the night, but could not
enter. Also, I think that she was speaking of the mysterious
activities and duties which she and Tom must perform. Tom
awoke before Goldberry to do something, probably connected
with the change of seasons as the gathering of water lillies.
And Goldberry herself is connected with the rain and dew -
whether she causes it is something of a mystery.
Dreams - Blue
Interesting contrast between the four hobbits and their dreams.
Merry and Pippin are
basically having nightmares about their encounter with Old Man
Willow. In some ways it speaks to their immaturity and youth -
their dreams are something like a child's nightmares.
Frodo's dream is
clearly Gandalf excaping from Orthanc, which actually occurred
prior to the time the Hobbits set out from Hobbiton. Of course,
we don't know this at the time we read this. To me, Frodo's
dreams involve a certain ambiguity as to what is going on. It
may be that people like Gandalf, and later Galadriel, who we
find out have telepathic powers, are trying to communicate with
him. Gandalf may be trying to send Frodo the message that he has
escaped and is coming to his assistance. It may be that the
power of the Ring is at work. Frodo is desperately anxious that
Gandalf has still not appeared, his unexplained absence clearly
worries the elves, and he unconsciously is using the power of
the Ring to reveal where Gandalf is. The fact that the Ring
would give Sauron the power to reveal the Three, one of which
Gandalf is holding secretly, has this make some sense to me.
And, it may be that some of both is at work here.
peacefully and uninterrupted by dreams is an interesting
contrast. It speaks to me of Sam's relative simplicity and
contentment, but also that, contrary to his attitude when he
initially set out on this adventure, he has now "lost his
dreams". He is no longer dreaming of a great adventure, but
rather he now knows that he has some part to play, although he
does not know what it is. And that is sufficient for Sam.
Not so much
simplicity... - MikeyMonty
but rather Sam's eminent practicality and steadfastness. Sam
isn't going to lose sleep over long off ethereal dangers,
he's going to take his rest where he can get it, that's the
practical thing to do. He'll worry about those dangers when
he comes to them; no need being anxious about them now.
It also displays
his steadiness that he doesn't let such things bother him,
and his honesty in that he allows Goldberry and Bombadil to
reassure him to such a degree.
I like the idea
that Frodo through his worry is subconciously using the
power of the ring to determine Gandalf's whereabouts through
the Elven ring. I never thought of that, that's a clever
exactly what I thought myself" (to quote Merry) - EowynII
I could try to elaborate, but it would probably be
Interesting. - Eledhwen
I think you're probably right about Frodo trying to find
Gandalf, and also about Gandalf and Galadriel attempting to
contact Frodo, especially as at the end of ROTK the three
Rings communicate telepathically. Frodo's dreams always seem
Elvish in some way. I love the poem in 'The Adventures of
TB' about the lonely beach - haven't got it on me, but it's
the one where there's a note subtitling it 'Frodo's Dreme'.
When I first
started reading LOTR - Bard
I thought that Sam was stupid and therefore too stupid too
dream. It didn't help that I imagined him like a Sam I knew at
school who had ginger curly hair and had a bit of a lisp.
Return to Book I Discussion Index
Chapter 7 5. Discussion: History - Aelric
The bulk of this chapter takes place in Tom B's sitting
room. The hoobits are made comfortable and are content. Tom relays
much to them of how the world was and is, of nature and its ways,
and somewhat of the history that surrounds them. This is great info
for the hobbits and ties Tom to the rest of the story for the
reader. How does this serve the hobbits later on? Does it effect
their minds sets when dealing with future events (ie, Old Man Willow
Widening horizons - Aradan
The shire is very enclosed and inward looking, as are nearly all
its inhabitants. Scince the hobbits left the Shire, their
horizons have been growing a a little wider with each chapter.
Now with Tom's tales, their horizons are not just expanding
geographically, but historically, too.
It is the first indication to the reader (other than hints in
the prologue) that the Shire and its environs has a history that
does not necessarilly only include hobbits.
Tom's tales - Blue
In last week's discussion, I said that, in some ways the
reaction of Merry and Pippin to Fangorn Forest and Treebeard is
inexplicable absent these chapters. Tom's tales are an important
part of that. The hobbits understand, after listening to Tom,
the lives of the trees in particular. In some very important
ways, having that understanding removes much of their fear.
Fangorn Forest is
every bit as frightening a place as the Old Forest, and
undoubtedly every bit as dangerous to those who walk on two
feet. But, Merry and Pippin are not frightened of it, and remark
on how "treeish" it is. This is in stark contrast to a real fear
of the Old Forest. Forests and trees are frightening and
threatening things to hobbits, it would seem. But Tom's stories
make them less so.
More immediately, I
think that Tom's stories about the history of his little part of
the world also make possible their excape from the Barrow
Downs. A great deal of their rescue is attributable to the
deeply-buried bravery inherent in all hobbits, and Frodo in
particular, but, if they are paying attention, they know what
the Barrow Downs are and something of the nature of the peril,
whereas before the Downs were simply an abstract fear.
Return to Book I Discussion Index
Chapter 7 6. Discussion: Detail and Description - Aelric
In re-reading this section a few times, I really began to
notice the skill in which Tolkien masters the art of detail and
description within a setting. Tolkien's imagery is what draws a lot
of his readers (including myself) and it is fantastic throughout the
entire story. But here it seemed to take a life of it's own,
pulling the reader in until one feels he is actually seated at the
table, with white and yellow candles blazing, and Tom and Goldberry
dancing about. It is all very dreamlike, unlike any other part of
the story except for Lorien.
Compare and contrast the
times spent in Tom Bombadil's house to that of the stay in Lorien,
not in so much as concerns the Ring, but more to the feelings evoked
in both the hobbits and in the reader.
I guess all those
who, like Tom, are so in tune with the earth... - Patty
are vegetarians. Couldn't help noticing that at Gildor's
"table" and again now at Bombadil's there is NO meat. Honey,
cream, bread, cheese...would this satisfy hobbits used to a good
ahead" I see they score some real food at the Pony... - Patty
it must be that the etereal elves and whoever or whatever
Bombadil and Goldberry are can exist on just cheese, bread,
apples and cream. Nuts to that.
I'd say that
the Hobbits - Blue
were pretty close to the earth, and were pretty fond of
bacon. Come to think of it, the Hobbit diet seems to include
of all of the major food groups - bacon, beer and tobacco.
The only glaring
omission is chocolate.
donuts in particular.
with sprinkles, can't forget the sprinkles. - wandering
Blue . . . - Annael
You left out ice cream.
rabbit, too. - Malbeth
almost forgot - Blue
Sam mentions chips (ie french fries) to Gollum,
another of the basic food groups.
that Gollum rejects the idea of "nasssty chips" is
the key indication that he has, in fact, lost all
touch with reality and has become totally and
Tolkien in general - RosieLass
This comment isn't specifically related to this chapter (sorry)
but one of the things that always blew me away about JRRT is his
meticulous attention to detail. Especially things that I don't
know squat about, like plants and flowers and stuff. But not in
so much minutiae that you felt like you were reading a text
I'm reminded of Jules
Verne's "2000 Leagues Under the Sea" and Herman Melville's "Moby
Dick," both of whom went off on long tangents about fish or the
history of whaling or whatever. They are not what I would call
"good" examples of how to insert scientific knowledge into your
I remember being 20-something and having a body like that.
Wait a minute...no, I don't.
RosieLass! We have a name for that: - Kimi
The "Flint Chipping" phenomenon. Some years ago we read "The
Clan of the Cave Bear". The author had obviously done vast amounts
of research into, among other things, how to chip flint, and
wanted to share her knowledge. It was interesting, for a
while. But page after page... As you say, it begins to sound
like a text book.
I wanted to
mention the Highland Clearances in a novel, and knew only a
little about them. I read three different reference books,
and ended up writing about two sentences on the subject. But
it was part of the back-story of a major character, and was
worth the effort.
writers - Aradan
I can't remember who originally said this, but I can
assure you that it was a highly respected writer.
first story first, then do the research."
The idea is
that then, you only research the things you need to fill
the gaps in your story, rather than be tempted to
include all that research that you've spent so much time
case, I don't think he needed to do much research. I
think that on most of these subjects he was already very
knowledgeable, so just dropped in facts as he went
think you're right about Tolkien - Kimi
He researched details such as what time sunrise
would be on particular dates, and how moonrise
relates to phases of the moon, but the "big" things
were already well and truly within his knowledge.
good advice you quote for anyone who might be
tempted to "share" too much of their research!
In my own
writing I need to be very careful about this. - Annael
My job is to take medical stuff & turn it into patient
education handouts. I'm always asking myself "is this
MINK - 'more information than I need to know!'?"
The House of Tom
Bombadil / Lorien / Rivendell - Blue
Tom and Goldberry may not be elves, but their house has elements
of the faerie realm common to all three places. The most
obvious, as people have already mentioned, is the effect of
stopped or slowed time. In each place, the Hobbits lose all
track of time; hours, days and even weeks pass swiftly and
unnoticed by them. The effect seems to be most prominent in
Lorien, where an entire month passes unknown to them. This is a
common part of the folklore of mortals who enter the faerie
realm, with many variations on a similar story. The mortal
enters a fairy ring, or dwelling, and by partaking of food there
they become captive. Meals are prominent features of all three
places. The mortal believes that a single night has passed, but
when they leave, they find that seven years have gone by in the
Aside from the
displaced time elements, there is the matter of song. Song is
most obvious in Tom's House - not only does Tom sing as
naturally as breathing, but even the Hobbits find themselves
doing so, quite unconsciously. Song is prominent in Rivendell as
well - the elves sing long into the night and even Bilbo seems
to spend most of his times composing verses. But, while they
are enchanted by it, the hobbits are less taken up into it. The
same is true of Lorien, although elven singing is less promient
in the tale here.
But it is
interesting, in contrasting these places, what the songs are
about. Tom's songs may be distinguished from those of the elves
in that they are about the present and the world around him;
whereas theirs are principally about the past. This underscores
a similarity between Tom's House and Lorien and a contrast
between Lorien and Rivendell. Tom lives in the present, while
remembering a long past time. Rivendell is largely about
preserving memories of the glorious elven past. Lorien, through
the power of Galadriel's Ring, preserves, displaced in time,
that past itself as a present reality. The elves of Rivendell
remember their past; those of Lorien are actually living that
past. Lorien in particular is a physical manifestation of the
observation about elven dreams - that they are as real to them
as the physical world. And in each place, the Hobbits feel, to
one extent or another, that they have stepped inside a dream.
characteristics - jehovoid
i read a poem by john keats, la belle dame sans merci, that
on some level has these same characteristics of food and
song and losing track of time. it's more dramatized because
keats is that kind of person, but it strengthens your
Hmmm,� I know
this is Hobbit and not LOTR proper ... - Nenya
Where does Beorn's home (if it had a name it escapes me at
the moment) fit in with all this? It was like and yet
unlike Bombadil's home, a darker and more ominous place, yet
still a haven from the wilds. Beorn, like the elves and
Bombadil, has an "timeless" feel about him, and is very much
a mysterious unknown to all but Gandalf. There may not have
been song and that "timeless" aspect that Blue mentions, but
it almost seems like it merited mention in this thread.
about Beorn - Blue
Beorn, with his ability to change form from a man to a
bear, is a character who definitely fits in with
discussion of Tom Bombadil. And, he's not just in the
Hobbit. Gloin tells Frodo that it is by the Beornings
that the East-West Road is kept open, though he
complains of their high tolls. And Gilmi remarks that
the lembas are better than the honey-cakes of the
Beornings. So, Beorn isn't just some character unique to
The Hobbit; Tolkien intends to firmly include him as a
part of the overall pattern of Middle Earth.
Beorn seems to be an enigma. It would appear that he is
indeed a man, or at the very least mortal, whereas Tom
is clearly immortal (or at least so incredibly
long-lived that his life-span would appear to coincide
with that of the earth itself) Yet he has powers not
known to be possessed by any human other than his own
descendents, as well as the ability to communicate with
animals. To say nothing of being an unsurpassed pastry
chef (sorry Aelric).
me as being very like Tom in the sense that, while it is
difficult to place him in Tolkien's cosmology, it is
relatively easy to place him in our folklore. Ancient
folklore in every culture in which bears are found view
them as being very human; in particular, given the
source materials Tolkien was working form, Beorn
particularly suggests the Beserkers, who donned bear
skins in battle and were supposedly possessed in a
battle frenzy by the spirit of the bear, making them
virtually undefeatable by their enemies. This whole
legend/tradition ties into the very common notion of
werewolves (or werebears in this case). Beorn is
obviously the "source" for our legends and folklore, as
Tom might be for any number of characters in European
Probably just a minor point, but - GaladrielTX
at both Tom and Beorn's houses, some of the hobbits
have troubled dreams and are told not to worry about
noises outside. *Shrugs* Just thought it was an
aside... - Aelric
You amaze me, Blue. Personally, since I have been
here (October), my depth of knowledge of LOTR has
increased by leaps and bounds, and you, my friend,
have played a HUGE part in that. I would like to
thank you for your insights and wonderfully
intelligent comments over the past seven months.
appreciation and thanks! *bows low*
Living in the
past - Malbeth
You got me thinking about preserving and/or living in the
past at Rivendell and Lorien. Do you think the fading of the
elves in Middle-earth is related to always thinking of the
past rather thean the future? Is this an inevitable
consequence of immortality?
Time flows at
a different speed for elves... - Aradan
...because of their exceptionally long life span. It seems
that when mortals enter those places where the elves have
the greatest influence (Rivendell, Lorien) their own sense
of time slows down to match that of their hosts. The same
seems to be true of Bombadil's House, although, as you say,
he is not an elf; but he is "eldest". Perhaps this
"timelessness" is, in part, a consequence of a very long
Thanks, Blue, for
your insights. They are very thought provoking.
Blue. (Sorry, but I had to say it...you continually impress
me with your insightful, thoughtful responses.) - EowynII
I see these
places--Rivendell, Tom's House, Lothlorien--as oases... - EowynII
...of light (notice how much light is discussed/described--fire,
candlelight, sunlight) and magic in a world that is increasingly
possessed by men (for better and for worse), a world that is
darkening...for instance, this is clearly shown in the way JRRT
describes Tom's house and environs--the river bubbling, the
white path, the light and good wholesome food, all surrounded by
things threatening and/or evil (Old Forest, Barrowdowns)...Tom's
house is a place of respite, somewhere to rest and gather
strength, of replenishment and cleansing, and of learning, so
that one can go on....
The Shire too
. . - Annael
I see the Shire as a sunny, bright, ordered oasis in the
wilderness as well. And I also see the Hobbits as a bit out
of sync with the world of men, although in their case it's
more obliviousness than a choice to turn away and dwell in
the past. Still, it explains in part why the Hobbits felt so
at home and relaxed in Rivendell and Lorien. Contrast that
with Pippin in Minas Tirith.
Imagination - Aradan
I am sure that Tolkien's imagination was primarilly visual. I
beleive that he could actually see these
places in his mind's eye, just as though they were real places,
and then described in words what he was looking at.
There are few better
writers of landscape description in the English language.
reading that. . . - Blue
Tolkien, as he was writing these stories, had already drawn
the maps, at least in rough, because he needed to see the
maps in order to put together the story. And, in filling in
the details about the positions of the stars, that he took
celestial maps from 1942 and followed them precisely - so
precisely that, for example, it is noted in The Encyclopedia
of Arda that the elves in Gildor's company began singing
just as Menelgavor (Orion) appeared over the rim of the
world, which on September 15 would be at 1:10am GMT (which
we can, I suppose, take to be the same as Shire Mean Time).
I think that the
descriptions of places are in some cases so precise, that
Tolkien was either describing real places with which he was
familiar, or he had already sketched them - consistent with
his meticulous approach to writing these stories.
Out of time - Malbeth
I agree with Lorgalis about adding Rivendell to the mix. All
three are timeless in many ways. The first thing I thought of
was the way the hobbits would seem to drift into some kind of
dreamlike state while listening to a song or tale, and suddenly
realize they had no idea how much time had passed; minutes,
hours, days; they had no idea. Sorry about that sentence - two
semi-colons??? That can't be good!
There is a third
similar place... - Lorgalis
...which is called Rivendell.
I have always seen the whole thing in the chronology of light
following darkness and so on. There are minor light situations,
like at farmer Maggots place, Bree etc.
And there are the
places of the immortals, where the time seems of little
importance, here singing and dancing are common and no threat
seem to exist. It is the ancient view of the world, the meddling
of men is unimportant to most of them. Even with Elrond, where
only few elves get involved in this whole story. It relates to
them as the friendly folk. It represents the elvish nature, I
Return to Book I Discussion Index
Chapter 7 7. Discussion: Movie Talk and Final Thoughts - Aelric
This is a very short chapter, but a most descriptive one.
The hobbits find their first refuge and it proves to be an
adventurous one. And above all, we the readers get to experience
and enjoy Tom Bombadil; as the hobbits learn, we also learn. But as
movie goers, we understand why Tom is not going to be in the LotR
Films. But could it have a place? I don't want to get into what
happens in chapter eight, but up until this point, is Tom valuable
to the plot? How about character develoment? Could he be made into
a stronger character so as to be included in the movies?
Personally, I enjoy Tom
and I will miss him and Goldberry when the movies come out. I know
that there are some that dislike Tom and are therefore happy with
this (to use the purist words) "admissible change". I feel that Tom
was a character that Tolkien loved, so much so that he made a place
him in LotR, even though he doesn't quite fit. He is a model to us:
carefree, lover of the earth, happy and content to handle his own
affairs; just a free spirit of the world. Maybe he then serves as
the same model for the hobbits, a beacon to show what life is like
without the cares of the world resting on their shoulders. What
would life be like as a moss-gatherer?
Thanks, Aelric for
a most enjoyable discussion!!! - Patty
Almost forgot to
say thank you! - Kimi
Thank you, Aelric, for a very interesting set of discussions.
Who would have guessed we could come up with some new thoughts
about Tom and Goldberry?
Well done, and many
Why Tom and
Goldberry can't be in the films - Kimi
There, felt like writing a controversial title!
Though I am serious
(reasonably, anyway). How does this look: an elderly (the words
"old man" are used of him when seen through the hobbits' eyes;
his face has a hundred wrinkles), fat (even if you take my
mitigating suggestion that "three feet broad" might mean around
the waist, he's still not a candidate for the cover of Men's
Health) man living with a stunningly beautiful young blonde,
whom he lured away from her mother. Not exactly PC, is it?
I agree that
Goldberry is a very sexy
character, and not in any remote, ethereal sense. Frodo's
reaction sums this up:
"'Fair lady Goldberry!'
said Frodo at last, feeling his heart moved with a joy that he
did not understand. He stood as he had at times stood enchanted
by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid on his was
different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and
nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange. 'Fair
lady Goldberry!' he said again. 'Now the joy that was hidden in
the songs we heard is made plain to me.'"
This is no virgin
goddess, IMHO. Goldberry is a water nymph. There's a clue in her
association with white water lilies, which have the botanical
name nymphaea alba.
Given Tolkien's love of language, this seems, IMHO, unlikely to
be a coincidence.
Tom's references to
Goldberry in his songs, and the explicit references to how he
won her in the long poem that Blue quoted, make it clear that he
finds her alluring.
I guess she loves him
for his personality...
Wait a minute! - Blue
I've suddenly had a flash of inspiration.
Tom and Goldberry
could be played by
Billy Joel and
Rod Stuart and Rachel Hunter
Thanks and well
done, Aelric! - Eledhwen
Haven't had time to think about this as much as I would have
liked, but the discussion has helped with the enigmas that are
Tom and his lady. Ta!
summation, Steward - Blue
Chapter 7 does very little to move the plot, but it lends
tremendous depth to the story. We have here a great deal of
history, in very abridged form, of this part of Middle Earth,
related to the Hobbits in Tom's story. We have a great deal of
depth in Tom relating the lives of plants and trees, such that
the Hobbits realize, for the first time, that they are the
strangers in this land, which they think of as their own. We
have a true sense of the "other" in so many ways in Tom's house,
with the ulti-layered mysteries of Tom and Goldberry, their
identity and purpose and powers. Even the elves had a certain
familiarity to the hobbits and the Black Riders appear only to
be men to them so far; Old Man Willow, Tom and Goldberry are the
first real "surprises" to them.
I view the omission
of these chapters from a film of the books as a regrettable but
probably necessary step. I would not say that Tom is extraneous
or even that he "doesn't fit", but rather that he is a bit of a
side-track, or even perhaps a distraction. There are just so
many themes, major and minor, that one can include in a film
without it becoming cluttered; some things that reward a careful
reader who has the liberty of rereading, and flipping backward
and forward, are either lost on a film viewer, or are simply
confusing. The things that Tom and Goldberry contribute to the
books may be in that general category.
Now, I will also go
on record again that Goldberry is, hands down, the sexiest
female character in the book. Arwen and Galadriel are beautiful
but remote; Eowyn is beautiful but heavily armed; everybody else
is an old lady or has hairy feet (or both). Losing her will be a
major loss as far as I'm concerned. As for casting Goldberry,
you could go down Robin's list on the Main Board of "babes who
look like elves/prospective dates" and pick almost any one of
Here's an idea! For
those folks who can't stand Bombadil, leave these chapters in,
but combine the Bombadil and Goldberry characters, leaving just
her! Yeah, that's the ticket!
Goldberry - GaladrielTX
Tom and Goldberry are, for me, a welcome relief from miles
of trudging along the road or through the countryside,
intermittently hiding from Black Riders. I think the book
would have been a bit too bleak without their colorful
presence at that point, so I hope that the pace of the movie
will make their omission acceptable. I don't want each of
the movies to be just two hours of trudging through the
wilds with just one or two stops in elven lands to provide a
little beauty and depth.
Goldberry and Tom's characters and play them back in a minor
key. I like it!!!! - Patty
Yeah! - Aelric
She's got that earthy-crunchy hippy style to her! Sweet!
has that "earthy-crunchy hippy style to her"? - Nenya
make her sound like Joan Baez or Calista Flockhart or
something. That isn't how I picture Goldberry at all.
I'm not even sure I see her as "major babe" material
(although I will grant that I'm working from the
opposite side of the fence here). I see her as being
above all that.
material, I should think, comes with the prerequisite
that you guys would stand even an infinitesimally small
chance of getting her to even notice you. Maybe Eowyn,
perhaps Galadriel (snicker) but no
goddess stuff. She's as much "babe" material as would
be Athena or Hera or Isis. What you need here is a
classic Shakespearean actress, like one of the Redgrave
clan. Not one of your "babes". [smirk]
Whatever.... - Aelric
IMHO Joan Baez and Calista Flockhart are NO WHERE
NEAR what I'm talking about! I'm talking about
natural. Let me take you to a Phish show sometime
and I'll show you what I mean.
have to disagree with you on the "goddess" thing.
Goldberry comes across to me as a wonder of nature,
completely down to earth. Athena would never have
treated the hobbits as Goldberry did, let alone
bring them into her house with Zues. Neither would
Hera for that matter.
may not be "babe" material, as far as that modern
word is used, but she is, to me, the most attractive
woman in the books.
You tell her Aelric - Blue
Joan Baez is all wrong.
that period, more like:
Michelle Phillips (in 1967, not now)
Marianne Faithful (ditto)
Melanie Safka (ditto, but with blonde hair)
Linda Ronstadt ( " , " )
is really pretty simple - Blue
We don't know exactly what Goldberry is in Tolkien's
cosmology, but we're all pretty certain that she's
what the Greeks would call a Naiad.
From the Encyclopedia
Mythica: (emphasis added)
Naiads were nymphs of bodies of fresh water and were
one of the three main classes of water nymphs - the
others being the Nereids (nymphs of the
Mediterranean Sea) and the Oceanids (nymphs of the
oceans). The Naiads presided over rivers, streams,
brooks, springs, fountains, lakes, ponds, wells, and
marshes. They were divided into various subclasses:
Crinaeae (fountains), Pegaeae (springs), Eleionomae
(marshes), Potameides (rivers), and Limnades or
Limnatides (lakes). Roman sources even assigned
custody of the rivers of Hades to Naiads classified
as Nymphae Infernae Paludis or the Avernales.
The Naiad was intimately connected to her body of
water and her very existence seems to have depended
on it. If a stream dried up, its Naiad expired. The
waters over which Naiads presided were thought to be
endowed with inspirational, medicinal, or prophetic
powers. Thus the Naiads were frequently worshipped
by the ancient Greeks in association with divinities
of fertility and growth.
genealogy of the Naiads varies according to
geographic region and literary source. Naiads were
either daughters of Zeus, daughters of various river
gods, or simply part of the vast family of the Titan
Oceanus. Like all the nymphs, the
Naiads were in many ways female sex symbols of the
ancient world and played the part of both the
seduced and the seducer. Zeus in particular seems to
have enjoyed the favors of countless Naiads and the
other gods do not seem to have lagged far behind.
The Naiads fell in love with and actively pursued
mortals as well. Classical literature abounds with
the stories of their love affairs with gods and men
and with the tales of their resulting children.
Stories of the Naiads could take the form of
cautionary tales with unhappy endings. The Naiad,
Nomia, fell in love with a handsome shepherd named
Daphnis and could not do enough for him. He repaid
her love with unfaithfulness and she repaid his
inconstancy by blinding him. The
Naiads of a spring in Bithynia took a liking to
Hylas (companion of Heracles) and lured him into
their waters. The cautionary element is uncertain
here. The fate of Hylas could have been either an
abrupt death by drowning or everlasting sexual
stories of the Naiads were explanations of the
origins of immortals and mortals. The sun god Helios
mated with the Naiad Aegle (renowned as the most
beautiful of the Naiads) to produce the Charites.
Melite, a Naiad of the Aegaeus River in Corcyra, had
a liaison with Heracles and became the mother of
Hyllus. Naiads were the lovers of Endymion,
Erichthonius, Magnes, Lelex, Oebalus, Otrynteus,
Icarius, and Thyestes and were therefore co-founders
of important families.
towns and cities were called after the names of
Naiads. Lilaea, in Phocis, was named for Lilaea, the
Naiad of the Cephissus River.
is a reference in Homer's Odyssey to a cave, rather
than a body of water, that is sacred to the Naiads.
It might be assumed, therefore, that this cave in
Ithaca may have contained a spring or have been the
source of a stream or brook.
like Goldberry to me.
LOL!! - Malbeth
So hairy feet aren't sexy? RosieLass will be so
Tom is vital to
the book, but not, I think to the film. - Nenya
Even for those well versed in Tolkien lore, Bombadil remains a
mystery. His origins and existence are apart from the mythology
that explains and supports the story of the quest to destroy the
one ring. While the hobbits have adventure and diversion with
Bombadil, very little of a vital nature to the plot line occurs
I love the character
of Tom Bombadil. I really wish Tolkien had given more of his
background. But, given the limitations of movie making, I do
feel that he can be omitted from the movie without causing any
serious damage to the plot.
chapters - Aradan
One of the main things that the Bombadil chapters achieve in the
book is to create a sense of distance between the Shire and Bree.
By the time the Hobbits reach Bree, we already feel that they
have travelled. If, in the film, we see the Hobbits leaving the
Shire and then arrive in Bree in the very next scene, the
audience might be left with the impression that Bree is just
another outlying part of the Shire, rather like Buckland.
In other respects, I
don't think that the film will suffer too much by the removal of
the Bombadil chapters. They don't actually contribute much to
the plot, though they do reveal a little about the hobbits'
personalities. On the other hand they do not seemed to have
"developed" much by the time they reach Bree.
Yes. I hope .
. . - Annael
that while the movies omit Bombadil, the hobbits still go
through the Old Forest and encounter the Barrow-wight. That
scene can be changed just a titch to have Frodo manage to
free the others. Then Merry can find his knife and they will
have had a "growing up" experience.
development - Malbeth
I agree about the hobbits' lack of development before Bree.
I spite of the dangers they've survived, they are still very
careless in the Prancing Pony. They must have driven Strider
crazy the first few days!
you think.... - Aelric
they would have made a better impression on Aragorn if
they hadn't been with Bombadil? If they had stayed on
the road and avoided capture, they may have been better
prepared, even slightly. Was the visit with Tom
somewhat of a hinderance in that respect?
but ... - Nenya
The whole point was that the Hobbits and Aragorn didn't start
out as a mutual admiration society. Each had to
earn the trust and admiration of the other. This
gave Tolkien an excuse to help unveil parts of
Strider/Aragorn's character, and to show how the
band of Hobbits matured and developed as they became
more caught up in the Fellowship and the quest.
respect, the visit with Tom was just perfect. It in
many ways showed the early naivete the Hobbits were
saddled with that they each eventually grew beyond.
That's an important point - Blue
I think we tend, particularly having already
read the books many, many times, to lose sight
of the fact that, even through the attack at
Weathertop, the hobbits, particularly Sam, are
distrustful of Strider and suspect that he is in
league with the Black Riders, or maybe even one
decides to trust him in Bree, based on Gandalf's
letter and him being a good judge of character;
and his trust seems confirmed by Strider saving
them from the attack in the night, but I think
that we are supposed to have some lingering
doubts. Not until Rivendell is everyone,
including Sam, completely convinced.
Yeah... - Malbeth
I love the introduction of Strider. The hobbits
don't know whether to trust him, and neither
does the reader (well, the first time, anyway).
In fact, Sam wasn't really convinced until they
Return to Book I Discussion Index