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 Post subject: Who is Tom Bombadil?
PostPosted: December 15th, 2008, 8:14 pm 


If there is already a thread that addresses this issue, please direct me to it.

I just finished reading through FOTR with some friends (the second time for me.) Someone who has always evoked my curiosity is good ol' Tom.

To me, the LOTR seem like a serious, adventurous epic. Not necessarily dark, but heavy, if you know what I mean. For isntance, very different than the Chronicles of Narnia. But then, in the middle of this epic journey, Tom Bombadil "bounds" out of no where, with his yellow boots and flowery speech and fairy-talish wife. He always was like this light, fairy-tale figure in the middle of this heavy, "dark" journey. (Even though the books are filled with imaginary creatures, the whole story is very realistic to me, except for Tom.)

So who is he? Some people in my reading group thought he might be Illuvatar in bodily form. He does not belong to any certain race. He's different than everyone else. And unlike everyone else, the Ring does not bother him. He holds it and even tries it on, but laughs and does not become invisible. Gandalf and Elrond (in the COE) seemed to think it would be best not to bother him with the Ring, because he has nothing to do with the outside world or something like that. Did they say that because they knew who he really was, or because they didn't know? Perhaps, if Tom was Illuvatar, he chose to separate himself from the world so that he wouldn't end up taking other people's job in life, as it was Frodo's job to destory the Ring.

Or he could be an Ainur or a Valar or a Maiar - one of Illuvatar's "angels," sent down to keep an eye on things, so to speak.

Or maybe he's just a freak of nature. Maybe Tolkien was in a random mood when he created Tom and just felt like confusing us. As far as I know he isn't really mentioned or explained in any other books, except for a poem.

Please share any information you have on this guy, and also your thoughts on who he might be.

P.S. Sorry for such a long post to get things started! :blush:


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PostPosted: December 15th, 2008, 9:59 pm 
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I'm right in the middle of reading FotR to my younger sister, and guess what character just got introduced to her? XD

Well...it's not a bad thing to have a randomly light character in the midst of a heavy tale. Shakespeare did it all the time!

Anyways...I hold to the idea that Tom is a mystery that Eru Iluvatar placed on Middle-earth to govern the Old Forest. Or something.

I once read a theory somewhere that he was the Witch-King of Angmar...:lol:

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PostPosted: December 16th, 2008, 12:08 am 
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I think you've touched on one of the mysteries of LotR. :lol: I don't know if anyone really knows who Tom is.

My thought is that he's like "mother nature". He was there in the beginning and will be there until the end. I don't think he's Illuvatar simply because Elrond and Gandalf say that if he had the ring "he might lose it." Illuvatar would not be one to lose something. :teehee: So I'm thinking he's a powerful vala or maia, something like that, that chose to live on Middle-Earth instead of in Valinor. I think him not seeing the two trees, not being close to the other valar...I don't know. It just makes the most sense to me.

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2008, 12:14 pm 
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I think there is a topic about this already--let me see if I can find the link for you.

EDIT: As it turns out, there are no others addressing quite this topic, so there really isn't one about this. :P

2ND EDIT: I was reading The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and he explicitly says that some things in LotR were meant to be mysterious, and Tom Bombadil was one of them, intentionally put in there as an enigma. So...there is nothing beyond speculation about what he is, in the end.

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PostPosted: January 15th, 2009, 3:31 pm 
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Have you read the silmarilion ? I think theres maybe a link between Tom and Tulkas.

"Tulkas
Champion of Valinor, also called Astaldo. He was the last of the Valar to descend into Arda, and helped to tip the scales against Melkor after the destruction of the Two Lamps. He is a wrestler and physically the strongest of all the Valar. He is the husband of Nessa, and is described as slow to anger, but slow also to forget; as such, he opposed the release of Melkor after his prison sentence."

The ring doesent work for him because he is simply beyond his powers , he is valar and stronger, by rank, then Sauron -the ring maker-
Any whey , that must be the reason...
We do not know what hapend in Valinor in that time...


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PostPosted: January 29th, 2009, 4:20 pm 
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No, I doubt that Tom Bombadil was Tulkas--my opinion has always been that Tom was simply another Maia--Olórin thinks that Bombadil couldn't stand against Sauron if Sauron had the Ring, whereas Tulkas would still be able to cream him.

And as I pointed out, Tolkien himself had no real idea who or what Bombadil was.

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PostPosted: February 9th, 2009, 12:32 pm 
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I concur with Aerandir. There is no answer to Tom Bombadil because he is an enigma. Though there is an amusing theory that says the Witchking and Bombadil are the same person. After all, they are never in the same room together :p

http://flyingmoose.org/tolksarc/theories/bombadil.htm

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PostPosted: March 20th, 2009, 5:15 pm 
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I don't think that Tom was a spark of the moment, "What the heck!" idea. Tolkien would not do something like that... would he?

Whatever the reason, he is there. Maybe it is only a secret that Tolkien knows...

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PostPosted: March 26th, 2009, 5:32 pm 
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I think nobody knows who he is. He just is.

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PostPosted: May 8th, 2009, 5:47 am 
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I think that Tom Bombadil can be maia or something else. Me and my friend talked about him, and he told me that he had read that Tom is a maia. We thought that he can also be a some kind of "mistake" in the Play of Ainur, a thig that just happened.

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PostPosted: June 13th, 2009, 1:15 am 
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I've always imagined him as being one of the Ainur, though Vala or Maia I'm not sure. Even amongst the Ainur, there were "ranks" weren't there? Maybe he was of a higher rank than Sauron, and hence Sauron's power, embedded in the ring, was no match for him. However, being only a Maia, Sauron could outpower him if he had the ring, too.

But I definitely think he was of the Ainur, because of his aversion to the effects of the ring, and the fact that the dream Frodo has while staying in his house is basically a pemonition of his leaving Middle-earth for the Undying Lands. Influenced by Tom Bombadil's "divinity", perhaps?

It's the genius of Tolkien, though. I've always suspected that the very reason he installed Tom Bombadil in the book was to spark discussion as to his origins, leaving these little subtle clues everywhere, which can never quite come to a definitive conclusion. His enigma is still serving his purpose well!


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PostPosted: June 13th, 2009, 10:42 am 
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Thanks, Aerlinn. I was starting to consider merely quoting myself rather than typing everything out again. ^_^

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PostPosted: July 22nd, 2009, 1:47 pm 
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An interesting essay on this, though, is here. Lists all common theories and information for and against each one.

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