- "Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow! Bright Blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow!"
- —Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil is the most mysterious character of The Lord of the Rings, a long-lived, Maia-like being known by the Elves as Iarwain Ben-adar ("Oldest and Fatherless") in Sindarin, who dwelt in the valley of the river Withywindle, east of the Shire.
An enigmatic being, Tom lived at the edge of the Old Forest, close to the Barrow Downs. His lands were not particularly extensive, but within his domain his power over virtually everything in it was extraordinary. Tom was a paradoxical creature, one moment defeating ancient forces with hardly an effort, the next capering and singing nonsensical songs. He lived with his wife Goldberry, "Daughter of the River," far from any other settlement. Goldberry described him as being "Master of wood, water and hill." The only reason the fellowship couldn't give the ring to Tom is because its power and its interest to him was so small that Gandalf believed he'd likely misplace it.
Interpretations and Description Edit
There are many theories of his origins, such as of him being in truth a Maia, a man, Ilúvatar himself, or even the reader, though more on this can be found elsewhere (see below). He appeared as an old man, at least to Hobbit eyes, with a wrinkled and ruddy face, bright blue eyes, and a bristling brown beard. He was said to be taller than a typical Hobbit, but too short to be a Man, which would put him somewhere between four and a half and five feet in height. He spoke in stress-timed metre.
His clothing consisted of a blue jacket and yellow boots, and he wore an old and battered hat, surmounted by a feather. He seems to have preferred to wear a swan-feather in his hat, but before he met Frodo and company on the banks of the Withywindle, he had acquired the feather of a kingfisher instead. In his own house, rather than a hat, he wore a crown of autumn leaves.
In his preface to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Tolkien tells us that Tom's name is "Bucklandish in form," and suggests that it was given to him by the Hobbits of that region, as he has many other names. The resemblance of the -dil ending to the common Elvish (n)dil, "friend," may or may not be coincidental. Despite seeming to be a rather whimsical and nonsensical being, he was well known to many powerful beings in Middle-earth, including Elrond and Gandalf, and he could be serious if the need arose.
- "Eldest, that's what I am... Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn... He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless - before the Dark Lord came from Outside."
- —Tom Bombadil (The Lord of the Rings)
In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien describes Goldberry as the seasonal changes in nature, and Tom Bombadil as the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside, meaning that Tom is the countryside existing in Time, alive and embodied; However, this letter was in reference to works which pre-dated the writings of Lord of The Rings and thus may not be true of Tom as he appears in Lord of the Rings.
Tom Bombadil was in the world when the Elves passed westward before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless – before the Dark Lord came from Outside. It is not known if he came into Arda with the Valar or if he came afterwards, but it is clear that he was in Arda before the second entry of Melkor into the world. This is because the stars, created by Varda, were created after Melkor's entry into the world, but existed when Melkor re-entered Arda after being driven out by Tulkas and the rest of the Valar.
The poem Once Upon A Time is apparently set during this period. Tom and Goldberry are in a field, and Tom is resting his feet in the dew. He stays there as the days go by, when the Lintips come to visit.
- "But I had forgotten Bombadil, if indeed this is still the same that walked the woods and hills long ago, and even then was older than the old. That was not then his name. Iarwain Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless. But many another name he has since been given by other folk: Forn by the Dwarves, Orald by Northern Men, and other names beside. He is a strange creature..."
- —Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring
It is not known when Tom settled into his domain outside the Old Forest, but it is clear, by the time of the War of the Ring, that he has been there for quite some time. Farmer Maggot of Marish in the Eastfarthing and a few Bucklanders knew him and were friendly with him. In TA 3018, Frodo and his company had a chance meeting with Bombadil in the Old Forest after a nearly disastrous encounter with Old Man Willow. Frodo, who had fled from the tree looking for help, enlisted Bombadil, who had been out gathering water lilies. Bombadil went immediately with Frodo to the tree and commanded it to release its prisoners, Merry and Pippin, which it immediately did. He then invited Frodo and his companions to his home, where the Hobbits had an almost dreamlike stay, feasting and making merry with Tom. In this state, Frodo rather inadvertently told Tom all about the Ring and his quest, and when Tom asked to inspect the Ring, Frodo, without question, allowed him to. Tom then put the Ring on his finger, yet not only did he not disappear, but the Ring appeared to have no effect on him at all. After making the Ring itself vanish with a sleight-of-hand trick, he returned it to Frodo, who, slightly suspicious that it had not made Tom vanish, put it on to make sure it was the genuine Ring. Tom surprised him yet again by revealing that he could see Frodo even with the Ring on, and told Frodo to remove it, stating that his hand was fairer without it.
After two days resting and feasting at Tom's home, the Hobbits set out again, only to be captured the next day by Wights on the Barrow-downs Fortunately, Tom once again came to their rescue, dispersing the Wights and breaking open their tomb.
After this, he escorted the Hobbits to the borders of his land and left them there. Over a month later, Tom became a topic of discussion at the Council of Elrond. There, Elrond, who had apparently met Tom in times long past, reminisced about him briefly before the question was put before the Council of whether or not to give the Ring to Tom, as it appeared as though Tom may have had power over even the Ring within his lands. However, Gandalf quickly dismissed the idea, saying that rather than Tom having power over the Ring, the Ring simply had no power over Tom. He was immune to its influence, but he could not alter it, nor break its power over others. Additionally, he said that, while Tom might be willing to take the Ring if asked by all the Free People of the world, he might do so, but would not understand the reason. Due to this, Tom would have likely either forget about it or throw it away, as such things had little relevance to him. It was also mentioned that taking the Ring back to him would be impossible to accomplish without it becoming known to Sauron, and that sooner or later, Sauron would bend all his power towards Tom's realm to take the Ring back. Despite his mastery within his realm, it was assumed that Tom would not have been able to defy that power alone.
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, a book of verse published in 1962, purported to contain a selection of Hobbit poems, two of which were about Tom Bombadil and include his adventure with Badger folk. He also appears in the poem The Stone Troll, supposedly composed by Sam Gamgee and recorded in the Red Book of Westmarch, in which Tom mentions his "nuncle" Tim, on whose bones the troll is feeding, and he also mentions his father.
- "Eldest, that's what I am...Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn...he knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless — before the Dark Lord came from Outside.."
- —Tom Bombadil (The Fellowship of the Ring)
- "Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. None have ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster."
- —The Fellowship of the Ring
- "He is."
- —Goldberry, upon being asked who Tom Bombadil is
Theories about the nature of Tom Bombadil can be found at Theories about Tom Bombadil.
Portrayals in adaptationsEdit
The Lord of the Rings film trilogyEdit
In many film and radio adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Bombadil is notable by his absence, possibly because nobody knows quite what to do with him. Peter Jackson justified his omission of Bombadil from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by pointing out that he did little to advance the story, having nothing to do with the Ring storyline, and serving little purpose when it came to getting the hobbits to Rivendell, and putting together the Fellowship. However, much of Bombadil's dialogue, and the scene in which the hobbits meet Old Man Willow, are transplanted into the scenes that Merry and Pippin share with Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
- Tom Bombadil is a major character in the early quest progression and story-line of The Lord of the Rings Online role-playing game.
- Tom Bombadil is a hero, summoned through his respective power, in The Battle for Middle-earth II, and in the game's expansion pack, The Rise of the Witch King.
- In the Games Workshops' Lord of the Rings strategy game, Tom Bombadil is a hero along with his wife, Goldberry. If they enter a fight, they automatically win, although they can not strike blows; nor can he or Goldberry be killed by shooting or magical powers.
- Tom Bombadil is an unlockable character in LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game and in LEGO The Hobbit.
- In April 2008, 3-D entertainment model producer Gentle Giant Studios, Inc., headquartered in Burbank, California, released an exclusive sculpted Tom Bombadil bust, limited to 1000 pieces, for the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. Licensed under New Line Cinema's The Lord of the Rings franchise. TOM BOMBADIL BUST - Gentle Giant Studios
- Spanish band "Saurom Lamberth" dedicated a song to Tom Bombadil, which can be seen here.
- Bombadil, a folk-pop band from Durham, North Carolina, took the Tolkien character as their namesake. Paste Magazine.
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Two Towers (Mentioned only)
- The Return of the King (Mentioned only)
- The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
- The Lord of the Rings Online
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II
- LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game
Translations around the WorldEdit
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Том Бомбаділ|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Том Бомбадил|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||湯姆·龐巴迪|
|Kazakh Cyrillic||Том Бомбаділ|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||Том Бомбадил|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||Том Бомбадил|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Том Бомбадил|
|Tajik Cyrillic||Том Бомбадил|
|Tamil||டாம் பொம்பதில் ?|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Том Бомбадил|
|Uzbek||Том Бомбадил (Cyrillic) Tom Bombadil (Latin)|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Tom Bombadil, The Encyclopedia of Arda.
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter VII: "In the House of Tom Bombadil"
- ↑ The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
- ↑ The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien