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My own theory on what Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are

Pat

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Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are the most enigmatic beings in all of Middle Earth and seem to be locked outside the eternal conflict of good and evil. When Tom saved Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin from Old Man Willow he was able to wear the One Ring without being corrupted or turning invisible. Tom seems to control all aspects of the Old Forest through magical song. He also managed to cast away the Barrow-wights when they hobbits left the Barrow-downs to Bree. Many people have theorized what exactly Tom is. Everything from him being a Maia, being Eru in human form or being a physical embodiment of the Music of the Ainur, being an anti-Ungoliant who was a physical embodiment of the Void. However, I have my own interpretation that I would like to put forward my own idea. My own view is that Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are two Ainur who did not participate in the Music of the Ainur. Since they didn't participate in the battles of song that led to the division of those who supported Eru and those who supported Melkor, they do not exist within the dualistic moral framework of Arda. However, since they do inhabit the world and descended down I would say that they are tied to the fate of the world, but now a part of its struggle. Anybody else have any different interpretations?
 

Belthil

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Wow that is one on going discussion everywere... :)

'Conclusion'

There is only one answer to the riddle of Tom Bombadil: that there is no answer. Though we've presented some of the evidence here, this article does no more than dip beneath the surface. It seems, though, that Tom's nature is ultimately undiscoverable, and this is surely a good thing.

Part of the wonder of Tolkien's world is its depth and detail, but it needs its mysteries and unknowns too: if we knew everything about the World of Arda and its inhabitants, there would be no joy of exploration and discovery. If nothing else, Tom Bombadil stands proudly as a symbol of the mysterious, and we should be glad that he does."

(Source: The Encyclopedia of Arda, whole article: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/t/tombombadil.html


Other essay's:

http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html

https://itservices.cas.unt.edu/~hargrove/bombadil.html

I am sure there are more, I think the bottom line is...: we will never know... unless there are some undiscovered writings of Tolkien explaining this matter...
 

Pat

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Wow that is one on going discussion everywere... :)

'Conclusion'

There is only one answer to the riddle of Tom Bombadil: that there is no answer. Though we've presented some of the evidence here, this article does no more than dip beneath the surface. It seems, though, that Tom's nature is ultimately undiscoverable, and this is surely a good thing.

Part of the wonder of Tolkien's world is its depth and detail, but it needs its mysteries and unknowns too: if we knew everything about the World of Arda and its inhabitants, there would be no joy of exploration and discovery. If nothing else, Tom Bombadil stands proudly as a symbol of the mysterious, and we should be glad that he does."

(Source: The Encyclopedia of Arda, whole article: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/t/tombombadil.html


Other essay's:

http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html

https://itservices.cas.unt.edu/~hargrove/bombadil.html

I am sure there are more, I think the bottom line is...: we will never know... unless there are some undiscovered writings of Tolkien explaining this matter...
That's another reason I love Tolkien, it's all the mystery
 

Ithilethiel

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I think Tom and Goldberry are the embodiment of Tolkien and his wife. I know, I know Beren and Lúthien but as far as LoTR. Tolkien's, "lived" with the Ring for years and years and was never corrupted by it and the Professor is always saving the Hobbits, et al from the troubles they stumble into. The poetry and songs. The simple life. Whenever I picture Tom I see Tolkien :p
 

Belthil

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I think Tom and Goldberry are the embodiment of Tolkien and his wife. I know, I know Beren and Lúthien but as far as LoTR. Tolkien's, "lived" with the Ring for years and years and was never corrupted by it and the Professor is always saving the Hobbits, et al from the troubles they stumble into. The poetry and songs. The simple life. Whenever I picture Tom I see Tolkien :p
:) Now that is an interesting view! Thanks!! Something to ponder on! ..
 

Miguel

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I think Tom and Goldberry are the embodiment of Tolkien and his wife. I know, I know Beren and Lúthien but as far as LoTR. Tolkien's, "lived" with the Ring for years and years and was never corrupted by it and the Professor is always saving the Hobbits, et al from the troubles they stumble into. The poetry and songs. The simple life. Whenever I picture Tom I see Tolkien :p
Yeah but Goldberry is gold haired and Edith's brunette. They do resemble them though.
 

Ithilethiel

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Yeah but Goldberry is gold haired and Edith's brunette. They do resemble them though.
I wasn't being that literal :p

It's more her spirit that reminds me of Edith. Goldberry was kind and patient especially with the Hobbits. Edith was kind and patient with Tolkien's writings, his creations. If you've ever lived with a writer than you'll know it takes a lot of patience and kindness to make the relationship work.

I know it's a stretch but it's my impression. If I remember correctly, the Professor answered that Tom was meant to signify the English countryside and Goldberry epitomized the seasons. He is primal land she is primal water. But now I'm going too deep. I just enjoy thinking of them as the Tolkien spirit.
 

Olorgando

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My own view is that Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are two Ainur who did not participate in the Music of the Ainur.
Excellent point!
I did ventilate the hypothesis that not all Ainur who entered Arda took the form of Valar and Maiar (and pointed to Ungoliant and Tom as possible specimens), but the bit about them being only listeners to the music hadn't crossed my mind. I do, off the cuff, seem to remember that when the cacophony during The Music got great, some Ainur fell silent - but that not all, perhaps even a majority, never participated in the first place, but were fascinated enough by what they heard to enter Arda - yes, I like it! 😊
 

Miguel

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Excellent point!
I did ventilate the hypothesis that not all Ainur who entered Arda took the form of Valar and Maiar (and pointed to Ungoliant and Tom as possible specimens)
My view is that Tom was not before Arda, but started existing in it ever since it was made. I don't think Tom and Goldberry are Ainur, but rather born out of the music. Ungoliant on the other hand, and based on what i read, seems to come from the void itself. Did she took the form of a spider by herself or did Melko helped with that?. What was she before being a spider?. Are there other beings of the same nature who entered Arda but went rogue after a while just like her?. Did Melko knew her before the music?...
 

Olorgando

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Ungoliant on the other hand, and based on what i read, seems to come from the void itself.
That's the second time I've read something here concerning the void - and as I interpret the posts, the void being something separate from Eru. I may be way off-base with this interpretation, and if so please do correct me. Or are we to assume that he (and by such a "logic" JRRT) was playing "silly buggers" with the Ainur by having created the void before he did them, never told them about it, and when they were fascinated with the vision of the (virtual, or actually created) Arda they never noticed the huge maelstrom of chaos around it? o_O
(A technical question: should I perhaps post a (product or whatever) warning in my profile "imagination occasionally gets off the leash and then runs riot"?)
 

Miguel

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That's the second time I've read something here concerning the void - and as I interpret the posts, the void being something separate from Eru. I may be way off-base with this interpretation, and if so please do correct me. Or are we to assume that he (and by such a "logic" JRRT) was playing "silly buggers" with the Ainur by having created the void before he did them, never told them about it, and when they were fascinated with the vision of the (virtual, or actually created) Arda they never noticed the huge maelstrom of chaos around it? o_O
(A technical question: should I perhaps post a (product or whatever) warning in my profile "imagination occasionally gets off the leash and then runs riot"?)
The Ainur did percieve the darkness outside of the Timeless Halls, which they only knew in thought before, whereas Melko went into it before the music/big bang. The void seemed like it was always there, not created.

SES, i think she may have taken that form when she (probably) entered Arda through the walls of night with the rest, right before the building of Udûn. Why a spider?, well, there may have been spiders in the music alongside many other animals, etc. Also, no one was male or female before entering the world. I also need to point out that Ungoliant may have been one of the main devices used to mar the spring of Arda.
 
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Squint-eyed Southerner

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Without taking the trouble to look (just had dinner), I think she'd already taken spider form when he met her.
I looked -- and I was wrong. As usual. Although IIRC the words are "Some say she was a servant of Melkor who rebelled against him" -- or words to that effect. Sorry, not near my library. If so, she took on spider form after fleeing Utumno. On the other hand, I thought I saw a somewhat different tradition that she came "out of the Void".

Speaking of which, I don't recall any statement that Eru "created" the void.
 

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