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My theory on Tom Bombadil!

Úlairi

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:D :D :D I have a theory on Tom that I have been meaning to post for quite a while. Now I know that Tolkien never wrote this down anywhere but I believe that this could be a definite possibility. Some people think that Tom is a Maia. But he wasn't influenced by the ring whereas all Maia were e.g. Saruman, Gandalf etc. Some think that he is a Vala, Aule or Orome which is a possibility but it says in the Sil that none of the Valar would ever dwell on Middle-earth until the return of Morgoth Bauglir. So, here is my theory. What if Tom WAS one of the Ainur but not a Vala or a Maia, something inbetween. Too powerful not to be influenced by the ring and yet not a Vala for they were not allowed to dwell on Middle-earth. What if some of the Ainur were sent to Middle-earth to be its keepers or protectors. What if he was an Ainur subject to Orome and Yavanna before the shaping of Arda that were sent once it had been created to look after it, like Nature Spirits of some sort??? Tom said that he doesn't really care for no Dark Lord and he said he was there before any Dark Lord which COULD mean that he was there before Morgoth himself? What do you people think???:) :rolleyes: ;) :confused:
 

Goro Shimura

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This account of Tom as Aule is not really inconsistent with Tolkien's claim that Tom has renounced power in a kind of "vow of poverty" and that he exemplifies "a natural pacifist view." At the time of the singing of the Great Music, it is true that Aule, along with most of the other Holy Ones, eventually stopped singing, leaving Melkor to sing on alone. However, they did not stop because Melkor's thunderous and discordant singing defeated them, but rather because they did not wish to compete with him and considered the song spoiled by his behavior. It was not defeat, since obviously by singing together the others could have overcome him. Rather it was a rejection of the conflict itself - hence, a pacifist position. It was indeed the Third Theme sung by Iluvatar, representing the part of the Children of Iluvatar, that was to overcome Melkor's disruption. Concerning the "vow of poverty," Aule has indeed taken such a vow - as exemplified by his attitude toward his work and the work of others - his lack of excessive pride, jealousy, and possessiveness.
from
http://www.cas.unt.edu/~hargrove/bombadil.html


The above explanation of Tom's peculiar combination of power, knowlege, age, and preference for singing is most satifying to me.

My first reaction to your theory is that the invention of a new order of being/creature is an "ugly" solution-- even if it is plausible. (Math majors will know what I mean: elegance is more important than effectiveness-- at least in upper level math courses....)

But if we rule out the possibility of Tom being a Valar-- we have to come up with something.
 

imladris

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You have quite a good theory there, i think you have a good point there.
I don't know what he is , but he musst be powerfull like a maiar.
:D
 

Lantarion

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I have had similar thoughts myself, and I think that is a very convincing argument. I think Melkor was the first being to enter into Arda, but I suppose Tom could have been there even before him. He might not have had any actual form or body, but he might have been some unseeable and ethereal (although quite a harmless) power. Now, as I'm sure my readers have come to notice, I must include my daily nitpicking scheme:
A single being cannot be a Valar, because the 'r' at the end explicitly means that the word is plural. The singular form can be used by dropping the 'r': Vala. The same thing with Maiar, Ainur, etc.
And btw, all 'godlike' beings (Valar and Maiar) are Ainur, including th Istari (s. Istar).
 

Bucky

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Tolkien plainly states in letter 131 that 'Tom is the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford countryside'.

He's an embodyment of ME itself (as created).

You can buy that or not, but the fact is that Tom tells Frodo when asked "Who are you master", "Haven't you guessed yet?"
And let's face it, if Frodo should be able to guess, it can't be as hard as we're akll making it, because Hobbits of the Shire, even Bilbo & Frodo at this time, didn't have the lore or information compiled to do the amount of research we have.
 

Grond

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Originally posted by Goroshimura
...But if we rule out the possibility of Tom being a Valar-- we have to come up with something.
Why?? The author chose to portray Tom and to refer to Tom as an enigma. Something that didn't fit. An unknown. A mystery. He need not be of the Ainur, Valar or Maiar. Couldn't he just be a special exception? That is apparently exactly how JRRT viewed him. Why do we the reader need to "read" something into a story that the author felt very comfortable to simply leave alone. :)
 

Grond

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The author's viewpoint on the Bombadil issue can be found in Letter 144, 22 April, 1954 to Naomi Richardson (a proof reader who sent many questions to the author and to which the author responded in this letter.) I will note quote it in detail but it makes very clear that Tom ain't any of the options presented.
 

Úlairi

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Calm down!!!

:D :D :D Calm down people! I have never come across or have even heard of these so called letters. All I did was come up a THEORY, that is all. Everything that I wrote was THEORETICAL!!! Now, if I had read these letters I probably would have left the subject alone. I personally thought it was a good theory, but I am not Tolkien so I cannot say what I said is TRUE!!! Lets have some views on the THEORY instead of seeing my theory as a threat and putting it down!:D :D :D
 

baraka

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Re: Calm down!!!

Originally posted by Ulairi
:D :D :D Calm down people! I have never come across or have even heard of these so called letters. All I did was come up a THEORY, that is all. Everything that I wrote was THEORETICAL!!! Now, if I had read these letters I probably would have left the subject alone. I personally thought it was a good theory, but I am not Tolkien so I cannot say what I said is TRUE!!! Lets have some views on the THEORY instead of seeing my theory as a threat and putting it down!:D :D :D
I think your theory is pretty good. Tom is definitely someone very powerful.
 

Goro Shimura

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Grond...

If Tolkien wrote a "story just for mere amusement..."

Then why do our discussions get so... heated... all of the time?


My view of this thread is that it is more about playing around with theories and ideas for the sheer pleasure of it... as opposed to being about proving a case beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If Tolkien intentionally put Tom in as an emigma-- then there is a solution that we ought to search for.

If he intentionally made Tom as an anomaly-- then there is no solution and searching is perhaps pointless even if it is fun.

There is too much over-all consistency within his sub-creation for me to think that he would put a flagrant anomaly in his work... but that's just me. Not that I can prove that or anything. (He did try to make Glorfindle's "resurrection" become unanomalous by tinkering with the metaphysical plumbing... which leads me to believe he disliked inconsistency.)

Enigmas by definition have a solution, so if Tolkien did indeed refer to Tom in that way...
 
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Lantarion

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I too think that Tom is an enigma, and can either be viewed as anything we see him as, or not be thought of a second time. He is what he is, to each their own.
And Goro, this discussion is getting so heated because we make it so. Tolkien didn't ask people to discuss the 'deeper meaning' of his books; he wrote them, put a ****load of work into them, and died. That was his life work, and I'm sure he was proud of it the way he intended it.
 

Bucky

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Heated?

This isn't even luke-warm by this Forum's standards, which are incredibly civil, IMHO.....

As I said before, there IS an answer or Tom wouldn't have said that to Frodo, "Haven't you guessed yet?". "Eldest, that's what I am."

Eldest what, though?

I go back to Tolkien's letter 131.
Tolkien states there that Tom was 'the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford countryside.
Erestor's comment at thge COE seems to back that up.

I'm going to go read #144 & see if it changes or refutes what is CLEARLY stated in #131.
 

Grond

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Bucky, please give me a reference point in letter #131 to Milton Waldman, where the statement concerning Tom is located. (ie number of pages in the letter). I cannot find mention of Tom anywhere in the letter but could be overlooking it. I also notice that there is no reference to this letter in cross referencing Tom Bombadil in the Index.
 

Úlairi

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There is nothing wrong with mucking around and I never said anything got 'heated'. We all know Tom is an enigma and that is how he will be left, but it is somethimes good to have theories. That is how everything starts. Jules Verne had a theory that man would travel to the moon and 84 years later they did!!! So, I cannot see anything wrong with having a 'THEORY'!!!:D :D :D
 

Grond

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Ulari, life is speculation. I apologize if I made it sound as if you weren't entitled to an opinon. You certainly are and this thread is where you should lay it out. And you are right, being an enigma does not preclude Tom from being a Maia, Vala or even Eru. He simply was not defined by the author. That isn't to say that we as readers cannot define him as we deem fit. :)
 

Eonwe

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besides the Buckster will keep saying "Who are you Master?" "Eldest that's what I am" :)
 

Úlairi

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Thankyou so much Grond!

:D :D :D Thankyou, I believe it takes a lot of humility to do something like that. I must say that you have convinved me and I would definitely say 'apology accepted' to you. The theory isn't really an opinion, it's a thought. In fact my opinion on Tom is much the same as you, that he is an enigma and that is the way he should be left. My theory was to see if anyone agreed with it or not. I read somewhere that Tolkien's Tom Bombadil was actually generated from his child's doll.

"A burly man with yellow boots, and he was named Tom."

I personally liked the chapter on Tom and when he put the ring on and didn't vanish I was astounded! Tolkien is truly a marvel.:D :D :D
 

Goro Shimura

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Seeing as everyone's being so nice....

I'm sorry for saying that we have to come up with a solution.

But just because Tolkien may be a bit coy in some of his letters, it does not necessarily mean there isn't an answer to the enigma. (Unless of course his letters are strongly stated enough-- I haven't read them!!!)

Keep in mind that Tolkien said that the Ents didn't really represent anything. But if you ask one his sons he'd tell you a different story. (His son was very upset about the merciless felling of trees for the creation of roads for automobiles. Tolkien promised to write a story for him where the trees fought back against the machine-lovers!!)

I'm interested in what he said, though....
 

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