thoughts on Tom Bombadil
- This is a message I posted in another group, and I thought that I
would share it here as well. The set-up: a couple of people wrote how
disappointed they were that Tom Bombadil was left out of the film. I
chimed in- I theorized that Bombadil was left out for public safety
reasons... as the inclusion of "a singing yokel bounding around the
forest in big yellow boots" would cause a stampede for the exits,
causing the crushing death of small children. I received this angry
reply, and wrote the following response:
--- In lord_of_the_rings_middle_earth@y..., "Kerry Theriot"
>Nobody living, not even your English teacher, can say for certain
> Ahem, Bomadil was a Maiar, one of the gods who helped in the
> creation of the earth and is older than time itself. He wasn't a
> yokel, he was the expression of pure and carless joy, and only
> someone who has experianced such joy would understand. He was even
> stronger that Sauron, for he wasn't tempted by the ring at all.
> I supose it helps, when you're teacher has a docorate in english
> and has read the most of Tolkiens books some forty times are so.
what Tom Bombadil was. Many people seem to think he was a Maiar. I
don't think that stands up to logic:
-Bombadil was impartial to the Ring and the conflict between good
and evil. He was above it and beyond it. None of the other Maiar that
Tolkien names (the Balrogs, Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, Melian...) are
capable of being impartial.
-the dialog at the Council of Elrond makes it clear that Bombadil
answers to no-one. All of the Maiar answer to someone, even Sauron
(though his master was exiled.)
-some of the statements made about Bombadil:
"Oldest and Fatherless."
Tolkien doesn't drop stuff like that *lightly*. Tolkien doesn't use
strong language like that to describe any of the Maiar.
-Tom's statements about himself: he claims to have arrived in Arda
before the rivers and trees were made- that would make him one of the
Valar, wouldn't it? In fact Tom claims to have arrived in Arda even
before Melkor! No way is this guy just a Maiar.
Here is a very good essay that argues why Tom Bombadil and Goldberry
are probably Aule and Yavanna:
Even that has some problems, as the Silmarillion explicitly states
that Melkor arrived in Arda before the other Ainur.
HOWEVER, even if Tom Bombadil is a huge figure in Tolkien's
*mythology*, he is still an unimportant figure in "The Lord of the
Rings". The link I provided quotes Tolkien *himself* saying "Tom
Bombadil is not an important person- to the narrative. I suppose he
has some importance as a 'comment'." Ok, so even Tolkien himself
didn't feel Bombadil was important to the story itself. I have read
that Tolkien planned to remove Tom Bombadil, and decided to leave him
in for sentimental reasons. He is at best an editorial comment by
Tolkien, or a remembrance Tolkien included for personal reasons.
Either way, Tolkien himself tells us that Bombadil is extraneous to
So imagine you're Peter Jackson and you're trying to figure out how
to make a 500-page epic into a 3-hour movie. What do you cut? Well,
cutting the character that Tolkien himself says is "unimportant to
the narrative" would be a pretty obvious place to start. If Tolkien
had an extra 20 minutes to put in the film, how about more
Lothlorien? And if he had 20 more minutes, how about the Barrow
Downs? See what I'm getting at? There's a lot of stuff that *would*
have added to the movie that was left out before we even get to
And suppose Tom Bombadil *had* made it into the film. I can't imagine
any way that could have worked out well for a movie. I think that
pretty much any interpretation of Tom Bombadil would have worked out
*badly* on film. I can't imagine any way they could have done that
without being *painful* to watch. It would have left 95% of the
audience scratching their heads, and 99% of the audience wishing they
hadn't wasted 20 minutes with the singing fruit-cake in the forest.
That's not something you want to happen when you're making a movie.
- In a message dated 12/5/02 7:53:28 PM Central Standard Time, itzsharon@... writes:
2. Quoting the specific portion of the message that you are
responding to is highly recommended. Not doing so invites confusion,
because we don't all have photographic memories. Also, in an active
thread like this one, there may be several people posting back and
forth at the same time, and it's not always easy to follow the
sequence of the comments.
All excellent points! I am also especially recommending the above suggestion. After not having the time to get to my email all week, and having to wade through some 800+ posts (between several lists), it can be very confusing and frustrating to try to follow a discussion when it is not clear which post is being responded to. Some comments make no sense at all when taken out of context, which is what happens when the message being responded to is not included...especially for people who are constantly having to play catch up with their email. :o)