The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) The Fellowship of the Ring discussion


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Why does everyone love Tom Bombadil?

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Erika I think he was a good character but didn't love him.

There are a lot of people out there who love him, why is that?


JulieLaLa I think (if I remember correctly - it's been so long since I read the book) we like him so much because of his whimsy, his joyfulness.


J.M. Ney-Grimm LotR is so serious! I love it, but there is so much sadness and terror and purpose. Bombadil is a lovely bit of joyous whimsy. But, to be honest, I don't truly know why I like him so very much. Except maybe we all long for "moments out of time." And Bombadil is that.


Alessandra I think even Tolkien found him rather a surprise, if I recall aright.


Melissa Maybe because he serves no purpose in the story. Empty calories, as it were. Magic that is there just to be there, or an untold story that we see just in hints around the edges. We have to guess at something wonderful beyond our sight.


J.D. Field I think Melissa is right, to me, one of the draws of TLOTR was the awareness that there was a massive story around the edges, and before and after. It gives much more of an idea that the world is real. Bombadil is the 'oldest' massively powerful, confusing, and never really explained...


message 7: by Habz (new) - added it

Habz He's a really jolly character and everytime we come across him, it's like he can solve any problem!
He's also been around for a looong time, so maybe its his infinite knowledge and the fact that he has seen and knows it all and can still be happy and jolly!


Nathaniel Bertram I think what always made him so interesting is the fact the he is such a mystery, such a contradiction. He holds such power and has a such a depth of knowledge, and yet he chooses to have no part in the counsel of others or the affairs of the world. There is a part where someone even suggests giving him the ring, which is a clear indication of just how much he must be capable of. He seems to see everything and to have existed for almost all of Middle Earth's history, but yet he is so very childish and aloof in all his actions, as if time has not coloured his innocence at all. There's a lot of depth to the mystery around him that makes him so attractive, compiled with the simple charm and whimsicality of his personality. He just is a lovable character, seeming to exist for no other reason to peak our curiosity.


message 9: by Kestia (new) - added it

Kestia I think Bombadil is a symbol that nothing can hold sway over all. He played with the ring as though it was a toy, and had no trouble at all. I love him because he is outside of everything, and yet a part of it all in his own way. He lives within his own small part of the world, and needs nothing outside of that. It's a good feeling; who wouldn't want to be utterly content with what they have, and want nothing more?


Sudheer For me it's because, he doesn't give a shit about anything.....he wasn't afraid of the nazgul and the ring doesn't have a sway over him. He has a kind of crazy hermit aura around him (which I kind of generally like in Fantasy genre - tenga in inheritance/elodin in kingkiller series etc.,)
It is even mentioned about giving the ring to him during the counsels in Rivendel, but they decide against it because there is a possibility that Bombadill might forget about the ring and might lose it. I mean how cool is that!! you have the most powerful ring in the history of middle earth that can control all the races and you don't give a damn about it.

I have also read somewhere that Tolkein left the Bombadill character as an intentional enigma. You just can't ignore the mystery surrounding him.

There are theories that he is an Earthly incarnation of Eru himself(which i don't believe) or he might have been a valar in the elder days.

And not knowing if any of this is true adds to his usual joyous charisma making him so lovable


Matthew Melissa wrote: "Maybe because he serves no purpose in the story. Empty calories, as it were. Magic that is there just to be there, or an untold story that we see just in hints around the edges. We have to guess at..."

That about nails it. Tolkien wrote the character to have much more and older purpose than he or his wife shows. He's a happy spirit in a land filled with darkness.


James Pailly Thanks for starting this discussion. I've often wondered about Bombadil's popularity... he never made much of an impression on me... but now I have some answers. Next time I read Lord of the Rings, I'll try to keep what's been said here in mind.


message 13: by Jack (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jack Basically, I agree with what's already been said, but I have to say something else. I was ten when I read these books, and for me Tom Bombadill was something like a commercial break. He was happy and he had cool songs, and it was just a break for my mind from the darknessof the story. And I think that's important in any story, at any age.


message 14: by Phillip (new) - added it

Phillip He is stark. He is memorable because he doesn't really fit where he is placed in the story. He doesn't really fit in Middle Earth. But there he is.

I think we respond to his detachment from the human problems of his world and his devotion to wife and nature.


message 15: by C.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.D. Sweitzer Tom Bombadil is intriguing because he exists outside of the temporal problems of Middle Earth. It's not so much that he doesn't belong, it's just that he's so immortal and so much a part of the land itself that he exists apart from society. Probably a character from another storyline altogether that found his way into Middle Earth, but belongs as a mythological aspect of the topography. Such a romantic life for a hermit, who wouldn't want to live like Tom?


Patrick So many peope have taken the words right out my mouth. I love Tom Bombadil because he's an enigma and he doesn't fit into any classification. So you're always wondering who or what exactly he is. He's not part of the main story, but I'm always wanting to know more about him. That to me is a great character.


message 17: by C.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.D. Sweitzer And to think that if the LotR manuscript were to come across the desk of a publishing company editor today, he would strike Tom from the script and say, "Take all this rubbish out--no direct relevance to the narrative--tighten up, be succinct, J.R.R.!
Patrick wrote: "So many peope have taken the words right out my mouth. I love Tom Bombadil because he's an enigma and he doesn't fit into any classification. So you're always wondering who or what exactly he is. H..."


Erika C.d. wrote: "And to think that if the LotR manuscript were to come across the desk of a publishing company editor today, he would strike Tom from the script and say, "Take all this rubbish out--no direct releva..."

That's so true!


message 19: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark What is not to love about Tom Bombadill? He is something so powerfull and doesn't seem to care. Further on in the books you keep wondering about him and what he could have done and how the darkness would have reacted on Tom.
Not getting any answers feeds the magic of the character.


Devon  Start Kestia wrote: "I think Bombadil is a symbol that nothing can hold sway over all. He played with the ring as though it was a toy, and had no trouble at all. I love him because he is outside of everything, and yet ..."

maybe he is a valar but he is also "the first and will be the last"
I agree that what makes him so appealing is his innocence, its not that he doesnt care to enslave races, the thought never even crosses his mind.

He is probably the most powerful being in all middle earth but well now that i think about it he is a rather selfish self absorbed putz.. he really is the first hippie.. but you love him anyway(cant imagine what he must smell like though)


Jaime When I first read LOTR, my terminally sulky teenage self thought Tom B and his lady friend were just too twee to live. Consequently I laughed and laughed at his depiction in the Harvard Lampoon's BORED OF THE RINGS. Later, when I was not so young and not so dumb I came to appreciate his apparently sui generis quality in terms of the world of Middle Earth. The fact that he didn't seem to fit at all made him intriguing. I also wonder if Tom B's an indication that Tolkien was kind of writing stuff literally in order without a clear end-game in terms of plot and general tone. The story gets doomier and gloomier as it progresses, the Nine go from fairly ineffectual hooded riders in FELLOWSHIP to full metal badass dragon-riding sorcerers in RETURN. One could argue that their strength and power increases with proximity to Mordor and with Sauron's expanding reach. So perhaps the good Professor knew what he was doing all along...


message 22: by Phillip (new) - added it

Phillip Jaime wrote: "When I first read LOTR, my terminally sulky teenage self thought Tom B and his lady friend were just too twee to live. Consequently I laughed and laughed at his depiction in the Harvard Lampoon's B..."

The impression I get from reading "The history of Middle Earth" is that you are absolutely correct about what you are saying. No strategy. He just wrote and wrote until it came out right. At first Aragorn was a hobbit that ran round in wooden shoes that worked in the Inn.


message 23: by Dena (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dena I liked Tom Bombadil but I didnt love him either. I admit he's a very intriguing character though. I know a lot of people are/were upset that Tom isnt in the movies. I, for one, wouldve loved to see him in them too. But some are really, really upset. Not me though. I think the movies are perfect just the way they are. For those who are so upset that Tom isnt in the movies all they have to do is pick up the books and read about him and let there imaginations do the rest. :)


readingpenguin14 I didn't care for Tom Bombadil, he took up quite a chunk of the book, and hardly has anything to do with the progress of the storyline.

Peter Jackson did the right thing by not having him in the film.


Erika Rich wrote: "I didn't care for Tom Bombadil, he took up quite a chunk of the book, and hardly has anything to do with the progress of the storyline.

Peter Jackson did the right thing by not having him in the..."


You are like the first person I've ever heard (or read) saying that


Autumn Probably for the reasons everyone else is saying. That he is lighthearted and then there's a question to his purpose. For me, he is quirky and doesn't belong in Middle Earth past a certain point. And the point was reached before he appeared. He's an odd character. And odd characters tend to be endearing.


Ricotn Didn't Tom Bombadil come from earlier published works by Tolkien? I always felt he was there to show that there are some people in Middle Earth that were undisturbed by the War of the Ring. Or perhaps he represents nature itself?
I found it interesting that, although immensely powerful, he was limited to his borders. He would not cross beyond those borders.


Autumn Ricotn wrote: "Didn't Tom Bombadil come from earlier published works by Tolkien? I always felt he was there to show that there are some people in Middle Earth that were undisturbed by the War of the Ring. Or pe..."

"The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" was a published work by Tolkien. Although, I don't think the world Bombadil was in had taken on the form of Middle Earth yet. So, in a sense he came from the earliest days of Middle Earth. Many critics do think that he is a representation of nature; especially since Tolkien had many nature motifs throughout his works, such as the Ents, so it wouldn't have been too surprising if Bombadil did have a touch of Nature in his intent.


Nathaniel Bertram Ricotn wrote: "Didn't Tom Bombadil come from earlier published works by Tolkien? I always felt he was there to show that there are some people in Middle Earth that were undisturbed by the War of the Ring. Or pe..."

Tom Bombadil appeared in several poems by Tolkien pre-lotr that detailed comical attempts by many characters to subdue Tom. I don't think they were actually published until after lotr was though.


readingpenguin14 Erika wrote: "Rich wrote: "I didn't care for Tom Bombadil, he took up quite a chunk of the book, and hardly has anything to do with the progress of the storyline.

Peter Jackson did the right thing by not havi..."


Well, I was enoying the pace of the story until Tom Bombadil appered and felt the story came to a standstill!! It was a long time waiting for the story to pace up again!! must be me and my itching feet!!

what is your view of Tom bombadil relating to the story, Erika?


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't love Tom. As Rich says, big break in the action. He much more belongs in The Hobbit. I think every author has experienced the creation of some moment they really liked, but as the story evolved, there just no longer seemed to be a place for it. I think that's the whole Tom sequence. My gut says Tolkien loved the character, and refused to give him up, even though he doesn't really fit into the story (note how Treebeard makes a passing reference to him, but it feels kind of contrived.)


message 32: by Phillip (new) - added it

Phillip Karl wrote: "I don't love Tom. As Rich says, big break in the action. He much more belongs in The Hobbit. I think every author has experienced the creation of some moment they really liked, but as the story ..."

I agree with you, for the most part. The hobbits make such a poor showing for themselves through those episodes. My interpretation is that it is their apprenticeship for being heroes. This is the part where they mess up. Actually, they still mess up at the Inn. But, Bombadil is the part of their training, so to speak, where they can mess up big time and get away with it. From the Inn on they can't afford to be children any more.

I tend to agree with you. Tolkien wrote a poem about Bombadil. At first, he thought he was writing an extension to a children's story. He did know everything would get so adult and so serious a few hundred pages later.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll buy the apprenticeship concept. Without the barrow-wight episode, later encounters with the Nazgul become even more problematic. (But Tom's song is still a problem.)


message 34: by Michelle Von (last edited Mar 01, 2012 05:38PM) (new) - added it

Michelle Von I did like Tom, but what I really loved were the events surrounding the Hobbits meeting him/leaving his house...such as the Hobbits having to be rescued from the trees and the Barrow-wights (especially the barrow-wights!). Tom's whimsy is definitely enthralling to me in it's own way, but I kind of preferred Goldberry! lol ;)


Erika Rich wrote: "Erika wrote: "Rich wrote: "I didn't care for Tom Bombadil, he took up quite a chunk of the book, and hardly has anything to do with the progress of the storyline.

Peter Jackson did the right thi..."


I don't know if i like him or not... lol...

I remember reading that part in the book, the way he was described with that hat and singing, always happy and wondering how it would look like in the movie... later i found out he wasn't there, it didn't affect the movies, though.


message 36: by S.A. (last edited Mar 03, 2012 08:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

S.A. Bolich Rich wrote: "I didn't care for Tom Bombadil, he took up quite a chunk of the book, and hardly has anything to do with the progress of the storyline.

Peter Jackson did the right thing by not having him in the..."


Oh, hear hear. Whenever I read LOTR I skip over poor old Bombadil. The only plot-related element in this entire section is where Merry finds the sword with which he eventually stabs the Witch King. It's a total side trip in which Tolkien got to indulge in some whimsy. Good for him; it's a good bit of whimsy, but I still find it boring. Bombadil doesn't rub off on the hobbits that I can tell, so in the end, what was his purpose in the story? Not much that I can see. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I've just never been excited about this part of the book.


Erika S.A. wrote: "Rich wrote: "I didn't care for Tom Bombadil, he took up quite a chunk of the book, and hardly has anything to do with the progress of the storyline.

Peter Jackson did the right thing by not having..."


I skipped the poems, i felt i was never going to finish the book if i read it in its totality... This, for some reason, made me feel bad for Tolkien...


Lostshadows I've never liked him. He feels like he belongs in a completely different book and screws up the story's pacing.

Except for the bit with the barrow wight, I skip all the bits with him. Doesn't change the story in the slightest.


message 39: by Tina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tina I'm a big TB fan. He's the Greenman to me. The Guardian of all. He was happy and not afraid of anything. I liked how safe the Hobbits felt in his home. Nothing could harm them there and they'd had already been in some dangerous moments. Tom and his wife Goldberry were two of my favorites.

As for leaving them out of the film, I understand it. I missed him, but then again, I also missed the barrow wights. I would've much rather seen that then throw in Arwen where she isn't even mentioned. That's my 2 cents. I don't expect anyone to agree. :)


Jonathan Terrington I would say it's for the same reason that Shakespeare always introduces a jester/clown kind of character. He breaks up the serious tone and provides the audience with a relaxing change of pace. He's an enigma, a character that everyone questions about his unknown past and motives. His own man basically and yet he is no man. I'm not someone who goes: why wasn't he in the films? Because I see him as someone who only works in the book: a surprising character who comes along like an ancient spirit and injects his random laughter.


message 41: by C.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.D. Sweitzer Tina wrote: "I'm a big TB fan. He's the Greenman to me. The Guardian of all. He was happy and not afraid of anything. I liked how safe the Hobbits felt in his home. Nothing could harm them there and they'd h..."
Well, I for one agree! Little asides from the main narrative, such as Bombadil, give Middle Earth color and make it a pleasure to inhabit. So what if it doesn't follow the modern convention of relentless narrative thrust?


Daniel Tom has always fascinated me. Yes, he seems a little silly and his part in the story doesn't advance the plot. I would disregard him as well. Except for one little thing. The One Ring has no power over him at all. The wisest, most powerful characters in the story were all terrified at the thought of even holding the Ring much less of putting it on, but it didn't seem to faze Tom at all. I think that if he was not Valar, he was Maiar at least.


message 43: by Jes (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jes People like Tom Bombadil? really? I skip that part every time because he annoys me so much!


message 44: by Rose (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rose I can see it go both ways. I have to admit that I'm always a little impatient for the hobbits to get moving, but I also find him really sweet and I admire his joyfulness and freedom.


message 45: by Huw (new) - rated it 5 stars

Huw Evans Agree with Jessica completely; bad character, bad verse, bad vibe - only useful to extract the hobbits from the tree.


message 46: by John (last edited Mar 07, 2012 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Baker I love Tom because as many have noted he is a happy carefree fellow with a happy life and a lovely wife. Compared to other parts of the early tramping, it's almost as if Tolkien were acknowledging two paths.

My daughter was completely furious when we went to see the film and no Tom!


message 47: by Jake (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jake I didn't think he was that great. He sang too much. I liked Legolas and Gandalf the most. (forgive my misspellings, I haven't read the series in over 20 years.)


message 48: by Jes (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jes HE was the like ADD character that went way off on his own path... I loved the greenman element, but cannot get through most of his terrible poetry and singing, sorry!All I could think about was his poor wife putting up with this ALL-THE-TIME!


message 49: by Jake (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jake Thank you. That is what I said. (well, almost.) If you want a fun fantasy read that is without all the singing, try my novel, The Wrong Way Down. Thank you again.


message 50: by Phillip (new) - added it

Phillip Jessica wrote: "HE was the like ADD character that went way off on his own path... I loved the greenman element, but cannot get through most of his terrible poetry and singing, sorry!All I could think about was hi..."

Gosh, what I think about every time I read that part is how attentive he is to her. He is always out bringing her flowers and He mentions her her often enough in his songs that it indicates how highly he thinks of her.

Let's also not forget that if he is out tramping the woods looking for flowers, or what ever, then he is not in the house getting underfoot and being a nuisance.

I once met a sale rep. who laughed and told me that in his home absence definitely helped the heart grow fonder (his wife's, not his). Gold berry seems to be literally rooted to the home so maybe she likes an ADD kind of guy who adores her and is usually off finding things for her.

I once meet a girl who told me. "Sorry, I like big stupid guys." It had never occurred to me that someone really wonderful would do that on purpose. Maybe something like that is going on between Gold berry and Tom.


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