Who the hell is Tom Bombadil?
Okay so anyone who has read the Lord of The Rings always asks two questions 1) Who the hell is Tom Bombadil, and 2) Why was he not in the movies?
The second one is the easiest to answer, so we’ll deal with that one first.
Tom Bombadil could never have been in the movies, his character was really a detraction and his only real contribution to the story was giving the hobbits a chance to get access to the swords kept by the barrow-wight, which admittedly changes quite a few important things in the story, but only subtly (for those who haven’t read the books, it was actually Meriadoc who killed the Witch-King at the battle of Minas-Tirith after the death of Théoden). The whole section leading up to the meeting with Tom in the Forest would have taken up half of the first movie, and with such a restricted medium (plus the fact that Tolkien is known for rambling, which does not make a good movie) it would have made the movie a cinematic flop with a few loyal fans and the others would have never been released, rather than the cinematic epic that it turned out to be.
Okay, so now the hard question
Who the hell is Tom Bombadil?
This is a hard matter to deal with as it never says out right exactly who he is
“Fair lady!” said Frodo again after a while. “Tell me, if my asking does not seems foolish, who is Tom Bombadil?”
“He is, “ said Goldberry.
There are, however, hints in the book as to his identity, if you have read all of the books, the Silmarillion included.
Here is my personal conclusion, Tom Bombadil (AKA Iarwain Ben-adar oldest and fatherless, AKA Forn, AKA Orald) is Eru AKA Ilúvatar Creator of all.
Bear with me, I will explain, but to do that I have to explain some other things first, and it might get a little complicated.
Eru existed first and he sang the Ainur into being, there were two ranks of the Ainur the more powerful and less powerful and they all sang into being the world. Of these Ainur there was one who was more powerful than the rest, Melkor, who tried to go against Eru and sing the world to his own liking, Eru and the other Ainur defeated him and he was cast out but managed to get to the newly forged world, and so became Morgoth, the great evil. Fourteen of the more powerful Ainur and many of the lesser decided to follow Melkor to the World and work against him, these became the Valar (greater Ainur) and the Maiar (lesser Ainur).
Now I know that was a bit intense and you can read it for yourself in the Valaquenta which forms part of the book “The Silmarillion” (It’s very hard going believe me). I did however recap it for a reason, to introduce you to the hierarchy of powers in the Lord of The RIngs Universe. Here it is put simply:
Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.
In the end of the Silmarillion it introduces the Wizards as Maiar taken physical form, and we also see Galadriel in the Silmarillion introduced as a High Elf.
So now lets explore who was tempted by the ring:
Sauron was a Maiar in the service of Morgoth and was very powerful, but still a lesser Ainur. He created the One Ring, and had a hand in making all the others except the Elven Three. He himself needs the power of the ring to regain his strength, so he is affected by it. Gandalf, as one of the lesser Maiar refused the ring, acknowledging that he could use the power in it but it would control and twist him. Even the High Elf Galadriel (who in some cases are a lot more powerful than the Maiar e.g. Glorfindel and Fëanor) sees a vision of herself as twisted and evil having used the One.
So so far we have clarified that the High elves and even the Maiar can’t use the one and remain unaffected by the power it contains and yet in Book 1 of the Fellowship, Tom Bombadil sees through Frodo’s invisibility and takes the One from him and puts it on, completely ignoring it’s power.
Logically this means that he is more powerful than even Sauron, put has no interest in moving against him, placing him at least in the ranks of the Valar.
All Fourteen Valar are accounted for on Valinor though.
▪ Manwë Súlimo, King of the Valar
▪ Ulmo, King of the Sea
▪ Aulë, the Smith and the Lord of Earth and all that’s underneath
▪ Oromë Aldaron, Lord of Forests, the Great Rider, and Hunter of Valinor
▪ Tulkas Astaldo, Champion of Valinor, the last of the Valar to come to Arda
▪ Varda Elentári, Queen of the Stars, spouse of Manwë
▪ Yavanna Kementári (Palùrien), Giver of Fruits, spouse of Aulë
▪ Nienna, Lady of Mercy
▪ Estë the Gentle, Lady of Healing and Rest, spouse of Irmo
▪ Vairë the Weaver, spouse of Mandos
▪ Vána the Ever-young, spouse of Orome
▪ Nessa the Dancer, spouse of Tulkas
So who does that leave? Who is more powerful than the greatest of Maiar and all the High Elves, but isn’t a Valar, who are all on Valinor, and isn’t Morgoth who is trapped in the void.
My conclusion isn’t unsupported either, there are other hints in the Fellowship. Remember when I said that Eru Sang the Ainur and the world into being and his song was stronger than Melkor.
Here is the passage from Book 1 of the Fellowship where he sings away the power of the Barrow-Wight.
“Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the Master:
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.”
There is also a prophecy that Morgoth will break free in the last age of the world and Eru will fight with all of his children and mend the world, here is another passage from the same section.
“Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,
Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.”
Gandalf also alludes to this when talking about Tom to the council at Rivendell:
“And now he is withdrawn into a little land, within bounds
that he has set, though none can see them, waiting perhaps for a change of days, and he will not stepbeyond them”
Any questions? leave a comment and I will try my best to answer them, alternatively leave a comment on the Facebook “like” page for Kit Myers.
Think I’m wrong? Please enlighten me, leave a comment!