Beyond Middle-earth: Come merry doll Jul02

Beyond Middle-earth: Come merry doll...

The question of Tom Bombadil may just be Middle-earth’s greatest mystery—with, perhaps, the exception of the Blue wizards—and it’s not difficult to find the many theories that speculate his origins. Some think he is some form of a Valar spirit, or a Maiar spirit, or just a spirit of nature. One theory I found poses Tom as the physical embodiment of the music of the Ainur (which created Middle-earth). But, whatever the case may be, Tom Bombadil is a riddle to which there is no easy answer. I too once felt the itch to know exactly who Tom Bombadil is. I too wished that I could flip through the appendixes at the end of The Return of the King and read his origin story. Now, however, I am less interested in who he is as a being of Middle-earth, and more in who he is as a character in relation to the narrative of The Lord of the Rings. As a character he doesn’t serve much purpose to the narrative, other than offering a brief repose to Frodo and company on their journey through the Old Forest. He comes out of nowhere to save Merry and Pippin from the clutches of Old Man Willow and doesn’t appear again after the hobbits leave his house, except to save them from the Barrow-wights. Here is Tolkien himself purposefully creating mystery.I like Goldberry’s explanation, when Frodo asks about him: “He is” (FR, 164). Tom later describes himself as “Eldest, that’s what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn,” (FR, 173). As far as Middle-earth is concerned, Tom Bombadil is quite probably the oldest creature to live there, even older...