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Tom Bombadil

Appears in:

Fellowship of the Ring, Adventures of Tom Bombadil

Description

Tom BombadilTom Bombadil first appeared in one of Tolkien's early stories. When he was writing Lord of the Rings, he decided fairly early on to include Tom Bombadil in the story.

That part of the story came when he rescued Merry and Pippin from Old Man Willow in the Old Forest. Frodo, Sam, Merry & Pippin then stayed for two nights at his home with his wife Goldberry, though they enjoyed the time so much that they were barely aware of what time had passed.

Tolkien deliberately left the background of Tom Bombadil in mystery. From Lord of the Rings it can be determined that he was very old. He told Frodo that he was there before the river and the trees and before the elves passed westward. He was described as being between a hobbit and a man in size. He liked to sing a lot. He was known to Gandalf and he also knew the hobbit Farmer Maggot well.

He seemed to be a being of great power. Sauron's ring apparently had no power over him. Wearing the ring normally turned the wearer invisible, however, Tom could see Frodo when he put the ring on and Tom remained visible when he put the ring on. He had power over the trees of the Old Forest, though he said he didn't control them. He also had power over the barrow wight that captured the hobbits in the Barrow Downs.

There were limits to his power, however, as Gandalf stated that he could not withstand the forces of Sauron if the ring were left with him. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil describe how Tom himself was once trapped by Old Man Willow.

The origin of Tom Bombadil really is a mystery. Some people have suggested that he may have been one of the Maiar, though there is no real evidence to support that. Tolkien himself described the character as an enigma and intended for him to be a mystery.

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