The LOTR Movie Site
June 23, 2000
Response to 'Hear! Hear! to No
Bombadil' by Mark S.
Mark, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about. There are very many reasons
why Tom was put into the book. Let me try and show you SOME of the reasons why the Tolkien
(or his editor) "left" him there:
1) The world of Tolkien is a big place, bigger than any universe created by man before.
How do you introduce people to this universe? You start with a simple story (A child's
story if you will) of a Hobbit who goes on an adventure with a wizard and dwarves.
Building, from this you begin to slowly change the focus of the story as the reader
becomes more acclimated with the environment. By introducing colorful characters like
Bombadil, this makes the transition a lot easier and takes a break from all that you
learned of middle earth to that point and shows you yet another nook and cranny of it.
Yeah, he's a little odd considering the earlier events of the book seemed rather
structured. The reader has to understand that Middle Earth (Most peoples first view of it)
is much different from the Shire (Or as you uncouthly, for lack of a better term, put it:
Munchkins on the English countryside).
2) The characters themselves, had never been out of their Shire. Tolkien introduces them,
the characters, to an anomaly of Middle Earth, which is just one of many that they will
encounter. It sets a precedent for the rest of the story. Middle Earth is not teaming with
Bombadil's all over the place, just as it isn't teaming with Galadriel's either. Tolkien
has now prepared the characters and the reader for future encounters in the book. If you
can't see that, then you cannot see through a brick wall in time (As they say in Bree).
3) Illustrating the fact, that over some things, the ring or the power of Sauron, have no
control. That even though Sauron is a big deal to the Men and Elves of that time, There
are other things in the world which he cannot corrupt or change. A fact that needs to be
shown since the Valar are really not introduced in LOTR, the reader has no idea why Sauron
himself is in Middle Earth. The reader doesn't know that Sauron's beef with Elves and Men
goes back to a time when the evil powers of that world wanted to dominate the West but
since it was fruitless and impossible, they then pursued Middle Earth with more vigor than
before (Melkor and Sauron both used Middle Earth as a staging ground of attack more than
As for why the Valar do not get involved, they were not a
part of the ruling of men. That is stated in many places throughout Tolkien's other Middle
Earth works. Due to their mistakes with the Elves, they had to be a little more involved
than they should have, to help repair the damage their mistakes made. The Valar were for
the Elves. Everyone knows that. The fate of Men was removed from their (the Valar)
knowledge. They were not permitted to hinder the gift of men. If you are referring to
Bombadil, being a Maia, which I believe is most likely the case, then you must understand
that the Maia were just spirits that descended to Ea but were not in anyway in charge of
it. They could takes sides wherever they wished or, like Tom, be by themselves.
Men and a lot of Elves, could have cared less about the Maia themselves, so why would the
Maia care about them, both races would have seemed rather dull to a Maia, beings that were
around since before Ea was even in existence.
In the end, Bombadil is a beginning of the rock slide of information that the readers of
LOTR get pounded with when they first read the books. It is, in part, a symbol to the
reader: OK hang on to your hats, its gonna get intense. Or if you would like an analogy it
is basically like Frodo saying: "Sam, I don't think were in Kansas anymore".
That's my two cents (and a couple quarters) :)