The LOTR Movie Site
February 7, 2001

Clarifying the Bombadil Issue
Derek McG.

I would just like to add a few clarifying comments to the Bombadil controversy. It seems there are two sides to the debate -- those who like Bombadil, and those who don't. These two sides keep repeating their cases over and over while no headway is being made in the debate. The reason for this is simple -- they are debating two entirely separate points.

Those who like Bombadil keep pointing out that he is essential to the story, and that he is an important character. I agree with this. In fact, I would guess that most people who dislike Bombadil would agree with this (I have only read a few articles expressing the extreme view that Bombadil is comletely irrelevant).

Those who dislike Bombadil keep stating that he is annoying. I agree with this as well. Every time I reread LOTR, I cringe as I approach his chapters, and yet I read them. This may seem contradictory, but I submit that it is not. In my opinion, there are basically two perspectives from which to view Bombadil.

The first perspective is as an icon. By this I mean his role in the story (rescuing the Hobbits from the Willow and the Wights, his mastery of his little kingdom, his lack of concern for the ring, etc). It is this side that I believe is essential to the story, and it is the reason I don't skip over the chapters involving him.

The second perspective is as a character. By this I mean the way he looks, dresses, and skips through the forest gathering waterlillies and singing nonsensical songs. This is the side of Bombadil I find thouroughly annoying, and it is the reason I cringe whenever I reach his portion of LOTR.

I agree that Bombadil is an important part of the story but, in my opinion, the way in which his character is written is the one flaw in Tolkien's masterpiece. Bombadil's part in the story could have been written in less annoying fashion.

By the way, I agree with PJ's decision to cut him. What many have referred to as "the cringe factor" outweighs his contribution to the storyline.