August 24, 2001
Good Riddance Tom
Sad that Tom "Bumbling" Bombadil has been left out?
Not me! I hated the little fella!
Tolkien spent great effort in creating an approaching tide of terror - what with the Black
Riders continually hounding the hobbits through The Shire. In particular the encounter
involving Fatty Bolger is truly frightful; an excellent piece of writing...
And then what does Tolkien do? Brings in this half arsed jocular Jar Jar Binks-esque
character! Sorry about the tacky Star Wars reference, but this is how movie goers would
interpret Tom on the silver screen.
I have a few literary criticisms of Bombadil as well:
1) I feel he ruins the atmosphere, and pace, of the book. I referred earlier to the ever
present feeling of dread. This, I feel, is trivialised by Tom's appearance - with his
"hey dum derry doll", and his pink boots!
2) I understand that many readers feel that Tom Bombadil also represents a bygone age of
Middle Earth - a time when the world was young, wild, and unformed... Unfortunately, I do
not share this viewpoint. I believe he is simply a 'Deus Ex Machina': a way to get those
silly little hobbits out of that barrow, in one piece, so they have some ancient swords
that can slay the Witchking later on. He's a plot device, and an obtuse one at that.
I think Tolkien missed the mark on this - my own opinion, I know, and I apologise if I've
antagonised some of you out there. By leaving him out, I believe that PJ will generate a
better feeling of pace and suspense; focusing on the claustrophobic atmosphere that is
generated in the book.
That said, I would very much like to raise another point regarding a deleted character:
Now I do not know the specifics (so correct me if I'm wrong), but it seems that Arwen will
be riding WITH Frodo as the riders chase him. If that's true then how will this affect the
stand off between the lone Frodo and The Nine Riders? I remember this scene being
particularly powerful and resonant for many reasons. One is the fact that you see
Glorfindel "uncloaked" - ie, as he appears in the Undying Lands. This is what,
if you'll pardon the pun, spooks the Nazgul; driving them into the Ford of Bruinen to be
washed away by the river. How will this be achieved with him not being present?
It's also interesting to note that this is one of the ways in which Tolkien beautifully
illustrates the elves as being timeless, youthful, yet ancient. Wonderfully ambiguous, yet