FoTR - In the House of Tom Bombadil: Bk I, Chapter VII

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FoTR - In the House of Tom Bombadil: Bk I, Chapter VII

Postby Philipa » Tue Nov 08, 2005 4:52 pm

In the House of Tom Bombadil

Image
Goldberry

© Iolanthe




O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by the living pool! Fair River-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves' laughter!

©J.R.R. Tolkien Estates



In this the seventh chapter the hobbits have been rescued from the Old Forest. Two strangers will help them for another rest is needed after such trying times. Whether you like Tom Bombadil and Goldberry or not let’s discuss this chapter here. There are many wonderful sources and theories about the hobbit’s new friends. So, let us begin…

House Rules
Last edited by Philipa on Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Merry » Wed Nov 09, 2005 4:46 am

On of the small things I have always enjoyed about Tom Bombadil's house is the comforting accomodations that were awaiting the hobbits: low mattresses with fluffy white blankets, hot water, and little soft green slippers for each of them. So how do Tom and Goldberry know to have little hobbity slippers for their guests? :?

Doesn't matter, really. They have what they need in this house.
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Postby bruce rerek » Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:55 pm

The chapter is a very good illustration of older much more primal forces at work than the evil of Sauron. It is of note that Frodo dreams a figure being taken away from fell voices and howls of wolves. One must remember that as long as Frodo has the One Ring he has a window to Sauron's mind and will. Yet, only moonlight and starlight pass through Tom's windows, heed no nightly noises.
In the Adventures of Tom Bombadil (Tolkien Reader) one can read an earlier draft of the enchantment of Bombadil's land. He doesn't lord over Old Man Willow, Badger, or even the Barrow Wights - he simply keeps them in check. He wins Goldberry's hand by informing her that her place isn't with her mother but with him under the Hill. (Mr. Underhill?)
The timeless feeling that Frodo feels is the unbroken song of Tom and Goldberry. Contrast this to the One Ring and Tom sees through it all and tells Frodo to leave his game behind, for Tom must teach him to take the right road, and keep your feet from wandering.
The chapter is a very intresting constrast between the wholesomeness of Bombadil's home and the fell deeds that await.
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Postby Philipa » Wed Nov 09, 2005 5:10 pm

I have seen and read articles and posts about that this chapter was unnessary for the story. I'm curious to know everyone's thoughts. My own is it vital for several reasons. One of which was mentioned about in bruce's post. We see a truly ancient creature who is outside the worldly evil and cares of the rest of Middle-earth. Perhaps this is a message that evil was not the invention of Eru and it came later with greed and such with Morgoth.

Both Tom and Goldberry are purely of nature and nature is wholey good. But are they untouchable?
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Postby marbretherese » Wed Nov 09, 2005 10:11 pm

Tolkien's letters offer some interesting insights. He refers to having "inserted" his original concept of Tom Bombadil into LOTR and then writing a second poem to further "integrate" Tom into the story. It's clear Tolkien included him in LOTR for a reason. In a different letter (number 144) he explains this in some detail: the gist of which is that Tom is not important to the narrative; but, while good and evil battle for control of Middle Earth, Tom represents someone who has renounced the need for control, which therefore renders the rights and wrongs of power and control meaningless (Tolkien does make the point, however, that Tom can only flourish if the West is victorious).
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Postby Philipa » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:58 am

marbretherese wrote:Tom represents someone who has renounced the need for control, which therefore renders the rights and wrongs of power and control meaningless (Tolkien does make the point, however, that Tom can only flourish if the West is victorious).


This is fascinating marbretherese. I wonder why Tolkien mentions Tom can not survive without the rightous winning. Is it because he is so tied to nature? There was plenty of evidence against nature's survival if Sauron's victory.
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Postby Merry » Fri Nov 11, 2005 4:38 am

That seems to be what they conjecture at the Council of Elrond, Philipa:

'Power to defy our Enemy is not in him [Bombadil], unless such power is in the earth itself. And yet we see that Sauron can torture and destroy the very hills.' (FOTR)
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Postby Philipa » Fri Nov 11, 2005 2:02 pm

I think this chapter has three interesting dreams within its pages. Would anyone like to discuss them?
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Postby bruce rerek » Fri Nov 11, 2005 5:19 pm

Would love to, shall I put the kettle on, and if so, Earl Grey, Jasmine, or White Tea?
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Postby Philipa » Fri Nov 11, 2005 6:28 pm

:lol: On this blustery November day I'll take anything. :D

Merry's dream is intrigueing to me. Water...do you suppose this is a futuristic dream of the drowning of Isengard?
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Postby Chrissiejane » Sun Nov 13, 2005 4:05 pm

I have previously been one of those who wondered about the place of Tom in the great scheme of things, and I have passed over this chapter without too much thought. I am reconsidering now! Thank you all for introducing the thought that relinquishing control has taken Tom and Goldberry outside of the influence of the Ring. Then if the earth itself can be afflicted by evil, the power of Tom to keep life in balance is either stronger or weaker, depending on where the good/evil axis lies. So is his situation somewhat like the elves, who have to leave Middle-earth for their own survival? (Tom cannot leave - I presume - but would need to accept diminution of his balancing role.) That makes him into a symbol for the dynamism of our planet, threatened by industrialisation. No surprise that Tom values the elves and the farmers, who have respect for working with nature, and are not trying to master it like Saruman.
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Postby bruce rerek » Sun Nov 13, 2005 5:08 pm

It would be hard to guess as to the significance of each of the dreams. Frodo has dreamed of the Nazgul and the Grey Havens. In this dream I believe he witnessess Gandalf's escape from Isengard. It could be that the One Ring acts as a window into Sauron's mind.
As we shall later see, both Faramir and Boromir have the same dream and we'll discuss this when that chapter arrises. I think the Professor uses dreams as illustration of what might lie ahead and to make his characters much more richer.
As to the water, I rather think we have to recal that although Tom's house seems to be largely terrestrial, Goldberry does reside there as well. It just might be that at certain times the house becomes the waer domain of Goldberry. Enchanted places are often rarely what they seem.
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Postby Merry » Sun Nov 13, 2005 6:07 pm

Great ideas, Chrissiejane and Bruce.

I had never thought about how the plights of Tom and the elves were so similar: those who don't leave must diminish. Tom's diminution is of an odd kind, though, isn't it? He is close to being a clown or a jester. I suppose Tolkien is trying to weave in another theme: the presence of these odd capering singers in myth and fairy tales.

I love how Tolkien has these mythical creatures, a god and goddess really, doing everyday domestic chores: setting the table and Goldberry's laundry day, for example. Do you think that the waters obey Goldberry and do the washing on their own? :wink:
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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all the days of your life.

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Postby Philipa » Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:22 pm

Chrissiejane I'm so glad you have a different outlook about Tom and Goldberry. Although it seems Tolkien himself isn't quite sure why he has interjected them into the story we the readers can find plenty of good reason why they exist.

As to the water, I rather think we have to recal that although Tom's house seems to be largely terrestrial, Goldberry does reside there as well. It just might be that at certain times the house becomes the waer domain of Goldberry. Enchanted places are often rarely what they seem.


I like what you had to say here bruce though I also like my interpretation as well. I do agree with your synopsis of Frodo's dream. As I read the passages the thought crossed my mind as well.

Do you think that the waters obey Goldberry and do the washing on their own?


Perhaps the water is not to hot nor to cold. :wink:

In the next chapter it is fascinating to see how Tom deals with the situation on the Borrow-Downs. More mystifying stuff there to be had. But I don't want to rush off to the next chapter so soon. :(
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Postby Cassandra » Tue Nov 15, 2005 8:02 am

When I reread the chapter I thought Goldberrys washing day isn't meant as a day as you would do the laundry or clean the house. It was raining all day long and the Hobbits couldn't leave. Maybe the rain was Goldberrys washing. The rain swept away the dust of summer, doesn't everything look, feel, smell clean after a long period of dry weather? Although Tom says that the weather doesn't follow his command, but maybe Goldberry could do some extra rain every now and then. It's just hard for me to imagine Goldberry stooping over a wash board or kneeling on the floor. (Because that's exactly what I have to do right now. :roll: ..)

:D Cassandra
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