The Ring: A Thesis by Per Håkan Arvidsson

Discussions of papers inspired by Tolkien's writings.
Riv Res
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The Ring: A Thesis by Per Håkan Arvidsson

Postby Riv Res » Tue Jan 23, 2007 5:05 am

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The Ring
An Essay on Tolkien's Mythology
A Thesis by Per Håkan Arvidsson


Back in June of 2006, we posted the first part of a two part thesis written by Per Håkan Arvidsson, and published by the Tolkien Society entitled "Aragorn: Tales of the Heir of Isildur. Part 1 - The Evolution of the Man".

We are delighted that Per Håkan Arvidsson has found us here at Middle-earth Journeys and joined our membership here. We are hoping that his busy schedule allows time for him to post his thoughts on our comments on our June feature.

However...we are absolutely thrilled to present Per Håkan Arvidsson's earlier thesis work in its entirety, published here at Middle-earth Journeys with his permission, entitled The Ring.

This work by Arvidsson deals "with Tolkien's use of the ring as a symbol", and treats this subject with sections on...

:arrow: Tolkien himself
:arrow: Forging of Rings
:arrow: The Alchemist
:arrow: Language of Rings
:arrow: The Ring Quest
:arrow: The Volsunga Saga
:arrow: Of Elves & Men
:arrow: Tom Bombadil
:arrow: The One Ring
:arrow: Conclusion
:arrow: Bibliography


Arvidsson presented this thesis to the Department of English at Lund University in Sweden. I think you will find this work both informative and fascinating , and I am eager to discuss it with all of you here.


Because of the size, we have uploaded the paper for you in a pdf/zip file. PLEASE DO NOT HOTLINK. Left click and save to your computer.


The Ring, by Per Håkan Arvidsson


Thoughts? :D


© Per Håkan Arvidsson: Used by Permission

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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:37 am

Alas I won't have time to read this today, but my first thought is a huge thank you and welcome to Per! I really look forward to this. I enjoyed Aragorn: Tales of the Heir of Isildur. Part 1 so much. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to read your earlier thesis, Per. I sincerely hope you have time to join in and help us along with our discussions :D .
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Postby Per Håkan Arvidsson » Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:20 am

Greetings Tolkien enthusiasts,

Thank Riv Res. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have found this forum.

I'm looking forward to discussing Tolkien's works and my writings with you all. I hope to re-vitalize the thread on Aragorn, and hopefully help keeping this thread interesting too.

Cheers,
Per
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Postby Merry » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:57 am

Warm welcome, Per! I printed off your essay today and I'm looking forward to reading it this weekend. We'd sure like to know more about you, so at your convenience, please go to our introduction thread and tell us more about yourself and your love of the Professor!
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Postby Lindariel » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:44 pm

Welcome Per! I have printed a copy of your paper and look forward to reading it. I did notice that one of your chief sources is David Day's Tolkien's Ring. I received this book as a 2005 Christmas present and have commented on it in several threads here at MeJ. He certainly has a lot to say about the symbol of the Ring and the many Ring Quest stories from various different cultures. It is a wonderful resource, and I'm anxious to see what insights you have drawn from it.
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Postby Philipa » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:32 pm

Fantastic ... good to have you aboard Per. :D
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Postby Lindariel » Fri Jan 26, 2007 10:08 pm

Per, I have had a chance to read quickly through your paper once and am looking forward to the opportunity to read it again more deliberately. You give an excellent overview of the primary mythological sources the Professor used as background for LOTR, as well as a nice analysis of the how the roles/archetypes of the shaman, the smith, and the alchemist contribute to the story. For those of you who do not have access to David Day's Tolkien's Ring, Per provides excellent summaries of his major themes.

Where I do take exception to your paper is the section on Tom Bombadil. I see that you ascribe to Eugene Hargrove's theory that Tom is actually the Vala Aule. Unfortunately, I believe this theory is pretty well disavowed by the Professor's work in The Silmarillion, The Book of Lost Tales I, and LOTR.

This section from The Encyclopedia of Arda outlines the case against Tom being Aule, or any other Vala, pretty well:

The 'Vala Hypothesis', though, is not without difficulties of its own, with perhaps the most significant being:

'Eldest, that's what I am... Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn... He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless - before the Dark Lord came from Outside.' -- The Fellowship of the Ring I 7, In the House of Tom Bombadil

All of the beings who became Valar existed before Arda the World was made, so any of them could with justification claim the title 'Eldest'. But Tom says he 'knew the dark under the stars' (that is, he was in the World, not outside it) 'before the Dark Lord came from Outside'. The term 'Dark Lord' is uncertain here - it might apply to either Melkor/Morgoth or Sauron, and both originally came from 'Outside' the World.

If he means Melkor, then this is very significant. Consider this description of the entry of the Valar into the World, from the original conception of the Silmarillion, because tradition holds that the first Dark Lord entered the World before any of the Valar.

'Now swiftly as they fared, Melko was there before them...' -- The Book of Lost Tales, Part I, III The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor

'They' here refers to Manwë and Varda, who were explicitly the first Valar to enter Arda apart from Melko (Melkor). In Tolkien's original conception, then (and there is nothing in the published Silmarillion to contradict this) Melkor was the first being from 'Outside' to enter the World, and yet Tom suggests that he was already here when Melkor arrived!

Admittedly Tom may be referring to Sauron, who must have come to Arda into the World after these great ones, but the phrase 'before the Dark Lord came from Outside' seems to make more sense if he means Melkor, Sauron's master, the first Dark Lord (that is, he is referring to an event of cosmic significance, and a specific point in the World's history, which isn't the case with Sauron).

This is only one of the objections to the Vala theory. Another, for example, is that characters who we would expect to recognize a Vala living in their midst (especially Gandalf) don't apparently do so.


I also take exception to your theory that Tom, as Aule, created the Hobbits, just as he created the Dwarves. I think this is completely impossible, given Aule's tramatic experience when Eru Iluvatar discovered that he had created his own sentient beings:

And the voice of Iluvatar said to him: 'Why hast thou done this? Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond they power and they authority? For thou hast from me as a gift they own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?'

Then Aule answered: 'I did not desire such lordship. I desired things other than I am, to love and to teach them, so that they too might perceive the beauty of Ea, which thou hast caused to be . . . . As a child to his father, I offer to thee these things, the work of the hands which thou hast made. Do with them what thou wilt. But should I not rather destroy the work of my presumption?'

Then Aule took up a great hammer to smite the Dwarves; and he wept. But Iluvatar had compassion upon Aule and his desire, because of his humility . . . . 'Thy offer I accepted even as it was made . . . . But I will not suffer this: that these should come before the Firstborn of my design, nor that thy ipatience should be rewarded. They shall sleep now in the darkness under stone, and shall not come forth until the Firstborn have awakened upon Earth; and until that time thou and they shall wait, though long it seem.'


After such an experience, I cannot imagine that Aule would ever again attempt to create sentient beings against the will of Eru Iluvatar. Hence, he would not have created the Hobbits at a later time.

Now, I am a great admirer of Tom Bombadil -- I don't think his inclusion in this story is accidental at all, and I agree that he is VERY important. Per, if you are interested, I'd be pleased to share with you my own theory of who/what Tom Bombadil is. You can find it in the LOTR section of the MeJ website, on the second page of the discussion thread for the chapter "In the House of Tom Bombadil."

Aside from these issues with Tom Bombadil, I enjoyed the paper very much and am really looking forward to a second and more intensive reading! Congratulations!
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

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Hargrove's idea gone wild

Postby Per Håkan Arvidsson » Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:32 am

As I just posted for the first time in the thread on Aragorn, I couldn't help to take a look at this thread, and I will quickly respond to Lindariel's post above.

I have heard these arguments before. You say that the Silmarillion does not contradict that Melkor was first in the World, but it does not support it either. So, I see it simply as an idea that Tolkien had, but did not support, which is why there is nothing in the Silmarillion about it.

Interestingly, Hargrove wrote, rather lengthily, on the subject without mentioning your argument:
""Since Tom existed before Melkor, the
Dark Lord, and the other Valar descended to Middle-earth, he can be nothing
other than a Vala." I suppose the basis for this claim is the paragraph you
quote on page 15. There are a lot of different times mentioned in Tom's
quote. "Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first
raindrop and the first acorn" seems to refer to the time when Aule worked
with Ulmo to create the seas and the rivers and with Yavanna to add plants
to the lands. It is hard to imagine what "here" means since before the
rivers and the trees would seem to be before the land as well, unless he
just appeared between the making of the land and the watering and planting
of it. The arrival of the big and little people was much more recent. The
arrival of the big people would be before the end of the first age (the
bending of the seas). The arrival of the little people would be in the third
age. The hobbits arrived in the Shire in 1601. The reference to the coming
of the Barrow-wights is also third age, 1409. The next sentence about the
elves and the bending of the seas refers back again to the first age. The
reference to the dark under the stars before the Dark Lord came from the
outside is confusing. Melkor was not the Dark Lord when he came from the
outside. He became the Dark Lord when he openly fought with the other Valar
under the name Morgoth the Enemy. To make sense of this last sentence in
your quote, it seems to me that "outside" would have to refer to the
Uttermost West, where the Valar resided. If so, then we are back to the time
in "Of the Beginning of Days" in the Silmarillion when order was brought to
the seas, lands, and mountains and Yavanna planted the last of her seeds, at
which point Melkor grew dark as the Night of the Void and began building his
fortress in Middle-earth. To me, the only useful reference is the one to the
time before the river and the trees, since all the other events are later,
stretching from the first to the third ages. So, does this quote show that
Tom "existed before Melkor, the Dark Lord"? If Tom is Aule, then it would
seem that "existed" is too strong a word for he and Melkor would have
existed from about the same time before the making of Middle-earth. They
were both created by Iluvatar for the purpose of participating in the Song
of the Ainur. In the Ainulindale, there is no reference to some Valar
coming earlier than others, except for Tulkas who came as a replacement for
Melkor when Melkor turned evil. Presumably all of the first came together.
It is stated moreover that when the work started to build the world, "Melkor
too was there from the first. . . ." Thus, if the Dark Lord coming from the
outside refers to Melkor leaving the Uttermost West, it does not help
establish Tom as a Vala, since there were lots of things in Middle-earth at
that time."


Your second point is supported by Hargrove, who wrote: "It seems to me to be
very unlikely that Aule would have done such a thing, given the trouble that
he got into over creating the dwarves. In the chapter of the Silmarillion
("Of Aule and Yavanna"), when Aule makes the dwarves, Iluvatar comes and
informs him that he does not have the power or authority to make creatures
of his own. That he does not have the authority means that Iluvatar doesn't
want him to do it. That he does not have the power refers to the fact that
Aule cannot give his creatures free will. Because Aule repents his actions,
Iluvatar permits the dwarves to live and gives them free will. It seems
unlikely that Iluvatar would have forgiven a second violation of his
authority. Thus, if Aule had created the hobitts, and Iluvatar didn't show
up to destroy them, the hobbits would have remained mindless puppets, able
to move only when Aule moved them. It is more reasonable to conclude that
they were in the Song of the Ainur, like the Ents, whom Yavanna only
remembered after Manwe told her to think about the song ("Of Aule and
Yavanna")." "it is very unlikely that Aule would have deliberately sinned
against Iluvatar a second time, since he now knows that creating creatures
is forbidden. If they were not created like elves, humans, and ents, as part
of the song, then they were probably created by someone other than Aule,
and that someone would have to be more powerful that Iluvatar, since creating
the hobbits would challenge his authority and would require the power to
bestow free will. Aule is unwilling to challenge that authority and does not
have the power to bestow free will."

Everything is in the Song of the Ainur... The Hobbits origin is unkown, and it fits perfectly that Aulë (if he is Tom Bombadil) created them. That he created the dwarves shows that he is capable, and the hobbits are, at least morally, an improvement, so why not? Who is to say when he did it, or that he did not...

I'm really just taking Hargrove's idea and running with. Hargrove and I do not agree on many of the finer points, although I think that I have tried to justify his assertion that Tom is Aulë much more firmly than he himself has. For me, it is the the One Ring that shows that Tom really must be Aulë. My idea that he created the Hobbits is secondary, and obviously is much harder to find support for, but I disagree that there is any direct evidence against it being so.

Do you have any other arguments to present here, or can I perhaps find them in the discussion of Tom that you refer to? I will look at your ideas next week. Til then...

Cheers,
Per
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Postby Lindariel » Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:42 pm

Per, here's my Tom Bombadil theory:

I have wondered from time to time whether Tom Bombadil might not be a living personification of Eru's Secret Fire, based on the following little passage:

Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the Little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless -- before the Dark Lord came from Outside.


In this passage, Tom goes back in time, until he reveals that he was present in Arda even before Melkor, who was the first of the Valar to arrive. As far as I know, the only "entity" that arrived in Arda before Melkor was the Secret Fire that brought the inert planet to life. From the Ainulindale in The Silmarillion:

. . . but Iluvatar called to them [the Ainur], and said: "I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not only in your thoughts, but even as ye yourselves are, and yet other. Therefore I say: Ea! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it." And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Iluvatar had made a new thing: Ea, the World that Is.


Thus, Tom's imperative is "to be" not "to change" or "to defy," which might help explain the paradox of his undeniable power juxtaposed with his seeming inability to be of help against Sauron. As Goldberry says, "He is." He can influence a living creature's state of being -- i.e., he can influence Old Man Willow to go back to sleep and release his prisoners -- but he cannot change their nature -- i.e., he cannot remove the evil that gnaws at the heart of Old Man Willow. He also has no sway over the weather -- it "is." This is why the Ring has no effect on him, and he can see through its magic (Frodo remains visible to him, even when the Ring is on Frodo's finger), but he cannot negate its evil.

Consider these statements about Bombadil from the Council of Elrond:

"But within those bounds nothing seems to dismay him [Bombadil]," said Erestor. "Would he not take the Ring and keep it there, for ever harmless?"

"No," said Gandalf, "not willingly. He might do so, if all the free folk of the world begged him, but he would not understand the need. And if he were given the Ring, he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it away. Such things have no hold on his mind. He would be a most unsafe guardian; and that alone is answer enough."

"But in any case," said Glorfindel, "to send the Ring to him would only postpone the day of evil. He is far away. We could not now take it back to him, unguessed, unmarked by any spy. And even if we could, soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place and would bend all his power towards it. Could that power be defied by Bombadil alone? I think not. I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First: and then Night will come."

"I know little of Iarwain save the name," said, Galdor; "but Glorfindel, I think, is right. Power to defy our Enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself. And yet we see that Sauron can torture and destroy the very hills . . . ."


This theory also suggests an interesting development, should Sauron have recovered the Ring and succeeded in conquering all of Middle-Earth. What would happen to Arda when Sauron and his forces finally overcome the last remaining power in Middle-Earth -- Tom Bombadil? I would postulate that the Dark Lord would suddenly find himself the master of a dead, inert planet. With the destruction of the living incarnation of the Flame Imperishable, the Secret Fire would return to Eru Iluvatar, and Sauron would be left with nothing.

Here's another interesting bit to consider along with my theory, also from the Ainulindale in The Silmarillion:

To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren. He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Iluvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Iluvatar.


Would it not be the height of ironies if Melkor's greatest lieutenant Sauron could have succeeded in "conquering" Arda, only to have the Flame Imperishable -- his ultimate desire -- return to Iluvatar, leaving him with an empty, dead world -- yet another Void?
Last edited by Lindariel on Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:22 pm

I love all the interesting ideas about Tom Bombadil here. I've read Hargrove's essay about Bombadil as Aule and thought he made some very good arguments, although I wasn't 100% convinced. I like the link to the Flame Imperishable that you've made, Lindariel. Tolkien called him the Spirit of the vanishing Oxford and Berkshire countryside and seemed determined that Tom would remain a mystery (perhaps even to himself) so that gives plenty of scope for us to speculate. The Flame Imperishable is a bit of a grander concept than the spirit of two counties that Tolkien loved, but this was before LOTR - so what better place - so close to Tolkien's heart - for the Flame to come to rest and start revealing to him and us who he really was?

When it comes down to it, it all hinges on whether Tom is beyond all that is happening in Middle-earth, unaffected by right and wrong, but simply 'is', in which case the Flame Imperishable would fit the bill very well, or whether he is involved as in Hargroves final argument:

As Aule, however, Tom is not beyond and unconcerned anomalously, but rather is located at the core of morality as it existed in Middle-earth, as the ultimate exemplification of the proper moral stance toward power, pride, and possession. In fact, in terms of the moral traits that most fascinated Tolkien both as an author and as a scholar, Tom Bombadil is Tolkien's moral ideal.

© Gene Hargrove


I admit I was never totally convinced by this. If he was involved, as Aule, there would be no morality in doing nothing to help, however much he was above the desire for power and control.

His creating the simple and determined Hobbits as a future foil would get over the contradiction that I've always thought Hargrove got himself into here. And I do like the way you've recognised how Hobbity Bombadil looks and seems, Per. But it seems to me that taking the Valar out of Bombadil (or Maiar - I like your observation as to why he can't be one of those) solves it more neatly.

Like Lindariel I'm also pretty convinced that Aule wouldn't create another race after creating the dwarves and being told it was beyond his power and authority, but, as you say, they were in the creation Song of the Ainur and who's to say who was singing their particular theme, not knowing what would come of it by Eru's grace? But if Bombadil is Aule and is to remain "the ultimate exemplification of the proper moral stance toward power, pride, and possession" then he would have to somehow know that the Hobbit's were his contribution and that the matter was in hand. That he had done his bit to destroy the Ring rather than let it destroy Middle-earth. I can't really see that as likely - or rather I can't see any evidence that he felt that to be the case, unless you have some examples, Per :-k? Are there other examples of Ainur knowing and understanding what they helped create in the Music, or only what they created afterwards when they arrived in Arda as Valar?

As you've said, Per, "I'm really just taking Hargrove's idea and running with it". It's interesting to work these arguments out to some conclusion and think about the possibilities and probabilities.
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Postby Riv Res » Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:43 pm

For those who are curious, here is the essay by Hargrove on Tom Bombadil.

Who is Tom Bombadil?
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Postby Per Håkan Arvidsson » Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:43 pm

I must say that I have never thought of the Secret Fire as anything with a body, or much at all really. Is it anything more than the spark of life? If Tom is the fire, then what is Goldberry?

I just replied to Hargrove's comments, a couple of years late. I thought you may find his comments and my answers to be of value in the discussion. His comments are numbered, and my answers follow each point. There is always enough to disagree about, hehe...

1, On pages 3 and 4 you talk about Prometheus. I doubt that Tolkien was very
interested in Prometheus and the comparisons seem too complicated. You
indicate that Prometheus is the creator of man. In Tolkien’s world, Iluvatar
is the creator of humans, and elves. They are the children of Iluvatar. The
world was created by the Ainur under Iluvatar’s musical supervision.On page
4 you call Aule the creator. Probably maker would be better since he is
introduced in the Silmarillion ("Of the Valar’) as "a smith and a master of
all crafts." He did make the lands (in the sense of install them) but he did
so with the help of Manwe (the sky) and Ulmo (the water) and the lands were
finished or decorated by Yavanna, who filled them with plants and animals.
It would probably be more correct to say that Aule was "a maker" along with
others. A comparison between Aule and Sauron seems somewhat pointless, since
Sauron is such an insignificant being in comparison with Aule. In the
Silmarillion ("Of the Valar’) Aule is compared with Melkor. Sauron is a
former servant of Aule who switched to the service of Melkor. Sauron is
trying to carry on the work of his new master as best he can. The purpose of
the Ring is to increase Sauron’s power beyond that of a Maia. He would only
achieve a Vala-like status reunited with the ring. Without it he is
diminished, since he put some of himself in the ring. To me talking about
Aule and Sauron together is like talking about apples and oranges, so to
speak.

Tolkien was perhaps not overly interested in Prometheus, but he certainly was familiar with Greek mythology, and Prometheus is the first smith, then replicated in many other mythologies. I do not expect to find a single character in Tolkien's mythology to be an exact match, but there are qualities from Prometheus and his creation of Man that cast some light on Tolkien's rather complicated mythology.

The Ainur could perhaps be called draftsmen and the Valar could very well be called makers rather than creators. Illuvatar is responsible for everything in the sense that he supposedly thought it all out in advance. The Ainur sings his vision, and the Valar builds the reality from their song, but not limited to it. They are limited only by Illuvatar's vision, which they do not fully comprehend, but that does not matter. The Valar do not have actuall free will. Question is: Does anyone?

There is some of Prometheus even in Sauron. This is David Day's idea, which I can see, but I also conclude that Aulë is a much better match for Prometheus. What I am saying is that Sauron is not like Prometheus in David Day's sense. Tolkien's mythology has it's own parallels. Sauron mirrors Aulë's actions, not Prometheus'. To quote myself: "Tolkien’s Vala Aulë the Smith is much more like Prometheus than Sauron, who is a Maia; i.e. a lesser god. Since the Olympian gods are lesser gods than the Titans are, this places Sauron in Hephaestos’ position. Sauron is originally a servant of the Vala Aulë, the creator (The Silmarillion, 27), but turns away from creation when he starts serving the Vala Melkor, the destructor (The Silmarillion, 16ff). In fact, the one mirrored by Sauron is Aulë, who originally gives the gift of alchemy to the Elves."

2. On page 6 you assert that Aule created the hobbits. It seems to me to be
very unlikely that Aule would have done such a thing, given the trouble that
he got into over creating the dwarves. In the chapter of the Silmarillion
("Of Aule and Yavanna"), when Aule makes the dwarves, Iluvatar comes and
informs him that he does not have the power or authority to make creatures
of his own. That he does not have the authority means that Iluvatar doesn't
want him to do it. That he does not have the power refers to the fact that
Aule cannot give his creatures free will. Because Aule repents his actions,
Iluvatar permits the dwarves to live and gives them free will. It seems
unlikely that Iluvatar would have forgiven a second violation of his
authority. Thus, if Aule had created the hobitts, and Iluvatar didn't show
up to destroy them, the hobbits would have remained mindless puppets, able
to move only when Aule moved them. It is more reasonable to conclude that
they were in the Song of the Ainur, like the Ents, whom Yavanna only
remembered after Manwe told her to think about the song ("Of Aule and
Yavanna").

If Aulë created the hobbits, who is to say that he didn't do so before he created the dwarves, or at the same time, or even afterwards. After all, Aulë cannot do anything wrong since nothing can be done that is not thought of in advance by Illuvatar. The Valar do not understand the entirety of Illuvatar's plan, since not all was covered in the Song of the Ainur, but they can still not do anything that is nott in Illuvatar's grand plan. Without the knowledge of that plan, we cannot say that Aulë did not create/make the hobbits. Which Vala would you have responsible? After all, as far as we know, the two major races are supposed to be Elves and Men. Why create a people that would never rule? That is why it fits that the Hobbits are created for a purpose. Their destiny is to overthrow Sauron and to make the way for Man, helping the vison of Illuvatar.

3. On page 15 and 16 you present an incorrect version of my argument. In
"The Voice of Saruman" Gimli says, "I wish to see him [Saruman] and learn if
he really looks like you," to which Gandalf replies, "And how will you learn
that, Master Dwarf? . . . Saruman could look like me in your eyes, if it
suited his purpose with you." My point is not that Tom can change his
appearance, but that if he wer a Vala or a Maia, he would be able to. My
conclusion is not as you present it that "this ability supports the theory
that Tom is a Vala." My position is not that a chameleon act makes a Vala.
Rather, my point is that if Tom is a Vala or Maia, his appearance is
irrelevant. Of course, if he cannot change his appearance (a matter about
which we have no evidence one way or the other), then his appearance would
be relevant. In other words, I am only arguing that Tom's appearance does
not rule out the possibility that he is Aule. However, it does not provide
evidence that he is.

I perfectly understand your argument, and I am sorry that you interpret my text as giving proof for, rather than just provide no evidence either way. In my view, it matters not. No proof against is enough.

4. In the same paragraph, you state "Since Tom existed before Melkor, the
Dark Lord, and the other Valar descended to Middle-earth, he can be nothing
other than a Vala." I suppose the basis for this claim is the paragraph you
quote on page 15. There are a lot of different times mentioned in Tom's
quote. "Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first
raindrop and the first acorn" seems to refer to the time when Aule worked
with Ulmo to create the seas and the rivers and with Yavanna to add plants
to the lands. It is hard to imagine what "here" means since before the
rivers and the trees would seem to be before the land as well, unless he
just appeared between the making of the land and the watering and planting
of it. The arrival of the big and little people was much more recent. The
arrival of the big people would be before the end of the first age (the
bending of the seas). The arrival of the little people would be in the third
age. The hobbits arrived in the Shire in 1601. The reference to the coming
of the Barrow-wights is also third age, 1409. The next sentence about the
elves and the bending of the seas refers back again to the first age. The
reference to the dark under the stars before the Dark Lord came from the
outside is confusing. Melkor was not the Dark Lord when he came from the
outside. He became the Dark Lord when he openly fought with the other Valar
under the name Morgoth the Enemy. To make sense of this last sentence in
your quote, it seems to me that "outside" would have to refer to the
Uttermost West, where the Valar resided. If so, then we are back to the time
in "Of the Beginning of Days" in the Silmarillion when order was brought to
the seas, lands, and mountains and Yavanna planted the last of her seeds, at
which point Melkor grew dark as the Night of the Void and began building his
fortress in Middle-earth. To me, the only useful reference is the one to the
time before the river and the trees, since all the other events are later,
stretching from the first to the third ages. So, does this quote show that
Tom "existed before Melkor, the Dark Lord"? If Tom is Aule, then it would
seem that "existed" is too strong a word for he and Melkor would have
existed from about the same time before the making of Middle-earth. They
were both created by Iluvatar for the purpose of participating in the Song
of the Ainur. In the Ainulindale, there is no reference to some Valar
coming earlier than others, except for Tulkas who came as a replacement for
Melkor when Melkor turned evil. Presumably all of the first came together.
It is stated moreover that when the work started to build the world, "Melkor
too was there from the first. . . ." Thus, if the Dark Lord coming from the
outside refers to Melkor leaving the Uttermost West, it does not help
establish Tom as a Vala, since there were lots of things in Middle-earth at
that time.

It is interesting that you do not, as so many others have, point to an idea in the drafts, in which Melkor enter first. As the drafts a many and varied, written over a very long time, I stick to the words of the Silmarillion. I see that as Tolkien's last words on the subject, and therefore disregard any earlier ideas when it comes to discussing Tolkien's World. This is a limitation that I see as necessary for any meaningful discussion on how it all fits together.

I guess that I am in a similar position again. There is no evidence to say that Aulë was not the first to enter, or that he at least entered before Melkor, but it is certainly possible. I would argue that since Aulë was necessary in order to create/make the very building blocks, he would have to be there before anything could really be done. This does not necessarily mean that he must be the first to enter the sphere, but again, it could very well be so. Atmosphere and oceans cannot exist without Earth, whether that Earth is a globe or otherwise.

5. Further down, you state "I have already expressed the idea that Aule
created the hobbits, which would have to mean that Tom is Aule." As I note
in 2 above, it is very unlikely that Aule would have deliberately sinned
against Iluvatar a second time, since he now knows that creating creatures
is forbidden. If they were not created like elves, humans, and ents, as part
of the song, then they were probably created by someone other than Aule, and
that someone would have to be more powerful that Iluvatar, since creating
the hobbits would challenge his authority and would require the power to
bestow free will. Aule is unwilling to challenge that authority and does not
have the power to bestow free will.

You really think there could be someone more powerful than Illuvatar? Again, the fact is that the Ainur did not see it all. Illuvatar must have envisioned the Dwarves as well as the Hobbits. And since Aulë is responsible for the Dwarves, why not the Hobbits...

6. On page 15 you state: "Song is fundamental to his being, suggesting he
might case to cease to exist if he stops singing, though it is more likely
that Tom's singing creates and sustains the world within the boundaries he
has set for himself. Within these boundaries lies the Shire, which means
that the hobbits are created by Tom." The first sentence is wild speculation
for which you give no evidence. It is also inconsistent with Goldberry's
explanation of who Tom is. She stresses that the strange land where he lives
is independent of Tom, he is just the master. If his singing sustains the
world around him, then the Old Forest is not independent. "The trees and the
grasses and all things growing or living in the land each belong to
themselves." If they belonged to Tom, "that would indeed be a burden." If
Tom was sustaining them from moment to moment by singing, that would really
be a burden. Tom delights in the independent status of the things around
him. If he is in the relationship that you suggest, then they are not
independent. They are part of him. Further, the boundaries that Tom has set
for himself cannot be the basis for an argument that Tom created the
hobbits. The remark about boundaries comes from Gandalf in "The Council of
Elrond": "And now he has withdrawn into a little land, within bounds that he
has set, though none can see them, waiting for a change of days, and he will
not step beyond them." Tom wandered over to the Old Forest and decided to
stay there most of the time. The statement says nothing about creation or
sustaining the Old Forest through song.

By creating and sustaining, I guess I mean rejuvenating. Tom is certainly the Master of his domain, but do you really think that such a small area would weigh heavily on the mind of a Vala? I believe that he must be in perfect control within his boundaries, but he is to care-free and loving to exert that control to. He is happy to make small adjustments in order to keep everything running smoothly, enjoying Illuvatar's creation, but also protecting it. The other Vala surely knows where he is and what he is doing, but I think it tracks that they cannot keep him or Yavanna away from Middle-Earth.

7. You state in the next sentence that "Hobbits are in many ways like Tom,
suggesting that Tom does not change his appearance to be like the hobbits,
but rather suggesting that he created them in his image." In the
"Ainulindale" it is stated that when the Valar arrived in the world, they
"took to themselves shape and hue; and because they were drawn into the
World by love of the Children of Iluvatar, for whom they hoped, they took
shape after that manner which they had beheld in the Vision of Iluvatar,
save only in majesty and splendour." According to this passage, the Valar
chose to look like the Children of Iluvatar, as best they could remember,
and to the degree that they were able to copy the look. Since Aule also was
a Vala, he would have taken the form that he remembered from the song of the
Children of Iluvatar. We know what that memory was, to the degree that he
could execute it: it is a dwarf. Thus, if Tom is Aule, and Aule created the
hobbits in his image, then the hobbits should look like dwarves. As it is
stated in "Of Aule and Yavanna," the dwarves look as they do because "the
forms of the Children who were to come were unclear in his [Aule's] mind." I
think my view is more likely: that Tom decided to look like a hobbit. Since
you agree that Tom is Aule, and he took a form to look like the Children of
Illuvatar, it seems unlikely that he had a form of his own. Aule came from
the Void, where the nature of existence was different. What he looked like
was his choice since his appearance in the world had nothing to do with his
form and nature in the Void. I discuss this matter in my essay and give a
reference to Unfinished Tales about the conversion of the wizards into
living beings. You might consider looking at the reference.

So, now you are saying that Aulë saw the Dwarves in the Song? Any evidence of that? That the image was unclear is clearly not enough. He may just as well create hobbits from that. If he tried one model, why not another? His appearance is indeed his choice. Over time, might he not change his appearance? After all, Tom is not exactly the shape of a hobbit, just hobbit-like. It is like he is the idea of the perfect hobbit. The spirit if you will; not the body. The Dwarves are flawed and represent the work of a 'young' eager Aulë, while the Hobbits are created with much more care by a more mature and wise Aulë. This old and wise Vala is what we see in Tom Bombadil. This is why I say that the Hobbits are like him, rather than the other way around.

8. In the last sentence on page 16, you say that Tom sends the hobbits "out
into the world again, trusting the naked will and courage of his hobbits." I
see no basis for this claim. He doesn't send them; rather he takes them to
Bree. I don't think he trusts their will and courage. As you know, I hold
that he is limited by the song he sang. A more standard view would be as in
"The Council of Elrond" that he is a little senile: such things as the ring
"have no hold on his mind."

Aulë is not limited by the Song he sang, he is limited by Illuvatar's vison. Tom does not know what will happen, but he trusts the will of Illuvatar, therefore I conclude that he understands that the Hobbits have a purpose. The words I am paraphrasing are of course Tolkien's own: “It is the strength of the northern mythological imagination that it faced this problem, put the monsters in the centre, gave them victory but no honour, and found a potent but terrible solution in naked will and courage” (“The Monsters and the Critics”, 25-26). I believe this is an important clue when trying to understand Tom Bombadil and the Hobbits. Tom does send them on their way, and makes sure that they do get to Bree, as you say. He is bound by Illuvatar's vison, and therefore we cannot question why he does not do more. He simply cannot.
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Per Håkan Arvidsson
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lol

Postby Per Håkan Arvidsson » Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:52 pm

Hargrove answered very shortly: "Since as you point out, there is no evidence for virtually anything you think about Tolkien, and that makes everything you think true, I guess there is nothing more to say." Strange response...

Where did I say that any of my theories are truths? Possible, yes, but that is all...There is no hard evidence, since all we have are texts, which can be interpreted countless different ways.

I guess he is tired of people bothering him about his Tom Bombadil theory. Anyways, please know that I am happy to discuss just about anything ad infinitum. ;)
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Iolanthe
Uinen
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:55 am

As are we :lol: . I'm going to have to come back with comments - It's been so busy I am way behind here and need more time to read your post, but hope to catch up with your debate with Hargrove soon :D .
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Beren
Posts: 150
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:51 pm
Location: Belgium
Contact:

Postby Beren » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:18 pm

It seems to me that I have been discussing Tom Bombadil for years now and have read pro's and contra's of all sorts. My personal favourite is to see TB as Tolkien. But if I start writing why I do believe this is the most sensible solution, i'll probably be discussing it all over once again... and since i'm very busy at work, and moving to my new house this month i'll let you do the honors!
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