Internet Sites Discussing Tom Bombadil
I am clearly not the first or only person to have written an analysis of Tom Bombadil, and quite a few other discussions of him are available on the internet. I've collected a few of them below, primarily to help people find alternate treatments of the issue.
- I'll include my own Bombadil essay at the head of the list for the sake of those who find this page first. (Alternately, just click on "Main" above.) Being a scientist, I have tried to take a fairly "rational" approach to the topic, making a complete list of possible answers and then collecting evidence to identify the reasonable ones. For those overwhelmed by the length of the full essay, the main page includes a detailed summary of the full essay, including links to the full discussion of each point in the essay itself.
- My Tolkien Newsgroups FAQ contains a discussion of Tom Bombadil, which is essentially a greatly condensed version of this essay.
- The Tolkien FAQ by W.D.B. Loos includes a good discussion of Tom Bombadil. It includes notes on Bombadil's origins both outside and inside the books, and gives a good summary of Tolkien's stated purposes for Bombadil in the story.
- Gene Hargrove's essay "Who is Tom Bombadil" is a carefully constructed and quite popular article claiming that Tom and Goldberry are Aule and Yavanna (it is probably the primary source for that theory). However, it makes some serious mistakes, the largest of which is rejecting the possibility that Bombadil is a Maia simply because "...there is no Maia in the Silmarillion who matches Tom's general character." I have written a detailed essay entitled Tom Bombadil is not Aule (and Goldberry is not Yavanna) arguing against this theory (and responding to Hargrove in particular).
- The discussion of Tom Bombadil at The Encyclopedia of Arda is a good summary of a range of positions on Bombadil, and includes some story-external information as well. It isn't as detailed as Hargrove's essay or my own, but it is not intended to be.
- J.R.R. Tolkien's Tom Bombadil, an essay by Blake Bolinger. This essay relies largely on qualitative arguments rather than clear proofs, and thus presents a valuable compliment to more purely rational discussions like mine (although some of its arguments feel correspondingly less convincing to me). It spends more time on textual history than I do, and it concludes that Bombadil may not actually have a clear place in the greater cosmology of Middle-earth at all (in a somewhat story-external sense).
- Bombadil Discovered, by Barb Beier. This essay takes more of a "story external" point of view (though with substantial "story internal" elements), arguing that Bombadil and Goldberry and the safety of their house represent the reader's perspective on the story, and that they act as "gatekeepers" between the "child's world of The Hobbit and the adult adventure of The Lord of the Rings".