The Lord of the Rings Questions and Answers
by J. R. R. Tolkien

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What does Tom Bombadil symbolize in The Lord of the Rings?

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Tom Bombadil stands apart from the other characters in The Lord of the Rings in that he lives outside the struggle against the forces of the Dark Lords that are faced by the other creatures of Middle Earth. In many ways, Tom Bombadil represents the goodness of the world as it is when free of strife. He lives in harmony with the natural world and, at least when within his own territory, is in command of it.

One interesting thing to consider is that Tom Bombadil represents the importance of sanctuary in the natural world. He is a jolly fellow who happily rescues the hobbits as they trespass through his land. However, consider the other creatures who inhabit his domain. Barrow-Wights and evil...

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Tom Bombadil is a mysterious being in The Lord of the Rings universe. His nature is not entirely revealed by any of the characters. He is a secondary character, who helps Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin escape the Old Man Willow and the Barrow-wights. He also offers them a sanctuary for two nights, during which Frodo has all kinds of prophetic dreams.

Tom Bombadil symbolizes the power of nature. The Elves consider him to be a manifestation of the spirit of Middle-Earth. He has the power to control all the natural elements on his domain, including the rain, the plants, and the wind. This power manifests in his singing. He is married to Goldberry, Daughter of the River, who also has the power of controlling water. Tom Bombadil is immune to the Ring, as he wears it and doesn’t disappear. He also understands the evil nature of the Ring but isn’t concerned with fighting against Sauron. As he is possibly the eldest being in Middle Earth, Tom Bombadil is not affected by the existence of those around him, not even by their wars. However, the Elves assume that he would not be strong enough to fight Sauron, so the Council of Elrond decides not to entrust the Ring to him. In keeping with his ancient natural symbolism, Bombadil always remains inside the border of his realm. Other characters, such as Gandalf, seek his advice, but he never leaves his forest. When Frodo leaves Middle Earth, the image he sees resembles one of the visions he had in Tom Bombadil’s house. This is further proof that Tom Bombadil has real power over elements, including time, for he can show Frodo glimpses of his future.

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Tom Bombadil represents the good in the world. He is a happy merry fellow and lives among the nature of the world. He even comes in contact with the ring at one given moment, but this does not affect him. Evil cannot be found within Tom, nor affect him, and he loves Middle Earth and nature.