The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring Good vs. Evil Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph) / (Prologue.Section.Paragraph)
As they listened [to Tom Bombadil], they began to understand the lives of the Forest, apart from themselves, indeed to feel themselves as the strangers where all other things were at home. [...] It was not called the Old Forest without reason, for it was indeed ancient, a survivor of vast forgotten woods; and in it they lived yet, aging no quicker than the hills, the fathers of the fathers of trees, remembering times when they were lords. (1.7.41)
We've argued that the Tom Bombadil chapters are a good set-up to the adventures to come: they give the Hobbits a chance to experience the world outside the Shire without the safety net of the rest of the Fellowship. At the same time, this sudden digression into the ancient history of the Old Forest does seem a little tangential. Why do you think Tolkien includes Tom Bombadil and Old Man Willow? How does Tom Bombadil provide a larger context to Sauron and the events of Middle-earth? How does Tom Bombadil's sense of time differ from that of all the other characters? What purpose does he seem to play in starting out the series as a whole?
"Hey there!" cried Tom, glancing towards him with a most seeing look in his shining eyes. "Hey! Come Frodo, there! Where be you a-going? Old Tom Bombadil's not as blind as that yet. Take off your golden ring! Your hand's more fair without it. Come back! Leave your game and sit down beside me! We must talk a while more, and think about the morning." (1.7.60-1)
What do you think Tom Bombadil is? Why does the Ring have no power over him? What keeps him free of its influence? Why does Tom Bombadil get a free pass as far as Sauron's evil is concerned? Can you imagine anything that would threaten Tom, or is he invincible?
At last Frodo spoke with hesitation. "I believed that you were a friend before the letter came," he said, "or at least I wished to. You have frightened me several times, tonight, but never in the way that servants of the Enemy would, or so I imagine. I think one of his spies would – well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand." (1.10.85)
Frodo's weird logic here is that, because Aragorn is frightening, he must be a good guy. Bad guys would seem nicer but be crueler, he feels. What do you think of the idea that evil likes to appear good? Are there examples in the Lord of the Rings of enemies who seem fair and are foul? After all, many of the agents of Sauron whom they meet on the road to Rivendell actively look evil: consider arrogant-looking Bill Ferny and his goblin-faced southern friend. And of course, the Ringwraiths don't exactly seem friendly.