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Minas Tirith Forums » Lord of the Rings » Who or what was Goldberry? (Page 2)
Author Topic: Who or what was Goldberry?
Aragorn 3rd
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there are many essays on the subject of tom, and i have only seen a few suggestions over goldberry...i wont write an essay as im pretty tired now, so i can summarise what most say, draw your own conclusions...
1. tom and goldberry are maiar...pretty obvious...tom is very powerful and goldberry is beautiful and mystical.
2. tom and goldberry are spirits of the earth, rather like elementals...they are essentially embodied earth or water or whatevever...this would explain why tom puts on the ring it has no power over him. Just as if one put the ring on a rock or a twig...would it have effect on a twig or rock? but i dont buy this because tom appears to have power over the ring...he turns the ring invisible.
3. toms power over the ring leads one to think that he is of greater power than sauron...and of more mastery than sauron at forging and creating, could he be saurons original master and the ultimate forger? could he be aule the smith...and goldberry yavanna, she does fit the description.

Lastly...and my view...who cares? i understand that it is fitting to find out whos who because it is such a great and addictive world...but...i just accept tom for tom and goldberry for goldberry, lotr is a story, they are a great part to the story, whatever they may be... does tolkien have to make a meaning for everything? or did he just want the reader to enjoy him or herself? i enjoyed reading about tom and goldberry.

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Imbëar
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Tom did not have a power over the Ring.
Rather, the Ring had no power over Tom.
He was the Master, and therefore he had no further desire for mastery.
Or rather, he was the Master because he never desired to rule.

Imbëar

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Queenofice101
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Until now, I always thought of Goldberry as Tom's daughter. Maybe she's his wife. But I do believe that she is an elf, but I have no no idea what Tom Bombadil is. (If it was said in FOTR, which is the only book I have read of the LOTR series, forgive me. I have read only about three quarters of it.)
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Altarial
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But then comes the question...
were Tom and Goldberry ever CHILDREN? Or have they always been (to some degree) as wise as they are now?
As I posted in another thread on Tom, Goldberry MAY BE a Maiar, a lower form of Ainur, although i'm not sure if it ever actually SPELLS it out for sure whether she is or not...did Tolkien just want to leave us puzzled??

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Altarial
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Niiiiicccce, Imbear. Good call, good call! []
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Éoric of the Riddermark
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I agree with Imbëar's theory, and I will take it a step further: I think that the reason the Ring had absolutely no power over Tom is also the reason Frodo was chosen by the wise to bear the Ring to Morder. The Hobbit was comfortable enough in his own skin, and content enough to be who he was and nothing more, that he was able to resist the Ring's power better than anybody else could have.

Of course, that's just my theory...

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Altarial
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Interesting theory ÉoR, could be a possibiltiy. It makes sense when you think about it...
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Aiwrendel
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Goldberry’s description as the River-daughter and Daughter of the River-woman along with how and where Tom found her is enough to establish her as something different than all other beings on Middle Earth. Different than elf, human, or anything other living thing.

Goldberry is part of the River. Indeed, she is the River in corporeal form. Below is much more proof than you want. []

Quotes from Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil:
quote:
[Tom met Goldberry when he was] sitting by the waterside...

There his beard dangled long down into the water:
up came Goldberry, the River-woman’s daughter;
pulled Tom’s hanging hair. In he went a-wallowing
under the water-lilies, bubbling and a-swallowing.

‘Hey, Tom Bombadil! Whither are you going?’
said fair Goldberry. ‘Bubbles you are blowing,
frightening the funny fish and the brown water-rat,
starling the dabchicks, and drowning you feather-hat!’

“You bring it back again, there’s a pretty maiden!’
said Tom Bombadil. ‘I do not care for wading.
Go down! Sleep again where the pools are shady
far below willow-roots, little water-lady!’

Back to your mother’s house in the deepest hollow
swam young Goldberry.

[After Old Man Willow caught Tom in his roots, Tom told him to let him go and,]
‘Go back to sleep again like the River-daughter!’

[Then Tom “caught” the River-daughter sitting outside the River]
...sitting in the rushes,
singing old water-songs to birds upon the bushes.
‘You shall come [home with me] under hill! Never mind your mother
in her deep weedy pool: there you’ll find no lover!’

She lives in her present state but is still sustained by the River. Without it or some part of it she would cease to be. Consider Tom bringing water lilies home to Goldberry and how anxious he is that his mission succeeds.

Quotes from FotR...

Tom’s song before the Hobbits meet him:
quote:
Tom's in a hurry now. Evening will follow day.
Tom's going home again water-lilies bringing.

When he meets the Hobbits:
quote:
Tell me what's your trouble! Tom's in a hurry now. Don't you crush my lilies!
Tom said:
quote:
Tom had an errand there [by the River where he met Goldberry], that he dared not hinder.
quote:
I had an errand there: gathering water-lilies,
green leaves and lilies white to please my pretty lady,
the last ere the year's end to keep them from the winter,
to flower by her pretty feet tilt the snows are melted.

And
quote:
Each year at summer's end I go to find them for her,

for now I shall no longer
go down deep again along the forest-water,
not while the year is old.

not till the merry spring, when the River-daughter
dances down the withy-path to bathe in the water.

When the Hobbits first saw Goldberry she was sitting in a chair...
quote:
About her feet in wide vessels of green and brown earthenware, white water-lilies were floating, so that she seemed to be enthroned in the midst of a pool.
It seems that she needs to have part of the River as well as some lilies from the place Tom found her to sustain her.
quote:
By that pool long ago I found the River-daughter,
fair young Goldberry sitting in the rushes.
Sweet was her singing then, and her heart was beating!

Goldberry and her raiment look and sound like water:
quote:
[a] clear voice, as young and as ancient as Spring, like the song of a glad water flowing down into the night from a bright morning in the hills…
quote:
her gown was green, green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of dew; and her belt was of gold, shaped like a chain of flag-lilies set with the pale-blue eyes of forget-me-nots.
quote:
...as she ran her gown rustled softly like the wind in the flowering borders of a river.
quote:
She passed out of the room with a glimmer and a rustle. The sound of her footsteps was like a stream falling gently away downhill over cool stones in the quiet of night
Tom explains why it is, and will be raining all day:
quote:
This is Goldberry's washing day,' he said, 'and her autumn-cleaning.
quote:
As they looked out of the window there came falling gently as if it was flowing down the rain out of the sky, the clear voice of Goldberry singing up above them. They could hear few words, but it seemed plain to them that the song was a rain-song, as sweet as showers on dry hills, that told the tale of a river from the spring in the highlands to the Sea far below.
quote:
now the hobbits saw that she was clothed all in silver with a white girdle, and her shoes were like fishes' mail.
quote:
She held a candle, shielding its flame from the draught with her hand; and the light flowed through it, like sunlight through a white shell.
quote:
Goldberry sang many songs for them, songs that began merrily in the hills and fell softly down into silence; and in the silences they saw in their minds pools and waters wider than any they had known, and looking into them they saw the sky below them and the stars like jewels in the depths.
quote:
A light like the glint of water on dewy grass flashed from under her feet as she danced.
*whew* [] Well, that's all the information I can find! heh.

EDIT: Typos

[ 08-17-2002, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: Aiwrendel ]

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Roll of Honor theWhiteLady
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Wow! Very impressive, Aiwrendel! I must say, your theory sounds credible and sometimes the simplest answers are most often correct. I'll have to think more to see if I can come up with any reasons it might be wrong []
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Aragorn 3rd
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Imbear, with respect to your comment that tom didnt have power over the ring, i haev also come across this before and have weighed my evidence that he did...i too believed that the ring had no power on him, and that is not to say that he had power over it...but how would one explain him 'mocking the ring' sarcasticly saying 'show me the precious ring', and he turned the ring invisible...this leads me to believe that he 'did' infact have power over the ring, and my opinion is that he 'is' more powerful than the ring or sauron, but that is just my opinion. I have weighed up many evidence from quotes from lotr and also looked at other essays, and i strongly believe that tom does have power over the ring. Just like Manwe would probably have power over a ring ( in his eyes just an ignificant metal band worn by sauron to try and take over middle earth)...just my opinion though.
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Imbëar
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I will explain further, although in doing so I might confuse myself.

When the Ring is in the hand of Bombadil - a Being who is without Desire for Mastery - the Ring itself disappears.
Tom's "sleight of hand" merely pronounces the recurrent "trick" or "solution" to the Ring - cast it away, and it will disappear. Hold on too tight, and you will disappear.
Tom's disposition is one of fluidity, mutability - he is in control because he has no desire to control. The Ring cannot work on him, neither can it work in his presence. For he is "unbound," freed from the human limitations that enabled the Ring-maker His rise.

This doesn't quite address what you disputed, I think, but it should at least clarify an aspect of what you asked.
Thanks, by the way.

Imbëar

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Anfauglir
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I read this great essay on Tom B written by Gene Hargrove. It has a pretty good theory on Goldberry. The full article can be found at
http://www.lordotrings.com/books/bombadil.asp
The part about Goldberry is as follows:

Because most of the Valar are married, determining the possible identity of Goldberry can be a help in establishing Tom's. There are three possible Valier who might have enjoyed living for a time in the Old Forest: Nessa, Vana, and Yavanna. Nessa, who loves deer and dancing, does not fit too well, since neither of these is Goldberry's specialties. Her husband, Tulkas, the best fighter among the Valar, moreover, is probably too warlike to be Tom. Vana, who cares for flowers and birds, also does not fit very well, since Goldberry is concerned with a larger variety of plants, and birds have no special role. Orome, Vana's husband, furthermore, is a hunter, especially of monsters. If he were Tom, there would have been no wights on the Downs. With Yavanna, however, we have just the right emphasis, for she is responsible for all living things, with a special preference for plants. Since she is Queen of the Earth, it is easy to imagine her watering the forest with special care, as Goldberry does during the Hobbits' visit.

In the Silmarillion (pp. 20-21) Yanvanna's appearance is characterized as follows:

In the form of a woman she is tall, and robed in green; but at times she takes other shapes. Some there are who have seen her standing like a tree under heaven, crowned with the Sun; and from all its branches there spilled a golden dew upon the barren earth, and it grew green with corn; but the roots of the tree were in the waters of Ulmo, and the winds of Manwe spoke in its leaves.
When we first meet Goldberry, she is clad in green: "her gown was green, green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of dew" (Rings, p. 172). When Tom officially introduces Goldberry, he says, "Here's my Goldberry clothed all in silver-green. . . ." When she says goodbye to the Hobbits, she is once again clad in green and Frodo in calling for her refers specifically to this color when he starts to look for her: "My fair lady, clad all in green!" (p. 187). This characterization of Goldberry's customary dress supports that hypothesis that she is Yavanna.

To be sure, when we first meet her, her feet are also surrounded by water, seemingly supporting the water nymph story. This circumstance, however, is not inconsistent with her tree image, which, as just noted, involved having her feet or roots in "the waters of Ulmo."

As the farewell continues, moreover, a description analogous to the tree description is given:

There on the hill-brow she stood beckoning to them: her hair was flying loose, and as it caught the sun it shone and shimmered. A light like the glint of water on dewy grass flashed under her feet as she danced."

Although still in human form, her flying hair hints at "the winds of Manwe" and the reflection of the sun from her hair suggests that she is "crowned with the Sun." The "glint of water on dewy grass" suggests the spilling of the golden dew on the earth as well as "the waters of Ulmo." When the Hobbits last see Goldberry, she is much more like a plant: "they saw Goldberry now small and slender like s sunlit flower against the sky: she was standing still watching them, and her hands were stretched out towards them." In this case, she is probably more flower than tree because Hobbits in general like flowers and are afraid of trees. The "sunlit" image is strikingly similar to Yavanna's primary nonhuman appearance.

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Roll of Honor Marcho Blackwood - MSS
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Bravo! First post and you rip out with this one!

Welcome to Minas Tirith, Anfauglir, and large kudos for posting on topic, pertinant information that clearly indicates you have some background in Tolkien and the world of Middle Earth well beyond the silver screen!

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Roll of Honor theWhiteLady
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Incredible theory, Anfauglir. I am curious, if you believe Goldberry to be Yavanna, would Tom be Aulë?
Unfortunately, I have never took up the idea that Goldberry or Tom were Valar. One reason that I cannot imagine Yavanna being Goldberry, is because it would be such a fantastical thing for a Valar to enter M-e again. Surely such Elves as had been in Valinor, like Elrond and Glorfindel for example, would have recognized them for who there were. But Elrond had even forgotten him and Glorfindel admitted that Tom would be overwhelmed by Sauron in the end. I cannot imagine a Valar as strong as Aulë be taken down by a Maiar, however strong he had become. But there is also one more thing: Yavanna begged that Saruman take Aiwendil or Radagast with him to M-e (UT, The Istari).Certainly, she could not have been in Valinor and M-e at the same []

Wonderful thoughts though! I look forward to reading more of your posts *bows*

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Estel Lomëwen
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In "The Complete Encyclopedia of Tolkien" it says that Goldberry was a Maia. But then, there are quite a few errors in there that I've found, so it's not entirely accurate. Could be more of the author's opinion than a stated fact.

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I'm on fire, when You're near me
I'm on fire when You speak
And I'm on fire burning at these mysteries

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Aiwrendel
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Welcome to the City Anfauglir! Thank you for pointing out that theory. The more the better! []

That was a great Essay and has merit if you are working from the premise that Goldberry is Valar. With open mind I enjoyed reading it, but I can't subscribe to it.

theWhiteLady brought up perfect arguments against it, and there is more evidence in other sources that belies that theory.

If Aulë is Tom then he is "Eldest". Aulë "was here before the river and the trees;" Aulë "remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn." Does that sound right? Did Aulë actually visit ME shortly after it's creation, perhaps leave and return, build a house, then meet Yavanna swimming underwater? Did he then stay long enough to speak often with Farmer Maggot and meet the hobbits in the Old Forest?

Why would Aulë call Yavanna "little water-lady" and speak to her of her mother living in a "deep weedy pool"?

Would Yavanna sleep "far below willow-roots"?

The propensity on Tolkien boards to explain everything in "real" terms and categorize everything into Maia, Valor, etc. makes very stimulating discussions, but I feel there are not enough "magical" explanations. (Sorry for the use of the word magic). Why can't some things on ME magically spring to life? Middle Earth is fully saturated with what mortals call "magic". Why can't the River be sentient and spawn a corporeal manifestation of itself like Goldberry?

[] There I go again! Getting all wound up in the fairy tale world again! []

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Gollum the great
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a quote from a guide to Tolkien
quote:
In the histories and writings of Middle Earth, mention is made of the River-women. Whether, like Osse and Uinen, these were Maiar of Ulmo, lord of the waters, or whether they were spirits who came into the world like Ents, is not told; but it is certain they were cheifly concerned with the Kelvar and Olvar of the world.
The red book of Westmarch tells of how the River-woman of the Withywindle had a daughter named Goldberry, who was the wife of Tom Bombadil....



[ 09-06-2002, 08:10 PM: Message edited by: Gollum the great ]

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...What we came to realise was that you don't have to put a sword in her hands to make her strong. And where we've come to now is all these true elements of who Arwen is. I mean this is an incredibley powerful and fearless woman filled with so much hope and belief and that is strong enough. ~ Liv Tyler (Arwen)
A proud member of H.A.A.H.A.A.

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Aiwrendel
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Great quote Gollum the great! Thank you.
River-women! I never heard that before. That might mean the River-woman (mentioned in ATB and LotR) and Goldberry are specific to the Withywindle area only...not all the waters of ME!
[]

That possibly explains a lot about Tom's adamant attitude that he will NOT leave the area of the Old Forest! He is either, like Goldberry, locked to that area because he is OF that area, or he won't leave because he can't take Goldberry with him.

[ 09-09-2002, 07:17 PM: Message edited by: Aiwrendel ]

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Grond
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Ironically, this very topic was recently the subject of an intense debate on another forum. Ancalagon (of TTF) and myself were on opposing sides of the statement, "Was Goldberry a Maia?" We both put a lot of research into the premise and came up with many interesting and different ideas. It can be viewed here!
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Roll of Honor theWhiteLady
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What an incredible debate! I have just finished reading it, and I'm stunned. Thank you so very much for posting the link, Grond! I am blown away by the arguments presented, absolutely marvelous!
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Aiwrendel
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*whew* I am finally able to return to Minas Tirith after many long, hard journeys. []

*looks around* hmmm. I'm surprised to see that nobody has continued this topic.

Anyway,
Grond, thank you very much for sharing that debate with us. You and Ancalagon presented such excellent arguments that I found my opinion wavering on more than one occasion. Superb.

So, is everyone satisfied? Is our discussion at an end? Just wondering. []

[ 09-18-2002, 05:17 PM: Message edited by: Aiwrendel ]

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Dark Lord Andúril
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im sorry, what, actually, was the conclusion?
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don't they say that she's the daughter of the river?

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There can be no covenants between men and lions,
wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but
hate each other out and out and through.


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Roll of Honor Sauron's Secret Agent
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If Tolkien didn't know who Tom was, and by extension Goldberry, who are we to presume? []

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Roll of Honor theWhiteLady
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Perhaps it isn't our place to presume, but discussing possibilities can always be entertaining... though sometimes such discussions lead to headaches.
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