I think it’s perfectly clear what category of being Tom Bombadil falls into. He’s not an ainu, nor an elf, nor a fey. He is in the category of “beings who are Tom Bombadil”, and is the only member of that category.
Goldberry, however, I think we can confidently classify as a fey, and is one of only a handful of such beings who survived the process of literary refinement to make it into the canon (the other examples being Ungoliant, Shelob, and possibly Caradhras (if, as is suggested, the mountain has a malevolence of its own, and sent the blizzard that foiled the crossing)).
I tend to agree with the theory that Tom Bombadil and Goldenberry are Maiar, and thus are the same type of being as Gandalf, Saruman, and Sauron. In all likelyhood, Tom is unique among the Maiar in that he has never served anyone (except for Eru, of course). All of the wizards are servants of various Valar. Sauron was, IIRC, originally a servant of Aule before he fell in with Melkor. The Balrog was a Maiar who was also a servant of Melkor, and thus was theoretically the equal of Sauron. I’d guess that Goldenberry was a Maiar who was a servant of one of the more nature-oriented Valar, but she abandoned her master/mistress when she met Tom.
I once read somewhere that Tolkein left Tom Bombadil in the story because he represented something that would otherwise be totally absent: a powerful being who is not involved in the War of the Rings. He’s the only person in the story who can really be said to be neutral, to have no dog in the fight.
Hm…so Bombadil would be a representation of that part in all of us that desires to ignore that which is mind-bogglingly destructive just because we see no immediate threat? He sounds just like an ent in that regard–except the ents actually felt motivated to do something once it dawned on them that the destruction was upon them.
Of course, this being Middle Earth, it is entirely possible that Bombadil is a character at an intersection of the Tolkein story and some other. In much the same way Santa Claus was when he reigned over Brie (Tolkien later rewrote that bit).
Yes, and that was just one facet of Tolkien’s overall criticism of (his good friend) Lewis: Jack liked to mix his mythologies, and Tolkien didn’t like that. Lewis had no problem with (for example) Santa Claus, minotaurs, and vaguely Celtic giants and dwarfs popping up in the same story.
The book “A Tolkien Miscellany” is a collection of his other works. It has all the works from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles of Ham, Sir Gawain and the Greeen Knight and several other works. I got a copy for about $15. The poems about Tom himself do not really give any more insight into who/what Tom is.
It does establish that Tom was an old character, that was just “stuck in” to get him published. The whole incident doesn’t advance the plot, or even make sense. Bombadil’s range was quite close to the Shire proper, & Hobbits were known to visit the taven where Frodo met Strider. So there’s no good reason for the Hobbits not to know of the Forest’s dangers, nor their ignorance of Bombadil.
“And if he were given the Ring, he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it away. Or give it to his old lady to sell for an ounce of bud. Such things have no hold on his mind. He would be a most unsafe guardian…”
Beg pardon? The hobbits were quite aware that the Forest was dangerous. And being hobbits, and thus naturally adverse to “adventures”, they had no desire to know anything more about the forest (including the existance of Tom). Yes, hobbits frequented the Prancing Pony, but first of all, that was mostly hobbits living in Bree, with Shire-hobbits being rather a rarity there, and second, even if any Shire-hobbits had visited Bree, Tom Bombadil didn’t frequent the inn, so they still wouldn’t have known of him. I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at, here.