In The Lord of the Rings, Tom Bombadil is a mysterious character who aids Frodo and his companions on their journey. He and his wife Goldberry, the "Daughter of the River," still live in their house on the Withywindle, and some of the characters and situations from the original poem appear in The Lord of the Rings. In the book, he is described as "Master of wood, water and hill", and nearly always speaks or sings in stress-timed metre: 7-beat lines broken into groups of 4 and 3 (old English metre as first noted in Caedmons Hymn in the story of Bede. The metre was discovered in the 19th century). He appears in three chapters, "The Old Forest", "In the House of Tom Bombadil", and "Fog on the Barrow-downs". He is mentioned in the chapter "The Council of Elrond" as a possible keeper and protector of the One Ring. He is mentioned at the end of the story in "Homeward Bound" and "The Grey Havens". Behind Bombadil's simple façade are hints of great knowledge and power, though limited to his own domain.
Tom first appears when Merry and Pippin are trapped by Old Man Willow and Frodo and Sam cry for help. Tom commands Old Man Willow to release them, singing him to sleep, and shelters the hobbits in his house for two nights. Here it is seen that the One Ring has no power over Bombadil; he can see Frodo when the Ring makes him invisible to others, and can wear it himself with no effect. He even tosses the Ring in the air and makes it disappear, but then produces it from his other hand and returns it to Frodo. While this seems to demonstrate that he has unique and mysterious power over the Ring, the idea of giving him the Ring for safekeeping is rejected within Book Two's second chapter, "The Council of Elrond." Gandalf says, rather, that "the Ring has no power over him", and believes that Tom would not find the Ring to be very important and so might simply misplace it.
Frodo spends two nights in Tom Bombadil's house, each night dreaming a different dream, which appear to be either clairvoyant or prophetic. The first night he dreams of fearful things, including Gandalf's imprisonment atop Orthanc in Isengard. The second night he dreams of a song that "seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise."
Before sending the hobbits on their way, Tom teaches them a rhyme to summon him if they fall into danger again within his borders. This proves fortunate, as the four encounter Barrow-wights during the following chapter, "Fog on the Barrow-downs". After saving them from the Barrow-wights, Tom gives each hobbit a long dagger taken from the treasure in the barrow. As the hobbits leave the Old Forest, he refuses to pass the borders of his own land, but before he goes he directs them to The Prancing Pony Inn at Bree.
other LOTR artwork of mine: