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Old 05-21-2018, 09:34 PM   #1
Haunting Spirit
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The Shape of Bombadil's House

Was Karen Fonstad right in her depiction of the layout of Bombadil's house? Ms. Seth makes a somewhat convincing argument that the shape she suggested is not quite correct.

Once again, she claims one needs to use logic to solve a little puzzle Tolkien left.
Was there more Christianity involved than initially meets the eye?

Was the shape of the house really the shape of the most renowned of all Christian symbols?


Absolute proof, no so it seems one needs to have a degree of faith!
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Old 05-22-2018, 03:41 AM   #2
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A couple of notes for improvement:

A sketch of the proposed house would go a long way. I know there's the 'T-diagram' in there, but it doesn't even show which rooms are which. It took me a good quarter of an hour to figure out what the layout was intended to be (my initial readthrough had the stem of the T as the long room, which got very confusing later on!). I ended up mocking up my own version out of objects lying around, getting something like this:

Seen from the north side, with the penthouse too small, the main section too low, and the chimney grotesquely exaggerated.

The suggestion that the house's 'exaggerated shadow under the morning sun' could have formed a cross doesn't work. With the sun rising in the east, and moving to the south, the layout proposed would start out by casting a jagged shadow protruding from the entryway (with the shadow of the chimney invisible from the hobbits' northern perspective, running along the south wall, and the shadow of the penthouse covering the flower garden), and then come around until (if the hobbits left VERY late, around midday, though earlier if the W-E alignment isn't absolute) it projected directly towards them, with the shadow of the chimney lying on the roof of the house itself. Only an exceptionally large chimney, plus an exceptionally low sun at noon, would turn the shadow into anything like a cross.

But of course, the shadow is unnecessary anyway. Seen from an oblique angle (as in my image), the house does take on a superficially 'crosslike' shape - assuming the chimney is large enough. The main difficulty here is that building a chimney is a lot of work - you wouldn't go building one three times the height of your house! Rather, as shown in the cottage picture in the article, they tend to be just a little above the roof. That seriously weakens the 'cross' design, and with the penthouse confirmed to be on the north wall (ie, in the direction the hobbits are standing, more or less), I'm not sure there's a way to strengthen it.

A point in support of the 'central south-wall' chimney is that it would allow it to serve the kitchen as well as the main hall. This is quite common practice with chimneys, placing them so they can draw from two fireplaces in separate rooms. As a bonus, it would also provide heat to Tom and Goldberry's bedroom, above the kitchen.

Speaking of the bedroom, it seems likely this would just be an attic loft, little more than a floor laid on the rafters; that way, you get the warmth of the kitchen, plus the scents rising from it. Given the odd existence of the penthouse guest-room in a haunted forest, I wonder whether the kitchen-loft is actually Tom's old room, with him building the penthouse when he married Goldberry as a better sleeping chamber. Speculation aside, a loft design would keep the roof of the main building level, which supports the 'cross' design.

The use of the term 'sloping roof' for the penthouse seems to imply that the main hall has something different; I would suggest that the loft may well extend over the hall itself. In favour of this is the fact that Goldberry's singing is heard from 'up above them', rather than specifically over to the side; it would mean that the 'beams of the roof' were supporting planks across at least some of the length of the house. (And frankly, why wouldn't you extend such a loft over the full length?)

On the other hand, Tolkien is clear that there were stairs, not a ladder, so maybe a full second floor is necessary after all... (But a further counter-counterpoint: the hobbits were distinctly unused to upper floors, so wouldn't they have registered it?)

One final point: the more I dig into this description, the less it sounds like a cottage! If I was approaching one end of a long building with an extension off to one side (a long one, judging by the fact that they put four mattresses along a single N-S wall) and a second storey over the kitchen, I would be thinking something more like 'manor house' - particularly if I was half the size of the people who live there! (Though actually, reading the text, 'cottage' is never applied to the House of Tom Bombadil: rather, it's used in a simile for their feelings on meeting Goldberry. The same passage compares her to 'a fair young elf-queen clad in living flowers', and compares the hobbits' visit to '[begging] for a drink of water', neither of which are accurate!)

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Old 05-28-2018, 01:30 PM   #3
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You're actually both right. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bombadil is a Time-Lord, Goldberry his companion, and his house is really a TARDIS, capable of adapting its layout to accomodate whatever passengers ol' Tom may have picked up. The wardrobes are first door in the left, second right, under the stairs, past the bins, fifth door on the left.

Proof? Both are kind of rectangular and belong to characters who appear to help people in need. The Doctor has a phone you can call, Tom can be summoned by a verse.

This theory also has the advantage of explaining how Tom saw the first acorn and remembers the time before the Dark Lord came from Outside, while Treebeard is still the oldest of living beings: Tom travelled back in time. That simple.

Also, Goldberry says it plain and simple:
Originally Posted by TFotR Book I, Ch. 7: In the House of Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil is the Master.
The 21st century is when everything changes, you've got to be ready.
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Old 05-30-2018, 04:01 AM   #4
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This certainly explains the existence of the penthouse! It also justifies the fact that Merry and/or Pippin understands Old Man Willow (who certainly shouldn't speak Westron): it was a gift of the TARDIS (TOMDIS?).

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