Farmer Maggot is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth universe, introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring. He lives on a farm called Bamfurlong in the Marish region of the Eastfarthing of the Shire. Edible mushrooms, highly prized among Hobbits, grow abundantly on his land, and Farmer Maggot often has to deal with other Hobbits stealing them, which is one reason he keeps a pack of large, fierce dogs.
|Book(s)||The Fellowship of the Ring (1954) The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962)|
As a youth living in Buckland, Frodo Baggins often made trips to steal Bamfurlong mushrooms. On the last occasion Farmer Maggot caught Frodo, beat him, and then threatened to feed the young Hobbit to the dogs if he ever trespassed again. He then set the dogs on Frodo, which chased him all the way to the Bucklebury Ferry. Although the dogs did him no harm, the incident so terrified Frodo that, even 30-some years later, he quivered at the thought of crossing the old farmer's land.
Nevertheless, necessity forced Frodo, Sam, and Pippin (who was on good terms with Maggot) to cross through his fields. Maggot and his dogs Fang, Grip and Wolf met up with the trio, but Maggot had long set aside any grudge against Frodo. He invited the company to supper and then took them via wagon ride to the ferry to meet Merry, and gave Frodo a parting gift of a whole basket full of mushrooms (courtesy of his wife, who is only identified as Mrs. Maggot).
Maggot insisted on escorting Frodo because one of the Black Riders had appeared on his land offering gold for news of 'Baggins.' Maggot told him off and ordered him not to return. The Black Rider nearly ran Maggot down, and Maggot's dogs were no help — they were terrified of the Rider.
Maggot was said to have three daughters and at least three sons, in addition to Mrs. Maggot. Through some unknown means, Maggot was acquainted with Tom Bombadil and informed him that Frodo and friends might be coming towards Bombadil's house through the Old Forest. Bombadil himself described Maggot as very wise. Maggot also figures as a friend of Bombadil in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
In Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, the shortcut through Maggot's field is extremely condensed and altered. In the movie, Frodo and Sam set out from Bag End alone and run into Merry and Pippin stealing vegetables from Maggot's fields. According to Pippin, he and Merry had been stealing from Maggot for some time, though in the book the two are very good friends of Maggot. Maggot himself is not seen, though his scythe is visible over the edge of the fields and he is heard shouting at the young Hobbits. Maggot also appears earlier in the film, played by Cameron Rhodes. He tells the Black Rider, "There are no Bagginses round here. They are all up in Hobbiton, that way!"
Farmer Maggot and his farmstead have been interpreted as an example of Tolkien's vision of an idealised rural life. Although the Hobbit society regards the farming business higher than other peoples of Middle-earth do, even Frodo is not free of "class snobbishness" towards Maggot and in addition, both Frodo and Maggot recall a negative encounter from Frodo's youth. Maggot himself displays the "typical suspiciousness of the Shire" by denouncing the people of Hobbiton, Frodo's home town.
During their quest of the Ring, however, Maggot turns out to be protective and helpful, a turn that has been noted as evidence of how Tolkien enjoyed reversing negative expectations in his readership and his characters. Also the title "Farmer" is ultimately meant to be honorific and a scene where Frodo, Sam and Pippin are invited for supper at Maggot's house is another favourable portrayal of farm life. This meal at Maggot's house where the mutual jaundices and suspicions are finally put to rest has been seen as an example for the pacifying role that shared meals play within the Hobbit society. Maggot's role can be seen as crucial for the development of the story's plot. His reconciliation with Frodo is both needed for letting Frodo successfully escape from the Shire and it also means that Frodo may go on his quest as a representative of his community without the burden of old childhood transgressions.
Maggot and another character, Farmer Cotton, who in the end becomes Samwise's father in law, are two examples of a detailed description of steadfast Hobbit farmers. These two characters have been seen as "bookends" to The Lord of the Ring's plot, with Maggot providing help to Frodo and his companions in the beginning and Cotton being a crucial figure in "The Scouring of the Shire", i.e. the liberation of the Shire from Saruman's occupation towards the end of the story.
Maggot's character went through several changes during Tolkien's writing of The Lord of the Rings. In the first stage of The Return of the Shadow, he is a benevolent helper who provides food and lodging to the Hobbits. In the second stage of the novel's development, however, Maggot became "decidedly ogre-like". The Hobbits have to kill one of his wild dogs when it assaults them which causes Maggot to throw the protagonist back over a hedge and utter severe threats to the Hobbits should they ever return to his property. In the final, published version, Maggot is able to forgive Frodo's juvenile pranks. He is again helpful and turns out to be "more broad-minded than he first appears."
- The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Short Cut to Mushrooms".
- The Fellowship of the Ring, "In the House of Tom Bombadil".
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1962). "Bombadil Goes Boating". The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. George Allen & Unwin.
- Hildebrandt, Greg and Tim (1977). J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar, 1978. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345-25689-1.
- Howe, John. "Farmer Maggot". John Howe :: Illustrator. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Dickerson, Matthew T. (2006). "Maggot and Cotton: Hobbit Farms and Farmers". Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien. pp. 84–87. ISBN 978-0813124186.
- Chance, Jane (2001). Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power (revised ed.). University Press of Kentucky. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0813190174.
- Dickerson, Matthew (2012). "Bread Surpassing the Savour of a Fair White Loaf". The Other Journal. An Intersection of Theology & Culture (19): 71–6.
- Vincent, Alanna M. (2012). Culture, Communion and Recovery: Tolkienian Fairy-Story and Inter-Religious Exchange. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-44384-295-2.
- Atherton, Mark (2014). There and Back Again: J R R Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit. I.B. Tauris. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-1-78076-927-1.
- "Farmer Maggot". Tolkien Gateway.