Goldberry is a supporting character from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Also known as the "River-woman's daughter", she is the wife of Tom Bombadil. Goldberry is described as a beautiful and (seemingly) young woman with golden hair.
|Book(s)||The Fellowship of the Ring (1954),|
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
Tales from the Perilous Realm (1997)
Goldberry first appeared in Tolkien's writings in his 1934 poem, 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil', [re-worked in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962)]. The poem tells of how she drags Tom into the river, before he escapes, returning later to capture her and make her his bride.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book of The Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins and his companions Sam, Merry, and Pippin encounter Goldberry and Tom in the Old Forest near Buckland. The couple gives them shelter in their cottage after the Hobbits are rescued from Old Man Willow. Their stay is brief but puzzling, for Tom and Goldberry are clearly more than they seem.
Although Goldberry's origins are uncertain, Bombadil clearly identifies her as having been found by him in the river and her title "River-woman's daughter" strongly suggests that she is not a mortal human being, but rather a spirit of the river Withywindle in the Old Forest of Tolkien's Middle-earth. This is similar to the many named river spirits of traditional English folklore such as Jenny Greenteeth or Peg Powler of the River Tees, (though Goldberry is a noticeably gentler figure), or to the naiads of the Greeks. Otherwise, she and Bombadil are enigmas in Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, not fitting easily into any of his definitions of sentient beings in his world.
One frequently proposed explanation is that she is a (minor) Maia associated with the element of water and in some way with the river Withywindle in particular, though that is by no means the only possible answer. John D. Rateliff suggested that, at least in terms of Tolkien's early mythology, she should be seen as one of the wide category of fays, spirits, and elementals (including the Maia): "Thus Melian is a 'fay', (as, in all probability, are Goldberry and Bombadil; the one a nymph, the other a genius loci).
Goldberry and Tom are notably absent from most media adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. Filmmakers Ralph Bakshi and Peter Jackson stated that the reason the characters were omitted from their films was because, in their view, he (Bombadil) does little to advance the story, and would make their films unnecessarily long.
Goldberry appears in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. She can be found in "Goldberry's Glade" in the Old Forest. Her race is referred to as "River-maid". The game also features another member of this race, Goldberry's sister Naruhel, known as the Red Maid, who is of a darker and crueler nature. This is an original character not featured in Tolkien's writings.
- H. Carpenter, J. R. R. Tolkien (London 2002) p. 216-7
- Tom Shippey, J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (London 2001) p. 60
- Tom Shippey, J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (London 2001) p. 60-1
- Tom Shippey, J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (London 2001) p. 602
- Tolkien Essays: What is Tom Bombadil? Steuard Jensen 2002
- J. Rateliff, Mr Baggins (London 2007) p. 59 and p. 50
- Peter Jackson (2004). The Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition Appendices (DVD).