You know who Obelix is? The “big-boned” Gaul from the French comic book? Well, although he is not as hilarious as Obelix, Tolkien’s Legendarium also has a “big-boned” character that is a fan-favourite and that is Bombur, the fat Dwarf that counts for two Dwarves due to his girth. Bombur is quite benevolent and people like him a lot, but we’re not going to talk about that aspect today. Today, we have prepared something else, an interesting story concerning Bombur and his dream in The Hobbit. Want to know that the big guy’s dream was about? Keep reading our article!
As per Bombur’s own confession – as the dream was never explicitly described by Tolkien himself – he was dreaming of an endless forest feast and a woodland king. The dream seem to have been quite enjoyable, since Bombur was dissatisfied having found out it was not real.
In this short article, we are going to tell you the circumstances of how and when Bombur even fell asleep and what his dream was about. You’ll also see his reaction to the dream and the realisation that it was not, in fact, real, so keep reading to find out some new information about Bombur and his dream.
How did Bombur fall asleep?
The incident which caused Bombur to sleep for days happened while the Dwarves and Bilbo were crossing the enchanted stream in Mirkwood. While they did not know how exactly, the company had been warned by Gandalf that the stream was a source of powerful dark magic and that they should certainly not come into contact with it. In the books, the company found a small boat and they crossed the stream in groups, because they could not all fit on it at the same time. Bombur, since he was the fattest of the group, had to go last. And while he did reach the other side, something happened:
“Before they could shout in praise of the shot, however, a dreadful wail from Bilbo put all thoughts of venison out of their minds. “Bombur has fallen in! Bombur is drowning!” he cried. It was only too true. Bombur had only one foot on the land when the hart bore down on him, and sprang over him. He had stumbled, thrusting the boat away from the bank, and then toppled back into the dark water, his hands slipping off the slimy roots at the edge, while the boat span slowly off and disappeared.
They could still see his hood above the water when they ran to the bank. Quickly, they flung a rope with a hook towards him. His hand caught it, and they pulled him to the shore. He was drenched from hair to boots, of course, but that was not the worst. When they laid him on the bank he was already fast asleep, with one hand clutching the rope so tight that they could not get it from his grasp; and fast asleep he remained in spite of all they could do.
They were still standing over him, cursing their ill luck, and Bombur’s clumsiness, and lamenting the loss of the boat which made it impossible for them to go back and look for the hart, when they became aware of the dim blowing of horns in the wood and the sound as of dogs baying far off. Then they all fell silent; and as they sat it seemed they could hear the noise of a great hunt going by to the north of the path, though they saw no sign of it.
There they sat for a long while and did not dare to make a move. Bombur slept on with a smile on his fat face, as if he no longer cared for all the troubles that vexed them. Suddenly on the path ahead appeared some white deer, a hind and fawns as snowy white as the hart had been dark. They glimmered in the shadows. Before Thorin could cry out three of the dwarves had leaped to their feet and loosed off arrows from their bows. None seemed to find their mark. The deer turned and vanished in the trees as silently as they had come, and in vain the dwarves shot their arrows after them.”– The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: “Flies and Spiders”
As you can see, Bombur, clumsy as he was, fell into the stream and while the company did save him, the magic did what it had to do and Bombur fell into a deep sleep that lasted for days. This scene is also present in the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, although the screenplay portrayed these events a little differently than the book. Here is what the scene looked like in the movie:
What did Bombur dream of?
So, what happened next? Well, this is what Tolkien says:
“But they did not know this, and they were burdened with the heavy body of Bombur, which they had to carry along with them as best they could, taking the wearisome task in turns of four each while the others shared their packs. If these had not become all too light in the last few days, they would never have managed it; but a slumbering and smiling Bombur was a poor exchange for packs filled with food however heavy. In a few days a time came when there was practically nothing left to eat or to drink. Nothing wholesome could they see growing in the wood, only funguses and herbs with pale leaves and unpleasant smell.”– The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: “Flies and Spiders”
The company had to keep moving through Mirkwood, but they were burdened with Bombur’s heavy body. As the fattest member of the company, he was certainly a heavy load for the duration (“many days”, as is said) of his slumber. Yet, while the other members of the company complained, Bombur seemed to be quite happy, as his sleeping face showed a satisfied smile. Bombur was dreaming, obviously of something very pleasant. Tolkien never explicitly described Bombur’s dream, but once he woke up, we found out what he had been dreaming about that whole time. This is what Tolkien wrote:
“He woke up suddenly and sat up scratching his head. He could not make out where he was at all, nor why he felt so hungry; for he had forgotten everything that had happened since they started their journey that May morning long ago. The last thing that he remembered was the party at the hobbit’s house, and they had great difficulty in making him believe their tale of all the many adventures they had had since.
When he heard that there was nothing to eat, he sat down and wept, for he felt very weak and wobbly in the legs. “Why ever did I wake up!” he cried. “I was having such beautiful dreams. I dreamed I was walking in a forest rather like this one, only lit with torches on the trees and lamps swinging from the branches and fires burning on the ground; and there was a great feast going on, going on for ever. A woodland king was there with a crown of leaves, and there was a merry singing, and I could not count or describe the things there were to eat and drink.”
“You need not try,” said Thorin. “In fact if you can’t talk about something else, you had better be silent. We are quite annoyed enough with you as it is. If you hadn’t waked up, we should have left you to your idiotic dreams in the forest; you are no joke to carry even after weeks of short commons.”
There was nothing now to be done but to tighten the belts round their empty stomachs, and hoist their empty sacks and packs, and trudge along the track without any great hope of ever getting to the end before they lay down and died of starvation. This they did all that day, going very slowly and wearily; while Bombur kept on wailing that his legs would not carry him and that he wanted to lie down and sleep.
“No you don’t!” they said. “Let your legs take their share, we have carried you far enough.””– The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: “Flies and Spiders”
As you can see, after finally waking up, Bombur was quite disappointed to realise that his whole experience was just a dream, a fictional event that never happened. Furthermore, he could not remember anything that had happened since the unexpected party at Bilbo Baggins’ house from the beginning of the story. He dreamed of an endless feast, which was enough to make him smile, and a woodland king with a crown of leaves, which also made him happy. Just imagine his disappointment when he woke up and saw a bunch of grumpy Dwarves and a Hobbit somewhere in a dark, gloomy forest.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!