Farmer Maggot

From Tolkien Gateway
Farmer Maggot
Hobbit
"Harvesting Maggots" by Henning Janssen
Biographical Information
PositionFarmer
LocationBamfurlong, the Marish
BirthLate Third Age
Family
SpouseMrs. Maggot
ChildrenFive children (at least)
Physical Description
GenderMale
GalleryImages of Farmer Maggot

Farmer Maggot was a Hobbit who at the time of the War of the Ring owned a farm called Bamfurlong[1] in the Marish[2] in the Eastfarthing[3] of the Shire[4].

Character and appearance

Farmer Maggot was broad, thickset with a round red face, a shrewd hobbit who was friendly to all Brandybucks (and on friendly terms with Tom Bombadil[1]). Living in the borderlands Maggot had to be more on his guard than most Hobbits and for protection he kept three huge dogs called Grip, Fang, and Wolf.[5]

Like most inhabitants of the Marish, which was fertile but boggy, the Maggots lived in a house instead of a hobbit-hole. Maggot had a wife, at least two sons and three daughters, plus a few other hobbits working for him; around ten persons belonged to his family and farm-household.[5]

Like many other Marish-ers, Maggot felt closer to the Bucklanders such as the Brandybucks, and considered other Shire-hobbits alien and queer; when he heard that young Frodo Baggins had left Buckland for Hobbiton, he thought it would not be good for him.[5]

History

When Frodo Baggins was young he lived in Brandy Hall and used to sneak into Farmer Maggot's fields to steal mushrooms. After catching Frodo thieving several times, Maggot finally beat the young mushroom poacher and let him to his dogs, who chased Frodo all the way to the Bucklebury Ferry. Frodo remained terrified of the old farmer and his dogs thereafter. However he was a good friend with Frodo's cousin, Merry, who used to visit him with Peregrin Took. When he heard that Frodo had left to live with the queer folk of Hobbiton, he was worried about him.[5]

On 25 September of T.A. 3018, when a Black Rider approached Maggot his dog Grip yelped and ran off howling with its tail put down. When the rider asked him if he has seen Baggins, Maggot told him to leave, that there were no Bagginses here and recommended him to go back to Hobbiton. The rider said that Baggins had left and that he would come back and reward Maggot with gold if he informed him the next time that Baggins came. Maggot however, despite the chill this stranger caused him, told the rider to leave and not to come back and threatened him to call his dogs. The Black Rider sort of hissed, Maggot did not know if he was laughing or not, and spurred his horse at him, but Maggot jumped out of the way. Maggot called his dogs, but the rider turned around and rode away.[5]

Later that day Frodo, Sam and Pippin came to Maggot's farm, and extra-cautious Maggot was ready to unleash his dogs this time if he didn't recognise his old friend Pippin, and also Frodo. After Mrs. Maggot served the travelers mugs of beer, Maggot related his story about the stranger. Maggot speculated that some strangers might want to know what happened to the gold and jewels that was said to have been acquired by Bilbo Baggins in some strange way in foreign parts. He remembered Frodo as a member of the Brandybuck family who had trespassed on his land to collect mushrooms when he was young and expressed his happiness for returning from the queer folk in Hobbiton to the East where he belongs. Frodo thanked the farmer for his hospitality and refused his invitation for dinner, as they had to hurry along, but Maggot offered to take them by wagon to the Ferry thereafter. The invitation was gratefully accepted.[5]

In the night Maggot and his passengers headed for the Ferry, and they encountered Merry looking for them. Upon reaching their destination, Maggot set out for home after giving Frodo a gift from Mrs Maggot. The gift was a basket of mushrooms.[5]

Etymology

Tolkien says that the name "Maggot" was a "meaningless" Hobbitish name. Maggot should not be understood as the English word maggot, which means a grub or larva. The similarity is coincidental.[6]

Other versions of the legendarium

In the first phase of writing The Lord of the Rings the visit to Farmer Maggot was roughly the same as the final version, but in a much abbreviated form. Bingo (who would later be named Frodo Baggins) had never stolen mushrooms from Bamfurlong. The farmer had only one small dog named Gip and while he had a wife, no children or other members of the household were mentioned. At the first sight of the dog, Bingo put on his Ring and stayed invisible during the visit. Odo and Frodo Took (who were later changed into Pippin and Sam) enjoyed a beer while Maggot told them of the visit by the Black Rider. At the end of the story invisible Bingo lifted Maggot's mug and drank his beer, scaring the old farmer who was glad to see the two (visible) hobbits run away. The hobbits did not get a wagon ride to the Ferry nor did they receive any mushrooms.[7]

When J.R.R. Tolkien came to write about Tom Bombadil he toyed with the idea of making Farmer Maggot some other creature than a hobbit, possibly akin to Tom himself.[8] As this notion brewed a line was given to Frodo Took stating that Maggot was "not a hobbit – not a pure hobbit anyway" and that he had hair under his chin.[9]

Farmer Maggot changed considerably in the second phase of writing the story, although he was still a hobbit. Now the One Ring was much more dangerous and Bingo was not supposed to wear it frivolously. However, Tolkien still wanted to retain the mysteriously levitating beer mug incident, which meant that Bingo had to wear the Ring in Maggot's house. To justify this the visit to Bamfurlong took on a much darker hue. Young Bingo used to steal mushrooms. One day, in fear of being mauled, he threw a rock at one of the farmer's dogs and killed it. Maggot beat Bingo and told him he would kill him the next time he trespassed, and would have killed him then if Bingo had not belonged to a rich and powerful family. When the hobbits approached the farm, terrified Bingo slipped on the Ring. Inside the house Maggot emphasized his unrelenting hostility toward all Bagginses. Bingo pulls the floating beer mug trick but then berates the bewildered farmer, pushes him into the fire-irons, and makes his hat sail out of the house.

Christopher Tolkien commented that the difficulty of keeping the Ring secret eventually killed this version. When the story was rewritten again to make Maggot a shrewd but kindly soul the last of the lighthearted tricks with the Ring was removed from the developing story.[10]

In yet another version of the beginning Farmer Maggot's hostility, it was Bilbo and Bingo who stumbled onto Maggot's farm one foggy evening. They accidentally got into his garden and Maggot set a great wolf-like dog upon them. Bilbo broke the dog's head to save Bingo from a mauling and Maggot flung Bilbo into a ditch. Maggot threatened to kill Bingo, Bilbo threatened to come back armed, and Maggot said he had a weapon or two himself.[11]

Portrayal in adaptations

Farmer Maggot in adaptations
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game)
The Lord of the Rings Online

1981: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Ring:

John Bott provided the voice of Farmer Maggot.

1992: Der Herr der Ringe (1992 German radio series):

Farmer Maggot is played by Günter Kasch.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Cameron Rhodes portrays Farmer Maggot when he is questioned by a Ringwraith. In a later scene where he chases away the four hobbits from his fields, his voice is provided by sound engineer Mike Hopkins.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

Farmer Maggot appears at the end of the Shire levels.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Farmer Maggot can be found at his farm in Bamfurlong at the Marish next to his son, Hammy Maggot. He is involved in several minor quests and the annual "Farmer's Faire" festival.

See also

References