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  • Updated 23 February 2008
  • Updates planned: 22

Master

A common title in Middle-earth

"No one has ever caught old Tom walking in the forest, wading in the water, leaping on the hill-tops under light and shadow. He has no fear. Tom Bombadil is master."
Words of Goldberry
in The Fellowship of the Ring I 7, In the House of Tom Bombadil

'Master' is used very commonly as an honorific title by many characters in Tolkien's work, especially the Hobbits (so, for example, 'Master Samwise', 'Master Peregrin' and 'Master Elrond') and also as an occasional abbreviation of the full title 'Master of Buckland'. It's often also used either humorously or mockingly, as in 'Master Sluggard' or 'Master Wormtongue'. The list below doesn't consider general uses like those, but only describes cases where one character is specifically referred to as the 'Master' of another.

Barliman Butterbur The owner of the Prancing Pony was given this title by those who worked for him, or at least by his servant Nob.
Elrond He was referred to as 'Master' only once, by a suitably deferential Sam Gamgee in Rivendell.
Frodo Baggins He was frequently referred to as 'Master' by his faithful servant Sam Gamgee, and also by Gollum during his journey to Mount Doom.
Gandalf It was Saruman who was recognised as the head of the Order of Wizards, but when Gandalf arrived in Middle-earth, Círdan immediately recognised his particular power and wisdom. Círdan not only granted Gandalf the title of Master, but went so far as to secretly give him the Red Ring Narya.
Morgoth He was frequently referred to during the First Age as the Master of his creatures and servants, and especially Glaurung the Dragon. In this case the title was often mockingly used by Morgoth's enemies.
Peregrin Took He was called 'Master' by Barliman Butterbur, though it's unclear whether this was simple politeness, or whether the innkeeper recognised him as the heir to the Thainship of the Shire.
Saruman He was called 'Master' by Uglúk, one of the Uruks that captured Merry and Pippin, and doubtless the other Orcs under his command showed him the same respect.
Sauron Sauron was referred to as 'Master' by Gandalf, but only as a factual comment that he was master over his minions and slaves, and especially the Nine Ringwraiths.
Tom Bombadil Tom was master of his own woodland domain, though it seems his powers could have ranged far wider if he had wished. His spouse Goldberry called him 'the Master of wood, water, and hill' (The Fellowship of the Ring I 7).

See also...

The Dragon

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