“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~ William Shakespeare
“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
What do you think? Does the name matter that much?
J.K. Rowling was a genius at naming fictional characters. Let’s look at a few:
• Albus Dumbledore
• Sirius Black
• Hermione Granger
• Bellatrix Lestrange
• Draco Malfoy
• Lucius Malfoy
The names are unique, so they make a lasting impression, but it’s also interesting to note that the meaning of the names fit the role of the characters.
These characters often acted as a guiding light or helper to Harry during his quest:
Albus: white, bright.
Sirius: brightest star.
These characters were part of the antagonistic force trying to prevent Harry from achieving his goal:
Although the meaning of Lucius is similar to Sirius and Albus, it reminds most of us of that fallen angel, Lucifer.
Name meanings aside, don’t the following names fit the character perfectly?
• Neville Longbottom
• Ronald Weasley
• Rubeus Hagrid
Rowling also uses alliteration to make an impression with characters like Severus Snape, Luna Lovegood, and several others that I mentioned in the post All About Alliteration: Does It Almost Always Annoy.
Does the name need to be unique to be memorable? It’s interesting that most of the characters in J.K. Rowling’s novels have distinct names, but for the main character, Harry Potter, she chose a rather common name. But it’s not so common anymore, is it?
Let’s take a look at the names of other popular fictional characters.
J.R.R Tolkien also used alliteration with the character, Bilbo Baggins, but most of his characters are recognizable by one name. Consider the following:
I suppose this has more to do with the genre, though. If Frodo and Gandalf were named Frank and George, they would seem a little out-of-place in Middle Earth, wouldn’t they?
Here are a few other memorable fictional character names that come to mind:
• Arthur (Boo) Radley, To Kill a Mockingbird
• Jeremy Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
• Hannibal Lector, The Silence of the Lambs
• Jean Valjean, Les Miserables
• Ebeneezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol
• Lucie Manette, A Tale of Two Cities
Including some from recent novels:
• Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
• Beatrice (Tris) Prior, Divergent
• Liesel Meminger– The Book Thief
How do you choose names for the fictional characters in your story? Do you consider the meaning of the name? What is your favorite fictional character name?
To see what other A to Z participants are blogging about this month, please click here to see a list of participants with links to their blogs.