“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”
- Juliet, “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet”, Act II Scene II, William Shakespeare
So I’ve officially graduated High School, I should be thinking about college, the future, finances et cetera…But what do I find myself thinking about?
I’ve been thinking about how much power is in a name. It’s meaning. It’s essence.
It starts with our parents deciding what name fits your face, or what name “sounds” good. This is what you will be called (legally unless it is changed) for the rest of your life. This is what defines you in the eye of the public.
Then you are put to the task to learn and to respond to your name. You must recognize that it is your own, even if you share it with thousands of other people, or possibly dogs, cat, or other animals, maybe even a car.
But later in life, the mere mention of a name can do so much.
You know, like when the name of someone you don’t particularly care for is brought up in conversation, you grimace or roll your eyes.
When the name of someone you are attracted to is brought up your heart flutters, or blood rushes to your face.
When the name of someone you’ve lost is brought up you cry.
In J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter”, the name of the antagonist is scarcely mentioned by the non main characters of the book. Instead of Voldemort, he is “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named”. This is out of the pure fear in response to Voldemort’s name. Voldemort takes great pride in the fact that he is so feared that his very name commands terror.
In Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”, names as we know them today aren’t even given. They are given a first, almost factory, noun followed by a series of numbers. Because names and anything that is not collective is considered to be “evil”. The characters of the novella don’t know the pronoun “I” and do not use it. Instead, they speak in “we” and”our” (“We like that.” as opposed to “I like that.”). Near the end of the book, the main character, Equality 7-2521 and his counterpart, Liberty 5-3000, at first give the other names in their minds (“The Unconquered” and “The Golden One”), which shows that they have set the other apart from the populous, and later give themselves names (“Prometheus” and “Gaia”), and thereby claiming their own individuality.
In Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon”, everything has it’s “true” name– the very substance and essance of the thing– which gives the speaker of this name full, magical power over it.
In the movie adaptation of Stan Lee’s “X-Men”, the antagonist, Magneto, asks another mutant “What’s your name?” to which the mutant responds, “John.”. Magneto then counters with, “What’s your real name, John?”, to which John replies, “Pyro.”
In Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice”, speaking the name of the antagonist, Beetleguise, three times will either give him power or take it away.
As further demonstrated by the examples above, the power behind a name is enormous, far beyond what most people realize. And even past first names is, of course, the last name. What do the names: Kardashian, Olsen, Winfrey, Lopez, Wayne (As in John, not ‘Lil), Washington, Picasso, Shakespeare, do to you? What kind of response does it make you have?
Having a certain last name and sharing relations with certain people can get you a long way in life. And, of course, there are those people whom you cannot identify unless you speak both their first and last name. That one popular guy in school, celebrity, or author that is so idolized the first and last names are never separate. Or the exact opposite, of someone’s name being so powerful that only their last name is used(Shakespeare).
I apologize for going around in circles on something entirely unuseful to your every day life, but I just wished to share my thoughts on a subject that has been on my mind. Maybe you found it interesting, and I would love to hear further imput on the subject.
Life Goes On.