Questions tagged [name-significance]

Questions related to the literary significance or meaning of proper names that appear in literature.

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As the former name for Baghdad, does "Sutis" contain any special or symbolic meaning?

Lawrence Joseph has mentioned the poem "In This Language, In War's Revolutions" that: in the city Baghdad, named Sutis by its founder, Nebuchadnezzar, here where the prophet Daniel ...
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What is the meaning of "Zima" in the Decameron, Day 3 Story 5?

Day 3 Story 5 of the Decameron features a main character who is referred to by the name of Zima: Now there was then in Pistoia a young man, Ricciardo by name, of low origin but great wealth, who went ...
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What does the name "Hodel" mean?

In Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "The Primper", Adele's real name is "Hodel": Her two sisters and three brothers married in due time, but she, Adele - her real name was ...
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4 votes
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Significance of Effi Briest's name

I've been thinking about Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest for a while, and the names of the characters, especially Effi Briest's name, but also the other important characters, like for instance ...
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Why do Chinese novelists sometimes have the same name as their characters?

I've encountered this twice now: 这世界,缺你不可 by 吴大伟 (Google Books) has a character named 大伟 (pinyin: Dà​wěi). 谢谢你曾来过我的世界 by 仲尼 (Google Books) has a character named 仲尼 (pinyin: Zhòng​ní). I'm puzzled as ...
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What do the names of Yasha's animals in "The Magician of Lublin" say about him?

In Isaac Bashevis Singer's The Magician of Lublin, our main character Yasha named his horses "Kara" and "Shiva", and refers to them as "Dust" and "Ashes: He need ...
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Is there a meaning to Koroviev 's nickname?

In Master and Margarita, Koroviev (or Korovyev) is part of Woland's entourage. In various scenes, he is called by his nickname - Fagot: The magician sat down. ' Tell me, my dear Fagot,' Woland ...
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What do the names of the Decameron characters signify?

The Wikipedia page for the Decameron claims (without citations) that: Boccaccio himself notes that the names he gives for these ten characters are in fact pseudonyms chosen as "appropriate to ...
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What is the significance of the name Jude, in Jude the Obscure?

The meaning of "obscure" in the title of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Oscure has been discussed previously on this site, but what about the name Jude? Earlier versions of the manuscript had the ...
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What is the significance of the name Bastian Balthazar Bux?

Apart from being triply alliterative (BBB), what is the significance of the name Bastian Balathazar Bux (or Bastian Balthasar Bux in the German original), the protagonist of The Neverending Story? ...
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What inspired Babar's name?

Babar is a fictional elephant, featuring in stories by Jean de Brunhoff and later his son. The name "Babar" is similar to baba, a word originally meaning "father" but used as an ...
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Why is the snake named "Asmodeus"?

In Redwall there is a fearsome, hypnotizing serpent called Asmodeus Poisonteeth. The name seems pretty obviously from the Biblical demon/devil (Is there a difference? The Wikipedia page doesn't help) ...
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Was Austen Heller's name inspired by Henry W. Austin?

It's no secret that Howard Roark was loosely inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Interestingly enough, on a recent tour of Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park, IL, I encountered a park named after Henry ...
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Why are Christian's children in "The Pilgrim's Progress" given Biblical names instead of character-based names?

In The Pilgrim's Progress, virtually all of the characters are named after their character (e.g. Mr. Pliable, Mr. Honest, Mr. Worldly Wise-Man, Mercy, etc.). However, Christian's children all have ...
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What's the significance of the name "Johnnie" in "The Bridge by the Tay"?

There's only one named character in this translation of Fontane's "Die Brück’ am Tay" ("The Bridge by the Tay"): "Johnnie". Johnnie shows up twice in the poem: Now, ...
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What is the significance of Blackberry's name in Watership Down?

In the novel Watership Down, the character of Blackberry is the "clever rabbit" among the original group migrating from the Sandleford Warren. He's the one who comes up with innovative (for ...
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Why is Dandelion named so?

In Watership Down, one of the rabbits is named Dandelion. The explanation given for the name in the Fandom wiki is this: He is a yellow-furred rabbit, hence his name [Dandelion]. But while that ...
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Where does Arrietty Clock's name come from?

In Mary Norton's Borrowers series, the Borrowers are tiny people who live secretly among humans. There are or were several families of Borrowers living in one large house, with family surnames ...
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Does the Dime Lions' name have a deeper significance?

In the duology of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, there are several criminal gangs. The two most important ones are the Dregs (crow symbol) and the Dime Lions (lion symbol). The gangs take pride in ...
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Why are there two characters named "Rose" in Rose Under Fire?

Two major characters in Rose Under Fire (by Elizabeth Wein) have names that mean the same thing. One is named Róża ("Rose" in her native language) and the other Rose. As far as I can ...
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Why does the narrator in Tagore's story call the Cabuliwallah's daughter "Parbati"?

In Rabindranath Tagore's "The Cabuliwallah", Rahmun, the eponymous Cabuliwallah, has come to Calcutta to make a living selling nuts and dried fruits from his native Afghanistan. In lieu of a ...
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1 vote
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Significance of the names Silim, Tur, and Irij for the sons of Feridoun?

In the second book of the Shahnameh, King Feridoun tests his three sons by appearing to them as a dragon. The eldest son runs away, the middle one takes up arms against the monster, and the youngest ...
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Are the names J. Alfred Prufrock and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley completely arbitrary?

T.S. Eliot's first professionally published poem was "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", in which Eliot narrates the experience of a character named J. Alfred Prufrock. Similarly, Ezra ...
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Did Lois Lowry name the protagonist of the Giver from the biblical prophet?

Did Lois Lowry name Jonas, the protagonist of the Giver, after the biblical prophet Jonah? Both of them are at one point reluctant to follow their calling that they didn't choose, so there is some ...
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In The Great Gatsby, is Nick Carraway's name intentional?

Nick's surname sounds a lot like care-away, and I've seen a number of online sources that state that this Fitzgerald intended for this to be so. I find this hard to believe, considering that Nick isn'...
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27 votes
4 answers
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Isn't Gríma Wormtongue a very revealing name?

Something which strikes me both while reading the book and watching the movie is the very striking name "Wormtongue". He might as well be named "Evil Dude". He seems over-the-top ...
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How could Zohak's advisors deduce the name Feridoun from his dream?

In the first part of the Shahnameh, "The Shahs of Old", the Deev-influenced king Zohak has a dream in which he foresees his own downfall at the hands of Feridoun and his cow-headed mace: ...
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1 vote
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Why did August Strindberg pick the names "Julie" and "Jean" for the protagonists of his play Miss Julie (1888)?

In Miss Julie (Fröken Julie), a seminal play and central piece of modern Swedish literature, the two main characters are named "Julie" and "Jean". Why "Julie" and "...
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4 votes
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Why is the not-so-wicked Which called Faintly Macabre?

In Norton Juster's witty wacky fantasy The Phantom Tollbooth, during their stay in the Dictionopolis dungeon Milo and Tock meet a witch Which. She used to be in charge of selecting which words to use, ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Does the title of "Marquis" change the name of its holder?

In "The Chief Mourner of Marne" in The Secret of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, the main character was named James Mair, and his cousin was named Maurice Mair; the author said that after ...
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2 votes
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What is the significance of Jane's maiden name Tudor in That Hideous Strength?

In C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength, the main character Jane Studdock had the maiden name Jane Tudor. This is only mentioned once in the book itself - I had forgotten it and only noticed it ...
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2 votes
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What is the significance of the names Mersault and Meursault?

The novel A Happy Death, written in the late 1930s and published posthumously in 1971, has a main character named Patrice Mersault. Camus's novel The Stranger, written a few years later and published ...
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5 votes
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What is the origin of the name Nilfgaard?

The empire of Nilfgaard becomes very important in the Witcher saga starting from the end of Sword of Destiny and continuing through the novels starting with Blood of Elves. The name has always ...
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7 votes
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Where did Stephen King get the word "Shawshank" from?

I just watched "The Shawshank Redemption" for the first time. I was surprised that it took place in a U.S. prison because I had assumed for years based on my ignorance that "Shawshank" was derived ...
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Why is Mr William Collins never referred to as the Rev Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice?

Mr William Collins is an ordained clergyman in the Church of England, and becomes the priest of the Hunsford parish. I realize that neither Miss Elizabeth Bennet nor her father particularly revere Mr ...
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4 votes
1 answer
532 views

Significance in Raskolnikov's name in Crime and Punishment?

The protagonist/antihero of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. As it says on Wikipedia: The name Raskolnikov derives from the Russian raskolnik meaning "schismatic"...
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4 votes
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Why the name "Gumdrop" for the vintage car?

As a child I enjoyed some of the Gumdrop stories, without ever realising that the name of the car Gumdrop was the same as a type of sweet. Perhaps the reason for this name is explained somewhere in ...
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1 vote
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Georgian London: they had Windows of course but ... Linux?

I'm reading (the Italian translation of) The Confessions of Frannie Langton, a novel set in Georgian London, and one of the preeminent characters is the housekeeper of George and Marguerite Benham, ...
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Is there any significance to the name "friends of Lilith" in Simone Kern's "The Propagator"?

Simone Kern's "The Propagator" is set in a future where abortion is illegal, and anyone who tries it is persecuted for "reproductive crimes". During the story, we learn about the "friends of Lilith", ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Is there a hidden meaning in the name of Captain Foulenough?

The novel Brideshead Revisited features a secondary character, a certain Captain Foulenough. In Russian translation his last name is rendered as Буремглой, obviously referring to a Pushkin's line ...
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3 votes
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What is the significance of naming the djinni Bartimaeus?

In the Bartimaeus trilogy, the main character is the eponymous djinni Bartimaeus, a demon/spirit from "the Other Place" who is cheeky, witty, boastful, and at times surprisingly deep. Bartimaeus, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Is there any significance in King Lune's name?

The king of Archenland during the time of The Horse and His Boy, father of the Archenland princes who play a more major role in the story, is called Lune. Is there any significance to this name? ...
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3 votes
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Significance of the name Annabel Lee?

"Annabel Lee" is one of many pieces of writing by Edgar Allan Poe which explore the theme of a beloved woman who died young. As with other such works, most famously "The Raven", critics have ...
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5 votes
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Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of the name "Laertes" (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet?

Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of "Laertes" (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet? Do we associate the name with The Odyssey more strongly than Shakespeare, to whom it was just ...
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Where is the wordplay in the names Zhao Guiweng and Gu Jiu?

In the Wikisource version (in both Chinese and English) of Lu Xun's short story "A Madman's Diary" from his collection Call to Arms, the following footnotes are made about character names: Zhao ...
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2 votes
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Was the Cambridge mathematician "Andrew Martin" named after any actual mathematicians?

A central character in Matt Haig's The Humans, is a Cambridge mathematician Andrew Martin, whose speciality is prime numbers. This character is supposed to be exceedingly brilliant and to have solved ...
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Is there any connection between Paris of Troy and Paris of Verona?

I just noticed that a character in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has the same name as a character in Homer's Iliad: Paris. In both stories, Paris is one of two men who wish to be with the same woman; ...
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3 votes
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Where does the name Childermass come from?

Returning to the tale of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, it occurred to me to wonder where Childermass (probably my favourite character) got his name from. Wikipedia informed me that "Childermass" is ...
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Is there any significance to the format of Aziz's name?

One of the main protagonists in the outer frame story of Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love is a man named Aziz Z. Zahara. This name immediately struck me because of its interesting relationship ...
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6 votes
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Son of Adam but not Eve? Daughter of Eve but not Adam?

Throughout The Chronicles of Narnia the humans are referred to as "Son of Adam" for a male, and "Daughter of Eve" for a female. I'm assuming that the characters in Narnia don't think that females only ...
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