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What’s in a Name?

26 Apr

Well, everything!   As a parent (and a primogeniture), naming my children was a little stressful!  After all, the offspring will have to bear the joy or the burden of this name for possibly 100 years.   I often wonder if authors go  through a similar struggle when naming their characters.   It is possible that these names could last for even longer than a “real” child.   Melville’s characters are over 160 years old and still being talked about.

The names in Moby Dick run the gamut from funny (Stubb and Flask) to fun-to-say (Queequeg) to prophetic.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Elijah – the prophet echoing the biblical Elijah and his words of warning to Ahab.

Gabriel – the “angelic messenger” ship that gives the prophesy that Ahab will join their first mate in the depths for taking on Moby Dick.  (And I just might be a little partial to this name anyway – I gave it to my primogeniture.)

Ishmael – The cast-off son of Abraham in the bible, who was forced to wander in exile.  How appropriate!

Fadallah – OK, this might be a stretch, and remember, I have no notes in my edition of the book, but does Melville include “allah” on purpose to make us think negatively or think of untruth?

And, my personal favorite, Rachel – Melville puts it best – “She was Rachel, weeping for her children, for they were not.”

 

I could go on and on with this post, but I’ll leave it to you.  What were some of your favorite names in the book?

 

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3 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Moby-Dick

 

Tags: , , , , ,

3 responses to “What’s in a Name?

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    April 26, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Peleg and Bildad — also Bible names. I love the scene when Peleg tells Bildad to “stop palavering”.

     
  2. Christina Joy

    April 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I loved the Rosebud – I loved that it stank, and that it was French. Perfection.

     
    • Adriana @ Classical Quest

      April 26, 2012 at 11:12 am

      Oh yes! “Bouton-de-Rose”! When Frank Muller read Stubb’s dialog, he Americanized the pronunciation of it.(bouton like “crouton” and emphasizing “de”). Hilarious.

      “Fine day ain’t it? Air rather gardenny, I should say; throw us a bunch of posies, will ye, Bouton de Rose?'”

       

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