It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! But really the only Shakespeare reference in this blogpost is the title. What I really want to talk about is… names.
There are certain names I cannot stand.
Other names that I just don’t really care for.
When I stop to think about it, I realize that these names fall under two categories:
1) As a kid, I knew somebody with that name. (Most likely a person that wasn’t particularly nice to me. So, I have somehow come to associate the name with meanness or hurt feelings.)
2) The name was given to an “evil” character in a book or movie. Again, usually dating back to my childhood. (When I really think about it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the name Ursula. Except I associate it with a certain sea-witch. Thanks, Disney!)
Interestingly enough, this goes both ways. I LOVE certain names because of certain people. And this extends to the book world. There are names I love because of certain books.
When I was 16, I lived for a year in Spain with my grandparents. It was something that I wanted to do. And it was a great opportunity. My grandmother and I had a great relationship. My grandfather spoiled my with chocolate and churros. We walked everywhere. We spent time at the beach (we lived on the Mediterranean). We did our weekly shopping at the open air market.
But I was an ocean away from my family-family. I was living in a place that did not speak English. And I did not have access to many English books. (I was learning Spanish, so I did read Spanish books. Starting with “baby” books and eventually graduating to the Spanish editions of The Babysitters Club!)
So, at times I was lonely. Homesick. (Not that I EVER admitted that. However, when I look back, that’s really what I was.)
There were these feral cats that lived in the garden at the base of our apartment building. A mother cat with a “teenaged” kitten, and twin baby kittens. I would sit at our balcony on the second floor and watch them come and go from their home in the hedge. (You can see the hedge in the photo.)
I decided to name those cats. The mother (a black and white cat) was called “Marilla” and the teen cat (a black cat) was “Anne”. The twin kittens were “Davy” and “Dora”. (Can you tell that I was, and am, an Anne of Green Gables fan?)
And then there was “Mr. Phillips”.
He was a male cat that came by every once in a while. He was orange. And I did NOT like him. (For some reason, I am not crazy about orange cats.) And so I gave him the name “Mr. Phillips”. It was the nastiest name I could think of. Meant to be an utter insult. (Once my grandmother pointed out that perhaps Mr. Phillips was the father of the Davy and Dora. Never! I cried to her. Never say such a thing!)
Come to think of it, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with name Phillip, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I would never bestow that name on any creature (real or fictitious) that I like. (My apologies to all the Phillips out there!)
What’s in a name? Shakespeare claims a name doesn’t matter. And it probably shouldn’t. But somehow, it does.
And sometimes, our reasons for liking or not liking a name may not exactly make a lot of sense.
Do you find certain names are a turn-off? Are there other names to bring you happiness? Do you think a character’s name can ever affect the way you view a book?