“It is the East and Peg is the Sun.”
According to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So in his opinion a name didn’t matter.
Far be it from me to disagree with such an authority, but let’s be serious here. Can you imagine Juliet’s famous speech if Romeo had another name? “O, Fred, Fred, wherefore art thou, Fred?”
Lest any Freds, Toms, or Joes get angry, let me assure you that in other circumstances their names are far more sensible. Reimagine Mark Twain’s classic with Romeo Sawyer as the name. It loses a bit of its oomph. One cannot picture Romeo Sawyer cheating his friends into paying him for the privilege of doing his chores. No, I’m afraid Romeo Sawyer sounds like a bit of a stuck up dude.
As an author, the names I bestow on characters are important. Because you judge a person (or at least a character) by their name. Charles Dickens had a great gift for naming his characters. However, if one takes his character names and puts them into the works of Jane Austen, the results are hilarious. Just picture her romantic, arrogant Mr. Darcy having the slightly ridiculous name of Mr. Pumblechook.
Equally ridiculous would be the toadish Uriah Heep being known as Captain Frederick Wentworth. And how different would the character of Anne Shirley have been if she had gotten her wish and been named Cordelia? Cordelia of Green Gables just isn’t the same. Or brooding Heathcliffe being called Barkis.
So next time you go to name something–be it a child, a character in a novel, a pet, or even a plant (yes, I have been known to name plants) think long and hard about the moniker you bestow.
What’s the funniest name swap you can think of from literature?