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Proper names and the importance of naming in Our mutual friend by Charles Dickens
2001 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay looks at some of the proper names and the nominal phrases used to replace them in order to see what functions they have, but it also considers the process of naming and non-naming and the tension between the two modes. The proper names used by Dickens all have connotations closely related to the personality of the character like Harmon whose ill-fated name connotes harm. In order to avoid overuse of proper names Dickens employs several kinds of nominal phrases; some are derived from metaphors and similes while others emphasise characteristics according to situation and enunciator. This creates the dynamics in this story where so many characters have double identities. Proper names in themselves have no social meaning, but meaning is created when they are put in context. Strict rules govern the procedure of identification, but there are many instances when these rules are violated causing tension. In OMF calling someone by name is the expected courteous procedure, but it is also used to create sympathy for its owner and as a threat. The utterance of a name is powerful, but its withholding is even more so as it gives an advantage. For many of the characters official recognition and the ensuing revelation of their identities is unwanted and therefore they prefer hiding their true name. The tension between naming and non-naming is especially visible in the relationship between Eugene Wrayburn, Bradley Headstone and Roger Riderhood. Eugene does not want to become like Headstone so he refuses to utter his name. Headstone, on the other hand, is obsessed with the name, as if he tried to find the essence of Eugene in it. Riderhood is completely uninterested in names because of his ignorance; only when he realizes the power of the word does he use it and then with an irrevocable result.

Abstract [en]

This essay looks at some of the proper names and the nominal phrases used to replace them in order to see what functions they have, but it also considers the process of naming and non-naming and the tension between the two modes. The proper names used by Dickens all have connotations closely related to the personality of the character like Harmon whose ill-fated name connotes harm. In order to avoid overuse of proper names Dickens employs several kinds of nominal phrases; some are derived from metaphors and similes while others emphasise characteristics according to situation and enunciator. This creates the dynamics in this story where so many characters have double identities. Proper names in themselves have no social meaning, but meaning is created when they are put in context. Strict rules govern the procedure of identification, but there are many instances when these rules are violated causing tension. In OMF calling someone by name is the expected courteous procedure, but it is also used to create sympathy for its owner and as a threat. The utterance of a name is powerful, but its withholding is even more so as it gives an advantage. For many of the characters official recognition and the ensuing revelation of their identities is unwanted and therefore they prefer hiding their true name. The tension between naming and non-naming is especially visible in the relationship between Eugene Wrayburn, Bradley Headstone and Roger Riderhood. Eugene does not want to become like Headstone so he refuses to utter his name. Headstone, on the other hand, is obsessed with the name, as if he tried to find the essence of Eugene in it. Riderhood is completely uninterested in names because of his ignorance; only when he realizes the power of the word does he use it and then with an irrevocable result.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 18 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53667Local ID: ENG C-12OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53667DiVA: diva2:1102227
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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