What’s in a name?
More than you might think. Pick a book you’re familiar with, change the character names, and it suddenly reads with a different tone.
This post was inspired by a Pinterest pin, where there was a discussion on Lord of the Rings characters having normal names. I laughed so hard at the examples that I couldn’t resist turning the idea into a blog post.
- Gimli = Gerald
- Frodo = Frederick
- Gandalf = Gilbert
- Legolas = Lawrence
- Boromir = Brad
- Aragorn/Strider = Alex
- Pippin = Percy
- Merry = Michael
- Samwise = Scott
- Gollum = Gus
- Eomer = Eddy
- Saruman = Sherman
Below are some passages from Lord of the Rings, with the appropriate names replaced.
“The Paths of the Dead,” Michael muttered to himself. “The Paths of the Dead? What does all this mean? They have all left me now. They have all gone to some doom: Gilbert and Percy to war in the East; Scott and Frederick to Mordor; and Alex and Lawrence and Gerald to the Paths of the Dead.”
“Now Mr. Frederick,” said Scott, “you shouldn’t make fun. I was serious.”
“So was I,” said Frederick.
Lawrence and Gerald were now riding together upon one horse; and they kept close beside Gilbert, for Gerald was afraid of the wood.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frederick.
“So do I,” said Gilbert, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Terror overcame Percy and Michael, and they threw themselves flat on the ground. Scott shrank to Frederick’s side. Frederick was hardly less terrified than his companions; he was quaking as if he was bitter cold, but his terror was swallowed up in a sudden temptation to put on the Ring.
“This is what I feared,” Gilbert said. “What do you say now, Alex?”
“Which way has Gus gone?” panted Scott. “And why didn’t he wait?”
The old man turned away and went toward a heap of fallen stones and rock at the foot of the cliff behind. Immediately, as if a spell had been removed, the others relaxed and stirred. Gerald’s hand went at once to his axe-haft. Alex drew his sword. Lawrence picked up his bow.
“I must go and seek some arrows,” said Lawrence. “Would that this night would end, and I could have better light for shooting.”
“Things go ill, my friends,” Alex said, wiping the sweat from his brow with his arm.
“Ill enough,” said Lawrence, “but not yet hopeless, while we have you with us. Where is Gerald?”
“I do not know,” said Alex. “I last saw him fighting on the ground behind the wall, but the enemy swept us apart.”
“Alas! That is evil news,” said Lawrence.
Andy knelt beside him. Brad opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. “I tried to take the Ring from Frederick,” he said. “I am sorry. I have paid.”
As he fell slowly into sleep, Percy had a strange feeling: he and Gilbert were still as stone, seated upon the statue, of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.
Michael smiled. “Well then,” he said, “if Alex will provide what is needed, I will smoke and think. I had some of Sherman’s best in my pack, but what became of it in the battle, I am sure I don’t know.”
“Master Michael,” said Alex, “if you think that I have passed through the mountains and the realm of Gondor with fire and sword to bring herbs to a careless soldier who throws away his gear, you are mistaken.”
“Sherman, Sherman,” said Gilbert still laughing. “Sherman, you missed your path in life. You should have been the king’s jester and earned your bread, and stripes too, by mimicking his counselors.”
Eddy and Alex stood together on the Deeping Wall. They heard the roar of voices and the thudding of rams; and then in a sudden flash of light they beheld the peril of the gates.
“Come!” said Alex. “This is the hour when we draw swords together!”
“Precious, precious, precious!” Gus cried. “My Precious! O my Precious!”
“They are coming!” cried Lawrence.
“We cannot get out,” said Gerald.
“Trapped!” cried Gilbert. “Why did I delay?”
“Ah! The Ring!” said Brad, his eyes lighting. “The Ring! Is it not a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt for so small a thing?”
“I am glad you are here with me,” said Frederick. “Here at the end of all things, Scott.”
See? Names do make a difference. And that was only a slight taste. I could have gone on all day.
Which different name was the most amusing in the context? Which quote was your favorite? I’d love to hear your thoughts.