Monday, September 14, 2015

Literary Names #4: Harry Potter

When my Literary Names #1: The Secret Garden made it to Nameberry, I got a couple of requests to give the same treatment to Harry Potter characters. Now, since the series is enormous, I've decided to try it out with just a select subset - the Defense Against the Dark Arts professors.

This group is unique in that each character is unique - this is a job given to quite a wide range of teachers. Each of them significantly influence their respective book plots, more so than the other professors, and every Harry Potter fan has a favorite. So remember, this is just a personal homage, and I'd be excited to hear how you would change up the names!

Also - I'll be using the names the characters went by so as not to spoil anything!

Quirinus Quirrell..... Gehry Wiley
This name is much less fanciful, but I've tried to stay true to the sound and meaning. While researching Quirinus, I found that it means "spear". The sharpness of Quirrell's character at the end justifies it a bit, so I kept the meaning and found Gehry. Quirrell is a made-up name by Rowling, but I was struck by how much it sounds like "squirrel" so I picked a squirrelly-sounding middle name - Wiley. I can also picture a middle-aged frantic Muggle named Gehry Wiley pretty easily, so I think Quirrell has been well-served.

Gilderoy Lockhart..... Aurelius Baldwin
In my mind, Gilderoy Lockhart picked his own name, one that would measure up to the greatness he hoped to achieve. I chose a "gilded" name that belonged to an emperor, one that I think he'd enjoy: Aurelius, "the golden one". I wanted a brave but pompous middle name, so I picked Baldwin, meaning "brave friend". The connotation with the acting brothers lifts it a bit, though. Both names have the same aural rhythm, to cement the connection.

Remus Lupin..... Zev Dakota
There are many analyses of Lupin's name floating around online, most having to do with how much of the "wolf" meaning is imbued in his name. I decided to tone down the connection with a short but unusual first name - Zev means "wolf" in Hebrew. I wanted a more natural middle name, so I picked Dakota. It's underused for boys, I think, and also has the fortune of meaning "friend" - the only DADA professor to whom Harry was close.

Alastor Moody..... Vidar Quaronne
Dramatic and dark is how I think about Moody's character. His name means "avenger" and "ill-humored", so again, I followed the meaning - Quaronne is old English for "one who is haughty". Vidar I stumbled across while looking for names related to vengeance. In Norse mythology, Vidar is the one who will avenge the death of his father, Odin, at the end of the world. And I couldn't resist a father-son reference for Moody's new name!

Dolores Umbridge..... Bronagh Atgas
Bronagh is Irish and Atgas is Welsh, so at least the UK is well-represented. Dolores means "sorrow", as does Bronagh - with this character, it was important to me to underscore the sadness and evil attached to her. Atgas is Welsh for "hate", which I thought pertinent given her intolerance and racism of so many characters in the book. The sound of the name, to me, is like a snarl.

Severus Snape..... Severus Snape
Perhaps I'm too much of a fan, but it's impossible for me to come with a similar name for this very important character. Tell me how you'd do it in the comments!

Amycus Carrow..... Dexter Sharar
It was always frustrating to me that his first name was Amycus, like the Latin word for "friend", when this teacher was anything but friendly. I chose Sharar, a name of Hebrew origin meaning "enemy" to set things right. Carrow comes from old Irish for "dexterous", so I picked Dexter - also because it has the related connotation to HBO's serial killer.

What do you think? How would you change these names? Or is Harry Potter too sacred to edit?

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