You want to name your baby after a literary character? That’s great. Character names often make good baby names. But they don’t always make good baby names. How can you tell if the name you like is a good one? Here are two tips that might help.
Read the Source
You’ve seen the movie? Flipped through the CliffsNotes? Read the Wikipedia entry? Doesn’t matter. If you haven’t read the story, you don’t know the character. And if you don’t know the character, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Iago, Tamburlaine, Quentin, Sauron….interesting names, but if you’ve never read Shakespeare, or Marlowe, or Faulkner, or Tolkien, you might not know that they represent some flawed and/or cruel characters.
The only way you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not a character makes a worthy namesake is if you read the source.
Don’t Overshadow Your Child
Aladdin. Cinderella. D’Artagnan. Dracula. Frodo. Gatsby. Hamlet. Pangloss. Pinocchio. Quixote. Renesmee. Sherlock. Tarzan. Yossarian.
I can think of several reasons why giving a baby one of the names above would be a bad idea. One of the most compelling, in my opinion, is that names as distracting as these may upstage your child and take away from his or her achievements.
If Emma Miller does something notable, she’ll be congratulated. If Cinderella Jones does the same thing, she’ll be asked about her unusual name. (And maybe later she’ll be congratulated.)
If Jacob Wilson breaks into a burning house and rescues a family of five before firefighters arrive, people will say he’s a hero. If Tarzan Smith does the same thing, people will snicker. They’ll ask him if he swung in on a vine, or if the flames singed his loincloth.
What other tips can you come up with for people who are looking to literature for baby names?