Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Unnamed Main Characters

A couple of years back, Dr. Who was a doofy old BBC show that even my dad was too cool to watch. Now, all the cool uncool kids are all over it. And why wouldn't we be? It's a totally good show. Especially when starring the alternately dreamy and creepy David Tennant. Whose Hamlet is by far the best I've ever seen.*
Right now, Dr. Who has me thinking about unnamed main characters. I'm not sure the significance behind Dr. Who's not having a name, other than it being a funny clever bit. Here are some memorable others
  • Poe: He's got unnamed narrators running around all over the place in his short stories. Once, I referred to one of the unnamed narrators in one of his stories as "Poe" and my 11th grade English teacher exploded. True story.
  • It: The name of the clown in the book/movie It is Pennywise, but that's not Its name. Some might argue that It and the guy below are one and the same.
  • The Gunslinger Series: Roland is chasing the mysterious Man in Black. Later, he has a name or three, but I don't think any of them is his real name, and if it is, I don't remember because round about book six I stopped trying to understand anything.
  • Lost: Another mysterious Man in Black, another thing I should have stopped trying to understand long before I actually did. 
  • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Fistfull of Dollars, and A Few Dollars More: Clint Eastwood's character is called The Man with No Name. Unnamed strangers are common in Westerns, actually. Seriously could not get past the fact that all of the Mexicans were Italians speaking in Italian. 
  • The Yellow Wallpaper: This one's easy - dehumanization of women in society and so forth.
  • Fight Club: The narrator, often called Jack because of his catch phrase "I am Jack's X" (e.g., "I am Jack's smirking revenge"), is never actually named. You could say it's because he's only an aspect of Tyler Durden's persona, but you could probably just as easily say it's because Chuck Palahniuk's a little pretentious. I mean, I would certainly never say that. 
  • Rebecca: The only clue we have as to the narrator's name is that people tell her it's pretty and unusual. Perhaps her identity is eclipsed by the memory of Rebecca.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Oh no, you say, the captain is called Nemo. Nemo, however, is Latin for No Name. Fooled you.


Anonymous said...

I never realized there were so many no-name characters. Now I'm going to be on the lookout for them. I guess I have two things that I'm watching for thanks to you and your husband, no name characters... and the Wilhelm scream :) Okay so the Wilhelm scream is one of those things that you hear everywhere once it's been pointed out, but I do still notice it.

Cap'n Ergo "XL+II" Jinglebollocks said...

you forgot The Girl in the Lime Green Panties from Catch-22.