I think names are important. They give character to people, ideas and inanimate objects alike. JK Rowling is a master at using names. The kind, ordinary, simple sounding Harry paired with the spit-worthy Potter, the “P” giving his enemies instant ammunition in expressing their hatred. Severus Snape – severe, sever, snake; the rhymes are all there to make you fear the man before he even opens his mouth to speak. And Voldemort? She even makes most of her characters unable to bring themselves to utter his name.
But these are names made to fit a character, what about the other way around. What about Hitler? He grew up with a name and turned into a mass murder. The hard “H” gives definition to the sound of his name, a name that even threatens violence with its “Hit” beginning.
Of course, one minute he was a crackpot with a silly hat and paintbrush mustache, the next he was running a country and on his way to world domination. He rose to power over a period of years, changing laws, establishing his secret police, and manipulating the thinking of a whole country. On the way, he took a keen interest in the construction of buildings to symbolize his power. Nothing identified his “brand” more than the Swastika and his party’s name. To this day, Nazi is a four letter word which conjures vivid images, evokes revulsion, and sells books and films by the ton.
But what if he hadn’t started the Nazi party? What if he’d called it the Gnatsy party? Do you think he would have risen to power? Would you be swayed into believing some guy who say he was a Gnatsy?
Or do you think he would have been relegated to struggling in local elections against the fabulously funny,” Screaming Lord Such
and the Official Monster Raving Looney Party?
And can you think of other dictators whose evil plans could have been curtailed by a different name?