domingo, 24 de agosto de 2014

Name In Spotlight: Ophelia

Ophelia is a female name of greek origin that means "help". Dave Grohl, front member of the band Foo Fighters, recently bestowed this name on her daughter, and I really like it. It might seem a bit out there, but if you think about, it isn't worlds away from some of the most common names of today, such as Olivia or Sophia.

 Ophelia has a pretty nice meaning, who doesn't need some help in their lives right? But in literary terms, she has a somber past.
In the play Hamlet, Ophelia was a noblewoman from Denmark that fell in love with Hamlet himself. However, after Hamlet killed her father, she seemed to go a bit mad talking in rhymes - it's definitely a less violent way of expressing grief. Ophelia's cause of death is disputed, on one side you had a sexton who claimed she committed suicide, on the other hand, you've got Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, saying she fell from a tree and drowned in the brook. The meaning "help" really applies here, maybe she wished someone was there to save her. Either way, both possible causes are tragic. I happen to prefer the latter, regarded as one of the most poetic death scenes in literature. Queen Gertrude really liked Ophelia, laying flowers on her grave she said "sweets to the sweet", and it is later revealed she wished Ophelia had become Hamlet's wife. Hamlet after her death claimed he loved her "more than a thousand brothers could". There's just something oddly beautiful about a dark romance.

Literary darkness aside, Ophelia sounds really sweet and upbeat with it's spunky O-initial. Some people aren't fond of the "oh feel ya" sound of it, but that's never stopped me from liking the name. If you think too much about a name, then they just lose their fun and shine. A lot of names sound like you're saying something if you really think about it hard enough. If the pronunciation ruins it for you, you could always go for the latin Ofelia (oh fell ya), which was the name of the protagonist of the movie Pan's Labyrinth, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and considered one of the best fantasy movies of the last decade. You could also go for variants like Ophelie, Ovelia or Availia, which have some charm too.

In terms of numbers, Ophelia was registered 184 times in 2013, not too far away from entering the SSA top 1000. That is, it it keeps the momentum going, which it should since its been on an upward trend for a few years now. With a little help from Dave Grohl, maybe it'll get there sooner, who knows.

Personally, I really like the name Ophelia, and I'm glad people are starting to embrace it. Maybe it will shed its darker past, like a lot of negative biblical names have done. May I root for Jezebel next? So pretty.

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