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    Oliver Twist: Name Etymology Essay

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    Oliver Twist is a poor orphan boy cruelly treated in the public workhouse. Pennyless and hungry, he runs away to London, only to fall into the clutches of a gang of thieves and pickpockets led by the master criminal, Fagin. Befriended by a man robbed by the gang, Oliver ultimately learns his true identity and gains a new home, a fortune and a brand new family!

    Name Analogies:

    Oliver: Norman French form of a Germanic name, possibly the name Alfihar meaning “elf army”. The spelling was altered by association with Latin oliva “olive tree”. The olive tree also symbolises longevity and hope, and the olive tree is renowned eternal.

    It is also a symbol of peace and reconciliation, the branch of the olive tree is chosen by God to mean to Noй (Noah) that the Flood is finished and that the diminution begins, symbol of the forgiveness.

    Also symbolising of victory, the olive tree is a present loaded with a gratifying meaning during the Olympic Games in Athens. Crown of olive tree and jars of olive oil are so offered to the winners.

    A symbol of force, the olive tree is renowned for its very compact, very heavy and very hard wood. It is wooden of olive tree that are made Hercules’s bludgeons and it is with the wooden picket of olive tree that Ulysses brings down Cyclops in the Odyssey.

    I think this name suits Oliver very well as his name, derived from the olive tree. It symbolizes peace and reconciliation as Oliver duly shows in the book. As Oliver has almost never shown any violence in the book except for the time he beat up Noah Claypole, the undertaker’s apprentice, because he insulted Oliver’s parents. It also symbolizes victory, and as Oliver always succeeds in the end. (At escaping the Sowerberry’s undertaking company, returning to Mr. Brownlow, and many more.) Oliver also means force, as olive wood is hard and sturdy, and is portrayed so as in many Greek legends, olive was the wood used in making the heroes’ weapons.

    Bumble: self-important petty official, fussy, pompous, stupid beadle.

    I think the name suits Bumble, the orphanage caretaker, well, isn’t he a self-important petty official, fussy, pompous, stupid beadle? The explanation of the name sums it all up.

    Fagin: People with this name tend to initiate events, to be leaders rather than followers, with powerful personalities. They tend to be focused on specific goals, experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination. They tend to be courageous and sometimes aggressive. As unique, creative individuals, they tend to resent authority, and are sometimes stubborn, proud, and impatient.

    True to his name, Fagin is the leader of the gang of teenage robbers, thieves and pickpockets. Also, he experiences a wealth of “creative new ideas”. He also implements his “ideas” with efficiency and determination. Of course, as you see, he is using his ideas in a bad way. He is aggressive as the name describes. Stealing and to teach how to steal is of course resenting authority, and he is stubborn proud and impatient. This name is perfect for him.


    Charles Dickens is a good author that chooses suitable names. In my opinion, having a name etymology done before a story can help give you inspiration as you will try to portray a character’s character.

    Anyway; have a look at the following research I did while having dinner… …(I was eating and typing at the same time. Multi-tasking. LOL!*ego*)

    Charles Dickens:

    Charles: From the Germanic name Karl, which was derived from a Germanic word which meant “man”. The most noteworthy bearer of this name was Charles the Great, commonly known as Charlemagne, a king of the Franks who came to rule over most of Europe. Several Holy Roman Emperors bore this name, as well as kings of England, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary.

    Dickens: Variant of Dick. Dick: From the given name Dick, which is a medieval short form of Richard. Richard: Means “brave power”, derived from the Germanic elements ric “power, rule” and hard “brave, hardy”. The Normans introduced this name to Britain. It was borne by three kings of England including Richard the Lionheart, leader of the Third Crusade in the 12th century.


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