Over the past several seasons, it’s become more than evident that there are some very deliberate choices for names of people, places, and things throughout the series. I thought that it would be fun to explore the meanings of the names of the characters to see what kind of insight into the show I could find. Perhaps it could shed some light on what is really going on with the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815…or it might just muddy the waters even further. What do you think?
Jack Shepherd – Jack’s last name is indicative of his leadership status on the island, as he serves a role to lead the survivors while on the island. A doctor with a very scientific mind, Jack struggles with the concept of faith. This puts him at constant odds with John Locke. The name Jack is a variant of John, meaning “God is gracious”.
John Locke – John is named after the English philosopher of the same name. Oddly enough, his alias, Jeremy Bentham, is also an English philosopher. John’s character is very driven by faith – trusting in faith rather than try to figure out why some things happen. He and Jack battle constantly over faith vs. reason. The name John means “God is gracious”.
Benjamin Linus – In the Bible, Benjamin was the last-born son of Jacob (whose name was changed by an angel to Israel prior to Benjamin’s birth) and the second, and last, son of Rachel. Rachel died during childbirth and Benjamin’s name came from a twisting of the name Benoni, which means “son of my pain.” We learn in a flashback that Ben’s mother died during childbirth when he was born.
James “Sawyer” Ford – Sawyer is a reference to Mark Twain’s infamous Tom Sawyer. In Twain’s works, Tom is a show-off who likes to exercise authority over the other boys. The name James means “supplanter” – one who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another. Sawyer was a con-man who conned women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars before ending up on the island.
Jacob – In the Bible, Jacob (like James, meaning “supplanter”) is the namesake of the land of Israel. Prior to the birth of his son, Benjamin, an angel appeared to Jacob and renamed him “Israel.” He was the son of Issac (brother of Ishmael, son of Abraham) and had a twin by the name of Esau. Esau lost his birthright to Jacob and was very angry, vowing to kill Jacob upon their father’s death. Jacob had a vision of a ladder reaching to heaven with angels traveling up and down it. Perhaps the man in black in last season and the “fake John Locke” who kills Jacob in the season finale are somehow the same man and his name is Esau?
Richard Alpert – The never-aging Richard shares his name with a contemporary spiritual teacher from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Kate Austen – Is her name an allusion to Jane Austen, as there are many literary references sprinkled throughout the series?
Juliet Burke – Could this be a reference to the famed star-crossed lovers? If so, who is her Romeo in this tragedy – Jack or Sawyer?
Claire Littleton – Claire (meaning “bright” or “clear”) is the mother of Aaron and she is also the half-sister of Jack Shepherd. She can also see Jack’s father, Christian, on the island and leaves with him. In last season, she begged Kate not to bring Aaron back to the island. See below for more on Aaron.
Aaron Littleton – In the Bible, Aaron (meaning “enlightened” or “to sing”) is the brother of Moses and the first high priest of the Israelites. He had a gift for persuasive speech and acted as Moses’ spokesperson when it came time to ask Pharaoh to free the Jewish people from captivity. He also used his rod to bring about the first three plagues on Egypt when commanded to do so by Moses. Seeing what happened to Jacob in the final episode of last season certainly makes the Biblical names scenario more interesting. Aaron Littleton is an anomaly in that neither he nor Claire died while Claire was pregnant with him on the island.
Boone Carlyle – Could his name be a reference to the American folk-hero Daniel Boone? The meaning of the name, Boone, means “good.” Although he only appeared in Season 1, Boone was always offering to help.
Ana Lucia Cortez – The meanings of the names Ana and Lucia mean “grace” and “light”. Ana Lucia’s character’s name is a contrast to her own life. She lost her job with the LAPD after killing the man who shot her in the line of duty. She later accidentally killed Shannon and is killed by Michael.
Hurley “Hugo” Reyes – The name Hugo is a variant of Hugh, which means “bright in mind and spirit.” This certainly does fit our friend Hurley – who is probably the kindest character on the show.
Charlotte Staples Lewis – Another great example of literary references since her abbreviated name would appear as C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. .
Daniel Faraday – A reference to Michael Faraday, an English chemist and physicist who contributed greatly to the study of the field of electromagnetism.
Miles Straume – According to sources on Wikipedia, the name for the sarcastic and quick-tempered medium was chosen by the show’s writers because it sounds like “maelstrom”. The name Miles means “soldier”.
Desmond David Hume – Desmond’s name is a tribute to David Hume, an author and philosopher. He is the love of Penelope Widmore and the father of their child, Charlie (named for Charlie Pace and not Penelope’s father). Desmond had many encounters with Eloise Hawking who warned him not to marry Penelope Widmore.
Penelope Widmore – The name Penelope is of Greek origin and means “dream weaver.” With her father, Charles Widmore, as a former resident of the island and a man desperate to find its location, it is interesting that she would have a name with such a meaning. Penelope is also the love of Desmond Hume and the mother of his son.
Alexandra Rousseau – Daughter of Danielle Rousseau, stolen by Benjamin Linus who raised her as his own. The name Alexandra means “Protector of Mankind”. Alex was shot to death by one of Charles Widmore’s mercenaries from the research ship. This sends Ben on a mission to kill Widmore’s daughter, Penelope.
Danielle Rousseau – Mother to Alexandra Rousseau, Danielle is named after French-Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Many of Rousseaus’ political philosophies influenced the French people, leading to the French Revolution.
Eloise Hawking – Eloise is the mother of Daniel Faraday (by Charles Widmore) and is the caretaker of the Dharma station known as the Lamp Post (another C.S. Lewis reference). Her last name is a reference to Stephen Hawking, the noted British theoretical physicist.
Christian Shepherd – Jack’s dead, yet undead, father seems to have some interesting wordplay with both names. The first being the obvious reference to Christianity since Jack continues to struggle with the concept of faith while on the island. The second being another reference to leading people, as he helps Locke to leave the island to fix things.
What do you think? Do you think that the names of the characters are significant to impact the storyline in any way? Join us over in the forum and share your thoughts.