Hugo Weasley: Dickensian Cryptonym Time


  1. JohnABaptist says

    Hey! I got one right for a change! at least the reference to Victor Hugo;-)

  2. Lest in jest but on the subject of names: Ariana and Kendra Dumbledore.

    Ariana is a “two-for,” if Wikipedia is to be trusted. In Persian, it just means “of Aryan stock,” i.e. fair-skinned. In Italian, it is a corruption of the Greek “Ariadna” or “most holy.” In Harry Potter, especially in a story with a lot of Nazi echoes, Ariana/Aryan points to pure-blood and master race. No doubt the Dumbledores were pure-blooded, but I think it is the “holiness” reference that Ms. Rowling was reaching for with this name. Purity and holiness, of course, are fragile things, valuables so great and rare that, as with this child, they are still to be treasured even when they are damaged or broken.

    Kendra is given an even greater variety of meanings in those places online that catalogue these things. Has anyone looked up ‘Hugo’? I’m going out on a limb here, though, and speculating that Ms. Rowling, reader of traditionalist writers Titus Burckhardt (Alchemy), Rene Guenon (Esoterism of Dante), and Frithjof Schuon (The Transcendent Unity of Religions) — all entirely speculative on my part and unconfirmed — has also read Huston Smith, the great communicator of traditionalist thoughts to us plebians. His Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition is dedicated to his wife Kendra. Smith explains that the name Kendra derives from the Scottish ‘ken,’ to know, to have perception or understanding, and from the Sanskrit word that is cognate to the Greek ‘kentron,’ to have a center. The reader is left to ponder this, albeit while holding a book that explains what it means to be centered cosmologically and what perception and understanding this gives the human person.

    I like this derivation for Kendra Dumbledore both because it allows me this opportunity to recommend a book that has meant a great deal to me (as well as put up links to other favorite writers) and, yes, because I think it is a match with the quiet, sacrificial wisdom of Ariana’s mother.

    Perhaps this discussion deserves its own thread more than Hugo Weasley! Please let me know what you think.

  3. That sounds like a reasonable connection. Don’t read much into Rowling’s absence from the Hugo Award ceremonies. Lots of people have delegates accept for them.

    Is Rose Potter white or red or both, as in a Tudor rose?

  4. It’s Rose Weasley, Perelandra, so I assume she is a red rose. The white part, the candida rosa, is suggested when she is paired with Albus. But, again, more on the roses in a few days, and about children named Albus and Lily and Rose…

    Back to Hugo: one All-Pro also thought of this connection and another has said it’s reasonable so it isn’t such a stretch. Are there any other ideas for ‘Hugo’? How about:

    A reference to Yugoslavia?

    Perhaps Hermione asked Ron what he wanted to name the baby while Ron was arguing with George about who would be getting supplies for the joke shop that day. He yelled, “You go!” and Hermione told the nurse that was it. She promised Ron he could decide.

    The baby was 14 pounds, 9 ounces, and they decided “Hugo” was the closest they could come to an apt description.

    Rowling wants another shot at the rocket ship statue she didn’t pick up in 2001?

  5. I think you’re right on this one, John. I did a little Hugo-surfing myself and found a site that connected Victor Hugo with (drum roll!) Nicholas Flamel!

  6. Robert Trexler says

    We named our daughter Ariane and, whatever other meanings it may have, it means “holy one” as mentioned already. It was also a popular name in France, who gave that name to a series of rockets or missles (as I recall). Not that this has anything to do with anything, but the year “my” Ariane was born AVON came out with a perfume with the same name.

  7. On a site that gives the meaning of baby names,

    “Ariana” is listed as meaning “silver.”

    That seems to hae a pretty clear connection to, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be”

  8. I couldn’t find a meaning for Aberforth, but it seems Kendra had a liking for “purity” if she understood Ariana as “silver” when her eldest’s name means “white, resplendent.” The white and lunar phase of alchemy is the ablutionary or purifying stage. I expect Ariana would have been a young woman like Luna if she had not been attacked by the Muggle boys. I prefer “most holy” to “silver” or “fair-skinned” but they both work.

  9. Helen wrote:

    I think you’re right on this one, John. I did a little Hugo-surfing myself and found a site that connected Victor Hugo with (drum roll!) Nicholas Flamel!

    I just added “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to my pile of alchemical-books-to-read, the pile fell over, and the foundation of my house shifted. Thanks a bunch, Helen!

    More seriously, I guess I should have guessed that Hugo had a hermetic side — seances to channel Nicolas Flamel to learn what Mercurians look like and passages from his novels about the opposition of the esoteric and exoteric (oi). Oh, well! Perhaps this is where Ms. Rowling’s interest in alchemy began… one more question for our tea date, Arabella!

  10. For discussion of the meaning of “Weasley,” check out Perelandra’s thoughts and Inked’s on another thread — but please post your name comments here if you want to continue the discussion!

    Moderator John, hoping to keep the name discussion in one place, hoping your Marine Corps birthday was a good one

  11. John wrote:
    I just added “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to my pile of alchemical-books-to-read, the pile fell over, and the foundation of my house shifted. Thanks a bunch, Helen!

    Always glad to help.
    One of the HP sites (sorry I don’t remember which one) derived Aberforth’s name from “Aber” as celtic/gaelic for “river mouth”, making him a reference to the mouth of the River Forth, the location of Edinburgh. Seems as good as anything.

  12. If Aberforth is about rivers, there is another albedo reference, because ablutions require water… Quite the family.

  13. Though I can’t give any links, I’ve come across several LJ posts by people who connected Victor Hugo with Viktor Krum, Hermione’s first crush. They also saw a connection between Rose Weasly and Lavender Rose – which then would be a reference to Ron’s HBP girlfriend Lavender Brown. Far-fetched, maybe, but not entirely ulike JKR.

    As for Aberforth: if the Aber part refers to the celtic word for river, his name would mean “River-crossing”. Any symbolical significance in this?

  14. I apologize for overlooking FIVE KEYS, John. It’s lent out at present to my daughter so I couldn’t check it.

    Yes, I have THE BESTIARY OF CHRIST and never had much use for it before HP came out.

    TH White’s translation, THE BESTIARY: A BOOK OF BEASTS is also useful, being a primary source.

    And there are those who sneer that HP is intellectually “thin fare.” Ha!

  15. JohnABaptist says

    Quite the family indeed!

    The family Dumbledore, in toto, is a graphic depiction of “What not to do.”

    The father who could not settle for Justice but sought Vengeance as well and ended up dying in prison when he should have been home healing his family.

    The mother who could not accept having a daughter in an “institution” and consequently paid the price with her life.

    The brothers who each in their own way accepted the warped teachings of their parents about “the right thing to do” and end up severing the very family ties that should have bound their strengths together. Each ends up a broken shell, a mere shadow of what they might have been–Albus, in particular, only appears to us to have done great things because we did not get to see how much greater he could have been.

    And poor Ariana, who should have been treated for her injuries, but was instead placed in an inappropriate environment for her condition. An environment where she was a danger to herself and those around her. Ariana, who was concealed from the world, left to suffer, deteriorate, and ultimately drown in a “sea of kindness”. Poor Ariana who was literally “loved to death” and died well before her time, never coming to any degree of healing acceptance of the tragedy that had happened to her.

    What a stark comparison to the Longbottoms who did most everything right. Who sought treatment for Neville’s parents, saw to their proper care in St. Mungo’s, accepted the fact that they would *not* be better off at home, and continued to love them (granted Grandma Longbottom isn’t particularly skilled at this), so that in the end, despite all his sensitivities, anxieties and phobias about having parents “in St. Mungo’s”, Neville finally came out stronger, more capable and more humane for having lived the experience.

    And marvel we must at the narrative mis-direction that leads we the readers to accept the pretext that the family Dumbledore was on the right path, and just didn’t have the strength and purity of purpose to complete the journey. They were in fact running, pell mell, down the wrong road and never realized it. As were we until the Messiah came to set us straight.

  16. I ask that we close this line of discussion on the Dumbledores and return to name meanings, please.

    As balm to anyone out there who found the above outlandish, here is another way of looking at the Dumbledore family’s choices in re Ariana for some balance before we shut this off.

    Ariana’s hope of a loving “institution” in late 19th Century England was about nil (think “Bedlam” for wizards; please don’t think that the wizards who designed Azkaban had a loving ward at St. Mungo’s for the mentally deficient or magically dangerous in the Victorian era…). Kendra’s decision to shield her and care for her secretly at home was a sacrifice of self akin to Lily’s only a matter of painful, difficult years rather than a moment’s suffering. The father’s rage is understandable to this father of seven with four daughters, if his silence and refusal to defend himself, a sacrifice of self to protect his daughter from a life behind bars (or worse), is so heroic that it seems superhuman, almost Christ-like.

    And the two boys, the doppelganger Dumbledores? Their “failings” in light of the losses of their parents and their sister seem trivial, however tragic. Aberforth was broken, true, but Albus lived to use his gifts, not once but twice, to save all wizards and Muggles from the designs of deranged power seekers. Albus’ heroic final year as a dead-man walking taken by itself, not to mention his willing death on the Astronomy Tower after his agonies in Lake Zombie, when he longed to be with his sister and parents beyond the veil, make Albus “truly his father’s son.”

    The Dumbledore family, to me at least, represent all that is fine and heroic in these novels. If you disagree, however, please wait until we have a thread devoted to this issue to post your comments and corrections to my brief tirade. Thanks in advance.

    Your moderator (with all his strong opinions and neatness fetish),


  17. Back to our regularly scheduled thread.

    Maybe little Albus Severus’s Weasley blood will manifest itself in ermine qualities? That would seem appropriate. If he grows up to marry Rose, that would reverse the situation in English history where the Lancaster red rose was male and the Yorkist white rose was female.

  18. What other names are mysterious in Deathly Hallows? Anybody have a favorite that has them stumped — or a theory about the possible meaning of a name? Here are two online lists of names and meanings that I stumbled on this afternoon while looking for the very good one I’d heard about:

    Pretty sad, right? I wish folks would learn that (a) Ms. Rowling’s answers about names are not their meanings (that she knew a family named “Potter” doesn’t tell us why you chose that family’s name for her lead character…), (b) etymology divorced from story context gives us next-to-nothing (we’re waiting on how the name connects with the character and the story…), and (c) speculating about names is an art involving guesswork but isn’t, by definition, risible Procrustean projection or dart throwing while blindfolded. Name meanings have to make an evident sense to other people reading the books who understand the author is talking to her audience at different levels.

    As in ‘Peter Pettigrew/Wormtail.’ When I explain this to audiences, they are almost always shocked and somewhat embarrassed (for me), and then embarrassed that they didn’t realize this meaning themselves.

    Any names folks want to discuss? This is your thread.

  19. Arabella Figg says

    Well, some curiosties came up, regarding names, using the baby name site above:

    Arabella: of Latin origin (from “orabilis”), its meaning is “prayerful.” Since we know Squib Arabella watched over Harry for 17 years, this is a wonderful name for her. Iit has an upper class aura. Of course. Not sure what the Figg connection is. Although a fig can be used in it’s various forms, i.e., fresh, dried, etc. Perhaps this demonstrated Arabella’s involvement in the Muggle world, the Order, and being more than she seemed to be as a batty old cat lady. (Any cute comments and I send Thudders after you.)

    I’ve been curious about Argus Filch (think the last name is obvious). It’s of Greek origin, and its meaning is “vigilant guardian.” In Greek mythology, a creature with 100 eyes, who was later changed into a peacock with eyes on its tail-feathers. Wouldn’t Filch love that! Hmm, any connection to the white peacocks at the Malfoys?

    Petunia: Flower name for a humble-looking flower with white or pink blossoms. Now this really caught my eye. Is it possible that Petunia could have developed into an alchemical beauty had she not been consumed with her feelings of inadequacy and jealousy?

    Kitties don’t know what it means to feel inadequate….

  20. Well, there’s Neville, with a first name important in English history (Warwick the Kingmaker et al.). His last name makes him the opposite of Pettigrew, however delicately I can put that. It suggests both potency and staying power (in the British sense of “having good bottom”), possibly also an allusion to the survival capacity of his family line.

  21. Just a thought: prominent in the name “Hugo” are the letters “H” and “g”, the symbol for mercury. So Hugo Weasley would be a resolution of mercury and sulphur as the child of the quarreling couple.

  22. John assures me that the following is *not* drifting too far afield of the thread topic, in terms of references to ‘Les Miserables’.


    I’ll add that I’m another who is captivated by the show and the book.

    The former, by necessity, removes much of the book’s storyline, or compresses it dramatically – we get just a hint of the hell experienced by Fantine, and Marius’ obsession with Cosette becomes a fairly standard adolescent romance. Nothing at all about Valjean buried alive – perhaps the weirdest part of the book on first reading. (But those silver candlesticks keep reappearing throughout the show – oh, does that get me!)

    But for one who sees the show while wnowing the novel, the contrast between Valjean’s acceptance of God’s forgiveness and Javert’s rejection of same comes through most powerfully. I can recommend it. (My personal favorite recording is the 10th anniversary “all star” cast, a live performance at Royal Albert Hall, available on both CD and DVD.)

    As an aside, my wife’s favorite moment in the show comes in the very last moment, when the “ghosts” of Eponine and Fantine arrive to escort the just-departed Valjean, and sing the line “to love another person is to see the face of God” – which just happens to be referenced in the title of a book mentioned on . . . . . . Zossima Press! I look forward to its release.

    Nicholas (who also took the name Hugo as a reference Victor)

    And John, just to close the circle – Dr. Englehardt’s given first name is . . . . . . . Hugo!

  23. Derwyn wrote:

    Just a thought: prominent in the name “Hugo” are the letters “H” and “g”, the symbol for mercury. So Hugo Weasley would be a resolution of mercury and sulphur as the child of the quarreling couple.

    I hit my forehead with my hand so hard on reading this that I almost beheaded myself! Perfect! Thank you, Derwyn, for the simply elegant answer. As intriguing as the whole Victor Hugo speculative thread may be, the alchemical answer is more to the point.

  24. I dunno, I still like the Victor Hugo theory (which may, after all, have an alchemical connection via Hugo’s interest in Flamel).

    While “Hugo” can certainly be seen as a stand-in for Hg, we need to remember that he’s not just Hermione’s child. Where does his sulfurous father fit into that interpretation? Unless, of course, his full name turns out to be Hugo Brimstone Weasley….

  25. Returning to the Dumbledore family names:

    Ariana and Aberforth can both be found to have Welsh roots (‘ariannaid’ means ‘silver’ and ‘aber’ commonly means ‘mouth of a river’; also, ‘confluence’, ‘estuary’, etc.). Among the variants of Kendra meanings, Welsh is represented as extrapolated from ‘cynwrig’ meaning both ‘great champion’ and ‘high hill.’ I think, given that both Ariana and Aberforth can be Welsh names, we can narrow it down to those meanings for Kendra (assuming the Welsh is a pattern rather than a coincidence).

    I fully admit to being a mediocre geology student, but rivers often form in mountains or hilly areas (water descends and gathers, then moves downstream). Thus the mother and son are united– and we see this rather clearly in their attitude towards Ariana, as Aberforth seems to share Kendra’s willingness to put Ariana first. Additionally, while I think ‘aber’-’river’ is the main meaning, ‘aberth’ means ‘sacrifice’– Kendra and Aberforth were willing to sacrifice individual goals/desires for love of Ariana (which, in my opinion, makes them both ‘champions’).

    [Sidenote: there is a River Forth, although it’s in Scotland, not in Wales, so ‘Aberforth’ as a Welsh-Scots hybrid (Scots have their own word for river) is chancey, although not impossible.]

    The other thought I had was that white and silver (Albus and Ariana) are represented by the same heraldic term, ‘argent’, which we know is literally silver, but is used for white interchangeably. Both are thus connected with purity/purification, and heavily with the albedo stage. Perhaps this reflects not only Ariana’s purity (in essence, she remains childlike, with all connotations of purity) but also that Ariana is the catalyst for Albus’ self-purification. It is her death that ultimately pushes Albus to examine himself and begin his long years of purification by self-denial. I couldn’t find ‘river’ as a heraldic symbol on its own (although it must be somewhere), but J.P. Brooke-Little’s An Heraldric Alphabet describes water as represented by azure and argent (blue and white/silver). It’s entirely possible I’m stretching it, but I think the names may tie into heraldry as well.

    I think John’s right that the alchemical meanings are primary, but I’ve always been a fan of multiple meanings. I hope this long post isn’t a waste of time or wanders too far from the topic.

    now, it’s time to plug back in the lap-top and brainstorm more ways to catch this weird cricket-roach-ish-thing lurking around my apartment…


  26. Arabella Figg says

    It seems in these meanings for the Dumbledore family, that you have not only the white/silver aspect, but also the wet–as John accurately pointed out, HBP, the Albedo book, contains much moisture.

    Luscious Badboy is trying to drink out of the faucet again…

  27. rosesandthorns says

    You said: “No doubt the Dumbledores were pure-blooded”

    Actually, I thought I remembered something when you said this and so I looked it up and I believe Albus Dumbledore may have been considered a half-blood himself. On page 155 of DH, when Harry is listening to Ron’s Aunt Muriel talking to Elphias Doge, Auntie Muriel says that Kendra was a muggle-born, though she pretended otherwise, and Doge denies that Kendra pretended anything of the sort.

Speak Your Mind