Would Oprah have become a famous talk show host if her name had been Cindy? Would Elvis be the King of Rock and Roll if his name had been Jim? Our names are the cornerstone of our personality. From creative spellings to family tributes, our names say a lot about us, and they help us become who we are. Whether they are a loving nickname from a close friend, a mocking joke from peers, or an innocent mispronunciation from a teacher, names are a powerful and personal piece of who we are. A name identifies us. It is the sound which we respond to.
Since a name’s meaning can carry so much weight, it comes as no surprise that they are usually chosen with great care. A name is a quick glimpse of who a person is. Names distinguish a John Smith from Sarah Johnson. Much influence is put into a name. In our society, the title of doctor suggests a well-educated individual and instills a sense of respect. Names explain who we are. It is the perfect definition of our character. Names, especially those we earn, have the ability to paint a picture of who we are.
My parents didn’t ponder too long over what name was to be given to me. My name, Erica, is simply the female version of my father’s name Eric. When I picture my name, I see shades of orange. Orange stands for the strength and power of red, but the joy and happiness of yellow. The sound of my name, however, is much more precious than any memory or moment I can experience. For when the word Erica is said, I hear Eric; the name of my father, grandfather, and brother. Three men that have inspired me to be who I am.
My name, Erica, gives me a strong desire to put forth great effort to do something noteworthy and worthwhile. In the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, John Proctor illustrates his obsession with the reputation behind his name. “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!. “(pg. Proctor cries these lines to Danforth in Act IV when he decides if he should confess to witchcraft in order to save himself from hanging. Danforth, Hale, and Elizabeth have almost convinced him to do so, but Proctor cannot bring himself to give in. He would not be able to live with himself, knowing that innocent lives were lost while he was tempted to lie, only to save himself. Early in the play, Proctor’s desire to preserve his good name keeps him from testifying against Abigail.
Now, however, he has come to a true understanding of how his name is a precise depiction of his reputation. Names are all different. They are earned in individual ways, but all point inescapably back to our remarkable characters, which take a lifetime to discover. The doctor that has a title that immediately demands respect, the girl with the name that is an ironic glimpse of her family, and the man with an unwillingness to tarnish his name are all molded by a token of who they are and hope to become.