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The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names



 
 
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Old May 4th, 2007, 12:54 am
BelleGreenfield  Female.gif BelleGreenfield is offline
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The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

I had always wondered if there was a reason Jo named several characters after flowers i.e. Lily, Petunia, Narcissa, and Pansy, and I think wasn't it a sort of tradition long ago to name girls after flowers? J.R.R. Tolkein alludes to this in saying it was hobbit tradition to name girls after flowers and that's why Sam names his daughter Eleanor. I also knew that, especially in victorian times, every flower had a meaning. So, I wondered if that could have anything to do with Jo having picked those names. Since I can't ask Jo directly I decided to do some research, and I googled flower meanings, and looked it up in Wikipedia and I found this website: http://www.prince.com.sg/meaningofflowers.asp and I there are some interesting meanings for the flowers Jo has chosen to use as names.

Here's what I found:

Quote:
Lily of the Valley: Return of happiness; Sweetness; Tears of the Virgin Mary; Humility;You've Made My Life Complete Calla Lily: Your voice is music to my ears; Beauty Casablanca Lily: I am in heaven when I'm with you Pink Lily: Romantic Stargazer Lily: I see heaven in your eyes Yellow Lily: Live for the moment; nothing is forever; I'm Walking on Air; False White Lily: Virginity; Purity; Majesty; It's Heavenly to be with You, My love is pure and innocent Day Lily: Coquetry; Chinese Emblem for Mother Eucharis Lily: Maiden Charms Tiger Lily: Wealth; Pride

Because there are so many different types of lilies there are of course different meanings, this did not surprise me... however it did surprise me that all meanings cover a part of Lily Potter's personality. They could all describe her. Especially the ones I've highlighted in bold. To add to this a lot of the meanings allude to purity, and I think even today this is a common meaning behind these flowers. I also read somewhere, and I'm sorry I can't remember where, that lillies are the most common flower used in funerals... interesting. Could this tell us anything about Lily that we did not know?

Quote:
Petunia: Resentment; Anger; Your Presence Sooths Me

This one surprised me the most. I think it's completely spot on for how Petunia feels towards her sister. Wow. But what about the "your presence soothes me"? Could that reveal something about her that we don't know?

Quote:
Narcissus: Egotism; Formality; Stay as Sweet as You Are

This one is fairly obvious. I think most people can make the connection between these flowers and the greek myth about the man who was made to fall in love with his own reflection and I wonder if this ties into the meaning as well. I don't know about the sweet, maybe Narcissa has a soft side she keeps hidden?

That first site didn't have a meaning for Pansy so I looked on several sites: http://www.earthlypursuits.com/FlwrsPer/FlwrSent.htm where it says that the Pansy equals thoughts, or on this site: http://www.aboutflowers.com/floral_b5.html where it says that Pansies mean loving thoughts. Well she certainly has loving thoughts towards Draco. I think maybe this could just tell us that Pansy is a thoughtful, and calculating person which is definitely a trait of Slytherin house.

I also looked up each name here: http://www.babynamesworld.com to see if there were any other meanings. Lily and Petunia said: type of flower, Pansy said: Thought, and Narcissa said it's origin is greek of course and it does come from Narcissus, it says it's meaning is: sleep, torpor... could this relate to the Draught of the Living Dead... or something else?

Anyway, I just wanted to find out what anyone else thought of these meanings and if you think they describe the characters and whether you think Jo intended it that way or what reason she may have had for using flower names. We know she gave the trio the kind of wood for their wand that was for their birth month or which described them... so why not these girls flower names that describe them.

Discuss:


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  #2  
Old May 4th, 2007, 2:04 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

You fogotten one flower name: Fleur maning flower in french


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Old May 4th, 2007, 2:48 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Duh! Right, and I wonder if it has something to do with the Fluer de lis... which is also a sort of french thing. On first impression I would have to say it's just to make her overtly French, but, I will do some research and see what I find.


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Old May 4th, 2007, 3:12 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

I think these definately could be important. That last one under Petunia could definately mean Petunia will have a change of heart in book seven. I now have been convinced to believe the theory that "Petunia is more than just a bitter muggle sister," so that interests me. It'll be interesting to see if that means something.


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Old May 4th, 2007, 7:11 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Okay so I did some research on Fleur. Since there's not a flowere called fleur, seeing as how it's just the French word for flower, I looked up the most obvious and most French choice-the Fleur de lis. This is what I cound on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleur-de-lis:
Quote:
The fleur-de-lis (or fleur-de-lys; plural: fleurs-de-lis) is a stylised design of an iris flower which is used both decoratively and symbolically. It may be purely ornamental or it may be "at one and the same time political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic and symbolic",especially in heraldry. While it has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, the fleur-de-lis is particularly associated with the French monarchy. It is an enduring symbol of France, but, being regarded most notably as the emblem of the monarchy, was not adopted officially by any of the French republics
Fleur-de-lis is literally translated from French as "flower of the lily", and is widely thought to be a stylized version of the species Iris pseudacorus. Decorative ornaments that resemble the fleur-de-lis have appeared in the artwork from the earliest civilizations.
Of course most of this is as I thought, just very French. But one other thing I find very interesting is the reference to a lily. I wonder if that means she will have some connection to Lily? Obviously I don't think that means she was related. Jo has said all of Harry's relatives-other than the Dursley's- are dead. But maybe Lily had some French relatives at one point? Maybe we'll see France in the 7th book... I don't know. Could just be coincidence.
Also it said that the fleur de lis is thought to represent an Iris. Since that is a flower, here is the meaning I found for that using the site I posted earlier.
Quote:
Iris: Fleur-de-lis; Emblem of France; Your Friendship Means so Much to Me; Faith; Hope; Wisdom and Valor; My Compliments; Passion

This I think fits Fleur well. When we first meet her we think she is very superficial and snobby, however, the more we get to know her and especially in HBP after Bill is bitten we see that she is actually a deeper person than we realize and shows many of these qualities.


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Old May 5th, 2007, 4:07 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

In addition to the Fleur-de-Lis (a very 'court', as in royal, oriented idea), Fleur's full name is Fleur Delacour - or 'de la cour' as in 'of the court'. She is literally a 'flower of the court' a 'courtly' or chivalrous term used to describe the ladies among the court hangers-on. Usually meaning young ladies - most often the ladies-in-waiting.


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Old May 6th, 2007, 8:57 pm
BelleGreenfield  Female.gif BelleGreenfield is offline
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Quote:
Originally Posted by hwyla View Post
In addition to the Fleur-de-Lis (a very 'court', as in royal, oriented idea), Fleur's full name is Fleur Delacour - or 'de la cour' as in 'of the court'. She is literally a 'flower of the court' a 'courtly' or chivalrous term used to describe the ladies among the court hangers-on. Usually meaning young ladies - most often the ladies-in-waiting.
I had wondered about her last name but didn't take the time to look into it. Very nice catch. I wonder if Fleur is of royal blood? Interesting...

Also I've been wondering about Narcissa's sisters, Bellatrix and Andromeda... are there flowers that are close to those names? I'll look up and see what I can find.


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Old May 7th, 2007, 1:40 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Bellatrix and Andromeda are star (or constellation or galaxy) names. I know Bellatrix means "warrioress" and Andromeda was a princess rescued by someone or other. I also remember Jo saying she had just always imagined Narcissa as a "Narcissa" so she didn't change her to an astronomical name when she came up with that convention for the rest of the Blacks.

I remember reading on Scrivenshaft's (they changed their website so I can't find it again) that lilies were associated with purity and also are a common flower at funerals. So maybe Lily's name foreshadowed her own death.

The purity thing is what I find most important though, because it has a lot of alchemical significance. There's an alchemical stage called the "white tincture" that represents the feminine aspect of the soul. It is associated with the touch of a pure woman and symbolized by a white unicorn. The corresponding masculine aspect of the soul is called the "red tincture" and is symbolized by a stag, thought to be a noble and masculine animal. These two stages immediately precede the final payoff stage: the attainment of the "philosopher's stone" (symbolized by a phoenix that's formed when they combine).

So anyway, the idea of the lily as a symbol of purity seems like a big one to me, especially given its relationship to the unicorn. Remember what Firenze told Harry in PS/SS —

PS/SS, p.258, US"That is because it is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn," said Firenze. "Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips."


It's weird because, in a way, Voldemort had a cursed or half-life for eleven years because he shed Lily's blood. So yeah, I think there's symbolic connection between lilies and purity and unicorns and the white tincture in alchemy.


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  #9  
Old May 7th, 2007, 2:12 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

One that I've always loved (and even included in some recent HP Fanfiction I've written) is a folkname for aconite (which we learn in SS is also called Wolf's Bane), is Dumbledore's Delight. Profound, isn't it???


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Last edited by Kimagine; May 7th, 2007 at 2:15 am.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 8:19 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Names

I think it would be really interesting to discuss meanings of any character names, not just the ones named after flowers... though those are very interesting and what interested me in starting this thread... in doing research on them I have become curious about other names. Plus I noticed the "Name Origins" section on Mugglenet, which I had never noticed before. So yes, if there are any other names you'd like to discuss, please feel free.

As for the Dumbledore'e Delight, I found out that a dumbledore is a type of bee. Very interesting. Another part of DD's name I found interesting was Wulfric... remember his name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Wulfric means "king of wolves" according to www.babynamesworld.com I just wonder if this could give us any insight to his character or plot points?

Plus he hasall these uncommon, slightly odd names and then plain old Brian in there, which means noble, strong, and virtuous. Why?


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Old May 12th, 2007, 3:37 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Fleur Delacour or fleur de la cour means flower of the heart in French.


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Old May 18th, 2007, 6:57 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Is Percy's full name Percival? As in Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore? Is Percy's full name ever mentioned in the books? I thought it was in the courtroom scene when Harry has his hearing. Do we think there's any connection to them having the same name-if that is the case?


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Old May 21st, 2007, 10:47 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Incidentally there's a more general names threadhere.

I think Percy's name really is Percy, rather than being short for Percival. Dumbeldore's name Albus means white: could that be a link with Lily, who represents whiteness / purity?

Going back to flower names, there's also Lavender...


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Old May 23rd, 2007, 2:31 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

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Originally Posted by Tiphany View Post
Going back to flower names, there's also Lavender...
Oh very good, how did I miss Lavender! Looks like Lavender means mistrust. That's funny considering she's so impressed with Trelawney and "trusts" her predictions.... hhhmmm


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Old June 1st, 2007, 10:35 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

This is a really neat thread. I'd had also noticed the prevalence of flower names in the books, so it's nice to be able to anaylize it a bit.

Some other flower/plant names that come up...

Myrtle: The Myrtle (Myrtus) is a genus of one or two species of flowering plants in the family Myrtaceae, native to southern Europe and north Africa. It is sacred to the Greek goddess of love, lust and beauty: Aphrodite. (from Wikipedia)

Poppy (Madam Pomfrey): The poppy is one of the oldest-known medicinal plants. The opium poppy has been used as a painkiller and soporific for thousands of years, and its extract, morphine, is the most widely used analgesic in the world. However, both are equally well known as addictive and oft-abused narcotics. (from Wikipedia)


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Old June 7th, 2007, 1:51 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

There are loads of plants and flowers used as names in the books -
Oliver Wood, for example - Oliver being a reference to the olive tree, perhaps, wood being...well....wood?
The meaning of the name Oliver = "kind one; olive tree, peace"
I guess Oliver seems like a nice enough guy, so long as you don't get between him and Quidditch... Maybe JKR just liked the name?
One that I do find ironic, however, is that of Olive Hornby. Olive has the same meaning as Oliver, but (although, admittedly, Myrtle may have initiated it), Olive doesn't exactly come off as the kindest, most peaceful character of the past, did she?
Other than that, there's also Arabella Figg (as in fig trees), Violet (who we know to be a lady in a portrait and a friend of the Fat Lady), a Hufflepuff named Rose Zeller (Okay...I had to look that one up), and, if I'm not mistaken...wasn't the original owner of the Leaky Cauldron named Daisy (I remember that one 'cause that my mum's name)?


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Old June 12th, 2007, 12:59 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

I've mentioned it in another thread, but Professor Sprout's first name is Pomona, which is related peripherally -- she is the Roman Goddess of trees! Don't forget Poppy Pomfrey, either... Poppy, naturally, has been widely maligned for its narcotic properties, but, that aside, its various alkaloids make it useful in homeopathy and in traditional British lore, the plant was known as a pain reliever, since its cultivation in cooler climates does not allow for the sufficient development of the narcotic parts of the plant. It was regarded as a medical prize for it's ability to comfort those in pain, much as our favorite Hogwarts healer does.


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Old June 12th, 2007, 7:02 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

there is another minor one... FLORENCE... the girl mentioned by Bertha JOrkins in Dumbledore's pensieve...


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Old June 20th, 2007, 9:49 pm
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Ah ha finally a discussion I know something about. My term paper for my HP class (English Lit class) was about the hidden meanings in the HP series. So of course part of it was name meanings.

I hope you won't find it too egotistical if I quote myself.
Harry’s relations show interesting diversity. First his mother Lily and his aunt Petunia, her sister, both of their names are flowers. On the surface one is showy, fragile, and expensive while the other is common, hardy, and inexpensive (garden variety if you will), complete opposites. The lily is equated with death but is a symbol of purity, also the symbol of the French royal family, and the petunia is deadly if too much is ingested, it belongs to the nightshade family, and is related to tobacco in fact the name petunia came from an obsolete name for tobacco petun.


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Old July 3rd, 2007, 8:22 am
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Re: The Secret Meanings of Flowers and Names

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loony_Tinne View Post
Ah ha finally a discussion I know something about. My term paper for my HP class (English Lit class) was about the hidden meanings in the HP series. So of course part of it was name meanings.

I hope you won't find it too egotistical if I quote myself.
Harry’s relations show interesting diversity. First his mother Lily and his aunt Petunia, her sister, both of their names are flowers. On the surface one is showy, fragile, and expensive while the other is common, hardy, and inexpensive (garden variety if you will), complete opposites. The lily is equated with death but is a symbol of purity, also the symbol of the French royal family, and the petunia is deadly if too much is ingested, it belongs to the nightshade family, and is related to tobacco in fact the name petunia came from an obsolete name for tobacco petun.
Oh very very interesting, I didn't know about the nightshade and tobacco connections... *goes to look up facts about nightshade* Did Snape ever mention nightshade in potions?


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