Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville, a Franciscan monk. This fifty-year-old English cleric and former inquisitor is tall and slender, with a hooked nose, sharp eyes, and a wry sense of humor. Reared in the skeptic tradition, he is a pre-Renaissance humanist, learned in letters, science, and philosophy; he is skilled, eloquent, and tolerant. Because of his interest in all knowledge, he finds it repugnant that anyone should bar others from acquiring it, either through censorship or, worse yet, murder. In addition to working on a compromise between Pope John XXII and Emperor Louis IV, William solves the serial death cases, although he is unable to prevent the abbey library from being burned to the ground. He dies of the plague sometime in the mid-fourteenth century.
Adso of Melk
Adso of Melk, a Benedictine monk. In the prologue, he is an old man, but in the novel he is a novice and Brother William’s disciple and scribe. Eighteen years old, he is handsome and impressionable, even naïve, particularly in matters of love, sex, and bookish knowledge. In one compressed week, he acquires an entire education and, from his master, a sophisticated way of viewing people and truth.
Abo, the abbot. He is of refined and noble origins, and he enjoys showing off the wealth of his abbey, especially his famous library. By being less than forthright with William, he causes delays and...
(The entire section is 1079 words.)
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The Characters (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
In addition to challenging the reader to solve the mystery of the monks’ deaths, Umberto Eco presents a second puzzle. The Name of the Rose is a roman a clef; many of the characters resemble well-known real or fictional figures. William of Baskerville, a tall, thin English detective with a fondness for a substance that induces lethargy, needs only a pipe, deerstalker cap, and cape to be the perfect double of Sherlock Holmes, whose use of cocaine is legendary. Adso resembles Holmes’s faithful and not overly bright historian, Dr. Watson. The blind Spaniard, Jorge of Burgos, bears the features of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who also created labyrinths and imaginary libraries. Just as Dante, a contemporary of the events related in the novel, peopled The Divine Comedy with his fellow Florentines, so Eco adds thinly disguised figures from postwar Italian politics to his novel. For example, Renato Curcio, the leader of the terrorist Red Brigades, resembles the radical reformer Fra Dolcino, who turned to violence the more rapidly to achieve a peaceful world.
Characters may thus be read allegorically, each figure in the book corresponding to another in a different book or in life. In medieval fashion, they may also be read anagogically, representing metaphysical concepts. William can stand for reason, Adso for mysticism, Jorge for the power of evil, and Abo for complacency. The novel then takes on yet another medieval guise, the...
(The entire section is 295 words.)
The narrator of The Name of The Rose is Adso of Melk, a young novice at the time of the events he relates, an old man by the time he records those events. There is a naive, ingenuous quality to Adso the novice. His mind is open, his heart vulnerable, and his soul pure. He, like William, is curious in a disinterested, honest way. Allied with no faction, Adso is devoid of the prejudices of many of the older characters. He also lacks the patience of many of the other characters. Unlike William, who repeatedly stresses his own limitations and indebtedness to God for all learning and wisdom, Adso is often pleased or frustrated by what he and William discover. Adso plays Watson to William's Sherlock Holmes.
The Franciscan monk, William of Baskerville, is the central figure — the detective — of The Name of The Rose. A friend of Roger Bacon and William of Occam, William initially comes to the monastery as the representative of the Franciscan order and the Emperor Louis IV to make arrangements for a meeting with a papal legation. William is soon recruited by the Abbot to investigate the mysterious death of a monk.
More deaths follow and William is spurred on to his task fearing that a single murderer might be responsible, as the deaths seem to follow the last days described in the Book of Revelations. William quickly realizes that the death of each monk is somehow connected to a manuscript housed in the monastery library. The library...
(The entire section is 330 words.)
List of Characters
Abo is the abbot of the Benedictine abbey who asks William to investigate the murders of several monks. Abo is more interested in the good name of the abbey than he is in the truth. At the end of the novel, Abo has died, the victim of murder himself.
Adelmo of Otranto
Adelmo is a young illustrator of manuscripts. Before the book opens, he has engaged in a homosexual affair with Berengar, perhaps in order to gain access to an important, yet sequestered, book. As a result, he has committed suicide just before William and Adso’s arrival at the abbey.
Adso of Melk
Adso of Melk is an elderly Benedictine monk who writes of his experiences as a young novitiate who accompanies William of Baskervilles on his trip to a northern Italian abbey in 1327 where they encounter a series of murders. Adso thus plays two roles in the novel: in the first place, his is an older voice, one that has had time to consider and reflect on the events of which he writes. In the second, he is young, innocent and naïve, the younger son of a wealthy nobleman, pledged to the church. The Name of the Rose is very much the story of Adso’s coming of age; he loses his virginity to a young peasant girl, and he grows from ignorance to knowledge. He encounters the most pressing theological debates of his day at the abbey, as well as a thirst for knowledge that leads several other young monks...
(The entire section is 1495 words.)