Themes and Meanings
Such ambiguity is fitting for a book about uncertainty. In the typical mystery, detective and reader must interpret a series of signs to find the identity and motive of the criminal. The signs in such works may have several possible meanings, but only one is correct, and only the right reading will lead to the truth. The Name of the Rose shuns these conventions. Clues may be understood in various ways, and a false hypothesis nevertheless leads to the solution. As William tells Adso at the end of the book: “I arrived at Jorge through an apocalyptic pattern that seemed to underlie all the crimes, and yet it was accidental. I arrived at Jorge seeking one criminal for all the crimes and we discovered that each crime was committed by a different person, or by no one. I arrived at Jorge pursuing the plan of a perverse and rational mind, and there was no plan.”
William believes that signs “are the only things man has with which to orient himself in the world,” but he knows that one can never be certain about the relation among signs. The uncertainty begins with the book’s title, which Eco says he chose because it “rightly disoriented the reader, who was unable to choose just one interpretation.” The opening paragraph of Adso’s memoir further warns of the impossibility of certainty. Adso begins by quoting the first verse of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In this world one...
(The entire section is 517 words.)