Let's talk about Hook!
So, we’ve talked about name meanings, choosing the right name for the right character and how that influences our perceptions of said characters, now let’s talk about foreshadowing, because, let’s be honest here, you hear a story about a Captain Hook, you don’t expect to see a privateer with two working hands and no hook in sight.
But it’s not just in the name itself, but in the way it’s said. We know our villains by the way they’re introduced. “Hullo mate. How are you? My name’s Hook. A pleasure.” Please don’t hate me for that horrible attempt at a written accent. I know it’s horrible, no need for comments. But there is nothing threatening about the above statement. You hear about a bloke in a back alley named Hook, or whispers in a saloon about a man with one hand who lost the other in a sword fight, you’re going to take a step back, probably look on from a good ten or twenty feet away lest you meet the business end of his stump-or what’s replaced it.
Captain Hook though…well, I suppose we should consider the etymology of the name here too. I mean the last name. Last names can be derived from a profession. John Mason would have likely had a forefather somewhere in history who was a mason. Or James Thatcher and so forth. Other names come from towns, where someone lives, as a way of identifying them. There are probably a dozen plus other reasons for why our last names are the way we are, but Hook’s last name is purely physical, and it’s exactly the way it should be.
Likely Hook started out as a Mason or Thatcher of Hornsby or so forth. He might have been a brilliant fisherman at some point and gotten the nickname of hooker or other which was shortened over time to hook. Perhaps he one day lost a hand munched off by a crazy crocodile, though why the croc stopped at a hand is beyond me, and now wears a hook in its place. The name is suitably relevant to the character’s history, and diabolical enough to suggest his current attitude in life. Hook has a rather negative connotation after all. So when we meet Captain Hook, we’re already suspicious of his personality.
And that’s not even taking into account his title of Captain.
A man in charge who does, has done, or is known for using/having a hook...
I’ll stay on shore, thanks very much.
Like Maleficent, Captain Hook was aptly named to inspire fear before we even met him. He’s also someone we might pity a mite, since the story of his hook hand can be rather brutal, inspire a bit of compassion in the end. A kid who leads an adult to his doom with a sea creature? Yeah, maybe Hook’s not the real villain here…
So a final moral for our heroes and villains: be careful with what you name someone, because they can live up to that name, live to embody it, or fail to give it justice if it’s not the right name for them. That’s true of fairy tales and real life. Who said you couldn’t learn something from a good book?
(And just for S&G's, Jafar is apparently Arabic meaning “stream” – but he lives in a desert in the Disney movie. No wonder he was always thirsting for something, like, say, power, since he couldn’t live up to his name. He probably resented being a little stream instead of a big river. That’s funny, right? Cracked me up for some reason. Of course, the name meaning site also says that people with this name seek love and companionship, want to work with others to achieve peace and harmony…huh, totally Disney. This is one of those brilliant times where the name is used because it purposely misleads the character’s true, well, character. There isn’t anything peace-love-and-flowers to Aladdin’s Jafar, and we wouldn’t have him any other way. Well played, Disney, well played.)