The Name of the Rose

Fall of a Hero, Triumph of a Villain: An Analysis of Umberto Eco's Choices Regarding the Characters William of Baskerville and Bernard Gui in The Name of the Rose

Courage, intellect, and success: three typical characteristics which could easily be attributed to the hero of any story. Take cunning, manipulation, and eventual failure, and you have yourself the typical villain. In The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco has decided to take upon the usual "good triumphs over bad" theme, and twist it in such a way that readers have their apparent hero, William of Baskerville, ultimately failing in all he sets out to do, and his nemesis, Bernard Gui, succeeding. Why would Eco so deliberately choose to have such a reversal of the usual roles, and how is it that he manages to pull it off so well? To be able to answer such questions, we should look closely at the author's chosen literary techniques.

William of Baskerville is clearly Eco's representation of Sherlock Holmes in The Name of the Rose, and Holmes' adversary, Moriarty, is embodied in the character of Bernard Gui. Throughout the novel, readers see constant demonstrations of William's similarity to Holmes. He is a detective, has the Watson-type character of Adso of Melk, and has a Moriarty-esque opponent, Bernard Gui. Gui is an Inquisitor, the same job William once had. In fact, they were part of the same team. However,...

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