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Literature: The Name of the Rose
Cavete Fratres Franciscanos. Lat. 

Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.Lat. 

The Name of the Rose is a novel written by Umberto Eco in 1980, which also received a movie adaptation in 1986, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, and starring Christian Slater, F. Murray Abraham, Ron Perlman, Michael Lonsdale, and Sean Connery.

It is set in what has been called the disastrous fourteenth century, during the period of the Medieval Inquisition. The story, described by some as Sherlock Holmes IN THE 14th CENTURY, follows Brother William of Baskerville and his young friar apprentice, Adso of Melk, who go to an abbey where a murder was committed in order to investigate.

Tropes used include:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The book is a detective mystery interwoven with 500 pages of incredible detail of the religious and political schism in the church that is nearly inscrutable to anyone without a post-graduate degree in Theology and 14th Century Political History. (Or, reasonably arguably, anyone but Umberto Eco.) The movie drops most of the Theology, History and Politics in favor of the detective story.
  • Adapted Out: The Swedish monk Benno of Uppsala was cut from the film.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Adso gets to have one fling before recommitting to chastity; William, his mentor and supposed guardian, says something along the lines of, "Way to go, kid."
    • Averted with William, who explicitly admits to Adso that, unlike him, he has never tried "that sort of experience."
  • Asshole Victim: In the movie, Bernardo Gui's cart gets pushed off a cliff by angry peasants, causing him to fall on a spiked thing which kills him. Your heart bleeds for him.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: William, and how.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: This is the attitude of every monk in the abbey toward William's investigation.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building
  • The Black Death: At the end of the novel, Adso reveals that William eventually died during the Black Death.
  • Bookcase Passage: And tomb passage, too.
  • Brick Joke: (Novel only.) In what seems to be another example of Did Do The Research, William discusses an Arabic treatise on hydrophobia (rabies) in dogs in passing. It comes up again during the trial of the cellarer when William claims this is what he was discussing with a murdered monk, going into great detail about how the text describes the twenty-five symptoms of hydrophobia, with which Bernardo Gui is surely familiar. This swipe is a pun on Gui's order, the Dominicans- "domine canes", God's dogs.
  • Burn the Witch!: In the film, Brother Salvatore and Brother Remigio are burned at the stake as scapegoats by Father Bernardo Gui, leader of the Inquisition. Gui also tries to burn a local peasant girl, but in the film she is rescued by rebellious peasants who manage to kill Gui in the resulting chaos.
    • Unfortunately, her two fellow "heretics" don't get rescued. Adso was a trifle specific in his prayer.
    • In the book, Gui prevents this from happening by simply having the three of them transported away and executed elsewhere, where no rescue attempts can occur (Gui was a historical person, and he was not killed by peasants).
  • Camp Gay: Brother Berengar, with foul consequences.
  • Captain Ersatz: William of Baskerville is described as William of Ockham combined with Sherlock Holmes in the 14th century.
  • Celibate Hero: William.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Averted. Does William of Occam exist in this version? Yes, he's a friend of William of Baskerville.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Several, notably the eccentric Ubertino da Casale (film only), and the deformed Salvatore.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Bernardo Gui plans to use it on the cellarer, but even the mention of torture is enough for him to admit everything, even things he didn't commit.
  • Cool Old Guy: William, played by Sean Connery.
  • Corrupt Church
  • Cryptic Conversation: Salvatore (and how), Ubertino da Casale, and half the monks.
  • Definitely Final Dungeon: The library tower.
  • Description Porn: And how: the book devotes page upon page to descriptions of the church's altar, the entrance to the crypt, Adso's vivid psychedelic-herb-induced visions, and the monastery's relics.
  • Detective Story
  • Did Not Get the Girl: In the book, she is taken away to her likely death; in the movie, Adso deliberately chooses to follow his master and to continue his life of celibacy as a monk.
  • Disability Immunity: Oh so much averted.
  • Disney Villain Death
  • Door Stopper
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted-the peasant girl jumps on Adso, but after the initial shock he seems quite willing — and even enthusiastic. He's a young man who probably struggles even against the desire to masturbate. Few would have more self-control in that situation. William later says that in Adso's place "even a father in the desert would have damned himself".
  • The Dung Ages: This is how the monastery is portrayed in the movie.
  • Eat the Evidence: Which in this case also qualifies as suicide.
  • Eureka Moment:
    • William has one considering the secret of the library. Adso remembers how Salvatore said "tertius equi", which is Canis Latinicus for "The third of horse" (when he meant "the third horse"). William concludes: "the first and the seventh of the four" really means "the first and the seventh of the word four", and "four" is "quatuor" in Latin, so you have to push the letters Q and R!
    • They had a minor one earlier, when Adso dreamed a story similar to the "Coena Cypriani", a kind of Bible parody. Which helps William to remember that there was a book in the library consisting of four texts, one of them a comment for the Coena Cypriani, another one the book they're looking for.
  • Fake Nationality: Everyone besides Sean Connery. Not counting the lack of Italians (even the girl is Chilean), Adso (Austrian) and Bernardo Gui (French) are played by American actors.
  • Finger-Licking Poison
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: The narrator is an older Adso.
  • Flanderization: The transmogrification of the saintly Ubertino da Casale (a minor character) from a well-educated, decent, pious (if slightly fanatical) old man to a creepy, obtuse Butt Monkey who hits on Adso and is ridiculed by William. Note that the poor guy actually existed.
  • Foe Yay: invokedLampshaded by Adso in the book as he follows the last dialogue between William and Jorge.
  • Friend or Idol Decision:
    • Adso, at the end of the film.
    • William has to choose between burning to death to save as many books as he can, or abandoning the library.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: At one point, Adso describes how William angrily spits out a one-syllable word in his native language (remember, William is British), and comments that he luckily didn't understand the word, because it sounded very much like it means something naughty...
  • Gonk: The Abbot, the Greek translator, and Adelmo are pretty much the only three of the Benedictine monks who are not frightfully ugly. The worst is undoubtedly Ron Perlman's Salvatore, who doesn't even look human.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Most of the Latin phrases are given translations in the back of the book, but the Gratuitous Middle High German is not.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Discounting Sean Connery, Christian Slater and Ron Perlman (and F. Murray Abraham), one might also recognize the late William Hickey (aka the Petes' grandfather) as Ubertino de Casale.
  • Historical Detective Fiction: Investigating suspicious deaths in a monastery.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Bernard(o) Gui(donis), Ubertino da Casale, Michael of Cesena.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: While he might not have been a nice guy, Bernardo Gui was much less melodramatic in Real Life.
  • The Hunchback: Salvatore. Played by Ron Perlman with extreme creepiness in the film.
    • And extreme shortness. The massive Perlman hunched over to be shorter than any other actor is one of the film's most striking visuals.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Bernardo Gui in the film. This didn't happen in the book or in Real Life, in which he died a far less cheesy death a couple of years after the time in which the movie takes place.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: In spades. One chapter heading is even self-referential, noting how summarizing a plot-heavy chapter in a heading would not be very useful.
  • The Inquisition
  • Karma Houdini: Bernardo Guy in the book
  • Knight Templar: A whole army of them: the killer, the Dulcinians, the Inquisitors…
  • The Late Middle Ages
  • Looks Like Orlok: The chief librarian monk.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: One of the go-to examples.
  • Lit Fic
  • MacGuffin: Averted with the Second Book of the Poetics, which is both thematically relevant to the story and, ironically, the murder weapon of most of the killings
  • Mad Oracle: Ubertino is considered to be this in the film.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Medieval Morons: William himself and the sensible Adso make everyone else look fanatical or dumb, at least in the movie. In the novel, many people show a great deal of scholarly knowledge and expertise, but William is about the only one who can escape beyond the stagnated and fundamentalist nature of medieval learning.
  • Metaphorgotten: Adso asks William about some of the schisms within the faith, and William comes up with a metaphor involving a river that divides into a delta. When Adso still doesn't get it, William admits he's not really good at parables and tells him to forget the river.
  • Mind Screw: How to access the secret room in the library. "The hand over the idol?/image?/mirror! should move (how exactly?) the first and the seventh of the four(???)".
  • Motive Rant: Jorge gives one at the end. This is less obvious in the movie, where the Big Bad is more reactive and less prone to discussion; most of it is held while the villain is eluding the heroes throughout the library.
  • Myth Arc: With other Eco books.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If William hadn't deduced that Jorge was the killer, then sure, Aristotle's book on comedy might have stayed hidden, but on the plus side the entire library and every manuscript in it wouldn't have burned down.
  • No Name Given: The girl Adso has sex with. He mentions that he couldn't even "lament and call out the beloved’s name" (as he read in romances of chivalry) when he learned that she's going to die, because he never learned her name.
  • The Nothing After Death: How Adso imagines the afterlife:
    I shall soon enter this broad desert, perfectly level and boundless, where the truly pious heart succumbs in bliss. I shall sink into the divine shadow, in a dumb silence and an ineffable union, and in this sinking all equality and all inequality shall be lost, and in that abyss my spirit will lose itself, and will not know the equal or the unequal, or anything else: and all differences will be forgotten. I shall be in the simple foundation, in the silent desert where diversity is never seen, in the privacy where no one finds himself in his proper place. I shall fall into the silent and uninhabited divinity where there is no work and no image.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Someone with a weird sense of humor decided to order the bones in the crypt: In one place, there are Nothing but Skulls, in another one nothing but small bones, and in yet another one nothing but hands. This is a reference to the surprisingly real-life Capuchin Crypt.
  • Nubile Savage: The peasant girl is a medieval variation on the theme.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Ron Perlman's version of the deformed, mentally disabled hunchback Salvatore is smarter than he seems.
  • Occam's Razor: One of William's tricks of the trade, appropriately enough.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Goes with the territory.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: In-genre for the book, but the film pauses the action for a theological debate between the progressive, liberal Franciscans and the Vatican emissaries over the question of whether Jesus owned the clothes that he wore.
  • Playing Against Type: Sean Connery, one of cinema's most iconic male sex symbols, plays a virgin Celibate Hero who apparently considers women to be foul creatures purposefully designed by God to tempt man (the book shows the character specifically questioning the latter very common belief, so the interpretation may not be fair for the movie either.)
  • Poetic Serial Killer
  • Punny Name: The abbot's name is Abbo.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • In the book the library burns, the book is destroyed and Bernardo gets away with the torture and unjust execution of three people. This proved to be too dark for the movie, in which, at least, Bernardo dies and the girl lives.
    • History buffs and bibliophiles familiar with the period might consider will definitely consider the burning of the library to be an outright Downer Ending (Eco himself pointed out in the Apostilles to The Name of the Rose (essentially a director's track book) that having a library in that period and not having it burn down would have been absolutely unrealistic.)
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The story is basically a medieval Sherlock Holmes mystery in addition to the literary elements.
  • Red Herring: The connection between the various deaths and the seven trumpets of Revelation turns out to be a coincidence after all. When this theory is discussed openly, the killer decides to run with it, which complicates things further.
  • Sadistic Choice: Gui insists William, a former victim, serve as a judge in The Inquisition: in the book, William is a former Inquisitor, who wants nothing more to do with it; the movie shows that William refused to convict a witch and got marched out and judged by Gui.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: William.
  • Secret Path: The only unguarded way into the library is various secret passages.
  • Serial Killer
  • Shaggy Dog Story: If you read carefully and think about it, you'll notice that this is a detective story where the detective isn't very successful - he even admits it near the end- and the Big Bad is never brought to justice.
  • Shaggy Search Technique: The eye sockets of the skulls, etc.
  • Sherlock Scan: William of Baskerville, such as at the beginning, when he meets people from the monastery and describes to them the horse they're looking for, though he never saw it.
    • William also later lampshades and deconstructs this technique as being rather reliant on lucky guesses.
  • Shout-Out: Several.
    • The movie mentions a book by Umberto of Bologna — a clear allusion to Umberto Eco.
    • The gruesome ossarium is based on the real-life Capuchin Crypt.
    • Further, the name "Baskerville" is an obvious allusion to the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Adso's name sounds very similar to Watson's, and Adso's description of William of Baskerville in the "Prologue" is taken almost word-for-word from Watson's first description of Holmes in A Study in Scarlet.
    • And William's first name and political beliefs are modeled on William of Ockham.
    • Jorge, the blind librarian, is a clear reference to Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian author who went blind, served as the director of Argentina's National Library, wrote a story about a labyrinthine library, and is generally credited as a stylistic influence on Eco and probably hundreds of other genre-bending postmodernist authors.
      • Someone lucky enough to have read Borges's short story Death and the Compass will see the connection to this story clearly.
  • Shown Their Work: Not surprising, as Eco is a scholar of the Middle Ages.
  • Single Mom Stripper: The girl is probably a medieval version.
    William: Certainly she is a girl from the village who, perhaps not for the first time, grants her favors to some lustful monk out of hunger, and receives as recompense something for her and her family to eat.
    Adso: A harlot!
    William: A poor peasant girl, Adso. Probably with smaller brothers to feed.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The girl, of course. Also the Abbot.
  • Stealth Insult: William tells Bernard he credits him with the most important decision of his life. That decision being to quit being an inquisitor...
  • Theme Serial Killer: The killings follow symbolism from the Book of Revelations. As it turns out, this is mostly by accident.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The lost dialogue of Aristotle is assumed to be this. it's actually poisoned.
  • The Exotic Detective
  • The Heretic
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: William gives one to Jorge at the end.
    You are the Devil. Yes. They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and in moving, he always returns whence he came. You are the Devil, and like the Devil, you live in darkness. If you wanted to convince me, you have failed. I hate you, Jorge, and if I could, I would lead you downstairs, across the grounds, naked, with feathers stuck in your asshole and your face painted like a juggler and a buffoon, so that the whole monastery would laugh at you and be afraid no longer. I would like to smear honey all over you and roll you in feathers and take you on a leash to fairs, to say to all: He was announcing the truth to you and telling you that the truth has the taste of death, and you believed not in his words but in his grimness. And now I say to you that in the infinite whirl of possible things, God allows you to imagine a world where the presumed interpreter of the truth is nothing more than a clumsy raven who repeats words learned long ago.
  • Torture Always Works: Averted. William used to be an inquisitor, but avoided using torture. He explains that people under torture say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what they imagine might please him. Later, when Bernardo Gui interrogates the cellarer, the threat of torture is enough for him to admit that he committed all the murders (which he didn't do).
  • The Tower: The hidden and locked library looms over the monastery, tall, dark, labyrinthine and foreboding. Eco helpfully draws a diagram of it for readers.
  • The Unintelligible: Salvatore, played by Ron Perlman.
    Salvatore: "Penitenziagite! Watch out for the draco who cometh in futurum to gnaw your anima! La morte è supremos. You contemplatum the apocalypsum. Là-bas, nous avons il diabolo, ugly comme Salvatore" (in this scene).
  • The Watson: Adso, naturally.
  • Title Drop: The postfacium quote.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses
  • Villain Teleportation: Jorge's ability to get in and around the library unseen.
    • Lampshaded in the film, as William muses that Jorge must have flown to reach the library before them. Jorge then says that he took the short route.
  • What A Senseless Waste Of Human Life Precious Ancient Books.
  • Wham Episode: The third day. Adso finally learns something about Fra Dolcino! Also he gains "carnal knowledge" of some random young lady! And, by the way, Berengar dies.
  • Wimp Fight: Subverted: William and Jorge are both senescent intellectuals. They know absolutely nothing about fighting...but will do absolutely anything to win.
  • Witch Hunt: Literally.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Jorge wants to destroy the last edition of the Poetics of Aristotle in the film, because he feels that it will teach men to approach all matters with laughter and kill fear of the devil and thus, in his mind at least, render men irreligious.
  • Your Mom: During their final argument about laughter, Jorge mentions a story about a Minorite who fell on the ice, and when someone mockingly asked him if he wanted to lie on something better, he answered: "Yes, your wife".

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alternative title(s): The Name Of The Rose; The Name Of The Rose
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