Semiotics is Eco’s academic field of study, and greatly influences the ideas on which he builds his novel. Semiotics refers to the study of signs, sign systems and the way meaning isderived. Signs can be nearly anything in a given culture that conveys information. Signs are generally conventional; that is, signs are meaningful to those who understand the unwritten codes that underpinthem. A good example of this might be the way that people greet each other from culture to culture. In American culture, kissing someone on arrival is a sign designating a close and intimaterelationship between the two people. Men, however, rarely kiss each other, although they might hug and slap each other on the back. In France, however, the sign is subtly different, and strangers meeting forthe first time might kiss each other on each cheek. For those who understand such signs, the communication is clear.
The Name of the Rose is nothing if not a story of signs, including religious,political, and social signs, among many others. William prides himself as a savvy reader of signs; yet his mistake — in assuming that the system underpinning the series of murders was following the patternof the Apocalypse — demonstrates how a faulty initial assumption can lead to a complete misunderstanding of a situation. In such a case, while the signs are still there, they have no meaning becausethere is no underpinning system. Likewise, the novel’s title is ambiguous and mysterious because it is impossible to assign one meaning to the sign “rose.” As Eco writes in the “Postscript,” “the roseis a symbolic figure so rich in meaning that by now it hardly has any meaning left . The title rightly disoriented the reader, who was unable to choose just one interpretation.”
NominalismNominalism is also an important topic or theme in The Name of the Rose closely related to language. During the Middle Ages, there was heated debate over the nature of reality. Realists, such as Jorge in the...
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