Image Credits: Deviant Art


A few nights ago I was watching the movie The Possession and I noticed the young girl who was possessed name was Emily. I then questioned, “Why is every young girl in horror movies named Emily?”



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Think about it — the young girl in The Exorcism of Emily Rose? Her name was well, Emily. The two movies were both very similar, too. Not only were they both horror movies, but they both featured a possessed young girl who required an exorcism to be performed. 


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It doesn’t end there, though. William Faulkner’s classic novel A Rose For Miss Emily was a strange tale where the main character had some rather unusual attachment issues with her deceased husband. Sure, Miss Emily was an older adult in the story, but she was a far cry from normal, as most Emily’s in literature and movies are.



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Another example of an unusual literary character named Emily is Emily the Strange who was well, strange. This Emily was attracted to dark things such as the color black, night time, and her beloved black kitties. She enjoyed playing practical jokes on people and having unusual adventures such as painting sewers at late hours of the night. She definitely lived up to the “strange” title. 


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With all of these examples of unusual characters named Emily, one has to wonder, are there any NORMAL characters named Emily? What is so symbolic with the name Emily that many writers choose to name their unusual characters after it? 

A basic Google search suggests that the name means “industrious”. That doesn’t really sound right in this context, though. Another suggestion is that the name could mean “rival”. Could this be the answer? If a character is possessed, do they rival the spirit that is possessing them? 

Maybe writer’s choice of the name Emily has nothing at all to do with origin or symbol. Maybe it’s nothing more but a mere trend starting back with Faulkner if not before him. Surely that’s how most literary trends get started…all with one person and then several others that follow in their footsteps, right?

What are your thoughts on horror/unusual characters being named Emily? Do you think it’s symbolic or just a coincidence?