What do David Lynch movies and Umberto Eco novels — such as The Name of the Rose — have in common?

Charles Lincon
2 min readMay 8, 2023

David Lynch’s movies and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose share a common theme — the exploration of the human psyche and the duality of good and evil. Lynch’s films are characterized by their surreal and enigmatic nature, while Eco’s novel is a masterful work of historical fiction set in a medieval monastery. However, both Lynch and Eco explore the darker aspects of humanity in their respective works, and through their narratives, they offer a dialectical path towards understanding the complex nature of human behavior.

In Lynch’s films, characters are often depicted as having dual personalities, where their darker side is represented through surreal and often disturbing imagery. For example, in Blue Velvet, the seemingly idyllic town of Lumberton is shown to have a dark underbelly, and the character of Frank Booth embodies this darkness. Similarly, in Twin Peaks, the character of Bob is portrayed as the embodiment of evil, lurking beneath the surface of the small town.

Similarly, Eco’s The Name of the Rose explores the darker aspects of human nature through the character of the blind monk Jorge of Burgos. Jorge is a fanatic who believes that laughter is the work of the devil, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the purity of the church. However, it is revealed that Jorge has been committing murders to protect a secret library in the monastery. Thus, Eco shows that even the most devout individuals can have a dark side, and that the pursuit of knowledge can lead to immoral behavior.

Both Lynch and Eco also use symbolism to explore their themes. In Lynch’s films, objects and colors often have a deeper meaning, and they are used to convey the characters’ inner thoughts and emotions. For example, the red curtains in Twin Peaks are a recurring symbol that represents the characters’ innermost desires and fears. Similarly, Eco uses the symbol of the labyrinth in The Name of the Rose to represent the complexities of human nature and the pursuit of knowledge.

In conclusion, David Lynch’s films and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose are both works of art that explore the duality of human nature. Through their narratives, they show that even the most seemingly pure individuals can have a dark side, and that the pursuit of knowledge can lead to immoral behavior. They use symbolism and surreal imagery to convey their themes and offer a dialectical path towards understanding the complexities of human behavior.

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Charles Lincon

Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, Hegelian dialectics, Attic Greek, masters University of Amsterdam.