Names are very important in the dual stories of the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke, which frame the Once Upon a Time narrative. Avatars and metaphors, the names of fairy tale characters—and even nursery rhyme characters are deep with both overt meaning and often-subtle subtext. And in this series, names may well be significant puzzle pieces—clues to the overall mysteries within.
The name “Snow White” suggests purity—both outward and within. “Mary Margaret” is a name that, to me, at least, creates an image of mousey Sunday school teachers with prim and proper appearance and rigid manners. While the image fits the Storybrooke version of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), it does not fit Snow White of the Enchanted Forest. Of course, “Blanchard,” her surname, comes from “blanche,” the French word for “white.” But the name also has Germanic origins, and in German, Blanchard signifies bravery and courage. And it’s a perfect for the courageous, bold Snow White.
What will the future hold for Mary Margaret? As she draws closer to Emma (and finds the pull towards David (Josh Dallas) growing more and more irresistible), what effect will that have on her memories? Will she, like Sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) begin to understand the past in small snippets, dreams and visions? And if she does, will she draw strength and courage from them, becoming more her true self?
Speaking of David, it’s interesting to note that both his Storybrooke and Enchanted Forest personas have two names. In the Enchanted Forest he is known by his given name James—and by Prince Charming; in Storybrooke, he has been known as both David Nolan and John Doe.
David Nolan is an interesting name for Prince Charming. David was a Biblical philosopher-king and a great leader. The name Nolan means noble, and it is Prince Charming's nobility that eventually gets to Snow White. It's a perfect name for him.
David is drawn towards two women in Storybrooke just as he had been in the Enchanted Forest—one by duty and the other by love. If you recall, James is essentially coerced into his union with King Midas’ daughter, only going there out of fealty to his mother—and his sense of honor and nobility.
And, to carry Prince Charming’s duality even further, he is, if you recall, a twin. James replaces his twin, hiding his shepherd’s inner self with the false trappings of royalty.