The characters are archetypes

The short story “The Rule of Names” by Ursula K. Le Guin features several characters: Mr. Underhill, Blackbeard, Palani, Birt, Goody Guld, and Seacaptain Fogeno. 

The characters follow the types found in fairytales: the protagonist and the antagonist (Mr. Underhill and Blackbeard), the wise old man (Seacaptain Fogeno), the forgetful old lady (Goody Guld), the novice and the maiden (Birt and Palani).

Out of these characters, the most important ones are Mr. Underhill, Blackbeard, and Birt.

Mr. Underhill (Yevaud)

Mr. Underhill is the protagonist of the story. However, he is not the hero, as he is also a villain (a violent dragon and a thief). The name Underhill is given to him by the villagers of Sattins because he leaves under a hill, and functions as a foreshadowing element, a hint regarding his true nature. Mr. Underhill is, in fact, a dragon named Yevaud. Consequently, his outer characterization is influenced by these two shapes.

Outer characterization

Initially, he is described as Mr. Underhill, a fat, unskilled village wizard: “He was all the little island had in the way of a wizard, and so deserved respect-but how coul...

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