I love Jane Austen, her writing is timeless. Her tales from two centuries ago still resonate with readers today. Austen’s characters are what really propel me to keep reading her work. She peels masks off of them to reveal the truth of personalities. Austen knew how to make a character feel real. Strengths and weaknesses. What they love and what they hate. How they interact with others. Why they act the way they do. And that is the reason I’d like to do a little analysis of some characters from Pride and Prejudice. How are her characters so real if they are just a figment of her imagination? Okay, and the fact that I love personality typing. But hey, why not do some analyzing and enjoy it at the same time?
Miss Elizabeth Bennet – ENFP
When I was first trying to classify Lizzy as a Meyer Briggs type, I thought she was an ENFJ. And I was set on it. There was no changing my mind. But, as I started looking at the functions, I decided to base my character assessment off of Carl Jung’s system. After seeing the functions of each type I found that she is more like an ENFP. Some people might complain that I think this only because I am an ENFP and we like to think that our favorite fictional characters share our personality type. But I will argue that I originally thought we were different, and it was only after further research that I changed my mind. I found Geek Psychology’s video on ENFJ vs. ENFP really helpful for solving this conundrum.
Elizabeth’s functions as an ENFP are Ne-Fi-Te-Si. This is the opposite of the ENFJ with their functions being Fe-Ni-Se-Ti. Lizzy shows her Extroverted Intuition(Ne) in her interest and need for acquiring information from the outside world. She is constantly observing the people around her and forming opinions about them. And as is said at the end of the book “her mind received knowledge which had never before fallen in her way.” This is especially interesting to me because this is something that seems to contribute to her “happy ending”. Not only this, but she also shares these ideas of hers through mocking, teasing, and poking fun at people and situations. I also found an article by funkymbtifiction that said that “her tendency to both enjoy being around people and need alone time / preference for a book rather than talk to people she hates is also indicative of Ne (bored without stimulation, but needing down time).”
Lizzy’s Introverted Feeling(Fi) was a huge indicator to me of her being an ENFP. Even though some think that she has Fe because of the way she shares her feelings by means of joking. But, I see this more as a way to hide her true feelings. She is so guarded with her feelings for Darcy that when she tells her family that she loves Darcy, none of them believe her. Lizzy often shares her opinions on things, but only will reveal emotions that could leave her vulnerable only when under pressure. People with Introverted Feeling want to live a life as true to themselves as possible. If that doesn’t scream “Elizabeth Bennet”, I don’t know what does. If an ENFP disregards their Ne at times, their Fi can be left unchecked and leave them basing decisions off of assumed and preconceived judgments. This could definitely account for Elizabeth’s faulty judgment of Darcy and Wickham.
Despite Extroverted Thinking(Te) being her tertiary function, it is still displayed. Her Te is shown through her steadfastness to have and keep opinions that she is not willing to change. Except, for when facts present a strong case, then she is open to changing her opinion. Elizabeth will take action when logic tells her that something is wrong, regardless of the feelings that may be involved. She pleads with her father to not let Lydia go to Brighton as “she considered it as the death warrant of all possibility of common sense” for Lydia. She was right that her going would make them all ridiculous, even though her good use of her Te wasn’t able to help the situation.
Elizabeth didn’t have her Introverted Sensing(Si) fully developed during the course of Pride and Prejudice. Because of this we don’t see this function displayed as much as we see it displayed in other characters like Mr. Darcy. She uses this function when recalling past experiences to help her in the now. Lizzy knows how traditions and standards would affect her future. Because of her knowledge from years of knowing Jane, she knew how Jane really felt about Bingley, despite others thinking differently.
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy – ISTJ
I’ve never encountered anyone who didn’t think Mr. Darcy was an introvert. He is one of the most famous introverts in fiction. A few of the most obvious reasons for this clear distinction are his awkwardness in social situations, his preference for solitary activities, and his inability for small talk. Instead of spreading his energy for many people, he reserves his time, energy, and resources for those closest to him.
Let’s take a quick look at his cognitive functions as an ISTJ.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
Mr. Darcy’s functions are Si-Te-Fi-Ne. This means, that when classifying Elizabeth as an ENFP and Darcy ISTJ, they share all the same main four functions, just in a different order.
Darcy is painfully aware of his social responsibilities and does his best to live up to them. This is an indicator of Introverted Sensing(Si). Also, he relies heavily on past experience to know how to fix current problems. Another indicator of strong Si is a tendency to handle everything themselves rather than delegating, and even try to take care of others’ responsibilities. Darcy most definitely puts all the blame and responsibility on himself, as happened when he paid off Wickham to marry Lydia, so that the Bennet family wouldn’t be shamed.
Extroverted Thinking(Te) takes in information and uses this data to change the environment. Darcy often observes the situation and uses these observations to come to a rational conclusion. Te users have an end goal and ask themselves what they need to do to get there. They are willing to change their idea of truth when new facts arise. When Mr. Darcy realizes he is not being what he should be, (by means of Elizabeth’s comments) he immediately works to change himself and do what he now realizes is good.
If anyone has a legitimate argument for Darcy being anything but Introverted Feeling(Fi), I would really like to hear it. Because Mr. Darcy almost never shares his true feelings with anyone, until absolutely necessary. He hashes and rehashes his emotions in his brain. Comparing and contrasting. Weighing pros and cons. He still cares deeply though, especially about those he loves most.
Extroverted Intuition(Ne) is Darcy’s least developed cognitive function. This doesn’t mean that we don’t see him display it at all. Ne types are known for contemplating many options and possibilities for scenarios. The combination of Ne-Si is all about examining, Mr. Darcy is often watching and creating assumptions by means of what he sees. For example, after watching Bingley and Jane together for some time, he presumed that Jane did not really care for Bingley. Despite this being a wrong assessment, Darcy’s use of this function is seen throughout the book. Darcy still hadn’t been in the habit of sharing his ideas with people, we see this happen more towards the end of the book as when he’s with Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle, the Gardiners.
For these last few characters, I’m not going to share my reasoning on it. This blog is already going kind of long, oops. But feel free to ask any questions you may have about my thoughts as far as Pride and Prejudice personality types go, in the comments below.
Miss Jane Bennet – INFP
Mr. Charles Bingley – ESFJ
Miss Lydia Bennet – ESFP
Writing fiction with MBTI or Carl Jung’s cognitive functions in mind is helpful when you’re not sure what strengths and weaknesses might go together well for your characters. Something I find helpful is going on 16personalities.com and looking through the personality types to see what kind of character I’m going for. I like to look at the list of strengths and weaknesses of a type to have an overall idea of how to make a character believable.
I don’t think that using these tools are necessary in order to come up with realistic characters, Jane Austen did well without them. But, if you’re stumped and can’t seem to make your characters leap off the page, give it a shot.
Let me know…
- What personality types do you think the Pride and Prejudice characters are?
- What tools do you use to help you come up with well rounded characters?