Psychological Types in Harry Potter, Hunger Games

by John on February 28, 2012

Mary L. promised a few weeks back that she would be sharing with us soon a longish collection of her thoughts on Personality types in Hunger Games, that is, a review of how the characters reflect the Myers-Briggs classification of human beings. I am very much looking forward to that largely because of the discussion I think it will generate about the value of this kind of template reading versus a more traditional polysemantic or iconological approach.

I don’t think the approaches are exclusive, as I’ll explain in a moment, but I do worry that the sorting of characters by Myers-Briggs categories risks missing the allegorical representations that are the power of the story figures over the reader. They are ciphers in large part for greater than natural realities whose play in the narrative have an alchemical effect on the reader.  I suspect much if not all of that is lost in a mechanical analysis of defining psychological traits. Taxonomy and typology are little explanation, in the end, of why a story works.

For a quick look at Harry Potter character psychological types, check out this web site (my condolences and apologies in advance to those who share a Meyers-Briggs label with the Dark Lord, Trelawney, or Moaning Myrtle…).

What value do I think this typological sorting might have in a traditional understanding of the work? I think it goes back to the origins of Myers-Briggs in Jung’s Psychological Types (1921). In brief, the test is set to measure any individual’s psychological qualities in four pairs of contraries in various states of predominance or imbalance. The contraries are sorted on scales set to ‘extravert’ and ‘introvert’ polarity. You don’t need to be much of a Jung reader or historian of psychology to see the alchemy in this — four elements in dynamic relation, the wheel turning on the principle of expansion and contraction towards resolution or elision.

Though experts on the subject beg to differ, it seems to spring from four temperament theory to me, repackaged in a less obviously theocentric package (i.e., its roots being clinical psychology rather than logos cosmology). From this perspective, an alchemical view, I don’t doubt this sort of sorting (snort) can be very helpful, as I tried to explain recently in a post about Ms. Rowling’s debts to the hermetic author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, and to C. S. Lewis and his four temperament Pevensie children.

In a nutshell, the use of four humor story ciphers is an alternate means to achieving the effects of a soul triptych, in which the reading heart, having cast off disbelief in poetic faith, identifies with the four points of the psychological spectra and experiences via identification and katharsis their resolution in story and something like MBTI/self transcendence in that process. Whatever their psychological type, readers come to the quintessence.

Or so I think! I look forward to Mary L’s exegesis of Hunger Games psychological types and our consequent discussion here of the value of this kind of critical taxonomy.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rochelle February 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I checked out that website. According to it, I share a personality type with Dumbledore, while my husband has shared a personality type with Voldemort. One of his letters changed when he took the test recently, but he can’t remember the change. Also, those pictures are far too small to see and don’t get any bigger when I open them in their own page…

I find personality types interesting and I’m sure this will be a great study that I look forward to reading, even if it doesn’t have much to do with the storyline. There are many things we can use great books for– explaining personality types from a book with more than 100 characters is one of them.

Alison February 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I’m either McGonagall or Snape, depending on where I fall on E vs I on a given day (I’m generally right on the line, as close to a tie as one can get). That works for me :) I’m a fan of both.

What I want to know from someone who understands personality types better than I, is what would Luna be? She’s the noticeable absence from that list – granted I recognize we don’t necessarily see enough of her to be sure, but? I’m just curious – I wonder sometimes whether there’s something Luna-like about myself that I don’t realize about myself that makes her my favorite, or if she’s rather my opposite and I love her for that reason! I just don’t know!

pj February 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I waiver between Hermione and Professor McGonagall…although I recognized a little bit of Lupin, too.

Thank you, Professor, for posting.

AddisonElla September 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

I waver between Snape and Voldemort. Wow. I am INTP/J depending what I feel like. I HEART SNAPE SO MUCH!!! But I am more of an INTP (voldemort). Oh well. It’s whatever :)

Louise Freeman September 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

The last test I took would make me a Lupin (INFP) but I vary between INTP so could just as easily be Voldemort! The only one of the M-B traits I am consistent on is Introversion, so I guess I am fine as long as I stay out of Candor!

CeeJay June 6, 2013 at 5:24 am

When I did the self diagnosis in school I got Lupin (INFP) but when I did the official online test I got Harry (ISFP). I think I certainly take traits from both, but probably lean more towards the ISFP :) (Pretty cool though since those two are two of my favourite characters)

Thalia August 19, 2013 at 2:28 am

To answer one of the above questions, On another site Luna is said to be INFP which i think it true because she is the character i relate most to in the story.

EVG February 6, 2014 at 9:53 pm

I looked at the site, and I disagree with a couple. I think Fred and George are ENTPs and Tonks is a better fit for an ENFP.

INTP who did 58 hours of MBTI research March 14, 2014 at 6:57 am

http:www.typelogic.com/estj.html

Guys check this out. Isn’t this more accurate and descriptive of Voldemort than INTP?

Explanation:
E isn’t really about being open and I isn’t really about being private. It’s about where energy from a person is directed. Voldemort directs his energy to the outer world when he tries to take over the world. Somehow I don’t think he analyses his inner world very much.
S is when you take in information using senses instead of intuition. When you judge/perceive a person based on tangible/solid traits instead using your intuition. He judges the whole world based on their blood status and bloodline, isn’t that sensing?
T, needless to say. He’s a psychopath with an underdeveloped capacity for emotions.
J. Judgers collects the information, be it through senses or intuition, and then pass a judgment and acts on it. Perceivers collects the information and delays the judgement, choosing to keep his mind open for more information. Perceivers take much longer to decide on a plan or a route of action. It didn’t take long for Voldemort to decide on using hocruxes.

Do I make sense or am I typing rubbish?

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: