We admire literary heroines for their virtues as much as what we learn from their mistakes. In this way, fiction can teach us about ourselves. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator provides similar insight. More specifically, this system of typology illuminates the strengths and weaknesses of sixteen wonderfully unique personality types.
It’s always a good time to revisit your personality type (although we shouldn’t hide behind our four-letter label to excuse our flaws). So for inspiration—and just for fun—we decided to match the sixteen possible Myers-Briggs types with sixteen beloved literary heroines. Certainly, real personality types are multifaceted, and fictional character descriptions may only skim the surface. But read on, and you may be surprised how aspects of these personalities capture both the gifts and flaws of some of our favorite leading ladies.
In her 1900s novel, Lucy Maud Montgomery paints Anne of Green Gables as a young woman who embodies creativity, altruism, and starry-eyed resolve—definite qualities of the INFP personality type. Her devoutly caring nature and ability to see the good in others are characteristic of this type. Anne relies on her feelings and intuition to guide her. She experiences joys and sorrows with equal intensity. Anne knows how to make the best of any situation, drawing on her rich imagination to overcome challenges. Though she spends a lot of time in her head, she’s captivated by “such an interesting world.” Purpose-driven and ambitious like the INFP, Anne hopes to better the world around her. She’s also quick to lend her hand to others. Ever the romantic, Anne sets her sights on creating a poetic, meaningful life.
Anna Karenina of Tolstoy’s classic by the same name has a magnetic charm and confidence that commands a room. Anna thrives on excitement. Though seemingly capricious at times, she’s no stranger to self-reflection or brooding. Anna lets her heart guide her, refusing to compromise her principles. Genuine and gregarious, Anna easily connects with people. She pours herself into her relationships, defining her life in terms of her love and devotion to others. Like a classic ENFJ, Anna views happiness as an investment, and she makes it her purpose to share happiness with others. Even so, she cannot be truly content when she does not live up to her ideals—she’s an idealist, after all. The character of Anna captures the passionate, bright spirit of the ENFJ.
From Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games comes Katniss Everdeen, a model of resourceful independence. She’s analytical, decisive, and highly competent even under pressure. Katniss trusts her capabilities—and she has good reason to. She’s astute in her observations, objective, and mindful of the big picture. In these ways, Katniss demonstrates the INTJ’s knack for strategic planning, as she’s quick to determine logical solutions. Though Katniss keeps her feelings hidden, her compassion for others speaks through her actions. When forced into the limelight, Katniss would rather stray from the attention. Katniss questions social conventions that seem unsound. A true INTJ, Katniss thinks outside the box.
Jane Austen describes Emma as “quick and decided in her ways”; this heroine not only craves a good challenge but also trusts that she will pull off her schemes with flying colors. As demonstrated by her matchmaking, Emma sees possibilities and orchestrates plans with ease. She believes that human nature is best discerned with logic. Emma tends to misinterpret people’s feelings, including her own. She craves good company and delights in conversations that stimulate her mind, namely banter (or debates) with those whose intelligence matches hers. Emma voices her opinions with clever self-confidence, holding her own in any situation. Yet, she’s an attentive friend who wants to help her loved ones thrive. Emma possesses the energy, charisma, and fixed determination of the ENTJ.
Natasha Rostova of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace radiates joy and charisma. Like a classic ENFP, she delights in life and its infinite possibilities, leaping at opportunities with gusto. For better or worse, she’s not one to look before she leaps. She brings spontaneity and infectious optimism wherever she goes, and she goes wherever her heart leads her. Natasha’s feelings sometimes overpower her, yet she’s in tune with her own emotions and attentive to how others feel. She’s observant and, when given time to herself, quite speculative. Natasha treats others with compassion and has a talent for bringing out the best in people. Creative and playful, Natasha inspires others without effort—just like the ENFP.
In Betty Smith’s 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, we meet Francie Nolan as the quiet observer who watches the world unfold from the fire escape of her home. The story soon reveals the depths of imagination, emotion, and intuition behind her unassuming demeanor. Francie seems to have insight beyond her years, dissecting situations and motives with keen precision. She’s empathetic and sensitive, easily overwhelmed by tragedies and injustice. Yet, drawn to ideals such as truth and beauty, Francie finds meaning in even mundane situations. She not only imagines what could be by setting lofty goals, but she also has the grit to pursue them. Like the INFJ, Francie resolves to make something of her life “so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”
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