What fictional characters do you relate to as an INFJ?
Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are INFJs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life INFJs will find relatable.
One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional INFJs can serve as examples for what real-life INFJs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.
The things that makes INFJs such great fictional characters are some of the same things that make them such interesting people. Though the rarest personality type on the planet, INFJs are fairly common in fiction. They’re thoughtful, introspective characters with a unique way of looking at the world and a keen interest in other people.
It’s fascinating to read the narrator of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov discuss the story’s hero Alexi Karamazov (more often called by his nickname Alyosha/Alesha). He spends most of the introduction apologizing for presenting readers with such an unusual hero. “He is by no means a great man,” the narrator explains, but he is doubtless “a strange man, even an odd one.” He was strange “from the cradle,” growing up a quiet child preoccupied by something inside him while at the same time loving people. I’m sure many INFJs can relate to that in their own childhoods — liking other people but being too preoccupied by their inner worlds to be considered sociable.
As the story progresses, we see Alyosha dreads conflict with a loathing that I think all INFJs (and the other FJ types as well) can relate to. We see him weeping when others are hurt, displaying the empathy that’s so much a part of real-life INFJs. We see him make social blunders in an effort to make everyone happy and at peace, all with an INFJ’s insistence on working toward harmony in all situations. Like so many INFJs, he’s sensitive, emotional, indecisive on certain things (though quite decisive in others), and isn’t afraid to appear weak so long as he’s being true to his beliefs.
The title character for the French film Amélie (2001) is one of the most accurately portrayed INFJs in fiction. Going through all the things that make her INFJ could easily take up a whole article, so I’ll keep this short. If you’re an INFJ who hasn’t seen this film yet I highly recommend watching it.
Amélie was an imaginative, isolated child who grows in to an introverted young woman with a vivid fantasy life and a strong sense of justice. There are several scenes in the film where complete strangers start pouring out their life’s story to her – a circumstance many INFJs can identify with. We can also identify with Amélie’s vivid imagination. Her fantasy life provides an escape for her and there are times when it’s a struggle for her to get outside her head and interact with real people (something I personally relate to quite a bit).
Many INFJs care deeply about issues related to social justice. They want harmony between people in their lives and in society, but when they witness injustice they can’t just sit by and let it happen. Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one such INFJ. He’s a lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1930s Alabama. Though his client it innocent that doesn’t matter much to the all-white judge and jury and the town is highly critical of the lawyer who would dare defend Tom Robinson.
That don’t stop Atticus, though. He is a calm, steady voice for truth and justice. Like most INFJs he doesn’t enjoy conflict, but he will sit outside the jail cell all night with a loaded gun to make sure his client gets a fair trial (though it’s his words that end up dispersing the lynch mob, not violence). The story also makes it clear that Atticus (like so many INFJs) cares deeply about helping individuals and doing what’s right. He also sees the big picture and fights to make the present as well as the future a better place.
I often say (only half-joking) that all the wise, otherworldly, hermit-in-the-wood figures are INFJs. Galadriel isn’t a hermit (though her whole kingdom is a bit hermit-like), but she is a caring, mystical figure who acts as a counselor to the Fellowship of the Ring when they come to her kingdom. Real-life INFJs often find themselves sought out for advice and are often described as “wise” and “old souls,” something they have in common with Galadriel.
INFJs have such a strong intuition that even some human INFJs report visions much akin to Galadriel’s, as well as feeling that they could almost be telepathic. As an elf in a fantasy world, Galadriel really is telepathic and can glimpse the future. She can also see right through people to discern their motives, as shown by her reaction to Boromir and his reaction to her. I also love that we get a glimpse of her dark side (something all INFJs have) when she’s tempted by the ring.
If asked to come up with just one book to list as my favorite I always pick Jane Eyre. One reason is that she’s one of the best examples of an INFJ in fiction and I identify with her strongly. Jane is not content to conform to society’s norms or fit into the social position laid-out for her. She’s independent minded and strong willed, yet she also models the gentleness typical of so many INFJs.
Jane is quiet and self-controlled with depths of feeling and passions that many around her don’t see (something I’m sure many INFJs will relate to). Like real-life INFJs, Jane has strong convictions related to her personal moral and spiritual beliefs. Not all INFJs will share her particular religious views, but I think most (perhaps all) INFJs can identify with Jane’s insistence on standing up for what she believes is right and staying true to her personal convictions whatever the emotional cost.
Sayuri is the main character from Memoirs of a Geisha (1997 book and 2005 film). I’ve only seen the film, but from that I can tell you Sayuri is mostly likely an INFJ. Her longing for real human connection is something that most (if not all) INFJs can relate to. She’s one of the best examples in fiction of how INFJs use the Extroverted Feeling side of their personality. She also thinks about things far more deeply than most people assume when first meeting her, another trait many INFJs share.
In the film, all Sayuri’s major decisions are motivated by how she relates to other people. This makes sense for an INFJ since our primary decision-making function is Extroverted Feeling, aka “Harmony.” This function is all about values, ideals of behavior, cultural expectations, and others’ relationships to ourselves. Using this function, Sayuri can read other people and adapt to different social situations. It also gets her into some awkward situations because she becomes so good at acting as a chameleon that it’s hard for others to know what she really wants. This is something many real-life INFJs struggle with as well.
A good friend who’d just watched the 2013 version of The Secret Life of Water Mitty once asked me if the inside of my head looked like Walter’s. I promptly watched the film and could indeed confirm that’s how my own brain works. It was such a strange experience to see an imagination so much like mine portrayed so well on screen.
I know I’m not the only INFJ who gets caught-up in what’s going on in my head at the expense of what’s going on in the real world. While some INFJs are pretty comfortable with their extroverted side, most of us are more comfortable inside our heads. As for Walter at the beginning of his story, imagination seems much more compelling than real life and when we do choose to engage with the outer world it’s for something artistic or for a person we care about. Yet as compelling as our inner world is, Walter also learns a lesson that’s important for INFJs — that the world outside our minds can be just as compelling.