7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate to If You’re An ISFJ

What fictional characters do you relate to as an ISFJ?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also use the system to type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic characters are ISFJs, and today we’re going to talk about seven of them that I think real-life ISFJs will find very relatable.

One of the other great things about looking at character personality types is that it can help those us to better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional ISFJs can serve as examples for what real-life ISFJs can be like, and also show how much variation there can be between individuals with the same type. Read more

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Lady Susan: Jane Austen’s Comedic Seductress

Once upon a time (in this particular case the 18th century) quite a few novels were written entirely as series of fictional letters. These were called epistolary novels. Evelina by Frances Burney is one example, but far more well known was Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa. Jane Austen had probably read both Burney and Richardson when she penned her own epistolary work, Lady Susan.

In [Richardson’s] fiction, resourceful young women record their efforts to resist the advances of scheming libertines. The young Austen signals her audacity by turning the figure of the predatory male seducer into a highly unconventional (and middle-aged) seductress. — John Mullan in “Does Love & Friendship improve Jane Austen’s ending?

Don’t ever let anyone tell you Jane Austen was “just a romance novelist.” By the age of 19 or 20 she was perfecting her signature satiric style, turning Richardson’s well-respected style up-side-down, and inverting gender stereotypes for contemporary fiction. Predatory, aggressive, and manipulative women weren’t unheard of in fiction at the time, but making them the most engaging character in a story wasn’t encouraged. Perhaps that’s why she set the manuscript aside, choosing neither to destroy nor publish it (Lady Susan was first published 54 years after Austen’s death).Lady Susan: Austen's Comedic Seductress #theclassicsclub | marissabaker.wordpress.com

The story follows recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon. We enter the narrative as she announces her intention to visit her brother- and sister-in-law, Charles and Catherine Vernon, at their country residence. Though not happy to host the woman who tried to prevent her marriage, Mrs. Vernon welcomes her sister-in-law as cordially as possible. She becomes less cordial after her brother Reginald De Courcy arrives to meet “the most accomplished coquette in England” and falls head-over-heels for Lady Susan. And that’s after he’d heard from a reliable source that she’d left her previous residence after seducing the married Mr. Manwaring and stealing Miss Manwaring’s suitor, Sir James Martin, for her own daughter.

The first screen adaptation of this novella came out just last year. Titled Love & Friendship for some inexplicable reason (it’s the title of an unrelated work Austen wrote at age 14), I’m still not quite sure what to make of this film. While it preserves the witty, irreverent comedy of Austen’s novella, I still felt something was off about the adaptation. Transferring letters to dialogue made for some character meetings that didn’t make sense (Lady Susan and Mrs. Johnson wouldn’t have been able to meet in person so often; the companion who arrives with Lady Susan in the film isn’t in the book and only exists here to be talked at). And while several female characters were fleshed out more to help them hold their own on screen with Lady Susan, the male characters became even more buffoonish than in the novella (SPOILER WARNING: Reginald in the film is helplessly manipulated throughout the film, while in the novella, he’s the one to break things off with Lady Susan).

Also, why does every single character introduction stop the action with an out-of-context shot of them overlaid with a description of how they fit in the story? The costuming is beautiful, though, and Kate Beckinsale turns in a fantastic performance as Lady Susan. As in the novella, she’s by far the most interesting character.Lady Susan: Austen's Comedic Seductress #theclassicsclub | marissabaker.wordpress.com

I enjoyed reading Lady Susan. I’m a big fan of Jane Austen’s work and this is the first of her writings outside the six major novels that I’ve read. It makes me want to track down more of her juvenilia. It’s fun reading your favorite authors’ early works, especially ones they didn’t necessarily mean for other people to read. I’ve heard that the other stories she wrote as a teenager were even less “proper” than Lady Susan; certainly much less refined than the novels she polished up for publication.

It was also nice to read a short book from my Classics Club list. I love long books as a general rule, but honestly I’m starting to feel intimidated by the number of enormous books I chose. Three Dickens novels? what was I thinking! At least I had the good sense not to put Clarissa on the list (word count for first edition: 969,000).


Click here to get a copy of Lady Susan. Please note that this is an affiliate link. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase.

Goals, Growth, and a Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 25th birthday. Other than posting this, my birthday plans involve spending time with family and eating cheesecake. My original idea for this post was to write one of those “Letter To Me” things addressed to my 15 year old self (since 10 years is a nice round number). Part of that’s still here, but it’s not the focus. Why? because while a post all about me could be mildly entertaining, I doubt anyone will find it helpful. Instead, I want to encourage you to join me in thinking about how you’ve changed in the past ten years, and what you want the next 10 years to look like.

If you’re like me, looking at a more narrow time frame of your life to inspect how you’ve changed can be disheartening. I don’t usually feel like I’ve made much progress in a week or a month or sometimes even a year on things like personal growth, forwarding my publishing goals, and growing my business. But look at 10 years, and you can see how much you’ve accomplished, some of it in little steps that you probably didn’t notice when you were walking them."Happy Birthday To Me" marissabaker.wordpress.com

10 Years Ago

I tried to look back at my journal for the year I turned fifteen, but the only entry between November 2002 and June 2006  is an undated poorly-spelled complaint about not having many friends or knowing how to talk to people. It does look like a clump of pages was torn out, but I don’t remember why. Even without a record of my precise thoughts, though, there are plenty of specific things I remember that are pertinent to how much I’ve changed. Setting aside the potential implications contacting your past self might have on the time-space continuum, here are a couple suggestions I’d share with me then:

Dear 15-year-old-me,

Stop reading the Thoroughbred book series right now. I mean it — take that stack beside your bed back to the library immediately. Why? because you’re going to feel guilty when you turn sixteen without having ever been asked out on a date, because some of the characters teased Christina for turning “sweet sixteen and never been kissed.” Which is just plain ridiculous. And speaking of kissing, stop reading the Hardy Boy/Nancy Drew cross-over books as well. You don’t have to be 5′ 3″ and taste like mint for a guy like Joe Hardy to like you (and do you really want him to? this version is kissing a different girl in every book). Honestly, you have poor taste in fictional men. Go read Jane Austen.

Be nicer to your siblings. My brother asked me to include this, but he’s right. They’ll still be some of your best friends when you’re 25, and if you’d treated them as well as they deserved you’re probably all be even better friends. And on the subject of friends, don’t give-up because you can’t seem to make any new ones. You haven’t even met the person who will become your best-friend-who’s-not-a-sibbling yet.

Love,

25-year-old-me

When I was fifteen, I was still convinced that I didn’t need a plan for after high school because within a few years I was going to meet Prince Charming and live happily ever after. Aside from reading and my homeschool work, the only thing I really had interest in was gardening (I ran a little roadside greenhouse selling plants for two years in high school). I hadn’t even started writing yet (I mean, not seriously writing. I would jot down ideas), or really even cooking. Now I list writing and cooking as two things I can’t imagine not doing, largely because I love them so much.

  • What important aspects of your life now were missing 10 years ago?

Now

One thing I haven’t touched on yet is my spiritual walk. I knew at 14 that I wanted to be baptized, but I couldn’t find a minister who didn’t think I was too young. Which I probably was, but I was pretty sure of my faith when I turned 15. Without getting into too much details, that changed after I graduated high school. While I never actually left “the church,” when I again decided to be baptized at 19 it felt almost like coming back, and I’ve seen tremendous growth since then. Not, like, all the time of course — I have plenty of set-backs and doubts like everyone else, but I also think recognizing the fact that we’re nowhere near perfect and we can’t move toward perfection without God is a huge step towards spiritual growth.

  • How is your spiritual growth now different than it was 10 years ago?

As you all know if you’ve been reading this blog on any kind of a regular basis, my writing is now a huge part of my life (this blog, fiction, and copywriting). I love to cook and bake. I have an outlet for sharing my faith. I have a few close, stable friendships with dear people who I hadn’t even met 10 years ago and now can’t imagine life without.

  • Have you met any people who are now your “best friends” within the past 10 years?

Oh, and regarding the whole panic-about-not-having-a-boyfriend thing, I’ve still never been in a serious relationship and I’m actually okay with being unmarried at 25. I still want to get married, but I know that I wasn’t really ready for that kind of commitment during the time frame I was expecting marriage to happen and I’m willing to entertain the possibility that the same thing is true now. More importantly, I’ve actually started turning over my worries about the timing for this and other goals to God.

10 Years Ahead

  • Where do you want to be in 10 years?

My first impulse to this question is, “I have no idea.” I didn’t plan 10 years ago to end up where I am today, and I don’t really know if having a 10 year plan now would be any more advantageous. But I keep hearing about the importance of having a vision for your future, finding your passion, planning a life mission. And I can see the advantages.

In my life, the time period where I’ve felt most productive was my last three years of college. I had a goal (graduate with Latin honors and research distinction in my major), and I worked toward it. The more focused I got on projects, the more productive I was. For example, November 2011 I was was doing the final editing and writing on my thesis, wrote a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo, and taking a full class load that included French (my hardest subject). I was exhausted by the end of the month, but I felt great (and yes, I met those academic goals next year when I graduated).

That’s kinda missing now, and it’s not a good thing. I don’t like being unfocused and not having a more definite goal to work toward. My faith provides a goal for spiritual growth toward eternal life, but it’s also supposed to be an integral part of my life and keep me moving forward personally and professionally as well. I need a direction on a physical level to go along with my direction on a spiritual level.

For my readers who are MBTI fans, personality type plays a role as well — INFJs like me must have a goal. We hate not having something clear (and preferably world-altering) to work toward. So, yea. Making better goals is next on my list.

  • What steps can you take now to move forward with focus and purpose into the next 10 years?

A Completely Subjective Book List

Sometimes I like reading posts titled things like “Books Every Family Should Have In Their Library,” “Best YA Books of All Time,” and “Top 100 Fantasy Books Ever.” While I’ll occasionally get an idea for a new book to read, I usually end up checking to see if they’ve “rightly” included any books I like or “wrongly” included books I hate. One thing that always amuses me, at least slightly, is how all these lists propose to be good for every family or include all the best books even though it’s clear all such lists are completely subjective.

For this list, I’m not even going to try to be objective or include all the best books. This is an unabashed list of my favorite books, which I irrationally think everyone should read and enjoy just as much as I do. They aren’t even organized alphabetically — just whichever popped into my head first.

My “Must Read” Books

Mara: Daughter of the Nile

My mother gave me Mara, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, when studying ancient Egypt in elementary school and I’ve read it pretty much every year since. It has everything a book needs — strong characters, good writing, and intriguing plot. On top of the admirable writing is danger, mystery, and romance. Spies! Double agents! Political intrigue! It also features the most romantic (possibly the only romantic) attempted murder in literary history. If I’m forced to choose just one favorite book, this is the one I pick.

Ender’s Game

Moving from one of my oldest favorites to one of the newest. I first read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card at the end of last year. It’s brilliant. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t spend much more time telling you how wonderful this book is, especially the characters. I cried buckets of tears in the last chapter.

The Blue Sword

Written by Robin McKinley, this may very well be my favorite fantasy book. Like Mara, The Blue Sword features a strong female protagonist and an irresistible hero (let me just say Corlath is the only person who I wouldn’t mind being abducted by [this statement will make sense if you read the book]). McKinley’s world building, characters, and story are excellent. My only quibble with this story is that, like many of her books, it doesn’t really end. It’s as if the author wasn’t sure how to end the story, so she slapped an epilog on and called it the last chapter. Perhaps I should just say that is part of the book’s irresistible charm.

Pride and Prejudice

I know it’s a terribly predictable title to include — couldn’t I have at least chosen one of Jane Austen’s lesser-known works? But I’ve read all six of Austen’s major novels at least once (some two or three times), and Pride and Prejudice remains my favorite. Maybe it’s the fact that people type Lizzie Bennet as an INFJ (which I’m not entirely convinced of, but it would explain why I identify with her so much). Perhaps it’s because Mr. Darcy is my favorite of Austen’s men. Whatever it is, Pride and Prejudice is firmly on my recommended reading list.

Fairy Tales

Not a single book, but it would take to long to list them all separately. I recommend Jack Zipes’ translation of The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, augmented liberally with Hans Christian Anderson and Charles Perrault. The reasons for this have been explored at length in my posts Fairy Tales and Dark Fairy Tales, so I’ll not devote any more time here on describing their merits.

A Gown Of Spanish Lace

Roses for Mama

I read Christian fiction on an irregular basis, usually because I want a easy-to-read book that doesn’t require much thought to digest and might supply some spiritual encouragement (yes, I know that sounds terrible). In spite of my generally low expectations, two books by Janette Oke have made it to my favorites list. A Gown of Spanish Lace has outlaws.  Roses for Mama is simply charming.

Dinotopia

If I was offered the chance to move to any fictional place I wanted, I’d pack up right this minute and relocate to James Gurney’s Dinotopia. Who wouldn’t want to live in world filled with dinosaurs and without any worries about money? Specifically, I want to visit Waterfall City and the coastal towns along Warmwater Bay where you can swim with cryptoclidus. Once you’ve read Gurney’s first book Dinotopia: A Land Apart From Time, I advise moving on to Dinotopia Lost by Alan Dean Foster. I’ve read that one at least four times.