7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFJ

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.

Alyosha Karamazov

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. Read more

Advertisements

The Curious Case of the INFJ Hero

Today we’re going to talk about INFJ heroes in fiction, especially male heroes. But before we get to that, let’s talk about Russian literature for a moment. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky opens with an apologetic explanation from the narrator about his hero, Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov. Here are a few highlights:

“While I do call Alexei Fyodorovich my hero, still, I myself know that he is by no means a great man …

One thing, perhaps, is rather doubtless: he is a strange man, even an odd one. But strangeness and oddity will sooner harm than justify any claim to attention …

If I, that is, the biographer himself, think that even one novel may, perhaps, be unwarranted for such a humble and indefinite hero, then how will it look if I appear with two; and what can explain such presumption on my part?” (p.3-4, Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, Alyosha is an INFJ (most characters and the narrator use this nickname throughout the novel. In the Cyrillic alphabet, Alyosha is two letters shorter than Alexei, which makes this something like calling a man named Robert “Bob”). And I suspect that it’s his personality type that makes the narrator so worried about how people will respond to his hero.

It’s not that there aren’t other INFJ heroes in fiction. Just take a look at my post about 10 Stories You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFJ if you want some examples. Jane Eyre, Amélie, Yoda, and Atticus Finch are all INFJs in fiction who play a hero role. But even though there are male characters on this list, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if Alyosha was a woman with all the same personality characteristics the narrator wouldn’t have felt the need to apologize for her.

Read more

Classics Club: Anna Karenina

At 817 pages, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is the most daunting book I’ve yet read for The Classics Club. I chose the translation by husband-and-wife-team Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Their work translating Russian literature is highly acclaimed, and I liked the idea of a native Russian speaker and a native English speaker working so closely together on the translation. I found their Anna Karenina very readable.

It took me quite a while to read Anna Karenina, but I did enjoy it. The book was just so large it was hard to take everywhere, and I finished several thinner books for more portable reading. I think ‘intermittently’ was probably the best way for me to read Tolstoy. Usually I would read whole Parts in a chunk, but when it switched between different character arcs (and there were several), I needed a short break.

The main reason I was excited to read Anna Karenina was because my creative writing professor always talked about Russian writers as examples of superb character building. In this regard, Tolstoy did not disappoint. My sister, who’s reading War and Peace, said she noticed the same thing. The characters, especially his male characters, are nuanced people with depth of personality. I particularly enjoyed Levin and his story.

Three couples are at the centers of the novels main plots: Stepan and Dolly Oblonsky (Anna’s brother and sister-in-law), Kostya and Kitty Levin (Kitty is Dolly’s sister), and Anna Karenina with Alexei Karenin (her husband) or Alexei Vronsky (her lover). I know why Tolstoy chose Anna Karenina’s name as the title — she’s the only character which connects and influences all the others — but I was a little surprised not to see her play a more prominent (or at least more active) role in all the main plots.

Anna makes one decision — to enter an adulterous relationship with Vronsky — and then everything else just sort of happens. Her affair takes Vronsky out of Kitty’s life, which leads to Kitty’s very wise decision to marry Levin, but that’s the only affect Anna has on that plot line. Her main influence in the Oblonsky family storyline takes place at the beginning of the novel, before she even meets Vronsky. As relatives they cross paths throughout the book, but don’t influence each other much. For all the talk about her strong personality, Anna may be least active main character I’ve read. She takes the easiest road from the moment she throws her life in with Vronsky. She tells her husband only when she can’t bear not to. She won’t accept Karenin’s forgiveness because the self-awareness, growth and repentance necessary is too daunting. She doesn’t accept a divorce because it seems like such a final step that would separate her from her son. She refuses to take an interest in her daughter. She throws herself under a train because she can’t stop sabotaging the one relationship she has left, with Vronsky.

Here we get back to my caveat about Tolstoy’s really great characters mostly being male. I liked Kitty, I sympathized with Dolly, I partly understood Anna, but I didn’t empathize with them and they didn’t always feel real. Or maybe they were realistic, but I just didn’t like Anna and Dolly much? I’m not sure.

Plot wise, it did seem odd to me that the book continued so long after the title character’s death. These last chapters did tells you the main things that happened to Anna’s Alexies after her death, but didn’t follow them closely. Instead, it switched to wrapping up Levin’s subplot of spiritual awakening, which had absolutely nothing to do with Anna. Ending on that note made me wonder if the main point Tolstoy wanted his readers to take away wasn’t the tragedy of Anna’s unhappy families, but the beauty of Levin’s spiritual quest. Levin is also tempted by suicide, but he doesn’t take that route, and instead finds hope in his newly re-awakened faith in God that sits apart from any organized religion. Perhaps Tolstoy hoped his readers would progress on a path of faith, hope and happiness as well.


Click here to get a copy of Anna Karenina. 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.