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The Myer’s-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI) of Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle: Eragon

by Isla Griswald 2 months ago in literature
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An analysis of the characters in Paolini's fantasy series using MBTI.

The Myer’s-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI) of Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle: Eragon
Photo by Katrin Hauf on Unsplash

A classic addition to any Young Adult collection, the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini traces the adventures of Eragon, a young farmer-boy-turned-Rider whose boldness and determination forges new paths for those rebelling against the evil King Galbatorix. Let’s dive deeper into the personalities of the characters in this fantasy series using the MBTI system, starting with the title character Eragon!

Introvert or Extrovert?

When talking about introversion versus extraversion, it’s important to distinguish these from shyness and gregariousness. An extrovert can be shy, and an introvert can be talkative. The true difference lies in how the person engages with his or her environment – whether interaction with others is stimulating or draining. Alone time is a basic necessity for introverts, who feel the need to recharge after social activities; extroverts, on the other hand, find social interaction just what they need to feel energized. This is the criterion for distinguishing between introverts and extroverts.

First Brom and then Oromis comment on Eragon’s perpetual outspokenness driven by his boundless curiosity. When he enters the world of politics, he learns that speaking his mind can quickly form enemies, but his outward silence is a result of discipline. Nonetheless, even in delicate situations, he continues to converse with Saphira, always needing to share his thoughts with someone. Eragon is uncomfortable being alone and must find a way to keep himself occupied when he doesn’t have company, whether by practicing magic, exercising, or reading. He needs the company of others. Always eager to offer his opinion or ask for more information when something sparks his interest, Eragon is likely an Extrovert.

Observant or Intuitive?

This personality trait is based on how a person processes his or her environment and seeks to understand it. Observant types tend to focus on the concrete, "real world" and consider imaginative thinking to be far-fetched and impractical. Intuitive types more easily see the big picture and envision grand schemes well into the future but dismiss the practical details of their dreams as nitpicky and small-minded.

From the very beginning, we are told that Eragon’s greatest strength as a hunter is his alertness. He focuses on the present moment, on the next step he will take, and it takes much time and training for him to be able to see the larger picture. He struggles to accept the fact that his existence and his quest involve more than journeying from one place to another. While he automatically processes what he can experience with his five senses and makes short-term plans based on the current situation, he does not make plans for far into the future or seem interested in anything other than accomplishing each task at hand one at a time. His behavior is indicative of the Observant personality trait.

Feeling or Thinking?

This personality trait is self-explanatory, yet it is the most difficult trait to distinguish in Eragon because he experiences intense passion and emotions and deeply cares for those he loves, which seems to indicate that he is a Feeler. As the story progresses and he receives training, however, his aptitude for clear, rational thought reveals itself.

His age and his initial lack of education, rather than an innate preference for the feeling characteristic, are the true causes of his strong emotional outbursts. Don’t forget that Eragon is fifteen when he finds Saphira’s egg and begins his adventure; this is the age when most teens enter a very emotional phase to cope with the many changes brought with the onset of puberty. Add a devastating death in the family, terrifying monsters, and a legendary past to live up to, and it’s no wonder that Eragon responds emotionally to his situation.

Upon closer inspection, it is clear that Eragon repeatedly displays signs of logical thinking. No amount of giddy pigheadedness would drive a fifteen-year-old boy to pursue the very monsters he feared unless he understood that it was the right thing to do in the situation. Eragon simply had not learned how to express his reasoning through cohesive, logical arguments; what he had learned was emotional intelligence through his relationships with his uncle and brother. Based on this analysis, Eragon actually is a Thinker.

Prospective or Judging?

Planned to a T, or open to the tide of action? This personality trait describes how a person responds to his or her environment. The prospective trait is characterized by spontaneity, whereas the judging trait lends itself to careful planning. Prospective types enjoy going with the flow and feel restrained by overly strenuous planning; judging types often feel overwhelmed and unsettled without order and structure.

A rash and reckless boy who throws himself headfirst into any situation is the best way to describe Eragon, especially at the beginning of the cycle. Hell-bent on avenging the malicious brutality of the Raz’zac, his original plan involves little more than tracking the beasts as he would prey in the Spine, oblivious to the complexity of his situation. Once the rigorous training with Brom and Oromis instills self-control into Eragon’s thick skull, he thinks through his decisions more thoroughly, understanding the weight of responsibility that he bears and the need for more formulaic planning that he was accustomed to.

However, this becomes one of his key attributes in battle. His characteristic battle strategy involves his ability to promptly alter his original plan to accommodate changes in his environment. He switches from the role of spellcaster to berserk warrior in seconds whenever the tide of battle begins to overwhelm his allies. This tendency to act based on the current circumstances indicates that Eragon possesses the Prospective trait.

Putting It All Together: Eragon as The ESTP

The ESTP personality type is inextricably linked to adventure, always ready to rush into the next adventure and deal with the consequences later. This fits well with the description and development of Eragon in the Inheritance Cycle. Of course, he does not wholly embody the stereotypical ESTP since, as a very well-developed character, he has his own quirks like any real human does. What do you think? Is this assessment of Eragon’s personality accurate?

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About the author

Isla Griswald

I am, and always have been, obsessed with names, swords, and everything relating to ancient Greece and Rome.

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates on new stories, links to stories I've enjoyed, and sneak peeks into my life!

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