Guest post by E.J., INTJ
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
Dominant Si: Susan generally tries to rely on past experience to solve the problems that she and her siblings face. When the Pevensies are sent away from London to the Professor’s house, Susan tries to do what their mother would have done in taking care of her siblings. She reminds Edmund to go to bed, breaks up arguments, and ensures that her siblings wear coats when they leave the wardrobe for the snowy Narnian world. Susan cares about meeting social expectations and being polite. When she realizes that Mr. Beaver wants to be complimented on his dam, she promptly does so. Susan’s concern about being socially acceptable means that she does not accompany the Narnian armies during her reign. Corin describes her as being “more like an ordinary grown-up lady” than her INFP sister, Lucy, who regularly rides to the wars alongside their brothers. Ultimately, Susan’s concerns about meeting social expectations override her memories of Narnia. She ends up caring more about society perceiving her as an attractive, well-adjusted young woman than she does about living in this world with a Narnian perspective, since she knows that she cannot physically return to Narnia. As a result, she is not party to her siblings’ plan to save Narnia, and she does not arrive in the new Narnia with them. (Whether their deaths make her relive her memories of Narnia and bring about a change in her attitude is a question that the books do not answer.)
Auxiliary Te: Susan uses a very practical logic. Before she discovers for herself that Narnia is real, she fears that Lucy might be going insane. When Professor Kirke questions that conclusion, she uses reason to try to convince him that Lucy’s story cannot be real. She worries when she sees Aslan about to restore a stone giant to life, thinking of the practical ramifications of doing so. Usually, the rationality of her approach to life helps her to take care of others. Sometimes, however, her logical approach becomes problematic. When Lucy sees Aslan but Susan cannot, Susan refuses to believe Lucy. She thinks that Lucy must be imagining things and objects rather rudely to following her younger sister.
Tertiary Fi: Susan has very strong principles. Susan firmly believes that kindness is an important trait, and others see it in her to the extent that she is called “Queen Susan the Gentle” during her reign. Unnecessary violence is abhorrent to her: she fails to shoot an attacking bear because she fears that it might be a Talking Beast and does not want to commit murder. (Susan is prepared to do what is necessary to defend her siblings, however, which is why she drew her bow in the first place.) Susan understands her feelings and sometimes shows them when she is emotionally overwhelmed, but she is not equally perceptive of others’ emotions. As a result, she sometimes misunderstands her siblings.
Inferior Ne: Susan usually does not come up with entirely new ideas, instead relying on past experience to generate possibilities for action. Her Ne does allow her to accept new experiences when they come to her, however, even if the experiences are unusual. When she realizes that the wardrobe has opened into a wood, she does not question the reality of the experience and does her best to adapt herself to it. She also enjoys accompanying Aslan on his romp through Miraz’s Narnia, watching as the stuffy society of Miraz’s rule–despite its many similarities to life in England–is liberated. Unfortunately, her Ne function proves too weak to help her adapt herself to life as a Friend of Narnia once she is permanently confined to our world.
10 thoughts on “Susan Pevensie: ISTJ”
Hey. This has nothing to do with this post, but I sent you a question about me being sometimes like an INTJ and sometimes more like an ESPF. Please just ignore the question. Thanks.
I am deeply disappointed in this post (though I do see the reasoning and agree with it), mainly because I am an ISTJ myself, and Susan was my least favorite character in the books. I hope that, were I in the same adventures as the Pevensies, I would act differently. By the way, doesn’t deciding to forget something that happened because others may not believe it seem like an odd thing for a dominant Si user to do, particularly one with a tertiary Fi instead of Ti. Rememberence is what Si does best, and the Fi would attach a meaning to this experience that they knew was real and hold on to it, regardless of what others might believe. Just thought I’d mention it.
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This post and the comments have sparked my interest in Susan’s characterization. I think this post can very much serve to remind us how people with the same personality type can at the same time be very different. I believe that the issues surrounding Susan’s character go beyond personality type as addressed in other sources such as Neil Gaiman’s short story “The Problem of Susan.” Based on what I have read about Susan, I can see where you are coming from, Elizabeth.
In regard to Susan, I’d say that she cares more about other people’s opinions than the typical ISTJ–to the point that she’s sometimes mistaken for an ISFJ. But Susan definitely uses TeFi, not FeTi. She seems to focus on how society as a whole would view her rather than on her close relatives would feel–which is why she doesn’t ride to war in Narnia, though all her siblings do, and why she tries to leave Narnia behind eventually, although her siblings don’t. An ISFJ would be unlikely to ignore all the family disharmony that Susan sometimes causes.
Eustace Scrubb is ISTJ, and he (eventually) becomes a much more well-developed one than Susan.
I enjoyed reading this–it definitely helps me to understand Susan’s character better, as I’ve never really felt like I “got” her. I’m an INFJ, and as a kid reading the Narnia books, I could never understand WHY Susan refused to believe Lucy’s stories about her magical experiences. If she’s Si-dominant, Te-auxiliary, and Ne-inferior, that makes a lot more sense. (Although I have to say I still prefer Lucy :-) )
Interesting. All the Pevensies use Te and Fi.
At the same time, though, Lucy is the only one who is Fi-dominant; all the others have Fi pretty far down in their function stack (either tertiary or inferior.) Which, in turn, goes a long way towards explaining why Lucy feels like the “odd one out” so much of the time.
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And Edmund is the only one with Ni/Se. He also feels like the odd one out, but he uses it to view himself as superior.
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Right! I also use Ni/Se, but I’m very lucky in that my mother and my sister both share it, so I’ve never felt like the “odd one out” in that respect. I can see how Edmund would, though . . .
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