Theoden: ISTJ

Guest post by E. J, INTJ

Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien


Dominant Si: Theoden’s goal in life is to be a great king in the tradition of his famous ancestors. This desire drives both his good and bad decisions. Wormtongue never corrupts Theoden: rather, he convinces Theoden that Wormtongue’s advice will best safeguard Rohan’s legacy. When Gandalf comes and helps Theoden to realize the depth of Wormtongue’s treachery, some of Theoden’s first concerns focus on the protection of his family line and the royal hall his ancestors built. Theoden faithfully acts the part of a traditional king of Rohan as he battles Saruman and, later, the forces of Sauron. Dying on the battlefield, he expresses his satisfaction that he will not need to be ashamed in his ancestors’ company. 

Theoden ISTJ | Lord of the Rings #MBTI #ISTJ

Auxiliary Te: When Tolkien introduces Theoden, he is neglecting his Te function–especially in relation to Wormtongue. Under Wormtongue’s influence, Theoden had pulled back from the day-to-day duties of running his kingdom and essentially accepted all Wormtongue’s opinions as his own. Gandalf manages to reawaken Theoden’s Te function and bring him back to reality. Theoden then returns to his normal leadership mode–decisive and practical. During his subsequent military campaigns he proves himself a capable king, excellent at organizing and directing other people. While Theoden is a very kind man, he is also willing to make decisions that upset other people if a greater good is at stake. For instance, he refuses to allow Merry to join the campaign to Gondor for practical reasons: Merry is too small to ride a full-sized horse by himself, and Merry’s pony could not keep up with Rohan’s cavalry. His deep affection for the young hobbit does not keep him from opposing Merry’s wishes when those wishes would cause practical difficulties for the Rohirrim.

Theoden ISTJ | Lord of the Rings #MBTI #ISTJ

Tertiary FiTheoden is far better at understanding himself than he is at understanding other people. While Theoden’s strong Fi makes him a very principled man, he also badly misreads both Wormtongue and Eomer, failing to recognize the motives beneath Wormtongue’s seemingly loyal behavior, as well as the noble reasons for Eomer’s disobedience. Theoden also does not initially recognize that Gandalf is trustworthy, considering him merely a bearer of bad news. Fortunately, Gandalf’s awakening of Theoden’s Te helps bring his Fi function into line with reality. Despite Theoden’s lapses in judgment, his firm moral values never wavered, and he is able to act on them with Gandalf’s help.

Theoden ISTJ | Lord of the Rings #MBTI #ISTJ

Inferior Ne: Normally, Theoden relies on history–his own and his people’s–to generate ideas, rather than coming up with plans that are entirely new. Wormtongue used Theoden’s reliance on tradition to keep him from trusting Gandalf’s warnings about changes in the political situation outside Rohan. Once Theoden has been freed from Wormtongue’s influence, however, he becomes willing to engage ideas that seem unfamiliar. Theoden learns to respect Gandalf’s advice, however unusual. He also decides to accept the assistance of Ghan-buri-Ghan, a Wild Man who offers to guide his army, despite the tension that has existed between their peoples in the past.


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