Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Four Temperaments, As Explained By Characters in Period Drama

In recent years I've grown somewhat fascinated by personalities and studying them and knowing what makes people the way they are.  Which sometimes leads me to try to kind of pick people apart and figure out 'what they are', and I tend to ramble on and on about the subject to the possible annoyance of certain people I talk to a lot.  Ahemmmm.

I saw the Myers-Briggs personality test thing when it was kind of flying through the blogging world a while back, and that did interest me a lot.  I'd never seen it all divided up that way before... and from that I started thinking a lot about extroverts and introverts, too... I can get a bit... energetic discussing that. Heehee.

The first time I ever took a personality quiz was when I was around twelve-- my brother had found this personality book that had a quiz in it and we made everyone in the family take it.  It was covering the four temperaments-- Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Choleric and Sanguine.  I found it quite interesting to learn about each one and detect different mixes of them in people.

And they usually are mixed.  A lot of people have at least a tad of all the personality types, though most people are dominated by one or two.  In some cases, though, a person can be almost entirely one type, and when that happens it's like they kind of describe the category themselves just by being the way they are.

So a while back, I got to thinking of fictional characters and their personalities, and... well, I came up with one person for each temperament.  Here they are.

"People with this temperament tend to be egocentric and extroverted. They may be excitable, impulsive, and restless, with reserves of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill that in others. They tend to be task-oriented people and are focused on getting a job done efficiently; their motto is usually 'do it now.' They can be ambitious, strong-willed and like to be in charge. They can show leadership, are good at planning, and are often practical and solution-oriented. They appreciate receiving respect and esteem for their work." ~Wikipedia (hey, it's handy for short definitions, you know?)

This would be Robert Timmins from Lark Rise to Candleford. Sometimes I'm watching that and I'm just like, BOY is he ever Choleric.  He does seem to be the very definition of that temperament, seriously.  That's what started me thinking on this, really.  To explain the choleric temperament and to explain Robert Timmins... pretty much the same thing.

"People with this temperament may be inward and private, thoughtful, reasonable, calm, patient, caring, and tolerant. They tend to have a rich inner life, seek a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, and be content with themselves. They tend to be steadfast, consistent in their habits, and thus steady and faithful friends."

This is where Wikipedia kind of missed a lot... so I'm going to elaborate a little more.  They're very laid-back, avoid conflict as much as possible-- pretty much anything that makes them uncomfortable.  They often hate social situations. They have a propensity to be lazy.  A distinctive trait is also the sense of humor they often have-- it's also laid-back, usually dry and sarcastic, with a tendency to be quietly amused by other people.

Who does this sound like?  Mr. Bennet.  In a nutshell.  To me, he's always been the definition of this temperament.  He is a bit self-centered but that's kind of his own personal defect, as with any temperament; it just takes on a phlegmatic style. ;)

"People with this temperament tend to be playful, lively, sociable, carefree, talkative, and pleasure-seeking. They may be warm-hearted and optimistic. They can make new friends easily, be imaginative and artistic, and often have many ideas. They can be flighty and changeable; thus sanguine personalities may struggle with following tasks all the way through and be chronically late or forgetful."

We must have a girl in here somewhere, sooo-- Lydia Bennet.  I really don't think she has an ounce of anything besides sanguine.  Although she rather lets the weaknesses of the temperament overrule the strengths.  (You can read more about this temperament here.)

"People with this temperament may appear serious, introverted, cautious or even suspicious. They can become preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world and are susceptible to depression and moodiness. They may be focused and conscientious. They often prefer to do things themselves, both to meet their own standards and because they are not inherently sociable."
(Go here for a more in-depth-- and not terribly long-- description.)

Moodiness.  The melancholic temperament is where that comes from, and when somebody is entirely melancholic, that can get a little... overruling.  I actually had several people cross my mind-- I dismissed Mr. Darcy as not quite enough melancholic (although he has a lot), and thought of Mr. Thornton too-- he actually IS a pretty good example.  Buuut in the end I settled on Mr. Rochester.

Edward Rochester is melancholic through-and-through.  Emotional, dramatic, passionate, (rather excessively) moody, often very introverted but not without the capability of being good company if he's in the right humor.  Also musical.  He's got it all, folks.  But he, too, tends to let the weaknesses rule.

So there you have it.

In case anyone is wondering about me, haha... I'm 70-something percent melancholic, next in line is choleric, and a little bit of phlegmatic and hardly any sanguine.  Back when I first took one of those quizzes, the time I mentioned at the beginning, I was almost as much choleric as melancholic, so apparently I've changed since then.  (My mom maintains that when I was younger I was much more outgoing than I am now and she doesn't know what happened to me.  Haaa.)

Speaking of which.  I must have my introvert vs. extrovert rabbit trail here.  Introverts can be outgoing, first of all.  They just require time alone to recharge, as opposed to extroverts who recharge by being with other people. (Yeah, yeah, you've probably heard this before.  But I'm putting it for the sake of anyone who hasn't.)  The more introverted you are the less likely you will be outgoing, I think, but the two are not incompatible.

Melancholic and phlegmatic go with introversion while choleric and sanguine go with extroversion.  You can kind of end up with a mixture... I think I've noticed that extroverts who still have some melancholic or phlegmatic tend to understand introverts better.  Then there are some extroverts who really don't understand us at all.  They don't seem to understand that not everybody CAN be perky and sociable or even just cheerful whenever they want to, haha.  That's kind of a pet peeve of mine sooo I'm going to stop now before I go into a rant. ;)

Aaanyways.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the literary/period drama characters and their temperamental connections... and anyone interested in this subject in general can feel free to ramble, and I'll ramble right back.


Evelyn said...

Oh this is a very, very interesting subject! I've only recent given in-depth thought to it, so its still pretty new to me. I took the Meyers-Brigg test and got a mix of introvert and Extrovert. Its strange - I'm really not sure which one I am. :) (A friend even said the same thing. :D)

Those tempermants fit all of those characters so well! Especially Mr. Bennets. :)

Okay question - have you ever thought that there seems to be a ton of introverts? I feel like there are a lot of people who use that as an excuse.. or think its 'cool' to be an introvert. Like, ALL OF TUMBLR. :P

Marie said...

I've just sort of started learning about personality types and have found that I am very interested in the subject, especially the Myers Briggs, so I'd love to hear your ramblings on it. :) Is it nosy to ask which of the sixteen types you are? I'm an INFJ.

I have not yet started watching Lark Rise to Candleford yet so I actually thought you were talking about Nicholas Higgins; I think that paragraph suits him perfectly, too. And Mr. Thornton and Mr. Darcy are melancholy, but I think Mr. Rochester is MUCH more so. I think it's kind of more in his nature than it is for the other two, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, thanks for piquing my interest about the four temperaments, that's something new to look into. I'd heard of it but not paid much attention to it, I thought it was an old thing that nobody really did any more. Great post idea, it's neat to find somebody else who is interested in this, too! (Wow that was a lot of commas.)

Melody said...

Yup... it's one of those subjects that slowly and surely pulls you iiiin. MUWAHAHAHAHA.
Ahem. :P
You mean the percentages were about even? Haha, that's pretty rare! :)
Okay, here's the deal. Internet communities (Tumblr, Pinterest, Blogging) = Introverts; Real-Life Socializing = Extroverts. It's just what they each attract the most-- of course you'll see introverts in real life and extroverts on the internet, it just won't be their particular 'comfort zone'. :) Introverts have a better time being open and expressing their thoughts through writing, etc., and also fandoms and interests that lend themselves to places like Tumblr tend to get the more nerdy, people-who-don't-care-about-being-cool kind of people who are generally introverts.
Like I said, there are always exceptions, but that's why you'll find more of them in those places. Plus, introverts tend to be more interested in things like intro/extroverts and studying characters.

It's fun, isn't it? :D I'll have to do another post on the Myers-Briggs one... if I can connect it to this blog somehow, haha. If I ever get to see you again in real life and we can actually TALK more maybe we can launch into one of those long discussions I do. :P
Well, I'm told I'm an ISFJ. Haha, that is, I've taken the quiz multiple times and always get it, but some of the descriptions don't really sound like me. (Others totally do, though.) Mainly it's the strengths where I'm like "ehm... well actually I need to work on that one". :P
Haha, that's the hilarious thing-- Nicholas Higgins and Robert Timmins are REMARKABLY alike. So of course he acts them both very similarly. In LRTC there are 3 seasons in which to examine his character, though, and in N&S there are only 4 episodes. ;)
Yeah, my family used to talk about this kind of thing a lot and I didn't pay much attention but still managed to learn something so it was a good introduction for when I did become interested. :)

Miss Jane Bennet said...

OHMYSTARS. YAYY! You published this!
I WUV IT. :D I definitely agree about Mr. Bennet and Lydia--Mr. Bennet immediately occurred to me when I read about the Phlegmatic type, haha.
(Okay, random bunny trail here--what do you think are the Myers-Briggs types of Jane and Lizzy? I'd put Jane as sort of an "ideal" ISFJ because she's so dutiful, obliging, idealistic about people, &c., and she eventually takes on too much and gets overwhelmed. Lizzy...ISFP? She obviously has an eye for beauty, especially in nature, and I think she's more of a Perceiver than a Judger, but I don't think that intuition is especially a dominant function with her, haha. And I believe she'd be more introverted than extraverted, because she tends to only have one confidant, to get tired after parties, &c. Thoughts on that?)
Okay, moving on. Snort. YESYESYES. The introvert/extrovert thing has always really annoyed me, haha. :P It's taken me a LOT of research to figure out personality type things, though, and I'm still not quite clear on enneagrams. Heh. Soooo of all the personality-type-stuff, which do you find the most effective/interesting? I'm assuming the four temperaments, haha, but one never knows. I really like the original Jung thing, with Fi/Fe, Ti/Te, &c.--and of course, MBTI is rather fascinating too. :D
One last thing, do you have any quizzes especially to recommend for Four Temperaments? I haven't really been able to find any good ones. :/
CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH I ENJOY RAMBLING ABOUT THIS. :D My family is sick and tired of it (and my constantly trying to analyze myself probably seems narcissistic. Snort.), and nobody else understaaaands.
Heehee. Mostly kidding, of course. But it IS delightful to be able to analyze people with a fellow Janeite. :D
Anywayyyys. Great post, dear! :)

Naomi Bennet said...

This is very interesting!
Robert Timmins? You couldn't have chosen better!
And Mr Bennet, Lydia and Mr Rochester all fit their temperaments very well too. :)
Very interesting post, thanks- I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Livia Rachelle said...

I love this! I hope you definitely do more of these. I think the first type of personality tests I took were based on the Choleric, Phlegmatic, Melancholic, and Sanguine with the animals that represented them. I might still have my results I know I was mostly choleric and probably least sanguine. On the Meyers-Briggs I usually get ISTP although I am not an extreme introvert and I have a problem with some of the others letters too. One problem with these tests is that they don't allow for change (growth/maturity on the one hand or moodiness on the others), but they are still such fun. I like pinning the novel Meyers-Briggs personality lists like the Lord of the Rings.

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