My fiction alter ego, my literary sister from another mister, is Jo March. Or at least, that’s what I’d like to say. That’s what I would have claimed as an adolescent, but even then I secretly knew that any comparisons were purely aspirational. I don’t really subvert gender norms in my dress, and I’m too vain to cut my hair short. Sure, we share a quick temper and a fondness for older men, but that’s about it.
The truth is, we all want to be the Lizzie Bennets and the Katniss Everdeens–the stars of their stories, archetypes in their own right. But as much as we like to self-flatter, really we’re more likely one of the other, less spunky Bennet sisters, or hapless Peeta Mellark. So, how do you accurately assess your literary alter ego while being realistic about your strengths and shortcomings?
There’s the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the psychological Sorting Hat before J.K. Rowling created the four houses of Hogwarts. In fact, the first fictional character I found myself matched to was James Potter, the ENTJ (Extroverted Intuitive Thinking Judging) or “Maverick” of the Harry Potter Myers-Briggs spectrum. My type (the Rational) has also been called the “Field Marshall” and the “Executive”–not exactly titles I would claim in daily life. But the MBTI pegged me in all four categories.
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Unfortunately, on all of the blogs typing fictional characters by MBTI, my cohorts are not the most encouraging company: Mustapha Mond, Resident World Controller of Western Europe in Brave New World; Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish from A Song of Ice and Fire; Moriarty (well, the BBC Sherlock version); Sauron??!
Remember what I said about not self-deceiving? Trying to find my fictional alter ego has forced me to evaluate the less savory aspects of my personality: my drive to organize and initiate, my focus on overall vision, the systematic and critical thinking that may come across as harsh to friends or collaborators. It can be tough to swallow.
But I also value my assertiveness, my ability to see the bigger picture. And hey, it’s not all bad–apparently I have a lot in common with Tony Stark, and with a different Jane Austen heroine, Emma Woodhouse. In fact, I think I’d have to say that Emma is my closest analog: clever but sometimes frivolous, interested in matchmaking and other human dynamics, aware of everything except (at times) myself. If I’m closer to that than fiery Jo March, that’s fine by me.
It’s rare to have one literary twin who embodies all of your qualities, and it’s unlikely that we’ll all get to be the hero(ine). There are so many rich and fascinating fictional characters out there, that it’s worth taking the extra time to delve in to the other souls residing in your favorite books to see who reflects your deepest self.
Now–and be honest–who’s your fictional twin? Tell us in the comments!