It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the most renowned authors of the 19th century, and one of the most famous women from her day. Although she wasn’t so successful during her lifetime, biographers -- and, of course, her popular novels -- show us how intense and singular Jane really was.
According to accounts and texts, Jane was most likely an Enneagram Type Five, and a Myers-Briggs INTJ. Here’s more about her fascinating and unique personality.
Enneagram Type Five: The Investigator
Jane may have loathed her recent boom in popularity, following the many film and TV adaptations of her novels that have revitalized her work. “And she would have been quite appalled, I think, at even more fame than she had in her lifetime, which was little enough,” said her biographer Claire Harmon. “She didn't want to be gawked at by neighbors who'd discovered she was an author. She wanted to maintain her integrity and her freedom to look at the world and be able to honestly say what she thought about it.”
An Enneagram Type Five, Jane Austen much preferred keeping to herself. She preferred the company of her own mind to many others, and was laser-focused on her work above all else -- all the signs of being an Investigator.
Outwardly: Spotting the Five
- Solo: Fives are comfortable, even happy, being alone. Jane Austen never married despite multiple offers -- and a one-day engagement. “"I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other,” she said.
- Observing: Fives are wallflowers, but they pay attention. Austen drew her characters richly, and made keen observations about marriage, feminism, wealth, social class, and morality within her work.
- Minimalistic: Fives don’t care much for money, wealth and status. Austen did not marry, or climb the social ladder. She often relied on her parents for money, and only made money of her own after Sense & Sensibility was published. She was 36.
- Contrarian: Fives don’t play social games, and may speak or do things that run counter to cultural norms. They have clear beliefs and ideas about the world.
Inwardly: 5 Traits of the Five
- Intense: Their inner-world is rich and exciting. Even though Jane lived a quiet life, she painted exciting stories in her books.
- Intentional: They say what they mean, and mean what they say. Jane had pointed criticisms about society and culture.
- Independent: They crave freedom. "There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves,” she said.
- Enlightened: They enjoy learning, growing in their knowledge and conveying it. Jane was an avid reader and loved depth; she was afraid Pride & Prejudice was too “frivolous.”
- Calm: Always prepared, they tend to be cool under pressure.
TypeFinder INTJ: The Mastermind
Comfortable on their own, introverts like their solitude and silence. “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort," she once said. Austen was a writer, born in a small English village, who never married; in fact, she turned down a few proposals.
Intuitives tend to have a keen sense of narrative arcs, and building cohesive stories from idea to conclusion. The quality of her enduring works -- like Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Emma -- reveal an intuitive mind.
Though not always common at the time, Jane attended school and maintained a strong thirst for knowledge. She was an avid reader, who spent tons of time in the family library. “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid," she said.
Jane Austen loved a buttoned-up tale; despite some criticisms from readers and critics, she gave all her characters the quintessential happy ending. So many of her stories ended with marriage and commitment.
Ni: Revered for her ability to thread brilliant tales with multiple plotlines and criticisms about society, Jane was a true introverted intuitive. She was wise, and incisive in her observations of the world. Her words and stories always held deeper meanings.
Te: It’s a myth that Jane was a meek and gentle personality, according to biographer Claire Harmon. She was not afraid to speak her mind. In her recording letters, we see a “very sharp-witted and at times rather acid-tongued woman,” Harmon says. “And, you know, the mind behind the novels could only be a very discerning, very critical mind.”
Fi: Jane was true to herself and her beliefs. Despite her novels' focus on marriage as a way to elevate a woman’s economic position, Jane remained a fervent believer that you should marry for love, not money or status. This is the focus of many storylines in her books, too.
Se: Jane may have had fine tastes, as well. “Let me know when you begin the new tea, and the new white wine,” she said. “My present elegancies have not yet made me indifferent to such matters. I am still a cat if I see a mouse.”
Fast Facts about INTJs
- INTJs are 2% of the population; 3% of men, and 1% of women
- Rarest gender-type match in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- Score high on these traits: Discreet, Industrious, Logical, Deliberate, Self-Confident, and Methodical
- Value “achievement,” and among the types with the highest income
- Known for their brilliance, one of two types with the highest college GPAs