Scrooge of Color – 39 of 40 – book research

Below is a Quora exploration of Ebenezer Scrooge’s MBTI classification. I highlighted phrases that point out that Scrooge is an extreme social, political and economic conservative who needs to be reminded that others suffer. This would be an odd position for an older black man of 1843, because 40 or 50 years earlier in Great Britain, he very likely would have been enslaved. Not to mention the fact that he would have been aware that his counterparts in the United States and other country still were slaves.


Introverted Sensing (Si): Scrooge is a man of facts and figures (his ledgers, his banker’s-book, etc.) and of traditional business practices. Part of what makes him so effective as a figure of social commentary is that he’s never unscrupulous or cruel in unusual ways. He’s just the ultimate conservative. He pays taxes to support the workhouses and considers that sufficient to provide for the poor; he pays Bob Cratchit just enough for his family to live on and gives him one day off a year. Until his adventure with the ghosts, it never crosses his mind that this bare minimum of society-ordered decency isn’t nearly enough. Yet even after his adventure, he remains essentially a man of tradition. He doesn’t give up his business, or protest the existence of workhouses, or anything radical, he just becomes kind and generous within the same framework he’s always lived. Nor does his ghostly journey itself deal too much in abstract concepts. They show him straightforward, literal facts: concrete visions of his past, his present, and what his future will be if he fails to change. He responds well because this is just the type of lesson best suited to his character.

Extraverted Thinking (Te): At the beginning, Scrooge is driven by hard, cold and decisive pragmatism. He cares only about making money, keeping it, and avoiding anything that contradicts or distracts from those two goals. He doesn’t understand why others “condemn the pursuit of wealth” when poverty is such a hard thing; ethical objections to his greed and stinginess mean nothing to him next to their practical benefits. When he was engaged to Belle, he presumably saw himself as doing what was best for both her and himself by focusing on making money and staving off poverty, but Belle (an INFJ or INFP, from what little we see of her) could only see him throwing away his “nobler aspirations” for gain. Nor does he ever stop being a Thinker. The ghosts don’t just teach him ethics and values, but show him the pragmatically harmful effects of his behavior: it cost him Belle’s love, it’s reduced his quality of life compared even to those who have less money, and unless he changes, it will kill Tiny Tim, lead him to a bleak, lonely death himself, and doom his soul like Marley’s. Even in the end, while he’s learned to embrace his emotions, he remains a man of pragmatism: he reaches out to others by helping them in practical ways, buying the Cratchits a gift of food, raising Bob’s salary, and giving money to charity. The Scrooge of the end gives lie to the stereotype that warmth and kindness are only Feeling traits.

Introverted Feeling (Fi): At first this aspect of Scrooge is deeply buried and much of his journey with the ghosts is devoted to rediscovering and embracing it. Once the ghosts appear, it quickly becomes clear that he feels deeply underneath his cold, self-contained facade; that he’s capable of great sadness, fear, love, compassion, and ultimately joy. At the same time, he rediscovers values within himself, based on his own experiences. Being reminded of his own unhappy childhood gives him new sympathy for all children and helps lead to his concern for Tiny Tim; the reminder of his happiness working for Fezziwig inspires him to be a kind, generous employer like Fezziwig was; he learns to give love to others by realizing that unless he does, he’ll die lonely and unloved himself. In short, he learns to embrace the Golden Rule, treating others the way he wants to be treated. Instead of just preaching at him, the ghosts tend to use reverse psychology (e.g. “A small matter to make these silly folk so full of gratitude,” “If he be like to die, he had better do it”), or else say nothing at all, and let him find the moral lesson within himself, which he does.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne): As Scrooge embraces his Fi, he also discovers his Ne. When he sees the future, he’s able to realize that it’s only a vision of what “may be,” not what “will be,” and that if he changes, his future will change too. He realizes that there are other possibilities for his life than he once believed there were and he makes those possibilities come true, leaving his old rigidity and pessimism behind.

It’s interesting that Charles Dickens’ biographers so often point out the ways that Scrooge’s character mirrors aspects of Dickens himself. Dickens was an ENFP: the exact inversion of an ISTJ, with all the same cognitive functions, but in the opposite order. Whether consciously or subconsciously, Dickens really did bring his own shadow to life in this character.

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