Not Villainous on Necessity: Edmund Under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in King Lear

Not Villainous on Necessity: Edmund Under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in King Lear

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There is an extensive variety of character types that occur in literature, but none are as intriguing as that of the aggressively amoral. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, the character of Edmund is portrayed as an ambitious opportunist whose attempts to obtain power lead to his eventual demise. Although he is clearly not an admirable character, he is in no sense a “simple [villain]” (Summers 230): Examination of his character under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) , a psychometric tool designed to measure how people make decisions and perceive the world, reveals the thought processes behind his actions. Determining his base attributes, in reference to the four dichotomies that are central to the theory, allows one to read into the preliminary aspects of his person. Furthermore, exploration of the four cognitive functions of his psychological type uncovers his default behaviours and mental processes, and with them, his most beneficial strengths and greatest weaknesses. Edmund’s defining personality traits depict how his internal attributes and values influence his actions in the play from analysis through a Myer-Briggs perspective.

In order to classify Edmund with the Type Indicator, the four dichotomies must be considered: extraversion or introversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. The pairings describe how one is energised, gathers information, makes decisions, and leads their external lifestyle respectively.

Classification. Of the sixteen available types, Edmund is best categorised as extraverted, sensing, thinking, and perceiving, or, as denoted in the standard Myers-Briggs format, ESTP. He is extraverted in that he gains his energy from the outer world and...

... middle of paper ... of the word, lives on even if he does not.

Works Cited

Leonard, Nancy H. "Information Processing Style and Decision Making." Journal of Organizational Behavior 20.3 (1999): 407-20. JSTOR. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.
Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince. Trans. William K. Marriott. London: Dent, 1958. Print.
Mcneir, Waldo F. "The Role of Edmund in King Lear." Studies in English Literature 1500-1900.Vol. 8, No. 2, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (1968): 187-216. JSTOR. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
Pittenger, David J. "The Utility of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator." Review of Educational Research 63.4 (1993): 467-88. JSTOR. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
Shakespeare, William. Shakespeare: King Lear. Toronto: Coles, 1993. Print.
Summers, Claude J. ""Stand up for Bastards!": Shakespeare's Edmund and Love's Failure." College Literature 4.3, Shakespeare Issue (1977): 225-31. JSTOR. Web. 1 Feb. 2014.

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