Welcome back to another entry of the character analysis series on Rio’s Walkabout! Today, we’ll be taking a look at character personality type: Obi-Wan Kenobi. The wise old sage, best portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness in the original trilogy and Ewan McGregor in the prequels.
From my previous post about Han Solo, we found out a little about the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality test. Specifically, that the MBTI refers to 16 distinct personality types and that these types are derived from certain preferences we tend to gravitate towards. These preferences seek to answer the following 4 questions:
- Do we prefer to focus on the outer world or on our own inner world? Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
- Do we prefer to focus on basic information that is taken in or prefer to interpret and add meaning to it? Sensing (S) or Intuition (I).
- Do we make decisions based on logic and consistency or prefer to make decisions based on people and special circumstances? Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
- Do we prefer to get things finalized and decided or stay open to new information and options? Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
With all of that out-of-the-way let’s get started, shall we? Who is Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Obi-Wan, or Ben, is first introduced in the movies as a mysterious hermit living out on the sand dunes on a planet called Tatooine. He initially doesn’t get much more mention than a simple thinking-out-loud moment from Luke Skywalker (our protagonist) when discussing C-3PO and R2-D2’s origins. As we all should know, a protagonist is a leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional story mediums. Once we finally do see Ben we see him dressed in robes, doddering across the rocky path like a senile old man; and we hear a strange roar coming from his oncoming direction as he moves in to save Luke from Tusken Raiders (Sand People). Ben explains that Sand People are often startled easily especially by such things as the Krayt Dragon (hence why he mimicked of the beast’s roar earlier).
After Luke and Ben make introductions and R2-D2 delivers the first plot point, Ben initiates the Call to Adventure for Luke to begin his hero’s journey. Luke first refuses only to begrudgingly agree later after a series of ill-fated events occur. Before that point, Ben also reveals a half-truth to Luke about his father’s fate. Once Luke agrees to travel to Alderaan with Ben to rescue the Princess, the group heads to Mos Eisley Spaceport. It is there that they charter a flight with Han Solo, and there, where Ben was able to give his now well-known quote: “Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”
Personality and… Science Fiction Preference
I previously wrote a post about Star Wars vs Star Trek and asked readers which science fiction franchise they preferred — where the answer could decide the type of person someone was or is (either a dreamer or a more practical kind of person). It’s amazing how our inclination or preferences for something can actually determine the type of person we are or can become. The MBTI was designed for the very purpose of identifying our preferences and understanding what that all means in our lives.
In nearly every scene that we see Ben in, he is always calm, cool, collected and dispensing some form of wisdom or knowledge. From knowing what a short range fighter is (the Imperial TIE Fighter luring them to the Death Star), advising Luke that he should, “Use the Force,” during the Death Star run, even instructing Vader one last time during their final battle. Ben cared for people and he was quick to protect them by trying to lead them away from danger. The audience clearly recognizes that Obi-Wan has a deeper sense and understanding of those around him and that he knows people better than they know themselves. This goes beyond merely being Force sensitive.
A Master Warrior That Cares
Ben was an accomplished fighter and one of the best duelists in the galaxy, outclassing the likes of Darth Maul. However, you can tell that he doesn’t enjoy fighting. As a result, he much more prefers negotiating with his enemies and taking on advisory roles among friends and allies. It could be reasoned that this trait stems from his time training with his former master, Qui-Gon Jinn.
Given Ben’s previous career and his propensity to find himself in violent situations, he still always takes it upon himself to ensure that a more peaceful approach be taken first. When making arrangements to hire the services of Han Solo and Chewbacca in order to shuttle their way to Alderaan, Ben emphasized discreetness and, though the audience knows that the group is purposefully trying to avoid the Empire, this decision shows good tactics in the hopes of avoiding conflict.
When possible, Ben tries to use the Jedi Mind trick over hacking and slashing his way through problems. This shows insightfulness, restraint, and immense knowledge. He maneuvers stealthily around in the Death Star rather than engages enemies directly, he hides as a hermit instead of trying to fight in the rebellion at old age (making it his duty to look after Luke), he’s quick to let a TIE Fighter go when it gets too far, he agrees with Yoda that Luke should not go to rescue his friends and instead complete his training, and in the prequels he’s always shown as reluctantly engaging opponents in duels –often times not even caring whether he wins or loses if the battle could be resolved peacefully.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a kind, soft-spoken, but truly complicated man. And whatever else we know or don’t know about him, one thing is for sure. Ben is always willing to help his friends. When Luke needed help. He was there. When the Rebellion and the Princess needed help. He was there. When Vader needed help. He tried helping on multiple occasions. He was even there after death! Indeed, that’s truly saying something!
I will also add that Ben is probably the saddest character in Star Wars. Ben survives long enough to see his master die, to see his pupil (and closest friend) fail and turn to the dark side in the worst of ways, to see the Jedi’s hunted down and destroyed, and possibly see the death of all of his closest friends (Force Ghost and high Force sensitivity). Worst, Darth Vader and the Empire forced him to live isolated all alone because revealing even for a second who he was too soon could have doomed the balance of the Force forever. Truly, a miserable existence.
His character is very much a version of Gandolf from Lord of the Rings and Merlin from King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table.
Onward to Science
What sort of personality did our beloved wise-old sage have? Drum roll, please… The Counselor!
That’s right, according to the infographic from www.geekinheels.com [update: sadly this site appears to be dead, unfortunately] Obi-Wan Kenobi is what is known as The Counselor. Counselors are “Introspective, caring, sensitive, and complex. [They strive] for peace and seek to develop and guide others. Value self-control and the pursuit of the greater good. Live their lives with great purpose, and [are] devoted to the causes they believe in. Characterized by the ability to connect with the essence of others and to identify their strengths.” Wow. So much truth here that I am ashamed to have forgotten Obi-Wan’s Force sensitivity when he reached out and felt the lives of billions destroyed when Alderaan blew up.
MBTI Classification for Obi-Wan Kenobi
The Counselor, on the MBTI, is known as personality type INFJ. Real-world individuals that are INFJ include Plato, Oprah Winfrey, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson and Adam Sandler. Adam Sandler!? What the!? Must be Happy Gilmore days Adam Sandler. INFJ people tend to do well in service and counseling roles, finding that careers in more corporate settings are not the best for them.
INFJ’s would consider the following professions ideal:
- Clergy / Religious work
- Medical Doctors / Dentists
- Alternative healthcare practitioners, i.e. Chiropractor and reflexologists
- Counselors and Social Workers
- Musicians and Artists
- Child Care and Early Childhood Development
- Inspiring and Convincing
- Determination and Passion
- Can be too sensitive especially to criticism
- Very private so making friends could be difficult
- INFJ’s are perfectionists. They want everything done perfectly, potentially delaying the start of projects.
- They always need to have a cause to fight for otherwise they feel useless, restless or disappointed.
- This personality type can burn out easily because of their need to help people and their pursuit to always fight for a good cause.
Read more about these strengths and weaknesses here: 16 Personalities
So are you an Obi-Wan Kenobi? Don’t know? Well, I highly recommend that you find out! Not only can the process of determining your personality type help you find the right career, it can help you solidify your strengths and also mitigate or minimize your weaknesses. Everyone should know their own preferences in life. Be you and don’t get tricked into being someone you don’t want to be. Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Whew. I hope you enjoyed reading a little about Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi. We have 14 more of these to go!
“You’ll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”
– Obi-Wan Kenobi