• Personality Typing in Opera: Die Zauberflöte

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    Discovering the Myers Briggs Type Indicator has done wonders for my understanding of humankind. It’s helped me better understand myself, helped me better understand and appreciate other people’s viewpoints, and served as an outstanding tool for analyzing the fictional characters I love. Having realized by typing the main cast of La Bohéme just how enlightening it can be to apply the MBTI to opera characters, I’ve decided to use the system to analyze quite a few more operas. Beginning with my first opera, the one from which I’ve taken my screen name, and the one of which I’m currently writing a YA novel retelling (An Eternal Crown): Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.


    For anyone who needs reminding, the sixteen Myers Briggs personality types each consist of four functions, or preferences. Extraversion or Introversion, Intuition or Sensing, Thinking or Feeling, and Judging or Perceiving. We all do both of each, but we each lean more toward one than the other. I first learned about this system of psychological analysis from 16Personalities.com and have since found many other websites and books that have brought me new insights into the subject. My personal favorite, however, is ALittleBitOfPersonality.com, even though its approach to typing is very unconventional compared to other sites. It strives both to be more accessible to the layperson and more scientific than standard MBTI sources, with clear definitions of the preferences and how they work within each personality type that avoid the common stereotypes.


    Here are ALBoP’s definitions of each preference:


    Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I): Looking outside yourself first, prioritizing the external world and input from other people, vs. looking inside yourself first, prioritizing your inner thoughts, emotions and pre-existing knowledge. This is different from social extraversion vs. social introversion, though they often correlate. It’s about your way of thinking and of processing information.


    INtuition (N) vs. Sensing (S): Focusing on broad concepts and using those concepts to understand literal facts, vs. focusing on literal facts and using those facts to understand concepts.


    Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F): Focusing first on logical use vs. focusing first on emotional meaning. This has nothing to do with your intelligence or how emotional you are in general. It’s about the way you evaluate and make decisions.


    Judging (J) vs. Perception (P): Planning and acting first, taking actions based on principles and then observing the results, vs. exploring and observing specific circumstances first, then responding to them.


    Each personality type’s cognitive thought process consists of four out of eight cognitive functions, or steps: Extraverted Thinking (Te) or Introverted Thinking (Fe), Extraverted Feeling (Fe) or Introverted Feeling (Fi), Extraverted Intuition (Ne) or Introverted Intuition (Ni), and Extraverted Sensing (Se) or Introverted Sensing (Si). Every person has one T function, one F function, one N function and one S function. Whether that person is an Extravert or an Introvert is determined by whether their first, or dominant function, the one they use most of all, is Extraverted (drawing on external cues) or Introverted (drawing on inner beliefs, emotions or knowledge). Whether they’re a Sensor or an Intuitive depends on whether they use their Sensing function more often than their Intuition function or vice-versa; ditto Feeling and Thinking. Finally, people whose first two functions include either Te or Fe are Judgers, while those whose first two functions include either Ne or Se are Perceivers.


    If all this sounds heady and overly technical, that’s just how I felt about it at first. This is why I didn’t discuss the eight cognitive functions in my typing of the La Bohéme characters. I’ll discuss them more in my typing of the Zauberflöte cast, because I’ve gained a better understanding of them than I had before. However, I still won’t emphasize them as much as traditional MBTI books and sites do, because my preferred method of typing, at least when it comes to fictional characters, is still A Little Bit of Personality’s. Instead of prioritizing the cognitive functions, their typing system chiefly emphasizes their strong definitions of the four main preferences. When they do discuss the eight functions and how each personality type uses them, they define them in ways that feel more truly scientific and less stereotype-ridden than any other source I’ve found. For example, most MBTI sites and books associate Extraverted Feeling (Fe) with focus on others’ feelings and Introverted Feeling (Fi) with focus on your own feelings… implying that Fi is naturally more selfish than Fe. Since my dominant function as an ISFP is Fi, I don’t exactly like that description or think it rings true. I much prefer ALBoP’s definitions of Fe as action-oriented (taking instinctive, emotionally meaningful action in response to external cues) and Fi as information-oriented (analyzing details based on your inner feelings and values), with neither function inherently more selfish or selfless than the other.


    Now, without further ado, here are my MBTI typings for the six leading characters of Die Zauberflöte:


    Tamino: ENFJ (“The Teacher”/“The Protagonist”/“The Giver”/“The Veteran”)

    Extraversion: Tamino is always driven by external cues. In Act I, he instantly falls in love with Pamina’s portrait, then instantly believes the Queen and the Ladies’ account of her kidnapping and adopts their hatred for Sarastro as his own. But seemingly just as quickly (I say “seemingly” because his conversion takes place offstage between acts), he accepts Sarastro’s side of the story, then resolves to join the brotherhood, embraces their values as his own and obeys their orders without question. In the end, he triumphs by accepting external guidance from Pamina. As the main audience surrogate character, who learns what Mozart and Schikaneder wanted the audience to learn, it makes sense that his gaze should mostly be outward.


    Intuition: Even when he’s about to be eaten by a monstrous snake, Tamino still has enough imagination to describe himself as “chosen as a sacrifice” to the creature. Throughout the story, he thinks less in literal facts than in abstract concepts. When asked what he’s searching for at Sarastro’s temple, he doesn’t say “The kidnapped princess I love,” but “Love and virtue’s just reward.” His focus is always on love, virtue, courage, wisdom, manliness, and other ideals.


    Feeling: Liebe und Tugend – “Love and virtue.” These are the two chief things that drive our hero. Not pragmatism, not logic, not being useful, nor even the treasured Enlightenment value of reason. “Love and virtue.” Even when Tamino swallows his emotions during Sarastro’s trials, he does it in a Feeling-driven way. Walking headlong into a blazing fire and burning alive would be of no logical use to anyone, but he’s willing to do it anyway because he sees it as the “manly” and “virtuous” thing to do. It’s all about meaning.


    Judging: Young and naïve though he is, Tamino is driven by firm principles and an instinctive drive for action, not by observing specifics and weighing options. Pamina has been kidnapped? He’ll rescue her, no questions asked. He learns the truth about Sarastro and his priests? He’ll join them and staunchly serve them. The trials are underway? He’ll obey the priests’ every order, staunchly resisting every temptation to stray, even if it means breaking Pamina’s heart or facing his own death. Not that a Perceiver Tamino’s trials would end inevitably in Orpheus-style failure, but he might be more visibly torn between his options. As written by Schikaneder and Mozart, he never seems to view himself as having any options at all.


    As with all ENFJs, Tamino’s greatest strengths are Extraverted Feeling (Fe), taking emotionally meaningful action in response to external cues, and Introverted Intuition (Ni), applying broad concepts to those cues based on inner beliefs. His weaker areas are Extraverted Sensing (Se), observing all the literal external facts of the present moment, and Introverted Thinking (Ti), logically analyzing every detail in his mind. Those last two areas will undoubtedly strengthen as he matures, though.


    A classic ENFJ is warm, idealistic, passionate, driven, kind, loving, an excellent problem-solver, often wise behind their years, and eager to serve others: in short, a perfect fairy-tale her. This personality type is also very group-oriented (a trait share by ESFJs – the Queen of the Night’s type, ironically) and lives for connection with others, which we see in Tamino in in both positive and negative ways. At the beginning, he’s far from his home and effectively has no group. First he latches on to the Queen, the Ladies and the image of Pamina as his new group, but as soon as he meets Sarastro and his brotherhood, he adopts them as his group instead. Unfortunately, as immature ENFJs sometimes do, he lets both groups control him too much, first blindly believing and obeying the Queen and Ladies, then blindly obeying the priests, spouting their sexist rhetoric, and treating Pamina as his reward for serving his group instead of as a member of it. But in the end, he triumphs by embracing Pamina not as his reward, but as his group’s most valuable member. Thus he remains loyal to the group as a whole, yet achieves a happy ending that transcends it too.


    Pamina: INFP (“The Idealist”/”The Mediator”/”The Healer”/”The Ranger”)

    Introversion: Pamina’s values and desires are purely her own, not dictated by the outside world. Unlike Tamino, she never blindly obeys orders, never believes anything without proof, and never adopts anyone else’s worldview. Her integrity, loyalty and devotion to her loved ones come from within. Sometimes her inner assumptions keep her from seeing the truth before her eyes: i.e. her mother and Sarastro’s true characters, or Tamino’s love. But in the end she creates her own happy ending by following her heart instead of external rules, joining Tamino in the trials meant for him alone, and realizing with no external hint that the magic flute will protect them. Ultimately, her Introversion and Tamino’s Extraversion balance each other perfectly.


    Intuition: Just like Tamino, if not more so, Pamina is driven by abstract concepts and imagination. She constantly speaks of truth, beauty, freedom, and above all, love virtue, harmony, happiness, and yes, above all, love. At the beginning, despite never having experienced romance, she already glorifies it in her mind, and she falls in love with the idea of Tamino without even needing to see him. Sometimes her imagination is too strong: most clearly when she thinks Tamino doesn’t love her anymore, but also in Act I when she assumes Sarastro will have Papageno executed, or her premonition that the trials will mean certain death for Tamino. That’s Intuition for you.


    Feeling: This goes without saying. Pamina “lives by love alone” and resolves to die when she thinks no one loves her anymore. She clings to her honor and virtue at all costs too. As with Tamino, Liebe und Tugend are everything to her.


    Perceiving: Where Tamino’s Judging preference is shown by his quick, decisive actions and pursuit of goals, Pamina’s Perceiving is shown by the way she observes each new situation and immerses herself in its meaning. A prince who loves her is coming to rescue her? Instead of setting straight out to find him, she takes a moment first to decide whether she can trust Papageno, then more time to muse on all the beauties of love. Tamino seems to scorn her? She explores the full meaning of losing love in a heartbreaking aria, and when she resolves to kill herself, instead of just doing it, she inwardly explores the meaning of it first (e.g. that the dagger is now her “bridegroom”) – giving the Three Boys time to stop her. While Tamino is always pursuing a goal, Pamina tends more to receive and observe whatever comes to her. Some people might argue that this is “masculinity” vs. “femininity,” but it just as strongly indicates Judging vs. Perceiving.


    As an ISFP, very close to an INFP, it’s no wonder that for years I’ve called myself “Pamina” on social media. In fiction, INFPs are well represented among innocent, dreamy young heroines with a coming-of-age arc (e.g. Shakespeare’s Juliet, Cosette in Les Misérables, or in a non-romantic example, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz), as well as naïve, idealistic young male lovers who, like Pamina, too easily doubt their beloved’s feelings and/or turn suicidal if they think they’ve lost her (e.g. Romeo, Les Misérables’s Marius, or Alfredo in La Traviata and his spiritual son Christian in Moulin Rouge!).


    It’s interesting that Pamina’s soulmate Tamino should be an ENFJ: the cognitive function “stacks” of those two types are parallel, with Feeling, Intuition, Sensing and Thinking in that order, but none of their actual functions the same. Most notably, where Tamino chiefly lives by the action-centric, outward-focused Extraverted Feeling (Fe), Pamina favors the more introspective, personal Introverted Feeling (Fi). Tamino’s values are those of his group and he devotes himself to serving that group, whatever the personal cost; Pamina’s core values are her own, independent of others, and strong personal bonds matter more to her than any group. This difference arguably causes them more pain than “masculinity vs. femininity” does. But in the end they achieve a beautiful balance: Pamina joins the initiates with Tamino, embracing his group as her own too, while Tamino finds his place in the group by embracing his love for Pamina. ENFJ and INFP “reach the godhead” together.


    Papageno: ESFP (“The Entertainer”/“The Performer”/“The Joker”/“The Morale Officer”)

    Extraversion: Besides being a talkative, outgoing social extravert, Papageno lives by external cues too. Like Tamino, he initially believes and obeys the Queen and the Ladies without question. Then he halfheartedly switches to Sarastro’s side just because Tamino does, then lets himself be coerced into undergoing the trials, then only narrowly resists being led astray by the Ladies because Tamino is there. Throughout the whole opera he lets himself be swayed, coerced, and driven this way and that by new external information. As a person whose job consists of looking through the trees and mountains for birds to catch, it makes sense that looking outside of himself comes more naturally to him than turning inward.


    Sensing: Until he meets Tamino, Papageno doesn’t even realize that there’s a world beyond his homeland. He doesn’t ponder where he came from, who his parents were, or much else that’s beyond his knowledge, nor does he want more wisdom than he has. All he cares about are his safety, his beloved birds, knowing where his food and drink are coming from, and finding a wife. Even as he fantasizes about love, those fantasies tend toward the physical, i.e. kisses, cradling his wife in bed, and having lots of children. Granted, he does think in concepts now and then: for example, when he joins Pamina in exalting the divine nature of love, or when he imagines himself dying of grief without a Papagena, or when he catastrophizes about the possible dangers ahead. But that’s realistic. Sensors don’t only think in literal facts any more than Intuitives only think in in concepts. Everyone does both; it’s just a matter of preference.


    Feeling: It’s not just because Papageno is sensitive and easily terrified that I call him a Feeler. Thinkers can have those traits too. It’s his emphasis on emotional meaning that makes his preference clear. This is clearest in his yearning for love. While a Thinker might also long for company, for a spouse’s care, or for the pleasures of love, Papageno waxes much more sentimental than that, declaring “We live by love alone” with Pamina, claiming he’ll die of grief if he never finds a wife, and resolving (however weakly) to kill himself when he loses Papagena. He shows the same spirit in non-romantic contexts too, exalting “friendship’s harmony” with Pamina and taking sentimental joy in his pipe’s ability to captivate birds. With all this in mind, his scenes of quaking in terror or helpless tears only enhance our sense of his Feeling tendency.


    Perception: Papageno is nothing if not spontaneous. Instead of living by the decisive plans and principles that most of the other characters do in this opera, he takes life as it comes lets his mindset shift with each new situation. At one moment he’ll declare that his only wish in the world is for a good glass of wine, but as soon as he has one, he remembers that he wants a Papagena even more. He’ll gladly agree to a vow of silence in order to win his Papagena, but the moment fear or even boredom set in, he ignores the priests’ commands and babbles away, not even trying to resist the temptation. When he thinks he’s lost Papagena forever, he resolves to die – except no, not just yet. Observing and responding to the present moment is his specialty.


    An ESFP’s four cognitive functions are Extraverted Sensing, (Se) Introverted Feeling (Fi), Extraverted Thinking (Te) and Introverted Intuition (Ni). They’re chiefly driven by Se (observing the literal facts and sensations outside themselves) and Fi (finding emotional meaning in those facts and sensations). That sounds like Papageno to me! According to A Little Bit of Personality’s fictional character typings, ESFP and ESTP are two of the most common personality types that writers use for comic sidekicks. ESTP sidekicks are usually the swaggering, wisecracking Jerk with a Heart of Gold type, while ESFPs like Papageno are the sweet, innocent, fun-loving goofballs. (For a non-operatic comparison, see Disney’s The Lion King, which has one of each in Timon and Pumbaa.) It’s also common to see ESFPs as the young, wide-eyed, audience surrogate protagonists of children’s fiction, such as Big Bird (how fitting) or Wilbur the pig from Charlotte’s Web. Characters of this type are everywhere, with similar warmth, cheer, funny ineptness, sensitivity, proneness to terror, and love of people and simple pleasures. But Papageno is more than just a stock comic sidekick; he’s one of the best, most convincing and endearing examples of that character type ever created. Of course not every ESFP in fiction gets to sing music by Mozart!


    The Queen of the Night: ESFJ (“The Provider”/”The Consul”/”The Caregiver”/”The Calvary”)

    Extraversion: At first glance we might mistake the Queen for an Introvert, since with rare exceptions, “no mortal can ever boast of seeing her.” But her focus is nearly always outside herself. She fixates on the wrongs that were done to her in the past, on the opportunities that rise before her to destroy Sarastro and get her daughter back, and on the people she can use to achieve those ends. She also seems to care very much about how others view her, i.e. that they revere her with the appropriate awe and fear. Just look at her spectacular thunder-heralded entrances, or listen to her glittering, show-stopping coloratura! She’s a star-blazing Extravert.


    Sensing: Let’s examine the text of the Queen’s Act I aria. She could have dwelt on the suffering she imagines Pamina facing as Sarastro’s “prisoner,” or on the bleakness of her own future if she never gets her back, or on the joy of the reunion she longs for. But instead she focuses on solid details of the past and present: Pamina’s terrified struggle as she was kidnapped and her own current sorrow at having lost her. Nor in her Act II dialogue with Pamina or her subsequent aria does she describe anything abstract, only on the details of how she lost the Disc of the Sun, what she wants Pamina to do to get it back, and the price Pamina will pay if she refuses. This seems to be one of the main differences between her and the heroes, who are mostly Intuitives. They’re able to live staunchly by concepts such as virtue, love, truth and forgiveness, and overlook the facts (dangers, others’ cruelty, etc.) that tempt them to stray from all those concepts. The Queen, on the other hand, never looks beyond the facts of how she feels she’s been wronged or the potential ways to retaliate.


    Feeling: This is a tricky category for the Queen. On the one hand, she can seem very Thinker-like in the ways she manipulates Tamino, Pamina, and even Monostatos to use them as pawns in her schemes against Sarastro. But no one can listen to her Act II aria’s blazing, raging coloratura and deny that she’s an emotion-driven character… and to a large extent she symbolizes unhealthy emotional excess, in contrast to the enlightened reason and self-control of Sarastro and his priests. (Though Sarastro is actually a Feeler too – see below.) Of course, it all comes down to this: does she value things based on their use or based on their meaning? Ultimately, I’d say the latter. We never even learn what power the Disc of the Sun contains. The Queen doesn’t specify what she lost when Sarastro gained it or how she plans to use it when it’s finally hers. (Those were blanks I’ve needed to fill in while writing An Eternal Crown.) Nor is “rescuing” her daughter really the driving goal she claims it is; her vow to disown Pamina unless she helps her defeat Sarastro disproves that claim. So what really drives her? What does she speak of most emphatically? Revenge. Der Hölle Rache. Her reasons for hating Sarastro and what she’ll gain from his death seem almost irrelevant to her. All that really matters is what she feels: that she’s angry and wants to make him pay.


    Judging: The Queen never weighs any options. She knows what she wants, plans and acts decisively, and pursues her goal with a single-minded “you’re with me or against me” mindset. Nor does she stop to consider the potential weaknesses of each plan. It never seems to cross her mind that Sarastro might win Tamino over, or that her Ladies won’t be able to seduce him back after he switches sides, or that Pamina might choose her conscience over her mother’s love. A Perceiver Queen would probably have analyzed her daughter and her would-be son-in-law more closely and tailored their “assignments” to suit their personalities. For example, instead of ordering Pamina to commit murder, she might have given her a poison disguised as a magic potion to give to Sarastro, lying that it would soften his heart and make him set her free. But instead she just assumes “Pamina is my daughter and Tamino loves her, so of course they’ll choose me” and soldiers on in true Judger style.


    It’s not too surprising to realize that the Queen of the Night shares her type with many of pop culture’s glamorous, egotistical “party girls” (e.g. Miss Piggy, Glinda in Wicked or Musetta in La Bohéme), as well as many a nurturing mother figure with a red-hot iron will (e.g. Harry Potter’s Molly Weasley). She also shares it with some of pop culture’s favorite villains, such as Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy and another notorious queen, Game of Thrones’ Cersei Lannister. The Queen isn’t even Mozart’s only ESFJ antagonist: I’m fairly positive that Le Nozze di Figaro’s Count Almaviva is one too. ESFJs are born to shine at the head of their group, whether that group is a family, a group of friends, a castle, or a kingdom. They’re usually a warm, caring and affectionate type, which fits Pamina’s description of the mother who raised her, but unhealthy ones can also be controlling, arrogant, and greedy for attention and status. They tend to favor traditional values and social structures as well. This makes a dark ESFJ a natural villain to represent the Baroque aristocracy’s outdated lifestyle, in contrast to the “modern” Enlightenment values of the heroes.


    Sarastro: INFJ (“The Counselor”/”The Advocate”/“The Protector”/”The Mystic”/“The Paladin”)

    Introversion: Whether or not Sarastro is a social introvert is hard to say, since we never see him outside of his role as leader and mentor. But one thing is certain: he lets no one else determine his values. His life is defined by his staunch beliefs regarding the nature of good and evil, how people (both himself and others) should live and what the world should be like. Those beliefs are all his own, from nowhere else, and his role consists of influencing others to follow them. Besides age, experience and status, this is the main thing that distinguishes his character from Tamino’s and Pamina’s. While their role in their coming-of-age journey is to be influenced by the external world, his as leader and mentor is to influence others from within.


    Intuitive: Sarastro’s every word and action reflects his view of how the world should be, not just the way things are. He rules the Temple of Wisdom and devotes his life to promoting wisdom, virtue and brotherhood among other people. Sensors might call his ideals too lofty and abstract, and encourage him to accept life as it is, because what could be just as easily might never be. But that way of thinking is antithetical to Sarastro. Less flatteringly by modern standards, he also has firm ideas of what it means to be a man and to be a woman, of each gender’s “sphere of activity,” and urges his followers to adhere. The world “as it should be” is the world he lives in.


    Feeling: This might come as a surprise, since Sarastro is a stoic character and since his Enlightenment-esque values system emphasizes reason, self-control, and the “manly” rejection of base emotions. But his way of life revolves entirely around values and meaning. “Virtue,” “integrity,” “love,” “duty,” “friendship,” “forgiveness,” “truth,” “wisdom”: these are what matter to him. He sends his would-be initiates into potentially lethal trials, not because there’s any clear logical use in doing so, but simply to prove the young people’s integrity. He justifies Pamina’s kidnapping not by any logical argument, but by the claim that he’s protecting her happiness, keeping her within a woman’s proper sphere of activity, and ensuring the future that he believes the gods have destined for her. He refuses to harm the Queen, even to protect himself, because he so strongly believes in mercy and forgiveness, and he declares that those who don’t share that belief don’t deserve to call themselves human. Values are everything to him.


    Judging: Like his enemy the Queen, Sarastro knows exactly what he wants, what his values are, what he expects from others and what he thinks is best for the world. He never strays from those principles, regardless of the situation. Both as a self-motivated Introvert and as a principle-driven Judger, his role is to influence people and situations, not to be influenced by them. A Perceiver wouldn’t be less of a leader, per se, or less staunch in his core values, but his decisions would likely be more varied and more strongly influenced by each new circumstance that arises. But that’s not Sarastro.


    The male INFJ is a ubiquitous figure in pop culture, despite being statistically the rarest Myers-Briggs type. Young INFJs tend to be the classic, unassuming yet idealistic journeying heroes (Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Steve Rogers/Captain America, Avatar Aang, Disney’s Hercules, etc.), while older INFJs tend to be the wise, often mystical father-figure mentors (Gandalf, Yoda, Mufasa from The Lion King, etc.). Sarastro obviously belongs to the latter group. This type is widely seen among history’s great idealists too, including Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and arguably Jesus. It’s also agreed that Hitler and Osama bin Laden were dark INFJs, which should surprise none of Flute’s detractors who consider Sarastro a glorified tyrant. Light or dark, healthy or unhealthy, INFJs have a vision of a perfect world and strive to bring the real world in line with that vision. Their chief cognitive functions are Introverted Intuition (Ni), seeing broad potentials and applying broad principles to each situation based on inner beliefs, and Extraverted Feeling (Fe), using those principles to respond to the external world in an emotionally meaningful way. For an idealistic high priest who leads the young protagonists toward enlightenment, no other personality type is more fitting.


    Monostatos: ISTP (“The Virtuoso”/“The Mechanic”/The Crafter”/”The Weapons Specialist”)

    Introversion: Monostatos does what he wants regardless of external cues and turns inward to examine each situation. He pursues Pamina against both Sarastro’s and the girl’s own wishes. Each new turn of events he privately determines how to manipulate to serve his goal of winning Pamina. When alone he reflects and broods on the unfair treatment he receives and uses it to inwardly justify his actions. An Extraverted Monostatos would be less introspective.


    Sensing: Monostatos’s mind is always fixed on the present moment. He takes his opportunities as they come and shows little interest in abstract concepts. These are traits he shares with Papageno, as is a tendency to conceive love in physical terms, i.e. “billing and cooing, hugging and kissing.” But in this respect he goes even further than his fellow Sensor. Papageno still manages to value love as a deep connection by which two people “reach the godhead,” but for Monostatos, who calls it “love” to try to use force or manipulation to make Pamina his own, it’s purely carnal. As with the Queen, we can argue that his villainy comes from excess focus on literal, physical facts (his base instincts, the temptations in front of him, etc.) and refusal to let any nobler concepts drive him.


    Thinking: This was tricky, since Monostatos is, of course, driven by his base passion for Pamina. But his focus is less on his feelings, in and of themselves, but on taking pragmatic action to satisfy them. Whether that action is chaining Pamina up, trying to blackmail her, threatening to kill her, trying to molest her in her sleep, sucking up to Sarastro, or sucking up to the Queen, if he thinks it will get him what he wants, he’ll do it. The one odd exception is his attempt to stab Pamina after she rejects him in the post “Hölle Rache” scene. That moment of blind murderous rage is of no logical use to anyone. But I suppose it’s in the same vein as Papageno’s flashes of Intuition. He might sometimes give in to Feeling, but Thinking is his preference.


    Perceiving: As I already mentioned, Monostatos takes opportunities as they come. He prides himself on his vigilance and easily shifts from one strategy to another to win Pamina, Observing each new opportunity and efficiently responding is his forte.


    ISTPs are stereotyped as natural craftspeople or athletes, but even when they’re neither of those things, they specialize in wielding “tools” in pragmatically useful ways. Monostatos’s “tool” is manipulating the social pecking order: he plays the sycophant to his masters and abuses any power he’s given. In him we also see what ALBoP calls the ISTP’s “Type Angst” – a painful sense of not fitting in. This is allegedly common among ISTPs due to their weak Extraverted Feeling (Fe – the function most associated with social skills) and Monostatos’s literal outsider status as a Moorish slave only makes it worse. Therefore, he rejects any empathy or respect for the people who “reject” him, and uses the social order only to achieve his own selfish ends.


    I won’t write full profiles for anyone else, but if I had to, I’d say that the Three Ladies are all ESFJs like their mistress the Queen, the Three Boys are INFJs like Sarastro, Papagena is an ESTP and the Speaker is an INTJ.


    It’s fascinating to notice the recurring patterns in the personality types of this particular opera. Namely the predominance of Feelers and the association of Intuition with the idealistic heroes and Sensing with the baser instinct-driven villains and bumblers. I feel tempted to apologize on Mozart and Schikaneder’s behalf to all real Sensors and Thinkers: in real life, Sensors can be just as dignified and idealistic as any Intuitive (at least I should hope they can – I’m a Sensor myself), while Thinkers can be just as loving and compassionate as any Feeler, just in different ways. Still, those patterns provide interesting insights into the Enlightenment-era Freemasons’ definition of “virtue. Or at least into the definition of “virtue” held by Mozart, whom I tend to see typed as either an ISFP, an ESFP or an ENFP, and/or by Schikander, whom I think must have been an NF of some kind or other).


    I can’t wait to use this method to analyze more opera characters and keep finding new insights.


















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