Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On Temperment in Jane Austen

This past year I've been extremely intrigued by the Four Temperments. At some point here I'll do a more detailed post on how it's affected my writing, but for now, I'd like some aid in determining the temperment of the main Jane Austen characters.

As a quick review, the four temperments are Choleric, Melancholic, Sanguine and Phlegmatic. In the very briefest overview, Cholerics like to do things their way, Melancholics the right way, Sanguines the fun way and Phlegmatics the people's way. But it's more complicated than that so please do a bit more research before offering opinions on the theories below.

Froggy/Ella and I decided that:

Elizabeth Bennet is Choleric (with Sanguine undertones) and Mr. Darcy is Melancholic

But Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley gave us more trouble. I'm pretty sure that Emma is mostly Choleric because of the way she likes to control people and situations. But I'm not sure whether her secondary temperment is Sanguine or Phlegmatic. And I believe Mr. Knightley is some combination of Melancholic/Phlegmatic but I'm not sure which is the dominent one.

Now Catherine Moreland and Henry Tilney...I'm pretty sure that for them we decided that Catherine was Sanguine and Henry was Phlegmatic. Any contests on that?

Sense and Sensibility was our last attempt. I believe we designated Marianne as Sanguine and Elinor as Melancholic. And then I voiced the idea that Edward is also a Melancholic, which is why he and Elinor are such a boring couple. People of the same temperments almost never marry, and are not very interesting to read about. But Edward may also be a Phlegmatic, so I'm not sure. And I think that Willoughby is Choleric.

One final couple I was thinking about last night were Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. I think it goes almost without saying that Jane is Phlegmatic and Bingley is Sanguine.

Now...any disagreements? Or do you think we figured right?


Clare said...

Hey, Elinor and Edward aren't a boring couple! I love 'em. :P

With all his moodiness, I definitely think that Darcy is probably primarily melancholic. However, I think that he also has some strong choleric in him, too. I think that's why he and Elizabeth clashed with each other a bit initially.

Marianne... now, I've read about the temperaments quite a bit, but I don't really know many sanguines, so I don't have the personal experience. Do sanguines generally show such a huge depth of emotion the way she does? She strikes me as having some choleric streaks in her. She is a bit bull-headed, obstinate, and wanting to do it her way. (I'm a Melancholic-Choleric, and I can relate very well to both of the Dashwood sisters, so I'm thinking that Marianne might have a little bit of choleric that is clicking with me.)

Willougby probably has sanguine as a secondary temperament. He's very charming, fun, and people-oriented.

I think you got Jane and Bingley absolutely right.

Rose Marchen said...

*nods* Pretty good, I think.

Have you ever read the book "The Temperament God Gave You"? It sounds like you have, but I was just wondering. Very good book!

The Other Katie said...

Hi! I don't know anything about the temperaments besides what is in your post, so I'm curious. What do you mean by the people's way (phlegmatic)? The people's way as in, the way most other people do or think about things? Because everybody is of a certain temperament, right? So the way I'm seeing it, phlegmatic would mean any of the other three. Does that make any sense?

Being a big Jane Austen fan, I'd give my opinion about how you classified the characters but again, I only know about the temperaments as far as you described them.

Elenatintil said...

Clare- Really? Hmmm...I never thought Edward and Elinor DID much of anything.

Hmmm...yes, Darcy could be partually Choleric. Cholerics and Melancholics do tend to clash though because they can both have very strong opinions. And to take it one step further- Lizzy is often viewed as the "Prejudiced" aspect of the book, which is based on an individual opinion (My way) whereas Mr. Darcy is the "Pride" which, in his case, at least, is based on a class system (the "right" way- as is what is accepted as correct and proper). Hmmm...I love what one comes up with the more one thinks!

Hmmm...I've been thinking about Marianne. First of all I'd like to point out that our dear Rose Brier is a Sanguine and we all know that she has a great deel of emotional depth. Also, Marianne isn't really a leader at all. She does like to have her own way- as does Rose- but she doens't really take command of a situation or try to execute it. Or perhaps she does- now that I think of it, she is quite bold and forwards. But then, our Rose is too. I'm not sure of that indicates a secondary Choleric temperment or something else.

I will say this- I do connect with both sisters on differant occasions- depending what role I'm currently filling- and I am a primary Choleric myself. I haven't figured out my secondary yet.

Rose- nope- not yet! But I've had a lot of communication with people who know the temperments quite well.

Katie- "The People's Way" means that Phlegmatics put what is best for other people- relationships- first- that is their priority.

gigi said...

Pretty good! I would say, though, that Emma has a good measure of Sanguine as well as Choleric - the way she glories in rose-tinted daydreams one minute and plunges to the melodramatic depths of catastrophe the next seems to imply it.
I was just Emma in the play, and so have spent some time with the character.

I'm really enjoying your blog, by the bye.