Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Hobbit and Huntingtower

The Hobbit was written by J.R.R Tolkien and published in 1937. The first two installments of the film trilogy by Peter Jackson were released in 2012 and 2013.  Huntingtower was written by John Buchan and published in 1922.

The Hobbit (especially the film) and Huntingtower have a number of commonalities:

1. The main character from The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is 50 years old while the main character of Huntingtower, Dickson McCunn is 55.

2. Both Bilbo and Dickson are well to do, respectable people.

3. Both suddenly and unexpectedly set off on adventures.

4. Both had small companions in strange garb.

5. Dickson is fond of books and brings some with him, while books are also important to movie Bilbo who says, "I miss my books, I miss my armchair..." (etc.)

6. Dickson was a grocer until he retired, and in The Hobbit film one of the dwarves remarks of Bilbo, "He looks more like a grocer than a burglar."

7. Dickson is an ISFJ and Bilbo is said to be an ESFJ.

8. Bilbo (in the movie, but not in the book) and Dickson set off with walking sticks.

9. Dickson was setting forth on a walking holiday, and Bilbo liked walks, "I got as far as Frogmorton once," (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

10. Bilbo said, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet there's no knowing where you might be swept off to," (The Lord of the Rings). This accurately describes the adventures of Dickson, he set out on a holiday and was quickly swept up into an unexpected adventure.

11. Dickson and Bilbo (film) had sandy colored hair.

Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman

Dickson McCunn: ISFJ and Modest Hero

I recently listened to the LibriVox recording of Huntingtower, by John Buchan, published in 1922. I was on a long drive across the country and I admit I fell asleep a few times. I hope to actually read the book soon. As I listened, I almost instantly fell to analyzing the main character of this unusual tale, Dickson McCunn. It soon became apparent to me that he was an ISFJ.

I had him pinned down as an SJ, a Guardian, pretty quick. These are the people who are traditional and do what is expected of them and generally believe in upholding law and order. Dickson had lived a pretty normal life up until the book began. He had been a grocer until his retirement and he had done well in this profession and retired fairly wealthy. He described himself as "happily married for 30 years." He was also a responsible, providing type person. At the beginning, he gave some money to help some local urchins to go camping, and at the end, on seeing what fine boys they were he became their patron and decided to help them to great careers.

I had some trouble deciding if he was a Thinker or a Feeler. Then, Dickson was faced with a decision that drove the plot for the rest of the book. He had an initial gut reaction to get away from this odd, dangerous situation. Then he turned to thinking out his decision (Ti is the ISFJ's third function) and he busily worked out in his head why he no longer need take part in this adventure. He had it all logically thought out when he remembered the face of the girl in danger in his mind, and she had a peculiar expression that reminded him of his deceased daughter. (ISFJs have strong memories for details like expression. Portrait of an ISFJ).This clinched it for him, he was going back to help her. That is a perfect example of how an ISFJ makes decisions based on Fe, their secondary function, while first engaging their Ti, their tertiary function. I have use the same process myself, figuring it all out logically (using Ti), making excuses for myself and my initial gut reaction, and then when it comes down to it, doing what my feelings tell me is right (Fe). My feelings consume me for a moment and refuse to let me do anything other than but what they feel is right.

Dickson's next actions were classic ISFJ/ESFJ. He returned, but not without proper preparations. He bought a gun and brought food and thoughtful gifts back to his beleaguered companions. He not only provided, but did so in a thoughtful way that sought to meet the others' personal needs for comfort, not just generic needs for food.

Dickson is definitely and Introverted Sensor. He was very self-aware and analyzed himself constantly throughout the story. He wanted to come through this adventure without regrets or shame, knowing that he had done his bit, his duty (an SJ driving force), and had been brave. From my own experience and from what I've read, ISFJs are tied to the past, we think of life as a story, so while in the present, we want to make sure that we will be able to look back at our own story, our own past, without having to be stung by our consciences for doing the wrong thing or being a coward.

So, we come to the final question, how do we know that he is an Introvert and not an Extrovert? Well, he set off alone on a walking holiday. Key word: ALONE. He didn't need other people to have a good time, he had his books and himself. But, that in itself isn't much to go on. So, additionally, The ESFJ functions, in order of strength are Fe, Si, Ne, and Ti, while the ISFJ functions are Si, Fe, Ti, Ne. If Dickson were an ESFJ, we'd see him use his intuition more. Funky MBTI Fiction says that, "ESFJs are very good at reading people." Dickson has very few flashes of intuition and isn't particularly gifted at reading people correctly. Joe Butt wrote, "ISFJs are easily undone by Extroverted iNtuition, their inferior function." Instead, Dickson is more of a Ti user. For more on the differences between ESFJs and ISFJs and the significance of these functional differences please read Funky MBTI Fiction's post, see link above.

There are a plethora of little instances that point to the fact that Dickson is an ISFJ, perhaps when I have an opportunity to get my hands on a paper copy of the book I will delve into a more exhaustive analysis.

One more little thing: one of the reasons I really enjoyed this story was because it lent itself so well to analysis and as an ISFJ, myself, I could really relate to Dickson's decision making process, his romanticism spurred by the books he'd read, his shock at hearing someone lie, his shy, quiet manner of giving gifts, and his desire to do his duty and be a hero in what is thrown his way even if he's not THE hero of the story.