Sunday, November 15, 2015

ENFP Problems Part One: A Defense of Peregrin Took

If you're like me, you've taken a few MBTI quizzes over the years. Other than the fact that it's basically a cool psychological inventory, it's just fun. Unlike some of my friends, I have gotten the same result over and over: ENFP, the supposed baby sea otter of Myers-Briggs types. As my time on the internet increased (as all of ours did in the late 00's early-10's), I discovered that other people liked and cared about this sort of thing. I also discovered that my favorite character (Let's be real, I can't ever only pick one) from The Lord of the Rings trilogy is also typed as an ENFP: Peregrin Took.

It explained everything! The affinity and second hand embarrassment that I felt whenever Gandalf, or someone else, said something mean about Pippin were because I often felt the same way. He is a brilliant character who experiences a lot of growth over the length of the quest, especially considering he's supposed to be the equivalent of a seventeen year old kid.

                                   A Certain Kind of Intelligence

Hater's gonna hate.
 I feel as if the movies, as wonderful as they are, forgot to extrapolate on his actual intelligence. Yes, he does some really cool things, and Billy Boyd (bless the cinnamon roll) did do a wonderful job portraying dear old Pip. Yet, the books offer such a deeper background and understanding beyond, "Hey, that hole looks cool, I wonder what's in it."  I am, of course, referencing the scene in Moria where Pippin accidentally knocks a whole skeleton into a well, therefore triggering an attack from the Goblins who apparently were just waiting for someone to trigger the alarm?

                                                                                                            Billy Boyd is such a gem.

In the book, the room with the well is described as having a giant hole in the middle of the floor that's leaking chill. Pippin is described as the only one lying awake thinking that the hole is practically begging him to come look inside. So he goes over and looks; he's curious if there's water in the well (because most of the water in Moria is undrinkable, and if this were, it would be fantastic), so he drops the smallest rock he can find into the expanse. He thinks that he hears a hammer in the distance, and then Gandalf utters his famous, "Fool of a Took" line, therefore assigning Pippin to first watch. It should also be noted that Gandalf feels bad for being too harsh with him and relieves him soon after, as well as the fact that the Goblin attack doesn't occur for two more days. I have read the books enough times to sit here with you for hours and talk about the necessary richness the books add to the films.

Disappointing Gandalf: Ten times worse than disappointing Grandpa
This brings me to one of my favorite things to talk about when it comes to Pip: his relationships. Needless to say, Merry and Pippin are ultimate Brotp goals. I could write a thesis about the two of them quite honestly. One of my dearest friends and I have cosplayed them in a move of solidarity on Defeat of Sauron Day. She makes Lembas bread as well as she edits my commas, a true Merry figure to my Pippin.

A good hobbit lass never leaves home without her pipe, or her partner in crime. Not pictured: our other two hobbit friends.

Billy and Dom's real friendship makes their onscreen one even more special
 Merry is Pippin's anchor in a lot of ways, specifically referring to a classic ENFP trait that I call gravy brain. When it strikes, you literally become impulsive and silly (more so than usual) because you're tired of thinking of every possible outcome. If you were to document your thought patterns in one of those instances, it would look like someone plopped a ladle of gravy on a table, spreading the slop all over the place with minute reason. Why does this occur one might ask? ENFPs (like myself and Pippin) are giant balls of feelings. I mean come on, Extrovert (displays emotions externally), Intuitive (focuses on reading a situation), Feeling, (more likely to make decisions based on emotion in reaction to others), Perceiving (How might things be? The internal curious fire.).

Me too Pip, me too
A good friend for a person like this acknowledges the creativity that lurks in the gravy puddle (much like carrots and celery) but acts as a piece of awesome homemade bread that filters the crazy, whether that crazy is conspiracy theory or reminding them that they are more than life's messes. We all have moments of gravy brain as much as we are all homemade bread. My moments in the Trilogy are when Pippin turns around and becomes bread for others, especially Merry. When Pippin discovers Merry injured on the battlefield, Merry immediately goes into bread mode. But Pippin turns the tables and effectively says, "No buddy, you've taken care of me my whole life, it's your turn to be gravy now."

Pippin displays the special kind of intelligence that the quest needed all along. Sure, he may be lighthearted and somewhat naive, but I think that overall that is a good thing. There is something to be said for those who don't let a bitter world ruin their sweet nature. One of my favorite moments in The Return of the King demonstrates what film Gandalf refers to as "a fool's hope," which in itself is a reference to Pippin's earlier comment: "No, my heart will not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has returned and is with us. We may stand, if only on one leg or at least be left still upon our knees."

I love this quote so much that I have to instagram it every time I come to it.
Gandalf sees this purity of heart and sheer idealism in Pippin. This is another ENFP trait, if not a hobbit trait as well. The ENFP mind tries to make the best of things, not just blindly. They can see that things may be grim but also know that, ultimately, being sad and shutting down will render them useless. To some others this may be perceived as immaturity or simpleminded, but in all reality, hope provides resilience. If Pippin hadn't had hope that someone would find his Elvish leaf pin, he wouldn't have dropped it, and therefore Aragorn's hope may have been quenched. Although Pippin felt defeated, he knew that he had to keep his eyes open. If nothing else,  he knew that he had to protect Merry and try to keep Frodo and Sam out from under the scrutiny of the enemy. I hope to be that person during times of trouble, to find the smallest piece of hope and cling tight. Whether you're in battle or at your favorite watering-hole with friends, be consistent.

 Just as Gandalf says, it is up to us to figure out how we are going to use our time on this earth. With that in mind, I'd say having a pint with friends every once in a while and being willing to admit your own faults sounds like a heck of a good use of time.

What qualities do you find admirable in Peregrin Took?


  1. Yay ENFP group hug! As an enfp I feel this post. In my SOULLLLLLLL. I KKnew theere was a reason he was my favorite character.

  2. "Bless the cinnamon roll..."

    I will very likely be coming back to this article many times. Not only is it perfect for TFI, but it's also chock-full of fantastic analogies. Bread and gravy? That was golden.

  3. I just stumbled upon this post! Fellow ENFP and LOTR-lover here! I have always loved Peregrin Took. He was one of my favorite characters in the books especially. I agree that the movie does not do a very good job of showing all sides of Pippin's nature. It always struck me in the book how fluid and apt Pippin was at reaching other people. He connected with Faramir, for instance, and then connected with even more people in Gondor. He never exhibited fear or prejudice toward people who were different from him. I think this is one of his most endearing characteristics.

    Thanks for sharing this!
    Dani xoxo
    a vapor in the wind