Fictional Typing: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mysterious hermit we meet at the beginning of A New Hope, acts as a structure that catalyzes most of the major events in the Star Wars Saga. His influence is capped off by introducing Luke to the ways of the Jedi, in hopes Luke will eventually restore the force to balance. In the prequels, we see just how central Kenobi was to the development of Anakin, being the only one who would accept Anakin as an apprentice — at the behest of Obi-Wan’s master, Qui Gon Jin. As the storylines of prequels and the originals connect, we come to see Obi-Wan as a linchpin whose presence, even after his death, never fades completely.
The storied relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader is one of the mysteries placed before us in A New Hope. Old “Ben” Kenobi and the renowned Lord Vader. In the first of a two-part series, we will be psychoanalyzing Obi-Wan Kenobi in this article, and Darth Vader/Anakin in next week’s article.
With the release of the “Kenobi” show, we find Obi-Wan willfully stranded in the deserts of Tatooine, his watchful eye set on protecting what he hopes is the true chosen one. Unbeknownst to Obi-Wan, Anakin has become the true “Vader” in the ensuing decade after their last encounter. That encounter left Anakin without both legs, an arm, and nearly his life. We have seen a glimpse of an enigmatic but vindictive Vader as he remains imprisoned in the grips of his pain.
Both Vader and Obi-Wan are well acquainted with suffering. Vader’s misery is more pronounced. The dismemberment of his body pushed him to the edge of what a human stand. His marred figure serves as painfully tangible evidence of his misery. The nearly constant physical pain he experiences, even after his medical and technological enhancements, stokes his eternal anger, bringing him deeper into the heart of the dark side. But that suffering pales in comparison to the guilt he carries from Padme’s death — and the reported death of his children. The internal anguish of this guilt puts Vader’s psyche into an abyss few could imagine.
But Obi-Wan Kenobi, his body being fully intact, carries the burden of what he has seen, and the constant reminder of, from his perspective, his ultimate failure. Deep down, Obi-Wan feels responsible for what happened to Anakin. Locked in a duel with Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan admits: “I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you.” Obi-Wan blames himself as much as anyone else for Anakin’s fall.
Attached to what happened to Anakin, Obi-Wan carries the complete destruction of the Jedi order, as well as Palpatine’s annihilation of the Republic, on his back. Obi-Wan bears the memory of all his comrades who were slain under the Emperor’s scheming eye. On his back, the quiet, charming, and enduring Obi-Wan, despite a peaceful demeanor, carries the sufferings of a lost world.
When we meet him in the first few episodes of Kenobi, he is a broken man who has darkened since we last saw him in Revenge of the Sith. All Obi-Wan has is his job, which provides his daily needs, and his responsibility to watch over young Luke. His instinct is no longer to help, but to survive.
With the new Temple and Deadly Sins content that has been shown in Seasons 7 & 18, we are going to treat this fictional typing a little differently. We will be mostly sticking to the type grid, but we will be running a litmus test to demonstrate how to type via the Temples and the Deadly Sins. Obi Wan belongs to one of the four Temples, and he shares in the two Deadly Sins of that Temple.
Spoiler warning, all previously released Star Wars content is fair game. Regarding the Kenobi show, we will be discussing events that have transpired up through Chapter 3, but no further.
Who is Obi-Wan Kenobi?
We first meet Obi-Wan in A New Hope as the hermit-like “Old Ben.” He is restrained, measured, and cautious. Kenobi’s seeming preference to live alone is regarded by many as irrefutable evidence that he is introverted. The leading opinion of different personality websites is that Obi-Wan is an INFJ. Some, though far fewer, see him as an ISFJ. While there may yet come a day when we do a typing that agrees with the opinion of the internet, today is not that day.
This cautious element to Obi-Wan is vital to understanding his psychology. He’s always on the lookout for potential threats to his own and others’ safety. In The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan, Qui Gon, Padme and others are stranded on Tatooine with a damaged ship. Little Anakin has to enter a pod race to pay for the part the ship requires. Obi-Wan, upon hearing the plan, is immediately skeptical.
“What if this plan fails, master? We could be stuck here a very long time.”
Later, as Qui Gon presses to allow the council to permit Anakin to be trained, and the council rejects Qui Gon’s proposal, Obi-Wan sides with the caution of the council. To Qui Gon, Obi-Wan says, “The boy is dangerous. They all sense it. Why can’t you?”
In Attack of the Clones when Obi-Wan finds out Anakin is using Padme as bait to reveal the assassin, he simply says, “It’s too risky.”
Also in The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan seeks to understand why Qui Gon resists the opinions and stances of the Jedi council. He says, “If you would just follow the code, you would be on the council.” This quote is extremely telling because it is actually a projection of what Obi-Wan’s strategy would be if he were in Qui Gon’s position.
In the new Kenobi show, the first episode showcases Obi-Wan in his safe, predictable routine. He goes into town, takes a shuttle with other workers to a food-processing line, works all day, cuts a little slice of meat for his pet, feeds his pet, and then comes home. At home, Obi-Wan has buried a droid that opens a rod that shines a blue or red light. Blue means safe, red means possible intruder.
The evidence so far points to Obi-Wan valuing his comfort and safety, with a focus on keeping a watchful eye for potential threats. Another small piece of evidence is that Kenobi bundles up. We see him reaching around to pull his cloak tighter around his body, sometimes to keep warm and other times to feel safe, throughout his various appearances in the saga. Obi-Wan is an Introverted Sensing (Si) user.
The Temple Perspective
To narrow down the typing, what about the Temples or Deadly Sins — Season 7, P2 — perspective? Based on what we know about Obi-Wan, can we narrow down what Temple he is part of? Let us start with the process of elimination.
There are four Temples: Soul, Heart, Mind, and Body.
- The Soul Temple prioritizes realizing one’s own and other’s true identity and developing quality in moral character.
- The Heart Temple prioritizes infusing, creating and extracting passion in order to live in excitement and find something worth dying for.
- The Mind Temple prioritizes education and learning as a means for preparation to navigate successfully through life.
- The Body Temple prioritizes action and creating items that contribute to their legacy. They want to build something worth remembering.
What Temple is Obi-Wan not a part of? Well, it is very difficult to argue Obi-Wan being part of the Heart Temple. He is often quite stoic, distanced, and shut off from his feelings. One could argue that he is close to the same level as Master Yoda in terms of his ability to control his feelings — a characteristic not shared by Anakin.
What about the Body Temple? Obi-Wan is not an inventor nor does he possess a strong desire to bring about new creations. Further, he does not possess a strong desire to consume — which relates to the Deadly Sins of the Body Temple. If anything, Obi-Wan is all about maintaining the status quo and practicing discipline with his consumption.
Obi-Wan does not belong to the Heart or the Body Temple. What we have left is the Soul or the Mind. There are a few arguments to be made for both, so we will return to this conversation in a moment. What we know for sure, though, is that Obi-Wan, being an Si user, is one of the following: ENFP or ISTJ (Soul Temple), or ESTJ or INFP (Mind Temple). We can extract that Obi-Wan is a Philosopher, Delta-quadra type.
The Kenobi quote we used earlier “If you would just follow the code, you would be on the council,” reveals a strong preference for Si/Ne + Fi/Te. Kenobi believes, or did believe in The Phantom Menace, that it was his duty to follow the rules of the council. Further, Kenobi believed success and promotion would be readily attainable through adherence to rules.
One of the reasons we see him so broken in the beginning of the Kenobi show is that the structure that Kenobi put faith in — the Jedi order, the light side, all the rules and procedures that he did his best to follow — have failed him. He endures in survival mode, shut off from the force. His faith in the Jedi way, even as an Si user, has faltered.
Using the Type Grid, we can narrow it down a bit further. Clearly, Kenobi’s dedication to the Jedi Order and the “rules” reveals him as Affiliative and not Pragmatic. But all four Philosophers are Affiliative. However, perhaps Obi-Wan’s most iconic line — dropping down in front of General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith — when he says, “Hello there” can help us.
Though a small moment, his Initiation — over Responding — is clear. Through the various tasks Obi-Wan is set on through the Star Wars saga, from investigating the mysterious clone facility on Kamino, to asking an old friend to identify the origins of a poisonous dart, and even to mind-tricking the stormtroopers standing guard in Tatooine — “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” — reveal a preference for Initiating over Responding.
This means that Obi-Wan is either an ESTJ or ENFP.
To find Obi-Wan’s type, let’s examine the Deadly Sin aspects of the Soul and Mind Temples. The two Deadly Sins of the Soul Temple are Wrath and Lust. The two Deadly Sins of the Mind Temple are Pride and Sloth. Mixed with the objectives of these two Temples — Soul = Identity + Character; Mind = Education + Learning — what can we deduce about Obi-Wan’s psychological type?
I propose that a single, four-word sentence, said by Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith can solve this puzzle once and for all.
“Don’t lecture me, Obi-Wan.”
This theme of Obi-Wan’s lecturing runs throughout the entire prequel trilogy. In Attack of the Clones, Anakin says something similar, “Not another lecture.” We see, especially in Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan takes every opportunity he can get to explain to Anakin what he’s doing wrong, how to fix it, while stressing the overall “lesson” that Obi-Wan feels Anakin should be absorbing.
Further, from these same quotes, Obi-Wan has a clear preference for being Direct over Informative. Though, at times, he dips into his INFP subconscious — especially in the original trilogy — where he educates more subtly. But more often than not, Obi-Wan says means says what he means and means what he says. Obi-Wan’s directness confirms he is an ESTJ and not an ENFP.
But, despite the endless attempts at educating, Anakin often fails to absorb Obi-Wan’s lessons, catalyzed in his iconic quote to Count Dooku, “I am a slow learner.” This is quite revealing for Anakin’s psyche as well.
There are two notable moments thus far (first three episodes) in Kenobi which reveal Kenobi’s psychology. The first is when Kenobi bargains with the Jawas for a gift. A gift that first appeared in A New Hope, the figurine of a starship that Luke plays with on the farm in Tatooine. Obi-Wan went out of his way to provide a gift — about 10 years before we see it in A New Hope — so that young Luke would have a toy to play with.
When Owen throws the ship down at Obi-Wan’s feet, you feel a piece of Obi-Wan breaking away inside. His innocent Ne Child, simply trying to provide something that a young boy would want, was rejected.
The other notable moment was of quite a different nature. While walking with young Leia through the wilderness, Obi-Wan grows suspicious of whether or not a “friend” told him the truth about a meeting that was supposed to occur.
“Why would he lie?” Leia asks.
Obi-Wan uncharacteristically snaps, raising his voice and discernable frustration mounts as he says, “People are not all good, Leia!”
No one — no one — knows this better than Extraverted Feeling (Fe) Demon. This small snap is evidence of the Demon rearing its repressed head. The burden and frustration of Obi-Wan’s feelings of worthlessness and uselessness snap with the Demon’s wisdom: No, not all people are good. In that moment, Obi-Wan himself feels worthless and useless, and his Fe Demon screams to him: Other people are useless and worthless too!
Obi-Wan’s primary mode of navigating the world is through education and learning. And the Deadly Sins of the Mind Temple — Sloth and Pride — are present in Obi-Wan’s static nature, as well as his belief that the right knowledge will always solve the present problem. It is also one of the reasons he was blind-sided by Anakin’s turn to the dark side.
The Mind Temple sits in Reflection to the Soul Temple, meaning that Obi-Wan overlooked not only the quality of Anakin’s character but, more importantly, who Anakin was. A question that we will turn our attention to in next week’s article.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is an ESTJ and member of the Mind Temple.