Diplomacy is one of the greatest strengths of an NF type personality, and nowhere is that made more clear in Star Wars than by Padmé Amidala Naberrie. One of the defining aspects of her character is her constant insistence on trying to find peaceful, mutually beneficial resolutions to conflicts.
Like many women, Padmé leads with Extroverted Feeling — a mental process that places a high value on harmony. Yet she’s not a pacifist. In fact, Padmé has learned one of the hardest lessons for FJ types to master — that there are times when harmony in the moment needs to be sacrificed for the greater good.
Unfortunately for Padmé, she also exhibits ENFJ traits such as being too compassionate in certain situations and too trusting of the people she cares about most. That doesn’t make her a weak character, though. Just one with very relatable (and very human) flaws. She’s a wonderfully complex and interesting character, and I think knowing about her ENFJ personality type just makes me love her all the more.
Seeing Other Perspectives
When paired with Introverted Intuition, healthy Extroverted Feeling (Fe) not only picks up on what others are feeling but also looks at things from their perspective (for an unhealthy example, see Padmé’s ENFJ grandson Kylo Ren). One of the traits that often comes with a pairing of Fe-Ni is a willingness to listen to any confession, no matter how dark, without rushing to a judgement.
Padmé has received criticism for not reacting with horror to Anakin’s confession that he slaughtered the Sandpeople. But NFJs can handle a scary amount of horrible confessions from people and still focus on comforting the person in front of them, especially if they already love the person. It might be a little hard for some to wrap their minds around, but her reaction is in-character.
Another strength of NFJ types is that they’re really good on picking up when someone is keeping secrets from them. Right before Anakin confesses to killing the Sandpeople, Padmé asks, “What’s wrong, Anni?” The obvious answer is that his mother just died, but Padmé quickly sees that something else is wrong on top of that. Similarly, she knows Anakin isn’t being honest with her after his prophetic dream in Episode III. As is typical of many FJ types, she’s accepting of both revelations — more concerned with what it’s telling her about the man she loves than she is with what actually happened.
A Confident Diplomat
Though Padmé leads with a mental process nicknamed Harmony, that doesn’t mean she avoids contradicting people or telling them what to do. She’s not shy about sharing her thoughts, whether its speaking up against Jedi Master Qui-gon Jinn, calling for a vote of no-confidence in Chancellor Valorum, or telling Anakin the way he looks at her makes her feel uncomfortable.
When FJ types know what is expected of them and how they fit into their world, they can navigate social situations with enormous confidence. Even at 14 years old, Queen Amidala is comfortable making huge decisions about the fate of her planet. She doesn’t have the perspective she will when the next film picks up 10 years later, though, and trusts Palpatine a bit too much by following his advice to call for a vote of no confidence. Even so, it doesn’t take her long to pick-up on the fact that this vote won’t help. She says, “It is clear to me now that the Republic no longer functions. I pray that you will bring sanity and compassion back to the senate.”
Even when Padmé decides that she needs something other than a peaceful solution she still pursues it through diplomatic means by revealing her true identity to Boss Nass. She gambles that she’ll be able to convince Boss Nass to help them, and she reads him well enough that she’s able to form an alliance with a group of people who’ve been historically hostile to hers. A similar thing happens on Geonosis, when she tells Anakin, “Whatever happens out there, follow my lead. I’m not interested in getting into a war here.” In this case, however, she isn’t able to find a diplomatic solution to this mess.
I know the Revenge of the Sith deleted scenes aren’t exactly canon, but I like what the ones with Padmé add to her character. She becomes involved in Bail Organa and Mon Mothma’s conspiracy to restore the Republic even, if necessary, through rebellion. She doesn’t just blindly go along with them, though, and has no problem voicing her dissenting opinions while also working toward cooperation (a skill we see her start to learn in The Queen’s Shadow). She even leads the group that goes to speak with the Chancellor about putting an end to amendments to the constitution and pursuing a diplomatic solution to the war.
One of the things I found most interesting about The Queen’s Shadow is that it shows Padmé and her handmaidens treated Queen Amidala as a role any of them could play. Their creation of Padmé’s public face was a collective effort. Even when she moved on to being Senator Amidala and needed to be present as herself for decisions and negotiations, she still collaborated with her team on how to present Amidala and which Senators they should ally with.
Extroverted Feeling is considered a rational mental function by typologists. This function is conceptual and analytic about how it relates to people and to personal values. In fact, Lenore Thomson says that since this function “focuses our attention on people’s outward behaviors and prompts us to interpret them in a standardized way,” it is “likely to prompt a disregard of immediate emotional preference” (Personality Type, p. 320). I love that E.K. Johnson included this in The Queen’s Shadow by showing Padmé consciously choosing what was expected of her instead of trying to figure out what she might personally want.
Padmé’s focus on doing what is expected and proper in the eyes of the community is one of her central conflicts in Attack of the Clones. She doesn’t want to leave Coruscant while the bill she’s been working has its fate decided, but she bows to the wishes of the Chancellor and her friends. Once on Naboo in a more relaxed setting without others around for her to sync-up with in terms of social expectations, she lets herself fall in love with Anakin. Their kiss by the lake is broken off by Padmé saying, “I shouldn’t have done that.” But she still goes on a picnic with him and then wears a seductive dress when they spend an evening together.
We don’t hear much from Padmé about how she feels about Anakin, but I think the discomfort she shows isn’t because she wishes he would stop pursuing her. Instead, I think it’s because she doesn’t want to admit she wants a romance she knows she shouldn’t have. She pushes him away by saying, “We can’t. It’s just not possible. … If you follow your thoughts through to conclusion it’ll take us to a place we cannot go. Regardless of how we feel about each other.” She admits to her feelings for him, but says she couldn’t live a lie and only relents when she thinks they’re about to die.
Once she’s committed to him, though, she doesn’t back-out, though she does worry. After she become pregnant, she keeps bringing up “what ifs?” that concern her. She fears that the Queen won’t let her continue serving as Senator and even more than that, what the Jedi Counsel will do to Anakin. Her main fears aren’t for herself, but for Anakin and how others will see them. Even when Anakin prophesies she could die in childbirth the first thing she asks about is what happens to the baby.
Pattern-Recognition and Stress
Of course, Extroverted Feeling isn’t all there is to ENFJs. We all have four mental functions that we use more or less directly. ENFJs also rely on co-pilot Introverted Intuition and tertiary Extroverted Sensing. Their least-developed of these four functions is Introverted Thinking. If you need a refresher on how functions work in Myers-Briggs®, click this link.
Introverted Intuition gives Padmé reliable pattern-recognition abilities that help her predict what might happen next and figure out the big-picture from just a few facts. Very early in AOTC, when talking with some Jedi and Senators about the assignation attempt, she tells them, “I think Count Dooku is behind it.” It takes about two hours of film for everyone else to catch-up with what she’s already figured out.
In Return of the Sith, Padmé is one of the few people to recognize that letting Palpatine take more power is killing democracy. Fairly early in the film she tells Anakin, “What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists? And the Republic has become the very evil we’ve been fighting to destroy?” It turns out she’s right. In fact, so right it’s almost prophetic.
As for her the psychological function that she’s least comfortable with, ENFJs have Introverted Thinking as their inferior function. Stressful situations tend to push them to compulsively search for truth, but also to use convoluted logic. They may become worried, excessively critical, or act without thinking. Padmé tends toward impulsive action and searching for truth, which is what leads her to Mustafar. She refuses to believe Anakin would turn to the Dark Side without seeing it for herself and insists on going after him alone.
Searching For Adventure
Extroverted Sensation is an ENFJ’s tertiary function (Personality Hacker calls it a 10-year-old process to describe about how well developed the tertiary is). Extroverted Sensing gives us real-time kinetic skills, which for Padmé shows up as the more adventurous, action-oriented side to her personality.
Having Sensing tertiary in her function stack lends a playful, in-the-moment aspect to her personality that shows up when she and Anakin are hiding out in the lake country. It also contributes to Captain Typho telling Obi-Wan, “I’d be more concerned about her doing something than him,” when Padmé leaves with Anakin in AOTC. I’ve always liked that this line hints at shenanigans in Padmé’s past. We get some idea of what he means when reading The Queen’s Shadow and learn that Padmé loves the element of danger and adventure involved in switching rolls with the handmaidens.
Extroverted Sensing isn’t about being reckless, however. While Obi-Wan and Anakin trade witticisms and argue in the arena, Padmé starts picking the lock on her handcuffs. She might have told Anakin she was expecting to die, but she’s not just going to wait around for it to happen. Not long after, she dives right into the fight on Geonosis, including leading reinforcements to help Anakin and Obi-Wan and firing at Dooku herself.
Even in TPM, Padmé is pretty comfortable taking direct, physical action when the situation calls for it. She’s the one who comes up with an attack plan to free Naboo. Even more surprising, there’s a blaster in her throne which must have been there before the Trade Federation attacked. It seems that long before her conversation with Anakin about “aggressive negotiations” Padmé was prepared for the worst even while working toward a peaceful solution. It’s such an interesting balance between her idealistic Intuitive side and her more practical Sensing side.
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- Star Wars: Phantom Menace
- The Queen’s Shadow
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars Clone Wars – Seasons 1-5
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith