MBTI Type: ISFJ
Robert has tremendous respect for the inheritance he has been handed, and the responsibilities that Downton Abbey entail. He finds it hard to step away from hundreds of years of tradition in order to challenge the entail, which would enable him to leave the estate to his daughter, Mary, instead of a son. He nurses strong personal memories about the past, and how things are done, but is also interested in the “improvements” and “ideas” Matthew has for the estate. They work well together, with Matthew providing the intuition Robert needs to foresee ways to economize and change. Robert helps Matthew to see that his decisions impact the community, not just his own household – he reasons that if they no longer need a staff, others will be put out of work. He cares very much about those under his roof and those in the wider community, and makes choices based on their well being – even when it means over-spending to keep the servants employed. Robert can be emotional and needy, showing his feelings instantly and working through them quickly – such as when he throws a man out of his house for insulting his daughter, or bemoans the idea of Edith being stuck “looking after us in our own age” (“Oh, what a ghastly thought!). His deep need for encouragement almost causes him to have an affair with a maid when Cora proves too distracted to fulfill his emotional needs, but he can also be rational, able to grow with the times and adopt new ideas provided they are useful. Robert struggles mightily to adapt to the world as it moves forward, since it means leaving some of his old prejudices and habits behind. He has a sense when others are lying to him, but does not much care to speculate on massive change and likes things to remain the same (inferior Ne).
Enneagram: 2w1 so/sp
Robert has a tendency to people-please; he almost fires Bates because his wife does not think it looks good to have a “crippled manservant.” He falls (briefly) for another woman when Cora is no longer there to love him, in the way he needs. He is quick to help out others for various reasons – paying for Mrs. Patmore’s eye operation, for one. Robert, however, has a temper that shows itself whenever he’s stressed – he asserts his opinions forcefully and does not back down, forbidding his daughters from participating in feminist marches and political parties, and trying to maintain control over his household (disintegration to 8). His 1 wing often saves him from misbehavior – a strong sense of duty ties him to Downton and makes him firm in his convictions about doing the right thing; he keeps Bates on, as a matter of compassion and principle; he finds it hard to forgive his children their moral indiscretions, and feels great guilt over his own brief affair.