MBTI Type: INFJ

INFJs are always thinking and envisioning the future they want for themselves. Tom does this not only in his aggressive attempts to better himself as he prepares to meet Dickie and decides in advance how to appeal to him, but also within his relationships. He can never live in the moment, it’s always about looking ahead and deciding what he wants to do next. For example, he doesn’t want to just be impulsive when he visits Rome (unlike his ESFP friend Dickie) – he knows which museums he wants to attend. And what eventually causes the friction between them as friends is because Tom is planning their lives out for them – he may not be able to afford it right now, but he can come back next year, and get a little place – or they could split the rent – and do things together. Once he meets Dickie, it ceases to be, in Tom’s mind, all about him—the “I” becomes a “we” which is common in extroverted feeling types. Their plans, and ideas, and thoughts all include the people they care about, because their sense of self is rooted in their relationships with others. Tom’s intuition combined with his extroverted feeling allows him to read other people, and to adjust himself to what they want from him. He thinks about their feelings and responds to them, while being sensitive himself. He uses this for good, for evil, and to protect himself, but we see it most especially in his reactions to Dickie and Marge. Dickie hurts him often with his blunt, unfeeling remarks, abuse that eventually leads to Tom killing him in a murderous rage and then stealing his life. But with Marge, Tom plays an innocent, curious, eager young man who just wants to help her. He soothes her when she’s upset, he talks to her about his own feelings, and he even tries to hurt her emotionally, when he realizes she has figured out the truth, by telling her about Dickie’s affairs. He uses Meredith to deliver more emotional blows, by setting her up to keep the illusion that Marge is just a step behind Dickie ongoing. He is also sensitive to criticism; when Freddie talks about how “hideous” the taste is in this villa, you can just see the uncontrolled rage beneath the surface at having his house criticized. He also makes an abundance of arrogant, foolish decisions whenever he is stressed, as a direct result of his inferior Se. He murders Dickie in a blind rage, then steals his identity and travels all around Europe, just assuming he won’t meet people who can put the real name with another face. His murder of Freddie is also impulsive and causes the police to investigate him. Trying to play Meredith and Marge off each other means he’s in danger of them figuring out the truth. And rather than go home, he continues his deceptions by becoming romantically involved with Peter, only to kill him when he meets Meredith on board ship.

Enneagram: 3w2 sx/sp

Enneagram 3s are all about adapting themselves to be whatever anyone else wants them to be, and sexual 3s in particular look to cultivate themselves toward adopting an identity that appeals to whomever they want to attract. This is, in a nutshell, Tom Ripley. We see his capacity for self-deceit early in the story, when he’s making money by attending boring school functions for the rich elite, so he can pretend to be one of them. His deception works so well, a man hires him to go abroad and bring home his wayward son. To prepare for this role, Tom listens to the kinds of music he knows Dickie likes, and cultivates an image he knows will appeal to him. He successfully manages to convince Dickie that he attended the same school, knows him from before—and then he reveals the con, and becomes a conspirator in Dickie’s plan to live high on his father’s money. He adopts a different persona with every person he meets; he is one way with Dickie (hedonistic and eager to experience life), another with Marge (tender and concerned with her feelings), another way with Meredith (he pretends to be Dickie), and another way with Peter (shy and interested in music). Whatever anyone needs him to be, he becomes automatically, but he also confesses that he would like to be “himself.” If he knew who that was, and didn’t fear rejection; his most memorable quote is, “I always thought it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.” He is so desperate to always be concealing his true self, and pretending to be somebody else, he can’t be real with anyone. His 2 wing also “gives to get.” He assumes because he will keep Dickie’s secrets, laugh at his jokes, and help him through things, that Dickie will love and appreciate him, and be a loyal friend. When Dickie rejects this, and him, he reacts extremely badly—he is hurt and lashes out to protect himself.

Interested in finding out your type? Get 16 Kinds of Crazy: The Sixteen Personality Types today!