Typing Doctor Who: Victorian Clara


Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach focused on immediate results. Theories and conceptual explanations bore them – they want to act energetically to solve the problem. Focus on the here-and-now, spontaneous, enjoy each moment that they can be active with others. Enjoy material comforts and style. Learn best through doing.

So yesterday I was watching The Snowmen, the 2012 Christmas special which featured Jenna Coleman’s second appearance in Doctor Who, as the Victorian incarnation of Clara. And it struck me as I was watching it that there are some subtle differences in the way Clara’s various incarnations are written. The ones we’ve seen—the original Clara, Victorian Clara, and Oswin—all fit broadly into the same mould, but they’re not the same. For example, the original Clara (Clara Prime?) from 21st Century Britain, was written as a technological illiterate (much like me), but the first of Clara’s incarnations we saw, Oswin (or Dalek Clara), in Asylum of the Daleks, was a technological genius. Victorian Clara, too, was noticeably different from Clara Prime and Oswin, yet sharing much in common in terms of personality.

This should be expected—when Clara entered the Doctor’s time stream on Trenzalore, she birthed thousands of versions of herself throughout the Doctor’s timeline, living thousands of distinct lives in thousands of different places. Personality is partly a result of genetics (nature), but also substantially determined by environment (nurture). How could the various versions of Clara not differ in certain ways? No doubt there are versions of Clara of every personality type running around the Doctor’s timeline, and none, since the MBTI describes human personality, and we know at least one version of Clara was an alien: the Gallifreyan Clara who persuaded the First Doctor to choose his Type 40 Tardis.


With all that said, I think Victorian Clara is an ESTP. That’s a subtle difference from Clara Prime, whom I typed as an ESFP, and I stick to that typing. (I’ll also tentatively type Oswin as an ENTP, a rather more considerable distinction). Along with the description I linked to above, a good brief description of ESTPs is:

ESTPs are outgoing, straight-shooting types. Enthusiastic and excitable, ESTPs are “doers” who live in the world of action. Blunt, straight-forward risk-takers, they are willing to plunge right into things and get their hands dirty. They live in the here-and-now, and place little importance on introspection or theory. The look at the facts of a situation, quickly decide what should be done, execute the action, and move on to the next thing.

Some celebrity and fictional ESTPs you might know are: Miley Cyrus, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Donald Trump, Madonna, Jaime Lannister (Game of Thrones), Bart Simpson (The Simpsons), Oliver Queen (Arrow), Dean Winchester (Supernatural). And of course, Captain Jack Harkness.

Let’s start with what Victorian Clara and Clara Prime have in common. They’re both perky, flirtatious and outgoing. They’re both daring and have a thirst for action and danger. They’re both cleverer than they let on. Everything Steven Moffat seems to like in a female companion, in other words. But I think they clearly differ in one fundamental respect: Clara Prime is more gentle, more touchy-feely, and Victorian Clara is more hard-nosed and logical. Clara Prime’s emotions are more frequently on show—not in the sense that she’s emotional or irrational (she can be very rational and tough-minded when she wants to), but in that she more readily feels about things, she processes things through her emotional filter, and since she’s an extrovert (an ExFP), her feelings are much more clearly on show (something I’ve learned about ExFP types from knowing quite a few of them).


Compare Victorian Clara. Victorian Clara’s emotions don’t leak out of her the way Clara Prime’s do. She has feelings, sure—there are a couple of times in the episode when Victorian Clara becomes emotional—but she typically approaches things coolly and logically. She’s an adept problem-solver: the way she figured out what the Doctor’s plan was (to take the Ice Lady up to the cloud) was a masterclass in using quick deductive logic in a crisis situation. See, too, how she responds to happening upon the snow and the Doctor: she wants to understand the snow, and understand the Doctor. She interrogates a random stranger about the snowman rather than dismissing it as something inconsequential, or as her memory playing tricks on her or something. The curious Doctor piques her interest and she follows him all the way to his Tardis in the clouds. She wants to know, to understand. That’s very typical of the Introverted Thinking (Ti) that characterises TP types—the desire to understand and to make logical sense of things. Curiosity.

What I’ve been talking about is what fundamentally distinguishes Victorian Clara, the ESTP, from Clara Prime, the ESFP. Expressed in MBTI terms, it’s the distinction between each type’s primary judgment process: ESTPs use Introverted Thinking (Ti) to make judgments, and ESFPs use Introverted Feeling (Fi). But both share Extraverted Sensing (Se) as their dominant perceptive (information-gathering) process. Se is being attuned to the sensory details of things around you, in the moment. It’s being aware of sensations, colours, tastes, people, activity, beauty around you, and wanting to interact with it all. It’s also taking action in the moment. The example I gave above of Victorian Clara deducing the Doctor’s plan also illustrates this, her ability to react and take action and think coolly in the moment. Crisis and danger don’t fluster her, she thrives on it. That says ESTP all over. Victorian Clara’s Se is also illustrated when she decides on the spot to pursue the Doctor after basically being told to bug off, and in the way she spontaneously kisses the Doctor. The latter, overt (and spontaneous) displays of sexuality, is very Se, and very ESxP. Amy, an ENFP, spontaneously kissed the Doctor too, once, but one thing I noticed about Victorian Clara was how much more physical a person she was than Amy, which indicates to me SP rather than NP.


One last thing I noted about Victorian Clara is her deftness, as a governess, in caring for Francesca and Digby, Captain Latimer’s children. I think this is illustrative of another point of distinction between Victorian Clara and Clara Prime, between ESTP and ESFP. Although she’s a Thinker, Victorian Clara’s nurturing abilities come from her tertiary Extraverted Feeling (Fe), which is being attuned to the feelings and values of others and being skilled in dealing with others’ feelings. As an extravert, and a well-rounded person in general, Victorian Clara can slip fairly easily into using Fe in her role as a governess, a carer of children, when she needs to. In contrast, FP types like Clara Prime use Introverted Feeling, which, in contrast to the outward, interpersonal focus of Fe, is attuned to the person’s own intrapersonal feelings and values. Victorian Clara’s emotional expression is somewhat affected, because it’s focussed upon others, while Clara Prime’s expression comes off as more authentic and sincere, because it’s focussed upon herself. See my post on Clara (Prime) for more on the way Clara uses Fi.


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