The Enneagram is a profile that divides personalities into nine categories based on how we see life and what motivates us most in life. If you’d like to know more about it, I suggest you wander around The Enneagram Institute‘s website!
In hopes of better understanding the main characters of Black Sails (this post focuses on the men and women highlighted in season 1), I tried to guess what their Enneagram personality types might be. I’d love to hear whether you agree with me or not!
I feel most confident that Flint is a Type Eight: The Challenger.
Defining characteristics include being “powerful, dominating, self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.” I mean, that could straight up be his character description. While these adjectives can seem intimidating (as does the man himself), healthy Eights use their strength to protect others, much like Flint’s vision of creating a free Nassau, whether they want it or not.
Here are a few other lovely descriptions of Eights that fit Flint like a glove:
“Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable.”
“Key Motivations: Want to be self-reliant, to prove their strength and resist weakness, to be important to the world, to dominate the environment, and to stay in control of their situation.”
Silver is, I believe, a Type Five: The Investigator.
As the “intense, cerebral type” our favorite over-thinker is “perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.” He is “alert, insightful, and curious,” able to scan the room and instantly know what’s been going on and who he must manipulate to turn things in his favor. We see him fighting against his “Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable” throughout the first two seasons especially. Like Fives, his “identity is built around ‘having ideas’ and being someone who has something unusual and insightful to say.”
Other Five descriptions of Silver:
“Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.”
Especially fascinating: “When moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), avaricious, detached Fives become more self-confident and decisive, like healthy Eights” (which is what I have typed Flint).
I believe our friendliest pirate is a Type Six: The Loyalist.
He is “engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious,” someone who is “reliable, hardworking, responsible, and trustworthy.” At his best, he can “foresee problems and foster cooperation,” but when events (or Captains) make him feel unsafe, he can become “cautious and indecisive…reactive, defiant and rebellious.”
Other Type Six descriptions that fit our boy Billy:
“Key Motivations: Want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety and insecurity.”
“Sixes are the most loyal to their friends and to their beliefs. They will ‘go down with the ship’ and hang on to relationships of all kinds far longer than most other types. Sixes are also loyal to ideas, systems, and beliefs–even to the belief that all ideas or authorities should be questioned or defied.”
I believe Flint’s quartermaster and friend is a Type Nine: The Peacemaker.
It could be argued that this is the quartermaster’s primary role (and might be why other quartermasters with different Types either fail or move into a different position): making peace between captain and crew. Gates does this phenomenally, given that he is “accepting, trusting, and stable.” He gets himself into trouble because he was “too willing to go along with others to keep the peace,” and it went too far to be controlled. He also has a hard time “being a separate self, an individual who must assert himself against others.”
Other Nine characteristics of Gates:
“They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting.”
“Basic Fear: Of loss and separation.”
I don’t feel entirely confident about this one, but I suggest that Eleanor might be a Type Four: The Individualist.
While not everything about Fours fits Eleanor’s character, I do think she often “withhold[s herself] from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective” while also feeling “disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living.” Eleanor never believes that people love her, yet she has an enormous amount of people who do love her, parentally and romantically. Her final season conversation with Flint also matches a Four’s habit of “attracting a rescuer.”
Other Four descriptions of Eleanor:
“Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance.”
Fours “own all of their feelings and can look at their motives, contradictions, and emotional conflicts without denying or whitewashing them. They may not necessarily like what they discover, but they do not try to rationalize their states, nor do they try to hide them from themselves or others.”
Max, the woman who knows how to work with everyone, is probably a Type Three: The Achiever.
Max is definitely “self-assured, attractive, and charming,” but she is also incredibly “ambitious, competent, and energetic.” Like most Threes, she has “problems with workaholism and competitiveness,” in her case, a natural urge spurred on by her past experiences. An interesting addition to this is that Stressed Threes tend toward Nine characteristics, which means being motivated “to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them” which is largely how I see her in seasons 3 and 4.
Other Three characteristics of Max:
“Healthy Threes know how good it feels to develop themselves and contribute their abilities to the world, and also enjoy motivating others to greater personal achievements than others thought they were capable of.” (Max with Anne in season 2)
“Healthy Threes know that they are worth the effort it takes to be ‘the best that they can be.'”
I could be convinced otherwise, but I feel fairly confident that Vane is a Type Seven: The Enthusiast.
Although not the stereotypical happy, playful Seven, Vane does “constantly seek new and exciting experiences” and has “problems with impatience and impulsiveness.” Our most Selfishly In the Moment Pirate slowly develops into a healthy Seven who can “focus [his] talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.” Again, “joyous” might be too strong a word for the Black Sails universe, but by the end of season three Vane has certainly found contentment.
Other Type Seven descriptions of Vane:
“Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content – to have their needs fulfilled.”
“Key Motivations: Want to maintain their freedom and happiness, to avoid missing out on worthwhile experiences, to keep themselves excited and occupied, to avoid and discharge pain.”
I believe Jack would be a Type Three: The Achiever.
There is no other character so obsessed with how he presents himself to the world (except, perhaps, for Flint, though for very different reasons). He is “adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.” The man who longs to stand beside giants has spent his whole life striving to combat his basic fear “of being worthless.”
Other Type Three characteristics that fit Jack:
“Key Motivations: Want to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others.”
“Threes are often successful and well-liked because, of all the types, they most believe in themselves and in developing their talents and capacities.”
(I debated between Jack being a Three and a One for a long time. If he is a Three, I like his sharing that Type with Max, and the implications that might have about Anne’s preferences. Anyone with further thoughts on his Type would be very appreciated!)
Like Flint, I believe Anne is a Type Eight: The Challenger.
Anne is “protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive,” and she “feel[s she] must control [her] environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating.” Like Flint, Anne has “problems with her temper and with allowing herself to be vulnerable.” As demonstrated in her concerns beginning a new relationship, “Eights do not want to be controlled or to allow others to have power over them (their Basic Fear), whether the power is psychological, sexual, social, or financial.”
Other Eight descriptions of Anne:
“Eights are the true ‘rugged individualists’ of the Enneagram…They often refuse to ‘give in’ to social convention, and they can defy fear, shame, and concern about the consequences of their actions.”
“They are desperately afraid of being hurt emotionally and will use their physical strength to protect their feelings.”
Looking through this list of characters, I’m impressed by the diversity represented. Perhaps unsurprisingly in a show about posturing pirate pursuing revolution (say that five times fast), the only personality types that are repeated are Eights and Threes.