“Character flaws” are just character traits that damage relationships and aspects of our lives that we would prefer to have in-tact. (In a larger societal view they might include other traits, but that’s a different topic.)
Character traits, in reality or in fiction (if it’s well written), do not live in a vacuum. People are shaped by their environment, by the people closest to them, and by their experiences.
One of Jester’s flaws that has come up a lot in recent episodes — following the big Traveler reveal — is her need to constantly prove herself and by extension The Traveler. Under times of stress this has even led to some aggression toward other members of the party, regardless of whether or not they were really challenging her. Jester often feels the need to prove she is smart, capable, and a full adult.
Jester has spent the vast majority of her life in her mother’s pocket. It’s no wonder she has only begun to develop herself as an adult. She, more than others (except perhaps Caduceus) was shaped primarily by a very small group of people: Marion, Bluud, and others working at the Chateau.
We have seen her relationship with Marion. Marion loves her dearly, but probably struggled to give her the attention she needed growing up. She often praises Jester as someone who has brought her much joy. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that because of that Jester developed a need to be always bright and happy for her mother.
Jester’s first impression on people is often of that bright and bubbly girl, seemingly naive about the world, seeing only the best in others. The Mighty Nein saw that in her and for the most part decided they wanted to protect that “innocence”.
Perhaps they weren’t too far off at first. She was a young, sheltered girl who hadn’t seen much of the world and knew only a luxurious lifestyle. But this also led to them constantly underestimating her, and especially underestimating her ability to understand the world as it was revealed to her.
Jester’s need to prove herself probably stems from very real experiences with being infantilized by others, and especially the Mighty Nein in the earlier days. Her personality and lack of real-world experience often reads like naivety, but Jester is an incredibly empathetic and insightful individual. Her kindness is wise and deliberate, not foolish.
She is not a child, and her attempt to dress more “maturely” after arriving in Xhorhas is likely a response to being treated like one too often. And the Mighty Nein have at least begun to understand this. Many of them — especially Beau and Caleb — regard her quite highly and see her as very capable and powerful. They no longer see her as simply a naive child even if they once did.
But we see in Jester’s moments of vulnerability that she grows very defensive when questioned. Since discovering the Traveler’s identity she often tries and fails to defend herself and the Traveler against comments of him not being a god. I for one don’t really think the Mighty Nein are judging her in any way for the situation as it stands. They don’t think her foolish for falling for the Traveler’s “lie” the way she seems to fear they do. They don’t seek to belittle her powers either. But her reactions indicate she sees it that way.
In large part, the Mighty Nein have left behind the idea of Jester as a naive and innocent child. They respect her, think her capable and powerful, ask for her advice, and hope to support her in whatever she wants to do. But they are in part responsible for that need of hers to prove herself, and it’s proof that they need to talk about it. Jester deserves to know how they see her. Some of them might even owe her an apology for underestimating her before. But working that out will need to be a group conversation.