He was a considered to be man of magnetic personality, with an intense belief in the significance of his own career; and his character had strengths as well as weaknesses. As a poet he had inspiration and genuine power. Some of his short and earlier poems are described by R. H. Hutton as "unequalled for grandeur of outline, purity of taste and radiance of total effect"; while his latest and longest, The Dream of Gerontius, attempts to represent the unseen world along the same lines of Dante. His prose style, especially in his Catholic days, is fresh and vigorous, and is attractive to many who do not sympathise with his conclusions, from the apparent candour with which difficulties are admitted and grappled, while in his private correspondence there is a charm that places it in the forefront of that branch of English literature.
He was highly sensitive, self-conscious and impetuous.
He had many of the gifts that go to make a first-rate journalist, for, "with all his love for and his profound study of antiquity, there was something about him that was conspicuously modern." Nevertheless, he had little knowledge of the scientific and critical writing composed between 1850–1890. There are a few passages in his writings in which he appears to sympathise with a broader theology, admitting that there was "something true and divinely revealed in every religion" Arians of the Fourth Century, 1.3  He held that "freedom from symbols and articles is abstractedly the highest state of Christian communion," but was "the peculiar privilege of the primitive Church." (Ibid, 1.2 
Even in 1877 he allowed that "in a religion that embraces large and separate classes of adherents there always is of necessity to a certain extent an exoteric and an esoteric doctrine." (Prophetical Office, preface to third edition) These admissions, together with his thoughts on doctrinal development and assertion of the supremacy of conscience, led some critics to hold that, in spite of all his protestations, Newman was at heart a liberal. Newman explained to his own satisfaction the teachings of Catholicism, even holding the pope to be infallible in when declaring someone to be a saint; and while expressing his preference for English as compared with Italian devotional forms, he was one of the first to introduce Italian devotions into England. The motto that he adopted for use as a cardinal Cor ad cor loquitur (Heart speaks to heart), and that which he directed to be engraved on his memorial tablet at Edgbaston Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (Out of shadows and phantasm into truth) disclose as much as can be disclosed of a life which, both to contemporaries and to later students, was seen as devout and inquiring, affectionate and yet self-restrained.