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Spongebob and Littauer’s Personality Plus: A Spare-Time Analysis by Classification
It’s been years since I first saw a cartoon series about a sea sponge shaped like a kitchen sponge (“Western Animation”, n.d.), called SpongeBob SquarePants. It tells about the daily life of SpongeBob and his friends, namely Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles and Mr. Krabs, who live in a city under the sea called Bikini Bottom. Although I am now at an age where I find it “not appropriate” to watch such a cartoon, my parents often say in a humorous tone, I really can’t take my eyes off it every time it airs on TV. It is, perhaps, the clear and beautiful look of Bikini Bottom that prevents me from getting bored of watching such a film. Despite playing the same episodes over and over again, the movie serves as an alternative morning TV program when there are no other interesting programs to watch.
Along with my interest in the Bob SquarePants cartoon series, my interest in human characters was growing. I spent some time reading a human personality book titled Personality Plus by Florence Littauer (1992) and observed the characters and uniqueness of the people around me based on what I had read. According to Littauer (1992), all human beings contain four basic characters as follows: sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic. Each of these characters brings their own unique values that cannot be found in others.
Then one day, a question arose in my mind: Can the characters of SpongeBob and his friends in the cartoon series be classified into the four characters proposed by Littauer? I thought about it carefully, in my free time, and eventually I came up with the answer: Yes, the characters of SpongeBob and his friends can be classified into Littauer’s basic characters. Through this article I will show you how the classification is done, followed by some examples from the episodes.
SpongeBob SquarePants, the lead in the series, represents the character Sanguine. Characterized by attitudes in which he is always happy, energetic and optimistic about life and his work at the Krusty Krab, a local fast food restaurant owned by Mr. Krabs, although he is only paid a small amount of money. He is very fond of talking, telling stories and making jokes, some of the main characteristics of a Sanguine person. However, this talkative behavior sometimes alienates him from people; in the extreme case, once the Flying Dutchman sea ghost caught him and just 30 seconds later released him after getting bored with his story.
Patrick Star, Spongebob’s BFF (best-friends-forever), is a better representation of a phlegmatic boy. He never worries too much about his life. He spends most days playing with his best friend, sleeping in his house – a large, semi-circular rock – and standing across the road, doing nothing. In one episode, he was awarded “longest unemployed sea creature among others” for these unique characteristics, which is in contrast to SpongeBob, who is given many awards. He never says no to SpongeBob’s invitation to play with jellyfish.
Then the representation of the melancholic character can be found in Squidward Tentacles. The passion for perfection, the love of art, the high demand of life with great qualities and the pessimism most of the time of life – all are part of the character – are evident in Squidward’s life. It can be seen in episodes of the series that whenever he finishes work at the Krusty Krab, he spends most of the day making his sculptures and playing his flute. He also dreams of a perfect and richer life away from the fun and childish life that Spongebob and Patrick always demonstrate. Perhaps it’s that dream that makes him endlessly jealous of his rival Squilliam Fancyson, a high-class citizen like the squid in town.
Finally, a choleric born leader, profit oriented character is definitely found in the life of Mr. Krabs. As mentioned above, Mr. Krabs owns a local fast food restaurant in town. However, his main concern is with his customers’ money and how he can get more and more money with little customer service. One episode shows how he wants to attract the attention of children to order food at his restaurant at the beginning of the summer holidays by building a playground called “Krabby Land”. However, the playground is not what the children expected; it is full of play equipment that is made of broken wood and iron, which are of course dangerous for them. As a born leader, he likes to order things to be done by his two loyal employees, namely Spongebob as the cook and Squidward as the cashier. When they make even a small mistake, he gets angry easily, especially when it comes to money.
This article discusses the classification of characters in the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon series based on Littauer’s four basic human characters. It is interesting to see that the different characters between them can result in interesting stories, another reason that the pleasure of watching it is still there. The weaknesses of those characters can create funny and, sometimes, “stupid” conflicts between them. I put quotation marks around the word “stupid” to indicate that mostly in our lives we have conflicts that are actually unnecessary. They are just a matter of different perspectives from one character to another. A good understanding of each of the characters will hopefully keep us from such conflicts and focus on the bigger challenges we must face together.
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