It has been years since the first time I watched a cartoon series of a sea sponge, whose shape is like a kitchen sponge (“Western Animation”, n.d.), named Spongebob Squarepants. It tells about the daily life of Spongebob and his friends, namely, Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles, and Mr. Krabs, living in a city under the sea named Bikini Bottom. Though I am now at an age of which it seems “not appropriate” to watch a cartoon movie like that, my parents often say in a humorous tone, I really cannot take my eyes off it every time it is aired on TV. It is, perhaps, the clear, beautiful view of the Bikini Bottom which prevents me from boredom of watching such movie. Despite the fact that the same episodes are played over and over again, the movie serves as an alternative TV program in the morning when there are no other interesting programs to watch.
Along with my interest in Spongebob Squarepants cartoon series, my interest on human characters was growing. I spent some time to read a book of human’s personalities entitled “Personality Plus” authored by Florence Littauer (1992) and observe the characters and uniqueness of people around me based on what I had read. According to Littauer (1992), all human beings comprise four basic characters as follows: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic. Each of these characters bring its own unique values that cannot be found in the others.
Then one day, a question popped up 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 spare time, and eventually managed to find 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 made, which is followed by some examples from the episodes.
Spongebob Squarepants, the lead in the series, represents the Sanguine character. It is characterized by attitudes in which he is always happy, energetic, and optimistic towards his life and work at the Krusty Krab, a local fast food restaurant owned by Mr. Krabs, though he is only paid with a small amount of money. He likes to talk, tell stories, and make jokes a lot, some main characteristics of a Sanguinis person. However, this talkative behavior sometimes gets him away from people; at the extreme case, once the sea-ghost Flying Dutchman captured him, and only 30 seconds afterward he released him since he got bored with his story.
Patrick Star, Spongebob’s BFF (best-friends-forever), is a best representation of a Phlegmatic guy. He never worries much about his life. He spends most of his days playing with his best mate, sleeping at his home-a large, half-circled rock-and standing across the street, doing nothing. In one episode, he is awarded “the longest jobless sea creature among others” for these unique characteristics, which is in contrast with Spongebob who is given tons of 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. Passion for perfection, art-loving, high demand of life with excellent quality, and pessimistic in most time of life-all are parts of the character-are observable in the life of Squidward. It can be seen in the series episodes that whenever he finishes his work at the Krusty Krab, he spends most of the day with making sculptures of himself and playing with his flute. He also dreams of a perfect and wealthier life, away from the fun and childish life as always demonstrated by Spongebob and Patrick. Perhaps it is that dream that makes him in a never-ending jealousy towards his rival Squilliam Fancyson, a high-class squid-like citizen in the town.
Finally, a born-leader, profit-oriented Choleric character is obviously found in the life of Mr. Krabs. As aforementioned, Mr. Krabs owns a local fast food restaurant in the city. However, his main concern is on his customers’ money and on how he can obtain more and more money with little service to the customers. An episode shows how he wants to attract kids’ attention to order some food in his restaurant at the beginning of summer holiday by building a playground named “Krabby Land”. However, the playground is not as been expected by the kids; it is full of playing equipments that are made from broken woods and irons, which are surely dangerous for them. As a born-leader, he likes to order stuffs to be done by his two loyal employees, that is, Spongebob as the cook and Squidward as the cashier. When they do even a little mistake, he gets angry easily, especially when it deals with money.
This article discusses the classification of characters in 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 storylines, another reason that the enjoyment of watching it is still there. The weaknesses of those characters can create funny and, sometimes, “silly” conflicts between them. I put quotation marks for the word “silly” to show that mostly in our life we have conflicts that are actually unnecessary. They are just a matter of different perspectives between one character to the other. A good understanding of each of the character is hoped to prevent us from such conflicts and to focus ourselves on bigger challenges that we should face together.