It has been years since I first saw a cartoon series of a sea sponge, shaped like a kitchen sponge (“Western Animation”, undated), called SpongeBob Squarepants. It tells 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. Even though I’m now at an age where it “doesn’t seem appropriate” to watch a cartoon movie like that, my parents often say in a humorous tone, I can’t really take my eyes off it every time it’s on TV. It is, perhaps, the beautiful and clear view of the Bikini Bottom that keeps me from getting bored watching such a movie. Even though the same episodes are played over and over again, the movie serves as an alternate TV show in the morning when there are no other cool shows to watch.
Along with my interest in the SpongeBob cartoon series, my interest in human characters was growing. I spent some time reading a book on human personalities entitled “Personality Plus” written by Florence Littauer (1992) and I observed the characters and the uniqueness of the people around me based on what I had read. According to Littauer (1992), all human beings understood four basic characters as follows: bloodthirsty, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Each of these characters brings their own unique values that cannot be found in the 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 spare time, and finally managed to find the answer: Yes, the characters of SpongeBob and his friends can be classified into the basic characters of Littauer. Through this article I will show you how the classification is done, which is followed by some examples of the episodes.
SpongeBob, the protagonist of the series, represents the character of Sanguine. It is characterized by attitudes in which he is always happy, energetic and optimistic towards his life and his work at Krusty Krab, a local fast food restaurant owned by Mr. Krabs, although he is only paid with a small amount of money. He likes to talk, tell stories and make jokes, some of the main characteristics of a Sanguinis person. However, this talkative behavior sometimes alienates him from people; in the extreme case, once captured by the sea ghost Flying Dutchman, and only 30 seconds later released him as he got bored with his story.
Patrick Star, the best friend of SpongeBob (best friends forever), is the best representation of a phlegmatic guy. He never cares much about his life. He spends most of his days playing with his best friend, sleeping in his house, a large semi-circular 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, in contrast to SpongeBob, who receives tons of awards. He never says no to SpongeBob’s invitation to play with jellyfish.
Then the portrayal of the melancholic character can be found in Squidward Tentacles. Passion for perfection, art lover, high demand of life with excellent quality and pessimistic in most of life – all are parts of the character – are observable in the life of Squidward. It can be seen in the episodes of the series that whenever he finishes his work on the Krusty Krab, he spends most of the day making sculptures of himself and playing his flute. He also dreams of a perfect and richer life, far from the fun and childish life as SpongeBob and Patrick always demonstrated. Perhaps it is that dream that puts him in endless jealousy towards his rival Squilliam Fancyson, a squid-like upper-class citizen in the city.
Finally, an angry character, born leader and profit oriented, is obviously in the life of Mr. Krabs. As mentioned above, Mr. Krabs owns a local fast food restaurant in town. However, your main concern is your customers’ money and how you can get more and more money with little customer service. One episode shows how he wants to attract the attention of children to order some food in his restaurant at the beginning of the summer holidays by building a playground called “Krabby Land”. However, the playground is not the one expected by the children; it is full of play equipment made of broken woods and irons, which are surely dangerous for them. As a born leader, he likes to order things for his two loyal employees, that is, SpongeBob as a cook and Squidward as a cashier. When they make even a small mistake, you get upset easily, especially when it comes to money.
This article discusses the classification of characters in the SpongeBob cartoon series based on Littauer’s four basic human characters. It’s interesting to see that the different characters between them can make for interesting stories, another reason why the pleasure of watching is still there. The weaknesses of these characters can create funny and sometimes “silly” conflicts with each other. I put quotation marks around the word “fool” to show that most of the time in our life we have conflicts that are actually unnecessary. They are just a matter of different perspectives between one character and another. A good understanding of each of the characters is expected to keep us from these kinds of conflicts and focus on bigger challenges that we must face together.