Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!
All Hallows’ Eve approaches and we’re revisiting a favorite ghoul of ours. Using personality theory, we’re dissecting the creepy and crude bio-exorcist, known most of all for his name, repeated three times: Beetlejuice…Beetlejuice…Beetlejuice!
If you haven’t had the chance to check out Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, you might want to watch it before you dive into this article, not only for context but because it’s a wickedly entertaining movie.
Betelgeuse (the actual spelling of his name) is, by all means, a despicable character. Though he only has 17 minutes of screen time, his presence is felt throughout the entire film. If he’s not physically present, the effects of his manipulation, lechery, or desperation are seen through the misery of others.
Let’s examine his prominent character traits:
- Desperate for acceptance
- Disrespectful of boundaries
From what we can gather from Betelgeuse, we’re going to guess he’s either a Turbulent Debater (ENTP-T) or Entrepreneur (ESTP-T).
Why Turbulent, you may ask?
Debaters and Entrepreneurs may seem chaotic to the average person, but there is order there. Order for these personality types is based on self-assurance, which leads to greater emotional stability. Questions they may ask themselves are, “Do I mostly believe in myself?”, “Do I mostly believe in my capabilities?”
When the answer is “yes”, you have a person who can be more resistant to stress and doubt, and, as a result, resistant to the accompanying emotional fluctuation.
When the answer to these questions is “no”, you have someone who can easily experience a wide range of emotions and can be success-driven and eager to improve. With Beetlejuice, you see this in his explosive emotional outbursts – anger, confusion, sadness – as well as his desperate need for acceptance from strangers.
While we believe that Beetlejuice is Turbulent, it’s also important to note that he is a fictional character, and his Turbulent personality trait is overexaggerated for the sake of storytelling. In real life, most individuals who are Turbulent are far more nuanced.
It’s fair to say that Betelgeuse is extremely Extraverted.
Extraverted personality types gain energy from outer stimuli and need to seek out these stimuli to perform well. Introverts, on the other hand, are more sensitive and need to escape the same stimuli. Betelgeuse is not escaping anything or anyone: In fact, he’s desperate to bring people into his miniature cemetery.
Once he has an audience, he’ll do anything to “get their business”, and isn’t afraid of begging to entice them to stay. Of course, his complete disrespect for boundaries – kissing Barbara Maitland at first meeting, and then asking her husband Adam if she’s available, for example – understandably drives company away. He prioritizes his own need for external validation over the comfort of any prospective friends.
Even if he did have friends, Betelgeuse would have probably steamrolled over their feelings by now – making the case for a strong Thinking personality trait.
Betelgeuse demonstrates virtually zero ability to read the emotions of others, and it may not even occur to him to do so. This lack of emotional awareness is common for Thinking personality types, though Betelgeuse’s obtuseness is exceptionally bad. For him, empathy is, at best, a tool to help him further his own goals.
Consider the manipulation of Lydia during the exorcism of the Maitlands: “I’ll help you,” he says, “but you gotta do something for me”; that “something” is a marriage pact that will allow him to freely roam the land of the living. Never mind that Lydia is 14 years old and Betelgeuse is so old that he lived through the Black Plague. This doesn’t even account for the complete lack of concern for the state of the Maitlands mid-execution.
Betelgeuse does stop the execution, with a quick-thinking mind that can be attributed to his Prospecting personality trait. Throughout the entire film, Betelgeuse proves himself to be fast-acting and creative in his schemes. By his own admission, he “has no rules,” and this is reflected in how he treats others as well as himself. He wanted to make his own decisions, so he left his assistantship to a Netherworld social worker to become a freelance bio-exorcist... but then used methods so unsavory that other undead felt the need to warn others against him.
In relationships, Betelgeuse is also non-committal and takes pleasure in his bachelor-hood: Consider his excitement for visiting a brothel (personality type theory can’t explain everything), as well as his brief reluctance to marry Lydia – despite it being his idea. He takes a moment to discuss it with himself – “I always said if I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it once and that was it” – and then reaches into his pocket, pulls out his ex-wife’s rotting finger, removes her wedding ring and slides it onto Lydia’s finger. This spur-of-the-moment decision-making is a theme for Prospecting personality types.
Intuitive or Observant?
The final core trait needs some added consideration: Is Betelgeuse an Intuitive type or Observant type?
Debaters and Entrepreneurs have many common attributes: highly daring and active, they also share the ability to generate effective plans practically out of thin air. Arguably, Betelgeuse is a Debater because of how unconventional his plans are: While Observant personality types are perfectly capable of creativity, a highly Observant person is more likely to opt for a practical method – like blunt force trauma – over the more elaborate “making themselves into a giant snake to destroy the living.” (Though it is important to point out that this is a Tim Burton film, and practicality or plausibility is of little importance).
On the other hand, we might look at Betelgeuse’s focus, mostly on furthering his business and chasing women. While Debaters may also consider these things, Entrepreneurs are more inclined to do so. Individuals with the Observant personality trait focus on the real world and things happening around them. They enjoy seeing, touching, feeling, and experiencing – and leave high-minded theories to others. They want to focus on the present, instead of idly wondering “why?” That last part is important: Betelgeuse doesn’t consider the consequences of his actions, and isn’t likely to ruminate on a situation for long.
Whether he’s a Debater or an Entrepreneur, one thing is for sure: All attention (for better or worse) is on him as soon as he enters the room. His devil-may-care attitude propels him forward as he unabashedly samples from all that life – and the afterlife – can offer.
But don’t just take it from us: Do you think the infamous Betelgeuse is an Intuitive or an Observant personality type (Debater or Entrepreneur)? Or something completely different? Let us know in the comments below!