No One Knows the Pumpkin King
The path to understanding our own personality types is important, but understanding other people’s types can also be illuminating. And, as we turn toward the holiday season, why not have some fun with our theory, as well? We thought it would be interesting to examine the personality type of a popular fictional character: Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. This article assumes some familiarity with the movie, so if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it before you read on!
Jack’s an enjoyable character because he’s a relatively lighthearted representation of Halloween, far from scary or evil. In fact, the plot of the movie shows his relatable struggle to reconcile his dreams against the limits and traditions of his own community and the rest of the world. He overreaches, gets his come-uppance, and makes tremendous personal growth that reaffirms his connection to a life he loves. This is meaningful stuff, and especially touching to many of us who feel out of place now and then.
So, what’s Jack’s personality type? To start, he has the Intuitive trait: He’s literally obsessed with his own new ideas, creating a complex and imaginative plan within his own mind. He’s also creative on the fly, capering and cavorting like an inspired showman in his role as the Pumpkin King. More than that, he seems slightly out of touch with reality at times, as if his inspired dreams are as real as his surroundings. That smacks of the Intuitive mind.
His deep longing to connect with the warmth of Christmas might seem to indicate the Feeling trait, but his very recognition of that warmth being absent suggests Jack’s a Thinking personality type. For all his impassioned ingenuity, he’s disconnected from others. He’s especially blind to Sally’s concerns, warnings, and feelings for him, and that emotional obtuseness is common for Thinking types. Whether it’s ignoring Sally or overcoming his cohort’s concerns about his ideas, Jack seems to continually put his own desires and needs ahead of others – hardly the empathetic behavior of a Feeling type. Throw in a sleepless week teasing out the nuances of Christmas through the scientific method, and we have our answer.
Further, the unshakable way Jack maintains his vision despite external resistance suggests an Assertive Identity. Internal security bolsters his point of view, helping him shrug off contrasting messages from those around him – and to even ignore reality itself – to keep him confidently on his own course. He has a plan, and he’s determined to make it happen: a laudable intention, but the plan itself invites calamity.
And speaking of Jack’s plan to take over Christmas, what could drive him to disregard his established purpose in the face of the risks? The answer is the Prospecting trait. Jack is stifled by tradition: he sings that he’s “grown so tired of the same old thing,” and his heedless pursuit of newness overcomes his better sense. Look again at his near-manic fascination with researching Christmas: he’s absolutely enthralled by the sense of discovery as he experiments. Jack’s song “What’s This?” could be the official theme for Prospecting personality types everywhere.
The final core trait poses a bit more of a mystery: Is Jack Skellington an Introvert or an Extravert?
His role as the popular leader of Halloween Town would suit an Extravert, but since many Introverted personalities – especially Assertive types – learn to perform in the public eye, we need to look at other behaviors. Like an Extravert, Jack is very action-focused, and though directing others takes a lot of energy, every step seems to increase his vigor. He’s also pushy, and willing to argue with everyone to get his way. He’s not consciously mean, but he is forceful. The bold way that Jack casts aside the protests of even Santa himself is classic Debater behavior.
On the other hand, we see Jack as a solitary figure much of the time, suggesting Introversion. He lives alone with his dog, Zero, and his reaction to public adulation immediately following Halloween is a hasty retreat from adoring fans to the security of his home – typical of an Introvert exhausted by socializing. Even more evidence of Introversion is that Jack’s way of dealing with turmoil is to go for a long walk and sing about how no one truly understands him. His social bluster may just be adaptive behavior, as Jack seems to feel separate from others – a leader, but not part of a team.
Introvert or Extravert, perhaps the most compelling thing about Jack Skellington is that he demonstrates inspiring personal growth. He ultimately resolves not to change who he is, but to be the best version of himself possible. He overcomes emotional distance to accept love into his life. He gains respect and appreciation for the sovereignty of Santa, Christmas Town, and their way of life. And he realizes that exploring his nature provides endless discovery and opportunity to innovate – every Halloween can be different and exciting. In short, he finds happiness by appreciating himself and his life.
We might wish such a happy ending for ourselves, and understanding personality types is a great step towards that goal. How is your understanding of personality traits? Do you think Jack Skellington is an Introvert or an Extravert (Logician or Debater)? Let us know in the comments below!