ESFP: Harley Quinn, “Batman: The Animated Series”

Harley-ESFP-title

ESFP – the Performer, the Challenger, the Activator

(aka: Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel)

Batman: the Animated Series was so good that they invented a whole new character who ended up appearing retroactively in the comics that had inspired the show. Harley Quinn cartwheeled onto the scene wielding a one-two punch of being an exciting new female cast member and a humanizing element for none other than the Joker. Harley became increasingly humanized herself over the run of the series, beginning as a nameless henchgirl and growing into one of the funniest and saddest characters in all of Gotham.

Dominant Function: (Se) Extraverted Sensing, “The Kitchens”

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She’s wacky. She’s spontaneous. She’s carefree and giddy. Her Se is far too dominant to be healthy.

On the one hand, Harley Quinn can hop around Gotham City with a natural acrobatic grace, execute her boss’ crazy plans fearlessly, and improvise a whole musical number to keep a bunch of gangsters occupied while Batman takes them out. She’s got great style, and loves a good shopping spree (legal or otherwise).

But on the other hand, she’s trapped at the whim of her impulsive decisions and lack of foresight. She falls for the Joker, and the promise of a life that’s exciting, unpredictable, and full of surprises, and despite his constant neglect and mistreatment of her, she keeps coming back for more. Even when she’s trying to make good with her life, she reacts too quickly at the first sign of a threat and gets herself into even more trouble. On a crime spree with Harley and Livewire, she keeps whacking at everything with her mallet, whether it produces results or not.

Harley’s stuck in an Extraverted loop for most of the time we know her. She’s not exactly unprincipled, but she doesn’t examine her feelings for the Joker too closely (which would use Fi), and she doesn’t consider new options (which would be a more expansive use of her Se, with a dose of Ni thrown in to help see around her problems). Her Se reacts immediately to her situation, and her Te immediately jumps in to execute it. Without the reflection of her Fi asking if this is really prudent or good for her, she’s unmoored.

Auxiliary Function: (Fi) Introverted Feeling, “The Deep Well”

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When Harley’s on her own, she’s actually pretty sure of herself. She takes absolutely zero crap from the multiple men who hit on her—she pulls a missile launcher on a car full of cat-callers, for one thing—and goes about her business with her own quirky style, heedless of what anyone else thinks of her. In the flashback episode “Mad Love,” we see that she started off as an ambitious young psychiatrist hoping to make a name for herself by treating the infamous patients at Arkham.

It’s when she falls for the Joker that her Fi loses its cool, and its stable center.

Harley tells Batman that after years of being a doctor and listening to other people’s problems, she finally found in the Joker someone who listened to her for a change. Of course, he was just manipulating her with his tertiary Fe to help him escape, but Harley’s vain Fi—worn out from having to focus on others’ needs—soaked up the attention. She responded to the flattery and convinced herself she was a special case for Mr. J.

Fi relates to others best when it finds similarities in personality and values. Harley probably saw the shared carefree Pe-dom between her and the Joker as a sign that they were meant for each other. She threw herself at him despite his repeated neglect and outright rejection.

On the occasion that she’s teamed up with fellow female supervillain Poison Ivy, Harley lives a much healthier, productive life. She’s still a criminal, but her Fi self-esteem returns under Ivy’s care. She’s able to look after her own needs and trust her own judgment rather than rush to please the Joker. In “Harlequinade,” she helps Batman stop the Joker’s latest scheme, and when she realizes her puddin’ was going to let her die with the rest of Gotham, she’s so incensed she actually pulls a gun on him and fires (unfortunately, it’s a trick gun).

Tertiary Function: (Te) Extraverted Thinking, “The Workshop”

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Most of Harley’s solo crime ideas tend to flounder without the Joker or Poison Ivy around to lead her. Her Te usually manifests as stubbornness or desperation when the plan isn’t working. She gains confidence when teamed up with Poison Ivy, and stands up for herself against piggish men, and eventually, the Joker himself. In her last appearance on the show, she modifies one of the Joker’s death traps and actually comes very close to killing Batman—the Bats confesses to the Joker that she came closer than anyone ever has, and darned if the Dark Knight doesn’t actually respect her for it.

Harley’s Se-Te loop is going full force in the episode “Harley’s Holiday.” When she’s released from Arkham Asylum with a clean bill of mental health, she tries to go straight, but a mixup at the mall makes her jump to the conclusion that the cops are after her. She takes off in a stolen car and runs from place to place causing mayhem as she goes, her Te doubling down on her Se-dom impulsiveness and making the situation worse for herself.

Inferior Function: (Ni) Introverted Intuition, “The Labyrinth”

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Harley’s obvious weakness is that she doesn’t evaluate her relationship with the Joker to see what’s really happening. First of all, a healthy Se all by itself would look at the facts of the situation and respond quickly in order to change or abandon that destructive environment. Throw in some helpful Ni, and Harley could look at the big picture of her life and understand that she’s misreading Joker’s actions.

Similarly, Harley ruins her shot at freedom in “Harley’s Holiday” when she assumes everyone’s out to get her, and doesn’t slow down to consider a better way to confront her problems. Harley almost gets there in “Mad Love,” when the Joker kicks her out—again—and she re-examines her whole life to determine where she went wrong. It finally clicks for her, and she’s ready to give up on the Joker for good.

Her anger cools almost immediately, however, when he leaves her a get well note at Arkham, and she forgets her insight all over again.

Harley’s just sick with love, and there’s no cure for her kind of crazy.

 

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