The Study of George Kirrin’s Dominant Personality Traits in
Enid Blyton’s Famous Five: Five Go to Billycock Hill
Abstract. As one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, Famous Five: Five Go to Billycock Hill, is considered as one of the British adults’ favorite childhood novels of all time. In this study, the researcher would like to analyze the character of George, one of the protagonists in the story to find out her personality traits in the novel. The researcher applied objective approach with the qualitative research methodology and library research technique to study the intrinsic element of the literary work. The result of the study shows that from sixteen primary personality factors of major source traits, two dominant characteristics of George are warmth, and vigilance.
Keywords: character, dominant, personality
The novel, Famous Five: Five Go to Billycock Hill, was written by Enid Blyton in 1957 as a part of the Famous Five adventure series, which is considered as one of the British adults’ favorite childhood novel series of all time. Since many people consider that the character of the protagonists is one of important factors which drive the story forward, in this study, the researcher will analyze George, one of the main characters in the novel to find her dominant personality traits.
The background theories used by the researcher involve some definitions of personality. Levin (1998), quoted by Subhan (2003:21), stated that personality has been defined as a consistent pattern of behavior based on an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions and it has been viewed in terms of adjustment and the general manner in which an individual meets the demands of his environment. It means that personality is an individual’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions that are reflected by outer appearance and consistent behavior. Every person has his or her own personality, which may be different from others. Even though they have similar pattern of thinking or feeling but they might interpret these pattern of thinking or feeling in different way.
Guilford (1959:6) said that personality trait is any relatively enduring way in which one individual differs from another. From that definition, it is clear that personality trait is the consistent pattern of someone’s behavior, thought and feeling in various situation and stable over the time. This personality and the pattern of thinking or feeling differentiate one person from another so that it makes the each of individual is unique.
In analyzing the personality trait, there are some personality-traits theories that the researcher uses to support the analysis. Those theories were developed and improved by some psychologists over relatively long time. Gordon Allport (1897–1967), the first psychologist that describes personality traits, described three types of personality traits: cardinal trait, central trait and secondary trait.
Alloport‟s theory was developed further by Raymond B. Cattell (1905–1998). Cattell proposed 2 hierarchical structure of personality: (1) major source traits or primary factors, and (2) second-order traits or global factors.
Richard M. Ryckman’s Theories of Personality (2008) covered Raymond B. Cattell’s major source traits or primary factors by providing the most basic definition of individual personality. These factors of personality are well-known as the sixteen personality factors and are initially labeled into alphabetical codes. Those sixteen personality factors are: Warmth (A), Reasoning (B), Emotional Stability (C), Dominance (E), Liveliness (F), Rule-Consciousness (G), Social-Boldness (H), Sensitivity (I), Vigilance (L), Abstractedness (M), Privateness (N), Apprehension (O), Openness to Change (Q1), Self-Reliance (Q2), Perfectionism (Q3), and Tension (Q4).
The novel, Famous Five: Five Go to Billycock Hill tells about four teenagers and a dog that have an adventure in the hill called Billycock Hill. When they are camping there for their school holiday, they find a mystery that needs to be solved, involving a missing airplane. They decide to help the police find the airplane because the pilot of the airplane is their friend’s cousin. After some investigation, they find out that the airplane is stolen and the pilot of the airplane is kidnapped and hidden in a cave not far from the hill.
Georgina Kirrin, who prefers to be called George, is one of the four teenagers that become the protagonists of the story. She is described as the outgoing person that has strong interest in people and seeks interactions, so she can create the closeness with them.
”Mr. Gringle could we see your Butterfly Farm, please? We would so like to!”
“Of course my dear of course,” said Mr. Gringle, and his eyes shone as he were very pleased. (Blyton, 1957:47)
The situation where the quotes happen is when she meets with Mr. Gringle for the first time. She acts very friendly and tries to have good interaction with him. She also shows great interest of Mr. Gringle’s occupation as the owner of the wonder place for butterflies. Although it is the first time they meet each other, she tries to ask him to allow her and her cousins visit the butterfly farm that he owns. Attempting to create close relationship when meeting someone for the first time is included in warmth, a positive point in personality factor (A).
The positive point in warmth, the personality factor (A), appears again when George meets for the first time with his friend’s cousin, Jeffrey Thomas. Although it is the first time they meet each other but she seeks sociable interaction with him and shows interest in his occupation as an air force pilot.
“Tell us about your job…It’s such a queer airfield, the one you’re at-no fencing round it, hardly any planes, nobody about field! Do you do much flying?” (Blyton, 1957:74)
This quotation shows that George has strong interest and positive impression about Jeffrey Thomas. She tries to create the friendly interaction between them. Here, it can be concluded that George is a person who has strong interest to another person’s life and tries to seek amiable interaction with that person. Showing strong interest to a person’s life and seeking sociable relationship with the person are another proof of positive point in personality factor (A), Warmth.
George’s personality factor (A) happens again when she tries to interact with little Benny, who is still five years old. Ignoring the difference in ages, George shows strong interest to Benny who likes pets very much. George tries to understand what the little boy likes because she believes that if she understands about what Benny likes, she will have better relationship with him.
“Does the cat mind?” asked George, astonished, looking at the basket. (Blyton, 1957:76)
This quote is taken from the context when George looking at the basket where Benny’s piglet lay up there. The basket is normally where Benny’s cat rests. George asks to understand the boy rather than giving judgment on his strange antics. It turns out that this conversation about the pet creates good interaction between them afterward because Benny starts to trust her and think that she is a good friend. Being non-judgmental and projecting self as trusted person are another sign that shows the positive side of Warmth (A).
Positive warmth personality factor that George shows surprisingly is balanced with another personality factor that many would think they are incompatible. This personality factor is Vigilance (L). The first occasion showing that George is a vigilant person comes when her cousin’s friend asks her to meet Binky in the farm. Since she knows nothing about Binky, she puts her guard up. Suspecting that Binky is a territorial dog, George shows her vigilance when she warns her dog, Timmy, to be careful with Binky.
“Or a dog” said George and put her hand on Timmy’s collar.
“Better be careful. He might go for Tim.” (Blyton, 1957:26)
The quotation shows that George is not very trusting to a new situational entry, like the dog Binky. She anticipates that Binky is a territorial dog and it will be dangerous for her dog, Timmy. This shows that George, despite her positive warmth aspect, also shows vigilance when it matters. Putting a cautious attitude and getting ready to anticipate unexpected situation are some obvious signs of positive points in Vigilance (L).
George’s positive vigilance aspect of personality can also be seen when she feels highly suspicious to Mrs. Janes’ son. She suspects Mrs. Janes’ son is the man who disguises himself as Mr. Brent before Jeffrey Thomas and his airplane is lost. The suspicion is caused by her second-hand knowledge of his bad behaviors, such as that he always hits his mother and that he does not like stranger.
“Could it have been Mrs. Janes’ son, pretending he was Brent?” said George. (Blyton, 1957:121)
The quotation shows that George does not show her trust easily, especially to people who are known to have bad behavior. This vigilant personality also means that she always tries to anticipate bad possibilities. Suspicion to others and anticipation to bad possibilities are the characteristic of positive vigilance. Thus, here, George has shown that she also possess positive Vigilance (L) aspect of personality.
Another situation where George’s vigilance appears is when Benny is missing and they tries to find the boy but receives no help from Mr. Gringle and his friend who prefer searching for butterflies. Because of their unhelpful response, George suspects that they kidnap and hide Benny.
“I suppose they’re annoyed because they still think the boys broke the glass of their Butterfly House!” said George. “Well, I wish they would hunt for Benny instead of butterflies.” (20:166)
This quote shows George’s disappointment at their unhelpful action, which later on develops her suspicion to both unhelpful men. It can be said that George becomes suspicious and distrust to people who mistreat her or people that she cares. This is another positive point in the aspect of Vigilance (L) for her.
From the short analysis above, it can be concluded that out of the sixteen major aspects of personality factors mentioned by Ryckman’s Theories of Personality, the character George in the story shows two dominant aspects of personality which, at the first glance, seem to be incompatible. Those two aspects are the positive Warmth (A) and the positive Vigilance (L).
The two aspects, which many would think are paradoxical since warmth is identical to trust and vigilance is identical to doubt, surprisingly mix comfortably in the character of the protagonist in the story, George. This shows that a warm person does not necessarily mean that he or she is always naïve and ignorant to the not-so-good facets of life. This also shows that a vigilant person does not necessarily have to possess cold, dark, and cynical view of the world all the time.
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