Characterization in the Movie the Breakfast Club Directed by John Hughes

Characterization in the Movie the Breakfast Club Directed by John Hughes

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The 1985 movie directed by John Hughes, The Breakfast Club, is widely regarded as the defining 1980s film for teenagers. It deals with topics such as the damaging and disuniting effects of stereotyping; teenage rebellion against the hardness of adult hearts; and how the friendships you choose shape the person you become.

Two characters in the film, Claire Standish and Allison Reynolds, are, like the others, developed over the course of the film as well-rounded, three-dimensional, seemingly contradictory characters. Their respective stereotypes, the Princess and the Basketcase, conflict with their true personalities but define them by the way they allow others to perceive them, based on their habits of dress and behaviour. This essay will examine the methods of characterisation employed by Hughes to naturally reveal the synthetic and true identities of Claire and Allison in relation to each other and their own masks, consciously presented.

From her first appearance in the film, Claire appears to have it all. Her father, who drops her off at the school in his expensive-looking car, doesn't seem upset or angry about her detention, but only attempts to comfort her when she expresses her discomfort with the situation: "I can't believe you can't get me out of this ... It's not like I'm a defective or anything!" To which her father replies in a sympathetic tone: "Honey, ditching class to go shopping doesn't make you a defective."

Straight away we have the outline of Claire's "Princess" persona. A rich, apparently doting father; a none-too-dedicated attitude to her schoolwork; a hobby for spending money; and a tendency to look down on others.

Again, when she is seated in the library with the other detention-goers, she appeals to t...

... middle of paper ...

...Please, why're you being so nice to me?" Claire replies, "Because you're letting me."

Of all the characters in The Breakfast Club, the most meaningful and profound development is depicted in the girls. Claire finds that being popular and powerful shouldn't come at the cost of good friends, and Allison learns to open up and trust people, even for a day. Both girls, at the beginning of the day, need and lack the support of true friends in their lives; and by the end, each finds themselves with a backup team four-strong. I speculate that the group will, in future, rendezvous in private at first, before making the transition to public friendship. Their earnest friendships will trump insincerity and insecurity before long, leading to loyal and supportive relationships all round. And since the film ends with this detail unrealised, the prediction is mine to make.

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