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The Breakfast Club

This paper is a psychological analysis of five distinct adolescents, the main characters in John Hughes' 1984 film, The Breakfast Club. These individuals represent a cross-section of middle class high school students, brought together to share a day of detention. In the process, they reveal much about the factors that shaped their personalities, the problems each faces, and their possible futures. This paper uses elements from many of the principal theories of personality development to understand who these people are and who they are likely to become.

"The Breakfast Club" is a disparate group of high school students at a suburban Chicago school in the mid-1980s. They have each done something to violate school rules and been punished by spending a Saturday together under the watchful eye of the school's disciplinarian, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). At the beginning, they seem to fit five distinct stereotypes: Brian Johnson, "the Brain" (Anthony Michael Hall); Andrew Carr, "the Athlete" (Emilio Estevez); Allison Reynolds, "The Basket Case" (Ally Sheedy); Claire Standish, "the Princess" (Molly Ringwald); and John Bender, "the Criminal" (Judd Nelson). As the day goes on, however, each emerges as a distinct individual, dealing with adolescence in his or her own unique way. All five are at some point in Erik Erikson's fifth stage of psychosocial development, and the ways in which each is dealing with particular problems illustrates some of the primary crises of the process of individual development.

Brian Ralph Johnson is a member of three academic clubs and believes that these social interactions with others, giving him the chance to talk about physics and math, are important to his future. To the others in detention, he is, at first glance, a geek, focused only on his grades and hopelessly behind socially and emotionally. His cognitive skills are the most developed of any of the group, but his rigid need to conform academ...

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The Breakfast Club. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:20, June 30, 2016, from