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In John Hughes’s famous film The Breakfast Club, a group of teengaers, depicting specific stereotypes, receive punishment by spending a Saturday in detention. This unlikely group comes together and learns about themselves, regardless of their respective social hierarchy. Each stereotype, the brain, the criminal, the princess, the jock, and the basket case can be explained by various personality theories from many different psychologists. The stereotypical princess, Claire, can be explained various psychologists and specific theories of theirs. Her self-entitlement, selfishness, and need to keep her princess-like image pristine is easily explained by the personality theories of Carl Jung’s Mask Theory, Karen Horney’s Social Needs, and Alfred Adler’s Inferiority Complex.
To start with, Jung’s Mask Theory explains that people tend to wear “masks” to hide what they really are or they try to fit into the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious being what we believe are the archetypes of our society. According to Claire’s collective unconscious she tries to fulfil or portray her self-appointed identity as the Princess, a popular and materially wealthy girl, whether it be conscious or unconscious. In the film, Claire believes that her own problems at home are immensely difficult in comparison to others. To patch over the problems in her homelife, Claire often takes to materialism to further keep up her appearances and archetype. Materialism, being one of the traits she happens to inherit from her father, is one of her most prominent personality aspects. This being proven in the beginning scene when her father pulls up to the school to drop her off, the camera panning over the emblem of the BMW her father is driving. Furthermore, the lunch he packs for her contains sashimi and sushi wrapped in an overly expensive bento completed with a set of porcelain chopsticks, a glass soy sauce holder, and a small wooden table to prop up the bento even more representing the materialism he passes down to his daughter in her everyday and not just special occasion life. In the film, Claire ends up in Saturday school due to the fact that she has a truancy because she had decided to skip class to go shopping. This only further reinforces the idea that materialism and her outside image are more important than her actual self as well as her education.
In Horney’s Social Needs, she theorizes that most of one’s stresses and anxieties are brought upon by the thought of love. Horney also theorizes that we build our personalities around fighting rejection, and in fear of rejection, we go along with what others want to do even if we don’t want to. Claire tries to fit in this ideal personality to maintain the love of her parents and peers. In the beginning of the film, when Claire’s father is dropping her off, she reassures her father that she is not “defective”. To which he responds, that skipping school to go shopping, doesn’t make her “defective”. Her trying to reassure her father that she is nothing short of perfect, is one of the ways she tries to maintain this archetype she had created for herself. Later on in the film, the group discusses how they would react to seeing each other in the halls on Monday. Claire believes that on Monday, none of them would be acting like friends. Especially Claire herself. Since Claire is at the top of their social hierarchy, she believes that speaking with the others could only bring her down. Even though she has connections based on emotions (and connections she really enjoys), her princess-like image still happens to overrule these factors.
In Adler’s Inferiority Complex, he theorizes that parents influence the personality of their child. When parents over pamper a child, they become self-centered, they have little regards for others, and they expect everyone else to do as they want. The child also tends to lack self confidence. Claire’s father pampers her with materialistic goods instead of boosting her self esteem by paying attention to her emotional needs. Unconsciously, he demonstrates that her self esteem should be more dependant on the outside rather than what comes from the inside, her real personality and interests. Her narcissism is in direct correlation to this. Under the influence of marijuana later on the in the film, Claire thoughtlessly exclaims, “Do you know how popular I am? I’m so popular, everybody loves me so much, at this school…” Claire doesn’t tend to care about others, she just wants her image as a popular princess to be maintained and believed. She doesn’t happen to understand or care about Allison’s want to join in on the conversation sometimes or doesn’t seem to care what the other say. On multiple occasions she tells Bender and Allison to “shut up” when they have something to say that she does not want to hear. She is willfully ignoring insights about her life that she does not think mesh with her archetype.
These theories all combine to express who Claire happens to be, who she wants to be, and the identity she actively tries to maintain. Yet, Horney’s Social Needs Theory is the most important in analyzing Claire’s personality. Without the fear of losing love she would not indulge in materialism or narcissism. These are subsequent habits brought on by her fear of not being good enough, or not being loved and accepted enough. All of Claire’s more minor traits are realities she bring into her life to show that she fits in the collective unconscious of society and deserves love and attention from others, most notably her parents. All of her actions and even drug influenced thoughts and words are factors coming out of this one constant fear of not being good enough. Her determination to be a perfect “princess” is a direct result of this and the exact archetype she portrays.
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