Personality Analysis on 'The Breakfast Club'

Topics: Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Psychology, Abraham Maslow Pages: 5 (1379 words) Published: October 26, 2014
Released in 1985 and directed by John Hughes ' The Breakfast Club' is a film about teenagers that seem different on the surface but come to discover otherwise . When five students from different high school cliques are forced to spend their Saturday in detention, the brain, athlete, basket case, princess and the criminal together are faced with the question of who they think they are. The five characters put aside the ir dissimilarities in aid to survive the painful eight hour detention and in the process they discover they aren't as unalike after all.

The Breakfast Club is a n all time classic film that portrays a number of individual and complex personalities. It is visible in the film that each teenager has their own traits and characteristics due to various circumstances such as; environmental and parental influences .

The character focus will be John Bender, the so-called 'the criminal' of the five teenager s . Upon first glance, Bender seems to be the average high school 'bad boy' getting his position in this specific detention for pulling a false fire alarm . This gives viewers th e idea that his character does whatever he can for attention. Bender also has a tendency to say and do things that will get a negative reaction out of a person, by insul ting and antagoni sing every character at some point in the film . By applying Maslow's hierarchy of needs and B. F. Skinner's theory of personality you ge t a more intellectual psychological understanding of Bender's personality.

Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs theory in 1954 to help himself and other humanistic theorists to better understand what motivates people. Maslow believed that people are motivated to satisfy specific needs, in saying this he created a five stage pyramid that depicts the order of importance of these specific needs. Maslow has suggested that o nce one need or category is satisfied and fulfilled by person they can then move on to fulfilling the next need . (McLeod 2007)

Figure 1 (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs diagram- 1954)

Thus according to Maslow; if a person does not fulfil their basic p hysiological needs they lose motivation to satisfy belonging and esteem needs. When this occurs the person feels a disinterest to socialise and make friends, typically leading in said person to become disrespectful and inconsiderate of the feelings of others and their opinion. (NetMBA 2010)

Bender is clearly portrayed throughout the film as a person who has failed to meet the first two basic needs of the hierarchy table; refer to figure 1 . In the film, when lunch break is commenced it is showed that Bender has come with no food for lunch, whilst the other characters have all got substantial packed lunches. This could be classified as a sign that shows that Bender's physiological needs are not being fulfilled. When Bender pulls out a pocket knife during a heated discussion you get the idea that Bender clearly doesn't feel safe and that he needs a weapon as form of protection, showing that Bender is clearly lacking a sense of security and safety .

Further construction of the idea that Bender does not have substantive or rewarding home life takes course when Bender shows the group a scar on his fore arm, given to him by father as mere punishment for accidentally spilling paint in the garage.

That being said, it is seen throughout the film that Bender is failing to adequately satisfy his physiological and safety needs, leaving him disinterested in fulfilling social needs and lacking in self-esteem and respect. Bender's lack of motivation in socialising and making friends is the most dominant aspect of his 'bad boy' personality, he constantly insults the other characters in the film about things that genuinely upset them -evidently pushing them away. Bender also suffers from low self-esteem which is why he compensates by putting on a tough, 'bad boy' front. You see this through the way in which he dresses, disobeys the Principals...
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