An Archetypal Look at the Movie Breakfast Club
If you’re old enough, you remember how this 1985 John Hughes movie caught the imagination of teenagers everywhere. The Breakfast Club became the name for the group of five mismatched Chicago teenagers that meet in detention one Saturday morning and discover that they are more than what others expect them to be.
Each of the characters embodies a stereotype that High School students anywhere in the US can identify with even today.
There is the “jock” Andrew, played by Emilio Estevez; the “nerd” Brian, portrayed wonderfully by Anthony Michael Hall; Ally Sheedy as the “weirdo” Allison; the “criminal” John played by Judd Nelson; and Molly Ringwald as Claire, the “princess”.
As an astrological exercise, this film should be included in a beginners class as a teaching tool to illustrate not only the planetary archetypes that fit so nicely with these characters, but also the dangers of stereotyping and reducing people to one typology.
As the characters at Shermer High School begin to explore their identity they discover even to themselves that they are more complex than just the labels that they have been given. What we have here is an illustration of the difference between archetype and stereotype. An archetype is a primordial energy that is symbolically represented in astrology by a Zodiac sign. The planet that rules these signs are the agents that act out these energies. Since we have all the planets in our chart, we are infused by all these archetypes in varying degrees. So to reduce a person to one archetype is the same as identifying Claire as “the princess”- it is stereotyping.
The other interesting thing about The Breakfast Club, is that the theme of the movie itself can be associated with the Sun‘s archetype. The students are commanded by principal Vernon to write an essay where they must explain who they “think they are.”
To which the students reply:
“You see us as you want to see us…in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at seven o’clock this morning. We were brainwashed.”
The question of identity as well as the way in which we seek validation from others is the function that the Sun serves within psyche. In psychological astrology it is also understood that the needs of the Sun are most strongly felt during adolescence when we are discovering who we are and assessing the ways in which people love us and gives us recognition. All of these characters are fulfilling this need via a specific archetypal Zodiac sign.
For Andrew, the athlete, Aries/Mars is clearly in overdrive and he has identified with this planet, as well as its sign, as a means to gain validation. His father also helps to perpetuate this when he tells him, “Andrew you’ve got to be number one! I won’t tolerate any losers in this family.” So Andrew’s Aries comes out in full force as anger throughout the movie. “If I lose my temper, you’re totaled man!” he says to Bender.
As a bookworm myself, I can completely relate to Brian, the nerd. His character is typical of Mercury as it rules both Virgo and Gemini. As Gemini, Brian is obviously curious – he belongs to “the math club, the Latin club and the physics club”- he is communicative and is the only one elected by the group to write the essay. As a ruler of Virgo, Brian is timid and always follows the rules: “You know there’s not s’posed to be any monkey business, ” he tells the others.
John Bender is the prototypical embodiment of the Plutonian archetype. He is the shadow of society, the criminal, the troublemaker, and like the Scorpio Sun sign, he has a lot of issues he doesn’t like to disclose. Bender can sting as easily as the scorpion and has the best one-liners in the whole movie: “Oh, are you medically frigid or is it psychological?” he asks Claire. In fact, John uses sex quite often in this movie to cause trouble, much like the archetype he personifies.
Allison Reynolds is considered the “basket case” in this film and likes to play up that role because it gets her the attention she craves. Like all the characters, she uses her particular archetype as a means for getting validation from others. So what is her particular archetype? Allison is the best embodiment of that most eccentric of signs, Aquarius.
Much like the aloof Uranus that rules this sign, Allison does not speak at all at the beginning of the movie. Uranus’ moves to the beat of its own drummer as it spins through the heavens on its side, likewise Allison puts Cap’n Crunch cereal and candy bars in her sandwiches and uses her own dandruff as snow flakes in her art work.
Despite all this weirdness, Allison is no basket case, nor is she dumb. She possesses the insight that only a broad objective awareness can provide, another Aquarian characteristic. When Claire is asked a “truth or dare” question about her virginity, Allison quickly spells out Claire’s sexual dilemma : “Well, if you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have, you’re a slut! It’s a trap.” She is probably the most insightful of the bunch.
Claire Standish, the “princess” can be the embodiment of none other than the planet Venus. Here again we have the character embodying both signs ruled by this planet: Taurus and Libra. Claire is the superficial, pretty, rich girl who cares about appearances, her expensive clothes, and belonging to the “in” social circle. Like the planet Venus, her sexuality also seems also to be a focal point for others. Venus’ need to beautify is also present in this character as she gives her newly-made friend a make-over.
But Claire, like the others comes to realize that there is more to her identity than what she has gotten used to: “Do you know how popular I am? I’m so popular, everybody loves me so much at this school. Do you have any idea how completely gross that is?”
Once the characters begin to tap into qualities that they had not explored before with others, they begin to change and a natural at traction forms between the female characters and two of the males. Even in this respect there is an astrological affinity to the couplings. Even while Claire and Bender are arguing, we feel the sexual attraction and it is no surprise that Claire makes the move on Bender in the closet where he is hiding. Venus and Pluto make the most passionate of lovers.
Similarly, Mars and Uranus become friendly in the coupling off of Andrew and a newly made-up Allison. Uranus is attracted to the energy and fire of Mars and Mars finds the freedom of Uranus appealing.
Interestingly, Mercury who is often considered sexually androgynous and Virgo the virgin, are again represented by Brian, the only one who does not get coupled at the end of the movie.
Maria J. Mateus