By Michael Dellapi
“The Breakfast Club” has one of the most iconic cast of characters out of any movie I may bring up in this column. Hyperbolic, sure, but honest in my opinion. The characters are deliberately iconic, they are meant to resonate with five of the most readily identifiable tropes of a high schooler. As a quick refresher, there’s Andrew the athlete, Brian the brain, Bender the criminal, Claire the princess, and Allison the basket case. Yes, I am quoting Brian on this one.
As the film progresses, these tropes are turned on its head to reveal that there is more to each individual than the title that is meant to define them. However, it is Bender’s characterization that interests me the most because as a friend pointed out, “every character is meant to represent a trope, but Bender represents a little bit of everyone.” So put on your best flannel because we’re looking at Bender today!
Bender is defined by so much more than his criminality, as the film is quick to highlight. Instead, Bender is indicative of every one of the other character’s struggles. Each character in the film has a foil with the exception of Bender, and this choice is deliberate. Brian and Andrew serve as foils, just as Claire and Allison are foils. There is conflict between each of the two pairs, and they all learn something through their conflict. Bender, however, is prone to incite chaos unconditionally. This occurs because there is evidence of each other character inside of Bender, he typifies those that felt as if they never belonged to a stereotypical group in their high school experience. Bender’s struggles are foils to the foils of every character in some way. Where Andrew copes with unrealistic expectations from his parents, Bender is forced to accept that no one expects anything from him, for example.
The authority figures of the film, namely the principal, see Bender as a waste of their time. Just as Bender’s trope in the film is the criminal, he also represents the stereotypical wanderer. At the end of the film , each character accepts that they will probably go back to their social groups but with a new perspective. Bender, however, lacks such a realization. He does not align with a group and therefore returns to his independence because he is able to grasp that there was nothing to change about himself in the first place.
Michael Dellapi is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org