Jungian Archetypes Applied to Ferris' Bueller's Day Off

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Jungian Archetypes Applied to Ferris' Bueller's Day Off

Post  EmmaW on Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:00 am

Prepared for: Mr.C
Prepared by:Emma Watson
Date: Friday January 28th 2011

Plot Summary

The movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off starts off with High school senior Ferris Bueller, deciding that on the bright summers day he would skip school to take his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (one year his junior) and his nervous best friend Cameron Frye down town, to do whatever their heart’s desire. But to accomplish this Ferris needs to convince his parents that he is in fact, very ill. He accomplishes this by moaning and complaining about his stomach, and when he is hunched over, licking his palms to create the sickly affect. Of course this works, and when his parents leave for work a couple minutes later, Ferris jumps out of bed and rushes to the phone to call Cameron and convince him to help Ferris get Sloane out of school.
As the movie progresses we find that Ferris has played hooky, multiple times that semester,and he gets away with a lot, being clever and sneaky. Ferris’ principal (Ed. Rooney) who already had a strong dislike for Ferris had also made a decision when he woke up that morning, that today would be Ferris’ last straw, if he skipped out on school, Mr. Rooney would make Ferris stay another year in High School.
Unfortunately for Mr. Rooney Ferris is fairly good at what he does, and manages to get Sloane out of school with the help of his trusty sidekick Cameron pretending to be Sloane’s father, calling to let Mr. Rooney know that Sloane’s grandmother had just passed. At first Mr. Rooney doesn’t buy that it is Mr. Peterson because he is sure that it is Ferris Bueller who is on the other end but is tricked again when Ferris is on the other line, asking for his homework to be picked up by his sister Jeanie.
Things seem to be going well for Ferris and Cameron, but they a problem arises when Cameron slips up on the phone, and asks Mr. Rooney to wait outside for Mr. Peterson to pick up his daughter. To fix the problem, Ferris convinces Cameron to take his up-tight father’s 1961 Ferrari GT California, which Mr. Frye treats like one would treat a lover, so Mr. Rooney will believe that it is in fact, Mr. Peterson picking up his daughter.
Well, things seem to go very well for Ferris and Mr. Rooney buys it, for a little while anyway. As the movie continues we find that Mr. Rooney realizes that Ferris is not at home sick, like his mother and father seem to believe. Through out the rest of the movie we watch Cameron, Sloane, and Ferris do many exciting things. And while they’re out having a good time Mr. Rooney is snooping around inside Ferris’ house, trying so hard to bust the high school boy.
In the end we find that Ferris has once again outsmarted Mr. Rooney, and his parents.

Character Archetypes

The Child

Ferris Bueller is that of the Child Archetype, as he is a childlike, carefree person. Everything seems to work out for Ferris, and he is constantly telling Cameron that everything will be okay, as the child Archetype does. When Ferris takes out Mr. Frye’s Ferrari, and Cameron starts nervously, Ferris tells Cameron that everything will be okay, and his father won’t even notice the car was taken out. When Cameron protests, and states that his father knows how many miles are on the car, Ferris reassures him that whatever miles they put on they can take off by driving home in reverse.
When Ferris takes the car into a sketchy looking garage and a man with long greasy hair and crooked stained teeth emerges from the garage offering to take the car safely to a parking spot, Cameron says “no, not here” but Ferris tries to reassure him by telling Cameron that he will tip the nice man with a “fiver”. The man reassures both boys and Sloane, that everything will be fine. This showing that Ferris tries to make everything okay with his words, he doesn’t really think about consequences.
The fact that Ferris is ditching school when his marks and his attendance cannot suffer anymore if he would like to graduate at the end of the month, shows that Ferris has no sense of time, or time for the future, just like The Child.

The Outcast

Cameron Frye, a good friend of Ferris’ and Sloane’s seems to be an outcast in this movie. Not only does he tag along on a date with Ferris and Sloane, we find that Cameron is an outcast at home as well. Although we see no scenes of Cameron’s home life, we know by the way he talks about his parents (mostly his father). Cameron’s father is more in love with his car than his wife, and takes care of his son like any normal man would take care of a car, and takes care of his car like it’s a new born baby boy.
Cameron finds it very hard to fit in with Ferris’ carefree life style, and very hard to keep up with his fathers lack of tolerance for family matters.

Symbolic Archetype

Battle between Good vs. Evil

As we know Ferris Bueller has an iffy attendance, and his principal, Mr. Rooney will no longer stand for his troublesome academic habits. Throughout the movie we find Mr. Rooney trying to outsmart Ferris and Ferris repetitively outsmarting his principal, a battle between and Good and Evil.
At first glance you may believe that Mr. Rooney is in fact trying to be a regular principal and help out a student in need, one that may be (in the case) and evil character. But with a closer glance and as the movie progresses we find that Mr. Rooney just has a grudge against Ferris, and will go to any extent to put him in his place (including breaking and entering into his house, and following him), which then makes Mr. Rooney the evil character and Ferris the good, in this battle.

Situational Archetype

The Initiation

For Cameron Frye, Ferris Bueller’s best friend family life is hard, not that we see any scenes of his family life in the film, but we know from the way he speaks about his parents (especially his father) that things at home are not simply smooth, like Ferris’s family. Cameron’s father pays more attention to his 1961 Ferrari GT California, and treats it more like a son and wife that he treats Cameron and his mother. We hear a story of Cameron breaking a retainer and his father was furious with him.
When Ferris convinces Cameron to let Ferris take the car out, Cameron is uptight and nervous about the idea. But when they bring the car back, Ferris’ childish ways had shown Cameron a good time, something he seems not to know the feeling of. Cameron realizes (after of course, he sends his father’s car out a window) that he is done taking abuse from his father, and he and his father will talk about the car when his father gets home, Cameron realizes that he will no longer answer to the way his father treats him, like a child.


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I love Ferris Bueller

Post  EmmaMcKinney on Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:54 am

I think two other character archetypes could be applicable to this film. Mr. Rooney, the ginger principal, I feel represents the devil figure. Throughout this whole film, Mr. Rooney is trying to bring down Ferris Bueller and ruin his day of fun, and he even goes to the extent of driving to Ferris' house to see if he actually was skipping. Although he is in a way doing the right thing, he takes it way too far and we then end up viewing him as the antagonist because of his over-the-top actions. This leads me to another character archetype for Mr. Rooney. Because he is doing the right thing, and because Ferris Bueller's parents would not want Ferris to be gallovanting around town while it was a school day, Mr. Rooney could also be placed under the character archetype: the scapegoat. He ended up being attacked by a dog, he ended up losing his shoes, punched in the face, and in general, was tricked and fooled many times on his quest to catch Ferris Bueller skipping. If Ferris Bueller wasn't so awesome, we would end up feeling bad for Mr. Rooney.


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Re: Jungian Archetypes Applied to Ferris' Bueller's Day Off

Post  IrisT on Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:10 pm

Emma, I'd just like to add two more archetypes. Along with the child, Ferris Bueller could also be considered a mentor. He is a mentor to Cameron. Since Cameron does not get along with his parents, he spends much of his time with Ferris, who shows him a good time. From spending time with Ferris, Cameron learns to be a bit more relaxed and laid back about life. The car incident with Ferris that forced him to realize that he should longer tolerate the way his father treats him. Although Ferris is not the typical role model, he successfully introduces Cameron to new ideas regarding life and helps him mature as a person.

If Mr. Rooney is the devil figure in this film, then the dog could be considered the friendly beast. He shows his support for Ferris by attacking Mr. Rooney.


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The Trickster and the Fall

Post  kara on Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:07 pm

Ferris can also be considered "The Trickster" (someone who generally makes trouble) because of all the various pranks he plays throughout the movie (such as the "snoring" dummy in his bed, or the recorded responses to the doorbell).

I also found the Situational Archetype "The Fall". This refers to "a descent from a higher to a lower state, involving a defilement and/or loss of innocence or bliss. The fall is often accompanied by expulsion from a kind of paradise as penalty for disobedience and moral transgression." It is Mr. Rooney who experiences the fall. At the beginning of the movie, he appears to be a successful, well-dressed principal (though he clearly takes his job very seriously if he individually checks up on each student). At this point, he seems as though he will catch Ferris, and will be able to show his parents how many times Ferris has skipped school. Throughout the film, Mr. Rooney gets into multiple scrapes, while Ferris has a perfectly enjoyable day. By the end, Mr. Rooney's clothes are ripped, he is covered in mud, and he walks with a limp. At this point, he is lost from the paradise of authority when the School Bus picks him up and he must sit beside the "nerd". This occurs as a result of his moral transgression; because Ferris represents the good, and he is trying to foil Ferris's plans, he is being morally bad.


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Re: Jungian Archetypes Applied to Ferris' Bueller's Day Off

Post  Maxwell Oginz on Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:12 pm

The initiation is a very important part of this film, like most initiations it happens at the end of the film. Something that I really like about Cameron being initiated into his own, adult life, is that it takes someone as childlike and carefree as Ferris to make Cameron realize that he has to take responsibility for his own actions. From the beginning of the film it is clear that Ferris handles his problems by ignoring them while having fun/relaxing, and Cameron literally hides away from his problems. The initiation is very 80's (not to mention the music after Cameron wrecks the car) because a lot of "brat-pack" movies are about teenagers making bad decisions, learning to deal with them, and then bettering themselves because they are brave enough to take responsibility for their actions.

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Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:40 pm

Emma - great analysis. Well done! This is a staple film from my teenage years and it is fun to see you tackle it. I had never given it much thought before, but you are right - there is a lot of the Divine Child in Ferris (although I also agree there is a lot of The Trickster in him too). I am not so convinced about the principal being The Devil. Usually the Devil figure offers something to the Hero - usually riches, fame, etc. In some ways Ferris is both a Mentor and Devil to his friends. The principal is certainly a Scapegoat, but he may also simply be a Father figure. In their relationship, the principal wants Ferris to follow the rules - much like a father figure. Being an ironic film, the principal will turn out to be the father figure who fails and is made fun of - much like a Homer Simpson.
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Re: Jungian Archetypes Applied to Ferris' Bueller's Day Off

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