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Jurassic World’s Claire Dearing – A Character Study

Claire Dearing. Who is she? Where did she come from and what gives her the right to lead (yes, I said lead) a Jurassic film? In the words of John Hammond, “I’ll show you.”

I would like to present you all with a challenge. Your attitude toward Claire Dearing will be improved after reading this character analysis, whether it be loathing to hatred or love to further adoration. I challenge you not to be affected by this study. You’ve accepted the challenge? Great! Let’s go…

Claire is complex. She is a multifaceted character with deeply layered undertones and intricately placed certainties mixed with uncertainties. Jurassic movies have always been character pieces with a moral glimpse at human nature. The Jurassic franchise may be famous for featuring dinosaurs, but it has never been about the dinosaurs. It has always revolved around the choices made by humans and how they deal with the circumstances from playing God. The humans are always trying to clean up the moral mistakes they’ve made based on their own fatal flaws. That is the basis of the Jurassic franchise. The dinosaurs have always acted as props in this cautionary tale.

Jurassic World is no different. Claire is a deeply flawed character with specific character traits that evolve throughout the entire two hours and four minutes. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Jennifer, I saw the movie, tell me something I don’t know’. Ok. Jurassic World is actually Claire’s journey of self-discovery. The foundation behind this 4th installment is the story of someone who did not conform to the standards of a stereotypical hero, but instead stayed true to oneself by finding their own INNER strength and knowledge to save the day.

When we are first introduced to Claire, she immediately displays several emotions and you can already see a crack in her armor. She holds this high position and does what is expected of her, but is still uncertain of herself when no one is watching. Claire goes through many tones just in this introduction. There is a vulnerability and softness that comes through, but only for the viewer to see, before we’re introduced to who Claire was trained to be. She is always wavering on the struggle between what’s right and what should be done; this can be said for all the Jurassic ‘heroes’.

Claire reminds me of someone who grew up playing with dinosaur toys, someone who had a huge imagination with constantly flowing ideas and a strong mind for executing them. This is why she chose the career she did. However, the corporate ladder can be a damaging place. Once she began climbing, those characteristics from childhood were quickly frowned upon. She was trained consciously and unconsciously of what was acceptable and how to act in this setting. The higher she climbed, the more she lost touch with her inner self and forgot why she wanted to work at Jurassic World in the first place.

While we may forget a piece of ourselves, it never forgets us. It’s always there trying to peak through the cracks. Here, in this story, we get to watch as the cracks are broken and Claire’s true self is revealed. She is insecure, she is unsure, she is scared, but her compassion and her connection with her humanity shines through and it is that vulnerability and staying true to one’s self that is refreshing.  She is not a superhero, she is a regular person in an extreme circumstance brought about by her own fatal flaws.

The first important scene for Claire is when she jumps to the conclusion that the Indominus Rex has escaped. This is a case of Claire showing that she is not as confident as she led on. The uncertainty displayed in her first introduction is surfaced once again, but so is the pressure to ‘make it happen at all costs’. Once again, she’s pulled between who she is and what she is supposed to do and maintain. The audience is also pulled with her in both directions due to having been let into her vulnerability early on. However, her corporate built ego and status cannot allow for such an error as this, so she must act in haste. This could come across as an unintelligent move, but understanding the stakes weighing on Claire and her already displayed lack of true confidence to the viewer, the viewer can follow her decision and understand it. Much like trying to solve a quick mishap at work before the boss finds out. We’ve all been there and we’ve all made that reckless decision. When things start to implode around her, all she knows is her assets and her park. She did not plan for there ever to be a catastrophe of this magnitude. Her initial reaction to the dinosaur’s false escape demonstrated exactly that.

This decision spirals out of control, rapidly growing into a company-wide problem which is now all on Claire. Deep down, Claire is not heartless and she is not cold. One of the most important scenes for Claire is when the Indominus is ripping through the ACU team. Masrani continues with the façade of ‘company first, park first, asset first’. “It was an eventuality” he says, fully unaware of this moral compass. Claire tries to maintain that same level, but it is now evident that she is losing that inner battle between what’s right and what she was trained believe is right. You see her start to break down and show concern for the park’s operation, the safety of the guests, the safety of the employees, the safety of her assets, amongst her own worry of what others will think of her. She has to be in charge, she has to make another rash decision, but this time, she begins to question what that even means in this situation. She has a quick glimpse of ‘wait a minute, what are we doing?’ which makes the delivery of “YOU ARE NOT IN control…here” one of her best lines in the film. She is not in control, but is still keeping the façade, for now. Masrani doesn’t give it a second thought when making the best corporate decision, but now Claire is giving everything a second thought. The inner battle between her two worlds is colliding. Here she is truly concerned for human life, she remembers her nephews, her perspective and priorities are changing.

This all leads to the most important scene for Claire, the dying Apatosaurus. Here in this scene, Claire sees what she’s become. She sees the consequences of her corporate actions, not on a spreadsheet, not in the stock market, but in real flesh and blood. Here Claire remembers the dinosaur loving girl with a big imagination. The emotional flood of mistakes, regret, and compassion comes flooding back and her tears were not only for the Apatosaurus, but also for what she has become and who she has forgotten.

Throughout the film, Claire showed weakness, uncertainty, fear, but she also displayed extreme bravery. She was out of her element and didn’t back down. She didn’t give up. She didn’t leave with everybody else. Claire is the true hero of the story and should be a hero to young girls. Claire proved that you don’t have to sacrifice your identity to be a hero. You can find your own inner hero by using your own personal strengths to their advantage.

Claire is an average person using average person strengths to deal with the extreme circumstances happening around her. She is not a superhero, but she is resourceful. She will do whatever it takes to save her park and those in it. It is extremely refreshing to see someone who comes from strictly an education/business background take charge and save the day WITHOUT losing who she is. She didn’t change her clothes, she didn’t find boots, she didn’t even put her hair up! Claire did not change for anybody. She stayed true to who she was and what she knew. THAT is a true hero in my book. She did not conform to the standards of a stereotypical hero. Claire remained herself completely, and through her own INNER strength and knowledge, she saved the day. That is an empowering message. Claire showed that you don’t have to take on boy-like traits to do incredible things.

Releasing the T-Rex was Claire using the strengths of what she knows best. She knows her park assets and she knows what the right asset would be to counter the current problem. Instead of magically becoming a dinosaur expert, she used her problem solving skills and the knowledge acquired from her job. She stayed true to herself no matter what obstacles were being thrown at her and she handled them the best way she knew how in the business that she knew. This was a key point in her reliability factor. By cutting to the heels while running, that’s reminding the audience who Claire is. It reinforced to them that she is still the same business Claire we met in the beginning, but now she’s finding her inner strength through her area of expertise.

Director, Colin Trevorrow, didn’t try and change her character to fit the hero mold. It would have been unrealistic if all of a sudden she became a fearless superhero by the end. There are going to be three movies in this trilogy and this is just part one. If Claire changed that drastically in just this one film, not only would she have nowhere to go in the next two, but it would have been highly unrealistic and not relatable at all. Her transition has just begun.

It was a brave choice to put a character like Claire in an action film and not make her the villain, and then to take it a step further by showing the audience her inner battle and journey of self-discovery. Claire found the strength she never knew she had and that’s more inspiring than any hero-type character. At the end, Claire was defeated, broken, and lost. She never once expressed joy that it was over, she didn’t smile and cheer that they survived. She was traumatized by the end of this film. That is realistic and a testament to Claire’s true character. She was fragile and scared, but she found her inner strength and persevered.

I believe Claire is a regular girl who grew up with a love for dinosaurs and a limitless imagination. She got lost along the way, but through Jurassic World, we get to watch her unfolding journey of self-discovery. We get to peek through the cracks and then watch as new cracks appear and discover who that real person is underneath. However, the viewer might not like that person underneath, and that’s ok, but you can’t deny that there IS a complex person there. One filled with insecurities, conditioned a certain way, but due to her own fatal flaws, found herself in circumstances that required her to rise above higher than she knew she could. Claire is very human, she makes human mistakes, she loses control, she finds the strength, but remains broken at the end. Keep this in mind the next time you watch Jurassic World. Listen for the vocal cracks, the uncertain looks masked in certainty, the constant inner battle, and the rediscovery of one’s self only to find that she’s lost and broken.

Claire’s journey is about moving past the illusion. John Hammond build Jurassic Park based on an illusion. The franchise’s moral basis focused on man creating an illusion. Man created Claire’s illusion. Man created dinosaurs. Claire broke through that illusion, because of dinosaurs, and found herself.

What are your thoughts on Claire? Are you excited to see her transition through the next two movies? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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18 thoughts on “Jurassic World’s Claire Dearing – A Character Study

  1. Wonderful analysis, Jennifer. Could we venture to say that Claire is/will perhaps be the most well constructed, multilayered character in the canon of the films (books aside, obviously)? The classic characters have all been somewhat linear in their personalities so fast. After reading your text I wondered whether Claire is the first one to really undergo an in depth transformation, or one of the most nuanced characters in the franchise. As I read your analysis, it took me back to the film, her reactions and attitudes and I must say I have to agree with you.

  2. Actually, of all characters in the JP series, Claire is the most uninteresting one of all and thats partly because Trevorrow made stupid ‘tongue-in-cheek’ decisions like “let her run around the jungle in high heels, what a hoot !” which made her look stupid, arrogant and unlikeable. Also, its so obvious she’s wearing a wig which doesn’t help much, because of that you are constantly reminded you are looking at someone “playing” someone. I felt more in touch with her sister Karen (Judy Greer) and she only had 5 minutes of screentime ..

    1. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion as far as the character/writing goes, but I’m pretty sure Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t wear a wig as Claire. She just has a serious head of hair that makes for a striking appearance in most of her roles. Add Hollywood styling and coloring on top of that, and you get that almost synthetic look Claire has in “corporate mode”, which IMO works for that stage of her arc.

  3. Wow, this is a so accurate analysis of Claire. I think no one did that so perfectly. I am so happy that you did. And about the final question, I guess she will change a lot. She has room for it. You know, when I watched the movie for the first time, I perceived all of this. And I couldn’t believe I saw a female hero in an adventure movie. I couldn’t belive my eyes. I was so amazed by this. I was impressed and just because of this I liked Jurassic World so much.
    Thank you for this post. I’ll keep sharing it until the movie come out.

  4. This is beautifully written! What a great analysis, Jennifer. It was a pleasure to read. I’d like to share my vision on it with you.

    To me, Claire is the most captivating character for a reason that you don’t seem to have mentioned, which is her desire to have children. It gets addressed a few times during the film. For example, the phone call with her sister; ‘You’ll know when you have children,’ Claire: ‘yeah, IF’. I can see that longing and frustration in her every move, through every crack that gets revealed during the movie. And it mesmerizes me, I want to know more about it, and I want to know why. Perhaps she never found the right time or the right guy (wink to Owen), possibly physical issues. Eating disorder in her past, other health problems… It captivates me, I deeply hope to see more of her and her past and possibly her future in the upcoming sequel.

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this, and once again, it’s a great article! Thank you for bringing it to us 🙂

    Lots of love,
    A.C

    1. Great observation! There really are an endless amount of subtle nuances throughout the film and you picked up on a great one. That entire scene in the car is filled with those cracks I mentioned. Aside from the talk of children in particular, the family dynamic in general is showcased in that scene. I too believe Claire’s exterior opinion of children is a facade in association with her cooperate conditioning. I don’t think she knows what she wants and, to be honest, probably never gives it much thought until moments like those arise. However, that’s not to say she truely leans one way or another. She puts up the same facade and moves along with her job because the importance of that snowballed her life and caused her to lose herself in the first place. So your point is very valid and totally fits within my analysis!

      1. I totally disagree with this point concrete point. I mean, the special thing of Claire is that she deals with motherhood as an imposed thing by society and family. Her sister thinks she doesn’t have empathy or heart because she is not interested in having children. And you know what? Not wanting to have children is as good as wanting to have them. That’s IMO the great thing of Claire: the movie uses A LOT of cliches with her, but reversed. The “YOU ARE NOT A GOOD PERSON IF YOU DON’T WANT KIDS” thing, for example. It’s in lots of movies. But in JW her nephews doesn’t even need her to save them: they survive the Indominus attack and return to the park by themselves. And Claire’s sister is the one that hides her divorce to the same children she says she loves sooo much. Claire’s arc is not about having children, is about accepting that it’s not a bad thing if you don’t want to have them.
        Also, I think it’s a nice touch, because it reverses the “fatherhood/motherhood is the best” theme of the franchise. Having a character like her in a movie and showing that it’s not a bad thing to dislike motherhood (can we call this a “Reverse Alan Grant?”) is awesome in my opinion.
        Besides this little disagreement (?), I LOVED LOVED LOVED this study of Claire. More of this, please.

  5. Thought filming was in Kauai? My husband (former military) and I will be in Kauai May 28th- June 3… If you need any good looking Hispanics. Love Jurassic park… and would love to be apart of it.

  6. That was a pretty impressive analysis of Claire. I must say I find it…interesting about how Claire developed how she became later in the movie.

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