Emma and Clueless Essay

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How has the change in context of Emma and clueless shaped the values conveyed in the two texts? In Amy Heckerlings 1995 film clueless we see the deep transformation of Jane Austin’s more conservative 19th century classic Emma. In clueless we see the values and themes of high culture literature combined with the modern context of teenage society in the 20th century. The transformation of Jane Austen's novel Emma to the 20th century film Clueless by Amy Heckerling allows for the same themes of social structure and personal growth to be universally conveyed in a modern situation. Throughout Heckerlings transformation we see things like photography substituting for portraiture, convertibles for carriages, parties in the Valley for fancy dress balls, and also some less obvious details for example Emma’s extreme care for Mr Woodhouse’s health undergo a contemporary twist in Cher's insistence of a low-cholesterol diet on her father and the counterparts of the Gypsies who threaten Harriet Smith in Emma are the gang bullies at the local mall who threaten Tai. In both texts we see the significant role values such as social status, money and marriage play in both the leading characters lives and in their societies and throughout both texts we see the main characters Emma and Cher transform from shallow ignorance to mental and emotional maturity. The 19th century was a time where inheritance, respectability and marriage were the prime determents of one’s social status. This same social status was so very important in 1990’s America where ones inheritance and popularity defined. To both Emma and Cher their social standing is the most important thing in their world, they are both spoiled, in control socially and tend to think very highly of themselves. In Emma Jane Austin uses social gatherings to emphasise the importance of social status, we people of lower status were absent from these gatherings, “they were of low origin, in trade and only moderately genteel.” These same gatherings are seen in clueless though they have been transformed from 19th century balls to traditional 1990’s teenage parties. Through both gatherings we see the defined separation between lower class and upper class/popular people. When Tai from clueless is warned about the loadies being ‘the drug users that no respectable girl would actually date’ we see that Cher is clearly a snob, a girl so rich and consumed in social status that the thought of Tai even considering liking someone like Travis so low in popularity was just preposterous, and the use of ranging music and close-ups during the scenes where Cher is telling Tai about the different social groups helps as gain understanding about these peoples from only Chers point of view. We see this same warning in Emma when Emma warns Harriet about the farmer Robert martin “In a world were society is of most importance, I would have to give you up! . However instead of the hierarchy being based on 19th century values, clueless incorporates the hierarchy as defined by contemporary culture, popularity and lifestyle as the indicators for social status. From the very beginning of both texts we see the similarities between the two main characters Emma and Cher. Emma Woodhouse lives in an upscale society of a “large and populous village” in 19h century England, while Cher Horowitz lives on the rich scene of upscale Beverly Hills. Heckerling uses high school cliques to show the distinct differences in social status where in Emma mere inheritance and marriage is how we define ones social standing. Both characters have an absent mother and one very over- indulgent father, they are spoiled and at the top of the social ladder and this snobbery leads to Cher and Emma, in their eyes, taking pity on Tai and Harriet Smith, Two girls of lower social status. Tai’s newly constructed outer self from her makeover symbolises her artificial rise in social status “I am rescuing her from teenage hell. Do you know the wounds of adolescence...
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