Emma and Clueless Speech

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Through close analysis of the novel Emma, by Jane Austen and the film Clueless by Amy Heckerling, we discover that both texts are influenced by, and reflect the values of their respective contexts. Emma is set in the isolated, rural town of Highbury, England in the early 1800’s, at a time where society had placed value on social hierarchy. This distinction between classes was largely determined by family lines and inheritance. It is in the upper class of society that Jane Austen places her protagonist, Emma, “handsome, clever and rich…with very little to distress or vex her”. Emma’s desirable situation had led her to possess a self indulgent attitude towards life, as Austen intends her audience to identify with the cynical remark that she has “the power of having rather too much her own way”. However, Austen contradicts this third voice by the dialogue which establishes Emma to be a character of good intentions “No papa, nobody thought of you walking”. This contrast between third person and dialogue creates a discrepancy between Emma’s thoughts and Austen’s intrusive moralistic views. From the irony present here, satire is created, encouraging the reader to reflect on Emma’s behaviour as a reflection of the context of her society and the value put on social hierarchy and status. The opening scene of Amy Heckerling's film, Clueless, made in the 1990’s, immediately adopts Austen's ironic tone. The energetic montage and quick succession of camera angles of Cher and her fellow teenagers indulging in luxurious activities in Beverly Hills USA, establishes the materialistic world in which the movie is set. Heckerling appeals to her audience by creating such strong imagery, however she contradicts these perceptions by juxtaposing everything her audience views. The blaring song “We’re the kids in America” provides ironic commentary in that it is strikingly evident that these wealthy teenagers are the complete opposite from the average ‘kids in America’ as they have...
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