How has the changing contexts influenced the representations of main issues from Emma to Clueless?
Amy Heckerling’s Clueless is a cinematic reconstruction of Jane Austen’s 19th century classic Emma and perfectly encapsulates the idea that the issues of a time, change and adapt with the changing of context. The contemporary text Clueless takes the rustic values placed on courtship, dating and ultimately marriage as well as the social/class distinctions in Regency England and successfully transforms them to better suite the new context of a contemporary audience and less rigid society.
In the 19th century, marriage was the sole occupation of women and was the only way for women to rise in social status and to ‘support themselves’. Marriage was a fundamental aspect of Austen’s world and the importance of marriage is highlighted as Emma states that she is “not going to be married” and Harriet exclaims in a shocked tone “it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!”. For Harriet, and most women in the 19th century, marriage was an economic necessity to provide a stable financial future. This is reiterated by Emma’s use of short phrases in “a single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid” which expresses her disdain for those women who do not possess fortunes to match hers and reinforces the value of wealth in relation to marriage. Marriage was therefor, not for love but for wealth, as is demonstrated in Mr. Elton’s arrogant proclamation that he “need not so totally despair of an equal alliance as to be addressing myself to Ms. Smith!” The use of the word ‘alliance’ emphasizes the fact that matrimony was for financial benefits. Marriage in Austen’s time was valued unconditionally and was seen as a means to achieve financial and social stability.
While Emma focuses on the importance of marriage in the rigid Regency period, in the contemporary American setting of Clueless, although marriage is still featured, the...