Transformation: Emma & Clueless

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Amy Heckerling transforms the many values and issues conveyed in Jane Austen’s Emma, set in the 18th century in Highbury to her teen pic film Clueless set in the 20th century, in a high school society. Both texts involve a protagonist, being Emma in Emma and Cher in Clueless who meddle with the relationships of others as their interest, while being “placed in the midst of those who loved her, and who had better sense than herself”. The protagonists are morally transformed towards the end of the film and novel when they slowly realise the error of their ways. The texts explore unchanged values while highlighting society changes through the transformation of values. Heckerling and Austen convey the values marriage, integrity versus wealth and social status through cinematography and writing techniques such as dialogue, characterisation and stereotyping. A value which Austen conveys through her text Emma is the importance of marriage in relation to “climbing” the social ladder. This can be seen through the determination of Emma in finding a man of a higher social status for Harriet, and dialogue, when she describes Mr Martin as “A young farmer (Mr Martin), whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity” and would therefore not be suitable for Harriet who should be aiming for a man of higher social status. In contrast, marriage is conveyed as a less important value in Clueless, as in the 20th century, women have been able to live independently, although relationships are still highly valued. Since marriage has become an option for women, virginity is portrayed as a highly valued aspect of women, which can be seen through Cher’s white dresses that she wears, and dialogue, when she states that she will not have sex “until I find the right person”, romance is alluded to in the novel but there is no overt physical displays of emotion, Austen just hints at it. A value that is cherished in society is charity which is...
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