Transformations: Emma and Clueless

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The universality of themes pervading both Emma and Clueless in correlation with the humanistic, obviously flawed protagonists in both texts, captivates and immerses responders. This engagement leads to an involvement and enjoyment in the composer’s craft, which enables the responders’ to obtain sophisticated insight into the text’s concerns on both subjective and objective levels. Critiques agree that the transformation enables an audience to “enjoy cultural capital and aesthetic knowledge” while retaining a “connection to the past through classic text and cutting edge post modernism.”

Responders of both texts are positioned to see familiar values and attitudes reflected in different worlds. From a “time characterised by massive political destabilisation and a strong spirit of change and revolution” as noted in extract one, to a time reminiscent of “the reluctant emergence of America onto the world stage as a result of two world wars” everything and nothing at all has changed. The paradoxical situation we face on a close analysis of both contexts is that though Austen and Heckling lived almost 200 years apart their perceptions and criticisms of the world and the world itself are uncanningly similar.

Both composers explore attitudes surrounding gender roles, social hierarchies and the moral development of the protagonist, but use different genres, perspectives and centuries to do so. The restrictive, conservative 19th century society transforms into the promiscuous, fast paced world of 20th century America. The male-dominated patriarchy gives way to the post-feminist world where women take their “freedom” for granted. However the insular, economically and thus socially privileged world of both protagonists, though somewhat tainted, stays stable and shallow throughout. Though the transformation of contexts is severe, the transformation of the protagonists is somewhat placid in comparison.

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich with a comfortable home...
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