Comparing Clueless and Emma

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CLUELESS VS. EMMA Adaptations of Jane Austen’s, Emma, are usually period pieces diligent in capturing and replicating the manners, dress, language and values of the original text. Clueless, written and directed by Amy Heckerling, deviates drastically from the norm, as the film is not a period piece. While Emma is set in the early nineteenth century in the country village of Highbury, sixteen miles out of London, England, Clueless is set in Bronson Alcott High School almost two hundred years later, in the late twentieth century. Despite the significantly different geographical and historical setting and the diverse social values, lifestyles, and issues than those depicted in Emma, Amy Heckerling’s high school setting retains and is faithful to many of the characteristics exhibited by the characters and society found in Highbury. Evidence of this is clearly illustrated in examining the many parallels in terms of social class/groups, characterizations, events, plot, and the importance of themes such as relationships, and the process of growth leading to self-awareness in both the novel Emma and the film, Clueless. As the transformed and transported Highbury, the modern high school in Clueless is inhabited by a younger cast that the characters in Emma. However, the high school exhibits a parallel concept of class structure and all it entails, as those found in Highbury.
Highbury’s social structure is presented from the perspective of the upper middle class English society, primarily through perceptions of Austen’s female protagonist Emma and in her daily actions and interactions with the rest of the characters, and Austen’s use of free indirect discourse. The high school’s social structure is similarly presented in Clueless but through Heckerling’s female protagonist Cher and Heckerling’s use of the voiceover. Highbury and Broson Alcott high school are both small self-contained societies that exhibit varying but rigid hierarchy’s which have great impact on the

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