Emma

Emma and Clueless

Oftentimes, modern adaptation of a classic work loses many elements of the original. This is not the case with Jane Austen’s Emma and Amy Heckerling’s film adaptation, Clueless. The adaptation closely parallels the original text, from themes to characterization and even to cultural context. Both works explore the relationship between fathers and daughters, men and women, and successfully illustrate how the treatment of women has changed over time. When one reads Emma then watches it modern counterpart, Clueless, it is very easy to observe that even though the stories have an almost two-hundred year gap between them, society has changed very little.

While the story appears superficially to be about a spoiled young woman who has nothing more beneficial to do than play matchmaker, the stories are much more complex. Both Emma Woodhouse and Cher Horowitz experience a metamorphosis from self-absorbed young woman to mature and empathetic one.

Emma is set in the Regency Period, a time of rapid change that saw the Napoleonic wars, the first glimmerings of democracy and feminism and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (Intro. To Austen). Clueless takes place in the U.S. in the 1990s, another time and place with much opportunity for...

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