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The film Clueless, written and directed by Amy Heckerling, is an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma and closely parallels the story in terms of character development and action.

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Introduction

The film Clueless, written and directed by Amy Heckerling, is an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma and closely parallels the story in terms of character development and action. Although Emma was written in 1816 and developed ideas and issues of that period in time, 180 years on we can still recognize and identify with the exact same issues. This just proves that despite all the radical social changes that have taken place since Jane Austen's time, people and life haven't really changed all that much. The general life issues of money, love, friendship, class and finding ones place in the world are raised in both texts. From the very beginning of both movies, we can see the similarities between the two main characters. Emma Woodhouse, the protagonist in Emma, is part of the rich, upscale society of a large and populous village called Highbury, in nineteenth century England; while Cher Horowitz lives in rich, upscale Beverly Hills, U.S.A. In both Clueless and Emma, both of the main characters, Cher and Emma, are spoiled, high-class snobs who are looked upon with admiration and popularity by all. Cher and Emma are among the cultural elite and because of their wealth and class they are spoiled and tend to think too highly of themselves. Relationships are one of the key issues raised and explored in both texts. One of the relationships explored is that between the daughter and her father. ...read more.

Middle

They could be pirates for all we know!" Therefore, to prove Mr Knightly wrong, Emma sets out on a mission to push Harriet forward to a more desirable status. Emma is optimistic that her influence on Harriet will be more than positive and sets out to improve Harriet and to detach her from bad acquaintances, and to introduce her to good society where she would form new opinions and gain the manners and customs appropriate for a woman of Emma's social status. Harriet Smith is neither a clever or bright person and desires nothing less than "to be guided by any one she looks up to." Harriet is therefore perfect material for Emma to mould. In Clueless, like Emma, Cher sets out to improve Tai, the new girl at school and the equivalent to Harriet Smith in Emma. Like Harriet, Tai is obviously of a lower class than Cher as her clothes lack style, her hair is stringy and dyed a fake red colour, she has a thick unpolished accent and she likes to smoke drugs. Cher pronounces her "adorably clueless" and consequently decides to give her a complete makeover: a new hairstyle, new make-up and a new wardrobe. Cher honestly believes that she is taking "that lost soul in there and making her well-dressed and popular". She proudly tells Josh, "Her life will be better because of me." Through Cher's actions and words towards Tai, we can see that here, like Emma, Cher is not just helping Tai out of the goodness of her heart, but to feed her own ego and pride. ...read more.

Conclusion

The arrival of Frank Churchill in Highbury is of great interest to the gossiping social group and Emma is immediately attracted to him, just as Cher falls for Christian on his first day at school. The arrival of both Frank and Christian in Clueless and Emma cause Mr Knightly and Josh to see for the first time the nature of their real feelings for Emma and Cher as they both feel seething jealousy when they see both girls falling for obviously the wrong types. Emma and Cher have never been in love before and only know the concept of love from friends and romance novels. Therefore, when they find themselves attracted to Frank Churchill and Christian they immediately assume that they are in love. However, as they find themselves becoming more attracted to Mr Knightly and Josh, Emma admits "that I am not in love with Frank" and Cher discovers that Christian in gay. In a sudden burst of inspiration, Cher and Emma both realise where their hearts lie and finally get together with Josh and Mr Knightly. With the exception of the exclusion of a few characters and minor story lines, Clueless is a faithful adaptation and update of Jane Austen's Emma and accurately illustrates all of the issues made by Jane Austen. Most of the characters and plot parallel the original story but the major similarity between the two are the issues raised, which shows us again that although society has changed over the past 150 years, the main concept behind life will never change. ...read more.

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