Comparison of car/carriage scene in 'Emma' and 'Clueless'

Essay by hiddenagendaHigh School, 12th gradeA, February 2007

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Parallels are drawn between the values and attitudes of post-modern and regency society in Emma's carriage incident and Clueless' car scene. In Emma, Mr Elton displays complete disgust and outrage at the notion of marrying the socially inferior Harriet, exclaiming 'Good heaven! What can be the meaning of this?' This segregation and incompatibility of differing social classes is also portrayed in Clueless through Elton's outburst of 'Don't you even know who my father is?' revealing the transcending importance of family background and social connections, and the superficiality within both societies.

In establishing context, the viewer is shown the contrasting social expectations of the liberal, post modern era and the more conservative regency period in Emma. The heated quarrel in Elton's car which leads to Cher being abandoned in a remote location at night would have been regarded as outrageous in Jane Austen's world, where even though Emma is fiercely angry, she still exerts 'a strong effort to appear attentive and cheerful till the usual hour of separating,' maintaining the restraint and due decorum expected of her.

The different social position of females within society is also revealed through Cher's lack of restraint, and aggressive reaction to Elton's confessions which show the power and independence bestowed upon women of today.

Heckerling asserts Cher's hypocritical nature with Cher's ironic accusation of 'You are snob and a half,' whilst the viewer is fully aware that Cher's own conceitedness has blinded her to Elton's true intentions. This use of ironic humor is also utilized by Austen, where the situation arises from Emma's encouragement of Mr. Elton's advances under the notion that they are directed to her protégé, and Emma later describes Mr. Elton as 'proud, assuming, conceited... and little concerned about the feelings of others,' all characteristics which the responder...