Comparison of portrait/ photograph scene from 'Emma' by Jane Austen and 'Clueless' by Amy Heckerling

Essay by hiddenagendaHigh School, 12th gradeA, February 2007

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In both "Emma" and "Clueless", the misunderstandings arising from acts of artificiality are used to criticize societal values and attitude. In clueless, Elton's casual acceptance of Emma's praise of Tai, 'isn't she beautiful', evokes great excitement in Emma, causing her to believe he is greatly admiring, and deeply in love with Tai. At the same time, the viewer is privy to the gazing looks of Elton focused solely on Emma, through a close up shot revealing the true object of his desire. This dramatic irony is also prevalent in the closing lines of chapter 6 of Emma, as Emma expresses satisfaction at Mr. Elton's tender treatment of Harriet's portrait, oblivious to his admiration for herself.

The power and influence able to be exerted by he beautiful, rich Cher is depicted through a series of cuts between her wielding a camera, symbolic of dominance, and the movements of people in the photo.

The ease with which Cher is able to manipulate them clearly portrays the 'cool, popular kid' of modern society as being in control, evident of the underlying superficiality in today's society. This feature of society transcends both texts, manifesting itself in Austen's novel through Mr Elton's blatant displays of false appraisals of Harriet's portrait, in sucking up to Emma.

In the two corresponding scenes, more emphasis is placed on class divisions in Clueless, with Tai being foreshadowed in the background by the group of 'popular' friends, until Emma exerts her powers of influence to bring her into the foreground. It is also only after Emma's intervention; hat Elton reluctantly places his arm around Tai, emphasizing the incompatibility of those on different ladders of the social hierarchy, which ties closely wit the plot of Emma.

The ignorant and artificial manner in which aristocracy and...