An essay analysing the transformation of ideas and context from the original text Jane Austen's Emma to the appropriated text Amy Heckerlings Clueless to suit a modern day audience.

Essay by CaitieeHigh School, 12th gradeA, May 2005

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Printed below is the beginning of an essay on the novel Emma and the film Clueless. Finish the essay in your own words and thoughts to explain how the ideas in the original text (Emma) have been changed, in the appropriated text (Clueless), to suit a new, more modern context and audience.

Emma and Clueless

The 1993 hit film Clueless, written and directed by Amy Heckerling, exemplifies how popular culture re-appropriates Austen's novels to serve updated agendas. As a novel of manners, Emma creates a space between competing ideological extremes of the late eighteenth century. During this period of traditional "aristocratic ideology," based on the hierarchy of social birthright, began to clash with a "progressive ideology" emerging from burgeoning notions of individualism and capitalism. Emma exists as a text enmeshed in this debate and presents a tenuous equilibrium upholding social stability. Correspondingly, Clueless creates a guideline for proper sexual relations in a society both obsessed with sex and terrified by the ramifications of sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.

As a character, Emma embodies her unsettled social environment. While she aggressively asserts her individuality and follows her free will, she is also the most eligible woman in Highbury. She may act like a product of "progressive ideology," but her social position embeds her in a "traditional ideology," that assumes marriage for social benefit. While Emma appears to reject the explanations inherent in this position, declaring never to marry and eventually marrying for love, it is both convenient and contrived that Knightley is not only her choice, but her social equal. The message is clear: follow your heart as long as it is appropriate.

Similarly, Cher's actions belie her appearance. She embodies a sexual stereotype that a modern audience will immediately recognize. A blond teenager dressed consistently in...