The transformation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma into Amy Heckerling’s movie Clueless introduced new ideas since values have drastically changed from 1816 to 1995. Many values and morals exhibited in Austen’s time are seem outdated compared to the values we live by today. However, upon further analysis of each value within their context and time frame, a much greater insight into the social contexts of Austen’s world and Heckerling’s world is gained.
In order to achieve greater understanding of these contexts and the values and ideas they portray, we must compare the themes of marriage, social status and self realisation.
In Austen’s society, marriage played a very important role as it served as a means to secure property, wealth and land. However, Austen uses her protagonist Emma Woodhouse to satirize the notion that women needed to marry in order to succeed. Emma mirrors many of the ideas as she claims, “a single woman of good fortune is always respectable”. Emma is well off and socially superior which means that she doesn’t need to marry someone to gain social status or an inheritance, thus she is only looking for love and companionship in a relationship. A good example that shows most people in Austen’s time, both male and female, married for money as their main profit. The carriage scene is where Emma rejects advances made toward her by the vicar, Elton. Knightly had expressed his feeling towards Elton’s motives beforehand stating “he knows the value of a good income as well as anybody.’ After the rejection, it is blatantly obvious that Elton never truly loved Emma. The book goes into third person, creating a less formal and intimate ambience. We can now clearly see, now that Elton realises he cant get rich from marrying Emma, he acts childish and just ignores her.
Similarly, Heckerling’s Clueless gives us a great insight into the values present-day people hold about marriage and the roles of women. It also portrays how the values we exhibit about...