Character Transformation ??“ Emma and Clueless

December 26, 2016 Music

At first glance, the novel Emma by Jane Austen and the movie Clueless, written and directed by Amy Heckerling, seem worlds apart with no apparent similarities. However, once we delve deeper into the somewhat concealed themes and events portrayed in both the novel and the movie, we see striking similarities and key messages.

Emma Woodhouse and Cher Horowitz are very similar in character but are portrayed by the composers in very different ways both in time period and location.

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Austen introduces us to the protagonist, Emma Woodhouse, by using her full name as the very first words of the novel. This portrays the emphasis put on Emma and shows her exaggerated self-opinion. Emma Woodhouse is described as being ???handsome, clever and rich???. These strong adjectives paint the picture of a life of luxury and convenience Emma is living in. Her father is described as being ???affectionate and indulgent??? which gives us an insight into Emma??™s background and family upbringing. We are told that Emma??™s mother had died long ago and a lady by the name of Miss Taylor had been accompanying Emma and her father as a Governess. Austen uses the metaphor ???more the intimacy of sisters??? to describe the relationship between Emma and Miss Taylor, emphasising the lack of discipline she provides.
An air of suspense is created when Austen goes from a rather light and formal tone, to a more enigmatic and mysterious tone. The ???real evils indeed of Emma??™s situation??? are revealed as being the ???power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think rather too well of herself???. The repetition of the word ???too??™ indicates that these two qualities are in fact in excess and go beyond what is regarded as necessary. However, Emma is oblivious to the danger her faults are capable of and they ???did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.???

All in all, Austen??™s tone is very formal and methodical. This is a representation of the time in which Jane Austen herself lived which in turn affects her way of writing and the way in which Emma is introduced to us. Austen??™s way of writing and choice of words epitomize the morals and values present in 1815, the year in which Emma was written.

Clueless by Amy Heckerling introduces the protagonist, Cher in a way in which we can easily associate ourselves with due to the time we live in and experiences we encounter in our daily lives.
The opening scene, ???Way Normal Life??? portrays the way in which the protagonist, Cher Horowitz lives in extravagant Beverly Hills USA, a far cry from nineteenth century England. In the first few minutes we see vibrant colours and highly energetic, good-looking people dancing around in fashionable clothes. The soundtrack also plays an important role in setting the vivacious mood. ???Kids in America??? and ???Fashion Girl??? accentuate Cher??™s supposedly ???flawless life??™ similar to Emma??™s situation where she has ???little to distress or vex her???.
The omniscient narrator in Emma, being Austen herself, is transformed into Cher??™s voiceover, expressing thoughts not apparent in dialogue. In juxtaposition to Austen??™s formal and courteous way of writing and choice of words, the way Emma speaks is more colloquial and ???Americanised??™. The opening scenes show girls and boys ???flirting??™ with one another, something which would have been much more subtle in Jane Austen??™s times. Also, we see a scene where Cher experiences a miss-match with her clothes on the computer screen which has an underlying similarity with Emma Woodhouse. Emma also experiences a miss-match when she tries to unite Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton.
Control seems to be a very important thing in the lives of both Emma and Cher. In Emma??™s case, she is constantly ???doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor??™s judgement, but directed chiefly by her own.??? This is because of the leniency and lack of restraint imposed on her from her father and Miss Taylor.
The same thing applies to Cher. Although there doesn??™t seem to be a character similar to Miss Taylor in Clueless, her father is far too busy to partake an active role in Cher??™s upbringing. The lack of a maternal figure is because her mother died during a ???routine liposuction???. Cher also feels in control by owning her own car which gives her freedom and power. For both Cher and Emma, match-making gives them a sense of control and feeds their ego.

The time and place in which both texts are set greatly influence how the protagonist is introduced. Jane Austen introduces Emma the way in which was appropriate in the 1800??™s and thus uses very formal and proper wording. Heckerling however, uses imagery to emphasis Cher??™s privileges and the comfort in which she lives. She is shown shopping and hanging out with her friends in the pool while bubbly music is playing.
Emma and Clueless introduce both protagonists to us in a very different manner; however, the message being portrayed is much the same. Not only does the introduction show the privileged lives of Emma and Cher, it also shows their flaws and indicates what may threaten to blemish Emma and Cher??™s perfect existence.

Therefore, upon analysis of the way Emma is introduced by Austen and Cher is introduced by Heckerling, we can see many similarities and differences. Heckerling has not only transformed Emma into a movie, she has also changed the way in which Cher is introduced to appeal to the current audience. By using techniques such as vibrant colours and energetic music, Heckerling has made Clueless more appealing, whilst still keeping intact the themes and messages Jane Austen had in her mind when writing Emma almost two centuries ago.

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