Character Transformation – Emma and Clueless

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.

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...