Speech-Comparison of Emma by Jane Austen and Film Clueless

Is there merit in studying texts from different places and different times? This question has been a topic of discussion throughout history and has now been raised in our comparative study of Jane Austen’s novel Emma and Amy Heckerlings’s post-modern film Clueless. It is through these two texts that extensive knowledge and understanding can be ascertained by studying different places and times to allow for a perspective to be gained from both the past and present allowing for a holistic and fuller view of the values of romance and marriage in different contexts. The two texts effortlessly present these parameters of romance and marriage through the themes of social status and self-knowledge.

Jane Austen’s novel Emma was composed in 1815 during the Regency Period. It was a time of great confidence and optimism in England with the British overpowering Napoleon but also of great change with the Industrial Revolution underway. Social values were also on the verge of change where upper classes were attempting to place emphasis on the distinction between the rich and poor, etiquette and gentleman like behavior, as new urban families threatened the traditional values of the upper class. This particular value is represented in Austen’s novel, which is set in the large village of Highbury. An example of this is when Emma dissuades Harriet from a match with Mr. Martin as she believes he is of a lower class, defining him “of low origin, in trade and only moderately genteel”, reiterating insular behavior of the upper class.

Amy Heckerling’s film Clueless also operates in a microscopic world. It is set in the late 20th century in Los Angeles and is depicted as post-industrial, materialistic and a consumer driven body. The commercial- like setting of Clueless is vital to allow characters to interact and establish values. This idea is observed through a montage of moving camera shots and blurred backgrounds to reflect the commercial and consumer values of the protagonist,...