Evaluate the relative importance of differences and similarities between texts and the ways in which these differences or similarities reflect values in the texts
Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless” is an appropriation of Jane Austen’s “Emma”, taking the rigid values of Regency England and postmodern America respectively. The transformation process of societal values shows how it can shape and enhance textual, intertextual and contextual meaning. The adaptation of the genteel and idyllic country society of the Highbury to the upper fast paced microcosm of Beverly Hills gives the realignment of social values and attitudes towards class, marriage and gender roles over the past two centuries
An aspect of society that is transformed and reflected in both “Emma” and “Clueless” is the rigidness of the class structures. This is displayed when Mr Elton becomes of Emma’s attempts to match him up with Harriet, a social inferior. “I never thought of Miss Smith in the whole course of my existence… never cared if she were dead or alive.” This display shows the inflexibility of the Regency class conventions. Similarly, Elton show class consciousness when Cher proposes Tai. “Tai? Do you known who my father is?” The rhetorical question which is further emphasised by the clowns and blinking neon signs symbolises mockery and disapproval at Cher’s attempt to challenge the social class system. Further inflexibility in class interactions is apparent in Emma’s high modality and contemptuous tones when she claims that the “yeomanry are precisely the order of people… with whom I feel I can have nothing to do.” However, the socially inferior Tai is momentarily idolised after her near death experience at the mall. By portraying her as the centre of the shot she becomes the focus of Cher’s friendship circle. This shows that while ingrained class ideologies have been maintained, the indicators of class have not, changing from wealth and etiquette to image and infamy. Undertones of social fluidity in Clueless show that class status quo is maintained in both texts. Austen’s omniscient voice in “The intimacy between her and Harriet must sink… into a calmer sort of goodwill… what ought to be, and what must be” suggests that maintaining a class structure must be done for the greater good. This is conveyed when Tai and Cher appear to convert back to their previous positions in the social hierarchy during the wedding. Hence, the notion of class status quo being enforced for the greater good has been transposed by Emma into Clueless.
Socially ideal relationships and marriage...