Transformation - Jane Austen Emma to Clueless

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The transformation process redefines a story to make it accessible to the culture and values of a contemporary context. The manipulation of medium, genre, setting, characters and plot enables the transformed text to be understood and connect with a new audience. Amy Heckerling’s post-modern film transformation Clueless (1995) is derived from Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma (1816) with both texts comparable as they use satire to address similar values. The shift in context enables the texts to reinforce the values of Regency England or 1990s Beverly Hills. Heckerling subverts and appropriates the original text to a cinematic context, through this she can comment on American society thus invoking new meaning to the ideas in Emma. Both…show more content…
Furthermore, the text magnifies the attempts to be socially mobile through marriage, evident as Emma devises long-term strategies for advancement thus, demonstrating the desirable goal to belong to a class supported by inherited wealth. This is shown with Emma promoting Mr. Elton over the “society of the illiterate and vulgar” Mr. Martin. Emma’s didactic description of the yeomen farmer marks her attempt to match Harriet with one of higher consequence so her friend doesn’t end up socially inferior like Miss Bates and Miss Goddard who are unmarried. However, order is restored in the text as the concept of marriage between equals is reinforced with Emma’s realisation in her interior monologue “that Mr. Knightley should marry no one but herself”. Emma’s reward of an equal partner combined with her acceptance of Harriet’s decision to marry Martin emphasises how society valued marriage between equals as it allowed for a consolidation of the social hierarchy. Emma presents the place of marriage within the social hierarchy of Highbury with the value shaped by the attitudes of Highbury.

Marriage in Clueless holds less importance than asserted in Emma with the focus placed on sex and romance. In the world of Clueless marriage had become a temporary alliance with divorce rates at a
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