Emma – Jane Austen Essay

“Do the values in ‘clueless’ support, or challenge the values of ‘Emma’” The novel ‘Emma’ was first published in December 1815. This novel is based around a central protagonist ‘Emma’; the narrator describes Emma as “handsome, clever, and rich, with a happy disposition”. The novel’s focus seems to be set around Emma’s fear of love, and her misguided attempts and confidence as a ‘match maker’. We see one of the main themes in Emma as a growth of self-understanding. Throughout the book, we see Emma grow morally as a character, as she learns from mistakes, and admits error in her ways.

Emma’s Vanity and stubbornness creates many of the story’s conflicts, as Emma finds difficulty in developing on an emotional level. With the mistakes Emma makes, we can eventually see growth within her moral and emotional understanding. In her marrying of Mr Knightley, we understand that they’re judgements have now become equivalent to one another. Mr Knightley acts as guidance for Emma throughout the novel by correcting her in her errors and giving an appropriate moral scope. Social and marital status is another theme or value that is seen throughout Jane Austen’s Emma.

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This is stereotypical of the era in which the novel was written; as these values were a way in which people from this time could improve their own social status. This could happen from a change in marital status, or an increase in wealth. Emma is structured around a number of marriages that are either consummated or anticipated, throughout the novel. It is crucial to note that this form of social advancement was especially important for women. This is because women couldn’t improve their social status through personal achievement or work in this era.

In early 19th century England, especially in more rural locations, a woman’s existence was somewhat confined. We understand throughout the novel, that Emma is very intelligent, and maintains an enthusiasm in her endeavours. But the best use of her time is spent attempting to guide marital outcomes. This almost claustrophobic scope of events gives us a sense of understanding towards the confined nature of a woman’s existence displayed through Emma’s misuse of potential and intellectual capability.

The novel focuses on marriage, because a change in marital status of the time was a way in which women had power. Participating in courting a man was perhaps the most active role a woman could play in her life; in Emma’s world. But a definite sense of un nurtured potential and social restriction is a major theme within ‘Emma’, this is due to the social standards put into play, and the different roles men and women played at this particular time.

The Film ‘Clueless’ produced by Amy Heckerling, is loosely based on the Novel ‘Emma’ By Jane Austen. Clueless entails many of the same themes and values that are seen in ‘Emma’. With this knowledge, it is not difficult to state that Clueless in fact supports the values depicted in Jane Austen’s Emma. Although the context, language, and textual for have changed entirely, the themes and values have remained more or less the same.