Emma and Clueless

Good Essays
It seems to be a reoccurring theme these days for movie writers to recycle old concepts and story lines. This is the exact case in the popular 1995 film Clueless written and directed by Amy Heckerling. This film seems to be all about the trials of the good life in Beverly Hills, but if one looks deeper it is actually a modern take on the classic novel Emma by Jane Austen. When closely examined one can see how the two main characters are exactly alike except they are matched to their own particular time periods. The issues that affected Emma in her day and the same issue that affect Cher in hers. Cher and Emma are both over confident in themselves, they misjudge others, and they experience the same types of problems in their romantic relationships.

At the opening of Emma the narrator begins by explaining all of the wonderful qualities that Emma possesses. She is clever, intelligent, beautiful, and a good daughter and friend (Austen, 5). The opening scene of Clueless follows the same pattern. The movie opens with Cher giving a short overview of her life and all of the wonderful things about herself. Both characters are admired and respected by those around them. This leads both characters to form overly developed egos. Both characters feel they are the very best of the very best in town. Emma is sure that she is the highest in female society and that even the male society should be so lucky as to have her company. Cher considers herself the most popular girl in school and the go-to girl in all insistences. Though the societies these two live in have given the girls the attention and respect they feel they deserved neither girl has ever done anything of worth.

The two characters also make the same kinds of mistak...

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...that all of the great qualities Knightly possess are the reasons why she has fallen in love with him.

With all of these similarities of story it is easy for one to see how Clueless is a modern take Emma. The novel was quite popular in its time and remains to be so today making it every writer's dream steal for it assured success. Heckerling accomplished that goal quite well by making the main characters so similar. Both Cher and Emma have become overly focused on their own good qualities, they are unable to accurately judge those around them, and they both experience the same romantic troubles. By giving Cher all of these characteristics that Emma possesses Heckerling successfully developed an Emma perfectly suited for today.


Austen, Jane. Emma. Oxford University Press. Oxford 2003.

Heckerling, Amy. Clueless. Paramount Pictures. 1995.
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