Importance of Social Status in Emma and Clueless

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Importance of Social Status in Emma and Clueless

Emma Woodhouse of the Jane Austen novel Emma, is part of the rich, upscale society of a well off village in nineteenth century England, while Cher Horowitz the main character of the movie version Clueless, lives in the upscale Beverly Hills of California. The Woodhouse family is very highly looked upon in Highbury, and Cher and her father are also viewed as the cultural elite. The abuse of power and wealth, arrogance, and a lack of acceptance all prove that the class status of these families plays a significant role in the shaping of both the novel and the video.

Emma and Cher both abuse the power of wealth and become spoiled, socially dominating, and overly confident with themselves. However, they both feel very comfortable in this lifestyle because of their possessions and social status. Jane Austen secures Emma in the very first paragraph of her novel. She states, "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to vex her" (Austen 1). Cher has everything a teenager could possibly want: her own jeep, an endless wardrobe, and amounts of money that seems to be collected from a money tree outside the backdoor.

Emma's arrogance shines through when she brags that she is exceptionally skillful at matching couples. She believes that she is in control of fate and must play matchmaker in order for couples to discover their true love. Austen confirms, "The real evils indeed of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself" (Austen 1). Although Emma is so spoiled and overbearing, she truly doesn't realize this fact.

Likewise, an example of Cher's pompousness can be seen in the scene where she and Dionne are explaining to Tai how to become more popular. Cher states that she has already started to elevate her social status "due to the fact that you hang out with Dionne and I" (Clueless). Cher may be sympathetic to Tai, but she does so with conceitedness because she knows she is from a higher social class.

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