This week, we watched Clueless as an Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. Personally, I really enjoyed the film. I found that the themes of the novel were updated and appropriated very well. The theme of classism I thought was particularly done well. It was appropriated into a high school/modern setting, but I thought that worked well in displaying how classism plays a role in the novel. This can be seen when Chere is showing Thai around school. She describes how each group of students from the nerds to the popular kids seem to have a specific spot to sit at lunch and usually stick together. Like how Emma felt about Harriet and Mr. Martin’s relationship, Chere believes Travis isn’t good enough for Thai because he doesn’t belong to the right crowd. We also see how class determines who people casually hang out with. At the end of the novel, when Harriet marries Robert Martin, Emma says that their friendship cannot be as strong as it once was because she now belongs to a lower class. In the movie, when the girls are invited to a party in the valley, it is mentioned that the valley is on the wrong side of town where the wrong crowd lives. Even though they end up going, the bad parts of the valley are shown when Chere is robbed.

Like Emma and most of Austen’s novels, the movie ends in a wedding, but not between the protagonists. I think this shows how the importance of marriage has decreased since Austen’s time. However, I did find that Chere had more of a positive character arc than Emma. At the start of the movie, Chere is selfish, materialistic, and only cares about appearances. By the end, she is more charitable, less into herself, and more understanding of other people’s feelings. Unlike Emma, Chere remains friends with everyone despite their class including Thai, Christian, and Travis. 

Overall, I think Clueless is a great adaptation of Emma.  Although the film was made over 150 years after the novel was published. The themes and overall aim of the story were still able to shine through in a modern but well done light.

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