Emma Clueless

Emma and Clueless  #

Clueless is the 1995 creation of  Amy Heckerling as an appropriation of the plot of Jane Austen’s novel Emma.  Heckerling does a magnificent performance of bringing Emma back to life in 20^(th) Century America. Heckerling was cashing in on a major revival of Austen in the mid 1990s as about five different adaptations of Austen’s novels were released within a two year period.

Initially Clueless was considered just another vacuous Teenpix with a limited lifespan, however its appropriations of Austen’s Emma, gave it sustenance and developed its cult following and a status as a worthy text.

Clueless is a feisty chick flick lit that can stand on its own merits as a well constructed lasting text. Though it appropriates much from Emma it updates and enhances the concerns, situations to universalise them and provides an access to the original text motivating young people to read and find relevance in it.

Its major worthy attributes are its subtle witty quick repartee, its credible situations, its sound score and its visual effects.

Clueless, an updated, Americanised version of an 18^(th) C. English novel of manners, shares many of its precursor’s characteristics but also significant differences.


To what extent is it:

        A replication?

        a transformation?

        an adaptation ?

        a re-writing ?

        a parody ?

        a contemporarised or modernised version ?

        an appropriation?

        a plagiarism ?

Transposition:  Cher is Emma temporally and geographically transposed from the 19^(th)– 20^(th) C. from the English countryside to Southern California.

Appropriation:  Clueless exploits a classic or high brow cultural text by adapting it into a more appealing marketable medium by using modern language, settings, technology and visual graphics.  Clueless is a culturally egalitarian post-modern and democratic movie.

Characters #

counter-pointed, replicated, or counterparts;  Situations correspond or are parallel, consistent with Austen’s.


Similarities                                                    Differences



*Style           * #

Emma                                                    Clueless


Technique #

Similarities                                                    Differences


Issues: #


Austen – *Emma    *                                                                 Heckerling

  • Clueless



**Character  Counterparts **


-  Some major discrepancies:  Frank Churchill – secret love affair -  Christian – gay.


Values: Cher espouses tolerance, inclusiveness and plurality yet practices exclusivity, insularity and cliques.