Heckerling and Austen: the View On Cher and Emma

Using the opening scenes of Clueless and the opening chapters of Emma, compare the techniques that Heckerling and Austen use to alert us to how we should view Cher and Emma. Both texts use various techniques to present the two heroines, Emma and Cher. Emma is presented to the responder as an omniscient text, presenting the responder with all the character’s opinions as well as Austin’s opinion, particularly concerning the social hierarchy of the era. We are first presented with Austin’s perspective in the opening chapter of the book, when Emma is described as “handsome, clever, and rich with a comfortable home and happy disposition”.
As well as this submissive description the responder is also shown Emma’s faults as “having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself”. As a result of the text being presented majoritivly through third person creating an objective status, the responder is shown that Emma has selfish tendencies despite all her good intentions. This is demonstrated to the responder as the wedding of a friend, with whom Emma shared “the intimacy of sisters”, is described in the text as “a gentle sorrow”.
Despite the happiness of Emma’s dearest friend, Miss. Taylor (now Mrs. Weston), Emma thinks only of herself and the unhappiness and emptiness that will be felt as a result of Miss Taylor’s absence in the Woodhouse’s home. The first paragraph sets the tone for the novel as the responder is forewarned of Emma having a crisis during the text, this is effectively projected by the inclusion of the word “seemed”. This shows the responder that Emma’s ‘perfect’ existence will be challenged throughout the novel, as her match making schemes fail with ominous (doomed) consequences.

The description of Highbury shows the social status of Emma and her Father, “The Woodhouse’s were first in consequence there. All looked up to them. ” The description of Emma is juxtaposed by the description of Mr. Knightley, “a sensible man about seven or eight-and-thirty… a very old and intimate friend of the family”. This shows the composer’s intent to portray Emma as nai??ve, young and self-orientated, as the two descriptions vary greatly as Mr. Knightley is portrayed as wise and “sensible”. The responder is further shown the father like figure of Mr. Knightley’s character when Austen tells that “Mr.
Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them”. The presence of Mr. Knightley in the first chapter and the inclusion of his disagreement with Emma over her involvement in the match of Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston, depicts to the responder Emma’s egocentric tendencies. The fact that Mr. Knightley, the wise and older character, implies that Emma merely “made a lucky guess… likely to have done harm to yourself, than good to them, by interference”, influences the reader to view Emma as meddlesome and narcissistic (self-absorbed).
Clueless is presented to the responder through a different medium, thus the composer, Amy Heckerling uses different techniques to portray the heroine, Cher. The main contrast between the opening chapters of Emma and the opening scenes of Clueless is the way in which the text is presented. Cher informs the responder as the main protagonist and narrator of the text. This allows the responder to empathise and affiliate a personal attachment with her, as they see only her perspective throughout the entire text.

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