Irony, Femininity, and Heirarchy: A Conversation Between Heckerling's Clueless and Austen's Emma

Open Access
Benevino, Claire D
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Janet M Neigh, Thesis Supervisor
  • Craig Andrew Warren, Honors Advisor
  • Jane Austen
  • Amy Heckerling
  • Clueless
  • Emma
  • Irony
  • Femininity
  • Heirarchy
This paper explores the relationship between Jane Austen’s novel Emma and Amy Heckerling’s film adaptation of the novel, Clueless. Through the exploration of these two works, the conversation between Austen’s text and Heckerling’s text is dissected in order to identify the consonant elements of irony and femininity between the two. These elements are analyzed within the cultural context of both 19th century England and 20th century America, specifically through nineties subcultures. Though the cultures of these periods may appear disparate on the surface, the ideologies within these cultures are, in fact, related. Both cases reflect the permanence of social hierarchy, regardless of a woman’s position in society. In exploring Clueless and the way it both correlates and departs from Austen’s text, this analysis illuminates the evolution of the structure of social class, and the ways in which contemporary culture correlates and departs from 19th century behaviors, fashions, and relationships.