Did you enjoy the movie Clueless? If so, you will also enjoy reading Jane Austen’s novel Emma. That’s because Clueless was actually loosely based on the novel. There are obvious differences; the movie is set in modern-day Beverly Hills, California, and the novel is set in Surrey County, England, during the Regency era. However, the underlying theme is the same.
The character of Cher (played by Alicia Silverstone) in Clueless is based on the character of Emma Woodhouse, the protagonist in Austen’s novel. Like Cher, Emma is young, beautiful and free of financial concern, thanks to her rich father and likely inheritance. However, Emma is 20 years old and unconcerned with higher education, since she’s pretty much set for life financially.
To fill up her time, Emma enjoys socializing with the people in her neighborhood, along with her friend, Harriet Smith, a pretty yet unsophisticated girl. Although the ways of the upper class are quite entrenched in Emma’s character, she is still compassionate towards everyone in all social classes. Recognizing Harriet’s potential in high society, Emma insists on playing matchmaker to find her friend a favorable husband. Emma is able to use her charm and self-confidence to convince Harriet that she is correct in her matchmaking efforts, leading to some pretty interesting events that create quite a dilemma for everyone involved.
|Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma (1996)|
In addition to this, Emma enjoys gossiping about other romances unfolding (or that she believes are unfolding) in her neighborhood. In the end, she discovers that she isn’t as right about everything as she always thought she was. She also realizes many things about herself that were not so obvious before. Although Emma makes one mistake after another throughout the novel, the ending comes together nicely, showing readers that the errors of youth are what often help us find our place in this world.
In terms of Jane Austen novels, I believe that Emma is the best read for college-aged youth, especially for young ladies. It is different from all other Austen novels, because in my opinion, the character of Emma is a bit more real compared to all other Austen novel characters. Emma Woodhouse is reminiscent of so many young girls her age; carefree and smart, yet sometimes too confident in her opinions. There’s still a lot to learn about life when you are in your early 20s, and it takes failure to find success. Emma is a story that teaches this lesson.
This novel is always described as fun, witty, romantic and endearing, because these are most certainly the best adjectives to help others understand what to expect when reading it. I first read Emma when I was in college, and I believe it was a perfect time to delve into the story. I was just old enough to understand what she was going through, but not too old to not care. I believe that the novel even helped me realize my own plight as an overconfident yet unsure young woman trying to find her way in a world that doesn’t always turn out to be what it seems at first.
If you are a young woman looking for a good read, consider Jane Austen’s Emma for its simple yet intelligent theme and pleasing ending.
Nadia Jones has been working as a freelance writer for many years now and is currently serving as a regular contributor to several blogs about education and online colleges. In her spare time, Nadia enjoys cooking up new vegetarian recipes and listening to reading fiction. Feel free to send any questions or comments her way at Nadia.Jones5@gmail.com.