If This, Then That: Emma and Clueless

Posted 14 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

If This, Then That: Emma and CluelessEmma by Jane Austen
Published by Wild Jot Press on 1815
Genres: Classics, Fiction
Pages: 298

Arrogant, self-willed and egotistical, Emma is Jane Austen's most unusual heroine. Her interfering ways and inveterate matchmaking are at once shocking and comic. She is 'handsome, clever and rich' and has 'a disposition to think too well of herself'. When she decides to introduce the humble Harriet Smith to the delights of genteel society and to find her a suitable husband, she precipitates herself and her immediate circle into a web of misunderstanding and intrigue, from which no-one emerges unchanged. Juliet Stevenson, an incomparable reader, is for many the voice of Jane Austen.

I’ve long known that Clueless was based on Jane Austen’s Emma, but since I’m not a huge Austen fan it took me a long time to verify for myself. I listened to Emma on audio and actually found it immensely enjoyable. Naturally, I was trying to figure out who was who in Clueless. According to the Wikipedia page, I was pretty on point except that I thought that Dionne and Murray were Ms. Taylor and Mr. Weston, instead of Isabella and John Knightly.

Clueless poster

Despite being set in ’90s Beverly Hills, Clueless is actually a pretty faithful adaptation of Austen’s classic. I loved Emma, even if she was a little shallow and well, rather… clueless. There were times when I pretty much wanted to shank her dad, Mr. Woodhouse. I wanted him to just let the people eat. I mean really. As if!

as if gif

I enjoyed the push and pull of Frank Churchill and Austen’s expert rendering of Emma’s inner dialogue. Her tumultuous feelings about Jane Fairfax that seemed to change at the drop of a hat, the cattiness and youthful irritation she feels towards Miss Bates — I just enjoyed it all.

I love thatΒ Emma is both a classic comedy of manners and a cautionary tale to young people who presume to know it all before their time, the dangers of assumptions, and why we should just all be up front and honest.

While when listening to the audio, I didn’t visualize most of the characters from Clueless, George Knightly was the exception I couldn’t envision the character chasing Emma up the hill or socializing in her sitting room without thinking of the adorable Paul Rudd.


I enjoyed Emma more than I thought I would, based on experiences by similar authors of this time period. It’s definitely worth the read. Clueless is definitely worth the comparison watch.

What about you, Reader? How do you feel about Austen? Clueless? Emma? Let’s chat!


April @ The Steadfast Reader


  • Emma’s my 2nd favorite Austen, after P&P, just because P&P was my 1st really. And you can never forget your first – haha. Anyway, I’m reading Northanger Abbey right now and I’ve got to say Catherine reminds me of Emma a bit – not in the matchmaker sort of way, but in the clueless yet kind sort of way. Catherine’s is more of a too trusting nature, though.

  • Lost in Literature

    I’ve only read three Austens and Northanger Abbey is my favorite.
    I just finished Sense and Sensibility and I know I didn’t appreciate that one near as much as it likely deserves. Oh well, I tried.
    I’ll make it around to Emma at some point and I’ll be sure to watch Clueless for comparison.

  • Having just finished my first Austen (Pride & Prejudice), I really want to read more. I think this calls for an Emma/Clueless weekend in my future.

  • I have to confess that I’ve never watched Clueless. I think this probably means I need an Emma re-read and a Clueless viewing. Book blogger drinkalong?

  • Oh I’m a hardcore Austen fan. I’ve been reading her books since I was 11 – well before I understood them properly. They get better every time I read them. There is so much humour in her books. The last time I read Sense and Sensibility I was struck by the girl on girl hate – Lucy Steele is so catty! It was fantastic.

    Now I just want to go and read something of hers again…

    • Sense and Sensibility is also on the list. I’ll keep an eye of for girl on girl cattiness! πŸ™‚ Wharton is really the only author of this period that I truly enjoy.

  • Yup, I love Emma and everything else Austen wrote. Emma used to be my favorite one, but now it’s Persuasion. I suppose I identify with mature Anne (not that she’s actually old!) more than I identify with Emma now that I’m, well, not a “clueless” kid anymore.