It might not be a classy literary comparison, but whilst writing my English coursework, I've come to notice a few similarities between Jane Austen's Emma, and the 'love to hate it' Channel 4 reality show Made in Chelsea.
First off, nothing very much happens in either Emma or Made in Chelsea, but it's all quite entertaining. Of course when I say nothing happens, that's not exactly true - a lot happens, but it's all very over-dramatised, and the most minute social interactions are the focus of the storyline. Emma is a typical Austen comedy of manners, and the story revolves around high-society parties and picnics, where characters mindlessly talk, flirt and gossip about each other. Remind you of anything? For most of Emma, the plot is very round about, with the characters constantly forming new romantic involvements within their social circle in Highbury - much like the people in Made in Chelsea, who go out with each other almost interchangeably, and that is the extent of the plot line.
Wealth and class are a key theme in Austen's writing, something which Made in Chelsea fans will likewise recognise in the show, as part of the fun of the programme is its 'rich and glitzy' appeal. Famously, the character of Emma is a complete snob, and her arrogance and ignorance comes from the sheltered, well-off life she has had. Again, I cough politely towards the Made in Chelsea cast.
It may seem like an insult to Austen to compare her renowned works of literature to scuzzy Saturday night TV, but although Emma is not really my thing, I can still completely see the appeal. I don't much like reality shows either, if I'm honest. But despite whatever I think, Austen's novels are globally acclaimed, and Made in Chelsea is also incredibly popular, with the stars of the show entering the realms of celebrity off the back of the programme. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of mindless chatter from pretty people, and in a lot of ways, despite the romantic aspect, that's what Emma is about - the fun but ultimately inconsequential lives of the rich and attractive.
As you might have guessed, I'm finding it difficult to fully appreciate Emma whilst studying it at A Level, so I'm interested to hear what other people think about Austen's work. If you think I'm coming at this from completely the wrong angle, drop me a comment. I'm very happy to be proved wrong!