Context Of Frankenstein And Blade Runner Essay

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Our interest in the parallels between Frankenstein and Blade Runner is further enhanced by consideration of their marked differences in textual form.

Evaluate this statement in light of your comparative study of Frankenstein and Blade Runner.

Both Mary Shelley’s FR (1818) and Ridley Scott’s BR (1982) were composed in starkly differing contexts and as such, they differ in their vehicle of representation. Shelley’s industrialising era allowed for easier access to printing presses and hence, a novel was the best suited manner in which she could deliver her warning to society. Similarly, the sci-fi film genre that permeated Scott’s 1980’s context meant that a film was the most relevant and effective way in which he could create a vivid representation of the possible future dystopia. Therefore, by examining the way in which the textual forms reflect both the composers’ contexts, audience members are able to draw direct links between the concerns expressed and the ideals of the time. Both Shelley and Scott critique these ideals and represent how unnatural beings can never attain humanity and man can never exceed his humanistic limits. As a result, our interest in the similar warnings delivered by Shelley and Scott about the consequences of irresponsible and immoral technological use is accentuated and we are alerted to the universality of these flaws.

Composers often use their texts to explore the consequences of inhumanity that is propagated by their era’s of shifting ideologies. As established by her industrialising context, Shelley’s epistolary novella form reflects and accentuates her 1800’s context. As such, it becomes evident how Shelley portrays the definitive Rousseauian notion of humanity in which man is born to feel ‘ecstasy…and lowest dejection’. This particular notion is a key element in the era’s Gothic Romantic philosophy of man’s connection to nature and is a reflection of the attitudes that permeated the Industrialising epoch. Using her distinctive textual form, Shelley engages the monster’s education through 3 iconic texts ‘Paradise Lost, a volume of Plutarch’s lives and Sorrows of Wurther’ implying it received a perfect education in the denominative aspects of the pure being, to love, to be moral and to acknowledge man’s place within nature. Yet, all that is ‘worthy of love and admiration…is devoted to misery’, the juxtaposition of diction delivers Shelley’s warning to her industrialising society of the inhumane characteristics that follow the destruction of natural order. “Polluted by crimes and torn by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death?’ becomes the fate of the monster, whose confessional tone reiterates the inevitable consequences of inhumanity of unnatural beings. The monster notes that only by destroying the legacy of its unnatural, technologically created body can he achieve humanity and can his soul be pure and free of man’s crimes and pollution. Hence, a focus on Shelley’s marked textual form allows us to draw closer connections to her context and subsequently, we are able to understand how she showcases monsters’ inabilities to attain humanity.

Likewise, a closer examination of Scott’s textual form enhances Blade Runner’s 1980’s commercialising context allowing us to clearly explore the similarities between both texts. Like Shelley, Scott’s Blade Runner also deals with the notion. However, as a result his highly technological context in which the sci-fi film genre was widespread, he achieves this through the filmic representation of replicants who are ‘more human than human’ being perverted by the commercial context of their dystopic world, and turning from a quest for life to murder and savagery. This is a salient reflection of the 1980’s in which globalisation and commercial expansion dictated social values, and the efficiency and profit motive was placed above the hierarchy of basic human rights. Such attitudes are best seen by Priss through her silvery, metallic characterisation which depicts her as a mere ‘fetish product’. The diegetic, insane reverberating screams when she is dying effectively utilises the filmic form to emphasize the inhumanity she has been cursed with because of her unnatural creation. Although such a vivid representation differs from Shelley, it accentuates the notion that monsters’ are incapable of attaining humanity as we are able to see how Priss links to the insanity and madness of the monster in Frankenstein as a dehumanized monster in human form. Moreover, just as the monster redeems itself through self-immolation, Roy is seen to redeem himself by saving Deckard, going against his combat programming and instead, showing mercy. The close up of his empathetic lament “all of these memories…will be lost like tears in the rain” speaks to the audience warning them of the physical disappearance of humanity. The mis-en-scene during Roy’s death employs lighting provided by a large TDK sign against a dull, colourless background allowing the audience to make the direct link between commercialism and the lack of humanity. Much like the monster, Roy’s death proves to be the only way for him to escape the constrictive commercial world, restore the disruption caused by it and find true humanity. Thus, through the filmic representation of corruption and redemption of the replicants, Scott creates a narrative that poignantly comments on the irresponsible use of technology in his 1980’s commercial context allowing the audience to observe how Shelley’s warning has remained universally relevant and to accentuate the fact that inhumane creatures cannot attain humanity.

In addition, composers use their texts to critique the propensity of man for hubris and arrogance. In Frankenstein, Shelley explores man’s hubris and examines the consequences of exceeding humanistic limits in the form made possible by this context – a published novel. She critiques the Enlightenment era’s scientific rationalism that was sparked by Galvanism and comments on its circulation throughout her society using her Romantic ideals. Her allusion to Isaac Newton who ‘is said to have avowed that he felt like a child picking up shells besides the great and unexplored ocean of truth’ utilizes the simile to show man as but a mere insignificant child next to God’s deified domain. However, Shelley outlines how man is fallible to corruption through the sexual imagery and beastly allusion ‘[natural philosophers] penetrate into nature’s recesses and show how she works in her hiding places’ where nature is metaphorically represented as a weak, fragile and delicate woman. This illustrates man’s uncontrollable desire for power and hence, the inevitable misery which they will suffer. Nonetheless, Shelley utilizes Victor’s repentance to emphasize the punishment and regret that follows overpowering nature, exceeding man’s limits and assuming the role of god. ‘Destruction and infallible misery. Learn from me, by my example…how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge…to become greater than nature will allow’ through Victor’s regretful tone and warning to Walton, Shelley demonstrates the severity of the punishment of playing god in her rapidly industrialising and innovating society. Thus, it becomes undeniable that her context, which is reflected through her distinct textual form, has influenced Shelley to warn society of the impossible nature of pursuing god’s role and exceeding man’s limitations.

Similarly, in Blade Runner, Scott uses the character of Tyrell to embody man’s hubris and to emphasize the fact that man has limitations. In Ronald Reagan’s era of globalisation and commercialism, society’s quest for power and world domination economically triggered, within Scott, a vision of the dystopic, unbounded world society was building for itself. In contrast to Victor, through the help of his filmic style, Scott presents Tyrell as a godly figure in LA 2019. He uses a far panning shot of Tyrell’s office to symbolically parallel it to ancient Mayan temples were humans were sacrificed, visually alluding to Tyrell’s godlike power and furthermore, symbolically representing him as the reason for earth’s ruin and destruction. “Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell corp.” This commercial slogan reflects Scott’s fear and, like Shelley, warns society of the blind ambition that’s driven by the commercial and technological advances of the ungrateful human world. Unlike Victor however, Scott is unable to witness his own hubris, thus, his violent end becomes poetic justice. The chess game – requiring power, strategy and control – in which Roy defeats Tyrell symbolically initiates his decline. ‘Death? Well, I’m afraid that’s a little out of my jurisdiction.’ Tyrell’s fearful admission highlights his incompatibility as a creator and, despite their different forms of representation, emphasizes both Scott and Shelley’s message that man cannot exceed their limitations. The violent, ultra close up of Tyrell’s eyes popping resoundingly whilst a holy, biblical Gregorian chant sounds in the background alludes to god’s fall from grace as well as religiously suggesting God’s disapproval of those who attempt to unnaturally simulate his role and power. Thus, through Blade Runner, Scott reflects his ignorant commercialising context and as we draw links between the textual form and the context, the similarities with Frankenstein and the transcending nature of human’s uselessly attempting to exceed their limitations is highlighted and accentuated.

Therefore, it is undeniable that a comparative study of F and BR, in relation to their distinctive contexts, elucidates the universal nature of irresponsible technological use. Moreover, considering their marked textual forms alerts us to how these forms reflect the 1800’s and 1980’s industrialising and commercialising contexts respectively. As such, by examining how the exploitation of technology and the inability of monsters’ to attain humanity are represented both as a novel and a film across time, our interest in the similarities between both texts is enhanced.


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Frankenstein and Bladerunner Comparative Essay

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English Assessment Task Comparative Study – Texts in Time Term 2 Week 8 By Jesse Rand Whilst Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are products of their own context, and reflect the values of their time, they are by no means confined by this. Rather, the themes and concerns of these texts raise issues which have more universal significance.

Although written in different times, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Bladerunner by Ridley Scott both address similar concerns about the threat to the natural world due to unchecked technological advancement towards the natural world as man exerts power to alter the natural rhythms of life, exploring human nature and humanity, and the usurping of God in attempting to create new life. Shelley and Scott projected into the future what they saw to be trends in their own times that threatened the balance between humanity and the natural world.

Their imagined worlds echo a warning, concerning unchecked technological advancement and ring of an inevitability if man’s power to alter the nature of the world is not controlled. The role of nature and the natural in these worlds is depicted in many similar ways with the fundamental values of the composers overlapping. The texts suggest that those in favour of technological advancement would ultimately come to regret their actions. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (published in 1818) develops concepts sparked by Romantic thinking and from a rejection of Enlightenment thinking.

Romantics such as Shelley valued the place of nature in the world and the imperative need to preserve it. Not only did Shelley value the physicality of nature, but she also valued the personal qualities of compassion, emotion, and acceptance pertaining to human nature. Shelley explores the effect of actions that reject humanity, and challenges her audience to question what defines us as human or what takes away from humanity. With the somewhat frightening discovery of alvanism on the forefront of science at the time, there is an emphasis on the dangers of continued scientific development and its possible dehumanising effects. Shelley tells a gothic/horror cautionary didactic tale, warning Enlightenment philosophers in particular. Similarly, context significantly influenced the values that Scott presents in Bladerunner – Director’s Cut. The emerging theory of global warming, as well as the natural disaster of an oil spill at the time were the predominant factors leading to his concerns regarding technological advancement, and the consequences for nature – both human and environmental.

Although many of the values displayed in Frankenstein are similar to those in Bladerunner, Scott encapsulates a new response to them – more relevant to his contemporary personal context. The industrialised society of the 1980s saw an urgency to preserve nature. It is constantly dark in the film and Scott challenges us to think of how ‘enlightened’ we actually are. Both composers explore the effects of pushing past natural limitations and moral values surrounding the notion that, “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Nature has been all but extinguished in the post-apocalyptic landscape of Los Angeles in 2019. Chiaroscuro lighting and high angle shots show a global underclass composed of a melange of cultures. Asian ‘mega-economies’, globalisation and the environment found in the 80’s is a contextually mirrored by the constant darkness and the landscape that is permanently damaged by industry. Shelley, through the murders of William, Justine, Clerval, Elizabeth and Victor’s father, portrays how scientific advancements would affect nature and its supporters.

This can be reinforced by Shelley’s placement of these characters, in his hometown of Geneva where they are surrounded in nature and beautiful landscapes. The fact that the monster came to Victor’s hometown and caused harm, suggests that unchecked scientific experiments destroy nature. The concept consistently resurfaces throughout Shelley and Scott’s works, that devaluing nature, devalues humanity. Frankenstein and Blade Runner explore elements of the human nature in a way that attempts to identify characteristics that would be considered uniquely and universally human.

These characteristics that should enable us to identify the differences between the metaphysical and the natural are blurred within the two texts, reflecting the composers’ fears of the loss of humanity. Shelley and Scott strongly advocate the notion that there are inherent dangers to the human nature in an environment in which the advance of science and technology goes unchecked. Shelley’s novel serves as a clear warning against lack of restraint and sense of responsibility which men display in their temptations in search of knowledge, curiosity and glory.

This may be reflected by her own personal context in which her husband Percy Shelley was often absent due to his work. In terms of Frankenstein, it is the monster that is portrayed as the one possessing the characteristics of being human instead of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein denies his humanity in order to pursue his unscrupulous ambitions in creating life, destroying the distinction between man and ‘God’. “Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed? ” In Blade Runner, the Replicants are described as “more human than human. This attempted model of a ‘perfect man’ who is superior in every way to existing humans dramatically and disastrously backfires on society when the Replicants seek retribution in their quest for humanity. “I want more life…,” Roy Batty implores Tyrell during their meeting. The Replicants, although not emotional beings, are becoming advanced enough to question their own purpose of life. This starkly juxtaposes the ‘real’ humans around Batty who lack any moral conviction or sympathy for the Replicants’ situation. Blade Runner expresses the nature of what true humanity is and how it exists within an artificial world.

The opening montage of flames and smoke rising from the towers of industry, a monolithic ziggurat structure in the background, and an eye, is central to the film. This mis-en-scene supported by dark electronic/artificial music depicts this era of sacrificing humanity for industry. Both texts contain a very intelligent creator who seems unaware of the forces that they are dealing with. They are both fascinated with human life and wish to create it themselves. Victor Frankenstein states, “One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention was the structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal imbued with life.

Whence, I often asked myself did the principle of life proceed? “(pg. 51) Both creators share a fascination with where life proceeds from. Is it merely intellect? Or, as in the case of Bladerunner, are emotions the defining element of human life? Both creators are expressly interested in creating a life form equal to humans, and Tyrell even wishes to create a life form superior to man using the exploitation of the genetic technology of the time. The overarching idea of usurping the role of God is common in both Frankenstein and Bladerunner. Both authors are affected by their different values, creating differing perspectives.

Both Frankenstein and Tyrell “became capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter,” however in doing so they transcend the boundaries of nature and their overreaching ambition is punished. There are also parallels between the Monster and Batty as both are the creation of unchecked scientific endeavours, raising the same philosophical, moral, and ethical concerns. Frankenstein is described by Shelley as ‘The Modern Prometheus’: an allusion to the ancient Greek Titan who stole fire from Zeus to create humans, in overstepping these boundaries he was eternally punished.

Like Prometheus, Frankenstein represents one who has challenged the natural order, he is driven by “a fervent longing to penetrate the secrets of nature,” and must be punished for this transgression on forbidden boundaries. Frankenstein’s obsessive personality is synonymous with the excess of the Industrial Revolution and the period of Enlightenment which saw the forces of science supersede that of religion and superstition. Shelley’s Romantic context, with the value it placed on religion and the sublime, limited the ways in which Frankenstein could usurp God.

Whilst he created the Monster, he does not possess ‘god-like’ qualities and he expresses regret for aspiring to become “greater than his nature will allow. ” Contrasting Frankenstein, Tyrell feels no guilt for the creation of the replicants they are merely “experiments”. This reflects Scott’s post-modern influence and the little value it placed on religion. Scott shows no reverence for a God and the Post-modern context suggests that every human has a god-like affinity within. This power, as displayed in Blade Runner, can be a highly destructive force.

Tyrell’s opulence and god-like power is symbolised through the Mayan Style pyramid. Moreover, his reference to “the prodigal son” further serves to draw links between himself and God. However, whilst Tyrell had god-like power, he was myopic and weak – displaying Scott’s overall negativity towards overreaching ambition and usurping God. In both Frankenstein and Blade Runner, unchecked ambition are punished. Both Frankenstein and Tyrell are killed as punishment for transgressing the natural boundaries, displaying the overall negative results of usurping God’s role as Creator.

However, the separate contexts mean that differing perspectives on the topic of religion are apparent: Shelley as a Romantic reveres the notion of a single, sublime God; whereas Scott with a postmodern influence treats the subject of religion with more ambiguity. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner are clearly products of their own time. Yet the themes contained within these texts hold a more universal significance. Although written over 150 years apart both texts address many similar issues which displays their timeless and universal nature.

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The major concerns raised include the threat to the natural world due to commercialism and irresponsible use of advancing technology, exploring the essence of life and humanity, and the usurping and mocking of God as Creator by attempting to simulate life. Shelley and Scott incorporated their own concerns of what the future could hold regarding the balance between the natural world and humanity. Their works can be heeded as a warning toward the consequences of unchecked and immoral developments in the fields of science. #

Author: Dave Villacorta

in Frankenstein

Frankenstein and Bladerunner Comparative Essay

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