Their downfall due to technology gives credibility to the warning. Religious imagery within Frankenstein highlights the responsibilities associated with 'playing God'. Repeated references to Frankenstein's creature as a "wretched devil", and Victor as his "God", display Frankenstein's inability to manage the consequences of his actions. The physical ability to create life does not
To what extent does the time in which the composers live influence their response to enduring human emotion? Our morality shapes us and forces us to explore new avenues, but our crude desire to unravel and expose the mysteries of life will drive and reveal a future void of moral and ethical compassion. It is this fatal warning which Mary Shelley and Ridley Scott seek to convey in their retrospective texts, Frankenstein and Blade Runner. Drawing upon their personal contextual concerns, both composers uniquely inform an ambitious humanity of that the implications of the ruthless pursuit of knowledge and our innate craving to penetrate the secrets of nature will inevitably drive humanity towards a dystopian future. Shaped by their distinctly different contexts, Shelley and Scott strive to convey this notion, through bold cinematic and literary techniques, characterisation and themes, of the fatal path humanity has placed itself on.
However, the values remain consistent and thus via the respective forms of the text, composers explore issues relating to humanity and unchecked science. Within each text, the composers similarly explore how when scientific endeavour is pursued without a moral frame, the consequences for creator and created, and furthermore humanity, are devastating. The impact on mankind is reflected as Victor Frankenstein brings his monster into existence. This is evident through the use of high modality as he says ‘a new species would bless me as its creator’ and ‘natures would owe their being to me’. Victor’s distant and cold language reveals his overwhelming hubris and reflects the conflation of scientific and Romantic paradigms.
As a romantic novel, Frankenstein responds to the encroachment of rationalism and the Age of Enlightenment, specifically the unknown repercussions of man’s hubristic pursuit of knowledge. Shelley’s apprehension to science, influenced by the late 18th century industrial revolution and galvanism, is encapsulated by Frankenstein as he ‘infuse[s] a spark of being,’ forming a creature that ultimately destroys him. This is an intertextual reference to the subtitle of the novel, “The Modern Prometheus”, evoking the Greek myth of man’s desire to become god and paralleling the disastrous consequences stemming from ambition. Additionally, the epistolary structure of Walton’s letters acts as a framing device to Frankenstein’s destruction, foreshadowing the result of his own journey. Shelley utilizes Walton as a foil to Frankenstein drawing comparison
yThroughout the exploration of the module “Texts in Time”, we observe the connections between texts and their reflections of the constancy in human nature, whilst shifting contextual perspectives are maintained. Such a connection is demonstrated in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein” (F/stein) and Scott Ridley’s 1991 film “Bladerunner”, where both composers present a cautionary tale, warning us of the implications of science and technological advances on humanity and thus reflecting their own fears in their respective contextual eras. It is through the analysis of such values and implications that we can see the constancy of human nature throughout time. Frankenstein is a gothic inspired, fragmented epistolary, reflecting the rebellion of the Romantic Movement, which advocated the power of imagination, and ones relationship to nature. The gothic convention of sublime nature is represented thematically, through forces of good and evil leading to vengeance and murder, as well as macabre settings of graveyards and charnel houses.
Whilst texts may be fictitious constructs of composers’ imaginations, they also explore and address the societal issues of their eras. This is clearly the case with Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, which draws upon the rise of Galvanism and the Romantic Movement of the 1800’s, as well as Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner, reflecting upon the increasing technological advances and the predominance of capitalism within the late 20th Century. Despite their differing contexts, Shelley and Scott ultimately warn us of the dire consequences of our desire for supremacy and scientific progress, concepts which link the two texts throughout time. Composed in a time of major scientific developments, including Galvani’s concept of electricity as a reanimating source, Shelley’s “Frankenstein” utilises the creative arrogance of the Romantic imagination to create a Gothic world in which the protagonist’s acquisition of the divine privilege of creation has derailed the conventional lines of authority and responsibility. Her warning of the dangers of such actions is encapsulated within Victor’s concerning words of “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge”, whilst Shelley’s use of a fragmented epistolatory narrative adds a disturbing sense of truth and realism, foreshadowing the dark consequences of Frankenstein’s actions.
In what ways is your appreciation of both texts enhanced by a comparative study of ambition on Frankenstein and Blade runner? Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ridley Scott's Bladerunner both project dystopian images of society and morality, propelled by the main characters' ambition and egotism. It is through this that an audience’s appreciation for texts is enhanced. These complex texts can be seen as a pair that differs in context, seeing as they are separated through time. Frankenstein driven by romantic imagery and set in historic context, that analysis the European divide in society perpetuated by superficiality.
Consequently, the nature of humanity and scientific progress are reflected through literary and filmic techniques, addressing the exploitation of mankind’s progress and ultimately questioning what it means to be human. By reflecting on their respective social and technological milieus, Shelley and Scott depict the detrimental repercussions of artificial construction through the parallels in ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Blade Runner.’ In particular, the turn of the 19th century saw the fascination with Galvanism, regarding the animation of animal tissue through electricity, inciting Shelley to confront this ideology based on a ‘life force’ that would infuse life in an inanimate object. Through the first person perspective, responders are exposed to Victor Frankenstein’s obsessive behaviour in overcoming the metaphysical boundaries of ‘life principles’. Thus, by metaphorically ‘pursuing nature in all her hiding places’, Shelley questions the implications of synthetic formation through her use of a contemplative tone in acknowledging the ‘astonishing power placed within [his] hands…and the manner in which I should employ it’. She answers this through her
To the reader, it seems that Shelly consistently reminds us of the lack of responsibility on the part of Frankenstein, and the monster’s inherent innocence, who is only made evil by his circumstances. But like the reader, Shelley too, is unclear about whose behaviour is most unjustifiable and unpardonable. With reference to David Punter’s essay “Gothic and Romanticism”, Victor Frankenstein can be compared to the ‘Wanderer’, the Wanderer’s essential characteristics being that he is hero and victim both, who defies God by crossing the laws of mortality and dares to touch the untouchable. The Wanderer is never satisfied with the restrictions placed on him by an ordered society, and he ultimately suffers for his disobedience. Victor clearly fits the description of the Wanderer, as his obsessive need to create life and be its sole creator has a hint of an unnatural desperation to satisfy his ego and attain gratitude.