Frankenstein depicts the ambition to use science to usurp God, influenced by the eighteenth century Enlightenment movement (encouraging reasoning to understand the universe), advancements in science in the nineteenth century and the concept of restoration of life through electricity, known as 'galvanism'. Shelley's social context was focused on knowledge and self glory - concepts Shelley opposed. Frankenstein is a didactic warning against growing dependence on science. It highlights consequences of over-reliance on technology, suggesting attempts to usurp God will result in outcomes beyond human control. The Gothic genre allows the purpose to reach the audience.
She depicts nature as a place for both Victor and The monster to be solace and let their emotions be confessed. Romanticism plays a large role in the significance of nature in Frankenstein, as the Romantics placed great importance on nature by viewing it as the domain of the spiritual. This differs with
When one thinks of the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the concepts of knowledge and science are deeply inscribed in the mind. In her work, Mary Shelley tells the story of how one man attempted to emulate the knowledge of his day. Burning with a passion to invent the science of life, Victor Frankenstein soon realizes that such a desire to go beyond current knowledge will backfire and torment the remainder of his life. In the Gothic novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley conveys her attitudes towards science by portraying it as having the capability to exceed the bounds of human restraint. The overwhelming theme of science that is expressed in Frankenstein is that knowledge has the potential to go beyond the boundaries of human control.
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. Mary Shelley’s seminal novel, Frankenstein 1818, is a moral fable combining conflicting paradigms of Romantic idealism and Enlightenment rationalism. Shelley delves into these ideologies in a classic gothic horror story that presents the unequivocal issues concerning the ethics and consequences of the pursuit of knowledge and scientific experimentation. Influenced by the increasing popularity of galvanism, Shelley effectively illustrates her apprehensions through the character development of Victor Frankenstein and his juxtaposition against nature. Victor admits his deep desire for ‘immortally and power’ through ‘penetrating the secrets of nature’, which is manifested in his technological innovation of the creature, highlighting the extreme yet realistic potential for technology to create human life.
Although contextual principles and ideologies evolve consistently alongside society, perpetual values regarding humanity and its profound interest in scientific progress continue to resonate over time. The didactical texts, Mary Shelley’s, ‘Frankenstein’, and Ridley Scott’s 1991 film, ‘Blade Runner-Director’s Cut,’ critique society’ definition of humanity and its values. When analysed in cohesion, the influences pertaining to the Romantic and Post-modernist contexts challenge the responder to question the ethical and moral concerns of its era. These include the violent, implacable and hubristic behaviour engrained within human beings, thus demonstrating the similarity between their respective contexts and textual mediums. 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.
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. Shelley’s warning is evident throughout the novel which ultimately reflects her context through the concern of scientists within her era exploiting the advancements in science. It also reinforces the dangers of our humanity’s inherent yearning to play the role of the Creator. Such a warning also exists within Scott’s “Blade Runner” where the director echoes the rise of capitalist principles through the symbolic dominance of Tyrell’s towering dwelling, a reflection of both his desire for omnipotence and commercial power. Scott’s warning of the dangers of
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.
Identity is based on the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognised or known, and is impacted by various factors including human connections and the environment. A disruption of these stable elements ultimately fuels the loss of identity. Mary Shelly’s Romantic novel Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott’s science fiction film Blade Runner (1992) demonstrate how a more profound and sophisticated understanding of disruption and identity arises from the consideration of the parallels between the two texts. Though Frankenstein and Blade Runner differ in context, they draw on similar philosophical and societal values of their time to simultaneously extrapolate the twofold themes of The Human Experience; what it means to be human, and the dangers of disrupting the natural order through technological advancements. Thus the linking premise is that dehumanisation or a loss of identity results once nature has been disrupted, and humanity becomes subservient to technology and scientific advancement.
The downfall of Dr. Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s novel is directly correlated with the humanization of the creature he creates. Through the development of both these characters, Shelley communicates ideas of companionship and the abuse of knowledge as well as raising the question as to what makes people human. Shelley responds to her Gothic, post-Enlightenment and Romantic context, drawing on important Gothic techniques such as the use of sublimes, Gothic polarities and isolated setting. The Age of Reason is also reflected in the novel’s scientific content. Shelley uses a set of letters written by a man called Walton to his sister Margaret as a framing device for her novel.
‘Frankenstein’ was written at one such critical time in human development: the Industrial Revolution was reaching its peak, achieving a range of technological feats never yet before imagined, creating the space for individuals to experiment endlessly with the possibilities of development. At the same time those individuals who supported the Romantic Movement at that time – like Shelley – were convinced that love and compassion were key values to guide society. Mary Shelley uses her novel text, ‘Frankenstein’ to warn about the dangers of unchecked scientific progress and the importance of holding onto key human values such as love and compassion in order to maintain humanity in social advancement. She performs this warning partly through the use of a gothic writing style, creating a dark and heavy mood and a focus on macabre images and content. Shelley was concerned too that the Romantic obsession with the sublime beauty of human imagination could