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.
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
The Gothic genre allows the purpose to reach the audience. In Chapter two, Victor meets his creation in the presence of nature, contrasting the scientifically created monster. The sublime gothic technique emphasises the power of nature to adjust Victor's mood, giving perspective of its relative importance. The novel's epistolary structure, as an example of realism, contains the personal accounts of Frankenstein and his monster. Their downfall due to technology gives credibility to the warning.
“Gothic and Romanticism” – David Punter Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus and a Monster’s inevitable doom In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, it appears that Shelley attempts to draw an important analogy between the lone genius Prometheus, the archetypal seeker after forbidden wisdom, and her own protagonist Victor Frankenstein, who also dares to transgress boundaries in order to create life. Thus the subtitle The Modern Prometheus. However, it is crucial to note the invariable difference between both old and modern Prometheus. Whereas old Prometheus suffers alone for his sin, in the case of Shelley’s Prometheus, Frankenstein, the monster involuntarily partakes in the sin, by being its final product, and therefore has to suffer too. 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.
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.
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. FS reacts to the advances of science in the Industrial Revolution, during which man acquired seemingly godlike capabilities to reanimate life through the principles of Galvanism, as seen through Frankenstein’s quote–“ I will unfold the world to the deepest mysteries of creation”. This concern of science and science is introduced in the novels subtitle “The modern Prometheus” , a recontextualisation of the classical myth, symbolic of the pursuit of knowledge and the consequences of hubris. Frankenstein’s challenging the boundaries of science and technology is evident in the quote– “What has been the pursuit of scientists before was now with in my grasp”. Likewise, in Bladerunner, Scott extrapolates the contextual concerns of the Reagan era of mass consumerism and environmental degradation into a dystopian future.
Mary Shelley uses different narrators to manipulate our views back and forth. For example if Frankenstein was narrating the story he would be against the ‘creation’. Frankenstein clearly hated how ‘delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains’ he had created. His emotions strongly influence our response to the ‘creation.’ Whereas if the story was being narrated by the ‘creation’ we would feel empathy and sympathy for the creation. ‘My heart sank with bitter sickness, as I
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.
In Ray Hammond’s critical essay, he saw the novel as Mary Shelly’s “means of expressing her innermost fears about life and death in a tangible form (Hammond).” Both Shelly and her mother suffered “birthing horros which are echoed in Frankenstein (Hammond).” Shelly’s novel can be seen as a critique on amoral science, or science without forethought. In Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, the character of Frankenstein shows the danger of playing God and the ethical questions presented when man does not consider the ethical questions his experiments present. The pursuit of knowledge is at the heart of Frankenstein, as the good doctor attempts to go beyond anything ever attempted and discover the unthinkable: the secret of life. Frankenstein’s experiment is made with good intentions, as he believes his creation will help humanity. "The accomplishment of his toils" is the creature, created from human body parts Frankenstein harvested from graveyards (34).
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.