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.
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.
Randel develops meaning behind the places of Ingolstadt and the Northern Lights, Geneva, England and Scotland, Ireland and Evian to prove his thesis of the importance of political geography. He often refers back to the French revolution and uses that to compare to Shelley’s portrayal of her opinions on the political geography of each place. Randel believes that the tale Frankenstein is a metaphor for the French Revolution. Throughout the essay Randel is associating Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster and the victims of Frankenstein’s monster to people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, King Charles I, Lord Viscount Falkland, and John Hampden—all of which are big contributors to the French Revolution. Although Randel puts forth some peculiar evidence, he is able to explain and utilize historical facts to further strengthen his argument.
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.
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.
Frankenstein and Blade Runner “By studying two texts together, we come to a heightened understanding of their meaning and significance.” Period literature and cinematography provide insight into the composer’s societal paradigm, reflecting the historical setting and contemporary issues maintained at the time. Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, “Frankenstein”, and Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, “Blade Runner”, encapsulate distinct time frames and contexts, respectively highlighting the author’s opinions and concerns within those periods. Despite contrasting societal environments, both texts comment on the human obsession toward scientific advancement and its subsequent consequences, as well as questioning the aspects and qualities that define humanity. Being composed over 150 year apart, the congruency of the texts’ core values transcends time barriers, not only demonstrating their significance and omnipresence within the human condition but also providing new insight and perspectives through differing contextual interpretations. 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.
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.
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.
Essay: Frankenstein by Mary Shelly based on “The Uncanny” It is a strange, but yet stimulating phenomenon to justify and compare the inanimate and animate object by suggesting the impression of unconscious work behind the ordinary appearance of mental activity. Throughout the novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, Victor Frankenstein’s character possesses “knowledge, feelings and experience” in common with the self-named monster he has created. The monster is presented as both a human being and automaton, while Frankenstein is deliberated according to his appearance of sanity versus insanity. Why is it so difficult for Frankenstein to dissemble himself from the creature’s wrath? Perhaps it is true and applies to this “double” situation when they say “you are who you marry.” This brings meaning and relates to Frankenstein in the sense that unconsciously, Frankenstein creates a creature that possesses and resembles Frankenstein’s most deep and inner thoughts and desires.
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.