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“Although times change, human concerns about aspects of the world remain the same. ” How do your prescribed texts considered together support or challenge this idea? Through the use of numerous techniques, the prescribed texts demonstrate that although times change, human concerns about aspects of the world remain the same, or very similar. This is apparent in a comparison of Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein, and Ridley Scott’s film, Blade Runner.
Techniques like imagery, atmosphere, camera angles and contrast, portray contextual concerns so that despite the texts being composed 164 years apart, we note parallels demonstrating that aspects of the world can remain very similar over time. In particular, the attitudes concerning the need for scientific responsibility, artificial procreation of humans and the human desire for status and wealth are trans-contextual concerns.
Through the characterization of Walton, the narrator, and Victor, Shelley’s Frankenstein depicts the passions fuelled by desire for renown, that drive people to discover, reflecting contextual concerns over scientific irresponsibility. In 1818, there was excitement about both geographical and scientific discovery, with Walton symbolising the former and Frankenstein the latter. Walton’s “great purpose” of discovering a northern passage to facilitate trade parallels Victor’s desire to, “banish disease…and render man invulnerable”.
Ironically, despite their voiced altruism, neither are responsible. Imagery depicts Walton endangering his entire crew with his ship trapped in, “irregular plains of ice…no end”. Fortunately, Frankenstein’s story alerts Walton to his irresponsibility and he returns his men to safety. A Revenge Tragedy convention, the deaths of innocents, highlights the destructive capacity of scientific irresponsibility. Frankenstein’s failure to uphold his patriarchal responsibilities expected of a man of his era causes irreparable mistakes bringing William, Elizabeth, Justine and Clevall’s death.
Driven to, “unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation,” Victor seeks renown, evident in the high modality of his yearning for the, “glory” attending such, “discovery. ” Ironically, “Unable to endure the aspect of the” Creature, he deserts it, failing in his patriarchal duty. Seeking vengeance for this neglect, the Creature’s innocence and initial goodness are warped. He becomes, “a monster” a metaphorical, “blot upon the earth” who is disowned by all, illustrating the dreadful consequences of scientific nd social irresponsibility. Similarly, Scott’s Blade Runner illustrates how ongoing scientific progress facilitates consumerism without thought to responsibility. The early 80s saw people driven by image, and materialism facilitated this, fostering greed and the exploitation of the environment. Four replicants, considered mere products, are sentenced to die after only four years of life. They seek an extension of their life spans from their creator, Tyrell, a corporate feudalist without compassion.
Ironically, his use of biblical allusion denotes his heartlessness, when he tells Roy, “You’re the prodigal son”, who must, “Revel in your time! ” Tyrell’s image of fatherhood is a facade, rendering Roy’s hopes an unobtainable abstract, just as the Creature’s desire for a companion and acceptance are unobtainable abstracts due to Frankenstein’s irresponsibility. Roy’s violent murder of Tyrell is foreshadowed by Rachel’s memory of the baby spiders killing their mother. Unlike the Creature, he kills his “father”, and his sarcastic tone to Tyrell, “Nothing the god of bio-mechanics wouldn’t let you into heaven for? simultaneously bites into Tyrell’s beatific self-image and loose morality. Like Shelley, Scott uses Revenge Tragedy motifs to highlight the destructive nature of irresponsibility, evident in Roy’s murder of the innocent Sebastian. Just as the Creature’s vengeance dehumanizes him, Roy’s dehumanizes him despite the irony that the moral responsibility for the death of innocents lies with the irresponsible creators. Therefore, through filmic techniques, Scott demonstrates the way human concerns transcend contextual boundaries.
Frankenstein reflects contextual concern about humanity usurping God’s role through artificial procreation, while notions of class distinction, racism and gender oppression are also pervasive. In 1802-03 Galvani and Darwin attempted to re-animated corpses via galvanism and this is Shelley’s influence for the animation of the Creature. Ironically Victor fails as a “God”, declaring the Creature a “wretch”, offensive to God. Rushing from, “the room”, leaving the innocent creature alone symbolically represents both scientific and upper class irresponsibility.
Classical allusion in the alternate title, The Modern Prometheus, foregrounds that Victor is a self-styled Prometheus who brought fire to humans, and is known as the ‘life-giver’. Thus the title foreshadows the terrible punishment Victor’s irresponsibility brings. Victor, a “god”, fails to equip the Creature for life, leaving him entirely vulnerable. Ironically, the humble De Lacey family whose altruism deprives it of its social status demonstrate the concepts of love, family, language and literacy to the Creature. His loneliness contrasts with their companionship, forcing recognition that his, “Cursed, cursed creator”, has betrayed him.
Rejected by the De Lacey’s in fear, the Creature believes he is metaphorically, “a blot upon the earth. Shelley challenges contextual social and racial superiority, reinforcing by the enslavement of Safie’s mother, a “Christian Arab”. Further, the hyperbole of Safie, having, “higher powers of intellect and an independence of spirit forbidden” to other women, foregrounds contextual gender oppression. Shelley reflects her era with concerns about humans playing God and social inequity, illustrating these can be worsened through the artificial procreation of human beings.
In Blade Runner artificial procreation has usurped natural reproduction, with human and animals being “replicated”, worsening class distinction because “replicants” are denied human status. In the late 20th century, scientific developments of genetic cloning and invitro fertilisation created ethical concern over, “natural” and “artificial” humanity. Moral dilemmas are reflected by Scott, as are the fears about exploiting such development for profit in a completely unethical manner. Deckard’s questions to Zhora and Rachel, respectively, “is that snake real? ” and is the owl, “artificial? illustrate the difficulties emerging. Ironically, Deckard’s unicorn dream and the origami unicorn, indicate he, too, is a replicant. Stronger, smarter and faster than humans, the replicants are ironically not considered humans. Like Frankenstein, Tyrell, a corporate feudalist, feels he is a Godlike “Creator”, foregrounding contextual fears about the power and potential irresponsibility of corporate feudalists. He has created a sub-class for profit and his cruelty in limiting the lifespan of the replicants equates to murder as well as oppressing those who are, ironically, “more human than human”.
Close-ups of Rachel’s tears, Leon’s fears when he is being tested, Roy’s grief over Pris and his compassion for Deckard illustrate the replicants are human. Tragic irony shows Roy must die to be free of the inequity he suffers. Scott’s use of filmic techniques presents his contextual fears regarding corporate feudalism and artificial procreation, showing, when compared to Frankenstein, that although times change, human concerns about aspects of the world remain the same. ” Shelly’s Frankenstein further reflects its context by showing the human desire for renown and status.
Her personal context was being born to, and mixing with extraordinary literary achievers, giving her great insight into the desire for renown and status. Victor studies enthusiastically, ignoring his social obligations and family, believing that thinking of a “native town” as, “the world” is limiting. He wants far more. Fascinated by the mystery of Creation, Victor studies the human body, directing his, “endeavors … towards” a “search” for the secret of life. He puts all he knows at risk, selfishly indulging his desire to achieve, feeling his pursuit of knowledge puts “heaven in my thoughts” allowing him to exult in his, “powers”.
Metaphorically, he burns, “with the idea” of the “effects” of his work, believing he will improve humanity’s condition, earning renown and respect forever. Walton sets off on his journey to “discover wondrous powers” and to “tread land never before imprinted by the foot of man” illustrating his passion to succeed through the use of tactile imagery. Walton prefers “glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path”, being reluctant to return to England, with his ”hopes blasted…ignorant and disappointed. ” Hence the human desire for renown and status is a contextual concern that Shelley highlights.
Scott’s pessimistic view of corporate feudalists who desire renown at the consumer’s expense is reflected in Blade Runner . In the 1980’s people feared globalization would create uncaring corporate feudalists, and Tyrell symbolises them. The sovereignty held by Tyrell Corporation is highlighted by low angle shots of its pyramidal buildings. Chief executive officer, Eldon Tyrell, claims the world is run by “business for the benefit of big business. ” Technology for cloning and the “creation” of humans caused moral dilemmas in the 1980s.
Unlike Victor and Walton, Tyrell’s interest extends beyond the desire for renown for his company and himself, he wants profit more than scientific acclaim. He argues, “Commerce is our goal”, revealing a capitalist world. To him Rachel is, “an experiment, nothing more”, providing proof of society’s degenerating values. A comparison of the novel and the film demonstrate that, although times change, human concerns about aspects of the world remain the same. ” The high angle shot of JF Sebastian’s enormous, empty building where he lives alone with toys, also reflects a world devoid of human relationships and friendships.
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The Asian prostitute also seeks renown and profits through advertising on the enormous video screen. Symbolically she represents the contextual fears over degenerating moral standards due to the birth control pill and feminism. Consumeristic notions have cheapened the concept of renown, making it a shallow, greedy pursuit, ironic in that it makes people wealthy and powerful. Thus, through techniques, the texts studied illustrate clearly that although times change, human concerns about aspects of the world remain the same.
Author: Dave Villacorta
Frankenstein and Blade Runner Essay
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Both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are texts that explore what it is to be human. Many parallels can be drawn between the two texts even though they are set some two hundred years apart. The texts present a view that questions the morality of science that progresses unchecked. Is this what is to become of our society? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is set in the eighteenth century romantic period in Europe, whereas Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is set in the futuristic twenty first century.
In both texts science and technology are explored and human identity is an important concept that is played out to a chilling end. Within Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein plays God to the monster. While creating the creature he believed that what he was creating what was the best for humanity although his ideas began to change when he finally stood back and viewed his work. The viewing of the monster is a moral setback for Victor and he finally understands that “the being whom I had cast among mankind and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror”.
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He is morally affected by the creation that he has cast upon society and realises his error of judgement when the creature he has created kills his younger brother. Victor feels responsible and is eventually consumed by this overwhelming sense of guilt and remorse. The creature that Frankenstein creates is an ‘abomination’ so repulsive to look upon as to cause horror. There is irony in this as Victor himself is internally consumed by an ugliness and revulsion, and he has created something that he cannot look at because of its external ugliness. Although on the inside the creature holds more human qualities than his creator.
The movie Blade Runner has parallels with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and is a modern day reproduction of sorts. The Tyrell Corporation creates the replicants (humanoid robots used as slaves), and this is where Tyrell, the head of the company plays God within Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. He has created the replicants with no remorse or compassion and doesn’t see them as human beings. Much as Victor Frankenstein sees the creature. “She is an experiment nothing more. ”, is how Tyrell refers to Rachel, a replicant who is aware that she is a creation; “I’m not a part of the business… I am the business. during a conversation with Deckard, the protagonist, who is a ‘Blade Runner’ chosen to retire renegade replicants. The replicants within Blade Runner are beautiful and are considered perfect; within society no one would know who was a replicant and who wasn’t. They are as much human as the humans within the futuristic Los Angeles. There are subtle references to biblical themes in texts. Tyrell has created life in his own image, how he wanted them to be like, just like Victor did when he was creating the creature and how God did when he was forming Adam and Eve.
Until the creations begin to want in both texts, they question life and begin to gain more power and strength. You can’t have control over what you create because they have wants and needs of their own. The makers in both the texts lose control of their creations and this represents that man shouldn’t play god when they are unsure of the consequences. The setting of the ‘monster meeting maker’ scene is a comparison between the texts that the elevation of both meeting places in terms of maker and creation shows that closer to heaven link, and then the descent back to reality.
The scene on Mount Blanc within Frankenstein is where the mountain metaphor is determined. This parallels the scene within “Blade Runner” where as the camera guides us towards the ziggurat pyramid of the Tyrell Corporation in which houses the creator of the replicants; Tyrell. His connection to the heavens is further demonstrated through his ability to view the sun from his office, compared to the derelict cityscape, where the sun is totally blocked from view at all times. The scenes within the texts have a constant shifting of power balance.
Within Frankenstein, the shifting power balance between Victor and his creation is evident. The creation has come to tell his side of the story, whereas Victor doesn’t care and uses anger to become powerful over the creature. Comparing to Blade Runner, Roy sits as Tyrell glories in his creation; however, Roy despises his maker for what he has done and ironically seals his fate with a kiss. “Look at you the Prodigal Son… ” Both makers are ultimately destroyed by their creations. It references a new start for humanity as those who cross the line are sacrificed so humanity can learn a lesson.
Both Mary Shelley and Ridley Scott have created confusion among the audience by exploring the humanity within the societies. The audience begin to question who the ‘real’ monster is and who has the most humanity within the story. Within Shelley’s novel, the creature displays more humanity than Victor when he begs for another creation to be made. “Oh! My creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit! ” We first question Victor’s humanity when he ruins the second creature he has made. …I almost felt as if I had mangled the living flesh of a human being. ” Also when Walton finds the creature crying over Victor and we question why? He killed Victor’s family and Victor died because of the guilt of the creature. Victor was the modern Prometheus and was punished throughout his life with guilt and torture. This allows us to link the theme of what it means to be human and causes us to question our own humanity and morality. Scott’s text uses different language techniques to raise the question about what it means to be human and who are the most humane?
The humans within the film are referred to by their second names whilst the replicants are referred to by their Christian name, representative of the relationship between a servant and their master. Throughout the film the replicants show more emotions and human qualities than the humans themselves. When Pris is killed, Roy shows that he loves her by crying and kissing her when he discovers her body and shows anger towards Deckard for killing Pris and Zhora when he breaks his fingers. “This is for Zhora…This is for Pris” If they were not humans how could they have fallen in love?
Could it be that they have become more human than the humans themselves, who are so ready to kill the replicants and ruin their lives? The replicants have more compassion than the humans, the same for the creature who cries over his dead creator. The ‘monsters’ act like humans; the humans act like monsters. The question of humanity is a large theme within the texts and this runs very closely to the themes and ideas of playing god that are expressed in the texts. There are many small links to God; just like God, within
Frankenstein, Victor was the only one who knew how he could create life, just like god did when he was creating Adam and Eve, “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam”. He didn’t share his secret with anyone. In “Scott’s film, Roy has a nail through this hand when he is fighting with Deckard at the ending of the film. This represents Jesus dying on the cross. The ‘gods’ created a creature they believed would be perfect but just like Adam and Eve, the creature and the replicants were not perfect and went against their creators.
The Gods have lost ‘control’. The God complex is evident as it is man’s desire to create life, although it is the creatures desire to become human. Although Shelley and Scott’s texts are set in strikingly different landscapes and several centuries apart they are both questioning the role of creator and man’s right to this role. The societies they both represent are separated by a vast expanse of time but are they so dissimilar? They show the failings of humanity and also the moral dilemma, which is caused by delving into God’s power of creation.