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Blade Runner And Frankenstein Essay

1125 words - 5 pages

Comparative Essay

How do the thematic concerns of your texts reflect the context in which they were written?
Intentionally or not, texts are universally shaped by the context in which they are written, and thus illuminate the values of their time. This is evident in the seminal science-­‐fiction novel Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley and the avante-­‐garde film Blade Runner (1982/1992) directed by Ridley Scott. These texts, though born out of disparate contexts – one post-­‐industrial and the other post-­‐modern – nevertheless explore similar themes, including the nature of human identity and the loss of spirituality that ...view middle of the document...

This reconsideration of identity is further encouraged by Shelley’s use of stylistic reversals, such as the counterpoint of Victor’s mad ravings and the monster’s poignant observations: “No father had watched my infant days…”. Thus, Shelley uses the notion of the subjective viewer to demonstrate that the monster’s depravity was not innate, but rather that social misery “made [him] a fiend”. In this way, Shelley undermines the notion of the polarity of identity, a commonplace of social thought in her time, by highlighting the nuances of the human condition.

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner similarly explores the question of human identity, though on a more fundamental level. This dystopic film, inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926), represents an extrapolation of the technological obsession of its context, and plumbs the deepening disconnection of society from its essential humanity. Scott highlights this by blurring the line between the humans and ‘replicants’, challenging the audience’s presumptive identification of real humanity and simulacrum in a similar manner to Frankenstein. This is achieved firstly through the reversal of archetypal roles, whereby the protagonist is represented as devoid of humanity and thus a villain. Scott emphasises this in the death of the replicant Zhora, using point-­‐of-­‐view shots to evoke sympathy for her as Deckard hunts her like an animal. In contrast, the replicant Roy assumes the role of hero, undergoing a pseudo-­‐religious salvation conveyed through swelling non-­‐diegetic music and a close-­‐up of a biblical dove escaping from his hands. This transcendence proclaims his essential humanity.

Scott’s intentional confusion of real and artificial is also evident in his inclusion of anti-­‐narrative ambiguities, such as Deckard’s possible identity as a replicant, signalled by Rachel’s question, “Did you ever take that test yourself?” Such unresolved dilemmas allow the theme of identity to transcend the classical narrative trajectory, leaving the viewer questioning the existential status of Deckard and, by extension, their own notion of identity.

In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley not only examines human identity but also warns of the loss of spirituality that may result from the unprecedented scientific advances of her era. Inspired by contemporary experiments with galvanism, Shelley reworks the Promethean myth through Victor’s discovery of “the cause of generation and life”, thereafter presenting a parable...

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