Blade Runner and Frankenstein Essay

The most interesting aspects of texts written in different times is seeing the differences in what people value. To what extent does your study of Frankenstein and Blade runner support this statement? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade runner although created in different times and contexts are both used to comment on their society and explore the values and perspective held during their times.

Mary Shelley’s context is heavily reflected in Frankenstein, with the discovery of electricity and the growth of the industrial revolution mirrored in her book by the creation of the monster, shows the detrimental effect unrestricted use of the technological advancements can have and how it can lead to destruction. Blade runner also confronts the idea that human actions due to their increase in power by technology is leading to the extinction of nature and to the downfall of society. Both texts show humans playing god and abusing their knowledge and power for creation.

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Tyrell and Victor both create life, which Shelley and Scott use to question in these societies, what it means to be human. In Frankenstein, the monster is educated and intelligent, at first kind and shows compassion and sympathy by helping the De Lacey family with their chores and saving the girl from the river, yet he is still shunned and shown no sympathy by society because of his appearance. In Blade Runner, the replicants are so well created that the only way to distinguish them from the humans is through a Voight Kampf test, which measures the patient’s empathy.

Ridley Scott uses this test to show that emotions and feelings are what it means to be human yet compassion and understanding seem to don’t seem to be shown by a single human in the film. Deckard is able to gun down and retire every replicant no questions asked, without even considering he is ending someone’s life, yet when Roy has the opportune moment to gain revenge and end Deckard’s when he is hanging from the edge of the building, he saves him instead.

These texts are used to comment on the warped views Scott and Shelley’s societies have, the lack of emotion and understanding of each other, almost saying that humanity is dead, we are the robots. The misuse of technology leading to the destruction of society was a concern in both Shelley and Scott’s time. Shelley’s time was influenced by the rapid flux of technology, the industrial revolution occurring and Galvani’s frog experiment at first hypothesising that electricity could create life are aspects of Shelley’s context directly reflected in Frankenstein. Shelley’s concern was that technology would lead to the dehumanisation of society.

While Victor is creating the monster he loses all connection with the outside world and only focuses on his work, he shows no interest in his family or friends. This idea is emulated in Blade Runner through Tyrell. His abuse of technology and unquestionable power have left him with no compassion or love, all he cares about is control. Tyrell shows no consideration for the replicants he creates, not caring if they die or what happens to them, he gives the replicants memories, of childhood and of a family, but not because he care, but simply because it gives him more power and control of them.

The concern for the increase in technology in society and the power it brings the individual is shown both texts as a reflection of the blindness both authors view their world has. Blade Runners dark dystopian setting, with no signs of nature or anything natural reflects the growing concern of the 1980’s that human actions were destroying life. Ridley Scott has used the ideas from his time of acid rain, global warming and pollution to infer that over time this is what the world will come to.

Scott uses the Blade Runner setting to comment that there is nothing natural about it’s world, all nature has been so completely destroyed life has moved to other planets, the “off world colonies”. Shelley uses the Romantic’s view against the scientific rationalisation of nature to also comment on her decaying society through the monster. The monster, the only non-human in the novel is the one that connects with nature. Scott and Shelley’s contexts were both times of great concern for nature, where the development of technology and society meant the destruction of nature.

The increase in industries and the economy, which led to power and wealth of the individual, left the natural world in a fragile state. Blade runner and Frankenstein both contain elements reflecting each context and the authors concern for what increasing knowledge and technology will do the world and the state it will be left in. Both texts are heavily influenced by their context, and although their context differs, the values shown in both texts are similar, leaving us with the idea that over time context changes but the values remain almost the same.

Both texts reflect societies value of power of the individual rather than the community as a whole and the detrimental effect the increase of technology has on the world, yet both societies show no concern for the abuse of technology or empathy towards the destruction of the natural world. My study of Frankenstein and Blade runner does agree that seeing the differences in what people value is the most interesting aspects of texts written in different times is to a high extent as it is the most interesting aspect but it is interesting because there are very minimal differences in what people value.


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