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Comparative Study Of Frankenstein And Blade Runner Essay


A comparative study of texts enhances understanding of the values and contexts of each text.

Discuss how Frankenstein and Blade Runner are shaped by their respective contexts in order to examine the significance of disruption and responsibility.

When we compare texts written in different time periods we expect them to reflect the different contexts in which they were composed and conceived.

However, a comparative study of these two texts benefits the responder by enriching understanding of both texts. Mary Shelleys Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus and Ridley Scotts Blade Runner are clearly shaped by their contexts, yet both express the same concerns that resonate with todays society.

Both texts question the roles of humanity and challenge science and religion to reflect disruption due to the irresponsibility of man.

Written in the early 19th century, Frankenstein was a revolutionary text. It was a work that was regarded as one of the great gothic novels of all time. Frankenstein was produced in a time when there was a belief that science and technology would change the world, but there were grave questions about the socio-economic impact of industrialisation. Some feared for the nature of humanity. There are many contextual issues in Frankenstein that reflect the social concerns, disruption and responsibility, or the lack of. Romanticism, the gothic period and the industrial revolution influenced Frankenstein. The central focus of Romanticism was on the link between man and nature, with the concept of nature prevalent not only in Frankenstein but also in Blade Runner. Technological advancements created intrigue, but also fear. Shelleys contemporaries feared that science and technology would overthrow the natural process of life.

Victor Frankensteins obsession with the principles of life led to him creating a creature that would bless him as a creator and so he could possess God like knowledge, but unlike god, Frankenstein does not take responsibility for his creation. He rejects the creature at the first sign of life which is represented by yellow/jaundice, as its dull yellow eyes open. The use of eye motif is prevalent in both texts. Eyes symbolise windows, windows to the life that is about to be led. Yellow suggests illness, so the dull yellow eyes may suggest a life of ill fate and a distortion to what is seen.

In Blade Runner, the eye motif appears repeatedly. The film opens with an extreme close-up of an eye which fills the screen reflecting the hellish landscape seen below, Tyrells trifocal glasses are an indicator of his short sightedness, both literally and figuratively which suggests that he is unable to see the consequences of his actions.

Victor Frankensteins desertion of his creature is shown also through his rejection of the creatures request for a mate. Although reluctant, he creates this mate, but feels it is too much of a risk to society so he destroys it.

This leaves us with a question to ponder: if we create life and it is a living being, how can we then sanction its destruction? Frankenstein was essentially left with a choice. He was to deny the creatures request for a mate and protect society, or provide the creature with the mate, and put society at grave risk.

The chess game in Blade Runner represents Tyrells desertion of his creations, and the replicants vengeance for their poor treatment. Roy places Tyrell in check, which parallels the threat that Roy later poses Tyrell. In check, Tyrell must accept the bad moves he made in order to recover and progress, however, he does not. Tyrell makes a bad move without considering the consequences and his king is captured as Roy places it in checkmate. Tyrells kings demise parallels his own downfall, as Roy seeks vengeance, by terminating Tyrells life prematurely. These threats reflect the universal fear of the 20th Century that the individual was defenceless to the powers of the corporate world.

With the creation of Frankensteins monster, the natural order is disrupted; science has ultimately overthrown the natural process of life. (Provide a quotation that demonstrates it, analyse Shelleys language, comment on its effectiveness. This is imperative) In Blade Runner concerns of disruption are also prevalent. When Blade Runner was produced, there were grave concerns of the effect that technological advancements would have on society.

The advancements in science and technology have produced the ability to allow creation of the replicants, and in effect, disrupting the natural order. The Nexus 6 replicants are created artificially by Tyrell. This reflects that the natural world has been conquered by science and technology.

This is a parallel to Frankenstein through the creation of the creature. Although Frankenstein uses human body parts to create his being, he is defying nature and disrupting the natural order.

The replicants have also created a social hierarchy. If youre not cop youre little people. This reflects the contextual issues of the time and also the fears of society concerning the lack of individuality, the lack of freedom.

Blade Runner has a script of 40 pages, compared to the average 120 pages. This shows the breakdown of society that has led to people to lose their identity and their freedom of speech. Even when you do hear someone talk, their verbal communication skills are poor, the only clear and coherent character is Batty, re-enforcing his superiority.

The socio-economic forces of the 1980s shaped Blade Runner as a dystopic film. The world was dominated by corporate businesses and mass media. Corporate bosses are beginning to have more power than the countrys leaders in a world full of skyscrapers and billboards. Mass media has a huge impact on the landscape with blimps and billboards everywhere you look, and multi-national businesses like Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Toshiba and Pan Am all have their logos appear in the film.

Blade Runner also addresses the concern of disruption to nature and humanity. Tyrell states that Batty is more human than human. His strength, speed and intelligence are all far superior to that of a human being. Nature is virtually non existent in Blade Runner. The only piece of nature shown in the film is the bonsai plant on Tyrells desk. It is a symbol of mans control of nature, effectively, Tyrells attempt to control nature and play god. Yet in Frankenstein, nature is cherished, which is conveyed through the creatures love of nature, suggesting that even through a materialistic, created world, we can still appreciate and have a love for nature. As Victor climbs the mountains in hope of reaffirming his Christianity and restoring humanity, he says, the sound of the river raging among the rocks, and the dashing waterfalls around, spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence. The use of imagery conveys impact of nature on Victor.

The abuse of power and the defiance of natural order and humanity in Frankenstein and Blade Runner led to the destruction of both the creator and created. The creations are products of their respective contexts and as such invite the responders sympathy, for their quest for identity mirrors that of the composers contemporaries.

Texts are perceived due to their respective contexts in order to examine the significance of disruption and responsibility, or lack of. Both Blade Runner and Frankenstein ask the same questions.They pose the universal conundrum: what is it to be human? What makes us human? The fact that Scott chose to echo Frankenstein demonstrates that this question continues to intrigue successive generations.

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