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trends and the human psyche. It was written in the Romantic era when society greatly valued scientific and technological advancement. Throughout the novel, Shelley expresses her concerns of extreme danger where man “penetrates the secrets of nature” and all ethical values are. The implications of debatable experimentation and thriving ambition are explored in the novel. Likewise, Blade Runner, a sci-fi film directed by Ridley Scott in 1982 is a futuristic representation of Los Angeles. The film reflects its key widespread fears of its time, particularly the augmentation of globalization, commercialism and consumerism. It depicts a post-apocalyptic hell where bureaucracy and scientific endeavouring predominate in an industrial world of artifice and endless urban squalor and isolation. Blade Runner is set in Los Angeles 2019 with a post-modern and post-industrial city of belching flames resembling Hades. The world is devoid not only of nature, but children, sunlight and “real” animals. In the opening scene, a panning long shot and neo noir characteristics such as disoriented visual schemes and heavy reliance of shadows and rain are used to show the vast yet dwarfed city. This mis-en-scene leads us to believe that this city is a result of past consequences where nature has not just been subjugated, but destroyed, “we’re supposed to be good”. This mirrors a time where society found it “painful to live in fear” that technology was taking over to the detriment of humanity through the invention of the computer. The Tyrell Corporation is the ruling power in Blade Runner, producing replicants that are “more human than human”, by enabling them to have an emotional capacity. This is visible when Rachel angrily confronts Deckard with the rhetoric question, “Are these questions testing whether I’m a replicant or a lesbian, Mr Deckard?” Ironically, it is the replicants who have a greater capacity for emotional responses, showing more compassion and love than the other human beings such as Deckard. As Donna Harraway suggests in her Cyborg Manifesto, “late 20th century machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial”. Scott is saying, in the end, we all die, the point is that we should have empathy for other’s suffering. The language and style of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are both deeply rooted in the literary traditions of the Romantic period. Victor Frankenstein’s scientific experimentation, and eventual success in creating life from inanimate matter, certainly makes Frankenstein an early forbearer of the science fiction genre. This is heavily influenced by emerging scientific theories such as galvanism, Victor mentions, “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world”. Shelley’s gothic literary context transcends its time; she refers to the romantic writers of her age whilst making literary allusions and references which have surpassed her age and context. These transcend culture and are still relevant to Blade Runner, such as the reference to Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ where he reverses heaven and hell, as is also the same with William Blake’s “dark, satanic mills”. Frankenstein depicts a loss of individualism due to society’s conformity with this ‘economic rationalism’ that followed on from a destruction of the environment. Who cares about the environment if it’s in the name of progress!? Shelley profoundly mocks this notion and portrays the opposite views in her novel; this is also paralleled by Riddley Scott as he shows the dystopia humans have created whilst Pris screams against this brutality. Science and progress do not necessarily equal a better world as it can take away from our individualism, feelings and emotions, Coleridge notes, “Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.” [Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Coleridge] Both Frankenstein and Blade Runner intend to serve as a warning against scientific revolution and its
potential for destroying humanity. This exploration for knowledge and progress, symbolized in Captain Walton’s quest for the North Pole and Tyrell’s newest nexus model Roy Batty become a cautionary tale and allegory about the dangers of boundless science. The stanza from Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” found in Frankenstein is the epitome of how the Mariner, Frankenstein and Tyrell are unable to rectify the consequences of their inquiring minds. Victor himself says, “You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been” Through biblical allusions, both the monster and Roy Batty act as prodigal sons, leaving the “wild” to go into a civilised society to meet their father and maker respectively. Roy confronts Tyrell, this “God of biomechanics” and states, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” continuing this recurring motif of the eye. In the climax he releases a dove as a symbol of freedom, compassion and understanding, offering a hopeful vision that although he will be “retired”, humanity will survive and not be “lost in time, like tears in the rain”. Through death Roy hopes that his vision is seen, however to do so one must be put through suffering, such as in Shakespeare’s King Lear during Gloucester’s epiphany where he can now “see it feelingly” in spite of being blind. This brings the parallel that the replicants are more human than the humans. Tyrell plays god, just as Frankenstein played god and he has “created,” “manufactured” these replicants which ironically show more compassion and understanding than those who created them. It could be said that Ridley Scott is trying to show that in one way we are all replicants because society is so twisted and perverted that we cease to be belong to nature, Shelley makes the comment through Frankenstein’s work, “the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hidingplaces.” Frankenstein can be contrasted to Tyrell through his different motives. Both plasticators, creating and manipulating man, however Frankenstein can be paralleled to the Prometheus myth and was also known by the name “Modern Prometheus”, his intentions were not for evil, Augusten Burroughs states “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions” [Augusten Burroughs - Magical Thinking: True Stories]. Frankenstein’s creation was based around an exulted family image whereas Tyrell was motivated by greed, a “one man slaughterhouse.” Frankenstein resembles Dr Faustus, he seeks atonement, juxtaposed deeply with Tyrell, promoting this god-like status, playing chess with humankind. Both Frankenstein and Blade Runner appear to be directly affected by the contextual influences of their time whilst portraying Shelley and Scott’s disgust of what will eventuate in the name of progress. This notion that progress for the sake of progress presents a penetration and severe dislocation from nature in the pursuit of truth, “a light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” This dislocation in nature for a more rationalised level of thinking has caused a loss in individuality, Einstein says that “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and forgotten the sacred gift.” We are now servants to rationality and slaves to conformity; this is what both authors were warning us about. This weakening of independence and strength of individual’s minds transcends both contexts whilst being discovered in texts such as Orwell’s “1984” and the political slogan of “war is peace, ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery”
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