Frankenstein & Blade Runner: a Comparative Analysis

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What are the limits at which humanity will reach? What are we capable of and at the end of it all what will be judged as our defining quality? For centuries philosophers and writers have been pondering these questions. One recurring theme related to these questions, despite the context and the time in history of which it is questioned seems to continue to fascinate and defy writers of an answer. What role does science and technologies have to play in society and what will its impacts be upon humanity? Evidence of this question being pondered by writers and composers can be seen through various different texts throughout time. The novel Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelly and the film Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott although composed over 150 years apart share this common question. The storyline, content and text type while vastly different, address similar themes and ideas concerning the ethical complications of science and technology. The gothic novel Frankenstein released in 1818 and written by Mary Shelley reflects the changes of society in the time of which in which it was written. Europe at the time was going through a revolution of science or “enlightenment”. Many new and amazing ideas concerning philosophy, science, medicine and the origins of human kind were being questioned and realised. People were in search of knowledge. However some believed that some branches of science pushed the natural limits with which humans should tamper with. The idea Galvanism (belief that electricity could be created within the flesh of animals and humans) and Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution scared traditionalists and some factions believed these “new” sciences could be detrimental. The Romantics of which it was believed Shelley had close ties within, where people who believed in freedom, human’s connection to nature, imagination and individualism allowed artists freedom, experimentation and creativity. Shelley’s contrasting beliefs of romanticism contrasting against the enlightenment of Europe during those times are the inspiration to many of the central ideas within the novel. Blade Runner a Ridley Scott film released in 1982 and remastered as the director’s cut in 1992 contains similar conceptional ideas whilst reflecting the context of when it was made. In the time of its conception and making, new ideas where once again influencing content and theme within the text. Post Vietnam was a time of consumerism and industrialisation for the world. Thatcherism or the idea of that any technological development was essential and that anything that prohibited was detrimental was widely held. The computer industry was booming, new scientific ideas were being developed including the idea of cloning and gene tampering. However due to this advancement ideas about global warming, the effects of oils spills and man’s impact upon nature was being questioned. Also new superpowers in Asia including Japan and China were rising, leaving those who were not ready to embrace change fearful of this ever increasing technological advancement. It was a time where concepts that not previously had been conceived were being examined at practical levels. These changes in society at the time are evidently reflected throughout the film with a projection of the impacts of these changes in the future being made by Scott. Central to the question of the role of science and technology in society and its impacts upon humanity are several themes which are evident in both texts. Examples of these common themes include; the results of uncontrolled science, man attempting to play god, mans connection with nature, dangerous knowledge and to a lesser extent concerning roles of science and technology parental responsibility. Within Frankenstein the pursuit of dangerous knowledge and its consequences are evident throughout the text “How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, how much happier that man who believes his native town to be the world, than he...