Texts in Time
Texts embody paradigms corresponding to their social, economic and historical contexts. The capacity of thematic concepts to transcend time is manifest within Mary Shelley’s 19th century gothic novel Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott’s science fiction film Blade Runner (1992) as both pose similar existentialist discourses regarding the fate of humanity. As a Romanticist, Shelley condemns humanity’s intrusive assumption as creator. Similarly, Scott responds to Shelley warning by also spurning man’s ruthless ambition. However, the film’s 20th century context of capitalist greed and mass industrialisation shifts the criticism onto the pursuit of commercial dominance. Both texts employ techniques such as allusions and characterisation to depict similar dystopian visions ensuing from man’s dereliction of nature.
Composed during the Industrial Revolution and radical scientific experimentation, Shelley typifies the Romantic Movement as she forebodes her enlightened society of playing God. Her warning permeates through the character of Victor, whose self-aggrandising diction “many excellent natures would owe their being to me” represents a society engrossed with reanimation. Shelley moreover questions the morality her microcosm’s pursuit of omnipotence through Victor’s retrospection “lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit”, as the juxtaposition of “all” and “one” emphasises Victor’s cavernous obsession to conquer death; akin to scientists of her time such as Erasmus Darwin. Moreover, recurring mythical allusions to Prometheus, “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge” further portray Victor as an Aristotelian Tragic Hero; a noble character whose hamartia of blind ambition foreshadows his own downfall and dehumanisation, “swallowed up every habit of my nature”. In addition, Victor’s impulsive denunciation of his grotesque creation, leads to the Monster’s metaphysical rebellion “vowed eternal hated and vengeance to all mankind”....
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