2010 English (Advanced) Paper 2: Texts in time
Band 6 student sample
Analyse how Frankenstein and Blade Runner imaginatively portray individuals who challenge the established values of their time.
Mary Shelley’s seminal novel Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s cult classic film Blade Runner express the contextual concerns of the post-industrial and post modern eras respectively. Where Shelley’s novel operates as a Gothic expression of the conflicting paradigms of Romantic idealism and Enlightenment rationalism, Scott’s film functions as a response to a postmodern period predicated upon the dissolution of boundaries, in which logocentric truths are fractured and blurred. Both composers, however, imaginatively portray individuals who challenge the established values of their time, doing so with respect to the values and attitudes of their own idiosyncratic contexts.
Through Victor, Shelley offers a critique of the concerns arising from the mounting tension between the two prevailing socio-cultural ideologies of her own context. Fuelled by Romantic sensibility, Shelley expounds humanity’s unchecked pursuit of intellectual glory and fervent desire to transgress the boundaries of the known as an encroachment of natural order. Utilising the characters of Walton and Victor himself, Shelley represents Enlightenment rationalism as the forging of uncompromising new ideas concerning scientific verity. Shelley’s epistolary form both frames the narrative and becomes, essentially, an exercise in paradox: “a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye” whereby Walton is presented as the embodiment of Rational absolutism tempered by Romantic idealism. Where Shelley’s text explores a natural world on the brink of devastation at the hands of Industry, Scott’s film offers a post-apocalyptic society of rampant capitalism in which fervent consumerism and unbridled scientific progress has resulted in the complete eradication of natural life, an idea that reflects...
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