Module A: Texts in Context
“Mary Shelley’s values are still relevant to society today”. Discuss with reference to your knowledge of Blade Runner and Frankenstein. (1200 words) Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s cautionary tale of science vs. religion was first published in 1818, in an increasingly secular, but still patriarchal British society, amongst the aftermath of the French and Industrial revolutions and a burgeoning scientific research scene. Upon the second release in 1831, the novel was greeted with enthusiasm and praise for the young, female, somewhat controversial Shelley, with the values and issues raised in the storyline striking a chord in the minds of the still predominantly Christian audience, suggesting the consequences of usurping God’s role of Creator and warning about science without ethical boundaries. Over a century later, in a context that could not be more opposite to Shelley’s 19th Century circumstances, director Ridley Scott released Blade Runner, a future-noir-detective- action-science fiction-thriller, which not only crossed generic borders, but raised concerns not dissimilar to those raised by Shelley one hundred and fifty years before. The film, set in 2019, presents the Cold War influenced capitalism combined with the economic boom resulting in rampant consumerism, the potential impacts of the environmentally harmful activities of super-conglomerate corporations, uncontrollable scientific developments in the areas of cloning and stem cell research, and other issues relevant to the 1982 audience by portraying a possible dystopian reality, plagued by worst case scenario outcomes of these universal concerns. Both of these texts deal with thematic concerns of science, religion, the environment and pursuit of knowledge, and consider the romantic ideals of humanity and the sublime, but also address the same values within wildly different contexts, suggesting that Mary Shelley’s values are still relevant to society today and that values are...
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