Whilst texts may be fictitious constructs of composers’ imaginations, they also explore and address the societal issues and paradigms of their eras. This is clearly the case with Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein (1818), which draws upon the rise of Galvanism and the Romantic Movement of the 1800’s, as well as Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner (1992), reflecting upon the increasing computing industry and the predominance of capitalism within the late 20th Century. Hence, an analysis of both in light of their differing contexts reveal how Shelley and Scott ultimately warn us of the dire consequences of our desire for omnipotence and unrestrained scientific progress, concepts which link the two texts throughout time.
Composed in a time of major scientific developments, including Galvani’s concept of electricity as a reanimating force, Shelley’s Frankenstein utilises the creative arrogance of the Romantic imagination to fashion a Gothic world in which the protagonist’s usurpation of the divine privilege of creation has derailed the conventional lines of authority and responsibility. Her warning of the dangers of such actions is encapsulated within Victor’s retrospective words of “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge”, whilst Shelley’s use of a fragmented epistolatory narrative adds a disturbing sense of truth, foreshadowing the dark consequences of Frankenstein’s actions. Moreover, her allusions to John Milton’s Paradise Lost evoke the poetic retelling of Satan’s fall from grace, wherein the daemon’s association with “the fallen angel” exacerbates the effects of Victor’s rejection, ultimately transforming its “benevolent nature” into a thirst for retribution. Together with its questioning of how Victor could “sport with life”, Shelley’s warning reverberates past the page, directly questioning the scientists of her era, including evolutionary theorist Erasmus Darwin, to reinforce the dangers of our humanity’s inherent yearning to play the role of the...
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