Although the comparative study of texts in time offers insight into humanity’s changing values, it is the portrayal of common, contextually resonating concerns which continue to engage us timelessly. Despite their divergent media and compositional milieus, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner (1982) share ongoing anxieties regarding unrestricted technological growth and social decay. By examining these texts together as social commentaries which are shaped by their Regency and contemporary contexts, we come to a heightened understanding of human nature and its flaws. When considered together with Blade Runner, Shelley’s early 19thC novel Frankenstein reveals ongoing social anxieties regarding unrestrained scientific growth in a context of unprecedented advancements. As Victor Frankenstein vows to “unfold the deepest mysteries of creation...to infuse life into an inanimate body”, the mythological allusion to the Greek Prometheus establishes the calamities of valuing scientific hubris as he transgresses his limits and annexes the divine authority of giving life. The recurring motif of light in the description of his insatiable desire to “pour a torrent of light into our dark world” symbolises the knowledge that 19thC scientists arduously desired in the fields of Galvanism and reanimation, paralleling Victor’s attempts to recreate the “spark of life”. In Blade Runner, Tyrell also attains knowledge of “nature’s secret hiding places”, and this reflects the ‘knowledge is power’ ideology of our era, seen in the semiotics of his palatial office which expounds his god-like stature. With Shelley thus making use of the Gothic genre to alert us of the potential consequences of “penetrating the secrets of nature”, we appreciate that texts are shaped by their contexts as they attempt to warn us of pertinent issues. Similarly, Scott’s film Blade Runner echoes Shelley’s concerns by examining the environmental...
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