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Both Shelley's Frankenstein and Scott's Blade Runner were created at a time when literature, philosophy, and politics were flourishing, which explains why they discuss almost identical themes. However, Shelley and Scott approach diverse subjects, including humanity, from different viewpoints that represent both their influences and the challenges that arose during their lifetimes. There was a lot of social upheaval in both cases, which inspired the writers to build their themes from different viewpoints. While Shelley insists that humanity is erroneous for their scientific knowledge that tries to replicate and even overdo the knowledge of God, Scott upholds the idea that it is important to gain information through exploration as this helps in survival of the human race.
The Replicants in Blade Runner and the creature in Shelley's Frankenstein are similar because they were not created in the natural way. Both of these creatures were created through endeavors by human beings and not through the normal creation. Technology was involved in the development of these beings. The difference between them is that Shelley's creature seems to be inherently evil and that is why it killed other people while those created by Scott had human feelings and they behave in a manner similar to that of other people.
Shelley views science as an evil endeavor and it is disastrous to the survival of human beings while Scott thinks that science is the basis of human survival s it helps in the survival of human beings. A good example in this case is the presentation of artificial snakes and birds which are less expensive than the natural ones in Blade Runner. In this scene, Scott tries to show the benefits of technology as it conserves life through the artificial snakes and owls. Shelley views science as used in the creation of human life as evil through the presentation of a creature that ended up killing all the close family members.
Scott views science as the only hope for survival for the whole earth. Scott suggests that the future is depressing when Bryant says that anyone who is not a cop is a little person. After saying this, there is a recurring search light and shadow bars that move through the faces of the characters. Shelley continues to describe the horrible death of the creature as one that occurred unnaturally with the freezing of the limbs. This depicts the two varied ways of approaching the aspect of science.
In as much as Shelley is wholly against the creation of artificial human life, the book shows that people can achieve a lot by being ethical and humane (Shelley 15). One of the achievements that human beings are successful at is depicted through the eloquence with which the creature learns to think and understand language (Shelley 142). The novel Frankenstein depicts that the creature was immensely good at talking and learning language that he rivaled his creator. Through this, Shelley shows that human beings can achieve highly in the artificial creation of the art of language.
In as much as the creature was not perfect like any human being, Shelley shows that it had the ability of speed and strength and these are areas that human beings can excel. Shelley seems to suggest that instead of trying to achieve everything, it is possible to target speed and strength in the creation of beneficial beings on earth. On the other hand Scott strongly suggests that human beings can go as far as they want with their endeavors and their creations are almost perfect as shown by the artificial snake and owl.
In his article "The 'monster' reconsidered: Blade Runner's Replicant as romantic hero" Abbot argues that Shelley's novel and the movie Blade Runner are different from the way they view artificial human life with the movie encouraging this endeavor and the book discouraging it because it is immoral. Abbot argues that the two literary works differ substantially mainly because Shelley's work was developed from the perspective of romanticism while Scott's work is created during the postmodern world (340). Shelley approaches the aspect of life and its artificial creation from the point of view of it being moral while Scott analyses it from the capitalistic ethic (Abbot 343).
The arguments made by Abbot support the thesis of this paper as the aspect of humanity is viewed from completely varied points of view by Shelley and Scott. Slade makes it clear that Scott makes science seem aesthetic and this supports the thesis (13). Shelley insists that human beings are destroying their lives because their endeavor to create artificial life is ungodly, immoral and against spirituality (Abbot 343; Shelley 15). A good example offered by Shelley is where a creature created artificially ends up killing all the loved ones. Apparently, this is not a coincidental occurrence but a punishment from God.
Abbots arguments continue to support the thesis by claiming that Scott's way of analyzing the artificial creation of life as perfect knowledge as this is viewed from a postmodern point of view. Scott uses the example of Roy and Sebastian who are replicants with normal human feelings. This produces a feeling of empathy and sort of molds the audience to accepting the fact that artificial beings are just like any other normal person. A similar argument is made by Abbot who claims that the onward search for knowledge is highly encouraged by Scott (Abbot 344).
From the definition of humanism, Scott's work is more humanistic because it understands the value human life and thus supports the processes of seeking knowledge in an endeavor to support and conserve this life. Scott presents the idea that people seek knowledge to conserve life and this makes the creation of artificial life quite rational. At the same time, free thought is only expressed through the ability of an individual to conduct research freely as suggested by Scott but discouraged by Shelley's Frankenstein who views it as disastrous.
There is need for human beings to realize that it is important to develop knowledge as this is the source of successful living in a competitive world. As explained by Slade, human beings have been forced to realize that there is a hierarchy of species and they are not at the top of the apex (13). Regardless of this, Scott presents a world where human beings appear as the only hope for survival of most beings. The definition of humanity calls for free thought which is supported by the search for knowledge and rationality which is supported by the fact that people seek knowledge to save beings in the world.
Without knowledge, the human race would probably be extinct as it would be impossible to develop the technology needed to survive in this harsh world. Slade further explains that human beings are made by technology and thus advances on the same are what create human beings (14). A good example by Scott is his representation of natural animals such as turtles and snakes being extinct because this is bound to happen (Slade 14). The only way of salvaging this situation is to have knowledge which will be used to conserve the knowledge or image of such organisms. For this reason, Blade Runner is more humanistic because its approach is to suggest the need for knowledge which ensures the survival of the human race.
Abbot, Joe. “The ‘monster’ reconsidered: Blade Runner’s Replicant as romantic hero.” Extrapolation, 34.4 (1993): 340-351.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Toronto: Bantam, 1981. Print.
Slade Joseph. “Romanticizing cybernetics in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.” Literature/ Film Quarterly, 18.1 (1990): 11-18.
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