Frankenstein Blade Runner Essay – Texts in Time

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Both texts are a product of their time and offer warnings to their respective audience.

Compare how these texts explore ambition and obsession.


Ambition and obsession are heavily intertwined concepts present in both Mary Shelley??™s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott??™s Blade Runner. Both these texts play off the reservations of their respective audiences, delivering foreboding if not sinister warnings of the utter desolation of society and the individual caused by unchecked ambition.


Obsession and ambition were contemporary concerns within the differing contexts of the texts. Mary Shelley??™s Frankenstein was written in a period of great technological and scientific change; Shelley mirrors this in that she uses scientific endeavour to drive her epistolatory narrative, presenting science as a force of either good or evil. Shelley tracks the consequences of unchecked scientific advancement, warning of the evils unleashed when man idly plays God ??“ a contemporary fear of her time, echoing the sub-title ???The Modern Prometheus??? ??“ shown in Victor??™s obsessive quest to bestow life. In contrast, Scott moulds a jarring, dystopic world, in which an individuals propensity to consume defines their humanity. Blade Runner can be seen as a backlash against the obsessive materialism that characterised the Reagan era; it seeks to raise social awareness by reflecting many of the ecological and ethical concerns of its time, including issues relating to unchecked scientific and technological progress. Moreover, Scott??™s vision is of what he perceives to be the natural conclusion of consumerism: the commercial exploitation of human life and the loss of individual autonomy. In essence, Blade Runner rediscovers the issues raised by Frankenstein in a new and altered cultural context.


Obsession serves to drive us from nature, evident in Frankenstein as Victor??™s frenzied obsession to create life forces him deep into recluse in his filthy workshop, and later the icy wastes of the North. This is a common Gothic feature, reinforcing the emotional and intellectual isolation of the two protagonists. Contrastingly, the theme of sublime nature offers the characters the possibility of spiritual renewal, demonstrated by Victor heading to the mountains to lift his spirits.
Similarly, Tyrell??™s obsession with greed and profit has exploited and debased the world??™s natural resources, resulting in an urban wasteland, completely devoid of any natural beauty, instead replaced by decaying man-made structures and intrusive neon-lighting. This is emphasised early on in the opening scene ???Eye of the City??™. An extreme long shot of the futuristic worldspace alienates viewers, as there is an extreme lack of anything familiar. The accompaniment of ominous music makes viewers feel uneasy, foreshadowing the ethical issues explored by the film. It becomes clear that nature anchors humanity, serving to foil our own obsession and greed.

The consequences of playing God are central themes in both texts. In Blade Runner, Tyrell exists high above the city he dominates, assuming a God-like status as a scientific genius, father of the artificial ???Replicants??™ that are ???more human than human???. He remains blind to the ethical ramifications of his act of creation, exhibiting only selfish, profit-driven obsession. His God-like status is reinforced by his being dressed in white when Roy visits his ???maker??™, the long-shot of his candle lit room, and the organ music piped into the background. It becomes clear that he is the non-human automon, not his nemesis, emphasised in his death when Roy symbolically removes his eyes, stripping him of his humanity.
This is paralleled in Frankenstein; Victor??™s lack of responsibility in his act of Creation leads him to abandon the very creature he has worked so long and hard to create, leading to bitter enmity between the two and an obsessive thirst for revenge. Shelley??™s allusions to Milton??™s Paradise Lost further illustrates this; the Creature compares himself with Adam, but ultimately concludes that he is more comparable to Satan in that he is subject to gross parental rejection. Contrastingly, J. F Sebastian and Walton, either by modesty or virtue, are able to moderate their ambition, demonstrating that obsession is the product of unchecked ambition.


Through comparatively studying Frankenstein and Blade Runner, it is made evident that unchecked ambition, bearing forth obsession, leads to a loss of individual autonomy, and moral degradation. It becomes clear that nature anchors humanity, serving to foil our own obsession and greed. These are cautionary tales, offering a gloomy vision of the consequences of overbearing ambition and obsession applied to the creation of life; they invite responders to question the essence of what it means to be human.