Through a comparative study of texts, the audience sees how they show the reaction to their society’s changing core values. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein reflects the shift away from the Age of Enlightenment to Romanticism. During the age of Enlightenment, there was a rise in humanism and pursuits in science represented through the characterisation of Frankenstein and Walton. Meanwhile, “beautiful, heaven-sent” Elizabeth reflects the natural beauty valued in the shift to Romanticism. The Age of Enlightenment is symbolically criticised through the monster killing Elizabeth as the product of unchecked scientific pursuits kills the symbol of Romanticism. Blade Runner similarly shows a society’s reaction, now to the rise of consumerism and oriental influences on the Western world. Written during the post modern era, Scott criticises the rise of consumerism through the magnified close up of the Japanese girl in the advertisement. She appears fake and is dehumanised by her plastic appearance, thus negatively portraying the rise of materialistic values. Furthermore, Blade Runner also examines the increasing influence of Asia through the integration of Oriental culture within the city shown in the typically western bar selling Chinese food and the detectives making paper origami cranes, typical of Japanese tradition. Through these cultural references, the audience sees the increasing oriental influences on society, which demonstrate how texts reflect a society’s changing attitudes during the time they are composed.
The composers of Frankenstein and Blade Runner both question what trait distinguishes man from beast, concluding it is man’s compassion and sensitivity. In Frankenstein, Shelley highlights compassion as mankind’s most redeeming trait. Despite his inhuman form, the creature’s connection with the audience highlights how he is just as ‘human’ as any other. This is shown through his emotive tone, “Overcame by anguish, I quitted to cottage.” The audience sees his sensitivity and thus feels for the creature. This is also apparent through the first person perspective where the audience gets direct insight into his mind as he says, “I admired [the] good virtue and amiable qualities of my cottagers.” Similarly, Scott leads the audience to see how it is not man’s physical form that distinguishes him from other beings, but his compassion towards others through the contrast between the physically inhuman replicants and the ‘real’ humans. Pris’ emotive tone as she says, “we’re going to die” reveals her vulnerability, creating rapport with the audience. Moreover, Roy’s reaction of holding her and comforting her shows how he is just as caring and ‘human’ as anyone else. As the camera zooms out, the shot highlights their closeness in the larger framing of the room. This is contrasted to Deckard’s attempt to comfort Rachael who stutters and walks out of the frame, emphasising the loneliness of Rachael and showing the audience how Deckard, a human physiologically, is less caring than the replicants. This is further highlighted in the final scene when the close up of Deckard’s desperate expression and torn, dirtied clothing, makes him appear savage and uncivilised, juxtaposing Roy, the picture of serenity in the symbolically peaceful white pants. The pan up Roy’s body highlights Roy’s strength over Deckard and moral superiority, thus showing, like Frankenstein, that man’s compassion and sensitivity is the distinguishing trait that