Good morning students. My name is Ignacio Gonzalez and I’m a high school teacher specialising in Module A: Comparative Study of Texts and Contexts in the HSC English Course. Today in this lecture, I will be examining how Mary Shelley’s allegorical novel, Frankenstein, written in 1818, compares with and contrasts against the 1991 sci-fi film, Bladerunner directed by Ridley Scott. These two texts, though composed in two different centuries, share a variety of common key issues including the idea of ambition and the lengths one will go to achieve their desires; nature versus nurture or how the environment and experiences contribute to a person’s character; and the role of women, and their place in society.
Shelley began the composition of Frankenstein during the stormy summer of 1816 while trapped inside due to the turbulent weather experienced by Switzerland at the time. Lord Byron, whom Shelley was visiting at the time, suggested they all compile a supernatural tale. She began writing what she assumed would be a short story, which later expanded into a completed novel.
As Frankenstein was written in the early 19th century, it is infused with many gothic elements as well as containing many links to the Romantic-era, which allowed artists freedom, experimentation and creativity. This era brought a strong belief in man’s influence over his environment, which is reflected in Frankenstein as Victor alters something natural, a human body, into something artificial, the monster, which wreaks havoc on his own surroundings, disrupting the natural order of things.
Students, as I’m sure you have all researched, Bladerunner was filmed during a time of vastly advancing technological progress where social values and practices were compromised by corporate powers driven by greed and materialism. The Asian influence was expanding throughout western culture and a number of ethical issues relating to scientific and technological progress were being brought to light such as pollution, environmental degradation and the growing notion of genetic engineering and cloning, modifying imperfect creations into perfect ones.
The periods Frankenstein and Bladerunner were written in, were times that were amidst a social adjustment. The people of the early 1800’s were being brought into the age of enlightenment where ideas and beliefs that were previously accepted by humanity were beginning to be doubted as progression in science allowed people to question all aspects of life. Life in the 1980’s was a time of uncertainty as the world was just emerging from a time of war and a myriad of political and economic theories were being introduced and tested on nations around the world. A technological explosion, similar to the advancement experienced in the early nineteenth century, began to have a dehumanising effect on the world as people were consumed with obtaining power and greed at any cost.
This brings me to my first key issue of ambition and the lengths one will go to achieve their desires. Victor Frankenstein is described within the novel as a passionate man with a ‘thirst for knowledge’. His interest in science quickly turns into an obsession, and he soon disregards all who care about him. Victor prides himself on his ability to achieve something no one before him had been able to “What had been the study and desire of the wisest men since creation of the world was now within my grasp.” Though he begins to realise the consequences of his actions after the monster’s creation, he refuses to take responsibility, and it isn’t until the deaths of his beloved brother William and adored wife, Elizabeth that his obsession returns, this time aimed at destroying his own creation: “I was possessed by a maddening rage whenever I though of him, and…prayed that I might have him within my grasp to wreak… revenge on his cursed head.”
Shelley utilises an epistolatory narrative form, which foreshadows the dark consequences of Frankenstein’s