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ENGLISH ADVANCED: MODULE A

Times change but human values remain static. Discuss. (Bladerunner and
Frankenstein)
The constancy of human fears is revealed through a comparison of texts across
contexts. Ridley Scotts 1982 film Bladerunner draws connections between the fears of
Romantic society to those within 1980s America, ensuring the enduring power of Mary
Shelleys novel Frankenstein. A close examination of both texts reveals continuity in human
values through their parallel explorations of what it means to be a sentient being and
mankinds future.
Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, a product of Enlightenment and Romantic values,
explores the social ramifications of man without limits. Shelley suggests it is Victors exalted
ambition that precipitates his demise. His hubris is emphasised in Victors misguided
assertion: No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve
theirs. Similarly, Waltons over confident tone in the rhetorical question What can stop the
determined heart and resolved will of man? exposes the universality of mans arrogance.
Shelley uses echoes of biblical language in They can command the thunders of heaven ...
mock the invisible world with its own shadows to condemn blind faith in science, rationalism
and its mans own powers. Waltons cold statement One mans death were but a small price
to pay is undercut by the deaths of William, Justine, Clerval and Elizabeth and ultimately
Victors own. Mary Shelley condemns mans arrogance, asserting that man cannot handle
the responsibility of his own powers.
A similar stance is conveyed through Ridley Scotts Bladerunner, revealing the
consistency not only in textual values but also of the composers motives. In Bladerunner,
Scott also warns against unlimited technological ambition. His Los Angeles 2019 set is
dressed down, creating an aesthetic of decay that materializes the environmental fears of his
contemporary context: Tyrell Corporation building rises out of the deteriorating streets like a
Mayan temple, a symbol of the domination it has achieved. Classical iconography and the
saturation of gold inside Tyrells penthouse are reminiscent of palatial Roman emperors,
reinforcing Tyrells god-like status. His arrogance (Indulge me) is emphasized when Tyrell
blocks out the sun in his apartment. Yet Victors epiphany, How ignorant art thou in the
pride of thy wisdom is lost on Tyrell. The eye motif further symbolizes his blind arrogance.
Tyrell, metaphorically blind to the suffering of his creations is literally blinded by Roy. In
Tyrells eyes replicants are objects made for human manipulation, underlined by his cold and
clinical tone in Rachel is an experiment, nothing more, nothing less. The creatures
anguished cry, How dare you sport thus with life? further emphasises the cold brutality of
both Victor and Tyrell. Their parallel aspirations to play God highlighting that times change
but human values indeed remain static.
In Frankenstein, the border between man from beast becomes increasingly blurred. The
th

Creature, made from decayed flesh and dead parts exemplifies Rousseaus 19 century
ideal of the noble savage. Uncorrupted by society, the Creatures great capacity for love
and compassion is revealed through the de Lacey sub-narrative. The metaphor, It was the
ass ... deserved far better treatment than blows and execration, demonstrates the
Creatures eloquence of language and depth of insight, drawing responders sympathy.

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He desires to learn and to form empathetic relationships with fellow beings: When they were
unhappy, I felt depressed... sympathised in their joys. In contrast, Victor is painted as
inhuman as he spurns his grotesque creation on superficial deficits Be gone! There can
be no community between you and me. Dichotomies of light and dark in the imagery
Darkness then came over me... light poured in upon me again are blurred, conveying the
atmosphere of uncertainty and instability in Shelleys industrial revolution world. Was man,
indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base?
Juxtaposition of opposing terms further emphasises the duality of mans nature. Mary Shelly
shows that the identities of man and beast are interchangeable terms.
Parallel to Frankensteins themes, Ridley Scott in Bladerunner questions what it is to
be a sentient being. It is the non-human Replicants (Skinjobs) who display any sense of
community or care for each other. The slow motion during Zhoras death emphasizes a
prolonged dying rather than the euphemistic retirement described by Bladerunners and
their superiors. Wrapped in her bloodied plastic raincoat, Zhora is a piece of meat, and
Deckard the implied butcher. A tear on her cheek reveals her sentience and deep desire to
live. In contrast, the curt acerbic tone of the barmaids bark, What do you want? highlights
the paucity of human relationships in Scotts post-modern Los Angeles. Here, economy has
replaced community. Giant intrusive billboards are ironically the only light in the world. The
city is one giant marketplace, a metaphorical Chinatown where Replicants, like consumer
goods, have a shelf life of four years. Yet Roys quest (I want more life!) is motivated by
love for another being: Pris will die. And I cant let that happen. Ultimately, Christ-like, he
saves Deckards life. The nail, the dove and the cool, clear rain symbolize his spiritual purity
and sentience, ironically epitomizing Tyrells catch-cry More human than human. As a
classic film noir, morality, and the barriers between good and evil are portrayed as fluid. Like
Frankenstein, Scott shows that the lines that shape mankind were never clearly defined.
A close study of Bladerunner and its predecessor Frankenstein show that although
audiences and their interpretations fluctuate with changing times, the inherent values of
human beings remain constant. Both texts reflect the human fears and anxieties of the
worlds, delineating a common humanity that resonates between and beyond contexts.

the school for excellence 2012 free online resources at www.tsfx.com.au