Practice question: To what extent do the two texts present similar or different criticisms of society?
Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade runner contain reactions to, comment on, and criticise separate but interrelated contextual issues. Both texts address the contextual issues of man playing god, the repercussions of science left unrestrained, a cynical attitude towards capitalism and consumerism, science and man as the new god and a loss of spirituality, the consequences of knowledge, and the need for the natural but the results of exploiting it. The texts question and criticise different aspects of society by, in the case of blade runner, foreboding to a dystopic future, and in the case of Frankenstein, representing negative ramifications through a conflicted, vengeful monster.
Blade runner and Frankenstein are concerned with the repercussions of scientific advancement in relation to humans, especially when it is left unrestrained and unsupervised ethically. When Rachel is taking the Voight-Kampff test with Deckard, she describes seeing a mother spider being eaten by her children - ‘The egg hatched... and a hundred baby spiders came out and they ate her’. The mother spider is symbolic for man, the egg his scientific creation, and the children the result of man’s scientific advancement. By having the children eat their mother; Scott is saying that our unsupervised scientific creation will be the end of us. In Frankenstein this idea is paralleled through the use of foreshadowing in the quote ‘the first hapless victims of my unhallowed arts’. Here Frankenstein is talking about the death of William and Justine, and how these deaths were caused not by a fault of their own but rather his quest to understand ‘the world … a secret I [he] desired to divine’. The foreshadowing is representative of the dangerous repercussions and death Shelly says will come if our quest for knowledge is left unrestrained.