Texts offer insights into the human experience by conveying the values and attitudes predominant in society at the time. The context in which a text is composed affects the ideas that are explored and how they are presented. Invariably, texts from differing contexts cause the composers to have different intents and present different notions due to the change of audience and the difference in values and attitudes they hold.
However, some issues remain universal issues that transcend time.
The human experience is how humanity perceives and conducts themselves, and the values and attitudes that are predominant in their nature at the time. These values and attitudes change in accordance to context, due to the ever evolving nature of the environment around us and humanity itself. Examples of issues that have changed in value over time are the ideas of nature and the environment, and the concept of science and religion. These notions are explored and can be compared and contrasted in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (The Director’s Cut) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The 19th century was a period of upcoming scientific & technological advancement, due to prominent scientists proposing controversial ideas, which defied the strict religious conventions of the period. Scientists such as Luigi Galvani, Giovanni Aldini and Erasmus Darwin put forth theories that placed man in the perceived almighty position of God, which in turn questioned the authenticity of the religious beliefs that society held. These theories, such as Galvanism, are evident in Shelly’s work, most prominently in the animation of Frankenstein’s monster.
This allusion to Giovanni Aldini’s public experiments, where he manipulated electricity to cause corpses to move, conveys to the responder a similar message to which Aldini did. Both Shelley and Aldini cause the society in which they were in to question the source of life, by presenting the notion that electricity was the “spark of life”. However, this idea was perceived as work against God, as shown in Frankenstein through the quote “the beauty of my dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart”.
The juxtaposition of the positive and negative connotations of “beauty” and “disgust” convey to the responder that the theories which catalysed the Scientific Revolution were initially considered beneficial to society, however, due to the controversy it caused, it was also considered blasphemous, and to an extent, the work of the devil. It is through this that an insight into the human experience is gained, an insight which reveals the value humanity placed on religion at the time and how the questioning of these values were becoming increasingly common.