The Idea Of What Makes Us Human In Blade Runner By Ridley Scott And Never Let Me Go By Kazuo Ishiguro

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the film Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott and the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro it explores the idea of what makes us human? Through both texts, the replicants and clones are treated as objects that served the ‘real’ humans. Both replicants and the clones, due to their status are treated as emotionless shells and through this demoralizing act given by the humans they go through struggles that make them feel things that people feel. From these struggles, they demonstrate that they are positioned in the film and novel to be more human than humans.

Blade Runner is based on a novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This was authored by Philip K. Dick. It conveyed the authors “conviction that love and compassion were the crucial differences between man and machine”. With that, the Voigt-Kampff test was made for the measurement of empathy in the film. It was created on the presumption that humans had empathy and replicants did not have any empathy, pretty simple. However through the beginning of the film to the end, the line of what was human and replicant blurs. This is held even from the beginning as the test is given to the replicant Leon. A considerably unique replicant as he doesn’t hold the characteristics of the other replicants being shabby and unshaven. He seems more human than the actual interrogator who appeared sharp, clean with a very monotone and calm voice whereas Leon appeared nervous and worried.

Another example is that the anti-hero Deckard is saved by Rachael and Roy which showed that their sophistication has enabled them to understand and feel complex emotions and undeniably, empathy for Deckard. This idea of empathy that is shown in Blade Runner brings back the idea of ‘what makes us human?’‘’ There is a vast space between being simply human to being truly humane’’-Rasheed Ogunlaru. Deckard in the film is presented to be a portrayal of what people will be like as the world keeps on advancing technologically and shows how through these advancements people begin to lose sight of what makes humans human, engrossing themselves in self-care and moral ignorance, losing their humanity. Deckard in the start of the film has quit ‘retiring’ replicants because he does not want to do it anymore, he even reveals to Rachael that when he has to kill a replicant he gets unsteady. He comes from being a hard, android retiring man to discovering his humanity.

Deckard is a lot like the character Ruth in Never Let Me Go as she starts out being cruel and as she reaches the novel reaches the end she too finds her ‘humanity’. Through the actions of the replicants in comparison to the humans, you come to see that in actuality the replicants are free compared to the humans, as the humans act so robot-like contrary to the rebellious replicants who are fighting for their lives. ‘’ I never thought about it before, but I’m proud to be human. We’re ever so flawed. We’re frail, confused, violent, and we struggle with so many issues’’- Susan Ee, in today’s society humanity is defined arguably through struggle and the conflict an individual has gone through for with struggle comes forth a deeper love of life. ‘’we think too much and feel too little’’ Much like the people in this world whom are perceived as different or unique, either used for the personal gain of others or out-casted for their differences, replicants are also treated the same being made only to serve humans doing the dirty work until they lose their use and are forced into retirement.

All through Blade Runner the replicants evidently show their longing for life, however, their humanity and the mentality they came to have is summed up perfectly when a replicant in the film of the name Roy says “All those moments lost in time, like tears in the rain’’. With that one-liner, Roy is able to capture a common mentality that many humans feel, the thought that ‘we’ do not matter. And like what most people wish they are able to do when their time comes Roy doesn’t find contempt in his words but closure. In Never Let Me Go it probes into a world were cloning similarly to replicants are brought in to society to serve humans but rather than doing jobs that were undesirable, clones are used for the harvesting of their organs. The novel also makes evident correspondingly to Blade Runner how humans can lose sight of ethical reasoning and pursue things being blinded when it comes to their own personal wellbeing. Kathy the narrator of the novel being a clone herself enlightens what life would be like for the other side, showing that even though they were creations of man, they still were human; they still felt like humans feeling empathy, love, struggle and pain. There were little to no mention of what humans were like in the novel with the exception of the clones’ guardians in Hailsham when they were children and Keffers, the caretaker of the clones at the cottages. Even though the life the clones were living, with the isolation and donations of their organs, it appears that the clones regarded it to be normal. It also is prevalent that it has been normalised within society as a whole. Because the clones lived away from ‘real’ humans in isolation the cultural differences were noticeable along with the terminology and behavioural differences that are exhibited in the cottages were the clones are exposed to a television which gives a window into how they acted differently to how they acted.

The clones and humans living fundamentally uncommon lives left little room for common ground. The feelings of disgust and coldness gave off by the humans that are shown in the novel can be looked upon as a technique to keep the ‘real’ humans from feeling guilt or empathy making it easier to ignore the horror of what’s actually being done. In the novel society does not see them as humans’ merely human shells to improve their health and wellbeing. Society would be enabled to think that way otherwise raising human clones to be chopped up would be conscienceless. The clones show a sense of willful ignorance from the organ donations to the personal issues like romantic relations, sex and virginity. Most of the time the clones turn away from getting information when they feel like they will not like the answers to their questions that they want to pose. It appears as though wilful ignorance is the structure in which social transgression is perpetuated in the novel and the probable reason the unethical conduct of cloning continues. The clones in this sense are opposing the replicants as the replicants search for their creator Tyrell to ask him the questions they need to know to not die.

A character who emits the most growth and reflects how humanity develops in an individual is Kathy’s on and off friend Ruth. As a character who starts off with the need for acceptance and to ‘fit in’ doing any and everything to get it like how she mocked and teased Kathy and Tommy in the cottages. She grows a drastic amount at the end of her life as she fruits a more caring thoughtful stature and tries to reconcile her friendship with Kathy by bringing her and Tommy together and giving them hope of a life together through the idea of the rumoured deferral holding truth. She wasn’t necessarily a bad person she was just overthrown for her need to fit into the social norms. Through Ruth, it is shown that the traits that make someone ‘human’ are instilled in people rather than something only ‘real’ humans are born with. Kathy herself is a very caring person in contrast to Ruth and doesn’t really change her character. She always showed empathy towards the donors she cared for and she coped well after they completed their donations. She had a resilience towards being a carer even though it was emotionally draining, she even stated something similar when she said ‘’I don’t claim to be immune to all of this, but I’ve learnt to live with it. ’’ In blade runner and never let me go the clones and replicants use euphemisms for death, an effort from the ‘real’ humans efforts to dull the word to bring comfort to themselves deducing the guilt with the substitute words. For replicants death being referred to as retirement which was after a four year period of a replicants life and for clones, the term was ‘complete’ for death occurring commonly after the third or fourth donation when the clones were in their early thirties. In Blade Runner, the replicants all fight for their lives to be elongated similarly to Tommy in Never Let Me Go although when Tommy gets a hold of the news that there was no deferral he gives up whereas Roy the replicant in Blade Runner does not give up until the end and in doing so saves a life. The two characters share a trait to live refusing to give in to reality, holding onto one of the strongest characteristics of humanity, hope.

Through both texts, it’s shown that what makes individuals human is their ability to understand the emotions of others and how their own experiences shape them. To be human is to believe you are human. To be human is to be able to have the feelings of pain, hope, love, hate, and betrayal. To be human is to show empathy like Roys empathy for Deckard or Kathy’s resilience towards being a career. There isn’t just one thing that makes someone human but there are many characteristics that show persons humanity.


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