Empathy is part of what makes us human. We have the ability to understand what others are feeling and thinking at any certain moment, and that in turn makes us more human. Androids and robots are supposedly unable to feel that empathy because it is something that can only be found within the human mind. In the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, the main character Rick Deckard deals with the question of whether or not androids have souls or feelings This is a huge part of the novel and really drives home the theme and questions asked.
In the movie Blade Runner, which is the movie counterpart to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? , the plot has more to do with Deckard and Rachael’s relationship as well as Deckard retiring the androids. The movie completely does away with the empathy and souls of the androids. The main difference between Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Blade Runner is that while the novel emphasizes empathy and the android’s feelings, the film is more about Deckard finding and retiring androids. In the novel, Rick Deckard makes a drastic change as a character. He grows and develops throughout the entire novel.
In the film, Deckard basically stays the same from beginning to end. In the beginning of the novel, Deckard does not think much about hunting down and retiring androids, but by the end of the novel, he thinks “As Mercer said, I am required to do wrong. Everything I’ve done has been wrong from the start” (Dick 226). Deckard believes that him retiring androids is wrong, but in the film he shows no regret. In the novel, Deckard also wonders “Do androids dream? Evidently; that’s why they occasionally kill their employers and flee here. A better life, without servitude” (Dick 184).
Deckard wondering this means that he is beginning to look at the androids as having feelings, as being able to dream and hope. Another empathetic outlet for humans in the novel is owning animals and taking care of them. This is not in the film and therefore takes away that element. Deckard’s neighbor, Barbour, says “You know how people are about not taking care of an animal; they consider it immoral and anti-empathetic. I mean, technically it’s not a crime like it was right after W. W. T. , but the feeling’s still there” (Dick 13).
This helps the reader realize that ccording to that society, caring for an animal distinguishes a human from an android. When it comes into question whether or not Phil Resch is an android or a human, he makes a point that he owns and loves his squirrel Buffy. He even asks Deckard “Did you ever hear of an andy having a pet of any sort? ” (Dick 130) We also see Pris Stratton and Irmgard Baty mutilating a spirder in front of J. R. Isidore, who becomes sick and mentally ill from seeing that. The novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and the film Blade Runner are extremely different in many aspects.
The only thing the film really keeps from the novel is a few of the characters, the fact that Deckard retires androids, the main plot if Deckard looking for a retiring the six certain androids. The novel is about Rick Deckard growing as a character, looking into whether or not androids have feelings or souls, and the empathy of mankind. The film takes out all of these elements, the elements that make the novel so important to our society and our future. This futuristic novel makes us question our unity and empathy towards each other and how technology might threaten that if we let it.