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Be it in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or in Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies, love serves as a transforming power. R and Julie set the perfect example on how love can transform people and solve their issues. Their relationship starts a new strain of zombies, causing a revolution, so to speak. These new types of zombies can feel emotions such as empathy, compassion, and, of course, love, while also making them capable of coherent thought. This was all caused by a small spark of love, which is what solves most of R and Julie’s problems.
The embodiment of love between R and Julie is only one example of many that show how love transforms and aids in happiness. First, Warm Bodies takes the story of Romeo and Juliet and gives it an undeadly twist. R and Julie found love when both least expected it. Their love created peace among the zombies and the humans, showing that love transformed not only R and Julie but also everyone around them. The power of love in Warm Bodies not only comes across as one of the main themes, but all the characters prove love’s potency at some point in the novel. For instance, love essentially changed R from being dead to alive.
From the moment R laid eyes on Julie, his heart started, giving him a sense of being alive. And as the novel progressed, R went out of his way to make sure that she stayed alive and safe under his care.
While she was hesitant at first, R’s love made her fall in love with him, in turn. Their personalities change: R gains the ability to feel emotions while Julie finds empathy for R and the other zombies. An example of this change is when Julie tries to run away from R and his hideout in the plane and instead gets caught by a massive group of zombies. R came back after her to make sure that she was alright, proceeding to scold her for what she did. But in order to return to the plane safely, R had to smear some blood on her face, telling her to “be dead.” And, of course, Julie overdoes it, but it worked for that time. Julie’s effort in making sure she got back to the plane safely shows how she was slowly beginning to change and trust him. And as Julie start to trust R, his humanity began to show through more and more.
The relationship between R and Julie is not the only source of love that changes the zombies. When Reats Perry’s brain, Perry’s conscience communicates with R. Not only this, but Perry shows R some of his fondest memories with Julie, causing R to fall even more in love with her. And with this, it is clear that Perry cares less that R killed him and more that Julie is happy, whether with himself or with R. The love Perry has for Julie caused any hard feelings between them to vanish, and R can live guilt-free. R tells Perry, “I’m sorry I killed you, Perry. It’s not that I wanted to, it’s just-” to which Perry responds, “Forget it, corpse, I understand. Seems by that point I wanted out anyway… Take care of her, will you? She’s been through some hard stuff.
Keep her safe” (Marion 95). From this quote, it can be seen that Perry is not necessarily angry at R; instead, he just wants to make sure that Julie is in good hands. Who could possibly forget the Shakespearean version of Romeo and Juliet to show how love changes others. Since Romeo and Juliet come from opposing families, it seems quite unlikely that the two would cross paths very often. But when they do, they fall in love so quickly and rapidly that the relationship almost seems unbelievable. An example of how in-love these two characters are can be seen in the famous balcony scene, in which Juliet recites, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet” (2.1.74–78).
Contrary to common belief, “Wherefore” is not referring to “where” Romeo is, but “why” Romeo must be a Montague, and thus her family’s enemy. She knows that the two to them can never be together, but the love they have for each other is so powerful that both of them forget that they come from opposing families. Another story that shows how love can change people and solve their problems is The Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby’s love for Daisy is so intense that he is willing to change every aspect of his life in order to please her. He even goes as far as changing his habits according to Daisy’s likings. As Nick Carraway stated, “He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs” (Fitzgerald 112). Gatsby’s efforts to keep his love for Daisy alive shows that his problems could be fixed if only Daisy were brave enough to leave Tom and follow her heart.
Daisy also makes it clear that she still loves Gatsby, and in a way “cheats” on her husband by declaring her love for him. And back in the 1920s, this would have been considered immoral and degradable. And as for Gatsby, he devoted his entire life to acquiring a fortune so that he and Daisy could marry, but too much time passed before that could happen. In addition, John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars shows how love can transform someone into believing in hope. Hazel is a teenage cancer survivor, having to drag around an air tank in order for her to breathe. She continues to live her life but she comes to believe that her existence is without meaning, because, to her, her struggles are worthless. She believes that with every struggle she goes through every day, she is only causing burdens on those around her. So when Augustus uses his Make a Wish wish on Hazel, she realizes that he is indeed in love with her, causing her to believe that her life has meaning. Augustus is even caught saying, “I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you” (Green 128). With this, the love that Augustus has for Hazel shows that love can wash away any problems, even the more irrational of fears. Despite the depressing ending of the book, Hazel feels grateful of Augustus and only feels happy for the times that she did get to spend with him.
Other sources show that love transforms people to become better versions of themselves. For instance, one author wrote, “While courtly love and its associated code of chivalry remained the status-ethic of a narrow class, they gave a distinctive orientation to Western ideals of love… Most important among these ideals is that love ennobles and transforms the lover” (Swidler 121 122). This is basically saying that love enables individuals to change and improve according to their influences which in this case, is a significant other. In Warm Bodies, love transformed R by giving him hope and by creating peace among the humans and the living dead. The spark of love that the two of them found spread throughout the zombies, giving them life and a sense of belonging.
Love not only transforms individuals into better beings, it also brings peace and harmony to those surrounded by it. Peace and harmony cannot be achieved without the presence of love to solve any issues that may be causing any resistance. In Greek mythology, the god Eros represents desire and attraction, which R and Julie have for each other. One author wrote, “Eros is both love and strife, harmony and discord-prescribing love to the conflict between love and strife … only the love of Eros is retained, conflict is eliminated” (Friedman 15). In Warm Bodies, this conflict is obviously the fact that R is a zombie, and his relationship with Julie would not stand a chance amongst the humans who think all R wants to do is eat them. Another author only emphasizes this by stating, “By the fact that love transforms the lover into the beloved, it makes the lover enter inside the beloved, and conversely, so that there is nothing of the beloved that is not united to the lover” (“Analysis” 239). R is transformed by love, giving Julie the opportunity to become the beloved.
Love is often associated as being a human or living being trait, so it seems that zombies would not be able to express and feel it. According to Kyle William Bishop, “the living dead are neither utterly alien, nonhuman monsters nor enviable creatures possessing superhuman powers” (170). So zombies are about as close to being human and not human as an antagonist can get.
Another author also states similarly, “Whatever the zombies represent, they are not the most dangerous threat to human life, according to Romero, other living human beings, and especially those closest to us, are the real threat” (Boluk and Lenz 20). Which makes them perfect recipients for a Romeo and Juliet-type love story. With R being different and posing a threat to Julie at first, it only seems appropriate that there lies a problem between the two of them.
Zombies are often compared to mentally ill patients, in the sense that they can sometimes appear to act mindless. But, in this case, a heart and mind that is in love can also show signs of zombification. One way to put it is, “In the strictest sense, (the zombies) are not all dead; they have not been reanimated by any specific spell or magical enchantment. Rather, they are typically presented as average people who are experiencing severe mental anguish, leading eventually to their very specific expressions of psychological zombification.” (Christie and Lauro 139-140). Which in retrospect, shows how love can solve the anguish these people are experiencing. So in Warm Bodies, R experiences anguish by going day to day in a mindless, subconscious state of mind. But that all changed once he falls in love with Julie, and his humanity slowly returns.
Love transforms and brings out the humanity in the zombies in Warm Bodies through observing R and Julie’s relationship as it blossomed. This love caused a revolution and metamorphosis of the zombies’ humanity, and thus creating peace with the humans. Their love is only one example of many throughout history and literature that show how many of life’s issues can be resolved by it. R and Julie show that love can solve many problems, regardless if it is problems of the living, or the dead.
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