Romeo, Zombies, and Juliet

A lot of people would argue that Shakespeare is antiquated, outdated, and no longer relevant. Well, they’re wrong. And you are, too, if you share the same opinion. Shakespeare is just as alive today as he was in 1564.

Nobody likes doing homework, but don’t let your stuffy English prof push you away from Shakespeare, or any other literature. Don’t feel intimidated when you have to memorize Mark Anthony’s speech or Hamlet’s soliloquy. And don’t bypass Shakespeare at the public library or your local book store when you’re looking for things to read. Reading Shakespeare will not only help you pass the class and pass the time, but it will also help you recognize some pretty cool correlations with other things that you may not have noticed before.

Take “Romeo and Juliet” as an example. The classic play features intrigue, deception, young (if slightly misguided) love, and suicide. The basic breakdown is simple.

There’s a boy. There’s a girl. They’re forbidden from seeing each other. And their families fight because they do it anyway. All of these issues are as pertinent today as they were in Shakespeare’s time, and the major points of his story are imitated today. Don’t believe me? Watch this trailer.

“Warm Bodies” was released in 2013 and bears [spoiler alert] a striking resemblance to Shakespeare’s tale. The basics are the same.

Boy Girl + Overbearing Father + Differences = Tragic Love Story

Except this time Romeo’s dead, Juliet’s a zombie killer, and Mr. Capulet owns some serious firearms. But once you look past the minor details and see the overarching plot of the movie, it’s easy to see the similarities.

So why would Hollywood emulate Shakespeare? Because he’s been doing some things right.

Shakespeare’s tales explore the human condition. His plays deal with racism, murder, moral dilemmas, love, lust, deception, and society as a whole. You think you’ve got issues? Try reading “King Lear” or “Hamlet”. Those’ll make you feel a whole lot better about your sanity, if nothing else.

So the next time you’re scanning Spark Notes instead of the real deal, take a minute to look at the book you’re holding. Whether it’s Shakespeare or someone else, it may be able to teach you more than you thought. Take a second to slow down and really listen to the lyrics of the song you’re singing. Think about the movie you just saw. Who influenced that? What work does it resemble?

Try watching “Warm Bodies” sometime with “Romeo and Juliet” in mind. Have a drink, have some popcorn, and take a minute to think about how a guy born in some corner of England in 1564 wrote a story that some director turned into a movie about zombies.

Because everything’s better with zombies, right? Even “Romeo and Juliet”.

On a side note, don’t get so caught up with zombies—or killing them, shout out to COD Black Ops— that you forget to study for tests.

–Caelan Cheshire

[Featured image source]

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