Water for Elephants is a movie with Reese Witherspoon (Marlena) and Robert Pattinson (Jacob). Robert Pattinson is a veterinary student, and while taking his exams to become a veterinarian his parents in an accident. Due to circumstances, he is left without a home or any money. After jumping on a train and trying to make it on his own, he discovers the moving circus. He joins the circus as a vet, and builds a strong relationship with an elephant that Marlena must interact with and bond with for a upcoming circus show. The only problem is, Marlena is married, married to August, the owner of the circus. While training this elephant, like most romance movies, the main characters undergo “Courtship Behavior”. I would like to take you through Marlena and Jacob’s developing relationship and show you how they experience the various stages that we studied within Chapter 12’s Relational Messages.
Stage 1: Attention
When first meeting Marlena, Jacob internally struggles with the distress of rejection, as well as the excitement of grasping her attention. He wants to know if she knows his name, as well as she is impressed that he knows hers. Due to the fact they spend a lot of time together while training the elephant, they are led to stage two.
Stage 2: Recognition
The looks she often times gives him show that she is interested, but Jacob sees no hope knowing that she is a married woman. Recognition studies make it clear that the woman is often times in charge of this, and boy is it true. Marlena is in charge. He often smiles first, and waits for her response. Fortunately, the recognition is not denied by Marlena and Jacob makes it past the rejection stage due to his suave moves and true love for animals.
Stage 3: Positioning
I will admit, their positioning stage was quite awkward, and I more than positive this has to due with the fact that August (Marlena’s husband) is Jacob’s boss. That is a recipe for disaster, so although it is quite obvious that they are experiencing intimate feelings for one another, their conversations, first touch, punctuate gaze, and etc. are quite nerve racking.
Stage 4: Sexual Arousal
This is suspenseful, why? Because it is not supposed the occurring. You can tell while training the elephant, Jacob uses touch to his advantage, because although he must help her mount the elephant, in order to prepare the circus performance, the touch that occurs is far from innocent. This often times begins to occur when they become closer and have a mutual love for the elephant, and begin to express physical touch to one another (although they hide it from August).
Stage 5: Resolution
Both Marlena and Jacob realize that they truly want to be together, but in order to do so they must escape the emotional and physical abuse of August. Although a divorce should of occurred before the night that Marlena and Jacob spent the night at a hotel together. Their agreement to perform sexual intercourse allowed them to ultimately convey “sexual attraction”.
As I write this, I notice that most romantic movies that females are drawn to often times go through the stages of courtship behavior. We all just want to be courted!
This video somewhat helps illustrate the different stages that I refer to throughout my writing.
Photo retrieved from: http://www.animalequality.net/files/images/film_elephant.jpg