Romeo and Juliet versus West Side Story Romeo and Juliet, one of the most popular oeuvres in which William Shakespeare had ever composed, is a ubiquitous drama which is well-known for its valiant fights between two paradoxical families and amorous love scenes wherein Romeo and Juliet show their unadulterated posture towards each other. Since Shakespeare’s time, many other cabarets have been erected to facsimile Romeo and Juliet, such as West Side Story, originally concocted by Jerome Robbins in 1949. Nevertheless, West Side Story replicates Romeo and Juliet but has many resemblances and disparities furthermore. Comparable paradigms of this rapport include the characters, setting, plot, and ending in which the respective stories take locality.
It is because of these correlations that these two contradictory tales can be contrasted, even though they seem to be dissimilar in many ways. Before comparisons are drawn between Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, there is an immense deal of background information that is needed to be established. This is because it is imperative for readers to understand what is being conferred in the stories and the magnitude that this information possesses. First and foremost, it should be known that William Shakespeare is one of the most read writers ever and his writing was so triumphant that not just one group of people liked it. He did this by relating to his audience incorporating universal truths. Human emotions are also known as universal truths; love, hate, revenge, and envy are all instances of universal truths.
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This play was so lucrative that various other movies emulated the plot but changed the scenery, such as West Side Story. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a timeless play that concentrates on numerous different human emotions and reactions. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, a well cherished poet, novelist, and dramatist, once said “All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.” (The Quote Garden) This connotes that knowledge is accessible to everyone, but personal sentiments are only known by you. Shakespeare exemplifies this in his writing by connecting to his readers so they can correlate to the story, which in turn makes them twig the implication of his literary works. After this is comprehended by the reader, then it is feasible for the reader to fully appreciate the beguiling opuses of William Shakespeare.
Consequently, a great deal is needed to be known of West Side Story. As mentioned previously, West Side Story was written in 1949 as a modernized exposé of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In order to fully understand the plot of West Side Story, one must have an understanding of the nature of gangs in the 1950’s and know the rationalization of their skirmishes. Between 1941 and 1956, more than 500,000 Puerto Ricans moved to major cities in the U.
S. such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cleveland. The majority of them lived in destitute regions of their city. Puerto Rican gangs formed so that they could protect themselves from prejudiced Americans. Many people took advantage of the immigrants’ poor social status, as shown in West Side Story. For instance, Bernardo says, “Chino makes half what the Polack makes – the Polack is American!” (West Side Story) This illustrates how playwright Jerome Robbins integrated the then current tribulations of society into West Side Story. This play also shows examples of Shakespeare’s writing élan, using universal truths in the equivalent manner that Shakespeare used them in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare's play and West Side Story have countless similarities and differences, but one factor remains unremitting in both of them, each use universal truths to relate to their audiences.
These universal truths and brilliant incorporation of contemporary events are what made these two narratives so successful. There are also many characters in these two stories that are both akin and atypical. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is a focal entity who is besotted with Juliet. In West Side Story, Tony is similar to Romeo, but he is smitten with Maria. In West Side Story, Tony and Maria don’t get married but they do have a torrid love affair. Furthermore, in West Side Story after Tony killed Bernardo and he thinks that Maria has died, Tony utters “Come and get me too, Chino.
Come on Chino, get me too…
There's nobody here but me…
I'm waitin' for ya!” (West Side Story) This is similar to when Romeo thinks Juliet is dead, and ejaculates “O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” (Shakespeare 578) This shows how parallel these two individuals act and how they illustrate analogous feelings when they are convinced that the love of their life died. Although these characters act likewise to each other, they are different in a few ways. Maria is more carefree and idealistic.