Romeo and Juliet Versus West Side Story

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Romeo and Juliet versus West Side Story

By Kirk Forte'

Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, two timeless dramas that will live forever. Although both of these stories have many similarities, there are also many differences. These differences include the differences in sililoquy, the fact that Maria doesn't die, the fact that we never see Tony or Maria's parents, as well as the issues of marriage, the importance of gangs and families to each story. To understand these differences, I have read and/or watched both Romeo and Juliet, and the similar tragedy, West Side Story.

Above, I named a few of the many differences between William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Ernest Leaman's screenplay, West Side Story. One main difference is that in Romeo and Juliet the sililoquy is spoken while in West Side Story there is sililoquy, but it is in song. While both equally express the character's feelings at the moment, it is my feeling that West Side Story's musical style brings the viewer/listener further into the play and makes the play more effective. An example of this is when, in Act II, Scene II, of Romeo and Juliet, otherwise known as the balcony scene, Romeo expresses his thoughts in a sililoquy until Juliet shows up. While in Romeo and Juliet all of this is spoken, in West Side Story, this is written as music shared between Maria and Tony.

Another major difference between these two stories is that in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet sees Romeo dead and decides to kill herself. While, in West Side Story, Tony (the Romeo of the play) does die - shot by Chino- Maria is not so stricken and overshelmed that she decides to kill herself. This is very important because in Romeo and Juliet, neither Romeo or Juliet is allowed to move on with their lives. In West Side Story, however, I'm sure Maria, although not shown in the film, moves on and gets over Tony.

My theory on why the above is true, is that Romeo and Juliet are kept...
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