Romeo and Juliet & West Side Story - Contrast and Comparison

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ROMEO AND JULIET

COMPARISON IN THEMES
• The overriding theme, of course, between the two stories – Romeo and Juliet and The West Side Story is love – deep, intense and passionate love that defies friendship, family and everything in between. This point is reinforced when Maria later disregards the death of her brother, Bernardo, at the hands of Tony and agrees to marry him, consummation sealing the deal. • In the original play, Romeo is a pre-buscent teen, portrayed as a romantic, yet often hysterical and impetuous. There is a series of intense thoughts and emotions around Romeo - who takes to a whole new level of ‘intensity’ - which is repeated in the musical – Tony’s emotional outbursts, sneaking into enemy territory to see Maria, the foolish and mishap-murder of Bernardo by his hands and finally, his most foolish act of provoking Chino into shooting him due to the belief that his lover is dead. These intense and extreme emotions are what define Romeo and Tony, alike. • Both the play, and the film show the audience the chaotic obstacles and cacophony that surround passion and love, along with the lives that are laid to waste due to pointless feuds. • In both play and film, love is linked to death, as indicated by the untimely suicides of Romeo and Juliet and the murder of Tony. • Another theme that is apparent in both the film and play is the concept of “Us against the World.” Both works highlight the struggles and conflicts of the “individual self” against the norms of society.

DIFFERENCES IN THEMES
• In the original play, a hysterical Juliet kills herself on discovering the death of her lover, which should be pointed out (though irrational), takes more courage than one can imagine. However, Maria, though also hysterical in the beginning, uses Tony’s death to point out to the two feuding groups the heavy cost he paid due to their senseless fights – his death. Also, Maria’s choice of braving a life without the...
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