Writer’s block. A common problem suffered by all different types of authors. But, there is many ways to overcome it and one of the best ways is to find some kind of inspiration. Sometimes, the best kind of inspiration out there comes from other authors and their stories. The screenplay writer of West Side Story, Ernest Lehman was inspired by the author of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare inspired Ernest Lehman because of the obvious similarities in theme, plot and the characters of both of their stories. Inspiration can be the best way to jumpstart your own imagination and is especially helpful when it comes to the theme of a story.
The themes of both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story are very similar. The theme of masculine pride is apparent in both stories. In Romeo and Juliet it is clearly shown when Mercutio lay slain on the ground and Romeo says to him, “Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much.” (Shakespeare 3.1.96). Romeo says this to make sure his fears and “femininity” is not shown even though his friend lies dying at his feet. This theme comes up in West Side Story often. But, is most obvious through the male gang members, who believe they need to be the tough guys and stand their ground. The theme of hastiness also appears in both stories. When Romeo sees Juliet “dead” but looking life-like he doesn’t think and kills himself, thinking it was the only option, “…thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.”(Shakespeare 5.3.120). This theme is also a part of West Side Story when Tony, not knowing that Maria is actually dead, he just heard it from the doc, runs out into the street and begs to be killed as well, at the thought of not being able to stand being without his love. Immature love, another major theme of Romeo and Juliet that is also incorporated into West Side Story. Romeo and Juliet meet at a party hosted by Juliet’s father, after their meeting Juliet expresses to the nurse, “My only love sprung from my only hate!”...
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055614/ - used to find the screenplay writer for West Side Story
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet, New York: New American Library, 1998
Lehman, Ernest. West Side Story, (release date) Japan: 1961
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