The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet vs. West Side Story
Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and Arthur Laurent’s West Side Story share many elements in common, but also have differences that separate them. West Side Story is a modern version of Shakespeare’s classic love story that ended in tragedy. Because it is set in 1950’s New York City the scenes, characters, and plot have their own interpretations. The differences in some plot elements make each tragedy its own, but the similarities make them one. The audience can find a similarity right in the first scene, which shows the hatred between the enemies through a fight. The play begins with the Montague’s and Capulet’s fighting in the streets of Verona. Sampson, a servant of the Capulet house, speaks to a servant of the Montague house, “Draw, if you be men.-Gregory, remember thy washing blow.”(Act 1 Scene 1) Likewise in the film a fight between the Jets and Sharks is the opening scene. In both tragedies one of the major conflicts is the disagreeing of love between Romeo and Juliet and Tony and Maria. Romeo and Juliet are not wanted to see each other because Romeo is a Montague and Juliet is a Capulet. Similarly, Tony and Maria cannot be together because Tony is a Shark and Maria is a Jet. When Bernardo see’s Tony and Maria kissing at the dance he runs over and pushes him of f her, “Get your hands of American, stay away from my sister.” Then he says to Maria, “Can’t you see he’s one of them?” One major difference between both dramas is that in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet there are families fighting for generations over a feud, whereas in West Side Story there are opposing gangs who don’t accept each other because of racial and ethnic differences. The families, Montague and Capulet, have hated each other for over many generations without the audience being given a reason. In the film, the Jets are Puerto Ricans that just moved to America to start a new life and the Sharks are whites that don’t want...
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