Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story both have a lot in common as well as major differences that set them apart. Although West Side Story is a direct rendition of Shakespeare's original play, many of the themes and symbols are altered to fit the modern perspective. The characters have a direct correlation to each other, yet racial issues give them a new light. Many of the events also reflect each other, yet small differences give them uniqueness. West Side Story differs from Romeo and Juliet in characterizations, plot sequences, and themes.
The characterization of the protagonists and antagonists have many differences. The Montagues and Capulets are from the same society and lifestyle in the play. They don't have a reason for their long feud that's stretched back for generations. The Sharks and Jets, however, are segregated by racial and ethnic tensions. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet's parents are the sole obstacles blocking her from Romeo, because they want her to marry someone suitable. Yet parents are never seen in Maria's life, while, her brother and his girlfriend are the ones that act as parents. Juliet's suitor, Paris, is neutral and is on neither side of the feud. Maria's suitor, Chino, is completely on the Sharks' side and ends up killing Tony, one of the main protagonists. As for the main characters, Maria and Tony are somewhat different from Juliet and Romeo. Maria is more carefree and idealistic than Juliet. This is shown through her hopes of her life in America and with Tony. Juliet, on the other hand, follows the orders of her parents until Romeo comes along and shows her true love. Although Juliet seems more serious and mature at the beginning, Maria grows up during the course of the movie. Tony and Romeo are just the opposite. Tony knows whom he loves, and that's Maria, while Romeo had a very idealistic view of love in the beginning of the play, maturing as the end neared and he had to deal with Juliet's death. Tony and Maria are...
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