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Romeo and Juliet vs West Side Story

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Meilin Scanish

on 6 April 2014

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Transcript of Romeo and Juliet vs West Side Story

A modern day allusion to one of Shakespeare's works is Jerome Robbins' and Robert Wise's 1961 musical,
West Side Story.
Written as a play
Set in fourteenth or fifteenth century Italy
Both Romeo and Juliet commit suicide
The Montagues and the Capulets are of the same social status and dignity
Much of the story is told through soliloquies and monologues
Written as a musical film
Set in early 1960s New York
Tony is killed by Chino but Maria lives
The Jets and the Sharks are separated by different racial and social statuses
Much of the story is told through song and dance
ACE Paragraph
Romeo and Juliet
Image by Tom Mooring
West Side Story
Romeo and Juliet
West Side Story

The Allusion
By Meilin Scanish
Romeo and Juliet's
Romeo and Juliet
West Side Story's
Tony and Maria
Both Romeo and Juliet and Tony and Maria are from feuding groups, the Montagues and the Capulets and the Jets and the Sharks, respectively
Both couples meet at a party in a "love at first sight" situation
Romeo and Juliet
West Side Story
begin with a street fight between the opposing parties
Both stories have characters that act as peacekeeping officials, the Prince for
Romeo and Juliet
and Officer Krupke and Detective Schrank for
West Side Story
Both stories take place over a very short period of time
Both result in the feuding groups making up to each other
Both Romeo and Tony have friends (Mercutio and Riff, respectively) who are killed by their enemies
Both Juliet and Maria have family members (Tybalt and Bernardo, respectively) who are killed by their enemies
Both stories have a wise old man character that acts has an adviser to the teenagers, Friar Laurence for
Romeo and Juliet
and Doc for
West Side Story
Both tell the story of star crossed lovers
Works Mentioned
Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise's 1961 musical,
West Side Story
, is an allusion to William Shakespeare's
Romeo and Juliet
because of the two works' similar characters, plot, and theme. For example, Tony in
West Side Story
is meant to be a parallel character to
Romeo and Juliet'
s Romeo. Just as Romeo finds himself in love with a girl from his enemy's family, so too does Tony. Both characters must decide between their love for their girlfriends and their loyalty to their groups, and both find themselves in fatal situations because of this inner conflict, Romeo committing suicide after discovering Juliet's seemingly dead body and Tony being killed by revealing his whereabouts to Chino in his emotional state after hearing the false news of Maria's death. This also reveals that the two characters share the personality trait of passion, as, upon learning of the apparent deaths of their lovers, they abandon all regard for personal safety and make the decision that they would rather die than live without them. Similarly, Juliet and Maria are analogous to each other for many of the same reasons: both are members of one feuding group who have fallen in love with a member of the other, and the hatred between their respective parties makes their relationships impossible. Because of the almost identical natures of their romances, Juliet and Maria develop the identical personality trait of loyalty. When Romeo kills her cousin Tybalt, Juliet quickly decides to side with her husband. Though she could have easily chosen to forget Romeo and move on to another suitor, she stays true to him even after he's been banished for his actions, deciding to continue their romance despite the difficulties ahead of them. Likewise, when Maria hears of how Tony killed her brother Bernardo, she is initially upset and angry, but ultimately, her love for him overwhelms her hate for what he's done, and she remains faithful to him. Even when Chino, a member of her own gang, wants to kill him, and Anita, her best friend, criticizes their relationship, Maria does not falter in her loyalty to him. Finally, there are similarities between the characters of Friar Lawrence and Doc. Though neither of them are directly involved in the romance between the main characters, they do their best to encourage the impulsive teenagers to be sensible. Friar Laurence frequently reminds Romeo to slow down in his relationship with Juliet, and Doc attempts to make Tony see past the violence of gang life and make a better future for himself. Within the ardor-driven lives of Romeo and Juliet and Tony and Maria, Friar Laurence and Doc are often the only ones acting as the voice of reason. Unlike the lovers, who display their affection for each other by being romantic and sentimental, the two old men display a different kind of love - a parental love - by genuinely looking out for the young couples and what's best for them, offering their wisdom even when the headstrong teenagers resent it. Though the situations of Romeo and Juliet and Tony and Maria have slightly different results (Romeo and Juliet both committing suicide and Tony being killed while Maria survives), the repercussions of their tragic romances are much the same. In the end, the hatred between the feuding parties is forgotten, with both groups finally coming together over the deaths of their own members. Ultimately, the theme of Shakespeare's original work remains the same in Robbins and Wise's modern adaptation. Romeo and Tony's passion, Juliet and Maria's loyalty, and Friar Laurence and Doc's helpful wisdom reveal the theme that sometimes in life, a person may choose to love another even when hatred tries to separate them because love is the stronger than hate. And just as how this theme could be applied to 16th century life, so it can also be applied to modern life, which is why Shakespeare's work continues to be alluded to today.
Brown, Ford Madox. Romeo and Juliet. 1870. Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington.
Delaware Art Museum
. Web. 19 Mar 2014.
Tony and Maria on the balcony. 1961.
National Cinemedia Networks
. Web. 19 Mar 2014.

West Side Story
. Dir. Jerome Roberts, Robert Wise. Perf. Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno. The Mirisch Corporation, 1961. Online.
Shakespeare, William.
The Tragedy of

Romeo and Juliet.

The Elements of Literature Third Course
. Ed. Dr. Kylene Beers, Dr. Lee Odell. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2007. 901-1024. Print.
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