Sunday, May 1, 2011

Romeo and Juliet vs. West Side Story

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Shakespeare is one of the most read writers ever and his writing was so successful that not just one group of people liked it. He did this by relating to his audience using universal truths. Human emotions are not something that change over time and they are also known as universal truths; love, hate, revenge, and envy are all examples of universal truths. This play was so successful that many other movies have copied the plot but changed the scenery. Over the past 400 years since this play was written the world has changed drastically, but the emotions and feelings in this play went through the test of time.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a timeless play that concentrates on many different human emotions and reactions. Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story are alike in many ways, they were both very successful in their day. West Side Story is essentially the same play that was revived in 1861. Like Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria are of opposite families. They fall in love and their love is forbidden. Maria is Puerto Rican and Tony is Irish. In West Side Story they dont get married but they do have a torrid love affair. The hate between the two groups was modernized to racism and not as many of the main characters die in West Side Story.

One of the major differences is that Maria doesnt die, she is left alone. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet kills herself after she finds that Romeo has perished. Another major difference is that in Romeo and Juliet Romeo kills Paris who is supposed to marry Juliet then himself when he thinks that Juliet is dead. In West Side Story, Tony is killed by Chino (the equivalent of Paris). Romeo and Juliet has a stronger sense of love and irony.

Love is a universal truth that is portrayed similarly in both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story. Two members of warring groups fall in love. Love is something that we can all relate to in one way or another and it will never change over time. In Romeo and Juliet, both Romeo and Juliet have such a strong love for each other that they both commit suicide when the other dies. In West Side Story, Tony and Maria talk of running away and they have such a strong love that they believe that they can end the hatred with their love.

Hate is another universal truth that has a strong influence in both of these plots. Everyone has felt hate at one time or another in their life. As it is in Romeo and Juliet with Mercutio and Tybalt, in West Side Story Marias brother, Bernardo and Tonys best friend, Riff are the focus of hate. These characters could not see further than their blind hatred and many others were killed.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was such a classic that today it is considered a standard. This story was so well written to please audiences that is was redone over 400 years later and it is still a success. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was also copied to make a musical for Broadway and today it is one of the most famous musicals ever. These were all so victorious because they utilized the universal truths of love and hate which are easy relatable and captivating yet timeless to all audiences both young and old, both then and now.



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