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Contrast Of The Portrayal Of Characters Within The Tragedy Of Romeo And Juliet And West Side Story

1486 words - 6 pages

In Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet the audience learns that love is both a creative and destructive force, through the deaths of two young and in love teens and those around them. The play starts out in Verona with a feud between two families, the Capulets, and the Montagues. Romeo is a Montague, while Juliet is a Capulet. Their relationship was doomed from the beginning and there are many deaths all leading up to the deaths of themselves.Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story teaches us that everyone has control of their own life and to make the most out of it. This musical revolves around two brawling gangs, the American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Tony, a former Jet sees Maria, a shark, at a dance, and they immediately fall in love. Soon after they meet everything goes wrong, and it leads up to the tragic death of one of the lovers. The West Side Story, directed by Jerome Robbins, adaptation of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare, contains many differences from the original play, including Juliet’s strength being portrayed differently, the replacement of family hatred for the hatred of peers, and the easing of the seriousness of their relationship.
In both the play and the movie, the female lead is portrayed as unbelievably strong, but this is shown in completely different ways. In The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s character develops strength through her love for Romeo, while in West Side Story Maria, the equivalent of Juliet, is strong from the very beginning. When questioned about marriage, Juliet first says, “I’ll look to like, if looking liking move. But no more deep will I end art mine eye than your consent gives strength to make fly.” (Shakespeare Ⅰ,ⅳ,103-104), but later after she has met Romeo she tells her mother, “He shall not make me there a joyful bride!” (Shakespeare Ⅲ,ⅴ,122). In the beginning, Juliet says she will do as she is told even if she does not want to, but by the end she tells her mother that she will not be marrying Paris wether her parents want her to or not. This shows how her character has grown and strengthened and has learned to stand up for herself, which is significant especially for this time where women had no choice but to do as told. In West Side Story, Maria has life very different. From the very beginning it is shown that she wants to do what she wants to do, but is also under the protection of her older brother. Maria tells Anita, who is supposed to be her nurse figure, that she does not want to marry Chino because she does not love him (Robbins and Wise). This shows how Maria has strength to speak her mind from the very beginning of the movie. Another way their strength is portrayed differently is through the death of their male lead. In The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wakes up to see Romeo and Paris dead at her feet and Friar Lawrence trying to tell her that the plan went wrong and he is going to hide her with the nuns, and then he...

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