Essay, Research Paper: Romeo And Juliet With West Side Story

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

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William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Arthur Laurent’s West Side Story
are very similar in comparison. The characters in both these tragic stories are
almost symmetric in what kind of role they play and how they interact. Even the
plot is generally the same except for the changes made due to the setting.
Because of my fascination of middle age Europe, I enjoyed Romeo and Juliet more.
Romeo and Juliet is a story of star-crossed lovers whose tragic end show their
families the extent of damage that hate can do. They setting of this play is
14th century Verona, Italy. Two wealthy families, Montague and Capulet, have a
growing hate for each other. Romeo and Juliet, two young teenagers, one from
each family, fall in love and have to face the oppression of their feuding
families. They eventually kill themselves at the end of the story, and their
families realize what horrible happenings their ill will can lead to. These plot
events and conclusion show how love can overcome hate at the expense of another.
Friar Lawrence put it best by saying, "These violent delights have violent
ends." West Side Story is also a story of two lovers and how hatred and
racism can hurt others. It takes place in the 1950’s on the West Side of New
York. An American gang, the Jets, and a Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, are
fighting because of racism and territory. Tony and Maria, who are from opposite
sides of this conflict, fall in love and attempt to make the gangs realize that
they should not fight over racism or territory that they "claim." Tony
is shot by a Shark in a bias rage at this stories tragic finish. Maria, noticing
why this happened, calls out, "We all killed him...I can kill now because I
hate now." This shows how the dislike, racism, and hatred of the two gangs
lead to event of Tony’s death, and others. Romeo and Juliet and West Side
Story both emphasize what conflicts and fighting can lead to. Romeo and Juliet
is the better book because of it’s interesting setting and ability to relate
with a common teenager’s life. For these reasons, everyone should, at one
point in their early teenage years, read the story of Juliet and her Romeo.
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