Romeo and Juliet vs. West Side Story

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA, February 1997

download word file, 2 pages 4.0 1 reviews

Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, two timeless dramas

that will live forever. Although both of these stories have

many similarities, there are also many differences. These

differences include the differences in sililoquy, the fact that

Maria doesn't die, the fact that we never see Tony or Maria's

parents, as well as the issues of marriage, the importance of

gangs and families to each story. To understand these

differences, I have read and/or watched both Romeo and

Juliet, and the similar tragedy, West Side Story.

Above, I named a few of the many differences between

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Ernest Leaman's

screenplay, West Side Story. One main difference is that in

Romeo and Juliet the sililoquy is spoken while in West Side

Story there is sililoquy, but it is in song. While both equally

express the character's feelings at the moment, it is my feeling

that West Side Story's musical style brings the viewer/listener

further into the play and makes the play more effective.


example of this is when, in Act II, Scene II, of Romeo and

Juliet, otherwise known as the balcony scene, Romeo expresses

his thoughts in a sililoquy until Juliet shows up. While in

Romeo and Juliet all of this is spoken, in West Side Story, this is

written as music shared between Maria and Tony.

Another major difference between these two stories is

that in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet sees Romeo dead and decides

to kill herself. While, in West Side Story, Tony (the Romeo of

the play) does die - shot by Chino- Maria is not so stricken and

overshelmed that she decides to kill herself. This is very

important because in Romeo and Juliet, neither Romeo or

Juliet is allowed to move on with their lives. In West Side

Story, however, I'm sure Maria, although not shown in the

film, moves on and gets over Tony.

My theory on why the above is true, is that Romeo and

Juliet are kept apart by family ties or blood; Juliet a Capulet

and Romeo a Montague. Blood ties are what family is all

about and tend to be very strong bonds. In West Side Story the

only thing holding each other back from one another are their

ties to gangs; Maria, the Sharks and Tony, the Jets. This, in

my eyes, makes Romeo and Juliet's love for one another

stronger than Maria and Tony's. This is why it is easier for

Maria to get over Tony.

Also a major difference between these tragedies is the

issue, or non-issue as it were, of marriage. Marriage is

another tie that Romeo and Juliet have that Tony and Maria

don't. In Romeo and Juliet's case marriage is seriously

brought up almost immediately after they meet. In Tony and

Maria's case marriage is brought up but, only in a

joking/kidding manner. To me this indicates that Romeo and

Juliet are more grown up and ready to tackle life's challenges,

while Tony and Maria are a little more childish and

unprepared for what they've gotten themselves into.

Although not a major difference, there is the absence of

Tony and Maria's parents. This may not affect the story too

much, but Romeo and Juliet's parents come into major play in

William Shakespeare's love story or love tragedy, depending

on your point of view. In Romeo and Juliet, without Lord

Capulet there is no wedding conflict and much of the quick

'thinking' doesn't have to take place.

You may have previously thought that West Side Story

and Romeo and Juliet were identical love tales. Of course, not

counting the fact that West Side Story is obviously updated. I

hope that my report on the differences between the two has

finally cleared this up. I greatly appreciated the opportunity

to write this report and I certainly learned a lot from it. I

hope you've enjoyed it.

Romeo and Juliet versus

West Side Story

Kirk Forte'

Period 6

Mrs. Searles

2/9/97 (Final Draft)