Both “Romeo and Juliet” and “West Side Story” are impactful stories written by remarkable authors. “Romeo and Juliet,” a renowned classic by William Shakespeare, is famous for its heartbreaking love story and serves as a inspiration for other writers. Conversely, “West Side Story,” while not achieving the same level of renown, made a significant impact during its time and continued to influence future works.
Similar to “Romeo and Juliet,” “West Side Story” also portrays a tragic love story that ends with the death of one character. Both Shakespeare and Arthur Laurents showcase their talent in these tales, exploring similar themes such as the power of love and the destruction caused by hatred.
In both narratives, two individuals from rival families fall in love, leading to the downfall of their relationship. However, their love ultimately brings the feuding families closer together in both stories; albeit too late as innocent lives have already been lost. The events unfold similarly in both “Romeo and Juliet” and “West Side Story.”
The story also includes a pair of lovers who were separated because of gang violence. The violence between the gangs also led to deaths. However, one contrast between the stories is their settings. “Romeo and Juliet” occurs in Verona during the 15th century, while “West Side Story” happens in New York during a lively era. The two gangs clash on the streets of New York, while the Montagues and Capulets fought on Verona’s streets long before them.
The tales of Romeo and Juliet as well as Tony and Mari transport us to different environments. In “Romeo and Juliet”, the narrative unfolds in palaces and mansions, while Tony and Mari’s story takes place in back alleys and dilapidated buildings. Despite these contrasting settings, both stories share similarities in their main conflicts. Both involve two groups. In “Romeo and Juliet”, these groups are two ancient feuding families who hold deep hatred towards each other and refuse any interaction. The death of Tybalt at the hands of Romeo only worsens the feud between the families. On the other hand, “West Side Story” showcases two gangs who do not necessarily harbor animosity towards each other.
They begin their hatred without reason, but their random fights only intensify it. In both stories, deaths occur, exacerbating the conflict. While some consider “West Side Story” a contemporary adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” these two works have both similarities and differences. These distinctions make the stories unique, while the shared elements enhance their narratives. Both stories are masterpieces penned by two remarkable writers, William Shakespeare and Arthur Laurents. Through these tales, we witness the potency of love and the havoc that hatred can wreak.