"Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story": A Thematic Comparison Essay

"Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story": A Thematic Comparison Essay

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Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story share many similar themes. Romeo and Juliet both chronicle a story of overcoming prejudice and hatred, forbidden love, and defying stereotypes that nobody thought could be broken. The two stories are similar in a multitude of ways, even though their settings are centuries apart- Romeo and Juliet set in the 1500’s, and West Side Story set in the 1950’s. Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story both teach a lesson of how prejudice can teach you how to hate, and how one of your rivals may be the one who helps you remember how to love.
In both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, prejudices are so strong between two distinct groups of people that the hatred is passed from generation to generation, always against the same rival group. The prejudice is so influential, that the act of hating them becomes as common as their mere existence. In Romeo and Juliet, there are two distinct groups of people, the Montagues and the Capulets- Romeo a Montague and Juliet a Capulet. The Montagues and Capulets have hated each other for as long as anyone can remember- the two families are in a constant feud. The children of one family hate the children of the other, the servants spit upon their rival servants. The prejudice runs so deep, in fact, that the simple thought of cross-socialization is absurd. In West Side Story, the premise is quite similar. The two rival gangs are the Jets- the Americans, and the Sharks- the Puerto Ricans. The Jets hate the sharks because they feel as if they are encroaching on their territory when they walk the streets of New York as easily as the Jets. The Jets and the Sharks have been in a constant state of uproar since the Puerto Ricans first started moving to America a...


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...easurable and choices you never thought that you would make are made. Romeo and Juliet decided that they would marry- until death do them part- they loved one another so much that even then they did not part. They committed suicide to be together- together in a place, hopefully, where they could be free from prejudice and hate. Tony and Maria never got the chance to run away and live together in this place, either. While both stories chronicle how hatred, prejudice, forbidden love and stereotypes change a person, neither mention what really made their lives impossible- revenge. A revenge that ran so deep, it ended lives. This was a revenge that didn’t solve any problems, but simply led to more, bigger problems. So, maybe while love can do miraculous things, like help you forget how to hate your enemies, even it is not fully capable of eliminating revenge.

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