Comparison Between 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'West Side Story'

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Romeo and Juliet versus West Side Story One of the most beloved and timeless tragedies of William Shakespeare is Romeo and Juliet. Its theme of young, tragic love cruelly and unintentionally destroyed by family hatreds has endured from generation to generation. The American composer Leonard Bernstein used the themes, character types, and plotlines of the Shakespearean play to craft his own musical tragedy entitled West Side Story. (Stephen Sondheim wrote the accompanying lyrics, Alfred Laurents the 'book'). Although the settings of these tragic love stories are very different, the parallel characters and plot elements develop the theme that fate cannot be avoided, and that hatred can even be stronger than love. The main characters of Romeo and Juliet are, of course, Romeo and Juliet. Despite the doomed and 'star-crossed' nature of their love, Shakespeare makes it clear that both protagonists share a genuine and devoted love, despite their young ages. Romeo is first shown pining over Rosaline, a cold woman who wants to become a nun. Juliet is first shown as a childish girl who cannot even dream of love in the company of her nurse. When the two lovers first meet they 'speak' a sonnet together, indicating to the viewer they are falling in love. Both of them mature as characters through love. Juliet shows maturity and wisdom when she says that she regrets the speed of their falling in love and does not think it bodes well, even though she gives herself over to passion. Romeo
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