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

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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, …show more content…

You begin to think that you’re better than the other group, engraining that hatred further. Both stories, however, are able to overcome this prejudice by the act of one member of each group. The Capulet’s Juliet, and the Montague’s Romeo- the Jets’ Tony, and the Sharks’ Maria. However, it’s not a simple peace treaty, drawn up as soon as the love is discovered. It’s a peace that some may have to die for, until the others finally realize that their hatred can’t last forever. Romeo and Juliet shared a secret, forbidden love, much like Tony and Maria’s. The Montagues and the Capulets- both sophisticated, wealthy families would have been driven mad to hear that their children had fallen in love, and had plans to marry secretly and run away together. The jets and sharks- two street gangs- would quite literally kill one another upon finding out about Tony and Maria’s short-lived romance. Neither of the groups wanted for the two to fall in love- whether it was because of a family hatred traced back for generations or because of a simple dispute over the street- their love way truly forbidden. When their love was discovered, there was a sense of betrayal, that by loving their enemies they were destroying their allies within their own groups. The gang members of West Side Story felt as if they had to get revenge for the death of their leader- and that led to more killing. Revenge became a common denominator in both

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