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Romeo Juliet vs West Side Story What would Romeo and Juliet be like if Juliet hadnt died What if Paris killed Romeo instead of vice versa What if instead of occurring several centuries ago it took place on the streets of New York City during the 1950s with a bunch of fresh-faced youths posing as street toughs and dancing and singing their hearts out Well just take a look at West Side Story and you will have your answers It is impossible for anyone familiar with both texts to not note the obvious major similarities between the two plays From the opening scenes in both up through the rumble in West Side Storydeath of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet the plays mirror each other Poelstra It isnt until the last part of West Side Story where Tony our modern-day Romeo dies and Maria Tonys Juliet doesnt unlike the two star-crossed lovers of Shakespeares work that the major difference between the two works becomes apparent Granted instead of tension between feuding families West Side Story offers prejudice between races as illustrated between street gangs the Jets and Sharks Some of the characters in West Side Story are carbon copies of those in Romeo and Juliet Maria Juliet Tony Romeo Bernardo Tybalt Lt Schrank Prince and Anita Nurse Others appear to be a composite of characters namely Riff a combination of Benvolio and Mercutio and Doc who appears to fulfill the role of Friar Laurence possessed somewhat of a peacekeeping nature You couldnt play basketball he asks when informed of their upcoming war council Laurents 57 yet at the same time it is implied in the film version not the play that he is a pharmacist and there was after all an apothecary in Romeo and Juliet The tomboyish Anybodys a Jet wannabe would best fit into the role of Balthasar although Docs character fits into this role marginally as well since it was
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