In one of the most famous love stories of this century, many elements from anotherfamous tale of love were borrowed. In many instances, Westside Story mirrored Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet. Many similarities were noted from the characterization to the plot structure. However, they differed as well. In Westside Story, some characters shared personalities with those of Romeo And Juliet. The families of the Capulets and Montagues were well represented by two gangs, the Sharks andthe Jets.
Both being ineffective rulers, officer Krumpke and the Prince struggle to keep peace if their cities both to no vail and warned,” If you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay theforfeit of peace. “( ) . Due to their differing backgrounds, Tony being affiliated with the Jets and Maria with the Sharks, Tony and Maria partook in forbidden love much like Romeo and Juliet. Much like Tybalt, Bernado disapproved of their love and was quick to fight with anymember of the Jets or Tony. However, Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend, approved of their love because she just wanted to see Maria happy like the Nurse.
Overwhelmed by all the fighting, Baby John was much like Tybalt’s peace keeping foil character, Mercutio. Lastly, Doc tried to help Tony and stop all the insanity around him like Friar Laurence. In both stories, comic relief occurred to keep the audience interested, but the two plays usually differed in their approaches to comedy. In Romeo And Juliet, Mercutio amused the audience with his actions and soliloquies. Westside Story didn’t have a character like Mercutio, so it used a combination of their dance and characters for comic relief. The Jets performed a humorous song that mocked Officer Krumpke.
Also, to enliven the audience, The Jets always picked on Anybodys, a scruffy looking girl who always tried to get in the gang. Depsite those different approaches for comedy, Westside Story immitated Mercutio and other Montagues’ scene with the Nurse, taunting her and exclaimimg, ” … hide her face; for her fan’s the fairer of the two ” ( ), when Anita went to Doc’s,and they mocked her saying so this what a P. R. woman looks like and tossing her around. The settings from these plays did not differ much at all. Tony and Maria had to hide their love from their families to avoid being separated.
Bernardo and Anita already arranged a marriage between Maria and Chino like that of Juliet and Paris’s arranged marriage. The Jets and Sharks frequently rumbled to prove who was the best gang in the Westside like the Capulets and Montagues fought to prove who was the best family in Verona, as expressed by the opening prologue,” Two housesolds, both alike in dignity… from ancient grudge to break to new mutiny” ( ) . At the conclusion, both delivered the same message that the tragedy was everyone’s fault not just one person. The plots and scenes for these two plays were uncannily alike.
Like Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria met at a dance and it was love a first sight for both. Their love lifes were a secret because of the warring between the gangs like that of the hostile Montagues and Capulets. Romeo And Juliet’s famous balcony scene was mimed by Tony and Maria’s fire escape scene. After the loss of their dearest friends, Romeo and Tony both killed someone from their lover’s family. After hearing of her brother Bernardo’s death, Maria still wanted to stay with Tony like Juliet, even if it meant leaving her whole life behind and fleeing with him. However, the endings differed a bit.
First, Chino, the Paris character, murdered Tony to avenge Bernardo’s death. Rather than killing herself, Maria wept and gave a lecture much like the Prince’s “All are punished ! “( ), saying it wasn’t Chino who killed Tony it was everyone because everyone was filled with hate. Thus, the characters, plot, humor, and setting of Westside Story originated from one Shakespeare’s most prolific plays, Romeo And Juliet . The similarities of these two famous tales of love made Westside Story showed that a love story from ages ago could reappear and be successful in the 20th century.