Romeo And West Side Story Comparison

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Romeo vs. Tony Character and Theme Comparison William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Arthur Laurent’s West Side Story were both tragic, romantic, works. West Side Story was a close variation of the play Romeo and Juliet, but the author of West Side Story changed characteristics of Tony to differ from his Romeo and Juliet equivalent, Romeo. Tony became more of an introverted, optimistic, and innocent character. On the other hand, Romeo was outgoing, seemingly bipolar, and violent. These changes in character between Tony and Romeo altered the themes from societal expectations, fate over free will, and complicated families to societal expectations in the 1950’s, inevitability of fate, and gang rivalry due to racism. First of all, Shakespeare depicted Romeo as a bit of a lover, whereas Tony was more of a loner. This change affected a theme of West Side Story because societal expectations vary based on time period, which allowed for Tony to act differently than Romeo. Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet in the 1300’s or the Elizabethan era, during this time period it was typical of young men to find women, which explains Romeo’s romantic behavior. This conversation in the play, between Friar Laurence and Romeo shows how easily Romeo switched his love interests:
FRIAR: God pardon sin, wast thou with Rosaline?
ROMEO: With Rosaline, my ghostly father, no. I have forgot that name, and that name’s woe. (2.3.44-46).

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Shortly after, Romeo confessed to Friar his new love,
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