Tragedy was the ending to the timeless play Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare in the 1400's. Fast-forward five hundred and sixty years when this universal theme was used to create the tale of two young lovers, Tony and Maria, called West Side Story. Written by Arthur Laurents, this classic tale demonstrates that even in a 1960's sitcom world, hate still remains. Both young and feeble minded Tony and Maria face the same dilemmas as Romeo and Juliet but with less misfortune. The ending of both these plays set a lasting impression on the audience, yet West Side Story was altered to fit the interests of modern times.
In Romeo and Juliet, the Capulets and the Montagues where fighting over an ancient grudge not known, yet in for the Jets and the Sharks, separation began with the immigration of the Puerto Ricans to America. They came with high hopes, but their dreams where shattered when the Jets express hatred towards them. Not only where the adolescents prejudice, Officer Krupkey also picked favorites. The officer has certain facets that allude to the Prince in Romeo and Juliet, yet by stating to the Jets, "Boys, just tell me, I am on your side. I want those Puerto Ricans out of here just as much as you - (West Side Story), he shows that not only does he favor the Jets, he would rather have the Puerto Ricans out of New York. His opinion plays a significant role on the fate of Tony and Maria. If he did not prefer the Jets, Tony would have most likely been banished for killing Bernardo, just like Romeo, but he was not. The director chose to make those changes because in a time of racial prejudice, he wanted to show that it greatly affected the way people lived.
The 1960's was a time of "Leave it to Beaver- and Tang, meaning everything was always picture perfect. Conveyed as a joyous time, the audience did not want to hear of anything depressing or let alone murder. In respect of their feelings the writer chose to alter the conclusion by Maria remaining alive.