When Pyramus and Thisbe first went on their rendezvous in the woods, they never would have imagined that they would be the template on which many romantic stories are built. The story of the ill-fated lovers, as told in theMetamorphosisby Ovid, is one that has stood the test of time and became the story authors like William Shakespeare, song writers like Bethany Cosentino and directors like Jerome Robbins have used to express forbidden love, misunderstanding and loss. These elements of story have resonated over the ages with audiences due to our desire to love and be oved so much that we would do the most extreme things.
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Teenagers, especially, latch on to these story elements due to the inclusion of authority fgures who misunderstand their ability to have true, grown-up feelings (Flanagan). The story of Pyramus and Thisbe begins with two families sharing a wall in a duplex. Onefamilyhas a daughter and one a son. Both are forbidden to see each other, but as most teen-agers do, they find a way around their parents. Through a crack in the wall too small to even fit their lips, the two best looking people in all of Babylon confess their love.
Unable to wait for their parents to give consent, the two decide on a time and place to meet, in the woods, near the mulberry bush with white flowers. Thisbe arrived before Pyramus and while waiting spotted a lioness fresh from the hunt with blood dripping from her teeth and gums. Frightened, she ran away to the nearest cave and in the process, lost her shawl where the lioness tore it to shreds. When Thisbe arrived seeing what seemed to be a horrible scene of his true love’s viscous demise, he is overcome with guilt. If only he had arrived sooner.
If only he had been there to protect his Thisbe. To punish himself, Pyramus thrusts his dagger into his gut and bleeds to death. Thisbe, feeling brave, came out of the cave to find her lover. In seeking him she finds him dead by his own hand. Thisbe is distraught at a life lived without him and plunges the knife into her heart and dies by his side. Both of their thick, red blood poured onto the roots of the mulberry bush, turning the flowers from white to red, which is how they are still today. The last line of the poem states that ” The gods and parents heard her prayer, and they were stirred. Ovid)” suggesting that both parents were made aware of the death of their hildren and are stirred in their hearts. If only they had allowed the ill-fated loves to be together, they would still be alive. William Shakespeare took the poem of Pyramus and Thisbe and built on it to createRomeo and Juliet, the quintessential love story upon which so many others are copied. Romeo and Juliet come from warring families, the Capulets and Montegues. For years these families have fought and brought discord to the sweet town of Verona. Just as Pyramus and Thisbe, the children of these feuding families would not be allowed to be together.
They meet by chance at a masquerade ball hosted by the arents of Juliet, the Capulets. Romeo and his friends were looking to crash the party and shake up the evening a bit. Romeo is out of sorts because he has had a dream where something goes very wrong and he cannot figure out what it is. When Romeo instantly in love. There is a bit of concern when they first discover the true identity of the other, but a whispering on a balcony dulls that concern and they only want to be together, no matter what. Romeo and Juliet are married in secret, figuring that in time their parents will be fine with it. That does not turn out to be the case.
Romeo is anished and Juliet is set to marry another. With a little help from the conniving priest, Juliet sends Romeo a letter explaining that she is going to take a poison that makes it look like she is dead when she is really only sleeping. As it always is with ill- fated lovers, Romeo never gets the message. He is told that Juliet is dead and not knowing any better, he goes to her tomb to see for himself. There he kills himself so that he can be with his love for the eternities. When Juliet wakes from her death-like sleep and discovers Romeo dead by his own hand, she takes his dagger and kills herself as well.
When both sets of parents learn the truth of their love and marriage and now their deaths, they are distraught. In similitude of the families of Pyramus and Thisbe, they are then condemned to live their lives with the knowledge that had they been more open-minded, their children would be alive and well. Like Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is story about ill-fated lovers, misunderstanding and loss. West Side Story was a highly acclaimed musical that showed on Broadway in 1957 and was made into an award winning movie musical in 1961. The similarities between the play of Romeo and Juliet and the musical of West
Side Story are striking, but so are the differences. West Side Story is about two gangs in the streets of New York in the 1950’s: the Jets and the Sharks. The Sharks are Puerto Ricans, new to America and looking to make a home for themselves. The Jets are looking to keep their streets white and get the Sharks to leave. In the middle of these two warring factions are Maria, sister to Bernarndo, the head of the Sharks and Tony, best friend to Riff, the head of the Jets. Just like Romeo, Tony has a dream; however, Tony’s dream is full of inspiration as e feels that the dream is telling him that something wonderful is on the horizon.
Riff tries to get Tony to tell more about the dream, but Tony can only remember that he feels like something big is about to happen to him. On that note, Riff convinces Tony to go to a dance and maybe meet the girl of hisdreams. Maria and Tony meet at that dance, Just like Romeo and Juliet. When they see each other, all the contention around them fades as they fall in love with each other at first sight. Instead of a balcony scene, the whisperings of love and futurehappinesshappen on a New York City fire escape.
Maria and Tony keep their secret love to themselves until they can find the perfect time to tell their friends and family that they want to be together. Unfortunately, their hands are forced when a rumble between the Sharks and Jets gets out of hand. Tony promises Maria that he will go and stop the fighting, but when Riff is stabbed by Bernardo, Tony stabs Bernardo in a fit of rage killing the brother of his love. At first Maria is angry and does not understand the event, but eventually she tells Tony to not turn himself in and they will run away together.
Tony goes to the soda shop to ide from the Sharks and to wait for Maria to meet him at the bus stop. Maria is detained from leaving for the bus stop by one of the local beat cops. She asks her friend, Bernardo’s girlfriend, to get a message to Tony. Anita does not want shop. The Jets are at the soda shop getting ready for more fghting with the Sharks when Anita shows up. She tries to get to see Tony, but the Jets won’t let her through. They treat her very badly and out of frustration she tells them to tell Tony that Maria is dead, killed by one of the Sharks in retaliation for her involvement with Tony.
When Tony hears that Maria is dead, he is so distraught he goes looking for a fight hoping that one of the Sharks will kill him. He finds Geno, the boy that was arranged to marry Maria by her brother, and taunt him until he finally shoots Tony. Just as Tony grabs for his abdomen, he sees Maria and knows that she is alive. He is relieved to know that she is alive and dies in her arms. Maria, blames the death of her true love on the hatred of the two gangs, Just as parents of Romeo and Juliet and Pyramus and Thisbe are to blame for the deaths of their children, due to their hatred and closed-mindedness.
These stories set the stage for so many more. Stories where the audience hopes that the others will realize the truth before it is too late. One such story is the move, ” An Affair to Remember” directed by Leo McCarey and starring Cary Grant as Nickie Ferrante and Deborah Kerr as Terry McKay. This story has these two individuals meeting on a boat trip from Europe to New York in a time when that is how people traveled. They meet up several times on the ship and decide to disembark in Villefranche-sur-Mer to visit Nickle’s grandmother. On this trip, Nickie realizes that he has very strong feelings for Terry.
Unfortunately, both are already involved with other people. They decide that in 6 months they will meet at the top of the Empire State Building if they are each free of the current entanglements. Nickie waits for hours on the Empire State Building but Terry does not show. Disappointed and rejected, he leaves to continue his life without the woman he truly loves. Little does Nickie know, Terry, on her way to the meeting place, is hit by a car and badly injured. She is confined to a wheelchair. Not wanting anyone’s pity, she does not contact Nickie to explain what happened.
After some time both characters et back together with their ex’s. At a chance meeting at the ballet, Nickie and Terry see each other, but he does not notice that she is unable to walk as she is seated in her seat. Sometime later, Nickie tracks down Terry and goes to visit her. She remains on the couch with her legs under a blanket. Nickie has no idea of what has happened to her. The audience is left wishing she would Just move the blanket and tell the truth so they can confess their love to each other. Luckily, Nickie notices a wheelchair in the bedroom along with a painting of his of the place where they met.
He moves the blanket and realizes what has happened and they embrace, with Terry stating, ” If you can paint, I can walk; anything can happen, don’t you think (An Affair to remember)? ” This story leaves the audience satisfied and happy. The song ” Our Deal” by Best Coast also has the Romeo and Juliet theme of star- crossed lovers bent on destruction. The video, directed by Drew Barrymore, has warring gangs, the Day Trotter and the Night Creepers tagging up the streets of Los Angeles. A girl from the Night Creepers, Veronica, meets and falls in love with a boy from the Day Trotters, Lucky.
They secretly steal away time to be together and confess their love. A gang fght leaves the Night Creepers beat up and a rumble to retaliate is away with her. In response, he spray paints on a wall, ” l Can’t… (Best Coast – Our Deal video)” Lucky goes behind the corner of the wall and Veronica runs away. When they meet again it is at the rumble. Angry and hurt, Veronica punches Lucky in the face causing him to lose his balance and fall off the roof of a building down do his certain death. Upon seeing what she has done, Veronica runs down to him. She looks up and see the rest of the message tagged on the wall, “… it to spend the rest of my life with you (Our Deal)” Veronica, crying looks down at Lucky only to see him die in her arms. We can see how these stories connect through the commonality of love, loss and misunderstanding. Pyramus misunderstands the bloody shawl and assumes his love is dead and so kills himself. Romeo, having not received Juliet’s message, misunderstands the death-like sleep of his true love and kills himself, which in turn, causes Juliet to kill herself. Tony, after receiving the wrong message about Maria, goes out looking for someone to kill him to relieve him of the pain of losing his lover.
Likewise, Veronica accidentally kills her love, Lucky, after misunderstanding his message. The only difference in the stories presented here is the one of Nickie and Terry, where misunderstanding and lack of information causes Nickie to come to the wrong conclusion about Terrys absence on the Empire State Building, but in the end of the film, they resolve the issue and assume a happy ending. One would argue that these elements of love, loss and misunderstanding resonate over the years with audiences because we can all relate to these feelings.
Teenagers, specially, can relate to a love that seems so overwhelming because it is the focus of much of adolescent life (Appleton). The inclusion of forces like parents or friends preventing that love is also one that teenagers can relate with. Many teenagers feel that the only purpose of an adult or authority fgure is to thwart their happiness. This component makes it easy to blame the parents in both Pyramus and Thisbe and Romeo and Juliet. When we do not receive a happy ending, we want to place that blame on someone and who better to place that on than the friends and family who prevented the love from flourishing?