I beg to differ with the above poster as to the level of realism. Like Water for Chocolate is magical realism and, as such, a combination of comedy and tragedy that is more realistic in premise than the tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
Tragedies are not as realistic as comedies or even tragi-comedies (magical realism): they are engineered for disaster from the start. Not to mention that it is more likely for a daughter to remain at home than it is for her to elope and secretly marry the only son of her sworn enemy. It is more likely to give someone gas with cooking (as Tita does with her sister) than it is to stage someone's suicide and fake funeral using secret potions (as Friar Lawrence does with Juliet). Tita is much more obedient to Mama Elena than Juliet is to her parents. Tita's plight is the norm, and Juliet's is the exception.
Here are some other similarities and differences between Like Water for Chocolate and Romeo and Juliet:
- Time is compressed in Romeo and Juliet: its action takes place in about 5 days. Like Water spans the time that Tita is 15 to 39 years of age. It is an epic by comparison.
- Juliet and Tita are both forbidden to love their respective betrotheds. Juliet is not hampered by anyone really, except for Tybalt perhaps. Her father speaks well of Romeo, and even Juliet's Nurse helps arrange the marriage. Romeo has the Friar's (a father-figure) help. Tita is much more actively thwarted by her family.
- Friar Lawrence and Tita are both magicians. Friar Lawrence works with herbs and flowers, while Tita uses cooking and food.
- Tita is more a victim of sex discrimination that Juliet. Juliet is a fairly modern spoiled brat. Compared to Juliet, Tita lives in the dark ages of sexism. She is completely oppressed, like Cinderella with no fairy godmother.
- The Capulets and Montagues are much wealthier than the De la Garzas. As such, they meet with the Prince to discuss squabbles. Even though they fight in the street, there is more stability in Verona: they have time enough to hold masques. Mexico is in a state of civil war (instability) by comparison. Tita is much more isolated and impoverished than Juliet.
- Both novel and play use a culture of obedience to arrange marriages. Again, the level of cruelty and violence in Like Water is much more realistic than that of the play. Mama Elana and Rosaura actively punish Tita, whereas Lord Capulet only threatens to kick Juliet out of the house.
One of the comparative points between Like Water for Chocolate and Romeo and Juliet is that the unfulfilled passion of pure love causes immediate death, in the former, it is the immediate deaths of others, while in the latter it is the immediate deaths of the lovers themselves. Another point of comparison is that both Tita and Juliet are dominated by the traditions of the society and household: Tita must care for the aging mother until she dies, while Juliet must marry a man that will advance the family's position and wealth.
A comparative contrast (compare: examine to note similarities and differences) is that in Like Water for Chocolate, the lovers only die after Pedro has married someone else (in a Biblical allusion to the narrative of Jacob and Rachel). Another contrast is that while Romeo and Juliet is written in a realistic style, the other is written in the Latin American magical realism style.