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One main difference between the characters of Nurse from “Romeo and Juliet” and Anita from “West Side Story” is that Nurse fulfills a much more nurturing role towards Juliet then Anita fulfills towards Maria. Nurse has raised, nurtured, and cared for Juliet since Juliet’s infancy and very much wants Juliet to be happy. Nurse does everything she can to make her happy. For instance, in Act III; Scene 2 Nurse goes to Romeo and acts as a go-between to ensure that they will be married. She empathizes with Juliet’s reluctance to marry Paris and agrees to “commend,” meaning praise or recommend, Romeo to Juliet.
Anita, on the other hand, while having the caring role of Maria’s close girlfriend, she is also, more importantly, Bernardo’s girlfriend, Maria’s brother. As Bernardo’s girlfriend, she has a tendency to side with Bernardo and agrees that Maria should marry Bernardo’s choice for her, Chino. She also does things to enforce Bernardo’s big-brother protectiveness, such as refusing to make the bodice of Maria’s dress lower for the community dance. As a whole, Anita has a much more dominant, protective role than Nurse in Romeo and Juliet.
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