How are Anita (from West Side Story) and the Nurse (from Romeo and Juliet) similar and different? I'm looking for more of the differences between the two than the similarities.

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The similarity is that both are companions and counselors of a sort to the "Juliet" figure. Juliet allows the Nurse to know her thoughts, as Maria does with Anita. Beyond this, there is little similarity.

The Nurse is a minor figure in Romeo and Juliet. Anita, on the other hand, is the girlfriend of Bernardo, Maria's brother. In some sense, she's also the antithesis of the inexperienced and naïve Maria. Anita is a central figure in the (somewhat comical) dispute among the Latinx characters about the virtues of New York City in comparison with their native Puerto Rico in the number "America."

Anita is also a feminist symbol to a degree. She has no qualms about expressing herself as a woman, particularly when she sings "Anita's gonna get her kicks tonight" in anticipation of Bernardo seeing her in the aftermath of the brawl that will take place between the Sharks and the Jets. When Bernardo is killed, she essentially blames Maria, angrily telling her to forget that boy (Tony) and find "one of your own kind, stick to your own kind!"

By comparison with all this, Juliet's Nurse is a largely passive figure and a servant to Juliet rather than an equal, as Anita is to Maria.

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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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