The settings of Rent and La Boheme are places where the group of friends meet-up and interact, although the countries where the operas were set were different (Paris for La Boheme and New York City for Rent). These two cities are considered as sanctuary for artists. The two texts put a spotlight on the predicaments of artists in the cities where they are expected to be celebrated and nurtured.
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Great similarity in plot is evident in the two texts. The method of narration used in La Boheme is preserved in Rent, wherein flashbacks are presented to illustrate previous information or scenarios, which can increase the impact on the audience. The scene wherein the landlord collects payment for the rent serves as the introductory part for both texts. The scenario is a clear depiction of lack of financial stability or poor state of income, as well as failure to abide by the existing laws and norms of the society. Although poverty is prominent theme for Rent and La Boheme, it can be noted that love is also a theme that surrounds the characters and the story itself.
Conflict arises between Mimi (Rent and La Boheme) and Rodolfo (La Boheme) and Roger (Rent). Both, Roger and Rodolfo, have problems when it comes to entering into a relationship with Mimi for they have personal issues that they have to resolve and past experiences that they need to let go of before entering into a commitment with Mimi. The audience anticipation rests on the possibility of the characters entering into a commitment or relationship. The climaxes in Rent and La Boheme are also similar. In La Boheme, Mimi decides to part ways with her lover and then to reunite with Rodolfo. Mimi spends her last moments with Rodolfo and then dies just after revealing her feelings to him and finding out that Rodolfo loves her as much. Rent also presents the same scenario. In Rent, Mimi asks for the assistance of two other characters (Maureen and Joanne) in order for her to reconcile with Roger. The conclusion or resolution of both, La Boheme and Rent, delivers a message that love can surpass all oddities and limitations, namely fear and death.
Larson introduces new characters in Rent – Collin and Angel. Their relationship serves as a model or standard for the other couples in the story (Mimi and Roger, Joanne and Maureen). Their relationship is considered unconventional for Angel is a transvestite suffering from AIDS, and their love for each other has kept them committed.
Similarity in the names of the characters is explicitly observable between the two texts. However, diversity in economic status, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity are exemplified in Rent. Ethnic diversity is very distinct in Rent because the nationality of the characters ranges, such as African Americans and Latin Americans. La Boheme has Italian characters. Mimi is suffering from illness in both texts, tuberculosis in La Boheme and AIDS in Rent.
Social stereotypes and prejudice are dealt in Rent since Larson has included social issues, such as homosexuality, addiction, AIDS, which are represented by the characters in his text. He is able to build these characters in such a way that discrimination and bigotry are minimized.
Counterculture is a theme that is evident in both, La Boheme and Rent. Rejection of social norms and values and continuing search for alternative lifestyle are depicted in the characters, plot, and setting of the two texts. The bourgeois’ ideals are discarded by the Bohemians when it comes to the pressure acquiring material possessions. They have minimal concern when it comes to achieving financial stability, for it can be derived from the fact that the characters in La Boheme do not have full-time employment. They find their own means of survival, such as focusing on their art and other unusual jobs, just to be able to meet their needs. Mark, a character in Rent, decides to continue his job as freelance artist in spite of being offered full time employment in a corporation because he believes that he is able to exercise his artistic freedom more if he does not have to submit to any boss. In Rent, the characters disregard the social norms when it comes to moral values, gender, and relationships. Same-sex relationship, as characterized by Collin and Angel, provides their submission to nontraditional moral values. They express their desire to live in a culture based on more humanistic values, such as sharing, love, and coexistence in the environment.
Communal lifestyle is a concept that is evident in both texts. The characters almost practically share everything. Basic necessities, such as living space, food, money, are all meant for sharing. The social interactions that they have are based on acceptance of their differences and the relationships they build out of friendship or love. The love, acceptance, and friendship that the characters have enable them to conquer their own fears and demons and eventually allow them to start caring for others or entering a commitment.
The concepts and intertextual relationships in La Boheme and Rent can serve as an inspiration to a contemporary artist. Though the two texts are written a century apart, most concepts are still applicable to the modern day society, although some adaptations have to be considered. Deviance from the norms set by the society can greatly impact how a person chooses to live his or her life. The preferences or choice made by the characters are depictions of where they stand in the society. Poverty has a great impact on their lives, but they are still able to practice their freedom as artists, although nowadays being an artist does not mean a person will have an impoverish life. The intertextual relationship in both texts definitely helps the audience to gain full understanding by being able to relate to the experiences as it is translated in modern day setting and scenarios.
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