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Gangs If New York Essay

904 words - 4 pages

Laura Yancy
February 26, 2012

Reaction Paper: Gangs of New York

Gangs of New York is a movie directed by Martin Scorsese, which took place in 19th century America. In the movie, Scorsese brings to life 19th century Manhattan’s Five Points neighborhoods where nothing but gangs, tension, riots, discrimination, and unrest existed. It displays the violent rise of gangland powers in New York City at a time of massive political corruption and the city's evolution into a cultural melting pot. It was actually my first time watching the movie and I failed to grasp the entire concept, resulting in me having to watch it for a second time. The movie’s main characters are ...view middle of the document...

The Irish influence on political and social life was evident throughout The Gangs of New York. As the immigrants stepped off their ships they were immediately confronted by politicians vying for their vote. Of course, being new to the country and being completely unaware of political policies, the immigrants vote was swayed by the church. However, as the movie progresses Amsterdam, leader of the Dead Rabbits Gang, is able to gather the Irish-American populace to vote in favor of another fellow Irish immigrant for sheriff. The growing number of Irish immigrants to the United States further escalated tension between the two parties. The issue of national identity was also important in the formation of separate factions of society. The Nativists felt that as the status of Irish immigrants increased into society, the "true" American would become extinct. Rather than feeling a sense of unity and respect for their fellow citizens, they felt as though unless they did something to stop the flow of immigrants into the country they would eventually become the minority. One excellent portrayal of this would be at the end of the movie when Bill the Butcher kills the Irish immigrant elected sheriff. After killing him he proclaims "There's the minority vote!" The abolitionist movement also played an important role in the National identity crisis. The Nativists hated the presence of blacks within society and large mobs would often attack black individuals for no reason besides their skin color. Towards the end of the film a man approaches Amsterdam's black friend and says "I lost my arm for you, you damn nigger!" To which the black man replied...

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