The Gangs of New York (2002)

Instructions:  Please answer the following questions about the Gangs of New York.  It must be typed and double-spaced.

 1.         What are the local conditions of the Five Points like?  Why?  How do these conditions differ from uptown New York (Upper Manhattan) where people like the Schermerhorns live?  Why do they differ?

2.         How is power understood by the gangs of the Five Points?  What does it mean to be powerful in this local context?   How does “power” evolve through the course of this film?

3.         Why must the Dead Rabbits under Priest Vallon fight with the Natives under Bill the Butcher Cutting?   Why can they not live in peace together under the rule of the law and order as dictated by the U.S. Constitution?

4.         Why does Bill make Priest Vallon a saint-like figure at the end of the ritual battle?  What does he do to show respect to Vallon?

5.         Does Boss Tweed and his Tammany Hall conceive of “power” differently from Bill and the Natives?   In consolidating their rule over the people, why does Tweed seek an alliance with Bill?  Is Tweed’s understanding of power different from Bill’s?  In what ways?  Be as specific as you can.

6.         What does Tweed mean when he says that the “appearance of the law must be upheld especially while it is being broken”?

7.         What does Bill the Butcher think of the newly arriving immigrants?  Why?  How does that compare with the views of Tweed and Amsterdam?  What are the primary racial and ethnic tensions in the film?

8.         Why did you see amateur Fire Brigades fighting each other for the right to put out fires?  Who ultimately put an end to the Gang riots that finally erupt throughout New York?  What does this tell you about the nation-state and federal power?

9.         Why were so few people from the Five Points drafted to fight in the Civil War?  Why do people pay Tammany Hall for business licenses, fire protection, garbage collection, protection, etc.?

10.       Why does Amsterdam put the Constable, Happy Jack, on display after killing him?  What does this tell us about the symbolic dimensions of power?  When Bill finally comes to fight, what does Amsterdam do to organize against him?  Why?  Does this reflect a different conception of power?  In what ways?


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