Comparison Of Beowulf And Street Gangs


We often think of the Old English time as an era filled with mighty pagan
warriors gathered in a dark wooden room, drinking ale to celebrate their victory in a
brutish bloody battle. Or maybe we picture brawny Vikings with dirty faces wearing
animal skins while sailing in large wooden ships. You may even imagine the crude but
lovable Hagar the Horrible from the popular comic strip. Regardless to which of these
views you take, we always think of the Old English as a time far in the past. Even
though we may not notice, the strong brutal men of this past era infiltrate our everyday
lives. These barbaric warriors are found in our society as street gangs. Although they
have different appearances, weapons, and transportation, these two civilizations conduct
their lives in the same way. Street gangs are so prevalent that they are all over the media,
appearing in films, music, and television. Although street gangsters and pagan warriors
lived at very different times, both groups embody the same ideals: strength, violence,
and loyalty to their group.
In the Old English epic, Beowulf, the pagan warriors were proud of their
physical strength and abilities. Beowulf himself was well-known for his great strength
and prowess. These warriors were large men with great muscular power who won many
battles with brute force. Many battles were fought with manual weapons, such as clubs
or swords, that required great power from the arms. The strongest men, such as Beowulf,
were the ones that were the subject of stories told in many lands. Similar to this, street
gangsters are also quite proud of their strength and abilities. But their strength does not
primarily come from physical attributes. Their strength is measured by the amount of
weapons, money, and power they hold. The strongest man is not the one with the biggest
muscles. He is the one with the most guns and the most influence over other gang
members. Whereas Beowulf has remained a legend for years now, gang leaders come
and go in a matter of months. Just as Beowulf longed to be a legend, street gangs also
strive for that same notoriety, wanting to be well-known in many places.
In Beowulf\'s time, most warriors were quite violent. They often engaged in
battles with enemies until death, or with opponents until the end of the match. The pagan
warriors are remembered as brutal, killing those necessary to protect their village or steal
another\'s. They were also known to use violence to obtain riches or ships from other
warriors. Similar to pirates, they used brute force to take what they wanted. Street gangs
also use such violence. Whether it be to protect their property or members, or to steal
from others, gangsters use various weapons to obtain what they want. Just as pagan
warriors fought battles with rival villages, street gangs also engage in battles with rival
gangs or sometimes with police. Gang violence can vary from street fights to drive-by
shootings, often involving innocent victims. This horrible violence is evident in the
media. It varies from gansta rap such as 2Pac or Dr. Dre, to movies such as New Jack
City or Juice, and can even be seen in such TV shows as New York Undercover and
NYPD Blue. A less obvious example of gangs is in the new version of Romeo and
Juliet. In this rendition of the old Shakespeare classic, the Capulets and Montagues are
no longer just rival families, but now rival gangs who engage in tremendous violence
against each other to keep the two lovers apart. But gang violence is also felt quite close
to home. The guard for NC State\'s basketball team, Anthony Grundy, experienced gang-
related violence, causing him to carry a gun to his high school in Louisville. Both gangs
and pagan warriors found violence necessary to maintain individual and group status.
A third similarity between these two societies is their loyalty to their groups.
Beowulf fought for his kingdom and his fellow warriors. They were a group, a family of
sorts, that stuck together for support, enjoyment, and love. Gangs also stick together for
these reasons. Beowulf\'s loyalty ran so deep that he put his life on the line for his king
many times, and eventually died for his kingdom. Similarly, gangsters are extremely
loyal to their gangs and leaders. They remain members for life and are willing to
sacrifice their lives for their fellow members. An example of this bond is a record
company which is infamous for violence and