Free 12 Angry Men Essays

  • 1

    How does Rose maintain doubt as to the defendant's guilt or innocence throughout the play?

    Rose accomplishes this factual ambiguity by never actually allowing any of the jurors to definitively prove his innocence. Instead, they are only really able to prove that he is not definitely guilty, or "not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." There are many reasonable arguments as to why he may very well have been guilty, but they ultimately don't prove strong enough to convict.

  • 2

    Explain how the idea of 'reasonable doubt' particularly pertains to this case.

    In the American criminal system, those charged with crimes need to be proven guilty 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' It is up to a jury to decide what that means and how to apply it in the case. Here, 8th Juror was able to put enough doubt into their minds, by challenging the evidence, to prove to them that they could not be sure enough to convict the defendant.

  • 3

    Give examples of how the personal insight of the jurors affected their understanding of the case?

    9th Juror is able to offer up to the other jurors a particular reading of the old man who testified, as he felt like he "knew" him, perhaps based on a shared life experience. This affected the way he understood his testimony. More concretely, 5th Juror grew up around knife fights, where switchblades were commonly used, which allowed him to offer insight into how a wound would or would not be made.

  • 4

    What examples of prejudice can be found in the play?

    10th Juror is the most obvious example, immediately against the defendant just because he was "one of them." Similarly, 3rd Juror is prejudiced against the defendant because he reminds him of his own son, from whom he is estranged. On the other extreme, 8th Juror is prejudiced to give the defendant special consideration because he had a hard upbringing and comes from a poor background.

  • 5

    What role does the Foreman play in controlling the other jurors?

    On a practical level, the Foreman is charged with moderating their discussion and taking regular polls as to the judgment of the jurors. In this instance, he has the much grander job of controlling the many larger and temperamental personalities in the room. He is criticized at points for how he controls the room, but ultimately is able to keep the room from descending into chaos. In some ways, he represents the American self-governance system.

  • 6

    Why might Rose have decided to place the division of Acts I and II where he did?

    On a dramatic level, Act I ends with a very exciting moment that would serve to make a powerful end to the first act, right before an intermission. Also, it marks a very important moment in the play where the balance of power shifts. 3rd Juror loses control, leaping at 8th Juror, proving one of 8th Juror's point and making himself look unstable and unreliable. Act II is also marked by a different tone, outwardly manifested by the changing weather.

  • 7

    How do the conditions of the jury room mimic the attitudes of the jurors?

    One of the first thing the jurors comment on is the temperature in the room, which is oppressively hot. It seems that Rose uses this as a device to emphasize the heated discussions going on inside the room. Also, we might think that these men are driven to madness quickly by the heat. In the second act, it begins raining outside, and they are able to turn on the fan, marking a return to reason for many of the jurors.

  • 8

    How is 8th Juror represented as the hero of the play?

    While we are unsure whether he is right or wrong, 8th Juror is one of the only jurors who is unaffected by any kind of negative prejudices. He respects the system and the value of life, causing him to want to consider the case more carefully than others. He is motivated simply by the idea of surviving justice and no other personal gain or affirmation comes into play.

  • 9

    Compare and contrast the rational and irrational arguments for guilt from the jurors.

    4th Juror is able to move through the evidence logically and thoroughly, determining that the defendant is most certainly guilty. Similarly, 6th Juror is moved away from the idea that they can't have any doubt and convict him, based on the very real fear of putting a killer back on the streets. Conversely, we have 10th Juror, who irrationally presumes guilt upon the defendant because of his ethnicity and background. The difference is that the former arguments are founded in evidence and logic, while the latter is not.

  • 10

    How does the fact that the jurors are all male impact the play?

    Rose definitely plays off of the masculine energy to create these archetypical characters. The title of the play is '12 Angry Men,' and it certainly does have an understanding of how particularly men settle problems in a confrontational, often personal, manner. There is a definite competitiveness, especially between 3rd Juror and 8th Juror, that is somehow intrinsically masculine. The idea of the father/son relationship is so strong because we have the understanding of each one of these men as a potential father, some confirmed.

  • The movie “12 Angry Men” is about a murder trial set in the mid 1900’s when the American legal system had very different rules from what it has now. The trial is about a 16 year old boy who supposedly murdered his father late one night in New York City. He was from a slum, with a history of problems with the law, including knife fights. The jury is made up of twelve white men who are supposed to deliberate about the boy’s fate when he is Latino. In the beginning of the movie it’s very clear that eleven of the twelve jurors have already decided that he was guilty, the only one who said not guilty is juror number eight.

    Juror number eight believes that you can’t send someone to die without even talking about the case first. As the movie goes on they discuss the different parts of the case and one by one the jurors begin to change their vote to not guilty. The first thing they discuss is the knife that was used to kill the father, then they discuss the time it took the only man on the floor below to get to the door after he heard the body hit the floor.

    After that they went on to deliberate more about previous things talked about, until finally they talked about the women who actually viewed the killing through a passing L train. One of the jurors remembers that she had indents on the sides of her nose indicating that she wore glasses, so they come to the conclusion that she couldn’t of seen anything since she wasn’t wearing her glasses while lying in bed. Once they finally call for a last vote they come to the verdict of acquitting the boy. All twelve jurors finally agree on the decision of not guilty.

    Throughout the entire movie there are many different dynamics at work among the 12 jurors. One of the main dynamics is that the boy is Hispanic during a time when racism was a natural part of society. You can clearly see that racism, and stereotyping played a huge part when even before they started deliberating eleven out of the twelve jurors voted guilty. There wasn’t a doubt in their minds that he didn’t do it, they based that solely off of the fact that the defendant was Hispanic. Having a all white jury for a trial with a Hispanic person as the defendant in the 1950’s, without a doubt racism will play a major role in deciding weather or not he is guilty.

    Another dynamic at play during this movie is that they are all in a group together giving them group mentality where they will be hesitant to speak out, or change their vote because they are self conscious of what other people will think about them. Throughout the movie there where many different things that influenced individual jurors and the jurors as a whole. In the movie 12 Angry Men there was an abundance of things that influenced individual jurors. One of the main things that influenced many of the jurors is racism because the defendant was Hispanic. One juror said “He’s an ignorant kid from a slum who doesn’t speak good English”.

    That’s flat out racism, there’s no way around the fact that racism played a huge role in their decision making process. In the 1950’s racism was part of everyday life, it was socially accepted during that time. Another thing that influenced one of them was that he had baseball tickets to a game later that night so he was going to side with what ever got him out of their sooner than later. He was voting guilty all the way till it became a split between the jurors on weather he was guilty or not.

    That shows that it affected his decision making process, because he was going to side with what ever side got him out faster. Another thing that influenced individual jurors is their fear to speak their minds, or side with the side they really think is the right one. In the beginning you could tell that some of the people were hesitant because they were afraid of what other people would think of them, that’s why they had to do a silent ballot in order to keep deliberating. There were other factors that affected the group as a whole in their decision making process. Different things affect the group than the individual jurors. The main thing that affected their decision making process is the extreme heat, the heat would make them want to get out of there as fast as possible, making them side with whatever side will get them out faster.

    I know I can’t work right when I’m extremely hot, I get frustrated really fast and have no patients, I know I would want to get out as fast as possible. You can tell that it affects people because they snap at each other at the drop of a hat, and they were sweating the whole time till they turned on the light. Another thing that affected the group as whole was groupthink, which is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility. They will make decisions as a group so no one person can be blamed for whatever happens, people don’t like too much responsibility. Lastly another thing that helped sway their decision making process as a group is the fact that one person was trying to pressure other people into speaking, and pressuring them into siding with him.

    The movie 12 Angry Men was about a trial during the 1950’s in which a Hispanic boy supposedly killed his father, and twelve white men deliberate to determine his fate. They start out 11 to 1, and one by one they change sides till they eventually acquit him of all the charges. Things like racism, baseball tickets, and fear of what other people think are a few things that affected their individual decision-making. Things like groupthink, the heat, and the fact that you would run out of patients at a certain point, and you would start to snap at each other at the drop of the hat. In my opinion I think this movie was really good and a good look into the American legal system, because it shows the changes that have been made from them to now.

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