Twelve Angry Men is in many ways a love letter to the American legal justice system. We find here eleven men, swayed to conclusions by prejudices, past experience, and short-sightedness, challenged by one man who holds himself and his peers to a higher standard of justice, demanding that this marginalized member of society be given his due process. We see the jurors struggle between the two, seemingly conflicting, purposes of a jury, to punish the guilty and to protect the innocent. It proves, however, that the logic of the American trial-by-jury system does work.
Prejudice will always exist, but that does not mean it is useless to advocate for its prevention. It is important that one must accept that prejudice will never be completely eradicated. It’s violence will never end. Humanity would rather annihilate itself than lay down its hatred and arms. The cogs of prejudice will be continually oiled with the blood of oppressed people until there are no more people to be
"Don 't judge a book by its cover" is a famous saying that some of us heard it before and some of us experienced it. 12 jurors were experiencing this quote when they gathered to decide whether a young boy is guilty by killing his father or not. Juror 2 stated, "Well, anyway, I think he was guilty" (6). Juror 2 represent most of us, as sometimes we judge from what we hear and not from what we see. The 12 jurors are from various backgrounds and each one has a distinctive personality.
Throughout the whole play, Juror Ten remains stubborn in his decision that the defendant is guilty. Yet, at the end the finally sees that there is reasonable doubt (62). Interestingly enough, on the previous page Juror Ten is called out by Juror Four (60). The foreman also has some prejudice at the beginning of the case. He brings up another case that is similar to the one they are doing.
When asked why he voted not guilty, juror eight stated “Look, this boy has been kicked around all his life. You know---living in a slum, his mother dead since he was nine. He spent a year in and a half in an orphanage while his father served a jail term for forgery. That’s not a very good head start. He’s had a pretty terrible sixteen years.
While all of the other men have changed their vote to a not guilty verdict, the third jurors remains with his original belief. Even in the very end of the play, he acts hostile against the others trying to change his mind, in saying “Do you think I’m an idiot or something?” (Rose 72). One juror that seems almost impervious to argumentative fallacies and peer pressure is Juror 8. Juror almost displays the ideal juror, and the rest tend to mimic the flaws of the system.
In the 1930s, if a black man was on trial there was a ample chance he would be convicted even if evidence proved he was innocent. Throughout history humans being prejudice and bias have affected the lives of thousands of people; some ending with favorable outcomes while others weren’t so fortunate. Within the book To Kill a Mockingbird the readers learn that prejudice and bias people outnumber the understanding and kind. One decision or in this case twelve decisions decide the fate for an unfortunate man. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee reveals that people often follow their biases and prejudices rather than the truth.
William Jennings Bryan once said, “Never be afraid to stand with the minority when the minority is right, for the minority which is right will one day be the majority”. Standing up to the majority is vital, it gives individuals the opportunity to express their individual, unique opinions and experiences. It allows the majority to become open to diversity and the cultures that come along with it. This has been shown throughout history, Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, is an instance of this. This speech encapsulated all that he was fighting for, for the African American minority in America and their rights.
As the play went on, Juror Eight started proving how the boy was innocent. In the end Juror Eight changed all the other juror’s minds, except for Juror Three’s. Juror Three ended up changing his vote, not because they changed his mind but because he gave into peer pressure. He still had his prejudice influenced decision, he only gave in because he didn't want it to be a hung jury. Another example, from the same play, is Juror Eight.
Juror Eight was the only man from the beginning of the play who stuck by his belief that the kid was innocent. He stood alone in front of the other jurors and defended himself from the other jurors, such as Juror Three and Juror Ten. Jurors Three and Ten were adamant that the kid was guilty and refused to listen to Juror Eight’s “nonsense”. Juror Eight’s evidence and speeches persuaded all the other jurors to change their vote from not guilty, except for Juror Three. The only reason Juror Three had it out for the kid was because he himself had some issues with kids respecting their parents, and specifically their fathers.
Juror Ten announces his intentions very early in the play. He speaks loudly and forcefully from the beginning, clearly showing his racism and prejudice towards the boy. Juror 10 quickly votes guilty and asserts that the defendant cannot be believed because “they’re born liars”. Additionally, he claims that the “kids who crawl outa those places are real trash.”
People tend to base characteristics of people pretty quickly; likewise, their personalities. Most people base their opinions on stereotypes. Reginald Rose and his play “12 Angry Men” demonstrate how people are quick to judge other people based on looks. In the movie all twelve jurors must decide if a young boy is guilty or innocent. At the beginning of the movie/play-write, only one juror, juror eight, decides the boy is innocent.
Dr. Irving Janis’ symptoms of groupthink in the film such as “belief in the inherent morality of the group” which Janis states,” members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions” (Psysr.org, 2018). They believe what they are saying is right and don’t think about what comes along with the decision made. Closed-mindedness is another obvious symptom seen in the jury. Juror 10 uses the phrase “one of them” and frequently divides society into the words “us” and “them” using the phrase to point out stereotypes. Individuals on the jury often justify their views to avoid challenges.
This process continues throughout the course of the movie, and each juror’s biases is slowly revealed. Earlier through the movie, it is already justifiable to label juror 10 as a bigoted racist as he reveals strong racist tendencies against the defendant, stating his only reason for voting guilty is the boy’s ethnicity and background. . Another interesting aspect of this 1957 film is the “reverse prejudice” portrayed by juror
The Film 12 Angry Men, written by Reginald Rose, is a film written about the American jury system. In the film, as in any part in life, emotions are a tricky thing; This is especially true for the 3rd, 7th, and 8th jurors. One of the main themes in the film questions that of the emotions of the jurors. That question is: Is it possible to keep personal prejudice and emotions out of a trial? Is this even a good or bad thing?