Twelve angry men
After his first experience on a jury about a manslaughter case, Reginald Rose expressed his insights in his timeless play- Twelve Angry Men. The play focuses on twelve randomly selected citizen who are assigned with the civil duty of determining the fate of a nineteen year old boy accused of murdering his father. The jury is suppose to be the most impartial system of securing justice yet this is not always reached in practice. Factors such as emotions and prejudices can often affect the decision of each juror. However, Rose also examines one individuals struggle against other individuals to ensure justice for all. Although the play has been remade and reworked several times, it is Roses characters and their dialogue that capture the audience as Claire Devlin states:
.the razor sharp script demand intelligence from the audience as we realise that the final verdict is not as important as what we learn fro each of these characters and ourselves as a result.
Juror Eight, the protagonist of the play was the first to vote the not guilty verdict. He was firstly affected by the thought that he and eleven men were to decide whether to end this boys life which was just beginning in what appeared to be an open and shut case. One of his most noticeable strengths was his courage to stand alone and fight for what he believed in. Although he was a quiet, thoughtful gentleman, he was not afraid to voice his opinions. He knew everyone would not be happy with his decision but he insisted on cross examining all the evidence and facts before coming to his decision:
Its not so easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.
Posing questions like could it be possible? and could he be wrong? he reminded others that in our justice system, innocence is knowing there is a reasonable doubt to believe a person is not guilty. Indeed, he admitted that he didnt know whether the boy was guilty or not, but he believed that everyone deserved justice and a fair trial. Unlike most of the others, he was not governed by personal prejudices and rash decisions. Being an architect in the workforce, Juror Eight reflected his analytical and logical qualities in the jury room. He even reacted the old man running approximately forty-five metes and disproved the mans fifteen seconds claim in court. Other facts which he raised a reasonable doubt included the womans testimony, the boys alibi, the knife and wound. Despite Juror Three, Seven and Tens constant aggressive arguments against him, he remained calm, firm and logical in his responses, more to their annoyance. He rarely showed his temper except when others steered off the topic. His sympathy and understanding has perhaps saved an innocent man from death.
A similar character to Juror Eight is Juror Four. Juror Four was recognised to be a calm person right from the beginning of the play. Despite the heat, he didnt remove his jacket and presented himself well at all times. He was a stockbroker and appeared to be a man of wealth and position but wasnt coloured by prejudice or bitterness like Juror Three and Ten. Instead, he honestly believed that the facts showed that the boy was guilty but was prepared to change his decision when evidence was in doubt. He was a very practical an as symbolised by his glasses but mainly his dialogue:
If were going to discuss the case, lets discuss the facts.
He was well organised, precise and logical and give much attention to details. Disliking jokes and fights, he was more appalled by Juror Tens behaviour:
.dont open your filthy mouth again.
In complete contrast to Juror Eight, the antagonist- Juror Three claimed that the defendant was certainly guilty and his reasons for thinking so were completely prejudiced. He believed that he was a good father but had a renegade son and therefore assumed that all young people were a menace and disrespectful. He had walked into the jury with only thoughts of anger, resentment and revenge rather than justice:
That goddam rotten kid. I know him.
Boasting that everyone deserves a fair trial he contradicted himself later by expecting it to be an open and shut case and that lawyers are a waste of time. However, it is his belligerent and sadistic behaviour which upsets the other jurors:
For this kid? You bet Id like to pull the switch.
Owning a messenger service called The Beck and Call Company of thirty-seven employees, Juror Three believed that he too was superior in the room. He would bully the other jurors if they didnt share his views which he referred to as old ladies and could become loud and aggressive especially towards Juror Eight. He even had to be restrained on a number of occasions as he hypocritically outbursted:
Shut up, you on a bitch! Let me go! Ill kill him! Ill kill him!
The other jurors become even more frustrated when he was proven wrong and didnt give reasons.
Juror Ten was a similar character to Juror Three. He too was prejudice of the defendant but in a different way. The boy came from a slum background which Juror Ten immediately stereotyped their people are born liars and ignorant slobs. This bigot considered himself superior to the accused and his community. All his rude behaviour by deliberately yawning, coughing and sneezing during discussions indicate his ignorance and apathy towards the accused. In his eyes, the teenager was worthless and as long as his community dont have a place in the society, he would always be superior. Indeed, he lacked moral integrity and was frightened of slum people:
I say get him before his kind gets us.
His prejudice made him insensitive to others in particular his dealings with Juror Five who has been a slum all his life. The reader can easily imagine this overbearing impatient middle-aged man with an ignorant and arrogant attitude. This blustering, loud-mouthed know-it-all is another bully in the play. Anyone who dared to contradict him or tell him that he was wrong would be dumbfounded with a mouthful:
Youre a pretty smart fellow, arent you?
Juror Ten used a lot of sarcasm when he was explaining his views or proving someone wrong. Jurors would become embarrassed by his remarks and in front of eleven other people, it could really lower their self-esteem. This peer pressure can even lower them to a point to obscure the truth. Even calm, cool Juror Four had to finally order him to:
Weve heard enough. Sit down. And dont open your filthy mouth again.
This better be fast. I got tickets to the ball game. This quote directly sums up Juror Sevens poor sense of values and attitudes in discussing the case. This is particularly evident when he changes his vote to not guilty because others were starting to change their votes. He had not understood Juror Eights otives at all:
What are ya getting out of it- kicks?
When bored, he often cracked jokes out of serious issues, played tic-tac-toe and walked out of the room while others were talking when he should be seriously discussing the evidence. Hi insensitivity towards the case also extended towards the treatment of foreigners. His ingrained racism was mainly expressed to Juror Eleven- a foreigner:
Ill knock his goddam European head off.
Although not dominate figure, the other unmentioned jurors were still influential in the play. Juror Nine was an old, quiet man was supportive of Juror Eights motives:
Im willing to put in an hour.
Without Juror Nines initial not guilty vote, Juror Eight wouldnt have the opportunity to express his views. He was easily intimidated at first, but near the end he had the courage to question the womans eyesight- the evidence which changed Juror Fours vote. Juror Eleven, although a foreigner was not afraid to voice his opinions. From injustices suffered in the past, he supported the democratic jury system thereby willing to accept both sides of the argument:
I dont believe I have to be loyal to one side or the other.
Juror Five and Six were avid listeners. Although convinced that the boy was guilty at first, through the discussions, they began to develop an open mind. Their honesty and friendliness illustrated the correct approach in discussing the case rather than Juror Three or Tens. The foreman (Juror One) had the duty of organising the votes and set up of the room. He started of discussing about the case, but became disinterested when attacked by Juror Ten over his duties. However, he did return in discussing the case.