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January 29, 2022, 06:06:55 am

Author Topic: Twelve Angry Men Text Response Essay - Feedback wanted  (Read 2550 times)  Share 

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memarani

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Twelve Angry Men Text Response Essay - Feedback wanted
« on: May 23, 2013, 04:57:31 pm »
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I wrote an essay for Twelve Angry Men and I was wondering what I could improve on; what to include, if i should change the language etc. Any feedback is great.

'Despite questioning the ultimate fairness and reliability of the jury system, Twelve Angry Men is, at heart, a tribute to this system.’  Discuss.

In Twelve Angry Men, the jurors are all men with different opinions, who have been called together to determine the fate of a young man who has been accused of murdering his father. The playwright, Reginald Rose, recognises that there are flaws in the jury system, as some jurors let emotions cloud their judgement or hinder their ability to express their opinion to the other jurors, which could have resulted in an innocent man being executed. Other members of the jury verbalise a lack of civic duty and social responsibility as they are not interested in the case.  In contrast to the 1951 Rosenberg case, Juror 8 is able to convince all the other jurors to vote "not guilty" by the end of the play, Therefore, Rose shows that if there is someone who encourages deliberation and looks at the case in an objective manner, the jury system can function as a fair and reliable method of justice.

Each of the jurors vary in their personalities, all of them representing a section or group of society. These differences demonstrate how racism and prejudice can overthrow the jury system, as “prejudice can obscure the truth” However, these differences also allow for a diverse range of opinions. Juror 11, a post-World War Two migrant from Europe states that “in this country [America] a man was entitled to have unpopular opinions” and that a trial consisting of twelve individuals a “remarkable thing about democracy”

Rose displays prejudice through Juror 3 and Juror 10. Juror 3 is the last person to change his vote to “not guilty”. His prejudice is personal and aimed towards figures of youth, as it has come about from his dysfunctional relationship with his son, who he has not seen in 2 years. He reveals how his relationship with his son influenced his desire to convict the defendant when he cries out “goddamn rotten kid. I know him…How they kill you every day. It is only when Juror 8 tells him he’s “not your boy.”, that he is able to come to terms with his own prejudice and vote “not guilty”. However, Juror 10 is an example of prejudice against people from the slums, which the defendant is, and immigrants such as Juror 11. He believes that all people from the slums “are born liars” and that their intent is “To cut us up.”, showing an ‘us and them’ mentality. His comment that the defendant “don’t even speak good English.”, which is corrected by Juror 11, reveals that his claims are baseless and he is unable to see his own ignorance. It is when he makes several groundless assumptions and generalisations about people from the slums that the jurors stand against him in a united front. When instructed by Juror 4 not “to open your filthy mouth again.”, he finally relents. He only speaks up once more to declare his vote of “not guilty”. Juror 3 and Juror 10’s views on the case prove Juror 8’s comment that “prejudice can obscure the truth”, which is a major threat to the jury system, but not the only one.

The lack of civic duty and social responsibility is shown in Juror 7’s lack of care and indifference to the case. He is not concerned whether the defendant is guilty or not, his only worry is that he might miss the baseball game he has tickets for as the discussion in the jury room is taking too long. Eventually, he is able to be convinced that the boy is “not guilty”. Juror 12 also displays this through his indecisiveness; he is “bouncing back and forth”, changing his vote from “guilty” to “not guilty” more than once until he finally settles on his verdict of “not guilty” near the end of the play. Juror 12 and Juror 7 both change their vote on account of a witness’s testimony being questionable due to her poor eyesight. Juror 2, a shy and timid bank clerk is not able to explain why he finds the defendant guilty, only claiming that “nobody proved otherwise”. Juror 8 challenges his perception by stating that “nobody has to prove otherwise.” This reinforces the fact that the jurors are to decide whether or not the defendant is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”, a valuable safeguard of the jury system.  He changes his vote to “not guilty” as the old man’s testimony was proved false as he couldn’t have walked outside in “fifteen seconds” to arrive at the scene of the crime as he had a stroke. Juror 2 then recognises that the “downward angle” of the stab wound of the victim couldn’t have been made by the defendant, as the victim, his father, was “half a foot taller” than him.  It is these factors that are also dangerous in the legal system, but can also be overcome due to discussion. Furthermore, the stage directions explain that the 9th Juror was the last one to raise his hand to vote “guilty” on the first vote, implying that he lacks the courage to express any doubts or concerns that he has as he is the first one, after Juror 8, to change his vote to “not guilty”. He draws strength from Juror 8, acting similar to him, supporting him and recognising that “it’s not easy to stand alone against the ridicule of others”. He remarks that his vision is “twenty-twenty”, which is significant as he is able to pull apart the evidence and identify inconsistencies, which helps lead to the final “not guilty” verdict.

Ultimately, this play pays tribute to the jury system as fair and reliable. Reginald Rose reveals dangerous flaws in the jury system such as prejudice and racism as well as a lack of civic duty which is represented in most of the juror’s. Their inability to carry out their role in a responsible manner can prevent justice from being achieved. Juror 8’s ability to convince all the jurors to reach a unanimous verdict of “not guilty” through deliberation highlights the benefits of the jury system, as there are man of different personalities and opinions, it can work as a fair method of justice.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2013, 08:52:57 pm by memarani »

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