Analysis of the Jurors in 12 Angry Men

Analysis of the Jurors in 12 Angry Men

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Guilty or not guilty? This the key question during the murder trial of a young man accused of fatally stabbing his father. The play 12 Angry Men, by Reginald Rose, introduces to the audience twelve members of a jury made up of contrasting men from various backgrounds. One of the most critical elements of the play is how the personalities and experiences of these men influence their initial majority vote of guilty. Three of the most influential members include juror #3, juror #10, and juror #11. Their past experiences and personal bias determine their thoughts and opinions on the case. Therefore, how a person feels inside is reflected in his/her thoughts, opinions, and behavior.

Juror #3 is very biased against the 19-year-old boy that is being tried, and this affects all of his thoughts and actions regarding the case. He has this bias because his own son hit him in the jaw and ran away from home at the age of 15: “I’ve got a kid…when he was fifteen he hit me in the face…I haven’t seen him in three years. Rotten kid! I hate tough kids! You work your heart out [but it’s no use] (21).”According to this quote from the text, this juror condemns all teenagers and feels resentment towards them. He especially feels strongly about the boy being tried, because the boy grew up in the slums, and this juror is also biased against these people who grew up there. It is because of these feelings that he is strongly cemented in his vote of guilty.

Juror #10, a garage owner, segregates and divides the world stereotypically into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ ‘Us’ being people living around the rich or middle-class areas, and ‘them’ being people of a different race, or possessing a contrasting skin color, born and raised in the slums (poorer parts of town). It is because of this that he has a bias against the young man on trial, for the young man was born in the slums and was victim to domestic violence since the age of 5. Also, the boy is of a Hispanic descent and is of a different race than this juror, making him fall under the juror’s discriminatory description of a criminal. This is proven on when juror #10 rants: “They don’t need any real big reason to kill someone, either. You know, they get drunk, and bang, someone’s lying in the gutter… most of them, it’s like they have no feelings (59).

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” This juror, because of his beliefs, is also one of the last to change his vote to not guilty.

Juror #11 is a refugee from Europe who has faced many hardships and injustice. For that reason, he seeks justice in the boy’s trial. He is also very impressed with the idea of democracy: “This is a remarkable thing…that we are notified by mail to come down to this place and decide on the guilt or innocence of…a man we have not known before (back).” Because of these beliefs that this foreign-born juror has, he is actually unbiased and will try hard to do the right thing. This is also reflected in his interaction with other jurors and his willingness to strive for justice for the accused.

A person’s thoughts, opinions, and behavior are all affected by his/her feelings. Juror #3 and #10 have negative biases, and #11 has no bias at all. I discovered a pattern while studying the aforementioned three jurors: If a person was in a bad situation, then any new situation that is similar to or reminds the person about the bad situation will cause the person to have a bias, or a bad opinion about the new situation as well.
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