Theme Of Conformity In 12 Angry Men

1704 Words7 Pages
Jessica Houck
ENG 1B Dr.Banga
3/11/14
Essay #2
The Art of Persuasion: 12 Angry Men
Jury service is an important civic duty that every citizen of the United States will ever perform. Legal knowledge or education is not required to perform the duty; all that is asked is that you keep an open mind, free of any preconceived ideas, personal bias or prejudices when presented with a case. In the 1957 movie 12 Angry Men, the jury consists of twelve white-males who are judging whether or not a young Puerto Rican boy from the slums stabbed his father to death. From the beginning of the film, all the jurors except one¬, Juror number 8, are convinced of the young boy’s guilt simply because of his social economic background. Although, the young boy was destined to be guilty from the start, the decision of Juror number 8 to not conform influenced the remaining jurors to objectively review the evidence, changing the minority vote of not guilty to become the majority.
Conformity is defined as a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. Most people would like to believe they are a non-conformist, yet until one is presented with a difficult decision, one really never knows how they will respond. A classic example of conformity reveals itself in the opening scene of the movie. Without ever discussing the evidence, the foreman asks the jurors to vote on a verdict by a show of hands. Seven of the twelve quickly raise their arms to render a guilty vote. The four additional jurors who seem uncertain of their vote eventually give into the pressures of conformity and slowly raise the hands. Juror number 8 withstands this initial pressure and votes not guilty. The conformity o...

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...the facts of the case. If not for Juror number 8’s determination to uphold his values at the risk of being “unpopular” among the other eleven jurors, a young man would have been wrongfully sentenced for a crime did not commit. It is easy to see the potential for disastrous consequences if a jury allows personal bias and peer-pressure to overwhelm their own critical thinking skills and moral compass in making life altering decisions.

Worked Cited

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12 Angry Men.Dir.Sidney Lumet.United Artists. 1957. Youtube.Web. 13 November 2014.
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