When reading the play “12 angry men”, is it hard to ignore the prominent character- ‘the 8th Juror’. As the plot unfolds, the reader notices that Juror #8 is the only one among the 12 who really understands the seriousness of the situation at their hands.
At the very beginning of the play, you can see that there is no sympathy towards the boy accused of murder. And why should it be? All the evidence that was brought up in the court room has crushed the defense and the boy’s chances on the trial. The prosecution made it clear that the boy is guilty. In fact, too clear- The defense was helpless and left many holes in their case.
That’s why in the initial vote done by the jurors, everybody votes “guilty” (against the boy) except for #8. And here we see the first importance of #8: because of his reasonable doubt the jury hadn’t found the boy guilty at the first 10 minutes of their debating, which would have ended the trial. #8 did not necessarily believe the boy was innocent, but he understood that if he raised his hand at that vote- it would all end. They will not have a chance to discuss the case, and it will, in his eyes, belittle the value of human life.
Furthermore, we can see that #8 is a key character in many other parts of the play. After starting to talk about the case, some of the other jurors got mad and tried to convince #8 to vote “guilty” and end the discussion. Yet, he stayed calm and tried to continue debating in spite of their efforts to “convert” him. After realizing that he is standing alone against them, he called for another vote, in which he will not participate (a rather questionable action, considering he had not yet spoke out the contradictions that he had found in the prosecution’s case). This was a rather bold step, but it paid out because of #9, who changed his vote to “not guilty” because of his respect towards #8 and #8’s courage. We see that despite the efforts the 11 jurors made, #8 stuck to his position and allowed the continuation of the play.
At page 26 we see another contribution to the unfolding of the case- Juror #8 brings up the question whether the old man (who had testified about hearing the accused boy shouting “I’m going to kill you”) could really hear what he had clamed he heard. #8 makes the brilliant connection between two pieces of separate testimonies and proves (as much as it can be proved) that it was not possible for the old man to hear that. One by one he shattered the so-called facts, as he proved that “Sometimes the facts that are staring you in the face are wrong”. He develops the issue with the 15-seconds walk the old man apparently took, the eyeglasses marks next to the testifying woman’s eyes and many more.
You can say that juror #8 has an additional importance to the play, in the terms of his character and personality. He shows a side that the jurors could not see- he tried to put himself in the boy’s shoes and see the case from a different perspective. By doing that, he showed the other jurors how prejudice can prevent people from seeing the truth (or in their case- judge in a fare manner). You can honestly say that if it were not for him, the boy would have been put to death for sure.
He may only be an architect, but he presented his arguments like a lawyer and proved his theories throughout the play. He avoided being personally involved and let his sharp and lucid mind lead him and the rest of the jury on their way to solve the case.