The judge instructs the jury “to deliberate honestly and thoughtfully. ” How closely is this instruction followed? It’s a struggle to separate the “facts from the fancy” when your honest opinion and beliefs are obscured by personal experience and therefore bias. Reginald Rose shrewdly incorporated these aspects in his 1957 play Twelve Angry Men originally written for television, were the judge’s instructions were somewhat followed, however with three compounding variables. Firstly prejudicial and racist views clash with the juror’s duty of deciding the faith of a young mans life.
Secondly particular juror’s lack of care for the judicial systems prevented them of making a truthful or considerate deliberation. Lastly there was juror’s that genuinely respected the justice systems and fought for their honest opinion weather it being bias or not. Reginald Rose demonstrates a strong display of prejudice through stereotypical and bias views. This therefore unable’s jurors to form an honest opinion. As the jurors argue between themselves as to whether a young boy is guilty of stabbing his father it is shown that “It’s very hard to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. (66)
This is most evident in the way juror #10 and juror #4 come to a decision that the young man is guilty as they inflict their personal prejudice against the boy as his “one of them” and comes from the slums, which “are breeding ground for criminals”(18) they make judgement based around personal bias without considering the facts of the case. These prejudicial opinions prevent juror’s from a clearly thought out and honest view as “prejudice obscures the truth”. (66). The thoughtlessness of some particular jurors doesn’t allow them to consider and aspects such a complex case.
Juror #10 is the character who brings in the most prejudice to the jury room as he has formed his decision from the moment he saw the young boy and sees no reason for him to waste any time debating on whether the defendant is guilty. This juror never really considers the facts of the case only using them as a pretext to vote guilty and to leave early. When he found it too difficult to change people’s opinions he simply gave up and voted not guilty. “I couldn’t care less”. This shows just how little he cared for the defendant’s life and the jury system.
Juror #7 simply determined the defendant was guilty as “no one proved otherwise”. These juror’s had total disregard towards the judge’s instructions. Some jurors were thoughtless and insensitive towards the verdict of a human life, however other jurors were prejudice although still truthful. They therefore were honest and thoughtful, like juror #3 who deeply cared about the jury system and the case. The 3rd juror is at first shown as a man who is rational and a person who believes in the facts of the case, however it is soon revealed that he is very emotional and has preconceived notions on the trial and the defendant.
Juror #3 prejudices comes from the fact that it is a case involving a young boy, much like his own. His view is bias, however nevertheless is honest. Rose uses juror #8 who can see the whole trial because he is calm, reasonable and honest therefore brings no prejudice as a prime example of how to “deliberate honestly and thoughtfully”. Rose further more show’s this though simply stage direction, juror #8 sometimes pauses while he speaks, demonstrating his calm, reasoned nature as well as the fact he is uncertain about the case.
Twelve Angry Men’s various aspects are effective at showing individuals react differently when asked to “deliberate honesty and thoughtfully”. The many racist views juror’s and lack of care for the judicial systems prevented them of making a truthful or considerate deliberation. However some juror’s genuinely respect the justice systems and fought for their honest opinion. These factors effect juror’s duty of deciding the faith of a young man’s life.
Courtney from Study Moose