University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Nature of the Jurors of 12 Angry Men
To place multiple men in a room to decide the fate over a criminal can lead to many biases being expressed in means to back up one’s opinion on the case. The personal predilections & biases made by some individuals who happen to be part of a jury can ultimately either place an innocent man in jail or let a guilty man run free. The Reginald Rose play Twelve Angry Men shows just how dangerous it is for jurors to bring their personal agendas to the table through the bigoted biases of Juror 10 and the hatred of kids through Juror 3. However, besides the famed Juror 8, two other jurors for lack of a better term “neutralize” the jury room situation taking place in the play with their non-biased opinions of the case. The old and hopeless Juror 9 and the European refugee Juror 11 stand as voices of reason along with Juror 8, as well as provide different perspective to the case through their experiences. Both men had lived more unique lives than the other jurors, such as how J9 is 90 and J11 grew up in… Soviyugoslavbania… it’s never specified, really. Point is, both offer differing strategies due to their preference in the case, their integrity to it, and their experience.
Although feeling as he’s ready to die, Juror 9 tries his best in this jury room to make sure another man doesn’t. As specified by the character descriptions, he’s seen as a hopeless-on-life old man, which can be seen through the text. He seems quiet until he has to speak up, whether he would be asked to speak or if someone starts speaking hate or bigotry. He seems sincere about seeing the case through given that the punishment, if seen guilty, is death. He’s the first man to bring up the fact that “It’s only one night. A man may die”*, to justify why they should all sit around and discuss the case further even if they feel it’s not necessary. He also feels dedicated to having Juror 8 continue on about how the defendant may be not guilty by being the first one to side with him, despite everyone’s negative reaction.
He praises Juror 8 for choosing not to stand with the majority, saying how “It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone even if you believe in something very strongly.”** He states that “He (Juror 8) left the verdict up to us. He gambled for support and I gave it to him”**, which shows how the case meant to him. He most likely, with Juror 8, felt uncomfortable with letting what could have been an innocent man into the chair. Juror 9 is a very honest and straight-forward man who wouldn’t take nonsense and who is not afraid to go against a majority, despite what everyone else thought. He wanted to make sure the trial didn’t just end there; he wanted the non-guilty verdict to be heard.
Hailing from a country that lacked the freedoms America had and still has, Juror 11 also serves as another different figure who obviously experienced a more unique upbringing than any of the other jurors. Juror 11 is characterized as a humble man who would put justice as his top priority in a case such as this, seeing how such was absent in his old country. He, like Juror 8, is concrete about his statement and shows heavy passion in the fact that he lives in a country that allows the opportunity for a “jury of one’s peers” to even exist. At the beginning of Act III, he voices his compliments to his current nation for summoning him and the other jurors to “decide on the guilt or innocence of a man; of a man we had not known before. We have nothing to gain or lose by our verdict.
This is one of the reasons why we are strong.”***. Through context, the love this man has for rights we take for granted every day in a democracy is evident. Alongside his love for our justice system, he’s also a man who puts emphasis on how important integrity and sticking to your beliefs is. He believes in such thing like Freedom of Speech, as this sort of thing would most likely never take place in his homeland of wherever the hell it is. He has passion for the trial, a quality that is prevalent with other members of the jury. He has a strive for justice and he has helped grant that justice through his determination and integrity.
The jury room at times may turn into a war room. The fight over guilt or innocence is bound to bring out personal agendas and biases, this is no different. Although some were decided on bigotry, hatred, or just plain uninterest in the case, two votes stood out as dignified votes (Not saying they were the only ones), those of Juror 9 and Juror 11. They voted on what they ultimately thought was right and refused to see a man that could have been innocent thrown into the chair. They show how important it truly is to have integrity.
WORK CITED PAGE
* – Rose, Reginald 12 ANGRY MEN, Dramatic Publishing Company 1954 – Page 25, NINE
** – Rose, Reginald 12 ANGRY MEN, Dramatic Publishing Company 1954 – Page 28, NINE
*** – Rose, Reginald 12 ANGRY MEN, Dramatic Publishing Company 1954 – Page 44, ELEVEN