The “Twelve Angry Men” by Reginald Rose is a story characterized in the crime genre in which presents the pessimistic view that all humans are flawed. It revolves around the opinion, perceptions, reason and logic of twelve diverse characters that are tasked with pronouncing the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of patricide.
Reginald Rose portrays how the jury abuse the power they were given due to the destructiveness of prejudice and the complacent approach during their civic duty. In the characteristic aspects of human nature, the influence of others, testimonies, evidences deduced in evidential, conceptual explanations engages the reader and audiences in a realistic sense of atmosphere. The narrator in “twelve angry men” utilizes a plethora of crime conventions and the notion of structured play style to support the challenges towards the intellect of humanity- how this text reflects social values of humans.
Rose condemns the adversary system of trial as implemented in the 1950s American society, demonstrating the ways in which it hinders the idea of justice and therefore represents our society as a whole. Reginald Rose depicts his opinion of this through the forms of jurors present in the text. Where the 10th juror embodies xenophobia shown through his racist feelings that are clear from the beginning in act 1 “ Look at the kind of people they are- you know them” shows his assumption that all people similar in race or economic status to the boy are all inadequate members of society. And is further supported through the colloquialism “They let the kids run wild. Maybe it serves em right.” Which he believes that people who live in the area where the boy lives are wild and poor the idea that whatever happens to them is well deserved. As well as through the demanding language in act 1 “ you’re not going to tell us that we’re supposed to believe him, knowing what he is. I’ve lived among ‘em all my life. You can’t believe a word they say. You know that”. This comment not only shows his assumptions about people like the defendant, but also suggests that he has probably lived in those same types of neighborhood as well. 7th juror is a personification of self- interest, the buildup in prejudice as he previously had a number of guilty arrests. The protagonist 8th juror holds the embodiment of the the values that Rose contemplates, the importance of objectivity, compassion and justice.
A simple representation of the criminal justice system can be named “Twelve Serious Men”, and portray those men as diligently, rationally, and single-mindedly going through the evidence until they uncover the facts that reveal what actually happened between the son and his father on the night of the murder. Instead however, as the name suggests “twelve angry men” from its opening moments, shows how both the juror’s motivations and their conceptions of justice are influenced, not entirely rationally or even consciously, by their personalities and experiences. The men are anything but dispassionate when the deliberation process reveals their irrationalities and biases making them confronting. The lack of knowledge, prejudice and personality clashes are all examples of the flaws in the jury system that are shown in the twelve angry men. Rose was able to express that in the twelve angry men, the importance of understanding and the importance of the jury system and the case that is presented in front of the twelve jurors. The personal clashes between the 3rd juror and the 8th juror such as “I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him” shows the tension, suspense and displeasure between these two jurors and as well as from the 9th and 10th jurors “do you know you’re a sick man?” “Who the hell is he to tell me that?” These remarks are found throughout the play and underline the importance of needing to work together. Rose deliberately constructs a parallel story for the 3rd Juror, whose broken relationship with his son, influences his decision.He notes how he is reeling from the pain of being “stabbed in the chest” which foreshadows his revenge agenda and his rigid, patriarchal view of parenting.
Throughout the play, there are repetitive references to the “knife”, which will be critical to the evidence, but in this case the stab wounds symbolically refer to the 3rd juror’s raw and personal emotions. The role of the 8th juror, who believes the boy deserves the courtesy of “talking” about the evidence before arriving at hasty assumptions, is critical to the exposure of injustices and prejudices. He is the juror who most faithfully follows the disembodied voice of the judge. By focusing on the concept of reasonable doubt, he exposes the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the eye-witnesses and urges the jurors to question the “circumstantial evidence”. His probing casts doubt and his question to the jurors, “What if the facts are wrong”, also serves to whet the audience’s curiosity.Rose also suggests that diversity, a hallmark of democracy, can hinder, but can also facilitate justice. The gradual self-awareness and enlightenment of many of the jurors helps the collective team more effectively scrutinise the evidence. In many ways, such diversity of provides a plethora of contexts for identification which in turn helps the jurors gain an insight into the flaws of the evidence. The 5th Juror’s “slum background” and upbringing empower him to challenge the angle of the knife wound and the 9th Juror’s age creates doubt in the reliability of the old man’s testimony. He empathetically observes that the man’s need to be “quoted just once” provides motivation to lie. The painter’s experience of apartments near an el-train also reveal the difficulty a witness would have hearing the boy. The 4th juror recognises the woman’s impossibility of seeing clearly without glasses – another metaphoric representation of how the “facts” become increasingly blurred and murky.
By producing the heated discussion, Rose exposes the difficulties that surround the legal concept of ‘reasonable doubt and its application. Eventually, if applied rigorously, Rose suggests that it is the best mean of protecting a person’s innocence. If applied insightfully, it can also expose a person’s bigoted attitude and distorted personal agendas this is exemplified through the use of anonymous numbers, thus depersonalises the jury members to reinforce that their personalities should not play a factor. At the exposition of the play, almost all the jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt. The 10th juror flippantly states, “A kid kills his father. Bing! Just like that,” evincing that there is no element of doubt in his mind. Similarly, the 6th juror comments, “There’s not a doubt in the world.” However as the play progresses, doubt slowly creeps into the minds of the jurors as evidence is cross-examined. The tension is diffused as ‘the sound of the rain’ is heard in the silence. The storm and the ‘flickering of harsh white light’ could be interpreted as symbols of reality and truth. Afterwards, the 4th juror, one of the most logical and methodical jurors. Eventually votes ‘not guilty’ stating he now has a ‘reasonable doubt’. The jurors are aware of the importance of investigating the evidence and henceforth acknowledge that their prior certainties may have faults.
Hence, the classic play “Twelve Angry Men” a moral tale by Reginald Rose, conveys the message that the dilemma when a man’s life is at stake and the decision makers are ordinary men, with their personal values, morals, assumptions and baggage. The burden of proof is the most difficult in law beyond a reasonable doubt. Where the protagonist sees through the fallacies and falsehoods created by those in the room, who sows the seeds of doubt through the analysis and synthesis of the evidence provided, leads the group to a single conclusion. Ultimately, Rose defines how by critical thinking that conceals biases and self-interests though different aspects of crime conventions, is a potential for a more compassionate humanity.