Twelve Angry Men, is a play written by Reginald Rose. The play is about the process of individuals and a court case, which is determining the fate of a teenager. It presents the themes of justice, independence and ignorance. Rose emphasises these three themes through the characters and the dialogue. Justice is the principle of moral rightness or equity. This is shown through juror number eight who isn’t sure whether or not the boy is actually innocent or guilty, but he persists to ask questions and convinces the other jurors to think about the facts first. Independence is shown through both juror number three and ten. They both believe that the defendant is guilty until they both realise that they can not relate there past experiences with the court case. Ignorance is shown throughout all the jurors during the play, it is also brought out through the setting of the play.
Juror number eight is the main protagonist, he also a reserved with his thoughts, yet very strategic with them. He is the defender of the down trodden victim. He has a calm rational approach to everything and he reveals the gaps in the testimonies placed against the defendant. These examples would be; that the old man couldn’t have seen the boy run out of the house, as the old man had a limp and therefore could not make it to the door in time. The old lady across the road could have never saw the boy stab his father, due to she wasn’t wearing her glasses and it was pitch black. Number eight is a man that stands up to the irrational and dangerous people of the jury. This is shown through number eight and juror number three, they have an argument about juror three pulling the switch on the young boy. He says “For this kid? You bet I’d pull the switch” juror eight then calls him a “self- appointed public avenger” which stuns juror number three.
Justice is the most important theme throughout this play. It proves that truth can’t be found without a struggle. In the play there was only one juror wanting to hear all the evidence in the court case. But when more facts were found out then some of the other jurors wanted to hear the rest of it, which would determine whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty. No one really knew if the boy was guilty but or not but they figured out that he was not given a fair trial. The defence barrister didn’t care because he wasn’t getting paid enough money to care. So that’s what the jurors thought it was up to them then, to repay the boy with justice.
Juror number three is an arrogant, self-minded and extremely ambiguous has had a personal experience in his life, that’s why he wants the boy dead. His son ran away from a fight when he was nine. ” I saw him. I was so ashamed I almost threw up.” Then when he was older the boy then hit him in the face and he has never seen him since. This puts a pre- judged view inside of his head. In the end he thinks to himself that it is not his son that is on trial therefore he can not treat him like that. He can’t hate all teenagers because of his son. Juror number ten is similar to number three in the way he thinks about the whole court case. There was no getting through to him. He too was arrogant and very independent. He always had to be right about everything he said. In his case he is just down- right racist. He thinks that every Puerto Rican is guilty and that they all should be killed.
Ignorance is shown through all the jurors at some stage throughout the play. The case is demanding and if they made the wrong decision then a poor innocent teenager would be sent to the chair to be killed for something he never committed to. Juror number seven shows this when he changes his vote to not guilty just for the sake of getting it over and done with so he could go to his ball game.
Twelve Angry Men