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Drama Analysis ‘12 Angry Men'

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Drama Analysis ‘12 Angry Men'

“How does the playwright of 12 Angry Men use characterisation to explore ideas?”

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose is a drama that looks at the prejudices and experiences that people bring into the jury room. The story, set in America, revolves around a court case involving an eighteen-year-old boy who murders his father. The fate of this teenager is left to a jury consisting of 12 men, each of whom the playwright has stereotypically used to represent different aspects of the society. At the start, eleven out of the twelve jurymen believe that the man is without any doubt ‘guilty’. However, after a long and heated discussion, all twelve men come down to a unanimous ‘not guilty’ vote. During this time, Rose questions the justice system by expressing themes such as prejudice, ignorance, racism, and past experiences, all of which may hinder the path to the real truth, and finally justice. The three most important jurors that Rose has used to explain these themes are the jurors 8, 10, and 3.

Juror 8 is the voice of reason, and the most crucial to the play. At the start, he is the only member of the jury who votes ‘not guilty’ and withstands the pressure of all of the other eleven jury members. “It’s not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it.” By doing this, he opens the other jury member’s minds to the possibility that the accused may be ‘not guilty’, and immediately gains the respect and admiration of the audience. He is calm, cool, and collected, and is probably one of the few jury members who fully understands his role. Rose has used juror number eight to bring in the process of deliberation, from where the feelings and beliefs of the other jury members are voiced. Juror 8 is also the first to question the evidence that is brought forward. The knife that was supposedly unique and one of a kind, was proved otherwise by his possession of the same knife. Along with this, juror 8 approaches the trial logically, and tries to find flaws and discrepancies that the other jurors have missed. The persuasive language that he uses is neither aggressive nor subjective, but rather assertive and objective. In doing this, and by taking an intelligent and analytical approach to the trial, he is the main character that Rose has used to persuade the other jury members and the audience. Simple reasoning, along with being fair and open minded gives him the qualities that eventually decides the case as ‘not guilty’.

Juror 10 is almost completely the opposite of juror 8. He is racist, discriminatory, and is the best example in the jury room of prejudice. This is seen when the juror refers to the people living in the Bronx, such as the Latino teenager on trial, as ‘they’ and ‘them’. His generalisation on the whole of people living in the Bronx tells the audience that he is ignorant and racist, and Rose has positioned us to strongly dislike him. He has furthered this dislike for the character, by making the juror selfish, arrogant, and highly egotistical. “You’re not going to tell us that we’re supposed to believe the kid, knowing what he is. Listen, I’ve lived among them all my life. You can’t believe a word they say. You know that. I mean they’re born liars.” It is through this juror that Rose has expressed the themes of ignorance, racism, and prejudice, and shown how it can cloud ones decision, and possibly change the fate of an innocent person. This has in turn shown that the courts and judicial system that was present in those days and still is now, was flawed and far from perfect. Thus, it was both relevant and true, when juror 8 chose to speak the

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