In Twelve Angry Men, how do the different roles of the members in the jury room significantly hinder or help the observation and deliberation of the group?
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The setting of Twelve Angry Men takes the reader inside the room where jurors are locked in so that there can be no interference in their deliberation of a verdict. In Rose's play a young male is charged with murder in the first degree.
- Several of the jurors do not want to be there, especially one Juror, No. 7, a salesman who, having already made up his mind from the reports and testimony of the trial that the defendant is guilty, wants to leave quickly. For, after the foreman tells the men to be seated, No. 7 says,
Right. This better be fast.I've got tickets to The Seven-Year Itch [a movie starring Marilyn Monroe] tonight.
Clearly, No.7, who represents a self-centered and exigent type, has his own self-interests, rather than the life of the defendant as the focus of his attention.
- Another man who is also unfeeling is Juror No. 10; he is an antagonistic type and, like No. 7, he places no value upon the defendant's life, merely lumping the boy into a stereotypical group. At first, he summarily categorizes the defendant as part of "the element" that "lets their kids run wild."
Juror 10's bias against the ghetto dweller-type is a great hindrance to the correct judgment of the young man. During most of the deliberation, the sadistic No. 10 remains antagonistic until finally launching into a vituperation in Act Three that clearly reveals his bias:
....Look, these people are drinking and fighting all the time, and if somebody get killed, so somebody gets killed. They don't care....
Finally, Juror No. 4 orders him to be quiet and the others repudiate him. For some time, then, No. 10 has hindered the group from a unanimous decision, and it appears that they will be a hung jury. However, in the last moments of the play, he finally concurs with the verdict.
- A positive influence, Juror No. 4 is a man of higher social status--well-educated, intelligent, and affluent. He is appalled at the behavior of some others. An articulate businessman, he approaches the evidence rationally, urging the others to consider only the evidence. Because he considers himself above the others, there is some tension with his interaction among the jurors as they have some resentment toward him and feel that he questions their opinions simply because they are lower than he. Nevertheless, he is influential in getting the men to re-examine the facts and be reasonable. In Act One, for instance, after No. 10 becomes angry and No. 7 mentions the the car theft, mugging, and knife-fighting of the young man's past and says sarcastically, "This is a very fine boy," and No. 3 repeats his opinion of "It's these kids...," No. 4 interjects,
"We're missing the point here. This boy--let's say he's a product of a filthy neighborhood and a broken home....but
And, he then focuses their attention of the evidence of the trial: "This knife is a pretty stong piece of evidence, don't you agree?" This focus, then, becomes extremely important after the reticent Juror No.2 finally speaks up and contributes greatly when he explains about switchknifes and the angle of the stab.
- Juror No. 3 is also one of the "angriest" of the twelve men and the most myopic. His judgments are completely clouded by his negative personal experience with his own son, and he projects this viewpoint onto all young men. He finally breaks from his subjectivity.
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