Study Guide

Twelve Angry Men

by Reginald Rose

Twelve Angry Men Characters

Characters

Foreman

The foreman is described in the author's notes to the play as "a small, petty man who is impressed with the authority he has." The foreman tries to run the meeting in an orderly fashion, but in the film he is too sensitive and sulks when his attempt to stick to the way they had agreed to proceed is questioned. His contribution to the deliberations comes when they are discussing how long the killer would have taken to get downstairs. The foreman points out that since the killer wiped his fingerprints off the knife, he would also have done so off the doorknob, which would have taken some time. He votes guilty several times, but in act 3 he switches his vote, along with two others, to make the total nine to three for acquittal.

Juror Two

Juror Two is a quiet, meek figure who finds it difficult to maintain an independent opinion. In the 1957 film, he is a bank clerk. Juror Two does, however, make one useful contribution to the jury deliberations. He mentions that it seems awkward that the defendant, who was six inches shorter than his father, would stab him with a downward motion, as the fatal wound indicates. Although this is not a conclusive point, it does jog Juror Five's memory of how a switchblade is used and so helps to induce doubt in the minds of a number of jurors. Juror Two changes his vote to not guilty at the beginning of act 3, along with Jurors Eleven and Six.

Juror Three

Juror Three is a forceful, intolerant man who is also a bully. In the 1957 film, he runs a messenger service called Beck and Call. He believes that there is no point in discussing the case, since the defendant's guilt is plain, and he is quick to insult and browbeat anyone who suggests otherwise. At one point, Juror Three describes how he fell out with his son. He raised his son to be tough, but when the boy was fifteen, he hit his father in the face, and Juror Three has not seen his son for three years. He condemns his son as ungrateful.

As the play develops, it becomes clear that Juror Three is the principal antagonist of Juror Eight. This is brought out visually when Juror Three demonstrates on Juror Eight how he would use a knife to stab a taller man. His animosity to Juror Eight comes out in the aggressive way he makes the demonstration, which shocks some of the jurors. Also, when Juror Eight calls him a sadist, Juror Three is incensed and threatens to kill him.

Juror Three is the last to hold out for a guilty verdict. For a few moments after it becomes apparent that he stands alone, he sticks to his guns, saying there will be a hung jury, but he finally gives in to the pressure and votes not guilty. In the film, he pulls out his wallet to produce some facts of the case—perhaps notes he has made—and a photograph of himself with his son falls out. He stares at it for a few moments and then tears it up and begins to sob. He recognizes that his desire to convict and punish the defendant is bound up with his feelings of anger and betrayal in regard to his own son.

Juror Four

Juror Four is described in the author's notes as seeming to be "a man of wealth and position, and a practiced speaker who presents himself well at all times." In the 1957 film, he is a stockbroker, a well-dressed man in an expensive suit who, unlike the others, does not remove his jacket and shows no signs of distress in the heat. He is an arch rationalist who insists that the jury should avoid emotional arguments in deciding the case. He has a good grasp of the facts and an excellent memory, and he presents the case for guilt as well as it can be done. He is extremely skeptical of the defendant's story that he was at the movies on the night of the murder. However, his pride in his memory is shaken when, under questioning from Juror Eight, he discovers that he cannot accurately recall the title of one of the movies he saw only a few days ago, nor can he remember the names of the actors. (This incident is not in the play, but it appears in the film.) However, he still believes strongly in the defendant's guilt and is the last juror but one to change his vote. This occurs when it is demonstrated that the piece of evidence on which he places greatest value—the woman's eyewitness testimony that she saw the murder take place—is undermined. He then admits that he has a reasonable doubt.

Juror Five

Juror Five is described in the author's notes as "a naive, very frightened young man who takes his obligations in this case very seriously but who finds it difficult to speak up when his elders have the floor." When, at the beginning, jurors are asked to speak in turn, Juror Five declines the opportunity. Later, he protests when Jurors Four and Ten speak disparagingly of kids from slum backgrounds, saying that he has lived in a slum all his life. Juror Five's main contribution is in pointing out that an experienced knife fighter would use a switchblade underhand, stabbing upward rather than down. He knows this because he has witnessed such fights. Juror Five is the second juror to switch his vote to not guilty. He acquires a reasonable doubt when it is shown that, because of the noise from the train, the old man could not have heard the boy yell that he would kill his father.

Juror Six

Juror...

(The entire section is 2196 words.)