In Twelve Angry Men, who are the protagonist and antagonist? What are some examples from the text?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After being sequestered in the jurors' room, twelve jurymen are initially asked to vote upon a verdict on the Hispanic boy who has indicted for the murder of his father. The guard having locked them inside, the men take a vote upon the verdict of this young defendant. The vote is 10-1 "guilty"; Juror 8 has voted not guilty only because he has reasonable doubt and feels that the defendant deserves their close examination and discussion of the evidence. Clearly he is the protagonist, who desires justice for the defendant.

THREE. Somebody’s in left field. (To EIGHT) You think he’s not guilty?
EIGHT (quietly). I don’t know.
THREE. I never saw a guiltier man in my life. You sat right in court and heard the same thing I did. The man’s a dangerous killer. You could see it.
EIGHT. He’s nineteen years old.
THREE. That’s old enough. He knifed his own father. Four inches into the chest. An innocent nineteen-year-old kid. They proved it a dozen different ways. Do you want me to list them?
EIGHT. No.
TEN (to EIGHT). Well, do you believe his story?
EIGHT. I don’t know whether I believe it or not. Maybe I don’t.
SEVEN. So what’d you vote not guilty for?
EIGHT. There were eleven votes for guilty. It’s not so easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.

Juror 3 is very opinionated; he is also accustomed to forcing his wishes upon others. He is the antagonist. At one point he says,

THREE: It’s these kids – the way they are nowadays.  When I was a kid I used to call my father, ‘Sir.’  That’s right.  ‘Sir.’  You ever hear a kid call his father that anymore?

At another point in Act II, as there is a secret vote without Juror 8 and one man votes guilty, Juror 3 demands to know who has changed his vote. Juror 11 opposes his bullying of the others.

THREE. Hold it? We’re trying to put a guilty man into the chair where he belongs—and all of a sudden we’re paying attention to fairy tales.

Another juror who is antagonistic is Juror Ten. He is a bigoted man who holds that the defendant committed the crime because he is one of those type of delinquents from the inner city. He, too, opposes the attempts of Juror 8 to disprove the defendant's guilt. In Act III, when Juror 3 argues against the defendant, saying that he has told his father that he was going to kill him, Juror 10 interrupts:

TEN. And how they mean it!
EIGHT. Well, let me ask you this. Do you really think the boy would shout out a thing like that so the whole neighborhood would hear it? I don’t think so. He’s much too bright for that.
TEN (exploding). Bright! He’s a common, ignorant slob. He don’t even speak good English. (Ironically, neither does he)

But, finally Juror 10 is defeated as is Juror 3, and the men realize that there is reasonable doubt. Therefore, they cannot in good conscience, convict the boy.

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