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Twelve Angry Men

by Reginald Rose

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Before the first vote is taken,what do you learn about the defendant in 12 Angry Men?  

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At the beginning of the play, 12 Angry Men, the audience is given very little information about the defendant.  As the play unfolds, we get more information when we start discovering the jurors’ prejudices and feelings about the young man.

However, we do learn a few things.  The first thing we learn is from the judge who instructs the jury that the defendant is accused of first-degree murder or premeditated homicide.  In the jury room as the jurors get ready to vote, we find out that the defendant is accused of killing his father with a knife.  Supposedly, evidence shows that the defendant purchased a switchblade knife that he said he lost through a hole in his pocket.  We also witness Juror #10 stereotyping him when he describes the defendant as being allowed to “run wild.”  The switchblade and the “wildness” of the defendant suggest that many jurors have decided he is already a criminal or gang member.

That’s all we learn at the very beginning about the defendant who, luckily, is later found innocent.

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