Choose one significant character from Twelve Angry Men and explain how their words and actions help develop the central idea of the play. Use at least 2 details from the text to support your response. Weave in indirect quotes and direct quotes.
Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose tells the story of a jury that deliberates the verdict of a young defendant. It shows how the jurors change their votes as they discuss the case. A central theme is that one person can help facilitate justice by remaining objective and being the catalyst for achieving the truth.
Juror Number 8 is a pivotal character in the story. With the first vote, the jurors realize that all but one—Juror 8—agree that the defendant is guilty. However, rather than yield to the pressure of the other jurors, Number 8 insists that they review and discuss the case before they vote again. Thus, despite resistance from the others, Juror 8 holds his ground.
His words and actions help make the other jurors rethink their original vote and come to view the evidence in a whole new light. He facilitates an understanding of the significance of several of the factors of the case. He is described as:
A quiet, thoughtful, gentle man. A man who sees all sides of every question and constantly seeks the truth. A man of strength tempered with compassion. Above all, he is a man who wants justice to be done and will fight to see that it is.
Number 8 calmly reviews the evidence. He is able to persuade the jurors and ultimately helps to achieve consensus. For instance, the defendant comes from a low-income background and grew up in difficult conditions. Juror 8 takes this into account when he says, "You know, living in a slum, his mother dead since he was nine. That's not a very good head start."
However, Juror 10 replies:
I've lived among 'em all my life. You can't believe a word they say. You know that.
In response, Juror 9 “very slowly” says to Juror 10:
I don't know that. What a terrible thing for a man to believe! Since when is dishonesty a group characteristic? You have no monopoly on the truth…What this man says is very dangerous.
In this case too, Juror 8 exerts a calming influence, helping to avert a fight among the jurors. He:
puts his hand on No. 9's arm and stops him. Somehow his touch and his gentle expression calm the old man. He draws a deep breath and relaxes.
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