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Twelve Angry Men

by Reginald Rose

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12 Angry Men Juror 3

Describe Juror #3 and his reasons for wanting to find the defendant guilty in Twelve Angry Men.  

In Twelve Angry Men, Juror #3 is very opinionated and stubborn. He also has a difficult relationship to his own son, which he projects onto the defendant. These are the main reasons why Juror #3 wants the defendant to be guilty.

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12 Angry Men is a play written by Reginald Rose. It was first performed in 1964 and follows the story of a jury which has to decide whether the accused young man is guilty of murder or not.

Juror #3 is convinced from the start that the defendant is guilty. To him, this is so obvious that it doesn't even warrant further discussion. We can see that when he says right at the beginning of the play, before the jury had even had time to begin its meeting properly, "And then they lock that kid up forever and that's okay by me." Juror #3 is an extremely prejudiced man, which you can see in the character notes of the play, where he is described as "extremely opinionated" and "intolerant of opinions other than his own." These character traits are definitely one of the reasons why it takes so long for Juror #3 to change his mind. Accepting that his own initial judgement had been wrong would have felt like a sign of defeat and an embarrassment to an opinionated man like him.

A further reason why Juror #3 wants the defendant guilty is because of his relationship with his own son. In the course of the play, it transpires that Juror #3 has not spoken to his son for three years—and we even hear that he was punched in the face by his son: "When he was fifteen he hit me in the face." You could therefore argue that Juror #3 sees young people in an extremely negative light, caused by the frustration and disappointment he feels about his own son. He projects this negative attitude towards young people onto the defendant, who, as a result of this, in his mind clearly has got to be guilty.

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The American jury system is evaluated in the drama Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose.  After six days of testimony, the play begins with the judge giving the jurors their instructions for deliberation. 

The setting for the play is New York City.  A young man has been accused of killing his father.  He is a deprived teen who has had some previous criminal activities.  He is a minority but what kind is never stated.

The twelve men on the jury are stereotypes of the kinds of men that might serve on a jury in the 1950s.  Luckily for the accused, Juror # 8 has the integrity to stand up against the prejudice that runs rampant among several of the jurors.  If he had not been on the jury, the boy would have been found guilty in the first vote.  Juror # 8 serves as the protagonist in the play.

Juror # 3 is a prejudiced and deeply unhappy man.  His son had problems with anger and struck his father in the face.  #3 places his anger toward his son on the back of the accused.   In many ways, he is the antagonist to the constantly calm Juror #8.

When the first vote is taken, everyone votes guilty except for #8....

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 Immediately, #3 attacks #8, voicing that the case was simple and the defendant is obviously guilty. Juror #3 is immediately vocal about the supposed simplicity of the case, and the obvious guilt of the defendant. He is quick to lose his temper.  He is often infuriated when Juror #8 and other members disagree with his opinions. He believes that the defendant is absolutely guilty.

Initially, #3 in his mind believes that the boy has committed the crime. He says that this kind of boy is capable of anything.  He also believes the testimony of the old man and the woman who could hardly see.  The switchblade and how the man was stabbed indicate to #3 that all of the other jurors should be able to see that the boy is guilty.  Part of #3’s problem is an unwillingness to admit that he may have made a mistake.

Juror #8 insists on discussing the various parts of the evidence.  He explains that the boy deserves that from the jury.  #3 grows more irritated throughout the process and explodes in a rant: "He's got to burn! He's slipping through our fingers!"

Juror 8 takes him to task, calling him a "self-appointed public avenger" and a sadist, saying he wants the defendant to die for personal reasons, not the facts.

During Act Three, #3’s emotional baggage is revealed. His poor relationship with his own son may have biased his views.

NO. 3: (pleading). Listen. What's the matter with you? You're the guy. You made all the arguments. You can't turn now. A guilty man's gonna be walking the streets. A murderer. He's got to die! Stay with me.

Juror 3 loses his temper and tears up a photo of himself and his son, then suddenly breaks down crying and changes his vote to "not guilty", making the vote unanimous. Only when he comes to terms with this can he finally vote “not guilty.”

Reginald Rose’s drama ends with the jury agreeing that there is enough reasonable doubt to warrant an acquittal. The defendant is found “not guilty” by a jury of his peers. However, the playwright never reveals the truth behind the case. Did they save an innocent man from the electric chair? Did a guilty man go free? The audience is left to decide for themselves.

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