In the play Twelve Angry Men Juror Three attempts to discredit another Juror. How does he try to do that and why?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act II of Twelve Angry Men the men are still deliberating the fate of the boy accused of stabbing his father to death. At this point, Three is the angriest and most problematic of all jurors. He interjects and fights his way along the process while relying heavily in some, but not all, of the evidence and testimony that is presented to him. Most of his angst is because the accused boy reminds Three of his own son, for whom he also feels contemptuous. Reginald Rose's description of Juror Three is 

A very strong, very forceful, extremely opinionated man within whom can be detected a streak of sadism. A humorless man who is intolerant of opinions other than his own and accustomed to forcing his wishes and views upon others.

At this point in the deliberations, the men analyze the testimony of the old man who claims to have witnessed the boy committing the act. Eight, who is the most balanced juror, and the one willing to look at all the facts, contends that it is very hard for an elderly man under the conditions of the witness to jump out of bed and run to the door to see a crime unfold, all under 15 seconds. 

EIGHT. It’s my guess that the old man was trying to get to the door, heard someone racing down the stairs, and assumed it was the boy.

SIX. I think that’s possible.

Three, whose mind is made up and wants the boy executed, attempts to discredit Eight by calling him a liar. It is his way to bully his will on others, but he is not influencing anyone.

THREE: I’ve seen all kinds of dishonesty in my day … but this little display takes the cake...

THREE. ... you make up these wild stories, and you’ve got some soft-hearted old ladies listening to you. Well I’m not. I’m getting real sick of it... What’s the matter with you people? This kid is guilty! He’s got to burn! We’re letting him slip through our fingers here.

It is here, toward the end of the act, when Eight really annoys Three by calmly questioning the latter's sadism. Three launches at him to attack, but he is stopped. He screams at Eight saying that he wants to kill him. To this, Eight responds softly with a rhetorical statement that takes them back to the case and what was supposedly heard by witnesses. 

You don’t really mean you’ll kill me, do you?