List four effective and four ineffective examples of persuasive techniques from Twelve Angry Men.

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Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose is about a jury of twelve men that deliberates the verdict for a young defendant. The jurors discuss the case and then, one by one, they change their votes as they are persuaded about the defendant’s innocence. Juror Number 8 helps the process by...

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Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose is about a jury of twelve men that deliberates the verdict for a young defendant. The jurors discuss the case and then, one by one, they change their votes as they are persuaded about the defendant’s innocence. Juror Number 8 helps the process by persuading the other jurors to reexamine some of the evidence. His character provides several examples of persuasive techniques.

First, with one piece of evidence, he provides visual proof to support his claim that the knife used in the stabbing could have been similar to the one the defendant had purchased while not being the same knife. Juror No. 4 asks No. 8, “Aren't you trying to make us accept a pretty incredible coincidence?”

No. 8 replies, “I'm not trying to make anyone accept it. I'm just saying it's possible.” Then:

No. 8 swiftly flicks open the blade of a switch knife and jams it into the table next to the first one. They are exactly alike. There are several gasps…

No. 8 also reminds them of the onerous task they have. He says, “It's not so easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.” This convinces several of the others to debate the evidence in order to reach a just verdict. For instance, later on, No. 9 says that he can stay to discuss the evidence because “It's only one night. A man may die.” In addition, No. 11 tells No. 7, “I do not think you have the right to play like this with a man's life. This is an ugly and terrible thing to do.”

No. 6 is also able to effectively persuade the others of an incorrect piece of evidence by illustrating with an example: The alleged eyewitness claimed that she saw the defendant kill the victim. However, it was the middle of the night, and the eyewitness had gotten out of bed to watch the commotion outside. No. 6 says, “Look, stop me if I'm wrong. This woman wouldn't wear her eyeglasses to bed, would she?” Then jurors No. 11, No. 9, and No. 8 concur that her testimony was not as credible as it first appeared.

Juror No. 8 also is able to persuade the jurors that because the defendant comes from a low-income background and grew up in difficult conditions, he has had difficulties in life and is not necessarily a hardened criminal. He says, "Look, this boy's been kicked around all his life. You know, living in a slum, his mother dead since he was nine. That's not a very good head start."

Examples of tactics that do not move the other jurors include juror No. 3 just repeating that he “never saw a guiltier man in my life…The man's a dangerous killer. You could see it.” This does not convince anyone, because he has no facts to support his statement. In a second example of No. 3 failing to convince the jurors, he asks about the eyewitness, “How do you know what she saw? Maybe she's far-sighted.“ The other jurors realize that this is pure conjecture and are not persuaded.

Another failed tactic is when Juror No. 10 leverages his prejudice to convict the defendant. He says, “I've lived among 'em all my life. You can't believe a word they say. You know that.” Juror No. 9 asks him, “Since when is dishonesty a group characteristic?”

Another clear example of an approach that fails is No. 7’s attempt to end the debate because he has “tickets to The Seven Year Itch.” The others have already agreed that with a man’s life at stake, they owe the defendant a full and fair deliberation.

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In Twelve Angry Men, a jury is set with the task of ruling whether a man on trial for murder is guilty or not. The jurors are very set on the defendant's guilt, voting initially 11 to 1 in favor of a guilty vote. The sole juror to vote not guilty, juror 8, then spends the rest of the play seeking to convince the others that the defendant has not been proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt.

There are many arguments made throughout the play. In particular, the ones that juror 8 makes would be considered more effective, as they are the ones that convince the other jurors to change their votes, while the ones that the other jurors make in response would be considered less persuasive or ineffective.

Many of the effective persuasive techniques are built around logic (logos) and usually involve proving that something could have happened differently than presented by the prosecutors during the trial. A few instances to look for when looking for practical techniques include the ease of buying a switchblade—explaining that evidence may be circumstantial—and the inability of a woman to see without her glasses—showing that some of the testimony is false or fabricated. These techniques are effective because of the use of evidence and reason to explain why there is a doubt that the young man committed the crime.

Ineffective techniques focus mainly on emotional arguments (pathos). These attempts to persuade are not really built on evidence or facts, but stereotypes, personal vendettas, and convenience. For example, Juror 7 wanted to go to a baseball game and many of his “arguments” hinge on being able to leave as soon as possible. Jurors 3 and 10 are the others who make emotional arguments. Juror 10 is a racist and makes his arguments based on stereotypes about race, and it is not effective because of his increasingly vitriolic rhetoric and prejudice that sways none of the other jurors. Juror 3, on the other hand, is angry at his son and seeks to hurt the defendant because he is on trial for the murder of his own father. His arguments are primarily based on his own emotional reaction and do not sway the other jurors.

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Effective persuasive techniques:
1 - Juror eight explains his reasons for voting "not guilty" at the beginning of the play.  He effectively persuaded juror nine to vote "not guilty" by explaining that he had some doubts that needed to be discussed.
2 - Juror eight explains his doubt about the testimony of the old man about being able to hear the boy yell "I'm going to kill you" while the el train was going past the window.  He does this by discussing the amount of time it takes for an el train to pass the window and how loud it is.
3 - Juror eight explains his doubt about the old man's testimony about going to his front door and seeing the boy running down the stairs.  He does this by acting out how long it would actually take for the old man to get to his front door (referencing his use of canes and the diagram of the apartment).
4 - Juror eight establishes that it is possible that the boy told the truth about the switch knife, by purchasing and bringing in an exact replica of the knife in question.

Ineffective persuasive techniques:
1 - Juror three tries to persuade the other jurors to stay with him by talking about his own son.
2 - Juror ten tries to persuade the other jurors to vote guilty because of his racist views.
3 - Juror seven tries to persuade the other jurors to vote guilty because he has better places to be.
4 - Juror three tries to persuade the other jurors to vote guilty by threatening to hang the jury.

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