Is Twelve Angry Men all about how power can be misused? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, the misuse and abuse of power is a part of the narrative. Juror Three is a "sadist" and a bullying figure who seeks to dominate others.  His own misplaced feelings about the fall out with his son helps to move him into a position where he misuses power. The Foreman is described as "a small, petty man who is impressed with the authority he has."  This enhances the idea of the potential for abuse of power.  Even Juror Seven, who wishes to dispense with the process so that he can get back to his life, can be seen as an example of abusing power.  Initially, Juror Seven does not take his civic duty seriously, taking it for granted and abusing his power.

Yet, this is not where Rose's drama places its emphasis.  The process of deliberation that is spearheaded by Juror Eight represents how abuses of power can be calibrated and channeled into proper displays.  Juror Eight seeks to make right that which might be wrong.  His desire for justice is contagious, something that encourages the other jurors to reflect and think about their role in the process of determining the guilt of another human being.  Rose makes it clear that while there are people who abuse their power, there can be individuals who redeem it.  For every Juror Three, there can be a Juror Eight.  The drama is not completely driven by the abuses of power.  It is driven by the fact that individuals who abuse their power can be counteracted by those who seek to do right by it. Power is shown to be fluid and dynamic, reflective of a spirit within individuals that seeks to make right that which is set wrong.