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Twelve Angry Men

by Reginald Rose
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What is the general main idea of act 2 in Twelve Angry Men?

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Reginald Rose’s playTwelve Angry Men recounts the deliberations among the jurors of a homicide trial. The twelve men who comprise the jury must deliver a unanimous decision to the judge. We learn in the first act that eleven of the twelve jury members believe the boy on trial...

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Reginald Rose’s play Twelve Angry Men recounts the deliberations among the jurors of a homicide trial. The twelve men who comprise the jury must deliver a unanimous decision to the judge. We learn in the first act that eleven of the twelve jury members believe the boy on trial to be guilty and want to deliver their verdict quickly; only Juror Eight questions the validity of some of the evidence and wants to discuss the case more before deciding. The majority of the jurors recount the strongest pieces of evidence in an attempt to bring Juror Eight to their side, though in doing so, they begin to create doubts in each other’s minds. The act concludes with Juror Eight abstaining from another vote, with the promise that he will agree to vote guilty if there is still a unanimous decision.

Act Two begins immediately after the vote, where it is discovered that another jury member has switched his vote to “not guilty.” This angers several of the jurors, particularly Juror Three; he makes a point to remind the jurors that a witness clearly heard the defendant yell “I’m going to kill you” at his father before the father died and that in the fifteen seconds that followed, the witness saw the boy running down the stairs. Much of the action in this act is in the jurors’ recreation of these events immediately surrounding the father’s death; by using the apartment blueprints provided in the trial, Juror Eight is able to measure out the exact dimensions of the crime scene and time how long it should have reasonably taken the defendant to flee the scene. Juror Eight’s timing of the scene is thirty-nine seconds, and several jurors marvel at the discrepancy of the times. Jurors Three and Eight argue over Eight’s motives for defending the boy; in the heated exchange that follows, Three lunges at Eight and screams that “[Three will] kill him,” ironically echoing what he considers the most condemning piece of evidence against the defendant.

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