Essay, Research Paper: 12 Angry Men


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Every person may have his own way of defining the term "reasonable
doubt." In the play "Twelve Angry Men", by Reginald Rose, one
juror, number Eight, stands alone against 11 others to convince them that the
boy is not guilty. He looks beyond the given testimonies in order to give the
boy a fair trial, though this is more then the others think the boy deserves. If
the jury finds a "reasonable doubt", it must declare an innocent
verdict. A young man stands accused of fatally stabbing his father, and his fate
now lies in the hands of his "peers:" 12 men from all walks of life,
each with his own agenda, fears and personal demons. At first, based on their
conversation, it seems that it will be a unanimous conviction.The first vote is
taken and one man stands out; his confidence to stand alone is strong. He is the
only man voting not guilty. His opinion is reasonable; he feels that there is no
way to prove it was the boy, saying the testimonies given were shaky. The others
do not agree on this, arguing that the boy comes from a slum and one can't
expect more from someone with this upbringing. Eight goes into the case assuming
the boy is innocent, while the others attribute guilt to him. He first brings in
a knife directly like the one used in the killing, to prove that it was not one
of a kind. He discounts the testimony of the old man, saying it was impossible
for him to hear the boy scream over the roar of the passing El-train. He also
makes a point of demonstrating that it was impractical for him to reach his door
in 15 seconds, in order to see the boy running down the stairs. To some this and
other logical arguments proved to be a "reasonable doubt", and in
consequence they changed their votes to not guilty. By the end, Juror Eight has
everyone convinced, besides Juror Three, who holds true to his ground. Eight was
the juror responsible for giving the boy a chance. If he would have given into
the others in the beginning, the boy would have been falsely convicted of
murder. Juror Three is the last juror to change his vote; nothing anyone says
can convince him that there is a "reasonable doubt" in the case. This
man was the most stubborn of all. He refused to pay attention to things that
were being stated in order save the defendant from death. It was as if the word
guilty seemed to dwell in his mind and was unable to be altered. He becomes
outraged that the others are changing their votes and letting this kid
"slip through their fingers." He says that the whole case is based on
the testimony of the woman across the el-tracks. The jurors play out the murder
to themselves, and talk about the lady across the street. They notice several
things about her. The lady claimed that she saw the murder through the last two
cars on the train that was passing. A juror also noticed that she had indents in
her nose which means she wore glasses. She never mentioned the glasses in the
trial. It was finally agreed with eleven jurors that there was "reasonable
doubt" that the lady could not have successfully seen the murder without
her glasses, and through a train. Everybody is angered and the votes gradually
change to not guilty, some come from people that honestly believe it and others
who just want to leave and get it over with. Juror Three, who deadlocked the
jury, was full of anger. He finally gave his plea of not-guilty when, angered,
he shouts out that he is entitled to his opinion and shall have it. A couple
minutes later he caves in, most likely due to the anger he has combined with
frustration. He had gone into the case thinking the boy is guilty, before any
evidence was even resgistered into his head. The Juror acted as if no ones
opinion counted but his, and talked above everyone else. Juror Three gave into
the pressure of the jury, realizing that he shouldn't have voted guilty to
punish the boy for the memories he had of his son. He brought his personal life
into play, following his heart instead of his head. There are some people in
life who like to make things more difficult for others, the way Juror Three did.
He was stubborn and did not wish to see anyone else's point of view. One will
always have a "Juror Three" in his life. It is up to a person to take
a stand like Juror Eight, and fight for what he believes in even if it is
against the majority.
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