An Analysis of 12 Angry Men

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Updated: Apr 13, 2023
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A classic jury-room drama, 12 angry men follows a jury’s decision-making processina murder trial tracking the gradual changing of 11 of the 12 ur minds about the verdict.

12 angry men is set in New York in 1957 and the entire action of the play takes place on one or afternoon and evening in the jury room of a court of law. The two single scene acts cover exactly the period of time of the jurors’ discussion. The action is con u s with no change of location, which contributes to the play’s overwhelming sense of emotional tension and claustrophobia.

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The 12 angry Men of the title are the 12 men of the jury. They are identified in the script only by jury numbers and foreman, and there is no evidence that they know each other’s names. This is Indicative of the play’s focus on the case and its broader ethical microns rather than personal details of individual characters lives. When detais do emerge they are only ever discussed with reference to the fuence on a particular ro’s vote. The only other character who pens in the play is aguwd who serves only a perfunctory and practical purpose in the text Smarty the defendant Vicm, lawyers and witnesses in the tral are never named.

The play begins at the conclusion of the court’s explosion of the when they must retire to the jury room and decide on a verdict. The opening lines are the judges of stage VoiceOver reminding the jury of their duty and at the same time fumising the audience with the bac details of theranduding the fact that the jury must reach a unanimous verdict.

We are introduced to the reacts of the case lurther details of the case emerge gradually as the ury agree to preliminary and Informal vote. 11 of the 12 jurors are convinced that the defendana young boy from an underprivileged socio-economic background, uity of fatally stabbing his father.

In this first vote, jurors stands alone. He maintains that he is uncertain and therefore must be not guilty. This decision introduces an important legal concept to be examined over the course of the play for the ury to convict the accused, they must be confident, beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. While thor does not yet suggest that the defendant is innocent, he feels that there is reasonable doubt about whether the boy really committed the crime, and is therefore compelled to vote not guilty.

As the play progresses regularly call for informal votesboth secret and public to see where opinion stands with each vole, jurors become less certain, swayed by arguments and questions presented first by Bh juror and later by others too. By the end of the first act, aller 3 votes, two jutor have changed their minds so that the vote stands at 93, stil in favour of convicting the defendant, th uroris gently persuasive is gently persuasive in the face of anger, frustration, anticism and challenge from other jurors particularly 3rd and 10th. The tension and conflict increase as jurors begin to question their own bees and change their votes.

Details of the trial emerge in the course of the deliberations, helping us understand the urons quilty votes. But as witnesses and witness statements are questioned, the audience, like the jurors, finds.

sell increasingly open to doubt. For example, in the first act juror produces a switchbladenie identical to the one presented as evidence in court. The prosecutors had argued convincingly for the uniqueness of this particular weapon, but th jurors ability to produce an dentical weapon erodes the others’ confidence that the evidence proves the defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

To change their votes to not guilty thror must only introducereasonable out into the other urers’ deliberations; he need not demonstrate the defendant’s innocenon. This makes his task easier and he proceeds to provoke doubt amongst his fellow ors, slowly and patenty questioning a series ofwgumentis statements and pieces of evidence from the trial Several other s also begin to question the previously accepted Tacts until near the end of the second act ihrere changed their vote and now only threerd, 4th and 10th) remain convinced of the defendant’s guilt.

Al the height of the conflict, 10th 4th and finally 3rd jurors change their minds. The denouement of the play is swift and tidy as the jurors reach a unanimous verdict of not guilty before making their et to dever their verdict to the court.

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An Analysis of 12 Angry Men. (2022, Nov 10). Retrieved from