Symbolism in “12 Angry Men”: Bias and Emotional Struggles

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The film 12 Angry Men written by Reginald Rose depicts different human personalities attempting to decide the fate of a young man who is accused of killing his father. The jury must determine a verdict of not guilty or guilty, sending a young man to be executed for the crime of murder. However, eleven out of the twelve Jurors have it all figured out, Guilty they agree due to reasons that are illogical. However, Juror 8, the only Juror out of the twelve that took it upon himself to begin a discussion that would soon lead his fellow jury members to re-evaluate their positions by using personal prejudices, experience, evidence, swaying the Jurors to the moral decision.

Indeed, personal prejudices played a major role in Juror 10's decision making regarding the defendant. He remarks, "It's tough to figure, isn't it? A kid kills his father. Bing! Just like that. Well, it's the element. They let the kids run wild. Maybe it serves 'em right." At first, the statement could be heard as a slip of the tongue or even petty judgment. It's not entirely clear what Juror #10 means when he says "the element." However, it's as if he believes all individuals who are not a part of the white race have natural instincts to kill and run wild. Later, Juror #10 even states none of the jury members should believe the defendant because he is not apart of the white race, you're not going to tell us that we're supposed to believe him knowing what he is? I've lived among em all my life. You can't believe a word they say. You know that.Juror #8 immediately traps Juror #10 by asking, "How come you believed the non-white witness? She's one of them too, isn't she?", leaving Juror #10 at a loss for words. As the film continues, the more everyone began to realize how ignorant and cowardly Juror #10 truly is, believing if he keeps spouting his racist rants with aggression he will eventually get everyone to side with him. After a period of racist rants and shouting, Juror #10 made the last call for attention, "Well, don't you know about them? There's a... There's a danger here. These people are dangerous. They're... wild. Listen to me. Listen to me." Nevertheless, his attempts failed, everyone was so sick of his racist rants to keep listening to his prejudice nonsense anymore. After a short silence, he gave up a set in the corner of the jury room, hanging his head in shame and disappointment. While he sitting in the corner Juror #10 was able to push his prejudice ways aside and actually listen to the conversation. Shockingly, after a short period of sitting quietly Juror #10 decided to change his vote that was made out of prejudice to not guilty due to invalid evidence pertaining to a witness ability to see clearly which was supported by Juror #6 who was able to confirm that it was impossible to see the boy clearly through a passing El train with poor vision. Juror #10 is not alone with his bias opinions. Even Juror 3 has a couple of prejudices remarks, however his remarks where shallow, there was more under his angry facade there was a pain due to experience.

Indeed Juror #3 displayed the most aggression toward the defendant and many would have been seen these acts of aggression as personal. Juror #3 can be defined as a guy who's stern in his opinions, not used to having people disagree with him. Juror #3 also hates standing alone as it was displayed in the film I don't care about standing alone, it's my right!. However, as he took a look around the room panicked with the fact that no one is on his side, leaving him to fend without the help of those who once sided with him. All the evidence was proven fallacious and still, his choice is to remain guilty. Due to Juror #3 lacking sympathy, he becomes the main antagonist in this film. He is even the last one to vote not guilty, even after all the evidence was deemed insufficient. Unlike many of the Jurors, Juror #3 disregarded all the evidence and disliked the fact the court took so long on the case, "Six days, they should have finished in two. Talk, talk, talk, did you ever hear so much talk about nothing?".

In his mind, it was clear to him that the defendant was guilty even without the evidence. Juror #3 resents the fact that the trial dedicated so much time making their arguments in the defense of the defendant. Throughout the film Juror #3 anger would get the best of him, when any conversation regarding the relationship between the boy and his father would spark up, "Well Eighteen is old enough. He stabbed his own father six inches into the chest. They proved it a dozen different ways in court, a dozen ways. Do you want me to list them?". Juror #3 clearly expresses how much he dislikes the idea of a kid disobeying and killing his own father. In fact, I believe Juror #3 has a guilty conscience, which is due to the relationship he has with his son, and maybe he thought that his son would have tried to kill him if it meant stopping the abuse inflicted by his father, which is what lead to Juror #3 being the last to change his vote. Juror #3 turned down every piece of evidence as it was proven invalid.

Firstly, Juror #3 becomes an example to his biggest argument by stating I'll kill em! I'll kill em!, proving the point of Juror #8 that not everyone who says they are going to kill someone is actually going to kill someone. However, Juror #3 still failed to corporate, running headfirst into his personal prejudices. It is to a point in the film where Juror #3 no longer cares about rather or not the evidence is real or fake, being the last to change his vote was clear Juror #3 had a real personal issue with the case, standing his ground. As the film reaches its end, we began to understand all the reasons behind Juror #3's actions and why he felt so strongly about his distaste with the defendant. It is not until Juror #3 starts talking about his own son that the true reasons for his bias against the defendant become understandable. "I told him, my son, right out, I'm gonna make a man out of you or I'm gonna bust you up into little pieces trying. When he was fifteen he hit me in the face. He's big, you know. I haven't seen him in three years. Rotten kid!". Due to the fact, he abused his kid to make a man out of him is probably why he related so well to the case. In his eyes, he was the defendant father and only wanted to make sure his son was able to defend himself against harm. However, it backfired he became the attacker his son needed saving from, but before he noticed his son was already gone. I believe Juror #3 felt a sense of guilt toward the defendant because of how he treated his own son leading up to his disappearance.

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Symbolism in "12 Angry Men": Bias and Emotional Struggles. (2019, Apr 04). Retrieved December 4, 2023 , from

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