An Analysis of Communication in Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

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12 Angry men is a classic movie about the deliberation of a jury presiding over a murder trial where a son allegedly stabbed his father; the movie is also a great study about the habits of verbal and nonverbal communication. This paper will serve as an analysis of the jury's verbal and nonverbal communication and will explore how the jury member's relationships, perceptions, biased views, and methods of persuasion were used during the deliberation in rendering an outcome.

Diversity and Bias among the Jury Members

While the jury would not initially look like a diverse group, due to them all being middle to late aged white males, getting a more in depth look at each character shows that they are in fact, quite diverse. These men grew up in different socioeconomic backgrounds, and are still parts of a different social class; some are white collar workers, such as an architect, while others are blue collar workers, such as the watch maker and salesman. Most of the jury was around the same age, but there were a few older jurors who brought the wisdom of age.

Many of the jurors showed their biased views during the deliberation, right off from the start, juror 8 dismissed the idea that a kid of 18 years could commit such a crime, when in reality, the defendant's age should have nothing to do with it. Many of the jurors believe the slums are a breeding ground from criminal activity, pushing it to the point that it offends juror 5.

Additionally, juror 10 shows some bias towards race, making many racist remarks towards the defendant and using the term "them" in a derogatory way.

Relationships among the Jury

Each member of the jury plays a role, for example, jurors 3 and 10 are alpha male types, who like to be right and in charge, they serve as the main antagonist for the rest of the jury. Jurors 8 and 9 play the main protagonist, they are the most reasonable and level headed members of the jury. The remaining 8 jury member's relationships are directly tied to one of these groups; juror 6 and 7 get into an argument about respecting elders (juror 9), jurors 3 and 4 stay strong against juror 8's group until the very end. These relationships are one of the driving cause of communication barriers among the group.

Communication Barriers

The same diversity that gives the group a wide array of thought, also gives the group communication barriers to overcome. The alpha males of the group ignored the opinions of those they deemed weak, paying no attention to their good ideas; additionally, juror 7 does not take the judicial process seriously and seems rather bored with it all. Juror 8 finally gets fed up when a few of the other jury members are playing a game while he is speaking and puts an end to the jury members not taking it seriously. The hatred between the antagonist and protagonists serves as one of the biggest communication barriers, because the antagonist refuse to listen to any argument the protagonists give.

Non-verbal Communication

Some of the most intense moments were delivered through non-verbal communication; the movie made great use of silence, such as the awkward silence after juror 3 asks juror 9 "what would you know about it" in regards to be lonely, and the silence after juror 3 is baited into questioning whether the old witness could really be sure what he saw because he was "an old man". The two most powerful scenes in the movie were conveyed through non-verbal communication, first, when juror 8 slams the similar looking knife into the table, this was the first seed of doubt planted; secondly, when juror 9 catches juror 4 rubbing his nose, this was the last big argument that lead the group to a not guilty verdict; juror 4 was unaware that he was communicating this message, but juror 9 was able to receive the information regardless.

Persuasion and "I" Messages

The methods of persuasion used can be broken into two main categories, those used by the antagonists, mainly jurors 3 and 10, and those used by the protagonist, mainly juror 8. The burden of persuasion fell on juror 8, as the lone not guilty vote, he tried his best to use facts or logical reasoning that could disprove something taken as fact, for example, when he baited juror 3 into yelling out "I'll kill you"; additionally, he spoke to his peers as they were adults. This is in direct contrast to jurors 3 and 10, who use intimidation to get their messages through and treated everyone who disagreed like they were idiots. Juror 8 also used I messages quite well, making an effort to not seem like he was putting words in another juror's mouth, and using disclaimers, such as "I feel like".

Conclusion

The jury overcame diversity, biased opinions, and communication barriers in order to achieve their intended purpose, to render a fair verdict of the defendant in a murder case, which in this case was not guilty. I believe that all members of the jury were content with their decision, knowing that they did not send a potentially innocent man to his death, but I also believe some still think he may have been guilty, but reasonable doubt was present. Regardless of personal opinion on the matter, I believe all members of the jury were satisfied that the justice process had taken place, and had done so fairly.

References

  • Unclemontie. (2011, Dec 31). 12 Angry Men Complete Movie [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RelOJfFlyp8
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An Analysis of Communication in Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose. (2022, Dec 08). Retrieved February 22, 2024 , from
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