12 Angry Men
Angry Men highlights the importance of seeing things from more than one perspective. Discuss. Reginald Rose’s play Twelve Angry Men emphasises the importance of seeing things from more than one perspective. Set in a New York jury room in 1957, Rose highlights how important it is that the jury discuss all of the evidence from the case in detail and from multiple angles. Representative of this notion is the 8th Juror who is willing to acknowledge alternative views or interpretations.
From the outset of the play he goes against the crowd voting “not guilty”. He then considers all of the details of the evidence including the old man’s testimony and the boy’s inability to remember the movie he saw. In contrast to this character, are Jurors 3 and 10 who are portrayed as the antagonists because of their narrow mindedness and arrogance. They are very rigid in the way they apply their single minded world view and they have a reluctance to recognise the existence of another truth.
Rose endorses the 8th Juror’s ability to see things from many perspectives and condemns the 3rd and 10th Juror’s inability to do so. This reveals the significance of looking at the evidence from a variety of perspectives in order to create a just verdict. From the outset of the play, the 8th Juror exemplifies seeing things from more than one perspective by voting “not guilty” against the crowd. Many of the jury members in the case believe that the trial is “obvious” and does not need much discussion.
However the 8th Juror believes in civic responsibility and the defendant’s right to a fair trial. He doesn’t necessarily believe that the defendant is “innocent”, however he understands the seriousness of the case and finds it difficult “to send a boy off to die without talking about it first. ” Instead, the 8th Juror puts himself in position of the accused and imagines that he is the one on trial. This is why he decides to vote against the crowd and vote “not guilty”. The 8th Juror becomes a voice for Rose, reinforcing the need for reason and rationality during the initial vote.
He insists that the jurors need to consider the case in depth and look at it from many ways, including the defendant’s perspective . Rose therefore reinforces the idea that by giving the boy a chance and looking at the case from different perspectives this gives the defendant a better chance in gaining an impartial hearing which is of prime importance. The 8th Juror sees the situation from the defendants perspective and presented by witnesses testimonies also looks at the evidence and the facts presented by the witness testimonies of the case from many perspectives.
The 8th Juror actively questions what constitutes a ‘fact’ when examining the evidence. He does this by looking at each aspect of the evidence provided and considering alternative options to the explanations given in court. When the defendant is unable to remember what movie he had seen the 8th Juror suggests that the may not have been able to remember minor details after such “an upsetting experience… as being struck in the face by [his] father”. He also questions the old man’s testimony.
While many of the jurors believe the old man’s testimony is “unshakeable” Rose challenges the idea there is a lot of “circumstantial evidence” yet no concrete facts. Therefore he encourages the jurors to look from different perspectives at the witness testimonies, not just accept what they hear as being true. Many of the eyewitnesses may have been fallible and therefore should be subject to the same questioning as the defendant in order to have a fair trial. Therefore Rose stresses the importance of seeing things from more than one perspective.
In contrast, Rose presents Juror 3 and 10 as negative characters because of their narrow-mindedness. In juxtaposition to Juror 8 are the antagonists of the play, Juror 3 and 10- whose narrow mindedness means they cannot see the evidence from any other perspective than their own. Both of them depict a form of prejudice which obscures them from seeing the truth. The 3rd Juror has a broken relationship with his estranged son, while the 10th Juror is deeply bigoted and racist.
This view consequently impacts on their ability to make rational decisions or consider other viewpoints. They believe that “the boy is guilty, period” and that there are no other possible explanations. This is evinced when the 3rd Juror discredits the 8th Juror’s opinion by saying “We’re trying to put a guilty man in the chair where he belongs and all of a sudden somebody’s telling us fairy tales- and we’re listening. ” Rose portrays these two characters to be violent and irrational to convey to the audience their negative qualities.
He illustrates that these jurors miss out on information if they do not consider alternative ideas and if it was up to them the boy would be sent to the death penalty within 5 minutes of the trial. Hence, Rose believes that the evidence needs to be discussed with many perspectives to eliminate possible injustices. Overall, Rose highlights the importance of seeing things from more than one perspective. He reveals that an integral part in determining a just verdict having an open mind and discussing all the evidence in court.
He represents this through the 8th Juror who stands against the rest of the jurors to vote “not guilty” and considers alternative explanations to the evidence given in court. This includes the old man’s testimony and the defendant forgetting the movie. Juxtaposing this is the 3rd and 10th Jurors who become antagonists because of their inability to see the evidence from other perspectives than their own. Therefore, Reginald Rose demonstrates in his play the significance of viewing evidence from different perspectives in order to overcome injustice.