12 Angry Men Literary Analysis
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12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose is a twisting story where a son is accussed of stabbing his father to death. Twelve strangers are told to listen to this court case and are then stuck in a small, hot room where they are told to decide on a verdict, whether or not the kid lives or dies. The jury finally decides on the verdict of : Not Guilty. Three major facts that influence the juries agreement that the accussed is not guilty include doubts of the murder weapon, doubts of the old man’s testimony, and doubts of the lady across the street’s testimony. The first major fact that influences the juries agreement that the accussed is not guilty is the doubts of a key piece of evidence; the murder weapon, a switch knife. While discussing and examining the evidence, the switch knife that the accussed supposedly used to kill his father, Juror 8 flicks out his own switch knife to prove a point. “(Eight swiftly flicks open the blade of a switch knife, jams it into the wall next to the first knife and steps back. They are exactly alike. There are several gasps and everyone stares at the knife)” (562).
This is very significant in persuading the jurors for the simple reason that Juror 8’s switch knife is exactly the same as the switch knife used in the murder; the same switch knife that is supposed to be “one-of-a-kind.” But it is now proven by this that anyone could have a knife like that, not just the accused young man. This situation starts to persuade the jurors that the acussed young man may not have killed his father, but rather someone else with the same knife. The second major fact that influences the juries agreement that the accused is not guilty are the doubts of a witness’s testimony; the old man who supposedly heard the boy say, “I’ll kill you!” to his father, and a body fall to the floor. In order to settle the argument the jurors are having about the old man, who is a cripple, going to his door fifteen seconds after he heard the body fall, they recreate and time the scene, and Juror 11 says, “Thirty-nine seconds. Thirty-nine. Four: And the old cripple swore, on his oath, that it was fifteen” (574). This is very significant in swaying the jurors vote to not guilty because with the old man having had a stroke and using two canes, the jurors prove that the old man lied about how long it took for him to get to the door.
This situation persuades the jurors decision even more because now they know that the old man lied and just assumed he saw the accussed young man, but could have been anyone. The last major fact that influences the juries agreement that the accused is not guilty are doubts of another witness’s testimony; the lady across the street who supposedly saw the accused young man stab his father. The jurors started talking about needing glasses to read the clock when Juror 8 realizes that the lady used very strong glasses and it is not possible that she could have had time to put them on and see the young man clearly stab his father.
Juror 8 says, She testified that the murder took place the instant she looked out and that the lights went off a split second later. She couldn’t have had time to put on her glasses then. Now perhaps this woman honestly thought thought she saw the boy kill his father. I say she only saw a blur (587). This is very significant in swaying the jurors vote even more because with the lady seeing the murder right when she looks out the window while in bed, she likely does not wear her glasses to bed. And this persuades the jurors even more because now they know that most likely, the lady only saw a blur and could not possibly tell that is was the young man.
The jury now has three major facts that influence them that the accused young man is not guilty. The first fact is the doubt of the murder weapon, a switch knife which is proven to be not as unusual as first thought. The second fact is the doubt of the old man’s testimony which is proven to be untrue when they discover he lied about the time it took for him to get to the door to see the accused run away after the crime. The last fact is the doubt of the lady across the street’s testimony, which it is proven that she most likely did not see the young man, but rather someone else. All of these facts support the theme, “Don’t believe everything you hear.” Finally, the three major facts that influence the juries agreement that the accussed is not guilty include doubts of the murder weapon, doubts of the old man’s testimony, and doubts of the lady across the street’s testimony.