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ENGL0101 – Composition 1 Bouray

Position Essay II

-1Twelve Angry Men Analysis

As an example of the process a jury goes through, this movie does an excellent job

demonstrating some of the problems that juries have while deliberating. Persuasive arguments

backed up with fact and emotions dominate throughout this film. The diversity of the jury pool

was very well crafted. Many different subcultures in society were represented. With differences

such as origin, ethnicity, class, age, and morals comes much room for debate. This movie is the

definition of a timeless classic.

At the beginning of the film, all but one of the jurors was positive that the defendant was

guilty. Juror #8 played by Henry Fonda was the juror. He was a logical, calm, cool and collected

personality that paved the way for deliberation. The so-called “do gooder” was the catalyst for

change in the minds of the other eleven jurors. Considered my most of the other jurors as wasting

time, he initiates what ultimately changes the mind of every juror that was originally opposed.

He has the support of juror #9 almost immediately. Juror #9 is the old white-haired fair-minded

man that understands what is meant by “reasonable doubt”.

To have a good film about jury deliberation, you have to have the Ying and the Yang.

There were three jurors adamantly opposed to switching their votes to not guilty. The worst and

the last to change his vote was juror #3 played by Lee J. Cobb. He was the leader of the

opposition. Harboring a dislike of young people because of his personal experiences with his

son, he lashes out in a loud-mouthed biased manor. Unable to listen to reasonable arguments or

admit he could possibly be wrong, he was consistently intolerant throughout the film. His right

hand man was juror #10 played by Ed Begley. He was the most biased, racist, impatient person

in the film. Armed with a nasty disposition and the support of the others, he was by far the most
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ENGL0101 – Composition 1 Bouray

Position Essay II

annoying character. The clown was juror #7. He was more concerned with going to the baseball

game than whether or not he sent the defendant to his death. His selfishness and playboy attitude

complimented juror 3 and 10. Finally juror #4 played by E.G. Marshall was the logical piece of

the opposition. He was a stuff shirt stockbroker that seemed to have no ability to express

emotion. The calculating and deductive traits of his personality make him look like a detective

trying to figure out a puzzle.

As for the other seven jurors, they remained mostly reasonable as the others lead the

arguments, they formed their points of view around the arguments being presented. The

dynamics of persuasive arguing was the deciding factor, which changed the minds of the other

jurors. The way in which the arguments were presented were the key to their effectiveness. With

arguments being presented in a logical and rational way, the opposition was made to look

unreasonable and stubborn. On the other hand, emotion was the driving force behind the

opposition’s arguments. From wanting to leave as soon as possible so as not to miss the

ballgame, to harboring prejudiced and ill feelings towards groups of people associated with the

defendant. The only exception was juror #4 that displayed no emotion what so ever.

One such example of persuasive argument that was utilized in this film was when they

got onto the discussion of the murder weapon. The prosecutions claim was that this particular

knife that was used in the murder of the defendants father was very rare. In fact, the storekeeper

who sold it to the defendant testified that it was the only one of its kind that he had ever had in

stock. Much of the emphasis was placed on the murder weapon being unique. During

deliberation this topic surfaces and juror #8 wishes to see the knife up close. When discussing the

probability of the boy actually losing his knife and someone else killing his father with his knife
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ENGL0101 – Composition 1 Bouray

Position Essay II

or a knife just like his, juror #3 says that it was not possible for someone to have killed his father

with an identical knife. At which time, juror #8 presents an identical knife that he acquired the

night before from a shop two blocks from the defendant’s house. This caught everyone off guard

and left it virtually impossible to argue against the possibility of someone using an identical knife

to kill the defendant’s father.

This discussion in particular was an outstanding example of a persuasive argument. The

way juror #8 presented his argument and was prepared for the potential responses was

phenomenal. By walking in the defendant’s neighborhood the night before and acquiring a knife

identical to the murder weapon, he sealed his argument. Therefore he was able to show that there

was a possibility that it was a knife identical to the defendant’s, but not the defendant’s knife that

was used to commit the murder. In doing so he proved with hard evidence that there was room

for “reasonable doubt”.

After the identical knife was presented, the opposition to his argument was left with

fewer points to argue than before. They were forced to withdraw to the argument that although

he acquired an identical knife, the probability of the murder being committed with anything other

than the defendant’s knife was minimal. Admitting that it was possible but not probable put a

very rapid end to the oppositions’ arguments concerning that specific subject. Subsequently, they

were left with no other alternative besides changing the subject to something else that could be

argued.

This was just one example of many situations in this film that were based on persuasive

arguments. It shows how a persuasive argument delivered correctly can change the opinion of

someone opposed to the idea originally. When presented with facts and unrefutable evidence, an
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Position Essay II

argument can be won quickly and effectively by one solid undeniable element. Forcing the

opposition to change the subject or give up completely.