The Analysis of Twelve Angry Men: MINORITY vs MAJORITY


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If I usually make reviews of novels and short stories, this time I’d like to make a review of a play script. I got this play script from my literature lecturer when I was in my 3rd, or maybe 4th semester. Twelve Angry Men is a play which is adapted from a ‘teleplay’ written by Reginald Rose in 1954. This play came into its debut 50 years later in 2004. In this play, Rose is trying to show how minority can influence majority through juror number eight character.

The play is begun when the jury has just finished listening to six days of trial proceedings of a 19-year-old boy who is accused of murdering his own father. There are three testimonies given and the jurors have to decide whether or not the boy guilty. Then, the conflict is begun.

Among twelve jurors there is only one juror who votes not guilty for the boy. It is obviously that the other jurors are confused by this. How come there is one juror who votes not guilty for a boy who murders his own father — they think.

What makes this play more interesting is about how juror number eight can influence the other jurors. He, step by step, reveals the evidence as fancy and convinces the other jurors that it was not the boy who killed the father. However, it is not an easy job, of course.

At the beginning, juror number eight is not confident enough with his vote. He couldn’t explain his reason in voting not guilty for the boy. Furthermore, there are many pressures from other jurors, especially from juror number three, who vote for guilty. And this situation makes juror number eight difficult to maintain his vote as the first part of the play.

Three: Somebody’s in left field. (To eight) You think he’s not guilty?

Eight :(quietly) I don’t know.

Three: I never saw a guiltier man in my life. You sat right in court and heard the same thing I did. The man’s a dangerous killer. You could see it. (Rose. Twelve Angry Men. Act one, page 492)

Anyway, juror number eight is very consistent with his vote. He brave to vote not guilty because he feels that the boy’s life is in his hands. His decision will lead the boy into dead penalty or not.

Eight: There were eleven votes for guilty. It’s not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first. (Rose. Twelve Angry Men. Act one, page 492)

On the other hand, the other jurors are not thinking in the same way. They only see the case from the surface. They do not consider if there’s any reasonable doubt. They see the testimonies as fact while juror number eight isn’t.

Then, again, juror number eight’s job is not easy. But, because he is consistent with his vote he can influence the other jurors. The first juror who is influenced by juror number eight and finally changes his vote in the second vote is juror number nine. He believes that there are not enough evidences to send the boy to dead. Furthermore, he also believes that the old man, who gives a testimony, lied.

Nine: No. He wouldn’t really lie. But perhaps he’d make himself believe that he heard those words and recognized the boy’s face. (Rose. Twelve Angry Men. Act two, page 590)

It is very interesting to see how a person, alone, can influence a number of people who have different opinion. This phenomenon is called as minority influence — a form of social influence, which takes place when a majority is being influenced to accept the beliefs or behaviour of a minority .

Serge Moscovici and Nemeth (1974) argued that “minority influence is effective as it is consistent over time and there is agreement among the members of the minority”. This is also shown by juror number eight and juror number nine (especially juror number eight). Since the first vote, juror number eight has voted for not guilty. In addition, juror number eight also gives some supporting reasons which reveal the evidence to be fancy. At the end of the play, then, juror number eight can convince the other jurors that the boy is not guilty.

I don’t usually read play scripts or watch play performances because of their complexity of conflicts. It’s like too heavy for my brain to digest them. However, this play script is an exceptional. I like it. This play could engage my emotion and thoughts. It’s like I’m being dragged in the room, where the jurors have their arguments, and then watch them with my very own eyes. I like the plot. I like the conflicts. I like the tense. I like the mystery.

I got many things to learn from the play. One of them is that don’t afraid to be different. It’s just as shown by juror number eight. He is not afraid to voice his opinion although he is alone. But confidence is not enough. He has to have supporting evidences to strengthen his opinion — to make sure that he is not only boasting. Besides, the play also teaches me to see a problem not only from one side (subjective). I have to be objective in evaluating a problem.

References:

“Twelve Angry Men” – Characters from Reginald Rose’s Drama. About.com Plays/Drama. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/twelveangry.htm

“Twelve Angry Men” Study Guide: Plot Summary and Study Questions. About.com Plays/Drama. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/twelvethemes.htm

Twelve Angry Men Study Guide. Book Rags. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-twelve-angry-men/themes.html

Twelve Angry Men (play). Wikipedia. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Angry_Men_%28play%29

Minority influence. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_influence

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