Twelve Angry Men

Twelve Angry Men




Twelve Angry Men

Part 1

The film “Twelve Angry Men” is a 1957 American drama film set up in a courthouse. It revolves around 12 members of a jury in a murder trial. A young boy is accused of stabbing and killing his father, and there are witnesses who can attest to that. A seemingly tired judge leaves the jury with that task to deliberate on the whether the boy is guilty of murder or not. However, he states that if the verdict is guilty, the boy stands to be sentenced to death. The plot unfolds slowly as the jurors engage in heated deliberations on the case. Initially, juror 8 is the only juror, who considers the boy innocent, as he feels that the boy’s guilt has reasonable doubt. This is met by stern opposition from the other jurors who seemingly have other activities they have to attend to later on. However, a secret ballot reveals one of the jurors has changed their vote to “not guilty”. The other jurors are angered by these, and further heated discussions ensue. The jurors slowly start changing their votes to “not guilty”. Eventually, they come to a consensus and agree to a unanimous “not guilty vote”. This movie essentially tackles the issue of consensus building among other issues.

One of the most outstanding elements of this movie is ethical thinking. In the scene where juror 8 is asking the other jurors to take some time and analyze the case, he appears to be an individual who is thorough and analytical when it comes to making decisions. He believes that there is reasonable doubt in the boy’s guilt and tries to convince the other jurors so. It is at this point that while viewing the film, it was easy to recognize the theme in play in this scene. Ethical thinking is important, as juror 8 was subconsciously implying during the entire debate. The other jurors’ lines of thought are clearly portrayed in their utterances and reasoning basis.

The subsequent scenes captured my attention because as the events unfolded, the essence of ethical thinking came into play. For instance, one of the jurors, Juror 3, identified as Lee Jacob, had this preconceived notion that people from the slum are reckless in life and are nothing but criminals. His outburst directed to juror 5, after the new not guilty vote clearly indicates that he is biased against slum dwellers and is thus bent on finding him guilty without giving him much thought. One of the jurors, juror 7, is pressed about going to the baseball game later on, and is visibly unwilling to engage in further deliberations about the case, in order to wrap up the meetings (Lumet, Fonda, Rose, Cobb, Begley, Marshall, &Warden, 2001). According to ethical thinking and decision making, having such an approach towards a problem is redundant and ineffective. The approach taken by these jurors is misleading and unethical because they are basing their opinions on personal issues, which have no ethical, ground. From a personal perspective, the jurors who insist on declaring the teenage boy as guilty without deliberations should have initially taken an ethical decision making approach to solve the problem.

I think that in that scenario, the jurors, especially juror 3, who evidently was keen on ensuring the boy received a death sentence, should have evaluated the problem first, and weighed in on the options without making decisions hinged on personal experiences with his son. Ethical thinking requires one to evaluate the alternatives in the particular scenario, identify the moral expectations, legal requirements and values, and finally identifies the courses of action and the support available for the issue. For instance, juror 3 should have put side his personal issues with his own son, and handled the matter objectively, instead of being dramatic in the courthouse during the heated discussions. His behavior goes to show that if alone, he would easily and gladly declared the boy as guilty without considering the moral and ethical considerations that go in to a jury verdict. Ethical thinking should not only be applied to jury situations, but throughout life. As seen in the film, it is easy for an individual to take on a very biased position in a situation because of very biased personal reasons that have probably been drawn from bad experiences in the past. I think that it is unfair for the other party because the outcome adversely affects them, without having their side of the story heard. The film provides a new learning experience in that ethical thinking is important as the outcome may sometimes determine whether a person will live or not.

The learning experience drawn from this film provides an excellent platform upon which my personal perspectives about various situations will be in future influenced by ethical thinking. In the film, the jurors eventually reach a unanimous decision, after subconsciously overlooking their personal reservations and critically analyzing the reasonable doubt in the teenage boy’s guilt. Drawing from this example, I believe I will be able to evaluate critically both personal and professional situation in an ethical manner before making any decisions. Earlier on before watching this movie, my decisions were base on the face value of a situation, because of the perception that critical thinking is exhausting and time consuming. However, the experience in the movie has many values to emulate, which I believe will not only improve my ethics, but my social skills as well.

Part 2

Clip 1

During the jury’s deliberations, Juror 3, Lee Cobb, sharply criticizes juror number 5, Jack Klugman for switching his guilty vote to a not guilty vote. He accuses him of doing so because he grew up in a slum and he has this innate sympathy for slum children despite the crimes they have committed (Lumet et al., 2001). However, it turns out to be juror 9 who switched his vote. This act alone reveals that juror 3 is has a high level of implicit prejudice against slum children. Implicit prejudice emanates from the stereotypes people form about others and thus subconsciously make decisions based upon this (Nelson, 2009). Later on, we discover that this stereotype coupled with his strained relationship with his son is the reason for the irrational behavior in the courthouse.

Clip 2

During the deliberations, juror 8 asks juror 4 if he wears his glasses while sleeping. This question has a rather obvious answer as he is trying to prove a point to the team. Juror 4 is for the idea that the boy is guilty; however, juror 8 criticizes his approach to the situation. Juror 4 had earlier mentioned that he finds the boy guilty because the woman from across the street saw him stab the old man. What juror 4 does is engaging in constructive and cognitive conflict, where he criticizes his ideas in order to make his point known. Eventually, juror 4 agrees that it is possible the woman did not see the boy stabbed his father and he switches his vote.

Clip 3

The jury consists of various characters who take up various standpoints in the matter at hand. Therefore, there are different takes and perspectives on the verdicts each juror has. For instance, juror 7 and juror 10 are keen on declaring the boy guilty. This is because they are taking on an intuitive thinking approach instead of being rational. Juror 7 has a game to attend to later on and is therefore not keen on focusing on the details of the case. Juror 10 believes that all slum dwellers are wild and dangerous, and thus is not concerned with examining the variables in the case. This scene is an example of the intuitive thinking process amongst the jurors.

Clip 4

The film is based on heated deliberations about the boys’ verdict. Juror 8 is responsible for initiating the heated debates where the other jurors eventually begin to think critically about the case. Through this critical thinking, the entire jury is able to reach a unanimous decision based on ethical reasons.

Clip 5

In the scene where juror 3 provides and argument as to why the buy is guilty, it is evident that the juror is basing his decision on overconfidence. His beliefs are hinged on his nasty relationship with his son, which changes his perception about people. Evidently, this instills overconfidence in him such that he is sure that the boy is guilty. Such overconfidence bias often clouds judgment and the decision making process.



Lumet, S., Fonda, H., Rose, R., Cobb, L. J., Begley, E., Marshall, E. G., Warden, J. MGM Home Entertainment Inc. (2001). 12 angry men. Santa Monica, CA: MGM Home Entertainment Inc.

Nelson, T. (2009). Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. New York: Psychology Press.





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