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Twelve Angry Men - Essay Example

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At the beginning of the movie, Twelve Angry Men, a juror of twelve men are assembled to decide the death penalty case of a young Latino man who is being prosecuted for killing his father. The story is not really about the defendant though. …
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Twelve Angry Men
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Download file to see previous pages It is about the group dynamics of the jury and how they change throughout the movie. To start with, the group comes from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, but what is more important is how they view the purpose of their task. Most want to just “get it over with” regardless of the outcome. Because it does not affect their lives in any significant way, they do not apply much critical thought to the evidence. Instead, they assume because the police and courts are prosecuting the young man, he must be guilty. Thankfully for the defendant, one man, Juror #8, uses critical thinking and takes the instructions from the judge seriously. Twelve Angry Men can be divided into five sections of group development. The first stage, known as “forming,” begins the dynamic and usually involves working out of purpose, structure, and leadership. In the movie this part of the group development is portrayed at the beginning of the jury deliberations. Juror #1, the jury foreman (Martin Balsam), is ready to start and seems unclear on how to proceed. He clearly demonstrates that he is not really a leader type. He politely asks two of the jurors to have a seat so they can get started without seeming the least bit managerial. Then when the men assemble around the juror’s table, the foreman hesitantly discusses the various ways to proceed. He says he is not sure which is best and readily accepts the suggestion of one of the other men, a much more authoritarian type, that they take a vote so they “can all get out of there” (Henry Fonda). The foreman readily concedes and the vote is eleven to one in favor of guilty with Juror #8 (played by Henry Fonda) being the holdout. One of the more extroverted jurors says, “Boy oh boy, there’s always one,” which seems to imply that Juror #8 is only voting not guilty to cause trouble, gain attention, or for some reason other than the fact that he truly believes the defendant is not guilty. The juror who implies this accusation acts passively aggressively to bully Juror #8. He wants Juror #8 to feel like everyone is against him, so that he will change his vote and then they all can “get out of there.” Yet, he does not come right out and say it directly. This leads directly to the next stage of group development, “storming.” Storming involves intergroup conflict and disagreement over who should be in control of the group even if it is not blatantly exerted. Juror #10 (played by Ed Begley) challenges the authority of Juror #1, the jury chairman, and Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) tells Juror #2 (John Fiedler) "to keep silent." Both Jurors #3 and #10 intervene when Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeney) wants to give his opinion. Then, Juror #6 (Edward Binns) physically threatens Juror #3 because he does not think he is showing Juror #9, who is the oldest of the group, due respect. Another instance that reveals the personalities of the group occurs when Juror #11 (Georg Voskovec) says, “I beg pardon. To which Juror #10 says, "I beg pardon? What are you so polite about?” And, Juror #11 answers, “For the same reason you are not: it's the way I was brought up” (Henry Fonda). This clearly demonstrates that there are vast differences in background and personality in the group. From the revelation of these differences and likenesses, as with any group, small cliques begin to form. “Norming” is this clique forming stage and occurs when the group begins to develop close relationships among its members. Most of the group participants are encouraged to participate. In Twelve Angry Men, even the more silent members of the group (Jurors 2, 5, 6) were encouraged to contribute their opinions to the discussion. During norming, groups will generally demonstrate cohesiveness, yet in the movie, total unity never quite develops. In ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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