Film Analysis: The 12 Angry Men (Movie Review Sample)
Document and analyze how Juror 8 "turns" his fellow jurors.
This is to be an in-depth psychological analysis of the methods Juror 8 uses to persuade eleven other jurors to adopt his position. 8's body language, self-control, objectivity, and of course rhetorical techniques are all areas you may address.
Essay format will be MLA: standard margins, size 12, Times New Roman, double-spaced, header (your last name and page number in upper right corner), heading (Name / Date / Analyze Movie), titled centered below heading. Essay length is a minimum of 4.5 pages. (Sample essay may be shorter.)
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Argumentation is a communicative practice underscored in social psychology. The practice can be traced to the Ancient Greek Philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It is premised on the idea that certain aspects of the human life that appear right may not be actually right, if analyzed objectively. This is because as human beings, we tend we carry our prejudices, subjectivities and bigotry into pertinent discussions, and only objective analyses will enable the spectators to fathom. Argumentation incorporates important anecdotes such as logic, dialecticism, rhetorical undertones, among other concepts in the objectification of the discussion. An interlocutor who uses these anecdotes to presents his views to a larger audience is termed a good debater. This is especially true for Juror 8 in Reginald Rose’s film “The Twelve Angry Men.” From the film, Juror 8 demonstrates the Aristotelian argumentation, incorporating anecdotal concepts to prove his point that the convicted teenager is innocent. As a result, the Aristotelian argumentation facilitates the persuasion of the other interlocutors to agree with the primary interlocutor’s point of view.
Although other jurors vote in favor of the guilty verdict, Juror 8 remains largely unconvinced about the decision. He believes that there is more to the story than catches the eye, underlining his ethos. Most of the characters are using their personal opinions, prejudices and subjectivities in making the guilty verdict, instead of critically analyzing the contents of the case. Juror 10 is prejudiced about the youth when he says “A kid kills his father…serves them right.” Such opinions are likely to result in a biased judgment as evidenced in Juror 10’s earlier vote of “guilty.” His prejudiced undertones about young people, however, serves as his ad hominem. This is manifested when Juror 9 rebukes his herd mentality towards children saying “Since when is dishonesty a group characteristic? You have no monopoly on the truth.” Juror 7 also admits his prejudices when he complains that his fast decision towards a guilty verdict will remain even in the face of persuasion. These manifestations build on Juror 8’s ethos. As Carroll (254) notes ethos build’s an individual’s reputation, allowing them to use it as a factor in the validity of their arguments. As we later see in the play, Juror 8’s ethos, among other anecdotes, were largely influential in his ability to turn other jurors.
Furthermore, some of the jurors engage in emotionally charged disagreements that threatens their value and unanimity in the final verdict. While these events are happening, Juror 8 is just observing them, allowing other jurors to expose their underbellies. Emotionally charged responses ensue when Juror 9 rebukes Juror 10 for his gross prejudice against children. Juror 3 joins when he says “it is not Sunday, and we do not need a sermon. The emotional drags continue until Juror 4 interjects by requesting them to delve into the factual aspects of the case instead of their open blame games. By holding himself from emotional outburst, Juror 8 was building his reputation among other jurors. Reputation is important in the molding of Juror 8’s character among other jurors, and is the most authoritative form of persuasion (Carroll 254).
Throughout the play, Juror 8 presents as a person of a strong personality. At the jury room, he appears to be deeply in thought. The playwright shows the other jurors engaged in nonsensical attributes like blowing a nose (Juror 10), joke-sharing, among others. The jurors are forgetting that they are the determinants of a life-and-death case involving a teenager and his father, in which the former is accused of homicide of homicide. Just like the judge said “murder in the first degree is a complex case…one man is dead, and the life of another is at stake.” This implies that the case the jurors are handling is a particularly challenging one that requires critical thinking and analysis, as evidenced by Juror 8’s deep thought. This personality is also seen when he taps Juror 9 during an exchange with Juror 10, and the former responds by keeping quiet. This implies that Juror 8 has subtly won Juror 9’s support. As a result, Juror 8’s personality is acting as his driving force towards influencing other jurors.
Whereas other jurors tone of speech clearly show resentment and open criticism of the others, Juror 8 displays a tone that commands both respect and attention. When others vote for the guilty verdict, he does not join the pack. When asked why, he calmly but composedly says “I don’t know.” By adopting an ambiguous response, Juror 8 demonstrates a rare plausibility in his argument; one that demands attention through further questioning. This is seen when Juror 10 prompts him “So do you believe his story?” Another incidence of calmness is demonstrated when he takes out a knife similar to the murder weapon. Amidst shouting and accusation, Juror 8 maintains his composure and does not retort. These aspects of his personality makes it possible for him to not only draw attention to himself, but also to show the prejudiced nature of the juror’s earlier verdict. As a result, he is able to turn the other jurors.
Juror 8 uses pathos to appeal to the other jurors. For instance, he informs the other juror that the boy is only 19 years old. Using the boy’s age served to draw emotional undertones into the case. Pathos is highly essential in presenting the power of emotions and the value of the argument (Randall & Shamo 157). Juror 8 knows that some of the jurors are either parents or grandparents and alluding to the boy’s age will soften their stance on the earlier verdict. Furthermore, he alludes to the boy’s constant abuse from his father, the mother’s death and the slum dwelling to elicit some compassion from other jurors. Although this becomes his ad hominem at the start, some of the jurors begin softening their earlier stance on the case. For instance, Juror 9 is slowly shifting towards Juror 8’s bandwagon. He rebukes Juror 10’s prejudiced claims on young people, subtly coming to the convict’s defense. Therefore, pathos is a very powerful weapon that could make even less-emotive among the audience to change (Randall & Shamo 157).
Juror 8’s appeal to logos is also evident. The prosecution has collected a lot of evidence implicating the suspect in his father’s murder. This evidence is corroborated by witness testimonies and accounts about the murder. The credibility of the witness testimonies coupled with the specimen exhibits and the boy’s previous criminal record all seem to work against him. The burden of proof now lies with the jury to prove beyond any doubt that the suspect committed the murder. This proof requires logic and reasoning, which some of the jury clearly show to lack. As Chase and Shamo (157) put it, the jury lacks the appeal of inductive or didactic reasoning in arriving at the case. However, Juror 8 pos...
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