In his play Twelve Angry Men, Reginald Rose demonstrates the importance of judicial integrity in determining whether justice will be found through the truth. Separated by the breach of individual agendas, Rose perceives a contrast between individual subjectivity and the objective foundations of society. Upon pursuing their own understanding of justice, thus, Rose shows how conflict can undermine the integrity of a democracy, fulfilling ulterior truths above the judicial grounds of reason.
As such, Roses jurors learn to reconcile both truth and justice through means of a ‘reasonable doubt’, empowering both the judicial process and unification of moral empathy. Rose initially perceives a societal tension between individual truth and a common call for unity. Society’s expectation, Rose suggests, is to absolve preconceptions in the pursuit for a neutral and modal citizenship. Such concern is established in Rose’s judge’s speech, imploring the jury to ‘separate the facts from the fancy’, and to reach a common cause of a ‘unanimous verdict’.
However, standing in the way of this model is an individual perception of truth and order, established by Rose in the domineering presence of certain Jurors. Juror 3 seeks to close the proceedings by isolating the facts of the case, stating “Let’s slap him down.. save us a lot of time and money. ” Furthermore, Juror 7’s self-interest manifests in his declaration “Let’s vote, who knows, maybe we can all go home. ” The ability to become an active citizen, therefore, is seen by Rose as vital to a transparent and self-evident judicial system.
Juror 8 consolidates this democratic purpose by stating ‘it’s not easy for me to raise my hand without talking about it first’. As such, Rose draws attention to a necessary unification and humility under society’s ideals, fulfilling the individual’s understanding of the judicial system. When manipulated by an agenda for personal truth, justice may be misled, undermining group consensus. In disassociating from the tension of society’s ideals, Rose maintains, the individual’s personal agenda will necessarily shape a course of objectivity, devaluing an empowering process of democracy.
Juror 11, as Rose’s voice of judicial integrity, observes that indeed ‘facts may be coloured by the personalities of the people that present them’. It is this method which Juror 3 ultimately pursues to coerce the jury into his unilateral agenda, an inherent ‘monopoly on the truth’. After a secret ballot is conducted, and a previous majority member dissents, Juror 3 interrogates a system that does not suit his values: “Secrets? There are no secrets in the jury room. ”As such, Juror 3’s followers are essentially dehumanised, observed in Rose’s stage direction of Juror 2 and 5 ‘breaking off and looking around nervously’.
Conversely, Juror 8, instead of correlating truth and justice through intimidation, builds a foundation of self-affirming truth, a realisation of democracy’s true calling. Rose establishes this model in Juror 8’s decision to sacrifice his agenda to the good of democracy: “If there are still 11 votes guilty, Ill abstain”, a process of honest leadership. Additionally, Juror 2, oppressed by the bullying tactics of 3, is valued and empowered by Juror 8’s broad minority influence, asking “What would you say? ”.
Thus, Rose surmises that an individual agenda will unavoidably colour a judicial foundation, however it is the responsibility of a democracy to accept, and indeed value ‘unpopular opinions’. And such, Rose concludes that while there may be an unresolvable tension between the subjectivity of truth and the inherency of justice, it is the greatness of democracy to affirm and uphold these differences, preserving the valour of a ‘reasonable doubt’. Empowered by the congregation of their moral worth, Rose’s jurors eventually see past the ‘cold hard facts’ to a higher form of empathy.
Juror 11 affirms the ideal of holistic perception of the accused, rather than him as an objective figure of the law: “Many of us are capable of committing murder, but that doesn’t mean we have. ’ This appreciation for human integrity manifests itself in Rose’s final confrontation of the play: The group detaching from their bully leader, and under Rose’s stage direction ‘the others stay silent’. In this way, the jurors ultimately sacrifice their own sense of entitlement to a stronger group cohesion, immortalised in Juror 11’s speech: ‘We have nothing to gain our lose by our verdict.
That is one of the reasons we are strong. ” Thus, Rose asserts that the affirmation of a ‘reasonable doubt’ provides a duality between a necessary judicial basis and the power of democratic freedom, emphasised by Juror 8: ‘No one will ever know what the truth is-but we have a reasonable doubt, a safeguard of enormous value in our system’. Reginald Rose’s play 12 Angry Men explores the inherent fragility of justice and truth. In affirming the empowering process of democracy, Rose thus defines society’s greatness in sacrificing truth for the unity of judicial integrity, ensuring man’s valour of human empathy.