Writing a Twelve Angry Men Essay

The play Twelve Angry men by Reginald Rose revolves around jury deliberations in a homicide trial. The bulk of the play is spent in the jurors’ room where discussions take place about the place and character traits are developed for each of the jurors. It is a popular topic for essay writing because of the range of characters and opportunities for analysis. If you are writing an essay on Twelve Angry Men, consider the following angles to explore.

  • Discuss Reasonable Doubt. The concept of reasonable doubt is central to the criminal system, and is explored deeply in this play. Your essay could look into what creates reasonable doubt, how it shapes trials, and what problems can arise with the reasonable doubt system. Within the play, no concrete evidence is ever presented that seals the case one way or another. For this reason, the discussion remains focused on reasonable doubt and how circumstantial evidence can determine guilt or innocence.
  • Discuss Juror Bias. Perhaps the greatest strength of this play is analyzing how personal history and opinion can strongly influence the thoughts and feelings of jurors. Pick out a couple jurors specifically and identify statements they make during the play that are potentially biased or unfair. Using those statements as a starting point, run with the discussion and examine how past life experiences could have led those individuals to hold such opinions.
  • Analyze the Foreman. The jury foreman in Twelve Angry Men has a seemingly impossible task. He is charged with controlling a room full of emotional, opinionated men and getting them to work toward a common goal. While he ultimately is able to keep them on track, it is not always easy. This struggle can be compared to the judicial system as a whole, and how democratic societies are required to govern themselves. Simply analyzing this one character alone can make for an engaging academic paper.
  • All Male Dynamic. In what way does the fact that all the jurors are men affect the arc of the play as a whole? Would there have been a big difference if there were women on the jury? These two questions can be the start of a great essay. Social interactions are often determined by gender, and even the presence of one or two women in the jury room could have made the men act in a totally different manner.


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