26 August Inside Stories for 2011- Twelve angry .pdf · VATE INSIDE STORIES – TWELVE ANGRY MEN 2

  • View
    212

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

Text of 26 August Inside Stories for 2011- Twelve angry .pdf · VATE INSIDE STORIES – TWELVE ANGRY MEN 2

  • VATE INSIDE STORIES TWELVE ANGRY MEN

    1

    TWELVE ANGRY MEN

    By Reginald Rose.

    Teaching notes prepared by Jan May.

    Edited by Laura Deriu.

    Cover design by Viveka de Costa.

    Formatting by Maria Anagnostou.

    CONTENTS INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................................2

    WAYS INTO THE TEXT..............................................................................................4

    RUNNING SHEET AND STRUCTURE OF THE TEXT...............................................7

    A PERSPECTIVE ON THE TEXT .............................................................................12

    CHARACTERS..........................................................................................................14

    ISSUES AND THEMES.............................................................................................19

    LANGUAGE AND STYLE..........................................................................................23

    CLOSE STUDY .........................................................................................................25

    FURTHER ACTIVITIES.............................................................................................29

    KEY QUOTES ...........................................................................................................31

    TEXT RESPONSE TOPICS......................................................................................33

    REFERENCES, RESOURCES AND SUPPLEMENTARY TEXTS ...........................34

  • VATE INSIDE STORIES TWELVE ANGRY MEN

    2

    INTRODUCTION Reginald Rose was born in New York in 1920. He enlisted in the United States army after the Japanese bombings of Pearl Harbour, serving in the Philippines and Japan. Post-war, he gained employment in the publicity department of the Warner Brothers studio and also started to pursue his teenage dream of being a writer. His first play, The Bus to Nowhere, was sold for television in 1950. In 1954, Rose served on a jury for the first time; a manslaughter case, which took eight hours of angry argument to reach a unanimous verdict. Fascinated by this experience, Rose wrote Twelve Angry Men in 1954 as a one-hour drama for CBS television.

    In the 1950s television content was quite different to that of today. Still in its early years, and not yet available in Australia, television companies looked for tightly written drama that could be screened live from the studio. By the 1960s, technical advancements meant that programs could be filmed and then edited for later viewing. Twelve Angry Men was a great success and was subsequently published in script form, allowing it to be regularly acted on stage in many countries. In 1957, a film version 12 Angry Men, directed by Sidney Lumet, was released starring Henry Fonda as Juror 8. It was an immediate hit, being nominated for the Oscars, winning six Emmy awards and numerous other accolades in America and overseas. Rose continued writing for television for many years. He was a regular writer for the TV series, The Defenders, and wrote screenplays for films such as The Wild Geese, The Sea Wolves and Whose Life is it Anyway? Many of his plays and films continued to focus on juvenile delinquency which he had explored in Twelve Angry Men. Reginald Rose died in 2002.

    Twelve Angry Men was inspired by Roses own experiences of jury duty on a manslaughter case in New York. Initially reluctant to serve on a jury, he changed his mind: the moment I walked into the courtroom and found myself facing a strange man whose fate was suddenly more or less in my hands. (Authors Commentary on Twelve Angry Men in Six Television Plays). His entire attitude changed and Rose immersed himself in the world of the jury room. The serious responsibility of the situation impressed him; he and his fellow eleven jurors would make a decision of absolute finality. Intrigued by the notion that absolutely no one but the twelve jurors knew what went on in the jury room, he decided to write a play capturing the excitement, tension and gravity of the deliberations behind locked doors.

    Rose set out to raise issues of justice and morality, helping his audience see past stereotypes and prejudices. It is this central focus of the play which Year 12 students will need to understand. Students will need to remember that the play was written in the mid-1950s when jury decisions were indeed influenced by views, controversial as they were, that existed at that time. Rose was writing at a time which had seen much post-war migration, fear of communism (for example, the Cold War and the HUAC trials chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy), as well as continued racial segregation in America. Juries were very much the realm of white, Anglo-Saxon males. By drawing on this social background of the time, Rose was able to emphasise the plays key theme that justice prevails, even when only one person stands up for what they believe is right and just.

    The play takes place on an oppressively hot summers day in 1953. Twelve jurors leave the court for the jury room with the presiding judges words ringing in their

  • VATE INSIDE STORIES TWELVE ANGRY MEN

    3

    ears. The judge has reminded them of their sworn duty to examine the testimony they have heard during the trial and separate fact from fancy to reach a unanimous verdict. If the jurors all agree that there is no reasonable doubt, they will return with a verdict of guilty and the defendant will be sentenced to death; if they all agree reasonable doubt does exist, their verdict will be not guilty. As the play gets underway, it appears that some jurors heed the words of the judge more carefully than others.

    Initial discussion indicates that the jurors seem certain that the verdict is obvious the defendant without a doubt murdered his father. However, when the first vote is taken, a show of hands indicates that Juror 8 is voting not guilty; he has doubts.

    Throughout the jurys deliberations, Juror 8 attempts to create reasonable doubt about the defendants guilt. Although not entirely sure that the defendant is actually innocent, he is very conscious that a young mans life hangs in the balance and that a fair, reasoned discussion is the least the jury can do. He wants to examine the evidence closely and ensure that the integrity of a democratic jury process is maintained. However, in his attempts to search for the truth, Juror 8 encounters apathy, prejudice and the biased preconceptions of other jurors. Some jurors believe strongly that those who live in slums, as does the defendant, must be criminals. Several jurors are simply keen to get home after several days of being cooped up in the court room; they are uninterested in the process and cling to their original guilty votes. As deliberations continue, frictions and frustrations are exposed in the hot, stuffy jury room. Jurors 9 and 11 give their support to Juror 8 as they start to experience doubt as various ambiguities in the evidence are exposed. These two men are also fair-minded, commonsensical and value the integrity of the jury process. Jurors 3, 7 and 10 are exposed as their antagonists. These three men judge the defendant on his background and find it difficult to separate their personal beliefs from fact. Juror 3 brings baggage from his estranged relationship with his own young son, Juror 10 is a prejudiced bigot whilst Juror 7 is impatient with the proceedings and doesnt really care; he just wants to get to his baseball game.

    One by one, the other jurors begin to have reasonable doubt as various ambiguities in the evidence are highlighted. The murder weapon, an unusual knife comes under scrutiny when Juror 8 presents one exactly the same. This persuades Juror 9 to change his vote. Doubt is cast on the old mans witness testimony and the fathers history of violence is considered. Juror 5 changes his vote. Questions are asked about the defendants return to the scene of the crime. The next vote sees Juror 11 changing to not guilty as he now entertains reasonable doubt. Juror 8 re-enacts the old mans movements on the night of the murder raising doubts about the plausibility of his evidence. Jurors 3, 7 and 10 remain argumentative and hostile and Act 1 concludes with Juror 3 threatening to kill Juror 8, a pivotal moment as it contradicts his earlier argument. Juror 11 emerges as a strong advocate for justice and the vote is now 6-6 as a storm metaphorically breaks outside. As further discussions consider the strength of the defendants alibi and the angle of the knife thrust, two other jurors change their votes to not guilty. Jurors 4 and 10 still believe strongly in the boys guilt, although one bases his belief on logic and the other on prejudice. Juror 10s prejudiced tirade against those from the same background as the defendant, silences the other men and is a dramatic peak of the play. After the womans testimony is questioned, the vote is now 11 to 1 in favour of not guilty. Only Juror 3 stands alone, reminding us of Juror 8s stance at the beginning of

  • VATE INSIDE STORIES TWELVE ANGRY MEN

    4

    deliberations. However, Juror 8 stood alone for admirable reasons. Juror 3 cannot yet shed his personal bias and anger against the defendant and it isnt until he breaks down whilst trying to defend his stance, that he finally realises the truth. He changes his vote and the jury now has a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

    Twelve Angry Men will make for exciting reading in the classroom and provides much opportunity for students to evaluate each of the jurors as well as explore notions of justice, truth, standing up for ones beliefs and those who argue with their emotions rather than with reasoned logic. They should be en