To conclude our study of To Kill a Mockingbird and the nature of justice, we will apply our understanding of theme to a new text: the acclaimed film 12 Angry Men.
Remember that theme, in a work of literature or art, is a statement, central idea or primary message that a particular author is attempting to present to the reader. The theme may be a life lesson that was discovered by one of the characters or it may be an evaluation that the author offers regarding an aspect of existence; in other words, a theme is a profound observation about people in general or the way the world works.
Theme is primarily shown by the resolution of a conflict. Whether the conflict is between opposing forces (character vs. character, character vs. society) or is within the characters themselves (internal struggle), how a problem is solved and how the characters react sends a powerful message.
As we know, the events surrounding the trial of Tom Robinson in the Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird reveal much about the character of people. Similarly, the 1957 classic movie (adapted from the play 12 Angry Men) uses a trial to explore human nature, revealing many important themes. Because both texts explore similar issues of justice (racism, social class, etc.), they share many of the same themes, including the 12 listed below. 1. Prejudice obstructs the truth (and justice).
2. True understanding requires time, study, and effort.
3. Intuition can be deceptive -- neither dismiss initial judgments, nor trust them blindly. 4. There are many interpretations of "the facts"; few things are truly black or white. 5. Patient silence and loud persistence can both be powerful, at the right times. 6. One determined individual can wield great influence.
7. Courage “…is when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” 8. Respect...