12 Angry Men: Analysis

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  • Topic: Henry Fonda, John Fiedler, Jack Warden
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Tyler Streets
Dr. Lipson
Organizational Behavior 200
01 November 2009
“12 Angry Men” Analysis
By the sound of it, you would think “12 Angry Men” would be a football game, but a lot can be said for a jury proceeding and this movie does a great job of showing that. Twelve different men with twelve different personalities are locked in a room until they can unanimously agree to a verdict, a decision whether to put an 18 year old boy to death for a murder charge, or let him go free. When they enter the room, the mood and feeling was nonchalant, as if it was an open and shut case, but after a preliminary vote not everyone was in agreement. The proceedings that followed were longer, and more taxing than they expected but the longer they talked about it, the more clear the picture became.

The only person that didn’t vote the boy guilty was a man by the name of Henry Fonda. He was an architect, a stout man with good posture. He was the “voice of reason” for the sake of making an honest decision. He knew the magnitude of the decision they had to make, and wanted to talk it out. Mr. Fonda was rational, analytical, and became the information and opinion seeker during the proceedings. His characteristics were synonymous with the style associated with a Thinker-type personality. Throughout the proceedings sometimes the men took on multiple roles, shifting between behavior types based on the introduction of new material. Such was the case with John Fiedler, a bank teller who subtly assumed the role of the Energizer. He was the one to see the relatedness between ideas and helped stimulate new approaches to the rest of the group. When it became clearer, he was able to reiterate what the architect was trying to convey. Mr. Fiedler helped Mr. Fonda prove his theory that the eyewitness downstairs couldn’t have made it to the door in time to see the boy run out. However, the bank teller wasn’t the first one to reverse his vote.

It was Mr. Sweeney, an empathetic old man with a good eye and keen sense of character. He had a key role early on in the proceedings that introduced the notion the eyewitness was making up his testimony because he enjoyed the attention he got and wanted to feel like he was important to someone. Although it didn’t sit well at first, the idea helped connect new material about the eyewitness that became apparent later. Sweeney was the one to organize the information, sort it out and digest it. He could make a connection between new information and the task at hand. Mr. Sweeney had the style of a feeler type personality. He was empathetic toward the eyewitness, and loyal to the Architect for doing the right thing.

Mr. Fonda, Fiedler, and Sweeney were some of the “12 angry men” that were concerned with accomplishing the team task. That is, to come to an honest and legitimate verdict for the boy. Jack Warden a baseball fan, Mr. Marshall, a stockbroker, and Mr. Cobb, a messenger of some sort, played the opposite role of accomplishing the task because they were more concerned with themselves and their own needs.

Jack displayed behavior like that of an Avoider. He would sulk and remain silent, not interested in talking it through. He was impatient from the start because he had tickets to a baseball game and didn’t want to be late. He was convinced that the boy was guilty just because of how the evidence was laid out. Often times he would comment on the fan not working in the room, or take breaks to the bathroom to stop talking about the case. He focused on non-essential points to the testimony and wanted everything spelled out for him, even the easiest understood terms. It wasn’t until the old man’s eyewitness testimony became unreliable, the trajectory of the stabbing came into question, and it started raining that he decided to vote “not guilty”. Yet his reason for voting not guilty was because he was tired of arguing. Jack Warden’s behavior is typical of an Avoider.

Mr. Marshall had the typical...
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