“I have always thought that a man was entitled to have unpopular opinions in this country. This is the reason I came here. I wanted to have the right to disagree. In my own country, I am ashamed to say-” -No. 11 (233)
Reginald Rose uses his play, 12 Angry Men, to voice his personal views of democracy. The play is set in a 1950’s deliberation room where twelve men must decide on the guilt or innocence of an underprivileged boy accused of murdering his own father. The first vote reveals a resounding majority in favor of guilt, but, as the jurors take a closer look at the evidence and testimonies, they soon find that it is possible the boy didn’t do it. Rose’s play shows an appreciation for democracy that is not often found in native-born Americans.
Juror Eleven, as an immigrant, is often used to voice Rose’s opinions on democracy. Right in this quote he voices his appreciation for the freedom of speech his country failed to offer. In that same breath Rose has another juror cut him off in a complaint. In doing that Rose is trying to say something about what he believes happens here in America; people come here every day “running for their lives”, thanking God to be standing on American soil and when they try to remind everyone how privileged they are, they are cut off. Americans, Rose shows, don’t realize their rights as much when they are born here versus fleeing from a land where those same rights are unavailable.
Rose had somehow come by this revelation that some other countries have it a lot worse off than Americans do, but so often people don’t realize what they have until it’s gone. Luckily most Americans will never have to know what that’s like, but for the ones that do, it give a much deeper meaning to “liberty and justice for all”.
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