"Twelve Angry Men" Study Paper

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TWELVE ANGRY MEN

By Reginald Rose

Introduction

In 1957, a boy is on trial in a New York City court of law, accused of the murder of his father. It is a hot July afternoon. The twelve male jurors retire into the jury room, instructed by the judge to consider the evidence “honestly and thoughtfully”. Before long, however, issues of prejudice and racism arise, threatening to influence the impartial process of justice.

Historical Note

In the 1950s in the State of New York, women were allowed to serve on juries, but most were ‘excused’ for various reasons, such as their need to go to work to support their families, poor health, old age, a need to care for small children, or the distance they lived from the courthouse. Generally, women were absent from the process of justice, and that is why the jury is all male in the play.

Terms and Definitions

Plot - the pattern of events in a literary work; what happens.

Characterisation – the methods (actions, speech, etc.) used by an author to show the personalities of the characters.

Theme – the central idea behind the story; the message that the writer wishes to communicate to the reader/audience, either directly or indirectly. The theme is most often a universal statement about humanity, rather than a simple statement dealing with the plot or characters of a story.

Dialogue – conversation between two or more characters.

Dramatis personae – the cast of characters in a play.

Drama – a play intended to be acted.

Melodrama – a sensational dramatic work with exaggerated characters and exciting (perhaps unrealistic) events, designed to appeal to the emotions.

Motivation – the reasons behind a character’s actions.

Prejudice – an unfair judgment or attitude that is not based on actual fact or common sense.

Protagonist – the main character in a story around whom the plot is

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