The setting of 12 Angry Men is a Jury deliberation room where the Jurors are and required to decide the guilt or innocence of an 18 year old that is accused of committing first-degree murder by stabbing his father with a switchblade knife. Witnesses were presented to give evidence of hearing a quarrel; hearing a threat to kill, and have seeing the boy run away. Another witness swore to having seen the boy stabbing his father from a window across from where the murder occurred. Eleven jurors were convinced the boy was guilty and deserved the death penalty. One raised questions he felt had not been asked or had not been pursued by the defense.
Three questions were raised for our consideration: In what ways would 12 Angry Men be a reasonable assignment for this class? What can we learn from the content of this movie for English 2012? What are some lessons learned from the movie and the text for being an informed and responsible citizen? English 2010 focuses on critical thinking, argumentation, persuasion, and analytical arguments. After viewing the film, 12 Angry Men, and reading Chapter 1, it is evident that the struggles of these ours demonstrate much what the author presents in critical thinking.
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As the Jurors arrived they were aware of the stifling heat and one open window. One Juror had tickets to a baseball game that was to begin in one hour. All but one man was quite willing to move “Toward the views that seem obviously right,” (pig. 9). The boy was obviously guilty. The group agreed to talk it over for an hour as putting a boy to death is not an easy decision. They began to look at thoughts and observations and attempt to “Eliminate snap Judgments” (pig. 3). One man clearly expressed prejudice against “Them”, the people who live in the slums.
He said, “This kid don’t even know how to speak good English. ” Another young man said he had also grown up in the slums and questioned the evidence of the stabbing. A switchblade knife is not used as demonstrated by the witness. These Jurors were reluctant to use critical thinking: to remain “[adequately] open-minded that they can [take up] a skeptical [mind-set in the direction of their own concepts], their own assumptions, and the [clues] they themselves tentatively offer, as well as [in the direction of] the assumptions and [signs suggested] by others,” in order to “Draw intelligent conclusions” (pig. . Gradually they began to “Search for hidden assumptions” (pig. 3) of a Juror who had also had a similar relationship with his son, who he had not seen since the boy fought back, at age 16. The wondered about the assumptions the defense attorney might have when required to take a hopeless case. They questioned the motivation of the elderly man who had trouble walking but said he ran to the door and saw the boy running away. Finally, there was the woman who saw the murder, yet was not wearing her glasses, nor could she have worn her glasses when awakened and shed to look out the window.
The Jurors began to act out the issues that had raised questions for them. They were able to “Reflect further, trying to support the position, and also trying to see the other side” (pig. 9). They explored the use of a switchblade knife, the possibility to see through a passing train and the ability of a handicapped elderly man to run from his bedroom to the locked front door, open it and see the escaping boy in 15 seconds. The dialogue in the film, 12 Angry Men demonstrated persuasion, arguments, counterarguments, Tact’s, International, Ana splays the many ways that the spoken language can fail to convey the truth.
Those who swear to tell the truth are still unable to reveal the facts beyond a reasonable doubt. Each “hearer” also interprets what he hears as a beholder. Consequently, if an English speaker, or writer desires to convey a message, truth, fiction or nonfiction, entertainment, persuasion, evidence of fact, he must use correct language, perhaps colloquialisms, be aware of the listeners, their education, culture, motivation and attention. The written and spoken language can be used to deceive as well as to inform.
Advertisement, celebrities, leading preachers, politicians are used to provide a single perspective, not thorough information leading to a reasoned conclusion. As citizens, it is essential to be “Critical thinkers who seek to draw intelligent conclusions” (pig. 3) whether as Jurists, voters, parent’s, students, teachers, workers, managers, attorney. It is important to be able to discern between opinion, propaganda, facts, truth, error, and purposeful deceit. We elect people to speak for us at many levels. We need to be able to comprehend what we are hearing and be willing to utilize all the skills of critical thinking.