12 Angry Men Study Guide

Modern drama –
Name: __________________________
The title Twelve Angry Men is a reference to the twelve members of a jury.
A jury was, at the time that the play was written (1954), made up of twelve
men. Women were not, at that time, allowed to sit on juries in many states.
This became a right for women in Georgia first in 1953, and then was
granted to more and more women until finally, in 1971, a Supreme Court
ruling made it legal for all women in every state in America. Canadian
women earned the same right in 1971, when a Quebec law limiting jury duty
to men only was struck down in a Supreme Court decision.
Twelve Angry Men is a courtroom drama that takes place almost entirely in
the jury room as the twelve members of the jury deliberate the fate of the
defendant. We do not see the trial itself, which is an unusual choice, as
most courtroom dramas revolve around the highs and lows of the lawyers
and defendants. Consider A Time to Kill, To Kill a Mockingbird, Amistad, The
Lincoln Lawyer, Philadelphia, and A Few Good Men.
As you read and watch the play, try to figure out what is meant by the word
“angry” in the title.
American Court system
(1) The accused is deemed innocent until and unless proved “guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt;”
(2) The burden of proof is on the prosecutor;
(3) In most cases, the verdict has to be unanimously reached. The
majority of a jury is not sufficient to find a defendant guilty of a felony;
(4) A trial does not aim to discover who committed a particular crime,
but rather to establish the innocence or guilt of the accused;
(5) The system is valuable, but not infallible, and can be quite
jury system and jurors
1. Who can be a jury member?
 A jury is made up of 12 adults.
 The jury is chosen at random from the local Electoral Register.
 Jury service is usually compulsory, however there are certain
categories of people who can't be selected including:
o judges,
o lawyers,
o ministers of religion,
o prisoners,
o MPs,
o members of the armed forces,
o members of the medical profession,
o police and probation officers,
o anyone on bail or who has been on probation within the last
five years,
o anyone sentenced to prison, detention centre, youth custody
or community service within the last 10 years.
o anyone with past contact with the accused
how long does jury duty last?
It lasts for around two weeks. However, if at the end of this time the
trial is still going, you will be required to stay on.
how are jurors chosen?
Anyone eligible for jury service has their name in a central pool of
potential jurors. You will receive notice when your name is randomly
selected from that pool. Jurors are required to present themselves at
the courthouse, at which time the judge will excuse anyone for whom it
would be a hardship to serve as a juror. Then the lawyers for the state
and the accused have the right to question potential jurors to eliminate
those who might sway the case one way or the other. For example, the
lawyer of a young aboriginal youth might not want someone with racist
beliefs sitting on the jury, so that person may be excused.
are jurors paid?
Most states currently pay jurors a small per diem of between $10 and
$50 per day, plus mileage. In the case of a trial that lasts more than
two weeks, jurors will be paid a more substantial amount of $200 per
special restrictions
Jurors are not permitted to discuss the case with anyone outside of the
jury. They may not read newspapers or go online to look up
information about the case, or watch newscasts about it. They are
expressly forbidden from using social media to learn about the case. In
the case of large, sensational trials, the jury may be “sequestered,”
which means that the jury members are not permitted to go home, but
are kept all together in a hotel, with guards preventing them from
contacting others without supervision, until the case is over.
Do you think it is fair to give a jury the full
responsibility to decide whether a suspect is guilty
or innocent? What is fair or unfair about this
Twelve Angry Men - Act I Questions
1. Who is the author of Twelve Angry Men?
2. What is the setting in which the reader first meets the twelve
characters who give the play its name? (Note – “setting” is time,
place and mood.) What are the clues as to the setting?
3. How many days has the trial been going on when the jurors begin
their deliberations?
4. Before the jurors depart for the jury room, who gives them final
instructions? Summarize these instructions.
5. Who is the defendant and for what is he being tried?
6. What sentence must the defendant face if proven guilty?
7. What is "the burden of proof"?
8. At the first vote, how many of the twelve jurors think the defendant is guilty?
Who does not? Why?
9. What was the young man's alibi, and why was it so unbelievable?
10. What surprise does Juror 8 supply at the end of Act 1? How does this affect the
other jurors?
11. What proposition does Juror 8 make at the end of Act 1? Predict what you think
will happen next.
Twelve Angry Men - Act II Questions
1. What prejudices are shown by the jurors, and how does this affect their ability to
act in this trial? Go through each juror, one-by-one, and discuss this.
2. How would you have voted if you were on the jury? Explain.
3. What two pieces of evidence does Juror Eight concentrate on in his discussion
with the other jurors? Explain how these might contradict evidence given in court.
4. What do the jurors decide to reconstruct?
5. How would this trial have been different if it were held today?
Twelve Angry Men Characters
What are the background stories that affect their decisions on the jury?
Juror #3
1. What was his vote?
2. What in his background/personal story affected his vote?
3. Quote from play that supports what you know about his background (including page number).
Juror #5
1. What was his vote?
2. What in his background/personal story affected his vote?
3. Quote from play that supports what you know about his background (including page
Juror #11
1. What was his vote?
2. What in his background affected his vote?
3. Quote from play that supports what you know about his background/personal story
(including page number).
1. According to Juror Four, how are they behaving? Why does he say this?
2. Why is Juror Eleven so impressed with the jury system?
3. After the third (official) vote, how are the votes for guilty and not guilty split?
4. What does Juror Three want to do after the third vote?
5. Why did Juror Six change his vote?
6. What does Juror Two say changed his mind about his vote?
7. After the second reenactment, what does Juror Four think it’s reasonable to
assume about the old man?
8. What do several of the jurors do with their votes after the reenactment?
9. What point do Jurors Eight and Eleven make about the light in the hallway of the
building where the murder took place?
10. What point does Juror Two bring up about the stab wound?
11. What does Juror Three do during the stabbing demonstration? What does this
tell us about Juror Three’s character?
12. What point does Juror Five make about how a person handles a knife?
13. Juror Eight makes a point about whether or not the kid is smart. What is his
14. According to Juror Eight, for the boy to be guilty he has to be what?
15. What is Juror Ten’s long speech about? What does this speech show about his
16. Who does Juror Ten mean when he says “them”?
17. What point does Juror Eight make about the woman who testified? What was she
18. After the explanation Eight gives about the woman’s testimony, which juror is
now alone in his vote?
19. What point does Juror Nine make about standing alone?
20. Finally, what does Juror Three do with his vote?
Literary Exploration ELA 20-2
In Twelve Angry Men, Juror No.9 states “It takes a great deal of courage to stand
The Assignment
What is your opinion of the idea that COURAGE is an important
quality to have in your life?
In your writing, you must discuss a character from another piece of literature or
film that you have studied in English Language Arts 20-2.
Literary Text you’ve chosen______________________________
Character you’ve chosen:________________________________
Essay Format
1st paragraph- state the *controlling idea and state your opinion on it. State what text and
character you are using.
2nd paragraph- defend your opinion using the text you have been given.
3rd paragraph- defend your opinion using a text and character of your choice as examples.
4th paragraph - give personal examples that reflect the controlling idea.
5th paragraph-conclusion
*Controlling idea is the essay topic. In this case, your opinion about the idea that courage is an
important quality in your life MUST be the controlling idea.
Your writing should:
Reflect upon your own knowledge and/or experience.
Writing should be clear and focused. (Be sure to follow proper writing conventions).
Carefully consider your controlling idea
Express your thoughts clearly and support them with relevant references and examples.
Avoid merely retelling—without any focus or direction—the sequence of events in a literary text.
Try to communicate ideas that are meaningful to you.
Discussion questions – viewing the film
As you watch it, pay special attention to Juror No. 8's ability to discern the behavioral signals
of people—their often subtle but very real concerns, needs, orientation, and disposition. This is
what we mean by empathy. Researchers have hypothesized—and found evidence to support—a
positive correlation between this cognitive “sixth sense” and effective leadership. In short,
leaders who are more empathic are better able to reach the fulcrum of their followers’ judgment.
Then ask yourself these questions:
1. What did you notice about the styles of communication among the jurors? Which styles
were most effective? Least effective?
2. How would you describe Juror No. 8's leadership style?
3. In addition to Juror No. 8, who showed leadership credibility and how? Who didn’t?
4. Who showed respect, honor, and trust for others? Who didn’t? How did it appear as
visible behavior? Did it weaken or strengthen leadership? What were its benefits? Its
5. Who showed empathy? How did it appear as behavior? Did it weaken or strengthen
leadership? What were its benefits? Its costs?
6. How would you describe the leadership of the nominal leader, the jury foreman (Juror
No. 1, played by Martin Balsam)?
7. What assumptions did some of the jurors make? In what ways did these assumptions
demonstrate the presence or lack of respect, honor, and trust?
8. Whose courage grew as the deliberations wore on?
9. Contrast the perseverance and persistence of Juror No. 3 (played by Lee J. Cobb), Juror
No. 4 (played by E.G. Marshall), Juror No. 8 (played by Fonda), and Juror No. 10
(played by Ed Begley). What do you learn about courage?
10. Who nurtured dialogue? Who relied mainly on lecturing? What was the difference in
their impact?
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