The Principles of Offering the Evidence in the Play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose: Essay Example, 2651 words GradesFixer
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The Principles of Offering the Evidence in the Play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose

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Asking Questions and Seeking Answers

Evidence is the process of asking questions in order to confirm an event, statement, or issue; it is the process of seeking the truth through analyzation. In the play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose, a group of jurors debates back and forth and reviews the story and evidence repeatedly to reach a verdict, the reader is introduced to seven different and equally powerful evidentiary forms and how these forms affect the outcome of a decision. The seven forms of evidence are one’s intuition, qualitative conjecture, personal experience, personal observation, witness or public testimony, qualitative conjecture, and conformation by authority or expertise, there is a large variety of evidentiary forms because they all provide different credibility and serve varying purposes. Therefore, understanding that there are many forms of evidence allows the reader to understand that, “Asking questions and seeking evidence requires an ability and willingness to face others; to discern not only who and what but how and why; to be attentive to the motions and intentions of language; to embrace things in an active and objective manner” (Garcia-Martinez). The presentation of diverse forms of evidence in Rose’s play demonstrates an effective visual representation of these forms while they are being used and the consequences they have on others. To realize and appreciate the seven evidentiary forms, it is important to first understand that evidence is not the truth but the beginning of the process to asking and analyzing questions and answers that lead to the truth.

The first evidentiary form to be reviewed is “one’s intuition” which, “involves some thing that one either knows or considers likely from an instinctive insight they possess, from a strong sense they develop, or from some compelling sensation of trust or confidence…” (Garcia-Martinez). In other words, this form of evidence builds from a “hunch” that, in this case, the jurors in the play cannot always logically or reasonably explain their thoughts but they possess an intense emotion that tells them to continue debating when attempting to decide the verdict. An example of “one’ intuition” in Rose’s stage play takes place when Juror Three begins talking about the stabbing that the eighteen-year-old boy is accused of against his father. He begins to speak of the angle of the cut regarding the boy’s height compared to his father’s, “Down and in. That’s how I’d stab a taller man in the chest, and that’s how it was done” (Page 55). Shortly after the jurors begin discussing the wound more intricately Juror Five steps in and says, “I suppose, it’s conceivable that he could have made the wound, but it’s not likely, not if he’d ever had any experience with switch knives, and we know that the kid had a lot of experience with switch knives” (Page 56). Juror Five had seen knife fights in the vacant lot near his home when he was younger, therefore, he had “hunch” or “feeling” that the boy should be more experienced with knives than the wound showed. This moment in the play is an example of “one’s intuition” because Juror Three contributed an idea to the group, thus, motivating the other men to consider his idea, then Juror Five analyzed and created an even stronger conclusion based off what was said plus his additional previous knowledge. Therefore, Juror Three’s “…intuitive suspicion or intuitive guess” (Garcia-Martinez) forced him to voice his thoughts which led to an answer of why the stab wound looked like it did and why it was placed where it was on the body, thus, he started the process of seeking answers for evidence.

A frequent form of evidence is “confirmation by expertise or authority” because people respect others who are seen as intelligent or powerful. This evidentiary form “commonly occurs when an individual who is looked at as qualified, as distinguished or respected, or as possessing knowledge that others do not or cannot, provides insight or information about a thing or another person” (Garcia-Martinez). This credibility is obtained by someone over many years of experience in schooling, work, or training in another particular field. This evidentiary form is experienced when Jurors Eight and Five are discussing the el tracks which is where it is said that the murder took place. Juror Eight asked if any of the other men had lived near the el tracks when Juror Five answers “I’ve lived close to them” (Page 32). None of the other jurors answered that they lived near the el tracks, which then makes Juror Five’s following statements highly credible because he has a level of expertise, in this specific subject, that no one else does because he is the only person in that group that has lived near the train tracks. This sense of “authority” is something that he obtained only through years of living by the trains and thus being the only person to be able to speak of that experience with any personal insight. In this instance Juror Five was an expert because he had “amassed a level or experience, knowledge, insight, or skill in a particular field, and thus employed (or contributed to) certain systems of thought” (Garcia-Martinez). In conclusion, because of the confirmation provided by the experienced juror that lived near the train tracks, his following conclusions regarding the matter at hand were taken seriously by the other jurors because that gave him a sense of “authority” or “power” in that moment due to his experience.

Personal experience is a form of evidence that we often overlook because one does not realize that over time they become an “expert” in their day-to-day activities. “Personal experience” is defined as, “…an evidentiary form that is not scientific or infallible, rather, it involves the large-scale events and day-to-day occurrences a person individually experiences, and the resulting awareness or wisdom that is obtained from experiencing them” (Garcia-Martinez). To clarify, one’s ability to recall and apply what they have gone through allows others to know that certain outcomes are possible. In a sense, because they have personal experience relating to the subject at hand they are almost a testimony for what could happen under certain circumstances. For instance, Jurors Four, Three, Twelve, and Eleven relate to the boy accused of murder because they also had a rough childhood and were victims of poverty and the struggles that the young man faced they did as well, but they did not become criminals, let alone murderers, because of it. As Juror Three stated, “I know what it’s like. I never killed nobody” (Page 16). Thus, he is recalling his childhood and it is applying it to the boy’s childhood and concluding that there is another outcome possible other than falling though the cracks of society, instead one can persevere instead of letting their difficulties define them. Although, certain jurors can relate to the hardships that the boy has gone through they make clear that the path he has chosen to take is not one they agree with and the remaining men agree with them because their daily hardships provided them with wisdom. All in all, it is essential when seeking the truth to realize that daily experiences are a form of evidence because these daily hardships and lessons comes wisdom that one can then use in the future.

Another evidentiary form present in the stage play is “personal observation” which allows someone to use what they really have observed, noticed, and registered what they have seen as evidence. The evidence of “personal observation” is defined as, “…involves ‘an observer’, or ‘a witness’ or ‘an investigator’—a person taking the time to actively note something or someone and closely perceiving characteristics or conditions of that someone or something” (Garcia-Martinez). In retrospect, this type of evidence is provided by someone who visibly saw something happen and can analyze what those actions mean. Juror Nine provides a very convincing example of “personal observation” when he is speaking about the old man who provided a testimony regarding the murder. He observed that the old man was lonely, insignificant, and unaccomplished, stating, “A man like this needs to be recognized-to be questioned, and listened to, and quoted just once. This is very important” (Page 34). After Juror Nine observed the man during court he questioned his testimony because he theorized that the man could have just wanted attention and his old age meant that he had nothing to lose if anyone found out he was lying. The old man was the witness to the crime, or he declares that he was the witness but a witness’ credibility is due in part to their reputation in the community, history of lying, and character. The juror’s prediction “served as the basis for speculation, theory, research, reason, and knowledge” (Garcia-Martinez) and thus his speculation was evidence because it helped the jurors discover that the old man may have provided a faulty testimony. Overall, using personal observation as a tool that leads to the truth takes a substantial amount of concentration, time, contemplation, and scrutinizing.

The most formal of the evidentiary forms is “official or public testimony” and in this instance that witness is often accompanied with a significant amount of credibility. This form of evidence is defined as “…one’s (spoken-written) particular account of what occurred or what someone said, or what someone did. It hinges upon whether a person was actually present to observe some occurrence, words or actions of another, or whether a person was themselves involved in the whole action taking place” (Garcia-Martinez). In short, it is a statement, usually declared in a legal setting, by someone that saw the action occur or took part in it, which is what provides them with the credibility, that they were present at the time. To exemplify, the jurors reference the testimony made by the old man that he saw the boy running after he heard him screech “I’m going to kill you!” When the man first provided his testimony it seemed reliable, because he did leave near the boy’s home and he was convinced that he saw the boy running away after the sound of a body falling. The problem is that a testimony can be spoiled if fueled by a selfish or personal motive, which the juror’s suspected because the man was old and supposed he wanted attention. Thus, this evidence is not always reliable, “though this form of evidence is compelling and convincing in our society, the one testifying can have selective observation or memory, have selfish or personal interests, or omit certain information” (Garcia-Martinez). So, although “public or official” testimonies are usually concrete forms of evidence it is important to remember that who the testimony comes from is essential in case they have any hidden motives and that a testimony alone is not concrete evidence but the key to the truth.

One’s senses can detect the quality of something and, even based of incomplete information, can lead to a conclusion. The evidence called “qualitative conjecture” is “…forming an opinion or a conclusion on the basis of incomplete information relating to, or gauged by, the particular quality of something—some overall or some specific attributes or characteristics of a thing such as its existence, appearance, sound, smell, tone, or its mood” (Garcia-Martinez). In other words, someone makes a conclusion based on a person’s characteristics or qualities, this can have a negative connotation because people usually use this form of evidence to generalize or stereotype others. Juror Ten fabricates a qualitative conjecture about the boy accused of murdering his father stating that, “You know how those people lie, I don’t need to tell you”, “…they get drunk, and bang, someone’s lying in the gutter”, “Nobody’s blaming them, that’s just how they are” and “Most of them, it’s like they have no feelings” (Page 59). In this case, Juror Ten determines the boy’s innocence because of what he thinks his qualities are and “drew some kind of observational judgement or reasoned conclusion from them” (Garcia-Martinez). In the instance of Juror Ten he made a generalization about a certain group of people which then weakens his argument because it comes across as ignorant, racist, and biased therefore, it is fundamental to evaluate the person that constructed the qualitative conjecture because they can be judgmental and close-minded.

Although, all these previous forms of evidence are very compelling the most influential, believed, and valued one is “quantitative conjecture” because in today’s society numbers mean everything. A “quantitative conjecture” is defined in the class notes as, “…occurring when one forms an opinion or a conclusion on the basis of incomplete information relating to, or measured by, the particular quantity of something—some overall or specific attributes or characteristics of a thing such as its size, frequency, weight, proportion, cost, duration, etc.” (Garcia-Martinez). As stated, this is a powerful evidentiary form, if not the most powerful, because statistics are engaged to help further confirm a “hunch” or idea. Specifically, Jurors Eight and Five strategically employ time values to discover and present to the rest of the jurors that the time frame provided by the witnesses does not seem exactly accurate. Juror Eight is asking his fellow peers the length they believed it would take for an elevated train to pass a given point. Juror Eleven responds, “I would think about ten seconds, perhaps….” (Page 32) while Juror Eight reports, “An el train passes a given point in ten seconds. That given point is the window of the room in which the killing took place” (Page 32). He then also has the other jurors reenact the situation of the old man getting out of bed and slowly approaching his window down the hall, where they found that the time given compared to the time it would actually take did not match. As Juror Eight brought the other men along on this path of discovery he knew the affect his was having on their opinions because they cold not argue with factual and statistical data, “Anything numerical is fundamentally measurable; it can be “proven” to some extent, so it tends to be more regarded than anything experiential or personally observed” (Garcia-Martinez). Ultimately, all this juror’s minor attempts to shed light on the severity of this young man’s freedom accumulate and eventually change everyone’s opinions, even the most stubborn of the men.

All in all, to seek truth and understand that evidence is only a stepping stone to discovering reality one must be able to thoroughly detect and comprehend the seven diverse types of evidentiary forms and their affects. This is proven in the stage play 12 Angry Men by Reginal Rose where the reader witnesses how one juror asked questions that demanded answers that did not come easily, thus, forcing others to explain their point of view and realize that fault in it, leading to justice for one young man. Seeing questions as a process to the truth, “…done to obtain clarification, gain insight, and develop answer” (Garcia-Martinez) is crucial because it allows somebody to more carefully analyze the criteria they have in front of them and come to a rational and logical solution. This stage play frequently demonstrates the variety of evidentiary forms and how they seek the truth, such as: “one’s intuition”, “confirmation by expertise or authority”, and “official or public testimony” just to name a few. The characters in the play provide excellent examples of each evidentiary form, but not only the form but its significant and everlasting affects on the people debating. Because of Juror Eight’s fight to seeking evidence through questions, answers, and evidence he was able to convince all the other men not only of innocence but of the importance of questioning the information that was presented to them instead of solely accepting it. Although, it would have been a much more rapid and uncomplicated method to just accept what the witnesses said and what the juror’s believed he dove into the evidence, which brought them, eventually, to the truth.

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GradesFixer. (2019, January, 03) The Principles of Offering the Evidence in the Play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose. Retrived April 23, 2019, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-principles-of-offering-the-evidence-in-the-play-12-angry-men-by-reginald-rose/
"The Principles of Offering the Evidence in the Play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose." GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2019, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-principles-of-offering-the-evidence-in-the-play-12-angry-men-by-reginald-rose/. Accessed 23 April 2019.
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GradesFixer. The Principles of Offering the Evidence in the Play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose. [Internet]. January 2019. [Accessed April 23, 2019]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-principles-of-offering-the-evidence-in-the-play-12-angry-men-by-reginald-rose/
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