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Obedience To Authority In 12 Angry Men Essay

From watching 12 Angry Men, it raises the question of what are the factors that influence the choices we make and the actions we take? 12 Angry Men was about a trial of an 18 year old boy who was accused murdering his father. He was accused of stabbing his father in the chest with a pocket knife. The judge commanded that the jury needs to come up with a decision as to whether or not the verdict (the boy) was guilty or not. If the jury pleaded guilty, the boy would face the death penalty. At first everyone but one person pleaded guilty.

As the movie progressed, more and more of the jury were convinced that the boy was not guilty and eventually the jury decided that the boy was not guilty. To come up with this conclusion, the jury was not able to come up with enough evidence as to how the boy can be guilty. Based on their own knowledge of the case and their own experiences in life, the jury was able to come up with the conclusion to the boy being not guilty. The three themes of sociology such as obedience to Authority, Prejudice/stereotyping, and self-justification justify why people make the choices and actions they take.

In 12 Angry Men, the men use the following social themes of society: Obedience to authority, prejudice/stereotyping, and self-justification to convey and justify as to why they had made the of choice pleading the boy as not guilty. First off, the social theme of society Obedience to authority is evident in the movie. Obedience to authority is defined as a social influence in which an individual follows explicit instructions and orders from an authoritative figure. For example, in the beginning scene, the judge commanded that the jury must bring a non guilty verdict or else the verdict would face the death penalty.

This is an example of obedience to authority because the jury has to listen the judge due to the fact that they have the most authority in the court during the trial. The jury has to obey the judge’s wishes by coming up with a conclusion as to whether or not the suspect is guilty or not guilty. Another example from the movie is when the jury did their first vote of how many people thought the boy was guilty and how many thought that the boy was not guilty of his killing his father.

Most people in the jury voted the suspect as guilty, so anyone who does not know will vote guilty to prevent controversy between the people who think the boy is guilty. Lastly, another example is when the 12 men (jury) would yell at each other. The person who yelled at everyone, would get everyone’s attention and stop everyone else from talking. Second, the social theme of prejudice and stereotyping is evident in the movie. Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. It could also make an assumption on an individual based on race.

Stereotyping is defined as a thought that can be assumed about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things. Stereotypes can classify a race or a type of person as an object or symbol. For example, in the movie, stereotypes are evident when the jury is in the room trying to come up with a conclusion as to whether or not the boy is guilty or not. This is when they were describing the boy’s characteristics and personality. They said he is 18 years old, implying that he is young. They said he was born in a slum and his mother died.

This implies that he had a tough and horrible life for 18 years. People in the jury that were african american were able to relate to the boy’s life because based on American culture, we put a label that most minorities (African Americans and spanish), live in bad areas and in poverty. In addition, the jury said he is not recognized, a nobody, thinks differently, doesn’t know the truth and violent because they think he’s a murderer. In general, the jury also puts a label in general that the spanish or ‘spics’ come to America , are drug addicts, and breathe like animals.

Lastly, the social theme of self justification is evident in the movie. The sociological term self justification is the act or fact of justifying oneself through excessive reasoning, explanations, and excuses. For example one example of self justification is when the jury votes for the first time on who thinks the suspect is guilty and who thinks the suspect is not guilty. 11 pleaded the suspect as guilty while 1 person pleaded the suspect as not guilty. The people who pleaded the boy as guilty because they believed that the boy shot his father in the chest.

They used the following evidence to convince the one non guilty person to change their vote to guilty. They said that there was a witness the prove that the boy did the crime, ten minutes after 12, the witness heard “I’m going to kill him” and then heard a shot a couple minutes later, the kid runs down the stairs, father and boy have an argument, father hits him and kid walks out of apartment angry, boy has a criminal record, boy lied that he went to the movies, he left at 11 pm and didn’t come home until 3:30 a. m, boy was found with a knife, and boy don’t remember the places he went during the time he went to the movies.

The man who pleaded the boy as not guilty used the following evidence to eventually get the entire jury to agree with him. He said that the boy has a poor lawyer-He didn’t question the other prosecutor’s explanation in fear of getting insulted, someone else could have stabbed his father with a similar knife to the suspect’s , he showed the knife he bought to kill his father to his friends, women across the street claimed she saw stabbing in the last two cars of the L-train and the body fell out of the train, and women across the street wasn’t wearing glasses, so there’s no way she could see the murder without her glasses being on.

The following evidence explanations, and arguments the non guilty side of the jury, convinces the guilty side of the jury to vote not guilty due to the fact that there isn’t enough evidence to plead the boy as guilty as well as the witness wasn’t wearing glasses at the time of the murder. This shows that the witness is not reliable enough to convince the jury to plead guilty.

She might have thought it looked like the boy but it could have been somebody else. In conclusion, the jury is able to make the decision that the boy who was accused of killing his father was pleaded as not guilty. At first, the majority of the jury was convinced that the boy was guilty of killing his father but then after coming up with evidence for the non-guilty side, they found that it wasn’t possible to plead the boy as being guilty.

Since the jury was not given enough evidence and reliable witness information, based on their own knowledge and understanding of law, they knew that putting the boy’s life on the line without enough evidence would be unethical. This concludes why people make the choices they make as well as the actions they take. Individuals are taught through society moralities of ethics as well as knowledge of ethics to conclude what they should do and what they want to do.

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