Like any piece of fiction, whether it be a short story, play, or possibly a novel, all are written with a specific purpose in mind. Usually, authors of fictional writing take entertainment into consideration when mapping out the subliminal purpose they intend to display for their audience. Reginald Rose, the author of Twelve Angry Men, could have written this play for multiple reasons. However, as a reader, it is critical to conclude that it was written for at least two solid purposes instead of assuming a vast assortment of insignificant reasons that may not make sense.
In my opinion, Reginald Rose’s purpose for writing Twelve Angry Men was to portray that even in the judicial system, it is almost impossible to avoid the idea of mob mentality and bias because of personal experience and the prejudice of others. People whom observe the judicial system from afar can come to the conclusion that justice may be “blind”. However, this is not always true. In Rose’s piece of writing, it becomes the duty of twelve jurors to “try and separate the facts from the fancy” (Rose, 5).
This means that the jurors would have to decide whether or not a 16-year-old boy was guilty of allegedly stabbing his father to death and committing “murder in the first degree-premeditated homicide” (Rose, 5). In the beginning, all but the eighth juror placed in a vote in favor of “guilty”, which would have sentenced the young man to death if it wasn’t for the verdict of “not guilty” along with reasonable doubt. In the case of the eighth juror, the reader is able to conclude that he represents the idea of individuality and does not follow through with mob mentality.
Throughout the entire play, the eighth juror sticks to his word and although he may doubt his perception, he does not change his initial vote. Instead, Rose succeeds in developing his character as one who is able to bring the other jurors to conformity and vote “not guilty”. Rose’s purpose for doing this was to show that the majority of society is strongly affected by mob mentality, the usual tendency to coincide with the views of others within the group they might find themselves in.
For example, when the foreman counts the votes of juror 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12, whom proceed in voting “not guilty”, “The foreman stops counting and looks around the table. Slowly, almost embarrassed, he raises his own hand” (Rose, 63). After reading this, any reader would be able to see that no matter who the case is presented to, they will eventually give in to the mass majority. In addition, inevitable bias is one of Rose’s primary purposes for writing Twelve Angry Men.
It is extremely hard to not be biased towards certain situations because there’s always going to be factors such as personal experience that may withhold the act of avoiding bias to any extent. A strong example of bias would be when the third juror continuously fought back against the other jurors, trying to convince them that the boy was guilty. He was extremely stubborn for the fact that he, himself had a rebellious child whom reminded him of the 16-year-old boy. Towards the end of the play, the third juror has an outburst and proceeds to say, “That goddamn rotten kid.
I know him. What they’re like. What they do to you. How they kill you every day. My God, don’t you see? How come l’m the only one who sees? Jeez, I can feel that knife goin’ in” (Rose, 72). The only reason he feels this way is because of his own personal experience with his son that has convinced him that the boy is absolutely guilty. When the eighth juror tells him, “It’s not your boy. He’s someone else,” the third juror gives up and says, “All right. “Not guilty” (Rose, 72).
Although the example presented only shows a short portion of the play in which bias is presented, there are countless other examples included within the play that correlate with everyday occurrences in a “normal” society, even up to this day. All in all, Reginald Rose’s purpose in writing Twelve Angry Men was not only to depict mob mentality and bias of society, it successfully portrayed the fact that many humans will go with what they believe, and may hold their thoughts strong enough to save lives, or possibly destroy them.
Just by reading the play, we, the readers, understand that despite the evidence that may be presented or the setting and state of being a person might find themselves in, factors such as prejudice and individuality or conformity will somehow end up leading to mob mentality and/or a strong emotional bias. No matter how hard one may try to avoid the inevitable, they will never be fully successful in doing so.