Prejudice in 12 Angry Men

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One of the greatest distinctions that can be made between humans and other animals is our ability to adapt at an unprecedented rate, not only to environmental factors such as the weather, but to social and societal changes, like a civil rights movement or an abrupt change in a government hierarchy. Humans have the ability to change themselves and the surrounding environment, the former often contributing to the latter or vice versa. In 12 Angry Men, humans actively and consciously work to change the outcome of a situation. In this case, 12 men form part of a jury in a murder trial. They must unanimously agree on the innocence or guilt of one boy accused of patricide. In itself, the task is hard, but once prejudice, bias, and pride (all of which form part of the human psyche) are added into the mix, the task becomes infinitely harder. One juror takes it upon himself to peel away the layers of confusion surrounding the trial, while unwittingly peeling back the layers behind each juror and exposing the true motivation beneath. Perhaps one of the most common and instinctive kinds of prejudice is racial/ethnic discrimination. It is understandable from a purely psychological point of view to be wary of “outsiders” (people who don’t look like you), but it is entirely detestable in the eyes of modern society. This play was written during the ‘50s, a time where the United States’ civil rights movement was in full swing and the vestiges of Jim Crowe laws still resounded deeply in the South. Though it is impossible to deduce what ethnicity the defendant is, we can safely conclude that he forms part of an unpopular minority (due to the time period this was most likely Black, Italian, or Hispanic). Juror 10 is the most ardent propagator of hate speech, which often causes friction with the others. “You’re not going to tell us that we’re supposed to believe him, knowing

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