Twelve Angry Men


The importance of social activity was an interesting issue for thinkers and artists of the 20th century. The meaningfulness of communication is based on principles and regularities of human consciousness and social interaction. The movie Twelve Angry Men shows that forcible argument, accuracy, and experience help to fight and win a losing battle. Moreover, the benefit of studying the principles of communication offers various opportunities.

Communication in the movie is depicted as an interaction of people from different social and age groups, who have the same information about a certain case. However, the process of discussion shows how different principles of communication influence the feedback of its members. Communication is impossible without its members and their intentions. Therefore, motivation is the fundamental principle of communication.

Permanency of communication is another principle performed in the movie. In fact, gestures and non-verbal communication revealed the mentality of the men. Emotionality during arguments, the juror’s stress while sharing memories about cinema, changeability of the weather functioned as the side factors of communication.

Another important aspect of communication is noise, which represents interference in the communication process, distorting the message. Therefore, such circumstances as heat, broken ventilator, time limit caused by plans of the juror are the noise in communication. However, when the heat was substituted by the rain, the ventilator appeared in going order, and plans were ruined; the communication process changed into a constructive debate.

However, the principle of motivation played an important role in juror’s communication. Justice appeared to be the motivation, suggested by the system. However, it did not inspire the majority of the jurors to take part in communication. The absence of personal motivation is the main factor that gives the right to the members of the jury to make an authoritative decision. A person’s life inspired Fonda’s character to argue. The main idea of his arguments was the practical analysis of the evidence presented in court. Fonda’s character drew parallels with personal experience and noticed inconsistencies.

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Therefore, Henry Fonda’s decision not to condemn the boy without discussion was about to function as an external motivation for other members of the jury to begin communication. However, this motivation was not enough for the jurors, they still wanted to finish the debates as soon as possible. Henry Fonda attracted their attention by counterarguments that made them doubt.

He uses Social Judgment Theory to explain how hard it is to hear and identify voices near a railway station. At first, the jurors disagree with Fonda, explaining that his arguments are dragged by the head and ears. However, eventually, some of them compared facts with their unique experience and began to suggest new ideas and doubts, such as marking on the witness’s nose, which put in doubt the probability of her words.

However, Social Judgment can influence argumentation from another point of view. Prejudice and intolerance performed by the juror revealed his real motivation, which appeared unacceptable for other jurors. Therefore, in this case, Social Judgment misled the speaker. One of the final scenes shows another act of intolerance governed by personal ego. The juror projected his own problems with his son on the case.

Fonda used the convincing method. In addition to practical analysis, Fonda’s character used practical enactment. He decided to examine the witness’s testimony by following his lead. Another enactment was performed by Fonda and one of his severe opponents. The juror decided to demonstrate handling the knife to prove the probability of the boy’s blame.

Jurors used arguments in the process of discussion. Some of these arguments were weak and improvable, also known as fallacies. For example, at the beginning of the discussion, Fonda appeals to opponents’ mercy and compassion. However, the jurors fail to be moved by these arguments. Moreover, empathy is also one of the principles of communication, performed by Henry Fonda’s character. Eleven members of the jury argued against the accused, whereas Henry Fonda tried to understand the offended boy, on the one hand, and his opponents, on the other hand. Fonda also recommended himself as a good listener, which is an important principle of communication.

Fonda’s opponents used a chain of arguments with fallacies. The jury one by one mentioned such ideas as a logical argument based on the belief that the majority is always right, insisting on the fact that all agreed, and therefore, the whole court cannot be wrong.

The argument with fallacy was used in the proposal to consider the statement as correct because such a claim was made by some sources believed to be credible, the authority, such as the prosecutor. Another misleading argument based on ignorance concluded that a statement is true because no one has proven that it is wrong; conversely, the statement is misleading because no one has proved its truth. However, the blame should be proven, but not supposed, whereas presumption of innocence is based on the benefit of the doubt.

Fonda’s proponent uses the so-called argument from the sign, which indicates an imprint on the witness’s face that hit upon the idea that the witness uses glasses. Fonda uses inductive arguments, whereas his opponents prefer deductive. Therefore, Fonda’s assumptions are based on empirical methods of analysis; he used his own life experience to examine facts, suggesting that everything is possible, whereas the majority of jurors’ suggestions are based on generalized facts, such as age and origin of the boy. The eleven members of the jury believe that the probability of the boy’s guilt is high, prejudging from the analogy of other cases they witnessed. However, the unity of Fonda’s arguments from the sign, inductive and empirical arguments, and the attention paid to his opponents appeared to be valid and convincing, proving that good argumentation can save a man’s life.

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