Twelve Angry Men

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Eleven Character Analysis

An immigrant from somewhere in Europe, Eleven exhibits an awareness of, and awe for, the idealistic principles behind the American legal system. He changes his “guilty” vote quickly, after defending the right of any man to have an unpopular opinion in America following the secret ballot vote. Initially, he seems reluctant to distinguish himself from the others, perhaps fearing the very attacks that follow. He experiences the cruel treatment of some of the other jurors early in the play when he attempts to close the window.

Eleven Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

The Twelve Angry Men quotes below are all either spoken by Eleven or refer to Eleven. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the The Dramatic Publishing Company edition of Twelve Angry Men published in 1983.
Act 2 Quotes

Eleven: Please. I would like to say something here. I have always thought that a man was entitled to have unpopular opinions in this country. This is the reason I came here. I wanted to have the right to disagree. In my own country, I am ashamed to say that.

Related Characters: Eleven (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

The vote of a single "not guilty," even though Eight has abstained, causes a strong backlash. Some jurors angrily express a desire to know who changed his vote. Eleven points out the problem with this: each person should be entitled to vote as he wills, even if that vote is unpopular. This is another ideal tenant of justice which is, clearly, not always perfectly fulfilled in practice. Eleven cites the founding American principle of free speech. The protection of free speech is all the more necessary and valuable when the speech being protected is unpopular. 

Eleven is an immigrant, which is another example of the jury's diversity and another source of tension among the jurors who don't all accept Eleven in a way that's free from prejudice. As an immigrant, he has a unique understanding of American society and the American legal system. Unlike the other jurors, who might take their free speech and their right to dissent for granted, Eleven sees this as a strong point of American justice. In his home country, he didn't have the right to disagree, and freedom of speech is one important reason he came to America. Although this is an American ideal, it is easily forgotten in daily life. Eleven's "outsider" perspective remembers and prioritizes this ideal, while the other jurors are caught up in their emotional reactions to the proceedings in the jury room. 

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Act 3 Quotes

Eleven: We have a responsibility. This is a remarkable thing about democracy. That we are...ummmm... what is the word...Ah, notified! That we are notified by mail to come down to this place and decide on the guilt or innocence of a man we have not known before. We have nothing to gain or lose by our verdict. This is one of the reasons why we are strong. We should not make it a personal thing.

Related Characters: Eleven (speaker)
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

Juror Eleven, the immigrant, continues to hold onto and remind others of the ideals of justice and the way the American legal system has been designed to uphold these ideals. One aspect of this design that is effective, Eleven feels, is that the jurors have never met the accused before and so have no reason to be swayed in one way or another. He says that they have "nothing to gain or lose," and that this lack of bias makes them strong. This is, of course, an idealization of the process of trial-by-jury that has already been undercut by the actions of the play itself. Eleven believes that the jury should be impartial, and yet it is clear that the jury members have a variety of prejudices reflective of the diverse perspectives of American society. Eleven thinks that only knowing the accused would lead them to be impartial when, in fact, the jurors' own personal experiences have biased them before they ever saw the accused kid or heard about the case. 

The final line of this passage shows that Eleven is aware of his statements about justice as an ideal. He says that the jurors "should not make it a personal thing." He has earlier highlighted their responsibility as selected jurors to fulfill their duty well. The word "should" in his statement shows that he sees this as an ideal that the jurors are striving toward, not reaching. They "should" be acting without bias, but they're not. 

Eleven: I beg your pardon, but maybe you don’t understand the term, “reasonable doubt.”
Seven: [angrily] What do you mean, I don’t understand it? Who do you think you are to talk to me like that? [To all] How do you like this guy? He comes over here running for his life, and before he can even take a big breath he’s telling us how to run the show. The arrogance of him!
Four: No one here is asking where anyone came from.
Seven: I was born right here.
Four: Or where your father came from. [Looks at Seven, who looks away.]

Related Characters: Four (speaker), Seven (speaker), Eleven (speaker)
Page Number: 53-54
Explanation and Analysis:

Seven takes personal offense when Eleven says that he does not understand the term "reasonable doubt." Seven's reaction shows that he is offended specifically because Eleven criticized him. Because Eleven is an immigrant, Seven implies that he has no right to tell him what to do or how to do it. He sees Eleven's attempt to correct him as arrogance, stating that because Eleven is an immigrant he is less entitled to speak about the American legal system. Four points out the unfairness of this attack because it is based on personal history. He says that no one should be asking about anyone's family's background. Seven feels he is different from Eleven because he was born in the United States, but Four's response "or where your father came from" implies that Seven is a first generation American.

Four's argument shows that Seven and Eleven have more in common than Seven might like to admit. America is a diverse nation of immigrants and using this as a basis for discrimination strikes Four as inaccurate and pointless, because it is something that many people have in common. He points out the illogical nature of Seven's prejudice against an immigrant when this is part of his background as well. Everyone is quick to think and speak from his own point of view, but this play repeatedly analyzes the problems with this. One problem is that you might have more in common than you suspect with someone whom you are prejudiced against. 

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Eleven Character Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the character Eleven appears in Twelve Angry Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...but he put himself through college and didn’t go to the extreme of killing. Juror Eleven can relate to the accused kid’s hardships because he grew up in Europe in a... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Just then, Juror Eleven gets up to close the window, which starts an argument between him and Juror Seven.... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...Three tries to calm Juror Five down, and there is a long silence. Eventually, Juror Eleven comments that he can understand why Juror Five is sensitive. (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...cashier. He appeals to the jury to be understanding of the boy sneaking in. Juror Eleven says he never once snuck in—they didn’t have movies when he was growing up. (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...“guilty” too. Juror Seven, Juror Four, Juror Twelve and the Foreman quickly agree, while Juror Eleven agrees more slowly. The men write down their votes and pass them to the Foreman.... (full context)
Act 2
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...Seven and Juror Three insist that they want to know who changed his vote. Juror Eleven interrupts, reminding them that this was a vote by secret ballot. Three says that “there... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Eleven says he thought that in America a man was entitled to have an unpopular opinion.... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...the distance from the bed to the bedroom door plus the length of the hallway. Eleven points out that the old man had to be helped into the witness chair and... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...Four points out that the old man swore under oath that it took 15 seconds. Eleven, the Foreman, and Four acknowledge that there is a dramatic difference between 15 and 39... (full context)
Act 3
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...is silent. Eventually Four points out that he can't see why they're behaving like children. Eleven says they have an important responsibility to decide on the guilt or innocence of another... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Nine thanks Eleven for reminding them of their opportunity to be unbiased judges. Four says he's glad that... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Three says that he's ready to declare a hung jury. Four asks Eleven, Two, and Six why they changed their minds. Six says it seems the old man... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...proposes another vote to determine whether or not the jurors think they're a hung jury. Eleven says they can't even agree on whether or not the window should be open. The... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...and wants to talk some more. He says he's “sort of swinging back toward guilty.” Eleven says he is now in real doubt. Five says, “guilty. I was right the first... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...man downstairs. He wants to know who among the jurors lives in an apartment building. Eleven says he doesn't, but he remembers visiting the scene of the crime with the other... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Twelve says that they ought to admit they are a hung jury. Eleven asks Seven if he truly believes there is no reasonable doubt. Seven says yes, and... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...his glasses to bed. Eight points out that the woman who testified was wearing glasses. Eleven excitedly remembers that she wore bifocals. Four says it’s funny that he hadn't thought of... (full context)