Twelve Angry Men

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Four Character Analysis

A self-confident man who is clearly used to being listened to, Four is identified by marks of wealth and intelligence. Although he is a strong supporter of the guilt of the accused until nearly the end of the play, he is more rational and levelheaded than most of the other jurors. He is the only one to present successful counter-arguments to the persuasive observations of Eight.

Four Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

The Twelve Angry Men quotes below are all either spoken by Four or refer to Four . 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 1 Quotes

Ten: It's tough to figure, isn't it? A kid kills his father. Bing! Just like that. Well, it's the element. They let the kids run wild. Maybe it serves ‘em right.

Related Characters: Ten (speaker), Four , Accused kid, Murdered father
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Early dialogue in the play helps to establish the diverse characters of the twelve jurors. These men differ in age, occupation, experience, background, religion, and (presumably) race. These differences result in a variety of types of prejudices and sympathies, and the play often reveals why certain characters think in certain ways and make certain assumptions. In this passage, juror Ten is already establishing his character and prejudices. Throughout the play, he shows a dislike of the group of people to whom the defendant belongs. It seems that the kid accused of killing his father is poor and grew up in an impoverished neighborhood. His race is never specified, but because Ten groups the accused with people different than himself (a group he belittles and stereotypes, assuming everyone from that group to be the same), it may be that the accused kid belongs to a minority racial group as well (but this all depends on individual staging of the play, of course). 

Ten's vitriolic remarks escalate over the course of the play and eventually alienate other jurors who are shocked at the amount of unfounded hatred he displays. In this early scene, however, Ten's remarks against a whole group of people go relatively unnoticed by the other jurors. All the jurors exhibit forms of prejudice. Although the word "prejudice" normally has a negative connotation, this play presents a connected idea of "sympathy." Juror Eight is inclined to like and feel sorry for the accused kid because of his impoverished background, while Ten is inclined to dislike him. Both are forms of bias, and though sympathy is a more virtuous kind of bias in the world outside the courtroom, for a jury, all bias, whether positive or not, is supposed to be removed. 

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Twelve Angry Men quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

Four: Take a look at that knife. It's a very strange knife. I've never seen one like it before in my life and neither had the storekeeper who sold it to him.

[Eight reaches casually into his pocket and withdraws an object. No one notices this. He stands up quietly.]

Four: Aren't you trying to make us accept a pretty incredible coincidence?

Eight: I'm not trying to make anyone accept it. I'm just saying it's possible.

Three: (shouting). And I'm saying it's not possible.

[Eight swiftly flicks open the blade of a switch knife and jams it into the table next to the first one. They are exactly alike. There are several gasps and everyone stares at the knife. There is a long silence.]

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Four (speaker), Eight (speaker)
Related Symbols: Switch knife
Page Number: 23-24
Explanation and Analysis:

Four offers the most rational arguments for the accused kid's guilt. He is reasonable and calm in his delivery and seems more interested in the logical steps of the case than Three or Ten, who have personal and impassioned reasons for blaming and accusing the kid. Therefore, Four's shift from certainty to doubt seems to be the most accurate measure in the play of the success of Eight's arguments for reasonable doubt. 

One of Four's reasons for certainty, as detailed in this passage, is the unusual appearance of the knife used to kill the father. It seems highly unlikely that another identical knife could have been purchased and used in the murder of the father. Four refers to this possibility--that the kid bought an identical knife to the one someone else used to kill his father--as a "pretty incredible coincidence." This helps clarify the term "reasonable doubt." Yes, Four says, there's a possibility that someone else bought the exact same knife, but this is not a "reasonable" possibility. It is, in fact, a highly unlikely possibility. When Eight produces an identical knife and jams it into the table, however, the gesture is strong visual proof that this possibility is more reasonable than it might have seemed. He was able to easily procure an identical knife, which means that any other person might have been able to as well. This causes the jurors to doubt their original certainty that the knife the kid bought is the same one that killed his father. 

Act 3 Quotes

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. 

Three: …You made all the arguments. You can’t turn now. A guilty man’s going to be walking the streets. A murderer! He’s got to die! Stay with me!...

Four: I’m sorry. I’m convinced. I don’t think I’m wrong often, but I guess I was this once. There is a reasonable doubt in my mind.

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Four (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

Juror Four maintains his rational thinking throughout the play. He switches sides with grace once he feels that "there is a reasonable doubt in my mind." In his measured thinking and unbiased rationality, Four embodies a sort of "ideal juror." He holds onto the ideal of the justice system--that reasonable doubt results in a "not guilty" verdict--and he isn't swayed by passion or stubbornness, but by measured persuasion. He exhibits strength in this passage by publicly admitting he was wrong. This shows the contrast between him and Three, who stubbornly sticks to his viewpoint. Four demonstrates that stubbornness is not the same thing as taking a righteous stand, and that gracefully yielding is more valuable than being stubborn in the face of reason. 

Three is stubborn, but he is also certain of the kid's guilt, as if blind to the rational arguments made by others. He is horrified by the thought of a murderer walking the streets free. He feels certain that the kid must die to pay for his crime. Three sees Four's rational arguments against the kid (and his initial "guilty" vote) as evidence that Four was on his side, rather than as examples of Four's rational thinking. It is difficult for Three to imagine being convinced by evidence when, throughout the play, it is clear that he makes his judgements through gut instinct, as he did when he stated that anyone "could see" that the kid was a murderer, just by looking at him. 

Get the entire Twelve Angry Men LitChart as a printable PDF.
Twelve angry men.pdf.medium

Four Character Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the character Four appears in Twelve Angry Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Juror Four, acting as a peacemaker, asks everyone to openly admit that the heat in the room... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...found the defendant not guilty, but later learned that he really did the murder. Juror Four notes that the double jeopardy law would prevent that man from being retried for the... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...the kid killed his father easily because “they” let their kids do whatever, but Juror Four cautions him not to let emotion, like a prejudice against a group, get in the... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...and gives the boy’s age, 19, as a reason that he might be innocent. Juror Four tries to make peace between Juror Eight and Juror Three with the observation that they... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...Juror Ten brings up the “stupid story” about losing his switchblade again, all while Juror Four tries to keep peace. Juror Eight states that he’s not sure whether he believes the... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...room, for once in his life. The other jurors look at Juror Eight coldly. Juror Four refuses to buy the sob story—he remembers how life was hard for him too, but... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...Nine continues over Juror Three’s objection, getting worked up until Juror Eight calms him. Juror Four insists that they can and must keep the talk civil, “behave like gentlemen,” and stick... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...up to close the window, which starts an argument between him and Juror Seven. Juror Four proposes the compromise of trading chairs. The Foreman redirects everyone back to the case. (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...try to convince Juror Eight “that we’re right and he’s wrong.” The Foreman and Juror Four immediately agree that this proposal is fair and Juror Two timidly starts with “it’s obvious”... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...the murder happened. Juror Eight responds that he doesn’t buy the old man’s story. Juror Four brings up the boy’s alibi of being at the movies at the time of the... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...testimony, when she is also one of “them” who are untrustworthy according to Ten. Juror Four pushes the point that the lawyers took the jurors to the el track and they... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Juror Four says it’s not relevant why many criminals come from slums, which they all “know”. Juror... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...that he doesn’t like how many questions the defense counsel left unasked or unanswered. Juror Four agrees that the defense was bad, but doesn’t think it matters to the boy’s guilt. (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...Juror Three doesn’t want to look at the knife again, but backs down when Juror Four asserts Juror Eight’s right to see the evidence. (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
As the guard goes to get the switch knife, Juror Four leads the jury in establishing the facts surrounding the knife. The boy went out of... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Juror Four, now holding the switch knife that has been brought back into the room by the... (full context)
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Juror Eight asks the jurors whether they think the boy lied. Juror Ten and Juror Four both think it is a stupid question with an obvious answer. Juror Five looks around... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Juror Four comments that Juror Eight obviously thinks the boy is not guilty. Juror Eight responds only... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...all the votes stay the same, then he will vote “guilty” too. Juror Seven, Juror Four, Juror Twelve and the Foreman quickly agree, while Juror Eleven agrees more slowly. The men... (full context)
Act 2
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...the switch knife from the wall and returns it to the guard at the door. Four and Two chat apart from the others at the water cooler. Four says that he... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Four and Two reflect that sometimes a guilty man is released and sometimes an innocent man... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Four points out that the woman across the street remembers the most insignificant details in her... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Four asks Five to explain why he's changed his vote. Five says that he thinks there... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...after the murder? Five asks if the old man said he ran to the door. Four says that the old man said that he “went” to the door. (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Seven and Ten are not thrilled to look at the diagram of the apartments again. Four says that others are interested, and invites Eight to go ahead. Eight reviews the testimony:... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...he reaches the end of the distance, Two says that his movements took 39 seconds. Four points out that the old man swore under oath that it took 15 seconds. Eleven,... (full context)
Act 3
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...jurors are silent. Three ask them what they're looking at, but everyone is silent. Eventually Four points out that he can't see why they're behaving like children. Eleven says they have... (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 they can be civilized about this process. Six proposes another vote.... (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... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Four decides to change his vote and says, “we are not a hung jury” because he... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Four says he doesn't think there is a doubt. He says that the track of the... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Four says that it may have taken the murderer about 39 seconds (the same time they... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Three is very supportive of Four as he starts to outline his reasoning. He offers the knife to Eight, saying he... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Four also points out that anyone who would wipe the fingerprints from a knife would pay... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Four points out that their reenactment didn't take the time it took the kid to run... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...to America running for his life, and now he's telling another man how America works. Four says no one is asking where anyone else in the jury room comes from or... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...those voting “not guilty” raise their hands. Every hand is raised except those of Three, Four, and Ten. Ten says he cannot understand how others believe the kid is innocent. He... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...no good and this kid is one of them. Three stays at the table, while Four gets up and moves towards Ten. Ten wonders what's going on and why no one... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Four threatens Ten that if he speaks up again he'll “split [his] skull.” There is a... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Eight suggests they go over the woman’s testimony in detail. Four says that the woman explained how she went to bed at 11 o'clock next to... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Three says that the other evidence is unimportant compared to this testimony. Four says that Eight has made good points, but how can they doubt the story of... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...night and wants to know the time and Two says he puts on his glasses. Four says he lies in bed and waits for the clock to chime. Eight asks Two... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...doubt. Ten says he thinks there is doubt. Three says that he still votes “guilty.” Four says he is convinced there is a reasonable doubt. Eight tells Three that he's alone.... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...guilt. He says that they have time to keep discussing the case. Three appeals to Four, reminding him that he was the one with all the great arguments and he can't... (full context)
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...to do so, while showing that he doesn’t believe Three is capable of standing alone. Four says that with a hung jury there will be another trial, but, in the meantime,... (full context)