Twelve Angry Men

Eight Character Analysis

The central character in the play, Eight is the only juror to initially vote “not guilty.” This vote, which prevents an immediate unanimous guilty decision, and his insistence that the jurors commit time and effort to deciding the fate of the accused, power the events of the play. Through his calm and clever discussion of the case, all the other jurors are eventually convinced of the same reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt. He is also a charismatic speaker. He appears to have had some plan to defend the accused in the jury room as he brings a matching switch knife as his own evidence. Eight’s self-confidence in standing alone and his sympathy for the accused present a direct contrast to Three’s pigheadedness and prejudice.

Eight Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

The Twelve Angry Men quotes below are all either spoken by Eight or refer to Eight. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the The Dramatic Publishing Company edition of Twelve Angry Men published in 1983.
Act 1 Quotes

Three: I never saw a guiltier man in my life... You sat right in court and heard the same thing I did. The man's a dangerous killer. You could see it.

...

Eight: He's nineteen years old.

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eight: There were eleven votes for guilty. It's not so easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.

Related Characters: Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eight: I don't want to change your mind.... I want to talk for a while. Look – this boy's been kicked around all his life. You know – living in a slum – his mother dead since he was nine. That's not a very good head start. He's a tough, angry kid. You know why slum kids get that way? Because we knock 'em on the head once a day, every day. I think maybe we owe him a few words. That's all.

Related Characters: Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Ten: I don't mind telling you this, mister. We don't owe the kid a thing. He got a fair trial, didn't he? You know what that trial cost? He's lucky he got it. Look, we're all grownups here. You're not going to tell us that we're supposed to believe him, knowing what he is. I've lived among 'em all my life. You can't believe a word they say. You know that.

Related Characters: Ten (speaker), Eight, Accused kid
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Seven: Now wait a second. What are you, the guy's lawyer? Listen, there are still eleven of us who think he's guilty. You're alone. What do you think you're gonna accomplish? If you want to be stubborn and hang this jury, he'll be tried again and found guilty, sure as he's born.

Eight: You're probably right.

Seven: So what are you gonna do about it? We can be here all night.

Nine: It's only one night. A man may die.

Related Characters: Seven (speaker), Eight (speaker), Nine (speaker)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eight: I've got a proposition to make. I want to call for a vote. I want eleven men to vote by secret ballot. I'll abstain. If there are still eleven votes for guilty, I won't stand alone. We'll take in a guilty verdict right now.

Related Characters: Eight (speaker)
Related Symbols: Secret ballot
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2 Quotes

Nine: [Pointing at Eight] This gentleman chose to stand alone against us. That's his right. It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone even if you believe in something very strongly. He left the verdict up to us. He gambled for support, and I gave it to him. I want to hear more. The vote is ten to two.

Related Characters: Nine (speaker), Eight
Page Number: 28-29
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eight: An el train takes ten seconds to pass a given point, or two seconds per car. That el had been going by the old man's window for at least six seconds and maybe more, before the body fell, according to the woman. The old man would have had to hear the boy say, "I'm going to kill you," while the front of the el was roaring past his nose. It's not possible that he could have heard it.

Related Characters: Eight (speaker), The old man downstairs, The woman across the street
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eight: You want to see this boy die because you personally want it—not because of the facts.

Three: Shut up!

[He lunges at Eight, but is caught by two of the jurors and held. He struggles as Eight watches calmly.]

Three: Let me go. I'll kill him. I’ll kill him!

Eight: You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3 Quotes

Five: …Anyone who’s ever used a switch knife would never have stabbed downward. You don’t handle a switch knife that way. You use it underhanded. [Illustrates.]
Eight: Then he couldn’t have made the kind of wound that killed his father.
Five: I suppose it’s conceivable that he could have made the wound, but it’s not likely, not if he had any experience with switch knives, and we know that the kid had a lot of experience with switch knives.

Related Characters: Five (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid, Murdered father
Related Symbols: Switch knife
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eight: [to Three] They’re waiting. [Three sees that he is alone. He moves to table and pulls switch knife out of table and walks over to Eight with it. Three is holding knife in approved knife-fighter fashion. Three looks long and hard at juror Eight and weaves a bit from side to side as he holds knife with point of it in direction of Eight’s belly. Eight speaks quietly, firmly.] Not guilty. [Three turns knife around and Eight takes it by handle. Eight closes knife and puts it away.]

Three: Not guilty!

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Related Symbols: Switch knife
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eight Character Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the character Eight 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
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...impatience to get to a current Broadway show that night. The Foreman also corrals Juror Eight, who is standing at the window not paying attention, to sit down. Juror Ten comments... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
The vote is 11-1 in favor of guilty: Juror Eight is the only dissenter. Juror Three rises to confront Juror Eight, while Juror Twelve insists... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...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 kid’s story, and that he voted... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Juror Eight replies that he wants to be heard out. He explains that “slum kids” get tough... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...“monopoly on the truth”. 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... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...Twelve proposes that the jury go around the table and each try to convince Juror Eight “that we’re right and he’s wrong.” The Foreman and Juror Four immediately agree that this... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...told by the old man who lives below the room where the murder happened. Juror Eight responds that he doesn’t buy the old man’s story. Juror Four brings up the boy’s... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...you could see what’s happening through the windows of an el train at night. Juror Eight wonders why Juror Ten believes the woman’s testimony, when she is also one of “them”... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...stealing, knife fighting, and other crimes, sarcastically calling him a “very fine boy.” When Juror Eight brings up that the boy’s father beat him, Juror Seven retorts that he deserved it.... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Juror Eight finally takes his turn. He begins by saying that he doesn’t like how many questions... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...Three brings up one of the “answered” questions, the switch knife the boy bought. Juror Eight responds by asking to see the knife again—the Foreman looks at him questioningly before talking... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...switch knife that has been brought back into the room by the guard, challenges Juror Eight on who could possibly have picked up the knife when the boy dropped it and... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Juror Eight reveals that he bought the switch knife he just slammed into the wall for 2... (full context)
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Juror Eight asks the jurors whether they think the boy lied. Juror Ten and Juror Four both... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Juror Seven tells Juror Eight “you’re alone”. Angrily, he accuses Juror Eight of being stubborn and says Juror Eight will... (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 that he has a... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Juror Eight proposes another vote by secret ballot of just the 11 who voted “guilty” last time—meaning... (full context)
Act 2
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...vote by secret ballot. Three says that “there are no secrets here” and that Juror Eight has come in to the jury room and been "tearing out your hearts" with stories... (full context)
...interrupts that he was the one who changed his vote. Nine explains that he recognized Eight’s courage in being willing to stand alone and gamble for support, and, because of that,... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Seven asks Eight who killed the father if the kid was not the murderer. He wonders who else... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...the murder occur. Three says this ought to be enough evidence to convince anyone. But Eight says it's not enough for him. (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...two car windows of a passing elevated train. Three starts a game of tic-tac-toe, but Eight says this isn't the time for games and snatches the paper away. A man's life... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
When quiet is restored, Eight asks the other jurors how long they think it takes an elevated train to pass... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Eight says it's not possible that the old man could have heard what he claims to... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...this feeling this from experience. Three says Nine is admitting that he's a liar, but Eight argues he's only explaining the old man's possible motives. (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...Foreman encourages the jurors to refocus on their job. Two offers a cough drop and Eight accepts one. Then he raises another point. He says that even if the old man... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...it indicates that he meant it. He screamed it at the top of his lungs. Eight asks him if he thinks the boy would shout out his intentions for the whole... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...his vote. Five says that he thinks there is a reasonable doubt. Ten says that Eight has talked Five into believing a fairytale. Five says maybe the old man didn't lie,... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Seven wants to know why the kid’s lawyer wouldn't have brought up the points that Eight has raised. Five says that lawyers can't think of everything. Seven, exasperated, asks whether, because... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Eight asks the jurors where the old man's bedroom was in his apartment because he doesn't... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Eight wonders whether an old man who has had two strokes in the past three years... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...at the diagram of the apartments again. Four says that others are interested, and invites Eight to go ahead. Eight reviews the testimony: the old man was in bed, he got... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Eight calculates the distance from the bed to the bedroom door plus the length of the... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Ten says that Eight’s plan is insane and that he can't recreate the old man's movements. Eight asks to... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Ten tells Eight to speed up to match the old man's pace. Eight speeds up slightly. He devotes... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Three says that Eight is making up wild stories because he feels sorry for slum kids. He says the... (full context)
Act 3
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...juror stands. The Foreman, Three, Four, Seven, Ten, and Twelve vote guilty. Two, Five, Six, Eight, Nine, and Eleven vote not guilty. The vote is evenly split. (full context)
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
The Foreman says he doesn't think they'll ever agree on anything. Eight points out that at first he was alone, but now five others agree with him.... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...discussion must go on. Four asks Two why he changed his mind. Two says that Eight seemed confident and made good arguments, while Three grew angry and mean. Four says these... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...supportive of Four as he starts to outline his reasoning. He offers the knife to Eight, saying he can do the stabbing in the reenactment, but Four says he'll do it.... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...kid running down the stairs. Four says the old man’s story may well be true. Eight agrees, except for the fact that the old man swore it was only 15 seconds.... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Eight asks one more question about the old man downstairs. He wants to know who among... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...where anyone else in the jury room comes from or where their fathers come from. Eight says maybe it wouldn't hurt them all to learn from an immigrant because they are... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Seven apologizes and asks Eight if that apology was what he was looking for. Eight says it was. The Foreman... (full context)
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...shorter man could kill a taller man with a downward stroke of a switch knife. Eight stands up and Three takes the knife before crouching down to be 6 inches shorter... (full context)
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Eight says that nobody's hurt and Three says that he just demonstrated how he'd stop a... (full context)
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Eight points out that the kid was an experienced knife fighter; he was sent to reform... (full context)
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...underhanded, and that anyone who has used such a knife before would never stab downward. Eight confirms that the kid could not have made the type of downward stab that killed... (full context)
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Eight asks for the chance to try to pull this evidence together. Eight requests that the... (full context)
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...might've also seen the murder. It would take a dumb kid to take that chance. Eight continues the kid is dumb enough to use an obvious switch knife, but then becomes... (full context)
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Eight says that the old man downstairs swore it took him 15 seconds to move from... (full context)
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Eight calls for another vote and the Foreman says they will vote by show of hands.... (full context)
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...people” are always drinking and fighting and that if someone gets killed it doesn't matter. Eight, Two, and Six go to the window. Ten says he's known some of these people... (full context)
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Eight suggests they go over the woman’s testimony in detail. Four says that the woman explained... (full context)
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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 the woman. Six... (full context)
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Eight asks Two what he does when he wakes up at night and wants to know... (full context)
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Eight says that he suspects the woman wouldn't have put on her glasses to glance out... (full context)
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Eight asks if anyone still thinks there is not a reasonable doubt. Ten says he thinks... (full context)
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Eight asks Three for his arguments in favor of the kid’s guilt. He says that they... (full context)
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...says that the others won’t intimidate him and that it will be a hung jury. Eight says that there is nothing the rest of them can do about that. Nine comments... (full context)
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...Foreman goes to the door. The Guard lets all the jurors out except Three and Eight. Eight says to Three that they're waiting on him. Three takes the switch knife and... (full context)