Twelve Angry Men


Reginald Rose

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Secret ballot Symbol Analysis

Secret ballot Symbol Icon
This play deals with the idealistic principles behind the American legal system and the ways in which real people must struggle to meet these principles and interpret them in their own ways. The legal system attempts to achieve a fair trail through the use of unbiased citizens on a jury. Most of the jurors are far from unbiased, though, and they struggle against a variety of prejudices while attempting to interpret the language of “reasonable doubt.” Clearly, the ideal of the American legal system is difficult to achieve in reality. But many of the characters, particularly those who have suffered from prejudice, such as Eleven and Five, feel the pull of these standards of justice. The vote by secret ballot that Eight proposes symbolizes an ideal principle of justice that is unbiased. The initial vote by hand, and the following discussion among the jurors, shows that many are swayed by the opinions of others, by the pressures of conformity, and by other concerns. A secret ballot vote is the best attempt at unbiased, idealized justice. Eight, a rational and sympathetic man, proposes this approach to gain a true assessment of the jurors’ opinions.

Secret ballot Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

The Twelve Angry Men quotes below all refer to the symbol of Secret ballot. 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
Act 1 Quotes

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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Secret ballot Symbol Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the symbol Secret ballot 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
Juror Eight proposes another vote by secret ballot of just the 11 who voted “guilty” last time—meaning everyone other than him. He says... (full context)
Act 2
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...who changed his vote. Juror Eleven interrupts, reminding them that this was a vote by secret ballot . Three says that “there are no secrets here” and that Juror Eight has come... (full context)