The topic: "Who was the strongest character in 12 Angry Men, and why?"
Due: tomorrow :o
12 Angry Men's entire purpose revolved around the building and understanding of contrasting characters. The film was riddled with dynamic characterization, savvy symbolism and gut-wrenching drama. In my opinion, the strongest character was juror #4, Armin Mueller-Stahl. Juror #4 was an independent thinker, was rational, and was collected even as the tension began to build.
The ability to remain independent proved to be the most important character trait of juror #4. Throughout the film Mueller-Stahl's character was able to think freely, and never let his personal bias or peer-pressure affect his decision-making. I believe that when juror #4 finally changed his vote to not guilty; that was in itself enough to put the others at ease about their own indecisiveness. He was one of the few characters in the story who didn't take sides, make alliances, or look for approval right off the bat. It's obvious that he was there to find the truth, and would have listened to everyone's opinion twice to make sure he had done just that. However, thinking on his own and without prejudice was not Mueller-Stahl's only asset.
Juror #4 was also a rational and reasonable businessman which enabled him to look at the case with an open mind. Unlike Juror #3, George C. Scott, Mueller-Stahl was able to communicate his ideas and thoughts like a professional and did so in an organized fashion. He analyzed each piece of evidence with care and used logic to guide his vote. It's important to note that he was the second to last juror to change their vote to not guilty. I believe the author intended for the audience to realize that the not guilty vote was the right choice, and Mueller-Stahl acted as his buffer in doing so.
Mueller-Stahl's character was able remained calm and collected throughout the most stressful of situations. For example, while juror #10 went off on a racist, golem-like rage, juror #4 sat through nearly his entire scene without saying a word. When William's rant finally came to a close Mueller-Stahl sharply, but calmly asked him to "shut his filthy mouth." Referring to a discussion question from class, I believe that Mueller-Stahl's character, and only his character, would have had the intelligence, confidence and persistence to keep his head had there been a woman present.
While all the characters from 12 Angry Men were unique, and characterized extremely well, Mueller-Stahl's character stood out from the pack for a few reasons. Being collected, polished and rational were all tremendous advantages to juror #4 in making his vote the correct one. I firmly believe he who listens, as opposed to talking all the time, truly has a one-up advantage over the crowd. Mueller-stahl was able to listen, analyze and report his findings back honestly and without discrimination. It's easy to see why Armin Mueller-Stahl's character was the strongest of the group.