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How does Reginald Rose establish and maintain a sense of tension in Twelve Angry Men?

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Introduction

How does Reginald Rose establish and maintain a sense of tension in Twelve Angry Men? Throughout the play Twelve Angry Men, the author Reginald Rose uses multiple dramatic techniques to establish and maintain a sense of tension. In this essay, I will analyze these techniques and suggest how they make the storyline so effective. Reginald Rose bases all of the tension and suspense around the social and historical context of the era. At the time, Americans are concerned with the huge influx of immigrants and there is a great deal of racial tension between Juror 11 and the other jurors. Each separate juror has their own background, personality and morals and inside the jury room we see how they react to each other and the dynamics of the group. On the face of it, the case put forward to them seems clear cut, but the arguments which evolve from the individual differences between each juror completely change the final outcome. Although a plot which is set in one singly location throughout its duration seems dull, Rose has used a small but particular set of techniques to mould Twelve Angry Men into the play it is and eventually produce one of the most thrilling pieces of literature of the past century. ...read more.

Middle

The tension built up by this is intense and reflects on the other jurors. A spat between Jurors 10 and 5 breaks out as a result of the growing tension inside the room. And as Act One draws to a close, Rose demonstrates that tension is rising to the point of brinkmanship. Juror 3 rants: 'Shut up, you son of a bitch! Let go of me, God damn it! I'll kill him! I'll kill him'. Juror 8 pounces and says: 'You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?' The tension here is considerably higher than the rest of the play. A clear rivalry had broken out between two of the jurors and their fierce arguments take centre stage. Rose is using conflicts between jurors as a key technique in creating tension in the play. Act Two begins almost oppositely to how the proceeding Act ended. The other Jurors are trying to diffuse the tension in the air, and Juror 12 sheepishly kicks-off discussions again. Jurors 3 and 8 seem to disappear into the background after the climax in tension moments earlier. Despite watching from a distance for most of the play, the fierce discussions between Jurors 3 and 8 have rubbed off on the other jurors. They are snappier and seem on edge. ...read more.

Conclusion

The atmosphere in the room is anger as much as disappointment. Yet, Rose has not described this at all. The mere build up of tension in the pages before have provided the reader with enough information to gather the circumstances and feelings inside the room at this very moment. Juror 8, knowing that this would be his last plea, says: 'It's not your boy. He's somebody else's' before Juror 4, who had been on Juror 3's side for practically the entire case, delivers the most potent line of the entire play: 'Let him live'. As the stage directions describe, there's a long pause before Juror 3 finally reveals that he has changed his mind. Out of choice or because of the mounting opposition he faced inside the room we will never know, but Juror 3 says weeping: 'All right. Not guilty'. The huge ball of tensions almost swirling above the jurors suddenly diffuses. The case is over. The audience as well as the jurors breathe a sigh of relief. The rollercoaster ride which Reginald Rose has taken 12 men - and one boy on - slams to a dramatic halt. So as you can see, Reginald Rose uses multiple dramatic techniques to establish and maintain a sense of tension which makes 12 Angry Men the fantastic thriller that it is. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alex Aldridge ...read more.

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