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The Importance of Courage against Prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men

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The film ‘to kill a mockingbird’ by Robert Mulligan and Reginal Rose’s ‘twelve angry men’ are two texts that shows similarities and differences of a corrupted court and the consequences of an efficient court system and to overcome this barrier to justice, strong and courageous individuals are needed, in fact they are very crucial to uphold the law without prejudice. Both texts explore the bigoted views of the community and society which lead to possible injustice therefore the strong and courageous figures such as Atticus Finch and Juror 8 confront different group of people however those who supports the legal discrimination and shows importance of fighting against prejudice and fighting for justice.

Prejudice based on racial discrimination causes injustice in society, shown by inequitable treatment of African American. In the ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, this treatment includes the separation of habitats of Black American from of those whites. The white Americans see African Americans unfit to live with them. Even the gathering for a case in the court, the racial division happens by putting the black Americans at the top level and the whites at the ground level of the court. Not only the physical distancing causes prejudice, they also unable them to take part in the legal process of a courtroom for instance as seen in the Robinson’s case, there was not even a single African American position holder even the jury seats were full of biased white American, which is why no one could relate to his situation, with preconceived ideas and two powerful white accusations where he ‘had to put his word against two white people’, the little hope of justice seems to perish. In the ‘Twelve Angry Men’, the jurors’ treatments towards the defendant are not fair and without discrimination. Although its not allowed to take the resentment and influenced ideas to the jury room however the room is filled with those statements, ideas, and opinions. The defendant boy who is on trial for homicide, his disadvantage of being from slum is targeted by the jurors to convict him of the crime. One of the prejudiced jurors, juror 10 desperately wants the conviction to happen and states ‘You’re not gonna’ tell me we’re supposed to believe this kid, knowing what he is.’. He presumes the boy guilty of crime based on his experience and holds tight to his superstitions, ‘I’ve lived among them all my life. You can’t believe a word they say. You know that. I mean, they’re born liars.’. Juror 10 is ready to believe that the boy kills his father based on another witness’ story who also lived in the slum, this shows the hypocrisy of juror 10, who already states that everyone of those slum inhabitants are liars and on the other hand, to send the boy to death roll he believes the words of the woman. At their core, both texts similarly explores the unfair treatment of the inferiors of the unfair hierarchy in the society, as both Robinson and the boy initially encounter the harsh reality of discrimination based on their situation and background which they had no choice to decide on. The characters are different only in one main respect that while Robinson confronts the discrimination because of his race, the boy clashes with social and economic prejudices. Thus, to overcome this barrier of getting the justice courageous characters are needed.

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Both Rose and Mulligan suggest strong individuals such as Juror 8 and Atticus Finch that questioning and confronting the beliefs of the society courageously is somewhat the only way to uphold the law and set justice for those who are wronged. In ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, Atticus finch responds with courage to ensure equal treatment for Robinson. As it is known in the society, and everyone firmly believes that Robinson is guilty of raping Mayella therefore, no one dares to speak up about it even if they think otherwise. Even Atticus has his doubts whether or not to take the case as he teaches his daughter about the society and morally right actions and behaviour ‘There’s been some high talk around town to the effect that I shouldn’t do much about defending this man’, however, without consideration of precious life as the judge has warned, he does his job to the best of his abilities and stands against the whole prejudiced society. This shows the right movement and revolution only happens when someone takes upon themselves and take the responsibility, in this case Atticus takes himself responsible to convince the jury and society of his client innocence. Throughout the trial, Atticus cross-examines the witnesses and proves Tom’s innocence by illustrating that Bob Ewell was Mayella’s culprit. Initially, Atticus confirms that the majority of Mayella’s injuries were to the right side of her face and that Bob Ewell is left-handed, which suggests that he may have been responsible for his daughter’s injuries.

After cross-examining Mayella, Atticus with the use of questions prove that Mayella and her father are fabricating a story. Atticus then shows the jury that Tom is handicapped, and he cannot use the left hand at all. In Atticus’s closing statements, he proves Tom’s innocence by mentioning the lack of medical evidence, the Ewells’ conflicting testimonies, and Tom’s obvious handicap. Atticus makes a moving argument that explains Mayella’s motivation to blame Tom Robinson by explaining on the strict social system that forbids interaction and relationship with African American race. Atticus with all his moral beliefs and fulfilling his job eventually appeal to the judge, to convince them to take the right decision ‘Now gentlemen, in this country our courts are the great levellers, and in our courts all men are created equal’. In ‘Twelve Angry Men’, juror 8, who also is uncertain about the innocence of the boy however encourages the rest of the jurors to review the case, which could be because of the pressure of being the last one to vote and being the decision make of the group as he mentioned ‘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.’ There is no doubt that juror 8 is the courageous individual and because of his brave and bold action to stand against 11 aggressive and prejudiced jurors, possible superstitions can be broken however he votes not guilty not because he believes the accused is not guilty, but because he believes that the accused deserves the right to an impartial jury regardless of any personal feelings or judgments he might have about the individual, which is the best way to achieve justice. Juror 8 also understands the concept of innocent until proven guilty therefore choses to oppose the rest of 11 jurors. Juror 8 approaches the case with a fair idea that the appointed lawyer puts no effort to defend his client therefore he reviews the evidences, brought to the court to convict the boy. He proves with experiment that the limped neighbour who claims that he sees the boy escaping the crime scene, although the distance between from his location to the stairs takes more time then he alleges it takes him. One of the most important pieces of evidence in the murder trial in text, is the murder weapon. It was a knife, as Juror #4 states, ‘This wasn’t an ordinary knife. It had a very unusual carved handle and blade. The storekeeper said it was the only one of its kind he had ever had in stock.’ And ‘They identified the death weapon in court as that very same knife.’

However, juror 8 to prove the possible fabricated knife has brought another knife which has the same pattern, to show that a conviction cannot take place just for a weapon which almost everyone carries in the neighbourhood. Both texts are similar in terms of the strong individuals disbelief and their hesitation of taking the role of opposition and their approach to the unjust case with evidence rather letting the others depend on the stigmas around the inferior group of the society. On the other hand, while, Atticus had to confront and face the whole society to break the long and strong prejudice, juror 8 only had to convince and persuade 11 jurors to achieve the justice. Therefore, it is one of the factors that decides the consequences of what both individuals have worked on.

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The Importance of Courage against Prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from
“The Importance of Courage against Prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022,
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