Rhetorical Situation AnalysisTwelve Angry Men
English 1302






The purpose of this paper is to use the rhetorical situation process to analyze the movie Twelve Angry Men. Twelve Angry Men is a movie that was filmed in 1957. This film was based on a jury deliberating on a case where an 18-year-old boy allegedly stabbed and killed his father. The movie begins in the jury room and does not show any of the trial. From what the jury says, the boy seems to be guilty with all the evidence and witnesses that say they saw him kill his father. It was up to the jury to find out if he was guilty or innocent. The jury begins with an 11 to 1 guilty vote and by the end all the jurors vote not guilty. The film shows the dynamics of jury deliberations: the anger, the false starts, and personality conflicts.


Through analyzing the movie using rhetorical situation you can understand the important parts of the film and the purpose of the movie. A rhetorical situation has five parts included in the process, which are text, reader, author, constraints and exigence. Using the five parts, I will explain the rhetorical situation of the film Twelve Angry Men as a whole and an important moment in the film.


The first part of the rhetorical situation is the text, which is movie. The intended audience is the 1957 working class family. The authors are the director Sidney Lumet and the writer of the script Reginald Rose. The constraints of this film were that it was filmed in a small, hot room for twelve men to share while they were deliberating on the case. There were no props or special effects it was only a strong intense dialogue to keep peoples attention. Although the camera manages to keep attention on those speaking while gauging the mood of the room. Instead of roaming around a lot, or going for a dozen reaction shots after every line, his angles stay varied and give the men more or less equal time. The movie lasted 95 minutes, which seems like a very short time.


The exigence of the movie is that it is not about the evidence or the trial but the portrayal of the twelve jurors. The key facts are the presumption of innocence and the principle of reasonable doubt. It shows that the jury system exists so that objective citizens are an essential part in deciding whether the criminal charge has been proven true by the prosecutors. If the evidence that the prosecutors present does not prove the defendant to be guilty then the jury has no other choice then to vote not guilty.


A moment in the film I chose to analyze through rhetorical situation is the piece of dialogue where Mr. Davis says to the other jurors “to vote guilty you must be sure without any doubt”. The intended audiences are the other jurors and the viewers of the movie. The author is Henry Fonda (Mr. Davis) plays a liberal strong principled man concerned with the relevant facts of the case. He holds his beliefs firm and does it in an admirable way. The constraints of this piece of dialogue were that they had been confined to this small, hot jury room all day and everyone was ready to go home. If the boy was found guilty then he would be sentenced to death and Mr. Davis wanted the other jurors to be sure about their beliefs and voted how they truly felt. The exigence of this particular part of the script is that it is not about solving the crime. It is about sending a young man to die.


In conclusion, by using the rhetorical situation analysis you can get a better understanding of the movie. Using these five elements of rhetorical situation text, reader, author, constraints and exigence helps you see all aspects of the film and brings up things about the film that you might overlook by just watching it. One important message of the movie is that it shows the American Justice system at its best, where an individual can be heard and make a difference. An great film that is both inspiring and educational. It is amazing how exciting a film of twelve people in