Trials and Juries; story by Nathaniel Hawthorne

You may discuss either 1) Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” or 2) the film “12 Angry Men.” If you wish, you may also discuss both the Hawthorne story and the film.

For the Hawthorne story please answer the following question: What does Goodman Brown learn about himself and about humanity in his adventure in the forest?

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Here are some questions to get you started this week in your discussion of the film 12 Angry Men:

1. What did you think of the movie as a work of art? Did you like it? Dislike it? Why? What could the filmmakers have done to make the movie work better for you?

2. Do you see any issues that tackled in the film that have resonance today? (I’m particularly thinking of the rants of Juror #10 who is constantly talking about “those people.)

3. How realistically do you think the film portrayed the juror experience? If you, yourself, have served on a jury, you can talk about your own experience here.

4. Finally, as I mentioned in the lecture, while I still enjoy the film, I felt that filmmakers were somewhat manipulative in terms of whose side the audience should be on. That is, the lone holdout juror (#8) is clearly the “hero,” while the jurors most in favor of conviction were clearly the villains. I also stated that I think the film would be even more powerful than it already is if it were a little bit more subtle in terms of characterization. Do you agree? Or do you think the film is fine as it is? (Appreciation of movies is like that of any work of art; opinions can vary. Feel free to disagree with me.)

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