“A Jury of Her Peers”, is a short story written by Susan Glaspell regarding an investigation into a murder that had taken place in one of the houses in a rural farm. The story vividly shows how various families in the rural America lived and describes the challenges they encountered in their day-to-day lives. Despite the fact that the readers of this story never meet the suspect in the murder, Mrs. Wright, they come to know more about her due to the way she was perceived by her neighbors. The issue of gender difference is raised in the story and this can be well observed by the way Mrs. Wright’s female partners judge her. Despite the fact that the men in this story wanted to punish Mrs. Wright for what she had supposedly done, the women on their side portray great sympathy for the suspect. The story is, therefore, a good example of how events in life are viewed differently by men and women despite the fact that the setting of the story happened long ago in the 1900’s. The plot of this story can be best defined or described as the patterns and relationships of events.
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“A Jury of Her Peers” was written originally by Susan Glaspell as a drama, which was entitled “Trifles”. The drama was written by Glaspell in 1917 and the next year she remade it into novella. While it covered an investigation into a murder, Glaspell got the inspiration for writing the story when she was working as a reporter for Des Moines Daily News. The subject of the story is how men are known to see the stereotypical women’s responsibilities and their seclusion that is caused by the society as a result of such views. This theme is further revealed when other women attempt to find the motive behind the murdering of the husband by Minnie Wright. This story, therefore, takes its readers in the past when women and men were known to have different functions in almost all the societies of the world. It is revealed eventually that as Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hales discover the motive of Minnie through being very attentive to what is considered by men to be “trifles” or in other words, women’s insignificant matters, the importance of such women in the story is brought to the fore.
The readers are acquainted with a Mrs. Hale, the wife of the farmer, when the story opens and the significance given to keeping the household organized is seen immediately. Mrs. Hale at first can be assumed to be the protagonist, but as the readers continue with the story, they only realize that they are seeing into the details of her life and her own thoughts. Mrs. Hale’s inclination to cleanliness is, therefore, shown to the reader like, for instance, “…she hated to see things half-done…” and “…Mrs. Hale started to arrange the dirty pans under the sink…”. Moreover, Mrs. Hale’s neatness is further portrayed through statements such as “…unfinished things always bothered her…” All through the story, such quotes appear frequently and despite the fact that such details seem to be of no importance, the quotes become central points as the story finally starts to develop and they appear to be a characteristic manner that is directly opposite to that of Minnie Wright.
The importance of the role played by women in the story is further revealed through their way of pointing at crucial facts, which indicated the indeed; Mrs. Wrights was responsible for the murder of her husband. For instance, “…I didn’t see or her anything …and still, it was all quiet inside… I knew they must be up… I opened the door…
Despite the fact that the whole story is about Minnie, readers have a reason to wonder when Mrs. Hale seems to become a kind of the central character. This is because the whole story starts in Mrs. Hale’s kitchen as she leaves for the house of the Wright. Through the story, readers come to appreciate the fact that Mrs. Hale is a strong individual, who is not only a sharp observer, but also a neat individual, who is known for paying attention to detail. Throughout the whole story, Mrs. Hale is further depicted as a person, which is able to keep her voice and tone even. Whatever she says (Mrs. Hale), she chooses her words carefully. Mrs. Peters, on the other side, is a female character, who is married to a sheriff in the story. Where Mrs. Hale is seen to be confident and strong, Mrs. Peters is known to be a little, unsure and timid at times. According to Mrs. Hale, she understands Mrs. Peters as seeing “…a long way into things… because of her shrinking and quiet demeanor (pg.161). However, when Minnie attempts to hide a dead canary, Mrs. Peters exhibits empathy and compassion for her. This was a great courage on her side given the fact that a comment had been made by the County Attorney regarding her as being”…married to the Law”.
Through their action and speech the men in the story are exhibited or portrayed as being a little bit chauvinistic and it is a fact that the county attorney is instigating. The insignificance of kitchen items is uttered through a joke by the county attorney, who seems to look at the women down his nose in the whole story. Eventually, the county attorney makes some insensitive comments regarding the kitchen’s condition and how Minnie was a bad housekeeper. Apart from that, it is through the story that readers can ascertain how the county attorney made light of the hard work that was done by Minnie. He observes that indeed, Minnie had other bigger issues to become worried of than her own personal preserves. Thus according to the county attorney, his opinion regarding women is that they are just trivial and simple creatures.
Through being sarcastic, he speaks of intention to poke fun at Minnie during her trial for failing to wake up her murdered husband. The county attorney also makes fun of the women in the story for keeping themselves busy with little or small issues while the men were busy investigating. Women are later underestimated by him when he fails in investigating the things that the women had packed for Minnie. He had no idea that the women could pick out things that were dangerous despite Mr. Hale commenting on how women were capable of comprehending any useful clues in case they came across them. It is ironical that the men in the story miss all the vital clues in the story regarding the cause of the murder. It was, therefore, a surprise that it is the women, who finally uncovered many of the vital clues, which would later be used in Minnie’s incrimination.
The discoveries made by Mrs. Hale, especially regarding the work that was half-finished, the half-wiped table, a bucket next to a bag of sugar that was never combined in totality by Minnie and the discovery made by Mrs. Peters that indeed Minnie had been working on a quilt and was nervous regarding something or some issue as she worked on the square, coupled with the fact that all the squares found in the house were sewn through the use of excellent craftsmanship except only one and a broken door were a clear indicator that there is something wrong with Minnie. However, it is the clue of a dead canary, which had a wrung neck that served as a final incriminating clue in the whole investigation.
The women by the end of the story had become sure that indeed, Minnie was guilty. However, despite knowing from the start that Minnie was guilty, Mrs. Hale did not want to believe in that, a hope that was obvious as he talked to the CountyAttorney. The curious nature exhibited by women in the story and their peculiar attention and concentration on minute details are the things, which allow the women to find the incriminating evidence of the motives of Mrs. Wright while the men, on the other hand, became incapable of procuring any relevant evidence in the investigation of the murder. Finding justifications in the actions taken by Mrs. Wright, the women in the story go ahead to hide anything that they found from the men. They were concealing tangible evidence that may in the end prevent any meaningful conviction against Mrs. Wright. This story serves as a good lesson for both sexes (men and women) never to underestimate the sex of the other, but live together in harmony (Glaspell, 2012).
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