A Jury Of Her Peers Essay

1125 words - 5 pages

Heather OlsonEnglish Composition 1301Mrs. Child29 September 2014Knot ItIn November of 1900, an uncommonly violent crime was committed in small town Iowa. John Hossack was found dead in his bed, killed by two swings of an ax to the skull. His wife, Margaret Hossack, was the only suspect. Due to lack of evidence and the difficulty of convicting women for murder in that time period, Margaret Hossack was released with no further charges (Carlson). The popular author and play right Susan Glaspell was inspired by this court case. In her play "Trifles" and her short story "A Jury of Her Peers", she used two average, underrated housewives in the early 1900s to show a different perspective of the Iowa crime. Through many symbols, amusing irony, and illuminating dialogue, Glaspell shows how powerful and intellectual women could be despite the suppressive culture of their time.The most predominant literary element that Glaspell incorporates into her short story is the use of symbolism. Observing the name of "Minnie Williams" before understanding her role, insight is already given to her character. "Minnie" sounds like miniature or small. Her name represents the way both society and her husband viewed her: small, insignificant, and unintelligent.While their husbands and the lawmen search the Wright home for clues, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters observe seemingly trivial details in the home of the Wrights that will prove much more than the men could ever find. When the wives discover a battered, empty bird cage, they deduce that Minnie kept a canary for about a year or so. Later, they find a dead, broken necked canary in one of Minnie's prettiest sewing boxes. It appears that Mr. Wright killed the canary in anger; what more perfect motive for his murder is needed? The cage is a perfect representation of Minnie's life, her house that she is trapped in day in and day out. Further, Minnie is the canary in the cage. She was once seen in white dresses with blue ribbons and sung in the church choir, but once she was married, she was hardly heard of or seen (Glaspell). When Minnie is married to Mr. Wright, her cage door is closed and her beautiful singing voice is never to be heard again. The dead canary represents how Mr. Wright broke Minnie's spirit.The unfinished quilt that is found by Minnie's battered rocking chair is another subtle symbol for her life. Mrs. Wright's life has consisted of "sewing scraps together" to make ends meet. With a rundown house, ratty clothing, and a wretched husband, Minnie is just trying to keep her life together. The last square on the quilt appears to have been sewn on with uneven, rough needlework. It looked as if Minnie was fed up with quilting. She was faced with the choice to either keep quilting her life together or knotting it for good ("it" being her husband's neck).What makes the story humorous is the irony of the situation. Multiple times the men will have a good laugh at how silly and daft their women are and say that "women...

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