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Literary Analysis Of "A Jury Of Her Peers" By Susan Glaspell

1521 words - 6 pages

"A Jury of Her Peers" was originally written by Susan Glaspell as a play entitled Trifles. She wrote the play in 1916, and a year later she rewrote it as a short story. Glaspell was inspired to write the story while covering a murder investigation when she worked as a journalist for the Des Moines Daily News (qtd. in Annenberg). The theme of the story, the way men view the stereotypical role of women and the isolation created by society because of that view, is revealed as the other women try to figure out Minnie Wright's motive for murdering her husband. This story takes us back in time to a place in our history where men and women played very different roles in their lives. In the end, all is revealed as Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover Minnie's motive by paying close attention to what the men consider "trifles", or the insignificant matters of women.As the story opens, we are introduced to Mrs. Hale, a farmer's wife, and immediately we see the high importance she places in keeping an organized household. At first she seems to be the main character, but as we continue to read, we realize that we are only seeing into her life, her details and thoughts. We are shown Mrs. Hale's instinct for neatness, "She hated to see things half done", "Mrs. Hale began to arrange the dirty pans under the sink", and " unfinished things always bothered her". Quotes such as these appear throughout the story, and although they appear to be innocent details, as the story develops they become central key points, as it seems to be a characteristic manner directly opposite that of Minnie Wright. She is a strong woman of principle, who is openly ashamed of herself at her failure in being a good neighbor to Minnie Wright, whom she still thinks of as the young and vibrant Minnie Foster from twenty years ago.Next, we meet Mrs. Peters, the wife of the sheriff. She is a woman of small stature (the direct opposite of her husband) and is described as thin, timid and weak voiced. While it is interesting to note that Mrs. Hale seems fitted for her role in life, that of a farmer's wife, Mrs. Peters seems to be uneasy with being "married to the law." At first it seems she lacks the forceful character required from someone of authority, but as the plot develops we begin to realize that she is a woman of strong convictions and character, and a person who will in the end, do what she believes is right.Finally, we are introduced to Minnie Wright, the character around which the story is centered. Although it is clear to the reader that Mrs. Wright murdered her husband, we look at her sympathetically because of the seemingly absent respect and love from her husband. Mrs. Hale described her by saying "she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively . . . one of the town girls, singing in the choir. But that -- oh, that was twenty years ago." Even so, she is portrayed as a lonely and secluded woman with no children, no friends, and only a bird to keep her company. She is also portrayed as...

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