Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers


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A Jury of Peers


In  A Jury of Peers  by Susan Glaspell, the story revolves around the sudden death of John Wright. There are five characters that participate in the investigation of this tragedy. Their job is to find a clue to the motive that will link Mrs. Wright, the primary suspect, to the murder. Ironically, the ladies, whose duties did not include solving the mystery, were the ones who found the clue to the motive. Even more ironic, Mrs. Hale, whose presence is solely in favor of keeping the sheriff s wife company, could be contributed the most to her secret discovery. In this short story, Mrs. Hale s character plays a significant role to Mrs. Wright s nemesis in that she has slight feelings of accountability and also her discovery of the clue to the motive.

    The unfortunate death of John Wright was a mystery to all. A team of individuals consisting of the sheriff, county attorney, Mr. Hale, and Mrs. Peters were on a mission to find the purpose of the murderer. At this point, Mrs. Wright is the primary suspect. Mrs. Hale was asked to join the party in order to give Mrs. Peters, the sheriff s wife, some companionship. In the story, Mrs. Hale leaves cues of guilty feelings. As an example, the narrator states,  Martha Hale had a moment of feeling that she could not cross that threshold.  The reason being given that she had been too busy to come by but  now  she could come (Glaspell 2). Another instance to be noted is a conversation between her and the young attorney. During this conversation, he asked if they were friends since they were neighbors. Her answer was sympathetic,  I’ve seen little enough of her late years. I ve not been it this house-it s been morethan a year.  Then she goes on to explain,  I liked her well enough. Farmers  wives have their hands full,  it never seemed a very cheerful place (Glaspell 6). At this point, Mrs. Hale s empathy toward Mrs. Wright is apparent.

    The two women were left in the kitchen while the men were investigating inthe crime scene. Mrs. Hale noticed the  half done  work in the kitchen. She hated unfinished things. For example, her unfinished kitchen that she had to leave. Therefore, she made a connection between her unfinished business and the one at hand.

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She began to think about the possible cause of interruption. Once again, Mrs. Hale relates to Mrs. Wright s burdens. As a matter of fact, there is a point in the story in which she questions Mrs. Wright s involvement in the murder.

    The ladies continue to look through her items. They noticed that she waspiecing together a quilt and the empty birdcage. These items left them with a confused thought. First, the quilt had nice stitching all the way through except on one end. The stitching was so bad that it looked as if she was nervous about something. Secondly, the birdcage was empty. Not to mention that one of the hinges was pulled apart. Through all these findings, Mrs. Hale wishes that she would have came around (Glaspell 12). He knows that John Wright had a reputation of a good man, but he was also known as a hard man. The fact of the matter is that Mrs. Wright was alone all day, and it would almost make sense that she would want the bird for some companionship. She tries to convince herself numerous of times that  she stayed away because it weren t cheerful.  Yet, the more she thought about it that more she realized that maybe that s why she should ve come around.

    Moreover, Mrs. Hale discovers a pretty box in the sewing basket. Never would he have guessed that inside the box would be the bird, whose neck had been wrung. After this discovery, everything starts to come together to Mrs. Hale. Mrs. Peters tries to persuade Mrs. Hale that there was no certainty to who killed the bird, but she explain her logic. First, she notes that she was going to bury the bird in a pretty box, therefore he liked the bird. In addition, she makes the connection between Wright s dislike for the bird and killing  a thing that sings  with the fact that Mrs. Wright used to sing and he killed that a long time ago (Glaspell 14).

    The discovery of the motive caused Mrs. Hale to feel even more responsible for Mrs. Wright s actions. Glaspell states,  The picture of that girl, the fact that she lived neighbor to that girl for twenty years, and had let her die for lack of life, was suddenly more than she could bear.  She continues to blame herself by making remarks such as,  I might  a  known she needed help,  and  We live close together and we live far apart.   Mrs. Hale even questions whether the lack of her presence could be considered a crime.

    The men were looking for something to connect Mrs. Wright to the actual murder- a motive. Mrs. Hale finally discovers this missing link as she goes through her things. In the process, Mrs. Hale even found herself commiserating the murder. Even though, she knew that murdering an individual is a crime. She also felt that killing a person s sense of self is as much of an offense. She felt a deep connection with Mr. Wright and partially liable for the events that occurred. They lived as neighbors for a number of years and she was always too busy to stop by in the not-so cheerful place where Mrs. Wright spent numerous years alone. In summary, the character of Mr. Hale played a critical role in the fate of Mr. Wright in two ways: One, she unlocks the motive that connects John Wright to his murder, and she also starts to assume some responsibility for the actions taken by Mrs. Wright.   


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