A Jury of Her Peers, by Susan Glaspell

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In Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”, female characters face inequality in a society dominated by the opinions of their husbands. The women struggle to decide where their loyalty rests and the fate of a fellow woman. Aided by memories and their own lifestyles the women realize their ties to a woman held for murder, Minnie Foster Wright. Through a sympathetic connection these women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters have greater loyalty to a fellow woman than to their husbands and even the law; this greater loyalty ultimately shows the inequality between genders. Mrs. Hale feels a natural responsibility to defend and protect Minnie Foster Wright through her connection as a fellow woman and housewife. Upon her introduction to Minnie through her home, Mrs. Hale finds an immediate connection. She understands Minnie’s life as a homemaker and a farmer’s wife and is quick to defend her when her skills as a wife and woman come into question. When the men recognize Minnie’s lackluster cleaning of kitchen towels Mrs. Hale retorts “[m]en’s hands aren’t as clean as they might be” (Glaspell 160). She asserts her loyalty to Minnie and notes that men are not always perfect or without blame, without “clean hands”. As a woman, Mrs. Hale easily sees herself in Minnie’s place and comes to her defense as if she were defending herself. It is easier to share her loyalty with a woman so much like her than it is to be loyal to men that act superior and do not understand the challenges of being a housewife. The men find a woman’s chores as petty, nothing but “trifles” (Glaspell 160).Scholar Karen Stein argues that it is these commonalities that create the responsibility of everywoman to defend one another (Ortiz 165). Mrs. Hale sees herself in every... ... middle of paper ... ...riage and the law that had bound them and to a greater respect for fellow women. Loyalty, they find, is meant for those they can connect with, those that live their lives and know their struggles, it is reserved for their peers. Works Cited Fetterly, Judith. “Reading About Reading: ‘A Jury of Her Peers’, ‘The Murders in the Morgue,’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” Gender in Reading: Essays on Readers, Texts, and Contexts. (1986): 147-64. Rpt. in Short Stories for Students. Detroit: Gale. 163-166. Print. Glaspell, Susan. “A Jury of Her Peers.” Great Short Stories by American Women. Ed. Candace Ward. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1996. 154-173. Print. Ortiz, Lisa. Critical Essay on “A Jury of Her Peers.” Short Stories for Students. Detroit: Gale. 163-166. Print. “A Jury of Her Peers.” Short Stories for Students. Detroit: Gale. 160-161. Print.
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