Susan Glaspell’s Jury of Her Peers Essay

Susan Glaspell’s Jury of Her Peers Essay

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“Jury of Her Peers” is a short story that combines murder, lies and sexism while exposing the reader to the truth about women’s abilities and skills. Aside from being a murder mystery about the investigation of the sudden death of John Wright, the story’s theme is more about respect for women and making decisions based on one’s own beliefs and morals rather than allowing others to control them. Glaspell is a firm believer in women’s rights, and she dedicates most of her writing, including this piece, to displaying to society that women are indeed as smart and capable as men are to perform the duties and jobs of everyday life (internet*). The setting is in rural Dickson County, USA, just prior to 1920. This was a period in America’s history when women were seen as household workers only, that men were the only ones capable of making important judgment calls and decisions. Although one of the main characters, Mrs. Peters, lives her life by what the men make her to be, in the end she undergoes a movement that changes her into an independent person of society.

The female characters in “Jury of Her Peers” include Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Wright. These are the women who, at different points in their lives, turned the degrading things men did into motivation to go through with actions they never thought possible. For Mrs. Hale, this happened when she was only a girl, and a young boy slaughtered her young kitten in front of her own eyes. As she described it, she felt from that experience that “If they had not held me back I would have…hurt him.” (Glaspell, 277) Likewise, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Wright go through a similar situation regarding how their husbands treat them. Mr. Hale and the Sheriff, Mr. Peter...


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...y, Mr. Hale describes Mrs. Peters as being “married to the law” (Glaspell, 280). In many ways, this statement is true for Mrs. Peters. However, after hearing this, she undergoes a transformation that leads her to conceal the evidence she and Mrs. Hale discover. It is a bold move that shows her ability to stand for what she believes is right, and what she believes the men deserve.

Glaspell’s ideas about women in society were, at the time of their release, very controversial. As time has progressed, women have risen to the challenge and become the very figures she described in “Jury of Her Peers.” Not necessarily people who are willing to kill, but people who stand for something and will openly express their feelings and beliefs without sensing a biased for men. That is what this story is about, and that is what the author wanted everyone to realize.

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