Essay on A Jury of Her Peers, by Susan Glaspell

Essay on A Jury of Her Peers, by Susan Glaspell

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In “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell, Minnie Foster Wright is the main character, even though the reader never sees Mrs. Wright. The story begins as Mrs. Hale joins the county attorney, Mr. Henderson; the sheriff, Mr. Peters; Mrs. Peters; and her husband in a “big two-seated buggy” (188). The team men are headed the Wright house to investigate Mr. Wright’s murder. Mrs. Peters is going along to gather some belongings for Mrs. Wright, who is currently being held in jail, and Mrs. Hale has been asked to accompany Mrs. Peters. As the investigation is conducted throughout the story, the reader is given a sense of how women were treated during this time and insight into why the women ultimately keep evidence from the men.
     Glaspell sets the scene as the team nears the Wright house. Mrs. Peters says, “The country’s not very pleasant this time of year” (189). As Mrs. Hale starts to reply, the Wright place comes into view, and “it did not make her feel like talking” (189). Glaspell lets the reader know what the home looks like by pointing out that “it looked very lonesome this cold March morning. It had always been a lonesome-looking place. It was down in a hollow, and the poplar trees around it were lonesome-looking trees” (189). The reader definitely gets the feeling that this is a lonely place. Elaine Hedges writes, “Through her brief opening description of the landscape Glaspell establishes the physical context for the loneliness and isolation, an isolation Minnie inherited from and shared with generations of pioneer and farm women before her” (par. 5).
     When the group arrives at the house, the difference between the men and the women is immediately apparent. The men approach the scene with confidence and seem to feel indifferent toward the situation, even though John Wright was a close acquaintance and neighbor. However, the women approach the scene with caution and hesitation. The sheriff gets right to business and asks Mr. Hale to “tell Mr. Henderson just what it was you saw when you came here yesterday morning” (189). Mrs. Hale gets nervous as her husband “often wandered along and got things mixed up in a story” (190). Mrs. Hale does not want Mr. Hale to say anything that might “make things harder for Minnie Foster” (190). This lets the reader know that Mrs. Hale already feels compassion for Mr...


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.... She was going to—what is it you call it, ladies?’” (201). “’We call it—knot it, Mr. Henderson,’” replies Mrs. Hale.
     “Throughout much of the 19th century married women were defined under the law as "civilly dead," their legal existence subsumed within their husbands, their rights to their own property, wages, and children either nonexistent or severely circumscribed. Nor did they participate in the making and administering of the law” (Hedges, par. 27). Being treated as second class citizens, the women already feel resentment toward men in general. Therefore, the women get a little revenge by withholding the evidence they find from the men. The women ultimately solve the murder of John Wright and act as the judge and jury for Minnie Wright—case dismissed.



Works Cited
Glaspell, Susan. “A Jury of Her Peers.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2004. 188-201.
Hedges, Elaine. “Small Things Reconsidered: Susan Glaspell's `A Jury of Her Peers.'” Women’s Studies 12 (1986): 89-110. Literature Resource Center. Galenet. WSCC Lib. 03 Mar. 2004. .

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