A Jury of Her Peers Summary
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 23-page guide for “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Gender Roles and Duty of Neighbors to Help One Another.
The short story, “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell, describes the investigation of a mysterious murder in rural Dickson County. A neighbor of the murdered man discovers John Wright’s body; he has been strangled in his bed with his own rope, while his wife calmly sits downstairs.
Mrs. Wright is taken into custody on suspicion that she murdered her husband, and the sheriff, the county attorney, and the neighbor who found the body—Mr. Hale—officially investigate the crime the next morning. The men are baffled as to how Mrs. Wright could have slept through the murder of her husband while she lay next to him, or how she could have strangled her husband in his sleep without him waking up and stopping her. They have no definite proof that she committed the crime.
Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, the sheriff’s wife, are left alone in the kitchen, ostensibly to gather the things that Mrs. Wright has asked to be brought to her in jail. The two women discuss the crime. Looking around the kitchen, they uncover clues as to what Mrs. Wright’s life was really like, and they discover evidence that would prove that Mrs. Wright had a motive for killing her husband. They conspire together to protect Mrs. Wright, based on what they have found, and hide the evidence from the men.
“A Jury of Her Peers” explores gender roles in the early twentieth-century, the effects of isolation on people’s emotional and mental states, and the duty of neighbors to help one another. Additionally, Glaspell comments directly on the sexism of this period in American history and the prejudices inherent in the belief that women’s proper and only place is in the kitchen. This short story is an adaptation of Glaspell’s original play, “Trifles”.