Susan Glaspell

A Jury of Her Peers

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A Jury of Her Peers Analysis

The narrative and dramatic tension in this detective story arises from the differences between what the men see—what they allow themselves to see and what they believe is beneath their notice—and what the women see. The women, with their intimate knowledge of women’s work and domestic life,notice the details of the scene around them and solve the crime. In order to explore the thoughts and feelings of her characters, Glaspell uses a third person omniscient narrator to reveal the inner beliefs and motivations of each character, particularly Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters.

The women endure the men’s consistent put-downs and jokes at their expense. Even the kindly Mr. Hale jokes that the women wouldn’t recognize a clue if they found one. The sheriff hides his sexism behind a casual, jovial manner, but he consistentlyjibesat women and their concerns. For example, he laughs at his wife’s fear when he asks Mrs. Hale to come to the Wrights, and he dismisses “kitchen things” (148) as unimportant to his investigation. The county attorney also laughs at the concerns of the women, and particularly their discussion of whether Mrs. Wright meant to quilt or knot her quilt, and he is harsh in his criticisms of Minnie Wright’s housekeeping skills.

Originally brought together by the men’s dismissive comments and off-the-cuff insults, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters soon find that they see things in a similar way. Both women notice details, and Mrs. Hale is quick to discern and explain the emotional and psychological significance of the evidence in front of them. For example, the half-completed tasks in the kitchen, such as the dirty pots, show that Minnie was depressed,while the half wiped table, show she was interrupted and never had a chance to complete the task. The women experience several moments when their eyes meet and they communicate their understanding of the situation without speaking.

Other evidence includes Minnie’s shabby clothes, the damaged rocker, and the broken-down stove, which show that Mr. Wright did not care about the quality of his wife’s clothes, or how difficult it might be for her to sit comfortably and cook or…

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