A Jury of Her Peers Major Character Analysis
Mrs. Martha Hale
Described as a big, strong farm woman, Martha is also perceptive, intelligent, and compassionate. She feels a kinship with her closest neighbor, Minnie Foster Wright, from the beginning of the story. Her sense of their connection, which began in their shared childhood, grows deeper as she discovers the truth about Minnie’s married life.
She knows John Wright as a hard and difficult man, with whom it would be impossible to live happily. She eventually castigates herself for not keeping up her friendship with Minnie. Knowing that Minnie was driven to murder her husband by twenty years of emotional and physical deprivation, culminating in the cruel murder of her beloved bird, Martha feels a sense of responsibility toward Minnie Wright. She believes that her friendship and caring could have helped Minnie through the years.
It is Mrs. Hale’s perceptions and point of view that the omniscient narrator reveals most fully. She is the one who puts the pieces together and forces Mrs. Peters to understand what has happened in the Wrights’ house. She is the one who understands John Wright’s character and Minnie Foster Wright’s life as a young girl. Furthermore, her intimate knowledge of the hard, busy, demanding, and isolated life of a farm wife means that she understands exactly what Minnie Wright’s life was like.
Through her understanding of Minnie’s life and the recognition of her own responsibility toward her neighbor, she solves the crime and absolves Minnie.Mrs. Hale’s depiction of Minnie helps Mrs. Peters to feel a connection to Minnie as well; in particular, Mrs. Peters responds to the emotional difficulties surrounding the lonely silence of the Wright home,which she shared as a result of her childlessness, and Minnie’s need to fill the silence with the beautiful song of a bird. Through helping Mrs. Peters feel this emotional and psychological connection with Minnie, Mrs. Hale gains her complicity in securingjustice for Minnie, by hiding the proof that would convict her.
Mrs. Peters is the sheriff’s wife, and her first name is never revealed. What the reader learns about Mrs. Peters is most frequently reported from Mrs. Hale’s…