A Jury of Her Peers Symbols and Motifs
The canary multiplies a potent symbol in this story. In one respect, the bright canary signifies joy and music in Minnie Wright’s bleak life. The bird provides her with company, music, and beauty.
The pretty songbird trapped in a cage also becomes a symbol for Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hale remembers the young Minnie Foster:“‘She—come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself. Real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and—fluttery’” (156). Her marriage to John Wright choked the life out of the Minnie, just as he later choked the life out of her pet canary. For Minnie, the loss of the canary represents the death of her own essence, as well as the loss of a precious companion. John Wright’s murder of the helpless bird reveals him to be a cruel man with a treacherous disregard for his wife’s feelings.
After 20 years of living with a hard man who oppressed her, controlled her, and deprived her emotionally and physically, Minnie Wright lashed out in anger and repressed emotion. She strangles her husband, in a heart-broken echo of the cruel neglect and deprivation she has suffered over the years.
Glaspell gives setting a primary role in this story, and the Wrights’ kitchen almost becomes a character in its own right. As a stereotypically women’s domain, the kitchen reveals many clues about Minnie Wright’s life and the murder of her husband. Because these clues are in the kitchen they are invisible to the men.
Only the county attorney pays any attention to the kitchen, primarily to criticize Minnie Wright’s housekeeping abilities. He assumes that if the kitchen contains anything important to his investigation, which is nearly unthinkable to him, then Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Halewill present that evidence to him; he doesn’t need to bother to look for it himself.
However, the kitchen does contain all of the clues that the Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale need to solve the crime. They hide the evidence found in their domain; as women, they choose to enact a domestic justice.
The Law and Justice: A Jury of Her Peers
The law is a motif…