Susan Glaspell

A Jury of Her Peers

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A Jury of Her Peers Themes

Gender Roles

Gender roles are one of the central concerns of this story. Glaspell delineates the marginalization of women and their contribution to society most clearly through the distinctions between what is considered “men’s work”—detecting and solving the crime, and “women’s work”—being stuck in the kitchen on the outside the investigation, performing unimportant taskssuch as gathering Mrs. Wright’s clothing. Both Mr. Peters and Mr. Hale repeatedly insult their wives directly and dismiss women’s importance and abilities. The county attorney treats the two women in a condescending manner, assuming they are far too feeble to offer substantial helpeven as he expects that would bring him any evidence they find to help him.

The significance of the women’s ability to solve the crime and take Minnie Wright’s fate out of the men’s hands displays the power in the women’s way of thinking and the ways they manage to navigate the limits imposed upon them. Their decision to conceal the evidence of Minnie’s guilt converts the story from one about man’s law into one about women’s justice.

Duty of Neighbors to Help One Another

Martha Hale fails to be a good neighbor to Minnie. She blames herself for not trying to be a better neighbor and friend. She imagines what Minnie’s life was like, and paints a dismal picture. Mrs. Hale feels that she is partly responsible for Minnie Wright’s psychological and emotional dissolution, because she sees the terrible, but preventable, effects of loneliness and isolation in Minnie’s life.

The Law versus Justice

The sheriff and the county attorney are focused on finding evidence to convict Mrs. Wright, according to the law, for John Wright’s murder. At no point do they consider any extenuating circumstances, or the relationship between the husband and wife, except in terms of Minnie’s motive. They are looking for something dramatic and obvious—the equivalent of a “smoking gun.”

However, the relationship between Minnie and John becomes the focus of Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale and they find the answers in the mute evidence of the Wrights’ daily life. The women’s approach exposes a gap between the concerns of the law and justice. The men’s failure…

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