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Literary Analysis of "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell

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Literary Analysis of "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell

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  • July 16, 2006
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"A Jury of Her Peers" was originally written by Susan Glaspell as a play entitled Trifles. She wrote the play in 1916, and a year later she rewrote it as a short story. Glaspell was inspired to write the story while covering a murder investigation when she worked as a journalist for the Des Moines Daily News (qtd. in Annenberg). The theme of the story, the way men view the stereotypical role of women and the isolation created by society because of that view, is revealed as the other women try to figure out Minnie Wright's motive for murdering her husband. This story takes us back in time to a place in our history where men and women played very different roles in their lives. In the end, all is revealed as Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover Minnie's motive by paying close attention to what the men consider "trifles", or the insignificant matters of women.

As the story opens, we are introduced to Mrs. Hale, a farmer's wife, and immediately we see the high importance she places in keeping an organized household. At first she seems to be the main character, but as we continue to read, we realize that we are only seeing into her life, her details and thoughts. We are shown Mrs. Hale's instinct for neatness, "She hated to see things half done", "Mrs. Hale began to arrange the dirty pans under the sink", and " unfinished things always bothered her". Quotes such as these appear throughout the story, and although they appear to be innocent details, as the story develops they become central key points, as it seems to be a characteristic manner directly opposite that of Minnie Wright. She is a strong woman of principle, who is openly ashamed of herself at her failure in being a good neighbor to Minnie Wright, whom she still thinks of as the young and vibrant Minnie Foster from twenty years ago.

Next, we meet Mrs. Peters, the wife of the sheriff. She is a woman of small stature (the direct opposite of her husband) and is described as thin, timid and weak voiced. While...