An Analysis of Characterization in “A Jury of Her Peers”
In “A Jury of Her Peers” written by Susan Glaspell and published in 1917 a man named John Wright was choked to death in his bed with a rope. John Wright’s wife, Minnie is the prime suspect and has been taken to the jail to await her trial. The county lawyer George Henderson, the sheriff Henry Peters, his wife and the local farmer Lewis Hale and his wife Martha arrive at the home of John and Minnie Wright trying to locate clues so they could hold a trial and convict Minnie for the murder of her husband. Mrs. Peters and Martha Hale, both very observant, quickly take note of the obvious clues in the home but choose to not reveal them to the men. This story takes place during a time when women were made to feel inferior to men. This is ironic because the men fail to see the obvious clues, that the ladies are uncovering, that are important to their investigation. Minnie Foster Wright, who is the main character in the story, has been forced to change her identity from a lovely girl who loved to sing in the choir and wear pretty dresses to one of a subservient housewife. Minnie is a very dynamic character whose dreams were represented by her pet canary and ultimately choked by the hands of her husband. The story gives a lot of insight into the life of Minnie Wright and how she felt as a housewife but it is done through the eyes of her peers.
George Henderson comes across as being narrow-minded and egotistical. He talks down to the women throughout the entire story, he looks inside the cupboard and says, “Here’s a fine mess” (Glaspell 540). After multiple comments and derogatory looks toward the ladies the lawyer remembers his role in the community and states, “for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies” (Glaspell 540)? George Henderson then falls back into superiority by criticizing the disarray and dirt in the farmhouse.
Lewis Hale and Henry Peters share the same opinion...
Cited: Glaspell, Susan. “A Jury of Her Peers.” Perrine 's Literature, Structure, Sound, and Sense". Arp, Thomas R. & Greg Johnson. 10th edition. Thomson/Wadsworth. 2009. (page number)
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