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Trifles and A Jury of her Peers

This research examines ways in which social experience informs conscience and behavior in Susan Glaspell's play Trifles and the short story on which it was based, "A Jury of Her Peers." The research will set forth the cultural context of the narrative and show how interpenetrations of conscience and social constructs in that context affect, explain, or justify behavior.

The social milieu of Glaspell's story is a decisive component of the narrative. In the drab farmhouse where the action of Trifles and "Jury" unfolds, all the people are decent and know their place and are determined to do a responsible job. Though Glaspell injects her story with humor, her subtext is chilling because the stakes are literally life and death. Also chilling, given how the narrative turns out, is that at the opening of the story, nobody is questioning the preconceptions of social organization that every character brings to the farmhouse. Yet the action turns on an upending and deliberate violation of those preconceptions. Not in the literal context of the Wright farm and Dickson County but in the abstract, as the actions of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters settle into reflection, do the implications of Mrs. Wright's behavior on one hand and the good ladies who gather her things on the other become evident. The main implication: that social organization, for all its power, can be fragile and may be transformed by social actors who have sufficient motivation for the project. The motivation: social organization as power, which means that transformation is potentially a species of social revolution and re-norming.

A good deal of theory has been articulated about the effect of given social realities on human behavior. Marxist social theory has at is core the thesis that the concentration of wealth and property creates a condition of inequitable distribution of social goods, hence unequal power relationships, with the result that humankind experiences social alien...

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Trifles and A Jury of her Peers. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:06, May 25, 2020, from