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Susan Glaspell's story, "A Jury of Her Peers"

In Susan Glaspell's 1916 short story, "A Jury of Her Peers," a crime has been committed and the guilty person should be punished. The dramatic question is what is the crime? Based on that answer, the guilty person is determined. The twist to the story is that there are two guilty people for two different types of crimesùthe murder of a farmer and the domestic abuse of the farmer's wife. The story centers on the traditional view of the male characters that murder is the crime in question and that the murderer must be punished, and the nontraditional view (for its time) of the female characters that domestic violence is the true crime. The destruction of a human spirit is a form of murder. The title of the story reflects its theme. In the era the story takes place, juries were all male (and all white), and so the male perspective and judgment dominated, a perspective that did not grant a female on trial a true jury of her peers. In Glaspell's story, the two female characters take it upon themselves to become a jury of her peers for the farmer's wife who is the accused woman, with the power to condemn her or set her free.

The structure of the story is set up as a "gendered" investigation into the death of the farmer John Wright, who has been strangled. The three male characters -- Sheriff Peters, county attorney Henderson, and farmer Lewis Hale û- search the murder scene for evidence with which to arrest Mrs. Minnie Wright for her husband's murder. The two female characters û -the sheriff's wife, Mrs. Peters and the farmer's wife Mrs. Hale û- conduct their own search to get at the truth and heart of the matter. The two investigations reveal the differences between the male and female perspective as well as the power relationships of the time. For example, the men believe the law is the law, but as Mrs. Hale says, "The law is the lawùand a bad stove is a bad stove. How'd you like to cook on this?" and points to the broken stove (...

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Susan Glaspell's story, "A Jury of Her Peers". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:28, June 02, 2020, from