The attitudes toward women in GlaspellÆs A Jury of Her Peers illustrate those of a former era, when women were rigidly defined in terms of roles and attributes by a male dominated patriarchy. The attitudes of the Sheriff and the County Attorney are so locked into their preconceptions of women that they fail to recognize Minnie Foster murdered her husband. This is not something that escapes the attention of the other women in the story, because they have a fuller understanding of a womanÆs character than do the Sheriff and County Attorney, representative of many men of the era. Such insightful description of patriarchal attitudes should be kept in our syllabus.
The impression of the men toward the women is implied directly at the beginning of the story when Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale enter Minnie FosterÆs kitchen. The County Attorney treats them cordially but in also what could be inferred as an inferior manner. He says to them while they are in the doorway, ôCome up to the fire, ladiesö, but Mrs. Peters tells him, ôIÆm notùcoldö (Glaspell 2). As Mr. Hale tells his story to the County Attorney and the Sheriff, the men decide they should go upstairs so he can point out where the incidents in his story occurred. At this point, we see the prejudicial and stereotypes attitudes of women begin to mislead the men in ways that do not occur for the women.
Before going upstairs, the County Attorney asks if they are sure everything in the kitchen is the same as it was, and if anything looks out of place. The Sheriff replies, ôÆNothing here but kitchen things,Æ he said, with a little laugh for the insignificance of kitchen thingsö (Glaspell 6). The County Attorney puts his hand into a sticky spot and exclaims, ôÆHereÆs a nice mess,Æ he said resentfullyö (Glaspell 6). Both of these reactions are significant. The SheriffÆs reaction shows that men in this era viewed womenÆs work as insignificant. Women