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A Jury of Her Peers

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The work, A Jury of Her Peers, was written by Susan Glaspell and published first, in 1917. She was writing a short story adaptation to her famous one-act play Trifles. The play was inspired by her accounts as a court reporter. It is based on a narrative where a group of rural women construe the details of a murder of a husband, by one of their fellow women about to be convicted. Their collaboration ensures that the men present, are not able to get any evidence that is present in the accused kitchen.

The narrative is thus based on the story of an accused woman happens Mrs. Wright. The victim of the murder was her husband, Mr. John Wright; who was allegedly strangled to death with a rope while asleep in their home. Mrs. Wright had been found in her rocking chair while she knitted on her apron looking curious on Mr. Hale and his son; the Hales were the Wrights’ closest neighbors. He enquired of Mr. Wright and she answered calmly that he was upstairs, in the bedroom, dead due to an unknown assailant (Glaspell, 2010).

This unfortunate death is a mystery to all participants who include: Mr. and Mrs. Hale, Mr. and Mrs. Peters and the county attorney, Mr. George Henderson. Mr. Peter was the county sheriff and thus the investigation officer. Martha Hale who had abruptly been called to the scene of the crime by her husband, Mr. Hale, is full of guilt because of not having ever visited Minnie Foster, the women’s nickname for Mrs. Wright since her marriage twenty years ago. Once all the five are inside the Wrights’ lonesome home, the county attorney, Mr. Henderson, asks Mr. Hale to describe what he had experienced and observed the previous day.   

Mr. Hale, despite the current situation’s gravity, gives his evidence in a poorly constructed and long-winded manner trying his best to avoid any inconsistencies to the best of his ability. Mr. Hale had passed by the Wright’s place with the aim of convincing him to get a telephone and had encountered Mrs. Wright in a restless state upon which he had learnt of the murder that had occurred while they were asleep. At this juncture, Mrs. Wright, being the primary suspect is already in custody, while the men investigate to find out the murderer’s motives (Glaspell, 2010).

The narrative’s irony is that the two women, who were there just for company and not to investigate, are the ones who are able to find the clue that indicated to the motive. Mrs. Hale, who had been called to, solely, accompany the Sheriff’s wife, Mrs. Peter, is the one who makes the discovery. Thus, at the end of the narrative, it is her, Mrs. Hale, who though having feelings of accountability as to her discovery of the clue, is able to play a considerable role in saving the accused. The men leave the women in the kitchen, while they continue searching for evidence in the crime scene; that is, the bedroom (Glaspell, 2010).

While in the kitchen, Mrs. Hale notices the half done work, which she equates to that of her kitchen, from where she had been called half way through her cooking by her husband. She makes a mental correlation between her uncompleted work and the one present and dwells on the reasons that could have led to the interruption. She is able to relate to Mrs. Wright’s burdens, at one point even questioning the latter’s role in the murder. This leads to the women conducting some investigation of their own and they are able to deduce that Mrs. Wright had been piecing together an empty birdcage and a quilt.

The two women are confused by the two items; the quilt had a nice stitching throughout except for one end, which stitching was very untidy as if Mrs. Wright had been nervous about something.  A hinge had been pulled apart leaving an opening, leaving the birdcage empty. Mrs. Hale also discovers in the sewing basket, a beautiful box in which they find the bird with its neck wrung. It is only after this discovery that the two women are able to piece together the events prior to the murder (Glaspell, 2010).

According to her, Mr. Wright, upon realizing that his wife was going to bury the bird in the pretty box upon its death, he was infuriated. He disliked the singing bird and, therefore, Mr. Wright killed it; just as he had been able to force his wife to stop singing. According to Mrs. Hale’s perspective, she knew Mr. Wright to be a good man though he was also very hard and persistent. Thus, she was able to piece together the killing of the bird, both a pet and companion to Mrs. Wright, by her husband by means of strangulation to the eventual outcome that met Mr. Wright (Glaspell, 2010).

This realization endears her to Mrs. Wright and makes her feel more liable for the latter’s actions because of their separation for the two decades though they were neighbors. The men, on the other hand, are still looking for a motive, to tie Mrs. Wright to the murder, but are unable to. The two women, having come to a realization of the feeling of a sense of responsibility for the resultant murder, go about concealing all the evidence they found from them thus saving Mrs. Wright in the end (Glaspell, 2010).

Different themes are exemplified in the narrative such as the women’s loyalty and love for one of their own. The theme of loyalty and feminism is present. It impacts on how the characters are able to discover the underlying motive from observation of the kitchen area and their eventual assistance to their college. Another theme present, in the story, is the social economic status as brought out by Mrs. Wright who lived a poor and lonely life. She only has few friends who visit her. Another theme that can be seen in the story is pride and arrogance of the men, especially Mr. Henderson the county attorney, who express disdain to women and their observations, prancing around while searching for evidence they considered important (Glaspell, 2010). 

The theme of loyalty to One’s sex/ gender is evident throughout the narrative. The men are busy searching for clues, to enable them expose the motive behind the murder of one of their own. Conversely, though aware of the motive and being in possession of the evidence, the women go about hiding it from the men as is exemplified when Mrs. Hale snatches the beautiful box from Mrs. Peter and puts it in her handbag, just while the men are returning to the kitchen (Glaspell, 2010).

In conclusion, the author brings out the intuitive aspect of the feminine gender; the women, who are able to pay more attention to the present details while their male counterparts are busy looking for other alternatives. The women are able to discover that a lot of work had been left unfinished in the house, thus suggesting that an incident had taken place abruptly due to the untidiness. It is this intuition and observational traits of the women, coupled with their loyalty to one of their own that in the end brings about the acquittal of Mrs. Wright from her husband’s murder.

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