Feminism in "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell

Categories: A Jury of Her Peers


The exploration of a theme within a story is conveyed through various elements such as the title, characters, plot, and setting. Susan Glaspell, in her work "A Jury of Her Peers," delves into the theme of feminism by strategically employing these literary components. This essay will analyze how Glaspell develops the theme through the title, characters, and plot, shedding light on the feminist undertones of the narrative.

The Significance of the Title

Glaspell's choice of the title serves as a poignant indicator that Minnie Wright's destiny will be determined by a "jury of her peers.

" Notably, Minnie's "peers" are Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, two women intimately familiar with the challenges of Minnie's everyday life. In the early twentieth century, when the story is set, women were barred from serving on juries, making the inclusion of these women ironic. The narrative highlights the prevailing societal norms by having the male characters dismiss the utility of the women's involvement. This is underscored when the county attorney questions, "Would the women know a clue if they did come upon it?" (Glaspell 193).

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However, the story unfolds to reveal that only women who "all go through the same things" can authentically unravel the truth (Glaspell 200).

Names and Societal Division

The names of the characters and the deliberate separation between men and women contribute significantly to the feminist theme. Minnie Wright's name reflects the negligible role assigned to women in early twentieth-century society. The name "Wright" plays on the social stereotype of women seeking 'Mr.

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Right,' while 'Minnie' connotes 'minimized,' capturing her relationship with John and symbolizing women's broader relationship with men (Bourne). Glaspell vividly portrays the segregation between genders when "the men went over to the stove" while "the women stood close together by the door," setting the stage for the eventual solidarity among the women (Glaspell 189).

According to Alkalay-Gut, women's lives are perceived as trivial by men, and their strength lies in unity, in "banding together" against the prevailing triviality (Alkalay-Gut 1). This unity empowers Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters to conceal the evidence and motive in John Wright's murder.

The Plot: Women's Silence as Strength

The core of the story revolves around the powerful theme of women's silence. In stark contrast to the incessant chatter of the male characters, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters communicate profoundly through their shared silence. Glaspell skillfully portrays pivotal moments when "their eyes met-something flashed to life, passed between them" (Glaspell 196). Holstein notes that "their silence has become a mark of their solidarity, a refusal to endanger a sister" (Holstein 290). Initially silent from a sense of powerlessness, the women's final refusal to speak resonates with the strength of intention and choice (Holstein 284).

Through the strategic use of the title, character names, societal positioning, and silence, Glaspell intricately weaves a narrative that provides readers with a glimpse into the feminist themes embedded in "A Jury of Her Peers."

Conclusion: Unveiling Feminism

In conclusion, Susan Glaspell masterfully explores the theme of feminism in "A Jury of Her Peers" through nuanced storytelling. The title serves as a symbolic entry point, signaling the unconventional involvement of women in a societal context where such participation was restricted. The characters' names and the deliberate division between men and women underscore societal norms, emphasizing the unity and strength that arise from shared experiences.

Moreover, the plot unfolds through the powerful tool of women's silence, challenging the prevailing notion of triviality associated with their lives. Glaspell's narrative encourages readers to reflect on the inherent strength of women and the solidarity that emerges when faced with adversity. "A Jury of Her Peers" stands as a testament to the enduring relevance of feminist themes and the importance of understanding and challenging societal norms.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023
Cite this page

Feminism in "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell. (2016, Jun 26). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/susan-glaspells-a-jury-of-her-peers-essay

Feminism in "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell essay
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