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Posted: December 14th, 2019

Feminist Times: a Jury of Her Peers Essay

Susan Glaspell was born in 1882; she wrote a short story called “A Jury of Her Peers” based on her play Trifles. Susan Glaspell received a degree in philosophy from Drake University. She became a newspaper reporter in Des Moines. The writer married a freethinker who believed in free love. In 1916 the author was inspired to write the play Trifles based on a murder case she covered on the job.

One year later in 1917, she creates the short story. Mrs. Glaspell has stated that promotes all progressive movements.

Her short story “A Jury of Her Peers” is very touching and judgmental. In her story she is revealing moments that define the women’s personalities and lives. This short story is symbolizing how the women felt, what roles they play in society, and what the women saw as a worry was considered little to none importance by men.

In this short story, how women felt was of no matter. For instance, Minnie Wright’s life was compared to the life of a bird in a cage.

Mrs. Wright’s life was full of loneliness with nowhere to go. She was trapped in a cage just like the bird. Mrs. Hale remembered Minnie Wright as Minnie Foster before she got married to John Wright. Mrs. Hale states that Minnie Foster once had a beautiful voice just like the bird once had one too. “I wish you’d seen Minnie Foster when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the choir and sang.” (Glaspell, Page 264) The beautiful voice of both Minnie Wright’s and the birds was taken away by a heartless man. Men in those times had no respect for how women felt. John Wright was a cruel man who killed the bird with disregard to her feelings. As the bird died, a piece of her heart died as well.

“She was going to bury it in that pretty box.” (Glaspell, Page 264) Her only friend and connection to the world was taken away. As a consequence, Mr. Wright’s life was taken.  During the old time, the role that women played in society was based on their husbands. For example, Mrs. Hale was married to Mr. Hale who was a farmer. She was known as the farmer’s wife. Mrs. Peters was married to Mr. Peters who happened to be the sheriff. In the eyes of society she was known as the lady married to the law.

In the book Mr. Peter’s states “Married to the law!” (Glaspell, Page 265) These women have no individual identity. Who they were, was determined by their husbands. The women were never called by their first names. They were called by their husband’s last name. In those days, women had no say or opinion. They had to do what their husbands would tell them to do. Who they would be for the rest of their life was established by the man they married.

Decades ago, what women saw as a worry was considered little to none importance by men. Men back then were ignorant to what was obvious and right in front of their faces. The women saw the small details of what was happening or did happen. They put those small details together and found the motive as to why Mrs. Wright killed her husband. In the story “A Jury of Her Peers,” Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters noticed all the small details that were clues. When Minnie asked that they check on her preserves. Mr. Hale commented “women are used to worrying over trifles.” (Hedges, web)The quilt was one of the clues that gave the ladies a scare.

They were trying to figure out why the quilt was done so well, but towards the middle looked wrong. The ladies were puzzled as to if Minnie Wright was going to knot or quilt it. They understood that it described Minnie’s life. It looked nice and pretty on the outside, but on the inside her life was mess. The men didn’t see or understand it. Mr. Henderson the county attorney made a brief smirk about the ladies wonders. “They wonder whether she was going to quilt it or just knot it!” (Glaspell, Page 260) The ladies knew something was very wrong. The men saw it as nothing. The women found a beautiful little box at the bottom of the sewing basket. In the box they found a dead bird, but did not mention it to the men.

The men were too busy looking for the big clues that they found nothing. All the small details that would convict Minnie Wright were in her personal belongings. Everything that had to do with her everyday life was considered small details or of no value in the men’s eyes. In reality, it was all the clues they needed, but overlooked. The small worries of women should never be underestimated and should be considered when trying to understand them. A woman’s small worries are the clues to discovering the answers.

In this mystery of finding all the right clues, the two ladies found them all. This story shows that women are just as smart as men. Sometimes women are even smarter. These two ladies read between the lines and figured out Minnie Wright’s life story in just a short period of time. “For these women, solving the murder is not a disinterested act, but a cooperative endeavor which leads them to a knowledge essential for their survival as females in a hostile or indifferent world.” (Ortiz, web

) As the men searched for big clues, they found nothing. The women understood what Minnie had endured in her life and choose not to tell the men about the clues. It was their choice not to tell the men and none of them would ever know that the ladies had defied them that day. It was one step closer to gaining their rights.

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