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A Jury of Her Peers

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Kortney Hudak

on 30 October 2014

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Transcript of A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell
A Jury of Her Peers
Biography of Author
Historical Context
The Men:
Character Analysis
-The work as a whole is ominous and foreboding
-Leaves many conclusions for the reader to decide
-Sad and rather regretful (What we sense from the characters)
Tone & Attitude
Female oppression
The men mock the women in "A Jury of Her Peers"
Women's rights promotion
The absurdity of keeping evidence hidden brings attention to this issue
Author's Commentary
Plot Summary
Presentation by: Kortney Hudak, Alaa Alshaibani, Sophia Ferguson, Leah Li, and Christopher Holland
The Women:
Susan Glaspell was born: July 1, 1876 in Davenport, Iowa

Graduated from Drake University in Des Moines in 1899

Worked as a journalist with the Des Moines Daily News

On December 2, 1900, John Hossack was murdered in his sleep with an axe. His wife, Margaret, was charged with the killing.
Glaspell covered the trial for her newspaper. The jury did not believe her story that she slept through the killing, and she was found guilty.

Susan Glaspell originally wrote "A Jury of Her Peers" as a play entitled Trifles, produced in 1916. She wrote the play for the Provincetown Players in ten days. A year later she rewrote it as the short story.

During the 1930s she suffered from alcoholism and wrote very little. A friend arranged for her to become Midwest Bureau Director for the Federal Theater Project, a project that was part of the New Deal program.

While living in Chicago she decided to try and give up alcohol. On her return to Provincetown she produced three novels, The Morning Is Near Us (1939), Norma Ashe (1942) and Judd Rankin's Daughter (1945)

Died: July 27, 1948 Provincetown, Massachusetts
Historical Information Relevant to Author's Life
Susan Glaspell lived through the Roaring 20s the time when women were gaining more liberties, the economy was good, and people lived more for leisure.

She also underwent the Great Depression and World War II. Women and men worked to support their families if they could during the depression and during the war, when the men went off to fight, the women stayed and rallied to support their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons.
"Quilt it or knot it" - How Minnie was going to finish the blanket that she had started

Unfinished Tasks - How distracted Minnie got when having to abide by the gender roles
Tone and Attitude (Continued)
-Gender discrimination prevalent throughout that particular time period
"Even after she had her foot on the door-step, her hand on the knob, Martha Hale had a moment of feeling she could not cross that threshold"
"Oh, well," said Mrs. Hale's husband, with good-natured superiority, "women are used to worrying over trifles."
"Dirty towelsl Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?" He kicked his foot against some dirty pans under the sink.

"There's a great deal of work to be done on a farm," said Mrs. Hale stiffly.
Her normal life and sanity
Her place in society as a working woman in the household
John Wright
Minnie Wright/Foster
Mr. Peters
Mrs. Peters
Martha Hale and Mrs. Peters tag along with their husbands who visit the crime scene at the Wright house with their husbands.
They meet George Henderson, the attorney at the house, who questions Mr. Hale about what he saw the day before
The men look for clues, while the women merely stand back and watch
Try to fix Minnie's quilt, and find the canary
Lewis Hale
Martha Hale
Feels guilty for not visiting Mrs. Wright.
Finds the dead canary in the sewing box
Seems to be more strong-willed than Mrs. Peters
Historical Information Relevant to the Setting of the Story
The short story takes place in the early 1900s. During this time, gender roles were well-defined. Women were the caretakers while the men were suppliers for the house. The woman was expected to be obedient and not be heard whereas the man was expected to exact order and be the one with an opinion.
George Henderson
Killed in his sleep
Perpetuated his wife's mental breakdown
Intent on isolating her from the outside world
Writes down what Mr. Hale says
Instigates most of the chauvinistic speech of the men
Underestimates the role of women
Had a great voice, and loved to sing
Sheriff's wife
Gender Roles
Men judge women according to their unfinished tasks
Women serve as the "jury"
Sticking to the status quo
Treasured her Canary
Wasn't able to use her voice, because of John
Accepts her role as a woman
Very reserved and soft-spoken
Find historical context evident throughout the story.
He stopped and gave her a keen look, "But you and Mrs. Wright were neighbors. I suppose you were friends, too." Martha Hale shook her head."I've seen little enough of her of late years. I've not been in this house--it's more than a year." "And why was that? You didn't like her?" "I liked her well enough," she replied with spirit. "Farmers' wives have their hands full, Mr. Henderson. And then--" She looked around the kitchen.
Minnie Wright
Martha Hale
Lewis Hale
Mrs. Peters
Sheriff Peters
State whether each character is static or dynamic, and round or flat.
Characterized as cruel
The County Sheriff
Husband of Mrs. Peters
Described as being a heavy man with a big voice
Found Mr. Wright's body
Had contact with Mrs. Wright
Find evidence in the story that shows how Glaspell uses these symbols.
Jars of Fruit and Apron
Minnie Foster's "voice"
"Last Canary in the Mineshaft"
Time when Minnie loses her sanity
Shows how she has changed.
Jars of Fruit and Apron
"'He died of a rope around his neck,' says [Minnie]"
"Oh - her fruit," she said, looking to Mrs. Hale for sympathetic understanding.

She turned back to the county attorney and explained: "She worried about that when it turned so cold last night. She said the fire would go out and her jars might burst."

Mrs. Peters' husband broke into a laugh.

"Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder, and worrying about her preserves!"
...and just went on pleatin' at her apron."
Men assume superiority, even though women find clues
Dirty kitchen (towels, dishes)
"Dirty towels! Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?"
Then, as if releasing herself from something strange. Mrs. Hale began to arrange the dirty pans under the sink, which the county attorney's disdainful push of the foot had deranged.
Mocking the women
Analyzing of Minnie Foster's unfinished tasks
One half of it was wiped clean, the other half messy. Her eyes made a slow, almost unwilling turn to the bucket of sugar and the half empty bag beside it. Things begun--and not finished.
How Minnie was going to finish the blanket that she had started
"Quilt it or knot it"
How distracted Minnie got when having to abide by the gender roles
Unfinished Tasks
"But would the women know a clue if they did come upon it?" he said; and, having delivered himself of this, he followed the others through the stair door.
"It's the bird," she whispered...."Somebody wrung its neck," said she, in a voice that was slow and deep.
HEY!! Lets meet at the lib
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