What is the main theme in the story " A Jury of Her Peers"?
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Out of the many different themes present in the story, the one from which all stem is the repression brought by social expectations due to imposed gender roles. Just like in the first-published one-act play Trifles, the female characters in A Jury of her Peerswere women who were socially thought of as second -class citizens. Minnie was a woman that was psychologically and presumably physically battered. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters were wives whose husbands forbade from giving input or opinions that would in any case agree with Minnie's actions against her husband. Moreover they even criticize Minnie's house for not being tidy enough for many other things that, in the men's opinion, did not render Minnie as a good enough wife. They did not once pondered upon what may have made this woman lose so much of herself.
One theme that this story supports is the idea of the importance of having one's own peers act as judges. The women of the story, because they are women, have a deeper understanding of Minnie's motivations for murdering her husband than the men of the town. After conducting their own investigation which involves noticing Minnie's uneven stitching and her dead canary, the women realize that she was trapped in a miserable marriage with a man who abused her. The women hide the evidence that might lead the men to convict her of murder, because they believe that even though she probably killed her husband that she herself did not deserve to be punished. So the women in the town act as both judge and jury in their own private way.
I would say that one of the major themes in the play is how voices on the outside can actually be useful to all of our narratives. The women in the play are discredited and marginalized as not having anything worthwhile in contributing to the crime. Yet, it is through their own insight that the case is solved. At each step of their understanding of the crime, the patriarchal male establishment attempts to further malign them and silence them. By the end of the play, one of the resounding messages is that those who have been marginalized can incorporate worthwhile thoughts to the discourse that envelops all of us. It is a strong statement against the practice of silencing voices and denigrating one’s own experience. In the process, there is a strong claim of inclusion and seeking to make things better by including more voices into the discussion.
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