Who is the major character?
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The major character, about whom the story revolves, is Minnie Wright, who is suspected of murdering her husband. But in the development of the story, the major acting and speaking character is Martha Hale. She is the limited point-of-view character, and the narration and dialogue exist only because she is involved in them in some way. For example, paragraph
9 concerns Martha’s feelings when she enters the Wright farmhouse. The men, who are technically the principal investigators of the murder, enter and leave, while Martha remains as the focus of our attention. We also realize that Martha is the major source of information about Minnie and about Wright, the dead husband. It is because of Martha’s questions, observations, recollections, and responses that we develop sympathy for Minnie. For example, Martha justifies Minnie’s housekeeping just as she also develops a justification for the murder. Not only is Martha sympathetic, but also she is the major figure concealing and destroying the evidence that points conclusively to Minnie’s guilt. She is, therefore, the most important character in the story.
I would actually make the argument that Mrs. Hale and Peters are probably the main characters in the work. I think this because it is through them that so much of Glaspell's ideas and our own understanding is revealed. Minnie Wright is the focus of the survey into guilt, but I think that the manner in which this is done is probably as significant as the act itself. Both women engage in greater investigative techniques that are more vaild than the authority figures who denigrate women's efforts in this realm as being trivial and illogical. The fact that the women talk things over, analyzing the problem from different points of view, offering several versions or alternate visions of the crime helps them to actually figure out what happened that night. In the end, I say that the women chatting are probably the main characters because it is through them that the reader has a fuller understanding of what it is to be a woman and the challenges it holds.
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