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A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

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What is the significance of the title 'A Jury of Her Peers'?

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A Jury of Her Peers is a fitting title because it describes the understanding that was between the women as to what Minnie Wright had gone through, and they acquitted her of murder. Minnie had been badly treated, over- worked, and under-appreciated. Without the work that the women did, no...

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one would survive the winter. The women kept the house, canned the food, and took care of everyone. However, the ones who came and investigated the crime were men who did not appreciate the value of what Minnie, or any of the women, did. They did not see the hard work that they put in, and they had no understanding of everything that the women had been through, but the women had understanding and empathy for her because they were truly her peers. They lived the same life. Most of the tension in the story has to do with what the women know to be true and what the men are just unable to see.  There are a number of small things that give the women hints as to what Minnie had been through. They saw the messy kitchen, canning supplies, and erratic quilt-stitching as important while the men did not see the value or importance in the small things.

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In law, the idea of a jury of your peers is so that there will be a balance of information. If someone isn't your peer, he or she might not understand your actions (or the laws that govern them). If someone is, he or she is more likely to produce both justice and a balanced judgment. In Glaspell's great story, it is a jury of "her" peers because the situation is specifically female. Both the story and the play version show that in that time, it was not possible for a man to fully understand a woman's actions in Mrs. Wright's situation. Instead, to have a fair judgment, she must be tried by women (as the two women in the story do).

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Eplain the signifiance of the story's title?

When a person is accused of a crime, they are entitled to a jury of their peers.  This means that they are legally given the opportunity to be judged by their equals.  In the short story "A Jury of her Peers" Glaspell plays with the word "Peer".  The men who come to collect the evidence and investigate Minnie's husband's murder are not her peer, but the women who come are.  They too are women, so they have experienced the same issues and problems she has; she's been over worked and under appreciated by her husband for too many years.  Thus, the women are her actual peers.

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