How does the characterization of the District Attorney and John and Mini's relationship reflect the mores of 1916?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A key word you need to focus on in this play is patriarchy. What I mean by this is this play explores the relationships between men and women at this particular point in history. You will want to focus on how the relationships between Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale and then the men are presented, and in particular the assumptions that are made by the men about the women.

Focussing on the relationship between John and Minnie Wright, look closely at how Mrs. Hale describes Minnie before her marriage with John:

She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing int he choir. But that - oh, that was thirty years ago.

Then later she says:

She - come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself - real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and - fluttery. How - she - did - change.

Notice how the dashes in the last sentence really emphasises the pity and shock felt at the transformation of Minnie. Mrs. Hale presents a picture of a kind, lovely and sensitive woman who is then oppressed and constricted by her marriage to John Wright, who Mrs. Hale describes as being "close" and says:

But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him. (Shivers) Like a raw wind that gets to the bone.

The assumption that John Wright killed the bird, who, as established above, can be said to symbolically represent Minnie, shows us the reality of their marriage. Minnie's personality was crushed and strangled by John Wright - she wasn't allowed to go out at all, and he didn't let her buy any nice clothes. This allows Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters to piece together the motive for the crime, that they then hide from the menfolk in a moving act of solidarity with Mrs. Wright.

Hope this helps to give you a few ideas to get started!

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