In terms of character type, how do the main characters in "A Jury of Her Peers" relate to the story's plot and structure?In terms of flat, round, static, dynamic, stock character types of...

In terms of character type, how do the main characters in "A Jury of Her Peers" relate to the story's plot and structure?

In terms of flat, round, static, dynamic, stock character types of characters), how do characters relate to the story's plot and structure?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because Susan Glaspell's story "A Jury of Her Peers" has a definite feminist perspective, it is the women of the narrative who are the dynamic characters, while the men are either flat or stock characters.

Interestingly, Sheriff Peters is described as "particularly genial with the law-abiding as if to make it plain that he knew the difference between criminals and non-criminals." But Mrs. Hale realizes that this "pleasant and lively" man is going to the Wrights' house strictly "now as a sheriff." Thus, in this narrative, Sheriff Peters acts as a stock character, a stereotyped figure, as does the county attorney. Mr. Wright, who is dead and described by Mrs. Hale as a man who lacked warmth, is a static character, a character who remains the same from his introduction until the end. He was anti-social and cold, keeping his wife isolated by not installing a phone or taking her out. Mrs. Hale tells Mrs. Peters,

"He didn't drink, and kept his word as well as most, I guess, and paid his debt. But he was a hard man.... Just to pass the time of day with him.... Like a raw wind that gets to the bone."

Among the female characters, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are dynamic characters. So, too, is Minnie Wright, who changes from a happy, attractive young woman who sings in a choir and has friends to a lonely woman isolated on a farm with a "hard man." Mrs. Hale, her neighbor, remembers Minnie and the joy in life she once had. Mrs. Hale also realizes how significant the little songbird must have been to Minnie to have caused her to kill her husband for destroying it. She feels guilty for not having visited Mrs. Wright more often, knowing now how lonely the woman was.

Mrs. Peters, who is at first uncomfortable at the Wrights' house, talks with Mrs. Hale and learns about Mrs. Wright, whose once interesting life shared with others changed to one of isolation. As she listens, Mrs. Peters's sympathy for the woman increases. While she and Mrs. Hale wait for the men who have gone upstairs, they talk, and Mrs. Peters learns even more about Minnie. Her sympathy for the lonely woman grows. In fact, both women begin to sympathize with Mrs. Wright after they discover how cruel and cold Mr. Wright was. Later, they realize that his killing of the little songbird that they have discovered is monumental to Mrs. Wright because it has been the only beauty and joy she had in her lonely life. So, because they sympathize with Mrs. Wright, the two women take justice into their own hands by hiding the songbird with its broken neck—the only evidence that hints at Minnie's motive for killing Mr. Wright.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "A Jury of Her Peers," the focus of the narrative is on Mrs. Hale.  Glaspell follows her from her kitchen to the Wright's kitchen, the scene of the crime.  At the beginning of the story, she seems like all the other characters: a flat, static stock character.

As the details of the case become revealed to her, however, she undergoes a psychological change: she awakens to a feminist epiphany.  As a result, she convinces the other women to suppress the evidence.  So, by the end, Mrs. Hale becomes a dynamic, round character--as does Mrs. Peters.

All of the male characters are flat, static stock characters.  They stand for the powers that be: a lawyer, a law man, and a cruel husband.  Though Mr. Wright never appears in the story, his body is symbolic of his unchanging character type.

The irony, of course, is that Minnie Wright never appears in the story, yet the readers can intuit in her a change.  She must have changed, snapped in fact, from a meek, obedient housewife to a raging avenger.  Why else would she kill her husband.  Evidence of her change is found in the kitchen: the dead bird and her needlework--subtle signs of abuse.

The psychological and moral evolution of the female characters in the story shows how women who were once isolated and voiceless can change by coming together in a female community.  Not only that, but this community can affect change, even if it means breaking patriarchal law to protect their own.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous thoughts were strong.  I would offer another dimension to it which is kind of out there and will require a strong level of substantiation if you choose to pursue it.  The statement that Glaspell might be making with round and static characters might be based on gender.  The men in the play are shown to be relatively static throughout in their self- centered and dull ways. They lack the creativity and imagination to both solve the actual crime and expand their moral sense to incorporate the narrative of the women, their wives, into the discourse.  In contrast, the women are the most dynamic in both how they solve the crime and how they go about understanding their own voice as an act of almost resistance.  The looks they give one another upon their revelation of the solving of the crime might be a culmination of this dynamic chord where epiphany and understanding represent the true acknowledgment of voice.  It might be a good exercise to construct static and dynamic characters based on gender affiliation.