illustration of a dead bird lying within a black box

A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell
Start Free Trial

What is the irony in "A Jury of Her Peers"?

In "A Jury of Her Peers," the irony is that the men laugh at the women for focusing on what they consider insignificant trifles, but it is in these details that the evidence behind and reasons for Mr. Wright's death can be found. The men, who think they are so much smarter than the women, entirely miss the clues the women find.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Situational irony occurs when events in a work of literature turns out to be the opposite of what was expected. In "A Jury of Her Peers ," the men who arrive at the Wright's farm to investigate a murder expect to be the ones to solve the crime. They...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Situational irony occurs when events in a work of literature turns out to be the opposite of what was expected. In "A Jury of Her Peers," the men who arrive at the Wright's farm to investigate a murder expect to be the ones to solve the crime. They are the experts, and they jeer at the women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, for focusing too much on the "trifles" in Mrs. Wright's kitchen.

Ironically, however, the women are able to solve the crime exactly because of their focus on the details that the men belittle and dismiss as worthless. Looking around the kitchen, they find that Minnie Wright, who the men suspect hanged her husband, John Wright, has carefully preserved a dead canary. The bird's neck is broken and so is the door to its cage. From this, the women realize that John Wright killed the canary in a fit of rage. This was the final straw for Minnie, who killed her husband in retaliation.

The women are able to empathize with Minnie because they have been farm wives too. They know how hard a woman has to work to keep up her end of a farm household and how lonely and isolating it can be to live on a farm. Mrs. Hale remembers her own rage when a boy hacked her kitten to death and can understand why watching a helpless pet being slaughtered might have made Minnie murderous, especially after suffering years of emotional abuse herself.

Ironically, the women, who the men ridicule as silly, are the ones who have the important evidence in their hands in the form of the dead canary. Ironically, too, rather than share the evidence, as the men would expect, they quietly keep it to themselves, sympathizing with Minnie as having committed a justifiable homicide.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on