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A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

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What literary elements are used in "A Jury of Her Peers"?

In "A Jury of Her Peers," Glaspell uses such literary elements as narrative point of view, imagery, and dialogue to build sympathy for Minnie Wright.

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"A Jury of Her Peers" is a reworking of Susan Glaspell's one-act play Trifles. Both works raise questions about whether the criminal justice system treats women fairly. In both, the men in law enforcement are searching for evidence that Minnie Wright murdered her husband.

Changing the play to a story allows Glaspell to make Mrs. Hale the point-of-view character. This offers access to her thoughts. From the start, Mrs. Hale feels sympathy for her friend, thinking about and understanding firsthand what it feels like to be a farm wife. Through Mrs. Hale's thoughts, the story builds sympathy for Minnie.

Glaspell's imagery also helps build a case for Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hale, for example, describes Minnie's worn red rocker as lopsided and missing a slat. Only a miserly, hard-hearted husband, Mrs. Hale realizes, would force his wife to endure such a damaged chair. Likewise, Mrs. Hale notes that Minnie's black skirt is much worn and has been turned many times, a technique in which women would take all the seams out of a piece of clothing and resew it flipped, with the inner cloth on the outside. But Minnie has done this so many times that the skirt looks worn no matter what. These images shows us that Minnie has suffered from her husband's extreme frugality.

The dialogue of the men with and about the women also builds sympathy for a woman's plight. The men are belittling, for example, when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are dismayed over the loss of Minnie's preserves

"Oh, well," said Mrs. Hale's husband, with good-natured superiority, "women are used to worrying over trifles."

This dialogue shows that the men misunderstand how hard a farm woman works and have little empathy for a farm woman's life. They are not a jury of her peers.

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