What is the mood/tone in "A Jury of Her Peers"?

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Mood and tone are similar things, but are not the same. Be aware of the differences when analyzing a work of literature. 

The tone refers to the attitude of the author toward the situation of the story, the characters, and other specific details. We can tell from Glaspell's choice of...

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Mood and tone are similar things, but are not the same. Be aware of the differences when analyzing a work of literature. 

The tone refers to the attitude of the author toward the situation of the story, the characters, and other specific details. We can tell from Glaspell's choice of vocabulary the tone she wishes to convey onto the reader, in order to express the overall emotion that the situation, or the character, may elicit. 

Some words that are used to describe tone include:

  • amused
  • pessimistic
  • sarcastic
  • playful
  • optimistic
  • depressing
  • hopeless

Clearly, there are many more, but you can see how these words are dependent on the setting and the word choice to instill feelings.

In the story "A Jury of Her Peers", the tone changes from one situation to the next.

Here is an example of irony, sarcasm, and ridicule. When Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters notice that there is a complete disarray in Minnie's stitching pattern, they start to realize that Minnie's state of mind was in equal chaos.

As the two women dutifully proceed to analyze what could have been Minnie's mindset, the men barge in and start to make fun of them:

The sheriff threw up his hands. "They wonder whether she was going to quilt it or just knot it!" There was a laugh for the ways of women, a warming of hands over the stove, and then the county attorney said briskly: "Well, let's go right out to the barn and get that cleared up."

This tone of sarcasm causes uneasiness, perhaps even anger, in an average reader who understands what the women were up to. 

In "A Jury of Her Peers", the tone also shifts to:

  • Depressing- in the description of Minnie and John's marriage
  • Hopeless- in the description of Minnie's situation after being married: lonely, isolated, and controlled by her husband
  • Anxious- when the women realize that Minnie may have snapped. Moreover, the realization that a jury of Minnie's peers would consists only on males, as women were not allowed to serve as jurors. What kind of justice will she get from peers who do not understand what she is going through? 

The mood is about atmosphere. It is the consequence of tone, in many instances. You cannot achieve a mood unless something motivates it. In the case of the story, the choice of words, setting, and circumstances all combine to cause the mood. 

Imagine how the mood, or atmosphere, in "A Jury of Her Peers" would change if the weather factor had been different. If the weather had been warm, crisp, and sunny, the overall feeling of battling the elements that permeates the story of Minnie Wright would not be so intense.  

Some words that are used to describe mood include:

  • suspenseful
  • mysterious
  • enigmatic
  • gloomy

These are actually mood descriptors that fit perfectly in the story "A Jury of Her Peers". It is "suspenseful" because, as the women discover clues, we get more information about the situation in the Wright household. 

It is mysterious because, as the cues unveil in the house, more questions seem to be needed to satisfy the new clues. 

It is enigmatic because nobody really knows what took place. All that we (and the ladies) know is based on the evidence found around the house. 

It is gloomy because of the combination of elements: the darkness, the coldness, the isolation, the silence, the loneliness. All of these cause the setting to be a very depressing and gloomy one. In the words of Mrs. Hale, herself, who did not like even going by the Wright household:

It never seemed a very cheerful place...

 

 

 

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