What are the similarities and the differences between Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale in "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers" there is a feminine communion between the two women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, but because of their interpersonal relationships and their ways of thinking, their perspectives differ at first.

Similarities 

Both women accompany their husbands to the Wrights' house as their husbands are the key players in the investigation of John Wright's murder. They are only brought to gather things for Mrs. Wright, who is now in jail as a suspect. The previous day, Mr. Hale, who came to ask if Wright would share the cost of a party line for phones, is the one who discovered that Wright was dead.

The two women are relegated to the kitchen while the men search for clues upstairs in the bedroom. When Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale hear county attorney Mr. Henderson making some comments about the "mess" in the kitchen, "[T]he two women moved a little closer together" and seeing this, Mr. Henderson says, "Ah, loyal to your sex, I see."

After Mrs. Peters is in the kitchen for a while, she begins to understand what life for Mrs. Wright has been like; when she witnesses the erratic stitches in her quilting, "[T]heir eyes met--something flashed to life, passed between them."
With the discovery of the bird cage and the dead canary in the pretty box, Mrs. Peters starts to feel sorry for Mrs. Wright, and she begins to realize, as has Mrs. Hale already, the repression that Mrs. Wright must have suffered for a long time. So, she starts to share Mrs. Hale's sympathies. Moreover, they both are complicit in hiding the dead canary from the county attorney.

Differences

Mrs. Peters does not know Mrs. Wright, and has no understanding of what Mrs. Wright's marriage and lonely life are like; she is disconnected from the situation, at first. On the other hand, Mrs. Hale feels guilty for not having visited her distant neighbor in a year.
Mrs. Hale feels defensive of Mrs. Wright and wants her husband to be careful about what he says to the county attorney; Mrs. Peters feels no involvement.

Mrs. Peters exhibits "a timid acquiescence" while Mrs. Hale keeps her eyes fixed on her husband so that he will not say "unnecessary things that would go into that notebook and make trouble."

To Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peters does not seem to care about Minnie Wright when told about how pretty Mrs. Wright's clothes were before she was married.

"She don't care," she [Mrs. Hale] said to herself. "Much difference it makes to her whether Minnie Foster has pretty clothes when she was a girl."

Unlike Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peters has eyes that "looked as if they could see a long ways into things."

When Mrs. Hale complains of the men going through things upstairs, Mrs. Peters replies, "But, Mrs. Hale...the law is the law." She also protests when Mrs. Hale pulls the erratic stitches from the quilting and says, "I'll just finish up this end."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Jury of Her Peers

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