A Jury of Her Peers Questions and Answers
by Susan Glaspell

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Who are the characters in "A Jury of her Peers"?

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The famous short story "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell tells of a group of people investigating a murder in a remote Iowa farmhouse. The two main characters are Martha Hale, the wife of a local farmer, and Mrs. Peters, the wife of the sheriff. These are the peers that the story title mentions, because the accused murderer is another farmer's wife, Minnie Wright, who never actually appears in the story. While the men go about the house and grounds looking for clues, Martha Hale and Mrs. Peters, because of their empathy for Mrs. Wright and the similarity of their treatment as women, are able to piece together clues that suggest that Mrs. Wright did indeed commit the murder. However, as a jury of two, they decide that despite Mrs. Wright's probable guilt, they will not expose her by sharing the evidence they find. They seem to feel the homicide is justified due to the proof they discover of the dead man's ill treatment of her.

The men in the story are secondary characters that mainly serve to reinforce the way that women are habitually treated as inferiors in this region. They go about their business and periodically make passing remarks suggesting that women are suitable for little more than household duties. These characters include Lewis Hale, Martha Hale's husband, Sheriff Peters, Mrs. Peters' husband, and Henderson, the county attorney.

As mentioned above, Mr. and Mrs. Wright do not actually appear as direct characters in the story, but they are indirectly involved. John Wright is the abusive husband and murdered man. Mrs. Wright, whose name used to be Minnie Foster, is the woman accused of having committed the murder.

One other character is indirectly referred to in the story: Harry Hale, Mr. and Mrs. Hale's oldest son, who was with Mr. Hale when they found Mrs. Wright sitting in the kitchen and John Wright's dead body.

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The characters are:

John and Minnie Wright: John's murder (his wife is the main suspect) is what sets the story in motion. Neither of them actually appear in the story.

Martha Hale: The only character to appear in the entire story, she is sympathetic to Minnie and helps conceal evidence.

Sheriff Peters: The lawman who wants to close the case and doesn't listen to the women in the story.

Peters' Wife: She is also sympathetic to Minnie Wright and helps Martha.

Lewis Hale: Considered the principal witness, he also misses clues as to what really happened.

George Henderson: He is the lawyer whose job it is to convict Mrs. Wright.

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