A Jury of Her Peers

by Elaine Showalter

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How is voice constructed in A Jury of Her Peers: Celebrating American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx by Elaine Showalter?

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The voice in A Jury of Her Peers is constructed out of several elements, including the author’s tone and word choice. To demonstrate her knowledge about women writers, Elaine Showalter employs an expansive vocabulary. Her text includes terms like existential, ostracized, and stewardship. With her vast lexicon, Showalter builds an informed, expressive, and scholarly voice.

At the same time, Showalter uses words to convey that she doesn’t know everything about these women authors. Sometimes, Showalter has to make inferences. For example, when speaking about the life of the early American poet Anne Bradstreet, Showalter says, “what we do know suggests that ...” At these moments, Showalter uses words to create an honest and transparent voice. She wants readers to separate her conjectures from the facts.

With her tone, it’s possible to argue that Showalter crafts what could be called a dramatic voice. Showalter tends to use snappy words, like when she calls Sylvia Plath “crushed and dismayed.” The crisp tone arguably adds flair to the voice, which might help keep the reader engaged and interested.

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