illustration of a dead bird lying within a black box

A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

Start Free Trial

Who is the narrator of "A Jury of Her Peers"?

Quick answer:

The narrator is an omniscient third person voice, who serves as a bridge between the audience and the play.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The narrator in "A Jury of Her Peers " is cast as a third person omniscient voice.  The narrator gives an"objective" rendering of the facts, not speaking in any one person's voice, but speaking through all of their voices.  I think a case can be made that the narrator...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

is Glaspell, herself.  Certainly, we can presume that Glaspell's time as a journalist in Iowa, the fact that she asserts that the play is based off of an actual case of a woman killing her husband in Iowa, and that she creates these characters reflecting social biases of the time can all attest to these facts.  The narrator tells us the story where we see men making disparaging comments about the women, and points it out to us, while omitting other details.  The story being presented here is one of a crime, but it also serves as social commentary as women, domesticated women, solve the crime, not the patriarchal elements of law enforcement.  We are not really told what gender the narrator is, but given the fact that the story does hold with it a focus for the empowerment of women and Glaspell's own relationship to the case with her background, we might not be too surprised if it turns out to be a woman narrating the story.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

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.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

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.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is the central character of "A Jury of Her Peers"?

The central or main character in writing is usually the one through whom the audience becomes involved in the unfolding events. Such a character often faces either an internal or external conflict that needs resolution. The figure can either decide to be steadfast and hold onto his or her resolve or change to solve the problem.

In the short story "A Jury of her Peers," by Susan Glaspell, Martha Hale is the conduit through which we learn about Minnie Foster's unfortunate circumstances. She is also the one who resolves the issue about Minnie's culpability by getting rid of evidence that might implicate her. She is, therefore, the main character.

Furthermore, the audience learns about all the other characters through Mrs. Hale's thoughts and observations, which further confirms her role as the central character. Mrs. Hale's actions, sentiments, and knowledge are crucial to our understanding and appreciation of the story.

In conclusion, all these aspects of Mrs. Hale involve the audience to such an extent that we develop sympathy for Minnie Wright and understand why she was driven to commit such a terrible crime. It seems that she had no choice but to do what she had done to rid herself of the outrageous abuse she suffered at the hands of her cruel husband.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is the central character of "A Jury of Her Peers"?

I was vaguely thinking of answering this question in a clever way by saying that Minnie Wright is the central character, even though she doesn't appear. However, I will go for the much more sensible answer of Martha Hale, who is the character that the story opens with. This is because it is Martha Hale who tells us more about the reality of Minnie Wright and her background, and how she changed being married to John Wright and suffering the isolation and loneliness that was part of her life. Note her comment on John Wright as a character:

"He didn't drink, and kept his word as well as most, I guess, and paid his debts. But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him--." She stopped, shivered a little. "Like a raw wind that gets to the bone." Her eye fell upon the cage on the table before her, and she added, almost bitterly: "I should think she would've wanted a bird!"

Martha is important because of the way that she allows us to have a much fuller picture of the Wrights and the way that Minnie was transformed. Note also that she is the character who begins to remove any trace of evidence that could possibly be used to indicate that Minnie Wright was disturbed or suffering anxiety. This can be seen in the way that she re-sews the bad sewing that Minnie Wright did that was in such contrast to the rest of her neat sewing. Martha Hale therefore is the most important character because it is she that is used as the primary vehicle for expressing the theme of female solidarity and it is she that influences Mrs. Peters.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who is the central character in “A Jury of Her Peers”?

The central character in Susan Glaspell's story “A Jury of Her Peers” is Mrs. Martha Hale. We see the events and hear the conversations through her point of view even though the story is told by a third-person narrator.

As the story opens, Mrs. Hale is grabbing for her scarf as she goes out the door. She doesn't like to leave in the middle of her work, but Mrs. Peters has requested that she come along. After all, they are going to the scene of a murder, and Mrs. Peters needs the support of another woman. As Mrs. Hale gets into the buggy, she observes Mrs. Peters, who is sitting beside her. Little does Mrs. Hale know that the two women are about to embark on something of an adventure.

Mrs. Hale continues to reflect on the events as they unfold. She has difficulty entering into the Wright home. She wishes that she would have gone over to visit Minnie more often, and she recalls the kind of person Minnie had been before her marriage.

While the men pursue their own investigation, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters logically and intuitively determine what really happened to Minnie Wright and why she likely killed her husband. They pay close attention to all the little things around the house that are important to women and that reveal Minnie's state of mind. Minnie's stitching, for instance, is uneven. The kitchen stove is broken. And of course, the women find the broken birdcage and the dead canary. They then understand the difficult, lonely life of abuse that Minnie Wright has been leading.

Mrs. Hale continues to reflect throughout on how Minnie Wright has changed, and along with Mrs. Peters, she decides not to tell the men what they have found and deduced. The women understand what the men never will. At the end of the story, Mrs. Hale puts the box containing the dead canary into her pocket.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Describe the characters in "A Jury of Her Peers."

There are five characters who appear in the story: Sheriff Peters, and his wife; Lewis Hale, and his wife Martha; and Henderson, a county attorney. There are two further characters who are not actually present in the narrative. These two are John and Minnie Wright, neighbours of the Hales. Although they do not actually appear, they are at the very heart of the story. John’s murder is the central event and his wife has been apprehended as his apparent murderer. The four characters who are actually present in the narrative have the task of looking around the Wright house looking for clues as to the motive.

There is a clear-cut gender divide in this little group of people who assiduously search the Wright home. Sherriff Peters comes across as bluff and hearty, Lewis Hale more serious, and Henderson appears rather wry and sarcastic, but all three alike are dismissive of the women and their ability to materially assist in the investigation. They seem to have a dim view of women in general, believing them to be capable of little more than house-keeping and child-bearing. What they abjectly fail to realize is that the two women, in all likelihood hit upon the correct motive for the murder. For Martha and Mrs Peters are able to see the significance of apparently minor domestic details that the men cavalierly dismiss. To them, such feminine matters are simply not important whereas Minnie’s fellow-women recognize that such details lead right to the heart of the matter. From their careful examination of the house, allied to what they know and remember about the Wrights, they are able to build up a sobering picture of Minnie as a desperate and lonely individual who endured years of misery at the hands of her husband, by all accounts an utterly mean-spirited man, and was finally driven to murder him when he killed her canary, the only company she had.

Martha remembers Minnie from years back, fresh and lively and attractive, and is deeply grieved over the fact that this former bright girl came to be trapped in such a loveless, childless marriage, which crushed the spirit out of her. Martha is also consumed with guilt because, although she was a neighbour, she never made the time to go over and see her, and comfort her.

'Oh, I wish I’d come over here once in a while!' she cried. 'That was a crime! That was a crime! Who’s going to punish that?’

 However, although she gets emotional over the whole affair, Martha is no helpless, hand-wringing female On the contrary, she resolves to protect Minnie from the evidence that will surely convict her. If she was not able to help her before, she will do so now. Therefore she comes across as a strong, determined woman, willing to defy the men and the law. Mrs Peters appears altogether quieter and more timid, but she backs up her fellow-woman.

Last Updated on