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A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

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What is the point of view in "A Jury of Her Peers"?

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Susan Glaspell uses the third person limited omniscient point of view in "A Jury of Her Peers." This means that an outside narrator tells the story but only allows the reader inside the head of one of the characters. In this story, readers understand and observe the action through Mrs. Hale, the neighbor of the woman suspected of killing her husband. 

All the action of the story takes place within Mrs. Hale's view. The story opens in Mrs. Hale's home, continues with a buggy ride to the Wright farm, and concludes in the main floor of the Wright farm house. The men in the story go out of the house and upstairs, but since Mrs. Hale stays on the main floor, the reader is only aware of what she sees there.

The reader knows what Mrs. Hale is thinking. She worries about whether her son is dressed warmly enough for the weather; she hopes her husband, Lewis, doesn't say inappropriate things to the sheriff; and she chides herself for not having been a better friend to Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Peters, on the other hand, is only described objectively. Her actions and words are related, but not her feelings. For example, in this sentence: "'Why, I think that's a real nice idea, Mrs. Hale,' agreed the sheriff's wife, as if she too were glad to come into the atmosphere of a simple kindness," Mrs. Peter's gladness is assumed rather than stated because Mrs. Hale can see the other woman acting "as if" she were glad but cannot know that she was glad.

The third person limited point of view helps the reader feel Mrs. Hale's feelings deeply. Part of the drama of the story is that Mrs. Hale does not know whether she can trust Mrs. Peters to react toward the situation the same way Mrs. Hale does. In the climax of the story when both women look at each other and reach the same conclusion, suspense builds through the use of the third person limited omniscient point of view, making it a very powerful scene.

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The point of view in this story is from Mrs. Hale's perspective.  It is in third person limited.  We don't know what all of the characters are thinking, and we mostly get the thoughts from Mrs. Hale.  Through her eyes we learn that Minnie did not have a happy life with her husband John.  He took away everything that filled her life with happiness.  Mrs. Hale was able to see how the evidence was beginning to stack up against Minnie in the murder of her husband.  Her kitchen was a mess, her stitches in her quilting were uneven, and her poor bird had been taken from her.  These point to her being guilty because he was drowning her in a lifestyle she did not deserve.  We learn these specifics through Mrs. Hale.

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What is the point of view in "A Jury of Her Peers"?is it a fixed point of view or does it change?

The story is told consistently in the third person, although through the observations of each of the characters and their motivations the audience develops a wider perspective of the crime and the implications of the events.

An omniscient narrative like this directs the reader to the pieces of evidence that are needed to piece together the key purpose if the story. In this case, we are directed to piece together the clues which are uncovered by the women, and to view the male characters with cynicism as they fumble through the investigation and arrogantly dismiss the women's observations.

Because of the view we are directed to form of the men, we side more with the women in their methodical, sensitive approach to the events leading up to the murder of Mr Wright.

Mrs Hale is clear that the neglect of Minnie by those around her was as much a crime as Minnie kiling her husband-

The picture of that girl, the fact that she had lived neighbor to that girl for twenty years, and had let her die for lack of life, was suddenly more than she could bear.

Mrs Peters is more indecisive as to whether justice will be served by the system in which her husband is part, or whether another route should be provided for women who were not, at this time, given a voice in the legal process. The third person narration directs us to consider the women's final actions as, though criminal, in some way justified in the light of the ignorance and insensitivity of the men involved.

 

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