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A Jury of Her Peers

            There have always been social differences between men and women. These differences have been the center of many plots and themes throughout the ages of literature. Many early twentieth century stories portrayed the female's character as demure and less intelligent than the male counterpart. Author Susan Glaspell was ahead of her time as she blurred the lines of traditional definitions, particularly of marriage and women's roles in society, in the early twentieth century. Based on her play Trifles, Glaspell's short story A Jury of Her Peers illustrates how men and women viewing the same set of circumstances will look at objects differently. In this story it is the men who are clueless and the women who have the insight into what really happened between John and Minnie Wright.
             The setting in A Jury of Her Peers is rural Midwestern at the turn of the century. The women living rural country at that time would not be highly educated and normally be relegated to hearth and home. Mrs. Peters is described as somewhat of a timid lady and did not seem to fit the image of a sheriff's wife. Mrs. Hale on the other hand is the hearty farmer's wife and well suited for her role in life. The women were brought along simply to tend to an errand of getting some clothes that Minnie Wright had requested. In contrast with the women in the story, two of the male characters have intellectual occupations that carry authority. George Henderson is the county attorney and Henry Peters is the town's sheriff who is described as being able to know instinctively a person who is a criminal. It never occurs to the men that the women could be of value in finding whether or not Minnie Wright had a motive to kill her husband, even though Mrs. Hale was the only person in that group that had known Minnie in the past. The men believe that the women were incapable of helping in the investigation as Mr. Hales jokingly asked the other men: "Would the women know a clue if they did come upon it?".

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