Symbolism In “A Jury of Her Peers” Susan Glaspell’s, “A Jury of Her Peers”, took place during the early 1900s and focuses on the issues of sexism and social injustice that still exists today. In this feminist classic, Sheriff Peters and his wife, Mr. Hale and his wife, and the county attorney, Mr. Henderson go to the Wright Household to look for evidence to use against Mrs. Wright. When they arrive, the men disregard everything associated with women, whereas, the women look in debt, put themselves in Mrs. Wright's shoes, and find clues that could potentially prove that she killed her husband. While living in a male dominated society and continuously being belittled by the men, the women decide to not only break the law, but go against their husbands by hiding evidence. Throughout the story, Glaspell uses the symbols of the dead canary, the kitchen and the quilt to not only promote gender inequality roles but show what life must’ve been like for Minnie; imprisoned by her husband.
Susan Glaspell’s short story, “A Jury of Her Peers” is full of symbolism, which is portrayed through the bird in the story. The story takes place in a house that is set far back and is a lonely place. With the story being written in the 1920’s the attitude men have towards women is by far noticeable throughout the story with them being doubted or looked down upon. There is a murder scene that is being investigated with the wife of the murdered man as the number one suspect. The men in the story are looking in all the wrong places, where the women looked in the one spot to find the one clue that would close the entire case. The number one clue, the bird.
Through the act of Mrs. Wright murdering her husband, Glaspell conveys that a women’s insanity to kill is due to the actions of men. Before Mrs. Wright was maltreated, her reputation was symbolized as a woman of color. As stated by the ladies, Mrs. Hales and Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Wright was seen in elegant clothing and lived “lively” as she used to be in the town’s girl choir. This description displays the “Before” of Mrs. Wright reputation and symbolizes her roaming free and living life fully like the bird.
Wright it is easy to tell that she is not at all upset about her husband’s death. When being asked about the situation she “laughed and pleated her skirt” (4). Mrs. Wright is compared to a bird that is found later in the story. The bird was found in a pretty box with marks around its neck. Hale and Peters say that the death of her bird would have been her motive if she actually was her husband’s murderer, but the author utilizes the bird and its broken cage to be a comparison to Mrs. Wright’s life.
Authors, especially female authors, have long used their writing to emphasize and analyze the feminist issues that characterize society, both in the past and the present. Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Susan Glaspell wrote narratives that best examined feminist movements through the unreliable minds of their characters. In all three stories, “The Story of an Hour”, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and “A Jury of Her Peers”, the authors use characterization, symbolism, and foreshadowing to describe the characters’ apparent psychosis or unreasonable behavior to shed light on the social issues that characterized the late 19th century and early 20th century.
The Canary and The Heart A story contains much more than just the words presented on the page. There are deeper meanings, hidden facts and underlying messages. At the heart of this idea is symbolism. Symbolism, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is the practice of representing things by symbols, or of giving a symbolic character to objects.
Introduction. A Jury by Her Peers authored by Susan Glaspell narrates the investigative events that occur after the death of John Wright in his house. As neighbors and the Dickson County administration, themes of sisterhood and gender roles appear through the actions and hidden motives of the characters. The book, A Jury by Her Peers, expounds on the silent suffering of women and being perceived as unintelligent while providing justifications for covering up of John Wrights death.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we are here today to discuss the murder of John Wright. On November 15, Mr. Wright was found in his bed with a rope around his neck, presumably strangled to death. His body was discovered by his wife supposedly and did not bother to notify to the local authorities. At eight o'clock in the morning, Mr. Hale went to look for Mr. Wright and found Minnie, Mr. Wright’s wife, sitting in a rocking chair inside of the house. Mr. Hale asked Minnie for her husband and she stated that John Wright was dead in the bedroom.
He killed that too”, which is an exact representation of how women were inferior, muted, and defused (“A Jury of Her Peers 1643). Because the women felt so inferior to the men, they never spoke up when they found the dead bird which explained that Minnie Foster was the murder of John Wright. Another reason for this action was that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters felt united as women due to their social status and situation. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale chose to hide the dead bird and not to disclose the actual murder clues and details they found as it was their moral duty as
Wright’s belongings are incomplete and out of place, particularly in the kitchen. The women find this to be abnormal and begin speculating the significance of these items. During one point in the play, Mrs. Hale notices an uneven stitch in Mrs. Wright’s unfinished quilt. She asks Mrs. Peters, “’what do you suppose she was so nervous about?’” Because of the death of Mr. Wright, Mrs. Hale views the stitching in a suspicious manner.
The poet, Lascelles Abercrombie once said, “There is only one thing which can master the perplexed stuff of epic material into unity; and that is, an ability to see in particular human experience some significant symbolism of man 's general destiny.”. He talked about how powerful of a tool symbolism is and how it is the only thing that can truly define a highly complex ‘destiny’ or series of events. Symbolism is something that is found throughout Harper Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee shows the reader that racism is a product of society,she portrays the matter through her symbolism of the mad dog, the birds and the bugs.
Mrs. Hale states, “She was rockin’ back and forth. She had her apron in her hand and was kind of-pleating it” (Glaspell 1081). This allows us to know that Mrs. Wright was still shocked from what happened. It is also seen in her unfinished quilt and her messy kitchen. Her unfinished quilt has many knots in it.
However, this condition starts to change the moment the women challenge the power. They, as the dominated group, resist the inequality by doing something that brings justice. For Mrs. Wright, her definition of justice is when she kills her husband the way he kills her bird. For Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, justice has been prevailed when they lie about the evidence for the case that becomes the symbols of their equality and the mockery of the men’s initial
The bird is interpreted as the symbol of the African-American people, beating their metaphorical wings against their past cages of slavery, and the current cage of segregation and discrimination. Dunbar highlights this notion, declaring, “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, / When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore, - / When he beats his bars and he would be free; / It is not a carol of joy or glee” (Dunbar, “Sympathy” 555). Dunbar addresses the fact that he is able to relate to this bird, and mentions the fact that the bird wishes it could be free; much like the African-Americans wished they could be free from discrimination at the time, while the bruises on the bird’s wings and body symbolize the mental abuse being enforced. Dunbar uses his poem to lay the groundwork for future forms of African-American literature by perpetrating the desire for freedom and equality.