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A Jury Of Her Peers” Differences And Stereotypes Between Genders Essay, Research Paper
Differences and Stereotypes Between Genders in: Susan
Glaspell?s ?A Jury of Her Peers?
The Author Susan Glaspell shows an obvious stereotypical attitude by men
towards women in her story, A Jury of Her Peers. This was most likely inclusive of the majority male frame of thinking many years ago, at the time this incident in the story took place. Graspell wrote the story in 1917, so we are sure that the setting dated back at least that far, possibly further. Though the female gender had come quite a long way up to that point, there were still a large majority of men and even women who still considered the female inferior to the male. The competence of the males and females in the story are remarkably different and do not live up to their stereotypical roles portrayed in this story.
In the beginning of the story it starts out by showing a difference between husband and wife. When Mrs. Hale joined the wife of the Sheriff in the back seat of the awaiting buggy, she remembered her as not having a strong voice. The story went on to explain how if she did not look like a sheriffs wife, the sheriff made up for it in the way that he did in fact look like a sheriff and was a ?heavy man with a big voice.?(183) This is one contrast between females and males, making a point that the male in this case has the stronger voice. Another contrast between the competence of male and female that took place in the beginning of this story was the fact that because the men were in conversation first, this now gave the women a right to strike up a conversation second.
The females in the story show their competence in many ways. One way is the fact that they are sympathetic and have a feeling of guilt for the accused, Minnie Wright, and show remorse for not visiting Mrs. Wright before this incident took place. One author, CP Knerr, wrote a review on the Film as well as the story and the author says ?The two women both felt bad for Minnie and her predicament, living with a man who seemed so hard and cold. They felt sorry that they did not make an attempt to visit her, or to help her with some of her work?. (Film Review 1998) Another way their competence is shown is the detective like skills that they portray while sitting in the kitchen, analyzing and asking questions. The women themselves believed that they themselves were not finding any thing in the kitchen that would have been of importance to solving the murder mystery. The statement made by Mrs. Hale, ?I don?t see as there?s anything so strange, our taking up our time with little things while we?re waiting for them to get the evidence.?(190) The most important clue the women found, was the bird that had been killed by a wrung neck. This was crucial evidence that pointed to Minnie Wright as being the murderer. The two women chose to hide the evidence for the sake of their neighbor, Minnie Wright. Mrs. Hale realized that Minnie most likely looked upon the bird as a companion and this bird somehow filled a void for her. When the husband killed this companion, Minnie was probably driven to an edge of insanity and took her husbands life the way that he had taken the life of the bird. Jean Preddy writes in her essay ?Mrs. Wright was herself a bird in a cage”. To kill the bird was to kill the last remnant of Minnie Foster?. (Clever Devices Essay 1999)
The competence of the males in the story are quite different compared to the competence of the women in the story. The men do not show sympathy for Minnie Wright in any way. They do quite the opposite, by making fun of her. Mrs. Wright was worried that her preserves would burst due to the cold weather. The sheriff made fun of Mrs. Wright by saying, ?can you beat that woman, held for murder and worrying about her preserves?. (186) The Men were not interested in the ?trifles? in the kitchen, they chose to investigate and search for evidence in the bedroom where the murder actually took place and then in the barn. The attorney asked the Sheriff if there was anything in the kitchen that would point to a motive, the sheriff replied by saying ?Nothing here but kitchen things.?(186) The men have such a high self-competence about themselves that they find it rather humorous to make fun of the women. For example, when the men over hear the women talking about Mrs. Wright piecing a quilt and trying to decide whether she would know it or quilt it, the sheriff repeats the women?s comment and all three of then laugh out loud. It is a bit interesting in the fact that the men are making fun of one of the clues that the women had come across and neither group even realizes this.
The stereotypical roles of the women are the fact that they are just the wives of the so-called important male characters in the story and are only along for the purpose to get a few items for Minnie Wright. They are basically just to sit in the kitchen and stay out of the way of the men so they can search for clues and get to the bottom of the murder. This is not, however, how it actually turns out. It is the women who in fact do find all of the clues and do end up solving the murder on their own, without even realizing it until the last clue, the dead canary, is found. The role of the men was stereotyped in such a way, that they were the macho, important group in this and they would be the ones who would get the needed evidence and solve the murder mystery, while the meek and mild wives stand by and wait. They made fun of the women time and time again and truly believed that the women would not have known a clue if they saw one. With the ending of the story and the men not able to find evidence to close the case, the men did not live up to the stereotype of their role.
In this short story the competence of the males and the females were almost the complete opposite and neither group fit into their stereotypical role, thus making this a very interesting story with the way the roles switched around.
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