February 5, 2005

Regret, Powerlessness and Solidarity in "A Jury of her Peers"

The regret Mrs Hale expresses reflects her inherent powerless as a woman during this period. Even if she had visited Minnie Foster, she would not have been able to affect John's treatment of her. The usual "if only I had..." thoughts after a suicide or other tragic occurrance reflect a basic sense of helplessness. Given the isolation of these women and the almost complete domination of men over their lives (physically, economically, legally,etc), the women maintain their sense of empowerment by creating, during the course of the story, a secret understanding outside of the view of their husbands. This nascent solidarity, founded upon shared conditions of oppression by men, is the substance out of which the women's rights campaigns, the suffrage movement, the WCTU developed and should not simply be dismissed as passive commiseration, as Glaspell illustrates by having the sheriff's wife (married to "the Law") betray him in favor of Minnie Foster. It was out of such shared hardships and the resultant solidarity that women found the strength and courage to demand the equal legal protection and status that they currrently enjoy (even though psychological structures still remain, such as assumptions regarding feminine intelligence etc that are slowly being overturned).

Posted by JamesStutzman at February 5, 2005 2:27 PM
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