September 1, 2005


Did anyone ever read the story form of this play, "A Jury of Her Peers"? It is short and a good read.

MRS. PETERS. (in a whisper). When I was a girl--my kitten--there was a boy took a hatchet, and before my eyes--and before I could get there--(Covers her face an instant.) If they hadn't held me back, I would have-- (Catches herself, looks upstairs, where steps are heard, falters weakly.)--hurt him.
MRS. HALE (with a slow look around her.) I wonder how it would seem never to have had any children around. (Pause.) No, Wright wouldn't like the bird--a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too.
MRS. PETERS (moving uneasily). We don't know who killed the bird.

Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale reflect on the nature of the relationship between animals and their masters. Mrs. Peters, who has suffered the loss of an animal at the hands of another, can relate to Mrs. Wright’s loss of her beloved song bird. Mrs. Peters claims the pair does not know who has killed the bird, and in a way, Mrs. Peters implies that the pair should not place blame where blame is unknown.
By the stage directions, it is apparent that Mrs. Peters is moved by the death of her kitten. Glaspell uses instructions, such as, “whisper,” “covers…face,” and “catches herself…falters weakly,” to indicate the motion of Mrs. Peters body as she delivers her diatribe about her murdered feline. This method of delivery leaves room for Mrs. Peters to later understand and recognize the reasons why, perhaps, Minnie Wright off-ed her husband. However, it is Mrs. Peters who also, at the time, quickly and “uneasily,” says, “We don’t know who killed the bird.” Clearly, Mrs. Peters does not feel comfortable about the situation that the pair is involved in, but she also has a sense of fairness towards Mr. Wright – who Mrs. Hale knows, “…wouldn’t like the bird.” Mrs. Hale’s comment is seemingly implicit of Mr. Wright’s guilt in the bird’s murder. She paints him as a character that doesn’t like singing, which is something Mrs. Wright clearly enjoyed. This conversation exchange sets up a sort of implies understanding between the women that underlies their later conversation-less understanding about what they find in the sewing box.

This dialogue calls to question the nature of the friendship of women, or the silent bond shared between ladies. How do women, or friends in general, know and decide when to keep a secret – especially of this magnitude? Especially, without exchanging words?
Glaspell examines the nature of the female bond, but without making a Lifetime like cry for feminism or flouncing the supposed, Mr. Wright-was-a-strong-silent-old-fashioned-sort-of-fellow-who-killed-his-wife’s-beloved-song-bird-that-he-thought-too-noisy,-he-really-didn’t-talk-to-her-or-let-her-communicate-with-the-outside-world-so-all-she-could-work-with-was-fruit-she-had-to-kill-him sort of drama which with modern day readers/viewers are accustomed. It is interesting to note their intimacy of thought and shared bond over the goings on at the Wright household. Does it seem as though Glaspell was making a radical cry for feminism or is she making a statement about loveless marriages? Was their marriage loveless? The pair hardly talked – but does not talking support a reason to take one’s life? What sort of message does this work send?

Posted by KatieAikins at September 1, 2005 4:14 PM

It's funny, when tragedy strikes, individuals that normally would have nothing to do with each other bond to one another. Mrs. Hale & Mrs. Peters really didn't have much to do with Mrs. Wright, but they hid her secret without thought and (almost) without question. What are you thoughts on this? Does tragedy bring understanding? Do you think these two women can relate to Mrs. Wright's anger and despair?

Posted by: Katie Lambert at September 4, 2005 12:14 PM

Tragedy unites as much as it divides.

Look at the Iraq and the woman in Texas. The message is support our troops - but the nation is still divided.

In this case, the tragedy united these neighbors, even with their jailed neighbor.

What do you think?

Posted by: Katie Aikins at September 6, 2005 12:06 AM