A JURY OF HER PEERS

 

Arguably, the moral dilemma raised in Glaspell’s short story requires us to make a decision, and not an easy one at that. Having read the story, think about the moral dilemma raised at some level – what constitutes a crime and under what circumstances?  That is, what’s the crime at hand … the legal crime or the emotional one?

 

Brief interpretations by critics:

Do you agree or disagree with each statement, please support your answers.

According to critic One:

“To allow a fellow housewife to be convicted of murdering her neglectful and abusive husband might also be a crime against themselves.  They not only share common experience, but also common responsibilities to ensure that they and other women like them do not have to suffer the consequences of defending themselves.  To let Minnie go to jail would be to condone the crimes against her, other housewives, and themselves.”

According to critic Two:

“Yet, we find John Wright guilty?  Why do we readers take Minnie’s point of view?   When discussing “A Jury of Her Peers” in a classroom setting, students are all glad that Minnie gets off and that John Wright is dead.  However, were one to poll the students before reading the story, few would suggest that killing a canary-the only “crime” that John Wright committed-is a capital offense.  Thus, given the premise that one’s gender, class, and social setting allow or prevent one from being a peer, the question becomes “how does Glaspell convince readers to view the scene from the point of view of rural, early twentieth-century American Women?” 

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