The Use of Symbolism in Susan Glaspell's a Jury of Her Peer

919 words 4 pages
Susan Glaspell's short story, A Jury of Her Peers, was written long before the modern women's movement began, yet her story reveals, through Glaspell's use of symbolism, the role that women are expected to play in society. Glaspell illustrates how this highly stereotypical role can create oppression for women and also bring harm to men as well.

Character names are very important in A Jury of her Peers. The two characters, John and Minnie Wright, are the focus of the story. The name Minnie has significant symbolism. Minnie is derived from mini or minimized, which was very descriptive of her oppressed relationship with John and also the male insensitivity
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When John killed the bird, he destroyed the last bit of personality that Minnie held for herself. She was angry, confused, and literally "didn't know what she was about"(glaspell 163). The question that is asked is whether Minnie was going to "quilt or just knot it"(glaspell 163). This is the decision Minnie had to make. She either had to quilt it, meaning she had to endure the abuse, or she would knot it and decide that her life as it exists was "not it" and she would do something to change it.

The referral to the quilt as a trifle is very symbolic in the story. Mr. Hale says "Women are used to worrying over trifles"(glaspell 159). This is very symbolic and ironic. A trifle is something that is small and of no consequence. This is a reflection of how the men in the story, and society in general viewed and treated the women. This is very ironic because while the men are looking for clues, the women discover the key to the mystery among what the men consider as only silly women's work, or trifles. The women rebel against their husbands, as they conspire to conceal the incriminating evidence that points to Minnie.

Glaspell effectively uses symbolism in the story to help convey the feminist theme. Through the use of symbols, she illustrates just how the self-destructive introspection of John had slowly overwhelmed the youthful vivacity of his wife. The symbolisms paint not only a picture of Minnie's life, but also the lives of all women