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Trifles and A Jury of Her Peers - Essay Example

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This research compares the play “Trifles” and the story “A Jury of Her Peers”. The paper tells that the story is more detailed and explicit than the play, providing extra information about the relationships between all three women characters…
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Trifles and A Jury of Her Peers

Download file to see previous pages... This research will begin with the statement that Susan Glaspell’s play “Trifles” was written in 1916 and then reworked into a short story entitled “A Jury of her Peers” in the following year. The content is very similar to each version. Both pieces tell the story of a murder investigation. In both cases, the main suspect, Mrs. Wright, is much discussed, but she never appears. The women deduce that Mrs. Wright has been abused by her husband, and they cover up incriminating details so that the men do not find sufficient evidence to convict Mrs. Wright of the murder of her husband. The play shows how the men notice different things than the women, while the story allows an even more nuanced judgment of the various characters. The play begins with the investigation of the Wright household. The men proceed according to the letter of the law as written and enacted by men. The Sheriff, for example, dismisses the evidence of the domestic environment by looking around and saying “There’s nothing here but kitchen things.” The play’s title is an ironic reference to the domestic objects and activities which make up the majority of women’s lives in this period. The way the kitchen looks and the condition of objects within it are factors which bear witness to what happened to this woman. Only women can read and understand these signs, while men think they are unimportant and do not look closely enough at the detail. When the women look at the preparations that were underway in the kitchen they see what has happened. Mrs Peters says “she had bread set.” (p. 12) This looks, on the surface, like a simple observation. Both women understand the context of bread-making, however, and they realize that something must have interrupted Mrs Wright, because normally a housewife would not leav bread half made. The play illustrates the complicity of the three women.
These subtle connections are difficult to convey in dramatic form on the stage, and this may be why one performance of the play had mixed reviews. A modern production of the play in East Village, Manhattan, performed in February 2010, received mixed reviews (Jaworowski, 2010). The director introduced elements to enhance the dramatic atmosphere: “Extended pauses have been inserted throughout, creating long silences; characters often abruptly stop for 5 or 10 seconds between lines or in the middle of dialogue.” (Jaworowski, 2010) Jaworowski finds this pretentious, and implies that the audience also were nervous and not sure how to interpret the silences. Other additions such as wordless singing and musical accompaniment, as well as lighting effects, help to convey “an eerie, affecting mood that lingers after the show ends.” (Jaworowski, 2010) The rising tension is conveyed effectively by these novel means, but the reflective side of the short story is largely lost. The intimacy of the reader sitting alone and imagining the meaningful looks between the women is a more effective technique than any real life visual representation could manage. On stage an actor has to use body posture, timing, and facial impressions to indicate what the character is thinking. The subject matter of this play is subtle, and so it is extremely difficult to convey the solidarity of women in their thinking. The written form is simply better at showing nuances of judgement about characters.
In contrast to the play the story’s title “A Jury of Her Peers” uses legal language to point out that the peers of Mrs Wright are not the sheriff, the attorney and assembled male jurors, but in fact women like herself who can understand the pressures she has suffered in her life. In a way the story is a plea for the right of women to be judged by women, and not by a sexist legal system which is subject to male prejudice, while the play is more like a debate about the two perspectives.
The story is more detailed and explicit than the play, providing extra information about the relationships between all three women characters. The narrative voice ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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