Between SexesSince the time when Eve set herself apart from Adam by consuming the forbiddenfruit, there always has been vast differences in the way men and women conductthemselves.
These differences are very common among sexes, and are also easy todistinguish. For instance, more women tend to cry in sad movies than men do. This is because women are more emotional than men and can often express theirfeelings easier. But probably the most popular difference between men and womenwould be how women have the ability to go shopping for an entire day whereas menwill leave after they get what they want. These differences between men andwomen are constantly being portrayed in the media, and moreover literature.
Thepiece of literature I will discuss is Susan Glaspell’s A Jury of Her Peers,where Glaspell exemplifies the differences between men and women as they conducttheir investigation of the murder of Mr. Wright. From the beginning of theinvestigation, the men and women had vast differences in the way they went aboutlooking for substantial evidence. For instance, the men approached the housewith confidence and seemed to feel indifferent towards the situation even thoughthe murder victim was a close acquaintance. But the women approached the housewith caution and hesitation.
Mrs. Martha Hale’s first thought as she encounteredthe crime scene was how in the past she thought, “I ought to go over andsee Minnie Foster”. Martha regretted the fact that she never visited herlong time friend except when it was too late. Also, when the county attorneyasked Mr. Hale what happened the day before, Mrs. Hale was worried that he wouldadd unnecessary comments and make things harder on Minnie Foster.
This indicatesthat Martha Hale immediately sympathized with Minnie Foster although she haddone something as wrong as killing. Instead of acknowledging the fact thatMinnie Foster committed murder, she looks past this and inquires what couldpossibly induce her to do so. Relevant to this go back to the idea that shewished she would’ve visited Minnie earlier. Martha Hale assumed that lonelinesswas a big factor which drove Minnie to do such a thing. Next, the attorney beinga male, functioned as a robot would; he had no feelings towards what happened.
Right after Mr. Hale told his version of what happened, the attorney continuedwith, “I guess we’ll go upstairs first-then out to the barn and aroundthere. ” The attorney didn’t express any sympathy whatsoever, but was moreconcerned with getting on with the investigation. When the attorney found a messof Minnie Foster’s preserved fruit, Mrs.
Hale replied with, “Oh-herfruit”, and explained how Minnie was worried that the jars of her preservesmight burst. On the other hand, Mr. Peters returned the statement with”Well, can you beat the woman! Held for murder, and worrying about herpreserves!” But what separated the men from the women was when the sheriffdecided that there was nothing but “kitchen things” in the kitchenwhich lead them upstairs in search for evidence. As the men moved upstairs,there were a number of significant differences in the way the men and womenconducted the investigation. First of all, the men went upstairs and the womenremained in the kitchen both in hopes of finding convicting evidence.
The men,being more logical went straight to the crime scene, yet the women were moreconcerned with Minnie Foster’s whereabouts and what she was doing around thetime of the murder. Besides this, the women are more careful with everything andtake the time to examine things thoroughly unlike the men who seem to rushthings until they find what they want. For instance, Mrs. Hale noticed that thebag of sugar in the kitchen was half full, and remembered in her own home howshe left the flour half sifted because she was interrupted. In result, Mrs.
Haleconcluded with the fact that Minnie Foster was interrupted for some reason andbegan to wonder what it was. Furthermore, when Mrs. Peters went to retrieveMinnie’s clothes they examined how shabby it appeared and figured that when youlook good, you feel good and that Minnie was not as happy as she used to be. Another example of the women’s ways of careful observation is when Mrs.
Petersfound a quilt Minnie Foster began and wondered whether or not she quilted it orknotted it. Most men wouldn’t look so far as to ask how the quilt was made, yetthe women were possessed by its beauty. In fact, the men laughed at the womenfor inquiring such a thing. Not only did they wonder how it was constructed, butthey discovered that at first the quilt was stitched fine and evenly, howeverone block was stitched quite differently. In the time that the women discoveredall this information which could lead to conviction, the men were finishedupstairs and did not find any sufficient evidence. While the men moved outsideto the barn area, the women were still inside the kitchen looking for evidence.
Although the women were searching for convicting evidence, they also planned tohide it. One example of this occurred when Mrs. Hale patched up the quilt thatwas blemished by repairing a few stitches. As the story reaches its’ climax, thewomen find the dead bird wrapped up in Minnie Foster’s sewing box. Moreover, thebird was not just killed, but it was tortured by having its neck wrung.
Thewomen hid this crucial evidence from the men because they could relate to howMinnie Foster must have felt at the time. Mrs. Peters said, “I know whatstillness is”, “When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first babydied-after he was two years old -and me with no other then-. ” Obviously,she could put herself in Minnie Foster’s position and empathize with how shefelt being so alone. Living in a house isolated down a long road, and being athome alone while her husband worked can drive a woman to insanity. Not tomention, her treasured pet bird was killed heartlessly by her husband.
In thewomen’s eyes, Minnie Foster has a good reason to kill her husband and they feltthe right thing to do was to disguise the evidence which could convict her. Itis amazing how the women found the convicting evidence and also discovered whyMinnie Foster committed the crime. The men on the other hand didn’t find thesubstantial evidence they were looking for. In addition, word puns were used tocommunicate the innocence of Minnie Foster when the men asked if she was goingto quilt it or knot it, the women answered, “She was going to knotit. ” Quilt it represents the fact that she was guilty and knot it, that shewas not.
In the final part of the investigation, the women succeeded indetecting the proof they needed to convict or save Minnie Foster. As you cansee, the women are far different from the men since they go by emotions and tendto sympathize with other women. On the other hand, the men are more likely tothink rationally and somewhat narrow-minded. In this case of A Jury of HerPeers, thinking practically lead the men nowhere. Whether or not hiding theevidence was morally wrong or not, they concluded if they were in MinnieFoster’s shoes they would do the same thing too.
Glaspell did a great job indisplaying the contrasts in the way women and men conduct themselves. Bydividing the men and women in the story and observing the outcome of theinvestigation, you can understand how sometimes thinking logically is not alwaysthe best thing to do.