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A Jury of Her Peers

Essay by review  •  October 20, 2010  •  Essay  •  735 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,281 Views

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The central theme in "A Jury of Her Peers" is the place of women in society and especially the isolation this results in. We see this through the character, Minnie Foster and her isolation from love, happiness, companionship and from society as a whole. Not only does the story describe this isolation but it allows the reader to feel the impact of this isolation and recognize the tragedy of the situation.

The story is set in a rural community in turn-of-the century Iowa. This time-frame is one where women did not have the freedom they have today, but were instead seen as wives, cooks and housekeepers. This is the basis for Minnie's isolation, her place in the society of the day. This is also compounded by Minnie's husband, John Wright, who makes her more isolated than many other women of the time. We see that Minnie is isolated from love. Her husband is not an affectionate man and she has no children. In the story, we are told that after her marriage her only friend was "solitude."

This is added to by the fact that she is isolated from others. She lives in "a lonesome-looking place" with poplar trees around it that were also "lonesome-looking." She has no visitors and does not visit others. This isolation is because of her husbands wishes. So not only does he not provide her with love or affection, he prevents her from getting companionship elsewhere.

We also see that her husband isolates her from happiness by not allowing her to do the things that give her pleasure. We are told that before Minnie was married she was "one of the town girls" who enjoyed wearing elegant clothes, socializing and singing in the choir. After marrying, her husband prohibits her from all these activities, leaving her life devoid of the happy activities she used to enjoy. The difference is also emphasized where they describe her "shabby black shirt."

We also see a sign of Minnie's isolation in the bird that she had as a pet and we see the desperation of her situation when we realize that her husband killed the bird. "Wright wouldn't like the bird...a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that too." The bird represents the way Minnie was before she was married, as is said "...she was like a bird herself. Real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and -- fluttery. How--she--did--change." We also see that this unmarried self could not have existed in this environment, "seems kind of funny to think of a bird here." Her longing for her former happy self is also suggested, "I should think she would've

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