The primary impact of most allegorical stories is strongly influenced by the authors detailed characterization of the setting, as well as the characters passions and point of view. Such is the case in Susan Glaspells story A Jury of Her Peers. The story conveys a richness of characterization and setting that are elusive at first reading but become more apparent as the story evolves. In the final analysis, the jury and the outcome of their verdict are elucidated. By the use of symbolic language, the tension within the story is maintained very well.
The reader is initially introduced to a woman, Mrs. Hale, who first seems cast as a central character, if not the protagonist of the story. By using literary distraction, the reader is deliberately deviated by focusing on the details of her life and her thought processes such as the seemingly insipid detail of Mrs. Hales innate intuition for neatness, her bread all ready for mixing, half the flour sifted and half unsifted. The neatness and attention to detail of Mrs. Hale adventitiously aids her in discovering the motive and disposition of the murder of Mr. Wright by his wife.
In direct comparison to Mrs. Hale, the reader is introduced to her accomplice, Mrs. Peters. Although she is the sheriffs wife, Mrs. Peters seems to lack the potency required of a figure of authority. But, as the plot develops, it is revealed that Mrs. Peters is torn between the figure of a sheriffs wife and one of an ordinary woman. Being a woman of equally strong confidence and character, in the denouement, the figure of a woman triumphs.
Finally, the reader is introduced to the true protagonist and murderer, Minnie Wright. In her younger years, as Minnie Foster, she is depicted as a character of life and vitality; but, as Mrs. Wright, Minnie has a bland life and is a relatively depressing individual. Although it is clarified to the reader that Minnie is indeed the murderer, she is portrayed sympathetically by her peers, Mrs. Hales and Mrs. Peters. It is clear that over the years, the once laughing and cheerful Minnie Foster had become neglected and depressed by her marriage to an overly oppressive man which brought Minnie to her breaking point.
John Wright, the late husband of Minnie Wright, had little to no appreciation for life and its beautys. The reader can infer this by the assumption that he took her away from all the joy in her life; and he murdered the last valuable entity, the bird. The bird was all that was important and precious to Minnie that was left. It symbolized her only freedom and youth; although the bird was confined within a cage. Mr. Wright was ironically murder by having a rope wrung around his neck in reflection of the wringing of the birds neck.
The authors skillful use of characterization brings together the plot of the story. By going further into the minds of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, the reader can conclude that Mr. Wright took away everything that was left of Mrs. Wrights innocence and bliss and, after killing the bird, caused Mrs. Wright to break. As equal women, both Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters felt sympathy for Mrs. Wright and understood her reasoning for murdering her husband. But one can only hope that the jurys final verdict was as understanding and empathetic.