About this sample
About this sample
2 pages /
2 pages /
Since the beginning of time, there have been vast differences in the roles that men and women play in society. The way society treats women is mostly determined by the attitudes of men living in the society. This presents itself in the short stories A Jury by Her Peers by Susan Glaspell and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl. These two stories show different women who have been suspected of murdering their husbands, to which they are both guilty of committing. Despite this, there are more factors to consider in order to understand the situations that could have led them to kill their husbands and the events that follow. While examining the protagonists of the stories, Mrs. Wright/Minnie Wright and Mrs. Mary Maloney, the authors show how these women use their overlooked intelligence to outsmart the men and to show unity among women in a male dominated society.
Dahl’s story introduces an excited and anxious pregnant wife, Mrs. Maloney who is waiting for her husband’s return from work. She later finds him in speechless mood which was unusual of him and upon inquiry, the husbands informs her that he does not wish to remain married to her and that she should not argue with him (Dahl*). In blind rage from the news, Mary strikes him on the head with a frozen leg of lamb from the freezer which kills the husband. She covers up her atrocious act by framing it as a robbery. She later goes on her creating her alibi before informing the police of the “tragic accident” which had happened. Efforts to search for the murder weapon are fruitless inside the house, and they stop suspecting her “acted quite normal…very cheerful…wanted to give him a good supper…peas…cheesecake…impossible that she”. After the search, Mary offers them some whiskey and the leg of lamb that was cooking in the oven and as they eat the murder weapon, Mary giggles in the other room having outwitted the police.
Similarly, the story by Glaspell tells a story of a woman who has been imprisoned because of the murder of her difficult husband “I don’t think a place would be any cheerfuller for John Wright being’ in it”. Before her conviction, the town’s sheriff needs a motive as to why the crime was committed. The sheriff, Peter, his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Hale soon descend upon the Wright’s farm for further clues. The men examine the rooms upstairs while the women go through the kitchen where they come upon a wooden box with a dead bird inside. The two women come to the conclusion that Mr. Wright had killed the bird “a thing that sang. She used to sing. Pie killed that too”. Despite one of the women being married to the sheriff, the two conceal evidence which would have been used to try Mrs. Wright.
Both authors user characterization in their stories to display how men in the story have the upper hand over the women because of their superiority in the social structure. Mr. Wright, as described in Glaspell’s book, was the model husband as he did not smoke or drink and wanted to live quietly “folks talked too much anyway, and all he asked was peace and quiet”. But he was a hard man who oppressed his wife Minnie which is seen when he refuses to get her a telephone and by killing her canary. Mr. Hale in the story is quick to dismiss that there are more to the case against Minnie telling both Mrs. Peter and Hale that women are used to worrying over “trifles” which further diminishes the roles played by women in the society.
In Dahl’s short story, Mr. Maloney, also a police officer, does not acknowledge the lengths that his wife goes to give him the attention. He oppresses his wife by making it seem like it was okay for him to leave her despite her being pregnant with his child “of course I’ll give you money…need not really be any fuss. It wouldn’t be very good for my job.” Mary fulfills the roles set by the society of being a good servant and caregiver to her husband, but the imbalance of power between the two manifests itself with the way he has treated her. At the end of the story, she is able to dupe the policemen who assume that the murderer was a man “it’s the old story, get the weapon, and you’ve got the man”.
In conclusion, gender roles and responsibilities of women were defined by men living in a society where women had could not publicly voice their opinions and thoughts. The stories by Dahl and Glaspell show this disparity between the gender and steps taken by the women to rise above the male-dominated society. Traditional roles of women in marriage have shifted where the women duties are delegated to domestic life. These stories collectively show the conflicts in gender and how women come out being superior to the men based on the choices they make.
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