Literary Devices in A Jury of Her Peers

Glaspell employs metaphor and metonymy to use the domestic sphere of the home as a symbol for the mental state of the female characters. When Mrs. Hale examines the furniture in the Wright’s home, the narrator describes it as “dishevelled” and “unkempt.” This imagery underscores Minnie’s troubled psychological state within her unhappy marriage. Symbolism is further explored when the two women examine a broken bird cage in the kitchen. The violence suggested by the mangled door of the cage symbolizes John’s cruel, forceful control over his wife and foreshadows his death.

Literary Devices Examples in A Jury of Her Peers:

A Jury of Her Peers 4

""I've never liked this place. Maybe because it's down in a hollow and you don't see the road...."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

Mrs. Hale’s description of the Wright home is telling. That the home is “down in a hollow” operates as a combination of metaphor and metonymy—a technique by which the object is compared to its surroundings. In this case, the home’s location in a hollow bespeaks the hollow quality of the home itself. There is an emotional hollowness and emptiness in the Wright home, as becomes increasingly clear as the story unfolds.

"The thought of Minnie Foster trying to bake in that oven—and the thought of her never going over to see Minnie Foster—...."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

Mrs. Wright’s oven is an example of synecdoche, a literary device in which a small detail metaphorically represents the greater whole which contains it. Here, the broken oven, with its rent lining, represents the entire Wright household and the home life of the Wrights. Like the oven, the household is broken, its lining—the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Wright—irrevocably torn. Mrs. Wright’s years spent struggling with a broken oven is merely a metaphor for the years she spent struggling in a broken marriage.

"which the county attorney's disdainful push of the foot had deranged...."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

This is an interesting use of the pathetic fallacy—a technique by which an object is given human qualities or emotions. The attorney’s foot “had deranged” the cookware. “Deranged” literally means “disarranged,” thrown out of order. The word, however, is much more often used to mean “driven insane.” Thus, the phrase not only carries connotations of mental instability, but also of men driving women to such a state. By metonymy, the kicked cookware stands in for Mrs. Wright’s mental state.

"It came into Mrs. Hale's mind that that rocker didn't look in the least like Minnie Foster—the Minnie Foster of twenty years before. It was a dingy red, with wooden rungs up the back, and the middle rung was gone, and the chair sagged to one side. ..."   (A Jury of Her Peers)

Mrs. Hale compares the furniture she sees in the Wright house to the Minnie Foster that she knew 20 years ago. Since Mrs. Hale has not visited Minnie in her home or kept in contact with her, she looks to the furniture of the place to draw conclusions about Minnie’s life. In this way, the setting can be read as a metaphorical representation of both Minnie’s circumstances and identity.