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Dahl’s “a Lamb to the Slaughter” and Glaspell’s “a Jury of Her Peers”: Twisted Housewives

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Dahl’s “A Lamb to the Slaughter” and Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”: Twisted Housewives

Leonard Mustazza in his analysis “Generic Translation and Thematic Shift in Susan Glaspell's 'Trifles' and 'A Jury of Her Peers',” comments upon how women are determined by the way society depicts men in Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers,” noting that they are “concerned with the separateness of the women themselves and their self-injurious acquiescence in male-defined roles.” Here, the critic comments that women have, through the ages, allowed a male dominated society to define them and their capabilities. Although Roald Dahl’s “A Lamb to Slaughter,” differs greatly in tone from the first story, Mary Maloney, like Mrs.Hale and Mrs. Peters in “Jury” all secretly break of the limited roles carved out for them in their respective cultures. Roald Dahl allows us to bitterly laugh at Mary, who “giggles” after she dupes the detectives into eating the murder weapon. Susan Glaspell, however, shows us the somber pain of women who empathize with yet another isolated and disappointed woman, who, like Minnie, the murderer in the story, have been oppressed by a male centered culture. Despite the vastly different tones, both Roald Dahl and Susan Glaspell use elements of fiction to express how men are a women's adversary; “ A Lamb to the Slaughter”, shows how women use their wit to outsmart men; however, “A Jury of her Peers”, displays how empathy can unite women in a male dominated society.

Both Roald Dahl and Susan Glaspell, primarily use characterization to exhibit how men, the antagonist, have a huge advantage over the opposite sex due to their superiority in the given society. “A Jury of her Peer,” revales Mr. Wright to be the ideal husband who wants “peace and quiet” and doesn’t drink or smoke (Glaspell,27). Nonetheless, Mr. Wright is also directly described as a “hard man” that oppresses his wife, Minnie Foster, exercised in actions such as refusal of getting a telephone and murder of his wife's canary. Described in “A Lamb to the Slaughter,” Mr.Maloney is a senior police officer that is an unfaithful husband who drinks aggressively. Just like Mr. Wright, Mr.Maloney also oppresses his wife making it seem like leaving her was fine if she is someone to looks over her and possess money because “it wouldn’t be very good for [his] job” (Dahl,132). Compared to yet another self centered husband, Mr. Peters, a policeman that “[knows] the difference between criminals and non-criminals,” is also attached to his job but similar to Mr.Maloney, they don’t see their wives not abiding to the way they acknowledge them.(Glaspell,9). After his wife greets, Mrs. Maloney, who senses his presence from the driveway, to her constantly making sure her husband was situated fine, Mr.Maloney confesses his betrayal to his wife. Little did she know that the man that impregnated her would leave her even after all the attention shown to him leaving her with an obstacle to go through with very few options. Susan Glaspell emphasizes how Mr.Peters is assured of the idea that his wife being “one of [them]” and along with the other men continuously bring down that stature of females (Glaspell,97). Mrs.Peters, who bears the Peters name and also the weight of the law, has to learn how to bond with her own sex. After the murder of Mr.Maloney, his wife calls the police, his colleagues that also happen to be all men are the ones that Mrs.Maloney finds herself to be up against to commit the perfect crime. ”A Jury of her Peers,” display how the men that are searching Minnie Foster’s house believe women are beneath them by saying remarks such as “women are used to worrying over trifles,” and with such statement the wives find it harder to overcome the power of the me (Glaspell, 76). To reiterate, the men within both stories have shown to be over powered due the situation thus being a challenge and or difficult for the females to achieve their goal.

“A Lamb to the Slaughter” and “A Jury of her Peers,” display dynamic characters in Ms.Peters and Mary Maloney unlike their counterparts who aren’t. Mrs. Peters, the sheriff’s wife, is a “small and thin” women that “didn’t have a strong voice”(Glaspell, 7). She’s a co-dependent housewife and would reply “nervously” to the fellow females. Due to having a police officer has her husband, she is acquiescent towards his actions and the law because “the law is law” (Glaspell, 130). Similarly, Mary Maloney who is six months pregnant, is also a housewife that is co-dependent to her husband would wait anxiously for her husband to arrive home and when he does she knows when he’ll walk in and how he likes to be treated when he’s home. Her skin has a nice clear look along with her soft mouth and eyes that were darker than usual . She suddenly changes into this dynamic stone cold killer due to the words of her husband. It is through this action that Mary is barely the person she use to be before the crime declares Thomas Bertonneau. Mrs.Peters is able to change through the help of the big and strong minded Mrs.Hales who is a feminist. Martha Hale is a woman that wants the job to get done and when left with “[n]othing .. but kitchen things” in a mess and not seeing her friend in over 20 years, she starts to show empathy toward Minnie Foster. When both Mrs.Peter and her come across the dead bird, the motive, Mrs.Peters begins to also show remorse towards Minnie because of what had happened to her cat at a young age. As Liza Ortiz reports, “this shared understanding of their lives that allows Mrs.Hales and Mrs.Peters to reconstruct a picture of what Minnie's life might have been like,” explains how Mrs.Peters’ point of view and actions on the law changes therefore leading her to lie about the cat removing the bird from the cage and assisting Mrs.Hale get rid of the evidence. Mary Maloney on the other hand was able to use her wits to outsmart the men. Knowing that she already made the perfect alibi to tell the police and the fact “they always [treat] her kindly,” she is able to stay in the house and convince the men to have drinks and eat eating away any evidence, shows the change from a weak and male dependent women to a dominant killer. In essence, both authors use characters, Mrs.Peters and Mrs.Maloney, to draw a dynamic change that won’t happen for a man in a society that over values the male gender.

Both short stories collectively show conflicts in which women are superior to men by being greater in numbers or by outsmarting them. Throughout “A Lamb to the Slaughter,” Mary Maloney first faces a problem with her husband, the police office that is unfaithful but to her it was a



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