A Jury of her Peers is an adaptation short story from the drama trifles written by Susan Glaspell. The drama is written in a play version while the short story is written in prose. The short story is written from a narrator’s point of view meaning it is written from third person identity. The drama is told in speech form with a lot of explanations about the actions of the characters. Direct speech is used in the drama as opposed to the reported speech used in the short story. Use of language is very fundamental in literal works because it gives true meaning of the content by display of emotions and tone variations. Although the two stories are the same in settings and context, they are different in presentation and semantics. This essay aims to analyse the two works of Susan Keating Glaspell and come up with the differences in their writing style as well as the implied context and meaning.
The short story comes across as rich in text and semantics as opposed to the drama. This is because some explanations of the actions of the characters are lost or interchanged in the original version of trifles. For instance in the short story, the narrator says, “then Sheriff Peters stepped back from the stove, unbuttoned his outer coat, and leaned his hands on the kitchen table.........” this is different from the original trifles version which flows as follows: “SHERIFF [Unbuttoning his overcoat and stepping away from the stove as if to mark the beginning of official business.] Now…” The action of stepping away from the stove and unbuttoning his outer coat are different in the two versions. The meaning of what marks the official business is also lost in between the two versions. One is left to wonder if leaning on the kitchen table or unbuttoning the coat is the start of official business. Detailed wordings and actions are not available in the play version of the drama because the story does not dwell on unnecessary information which can not be put as direct conversation or thought between the characters. The thought of each character and actions are explained exhaustively in the short story. The story captures the feeling of each character and thoughts simultaneous to the flow of the story. For instance, Mrs. Hale is thinking about how her husband wandered in speech and she is saying what he shouldn’t act simultaneously when he starts to narrate his story. The prose format allows the reader to form a mental picture of the story, scene by scene.
The tone difference is evident in the shift from dramatic to prose. The tone used in the dramatic format is formal and somber. The tone is formal in that, no words are used or wasted in explanation of actions that are not concerned with the immediate act of the characters or the implied meaning of the drama. The tone could also be said to be somber in that, there is no room for joking or for side thoughts. The scene where the women are defending their own is cut to the point and there are no jokes or side remarks from the attorney. On the other hand, the tone in the prose format is characterized with side thoughts and remarks. Sarcasm and condescending tones are used in the prose format. The sheriff’s wife is brought out as a weary character while Mrs. Hale is condescending. She is even able to tell to the attorney’s face that men are dirty. The tone of the prose format comes across as confident as compared to the sympathetic tone in the dramatic format. This is evident in the explanation of the birds’ death and how it was found. The dramatic format sympathizes with the fact that, the birds’ neck has been wrung whereas in the prose format, Mrs. Peters simply states confidently of what she has discovered.
Use of imagery is evident in the prose format much more than in the dramatic format. Implied meanings are also more evident in the prose format than in the dramatic format. This is because the prose format is able to display even the thoughts of the characters contrary to the dramatic format of the story. The implication that Mrs. Wright was dirty is extensively discussed in the prose format as compared to the dramatic format. This is because Mrs. Hale refuses to sit in that chair because of its description in an earlier scene. The use of the cat, the cage and the bird all implies that they are all related with the murder of Mr. Wright. It is indeed the implication of the story in the prose format that Wright had been murdered as compared to the dramatic version.
In conclusion, the earlier version of the story in the dramatic format shortchanges the context and meaning of the story and affects the perception of the history by the reader. Emotions are not part of the tone in the dramatic format as compared to the prose format. The short story version in prose has better description and content than the dramatic version.
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