COUNTY ATTORNEY: I guess before we're through she may have something more serious than preserves to worry about. (30-31)This is the first set of lines that shows us a split between the world of women andthe world of the law. More than that, it's showing us that in this play the world of the law is the world of men. Silly "woman stuff" like cherry preserves isn't nearly as important as the all-powerful male dominated law. What do you think? Are the men right to think Mrs. Wright is being ridiculous? Or are they being insensitive jerks?MRS. HALE: I'd hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticising. [...]MRS. PETERS: Of course it's no more than their duty. (51-52)Here we see the line in the sand between these two ladies. Mrs. Hale is already raring to defend Mrs. Wright from male law enforcers. But, at this point, Mrs.
Peters is still pretty much on the side of the law. Where do you think most of the audience is at this point in the play? Whose side are we on? Does it change?MRS. PETERS: Mr. Henderson said coming out that what was needed for the case was a motive: something to show anger, or—sudden feeling. (69)We get some juicy irony in this line. All through the play, men and their laws are equated with cold rationality. So it's ironic that in order to convict Mrs. Wright the men have to find evidence of sudden, irrational anger. Since the men are almost crippled with a Spock-likededication to logic, they're pretty much the worst possible people to solve this crime.MRS. HALE: [...] You know, it seems kind of sneaking. Locking her up in town and then coming out here and trying to get her own house to turn against her!MRS. PETERS: But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law. (70-71)Again we see Mrs. Peters standing up for the logic of the law, and Mrs. Hale going after it with a sledgehammer. It's hard to miss that in this little interchange Mrs. Hale's criticism is downright irrational. So what? The law shouldn't search murder scenes in people's houses because it's not nice to snoop? A little weak, Mrs. Hale. It's cool, though. The fact that some of Mrs. Hale's arguments are a wee bit flimsy ultimately makes her a more complex character and this a more complex play.MRS. HALE: (resentfully) I don't know as there's anything so strange, our takin' up our time with little things while we're waiting for them to get the evidence. (she sits down at the big table smoothing out a block with decision) I don't see as it's anything to laugh about.MRS PETERS: (apologetically) Of course they've got awful important things on their minds. (77-78)Notice the pattern here? Mrs. Hale says something about how the men are jerks and Mrs. Peters makes excuses about how what the menfolk are doing is really important… and stuff. Over and over the play reminds us that the women are separate from the world of law.