The Silent Voices of the Law Chapter uri icon


  • This essay examines how women's stories, especially stories of violence, are often excluded by the legal system. For instance, the recent United States Supreme Court decision of United States v. Morrison, effectively silences and suppresses women. The author contrasts this decision with Jane Smiley's novel, A Thousand Acres, a rewriting of the classic tale of King Lear. Smiley follows Shakespeare's general plot, but makes a major plot change by including the father 's incestuous relationship with his two older daughters. Additionally, Smiley changes the point of view from that of the father (in Lear) to that of the older daughters. Smiley's rewriting is an effort to provide a voice for the two older daughters in Lear, a counter-narrative typically suppressed by law. Thus, the novel provides a dramatic example of how lawyers and judges can change shift their thinking in order to hear these often-suppressed stories.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ayres, S.

complete list of authors

  • Ayres, Susan

editor list (cited editors)

  • Meyer, M. J.

Book Title

  • Literature and Law

publication date

  • January 2004