Plays Comparison: “Naked Lunch” versus “Trifles” Essay

August 17, 2021 by Essay Writer

It should be noted that both “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell and “Naked Lunch” by Michael Hollinger are one act plays. Despite the fact that these writings are rather short in length, their core is rather in-depth and carries a significant message. The purpose of this paper is to compare the two readings and analyze their symbolism.

Comparison of Themes

The play written by Glaspell covers several important topics. First, it dwells upon the gender differences that existed at the time of the play. The environment of that time implied that women were treated wrongly. That is to say, their main occupation was taking care of household chores, and their actual opinions were regarded as insignificant, irrelevant, and many men believed that only banal things bothered women. Second, the other topic, which the play intended to consider, was the issue of isolation. The women in the play were united by the feeling of isolation and alienation from other women and from society in general.

Mrs. Wright was a lonely woman who felt isolated living on the farm with her husband. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale understood her feelings precisely and many people of that time could share this sentiment. Third, violence is another topic of this play. Despite the fact, that, as a rule, people and the law condemned murderers, this text made it possible to justify killing since it was the only way to set the woman free.

The work by Hollinger covers the themes that are close to the ones considered in “Trifles”. However, “Naked Lunch” dwells upon the other manifestations of gender differences. In particular, the major theme is the idea that women had to be submissive to their husbands or partners. Vernon considered that he had the right to force Lucy into eating the steak he made because he regarded his personal opinion more objective and truthful.

Therefore, he believed that he could make his ex-girlfriend quit her views and it would not be disrespectful or humiliating. The other topic that is addressed throughout the play is psychological violence endured by many women of that time. Violence can take many forms, and psychological harassment is one of the trickiest ones. Both main characters were not able to recognize the presence of violence in which the man was forcing the woman intellectually and emotionally to submit to him. Thus, it can be assumed that the two plays cover the similar topics, which are gender difference and violence; however, each of the readings considers them from the different sides.


The symbolic significance of the steak dinner in “Naked Lunch” lied in the fact that it was very difficult for women to comprehend that they did not have an obligation to obey to what men used to say. Despite the condition that Vernon was no longer Lucy’s partner, it was easier for her to agree to do what she was reluctant to rather than stand out for her views. Nevertheless, there is another side to this issue.

Having agreed that the steak was juicy, the woman understood that it was her ex-partner who used to poison her life but not her personal views or behavior. The symbolic meaning of the birdcage and the dead bird is also quite intense. Importantly, it was not a simple act of rebellion. This occurrence manifested the presence and criticality of emotional and political violence experienced by females and their intention to fight it.


Thus, it can be concluded that the two readings carry a similar meaning. Both of them addressed the existing gender difference and its ugly manifestations. Each text considered this issue differently; nevertheless, the plays stressed that women in the world endured it and it was irreconcilable.

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