The Strength of Women in Trifles
The Trifles by Susan Glaspell is an immersive experience of an era set in early 1900 where patriarchal back drop of a murder committed by a woman made it easy to overlook the factual reasoning or causality of action. Men made law stood gallantly in the way of empathy towards WHY and finding the Truth. Glaspell’s feminist critique of the dismissive behavior towards the female character silenced the truth because it was discovered through trifles and not by men.
- 1 Body
- 2 Conclusion
The female characters in the story are the embodiment of feminist struggles in all the sense of the word. The silencing of voices and opinions by the patriarchal figureheads has a profound effect on how the events unfolded events. The story starts with the men entering the kitchen and taking a special interest in pointing out the condition of it as if it had some bearing on whether or not Mrs. Wright murdered her husband. Mr. Hale’s account of discovering the dead body is already biased as he dismissed Mr. Wright’s cold demeanor towards his household and refusal about sharing a party telephone as him simply wanting peace and quiet whereas his interaction with Mrs. Wright after the death of her husband Well, as if she didn’t know what she was going to do next. And kind of done up.(Glaspell, Trifles) was labelled as queer and done up instead of shocked and grief stricken.
During the course of inquiry questioning the house keeping abilities of Mrs. Wright stirs a defensive response from the women. Exhibited as Mrs. Hale says There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm
Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men’s hands aren’t always as clean as they might be.
Duty’s all right, but I guess that deputy sheriff that came;’ out to make the fire might have got a little of this on: (Gives the roller towel a pull.) (Glaspell, Trifles)
The pejorative dialogue between Sheriff Peters and County Attorney, SHERIFF (rises) Well, can you beat the woman! Held for murder and worrying about her preserves. COUNTY ATTORNEY (getting down from chair) I guess before we’re through she may have something more serious than preserves to worry about. (Crosses down right center) HALE Well, women are used to worrying over trifles. (The two women move a little closer together.) (Glaspell, Trifles) Reducing it all to trifles that worry women is demeaning and clearing felt by female company present and intentionally ignored by men.
Calling out the women for defending their sex and starting to question them about the relationship they had with an accused murderer is clearly depicted as well utilized modus operandi of men in powered positions to keep woman in check. Exhibited as COUNTY ATTORNEY Ah, loyal to your sex, I see. But; you and Mrs. Wright were neighbors. I suppose you were friends, too. ‘MRS. HALE (shaking her head) I have not seen much of her of late years. I’ve not been in this house-it’s more than a year;’ i ; COUNTY ATTORNEY (crossing to women up center) And why was that? You didn’t like her? MRS. HALE I liked her all well enough. Farmers’ wives have their hands full, Mr. Henderson. And then- COUNTY ATTORNEY Yes –? MRS. HALE (looking about) It never seemed a very cheerful place. COUNTY ATTORNEY No-it’s not cheerful. I shouldn’t say she had the homemaking instinct. (Glaspell, Trifles) This disparaging conversation played an integral part in the discovery of truth and the subsequent hiding of it from the law and men.
The dialogue between Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale clearly describes the diminished character of Mrs. Wright from a cheerful choir singer to a neglected and abused wife. It also describes Mr. Wright as a ‘Good Man’ because he upheld the morals of patriarchal society by keeping his word and paying is debt. His treatment towards his wife is neither given a thought or merit while establishing his good man status. Mrs. Wright’s mental status was definitely in question which did not merit any notice other than being queer. The female characters were the only one to identify with her and in the end figure out the whole story by piecing together all the trifles in a women’s kitchen due to the compassion and unrecognized awareness of what was wrong with the whole society.
In both profiles, the murderer and the victim, being laid out by the female characters points out the acknowledgement and awareness of the fact that law and the lawmen were unable to comprehend the reality of the situation. To satisfy the case against a woman only a story was needed as said by the county attorney But you know juries when it comes to women. If there was some definite thing. Something to show-something to make a story about a thing that would connect up with this strange way of doing it This story which they would have found, had they tried to look for it in the kitchen. Yet they stuck to the social stigma that what could a badly kept kitchen, would have to offer other then she being incapable of anything right. Their pre-conceived notions about women and the extent of their abilities hindered their whole purpose, which made them unable to see or understand the whole picture.
If the roles were reversed and Mrs. Wright was murdered by her husband he would not have suffered any accusations on his married life like his treatment of his wife r his part in the household. He would be seen in the light of his social standing as a good honest man and therefore it would make for a very short inquiry. It may even be easily painted as a suicide for Mrs. Hale’s profile of her neighbors would directly be associated with Mrs. Wright mental condition. The same need of defending their sex may lead to suggestions of the husband’s abusive behavior but it will be shot down by the men as mere trifles.
Since the women are the ones to discover the truth hidden in the kitchen, it is possible that in a role reversal scenario, the men would never have found it or connected the dots to real story of Mr. Wright killing his wife.
Since the devil is always in the details and all the details were in the kitchen where it was not any man’s job to look but to judge, women were able to observe the matter and fill in the blanks from Mrs. Wrights hard work for cherry preserves, uneven stitches, the bird seller last year and the dead canary wrapped and laid in a beautiful box. The crucial details without which the truth would have eluded everyone could only ever be seen with a women’s eye. It wasn’t because the men were unable to do it. It was because they would not venture in a woman’s domain completely neglecting that is was a woman who stood accused. The silent decision of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters to not share what they had found with the County Attorney was instigated by the continuous dismissal and disregard of their take on the matter. It was based in the knowledge that what they knew if shared will only carry weight for Mrs. Wright’s conviction in the eyes of the law. The rest however crucial will become the background noise just like they were in Mrs. Wright’s untidy kitchen.
Feminism is concerned with, the ways in which works emphasize or challenge the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women. The broader political and ideological environment of the 1900’s […]
Suzan Glaspell is an American writer and actress who formed a playgroup known as the Provincetown Players. This was considered as the very first theatre organization in co-temporal America. Suzan […]
Also, caging of the bird in the house, demonstrates another instance of men dominance in the society over the women. Symbolically, the living of bird in the cage, demonstrates the […]
A notable number of literature works in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century focused on the concept of gender equality and role of women in what was apparent patriarchal […]
In the play, Trifles, by Susan Glaspell tells a story full of mystery surrounding the murder of farmer, John Wright. Two housewives hide evidence that could be damning for Minnie […]
What are the “trifles” that the men ignore but the women notice? Author shows us stereotypical men whose words and actions shows us they egotistical, thoughtless, self-important, and condescending personalities. […]
Our whole life consists of trifles, just someone notices them and someone not. The word trifle implies that something is unimportant and worthless. In the play by Susan Glaspell, where […]
The play Trifles was written in the year 1916, with the context of the play being in a kitchen, and any surrounding that that portrays the lives of women in […]
In this beautiful piece of theatrical play, Trifles, written by Susan Glaspell in 1916, it is about a woman, Minnie Foster Wright who is accused of killing her husband, John […]
The Trifles by Susan Glaspell is an immersive experience of an era set in early 1900 where patriarchal back drop of a murder committed by a woman made it easy […]