Trifles by Susan Glaspell and The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin’s Research Paper

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


This paper will be aimed at discussing such literary works as the play Trifles written Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin’s short story The Story of an Hour. In particular, it is necessary to examine the views on marriage expressed by these authors. Much attention should be paid to the similarities and differences in the themes that these writers focus on.

Overall, this topic has been chosen because it plays an important role for these feminist writers who want to highlight the problems that could be faced by women living in patriarchic societies. So, this question is helpful for studying various works of Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin.

Furthermore, this topic is important for understanding the problems that feminist movement tried to address at the beginning of the twentieth century. This is why I have decided to focus on this particular topic in this essay.

My major argument will be based primarily on the analysis of the main characters’ behavior, especially their reactions to different challenges. In particular, I will focus on the way in which these women perceive their marriage. On the whole, I will argue that Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin demonstrate that marriage can turn some form of oppression because it deprives them of their independence or dignity.

This is the main similarity that can be identified. However, Minnie decides to use force in order to end the humiliation to which she is subjected to. In contrast, Mrs. Mallard does not want to acknowledge that her marriage is unhappy.

Moreover, she is extremely ashamed of her willingness to leave her husband. In other words, these characters do not have the same attitudes toward the social norms and expectations that are set for women. This is the thesis that I will discuss in greater detail.


The attitudes toward family and gender roles have been described in various literary works that could have been created during different periods. These questions are explored by such authors Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin.

Such works as Trifles and The Story of an Hour can be regarded as eloquent examples of feminist literature since they can throw light on the peculiarities of a patriarchal society in which women are not allowed to be autonomous and self-sufficient.

This is one of the main themes that can be singled out. Overall, one can say that these writers describe the experiences of women who are strongly dissatisfied with their marriage because they crave for personal dignity and independence that are denied to them.

These are the things that Mrs. Mallard and Minnie lack. However, these characters respond to these hardships in different ways. In particular, Minnie kills her husband because; to a great extent, it is her response to his continuous abuse. In contrast, Mrs. Mallard is not ready to acknowledge that she is glad to live without her husband. She does not want to say that marriage can turn into a disaster for a person.

Therefore, the characters described by Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin respond to social injustice in different ways. These are the main questions that should be examined closely. On the whole, this discussion can show that marriage is described as the union in which the rights of both partners are not always equal.

First of all, Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin throw light on the life of families in which women are forced to play certain gender roles that are imposed on them. In particular, these women are deprived of their freedom and dignity. This point can be illustrated with the help of several examples. For instance, one can look at the way in which Mrs. Mallard responds to the news about her husband’s death.

Kate Chopin describes her reaction in the following way, ‘When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under the breath: “free, free, free!’ (Chopin 53). This quote is important for showing that Mrs.

Mallard does not view her marriage as something valuable (Chopin 53). This is one of the aspects that can be singled out. It is possible to say that marriage is not satisfying for the main character of Susan Glaspell’s play. The author does not directly describe her experiences. However, the writer provides several eloquent details.

For example, the visitors can find the body of the dead canary that was killed by Minnie’s husband (Glaspell 44). However, male investigators of the murder dismiss this evidence by arguing that “women are used to worrying about trifles” (Glaspell 38). This quote is important for showing that Minnie’s inner world is completely overlooked by men.

To a great extent, the husband’s cruelty is one of the factors that prompted her to kill him. Yet, this idea does not even occur to the police officers. Overall, family life is practically unbearable for each of these characters. This is one of the details that can be singled out.

Susan Glaspell and Kate Chopin show that marriage produced a devastating effect on the inner world of these characters. Much attention should be paid to such a theme as lack of personal fulfillment which is critical for every individual. Both characters suffer because their personal needs are continuously disregarded.

However, there are important distinctions that should be considered. First of all, Mrs. Mallard is unable to acknowledge that she wants to “live for herself” (Chopin 53). In her opinion, such a desire is “monstrous” (Chopin 53). The protagonist does not admit that she does not want to grieve for her husband’s death (Chopin 53). She believes that her inability to feel the sense of loss will be condemned by other people.

This character suffers a heart attack when she finds out her husband has not died. This is one of the aspects that can be distinguished. In contrast, Minnie is able to live without her husband. She is ready to defy the social traditions according to which women are obliged to accept the rules set by males. One can say that Mrs. Mallard is afraid of stating that she wants to end her marriage.

This is one of the distinctions that can be identified since it is important for describing the differences between these literary works. It should be borne in mind that these texts were written during different periods, and they can show how women’s values evolved. They became more willing to challenge the authority of males.

Thus, Minnie deviates from the established social tradition. Certainly, it is difficult to find an ethical justification for murder or any other forms of violence. However, this behavior is a response to suffering and injustice. This is one of the points that can be made.

Certainly, it is possible to raise some objections to the arguments that have been placed in the paper. For instance, one can mention that both authors do not speak about the relations between the main characters and their spouses. These issues are not explicitly described by the writers.

In particular, the readers do not know much about the behavior of Brently Mallard whose personality is not examined by Kate Chopin. Additionally, this author does not speak about the way in which he treats his wife. This is one of the flaws that should be considered. Furthermore, Susan Glaspell does not pay much attention to the relations between Minnie and her husband John Wright.

Moreover, the author does not explicitly tell that the main character killed her spouse. This is only the assumption that cannot be fully verified. These are some of the limitations that should be considered. Yet, one can respond to these objections. For instance, it is necessary to keep in mind that as a reporter Susan Glaspell often wrote about women who were accused of murders (Ben-Zwi 141).

Moreover, in many cases, these women were victims of abuse or humiliation (Ben-Zwi 142). This story is partly based on the life of Margaret Hossack who murdered her husband because of his abuse. Therefore, one can argue that Minnie could be humiliated or abused by her husband.

Moreover, it is important to remember that Kate Chopin’s short story is also based on the real-life events (Toth 10). In particular, she wrote about women who were compelled to marry (Toth 10). Apart from that, she had to end the short story with the death of the main character, otherwise this literary work might not have been published (Toth 10; Berkove 152).

These examples indicate that at the end of the nineteenth century, women were not supposed to be independent from males. Therefore, it is quite possible to identify the connections between the feminist movement and the literary works of Kate Chopin and Susan Glaspell who want to throw light on the difficulties faced by women.

On the whole, this discussion suggests that these short stories present a critique of marriage. In both cases, the writers show that women could be dissatisfied with this form of union. Minnie and Mrs. Mallard are not willing to reject their freedom and sense of dignity. However, they are forced to do it. To a great extent, this situation can be described by the social norms that existed during the nineteenth century.

So, this is the main internal conflict that they struggle to resolve. Yet, they react to these hardships in different ways. In particular, Minnie kills her husband because in this way she attempts to retain her dignity. In contrast, Mrs. Mallard cannot openly state that she cannot live with her spouse.

This is why this character is speechless when she sees her husband. Overall, the main theme is the lack of personal fulfillment and autonomy that these women lack. However, Susan Glaspell focuses on the idea of protest against the existing social hierarchy while Kate Chopin focuses on the social norms that are aimed at subduing women. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.

Works Cited

Ben-Zwi, Linda. “Murder, She Wrote”: The Genesis of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Theatre Journal 44.2 (1992): 141-162. Print.

Berkove, Lawrence. “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour.” American Literary Literalism 32.2 (2000): 152-158. Print.

Chopin, Kate. A Pair of Silk Stockings. New York: Courier Dover Publications, 2012. Print.

Glaspell, Susan. Plays by Susan Glaspell. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Print.

Toth, Emily. Unveiling Kate Chopin. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi,1999. Print.

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