Critical Analysis of "Trifles"

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Erika Harris

Critical Analysis of Trifles

Susan Glaspell wrote Trifles in 1916 when society was based on patriarchal views. The story is of a murder being investigated. The county attorney and sheriff look for clues while the wives clean and gather items for the accused wife. As the story unfolds, the audience becomes aware of differences between the men and women, the attitude of the men towards the women, and motives for the murder.

The play begins with the county attorney getting information from Mr. Hale. The men then start looking for physical evidence of the murder and for the motive. Meanwhile, the women gather items for Mrs. Wright and clean up her house. While they clean up they are able to piece together why Mrs. Wright killed her husband. They take time and relive Mrs. Wright's situation instead of overlooking details. The men ignore “women's world” and do not connect psychologically, therefore overlooking the truth. “You're convinced that there was nothing important here-nothing that would point to any motive.” “Nothing here but kitchen things.” The men refer to the women as having trifles: defined as something of little importance. This situation shows differences of perspective and knowledge between the men and women. They both have a different perspective of the situation and use different knowledge to piece together the murder.

During the early 1900s women's rights activists are in full throttle. Many women are working in factories and earning wages for their household, and working towards equality to men. Trifles greatly represents the attitudes of men during this period. When the play starts off, Mr. Hale is surprised when Mrs. Wright does not offer him to warm by the stove or sit down. Men expected hospitality from women and thought that no matter what was going on a woman would take care of him. Mrs. Peters mentions that Mrs. Wright's fruit froze and how she had been worried about that happening. Then the sheriff replies, “Well, can...
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