Gender: An Ambiguous Factor
Referencing the role that gender played in early twentieth century rural life made for an interesting character dynamic in this play. Susan Glaspell’s Trifles presents a murder mystery with a slightly twisted plot. The play itself, at first glance, seems simple enough. A man is murdered, his wife thought to be the murderer. An investigation is forged in their quaint farmhouse. However, the men are unable to find anything that leads to a motive. But then the twist! The women are able to solve the murder and choose not to share the findings with their husbands. What exactly hinders the investigation set forth by the men? A case can be made in gender differences. The mental approach of each sex determines everything. The dynamic between the women, their husbands, and the county attorney creates a mental divide that cannot be bridged. Inevitably, what appears to be a simple plot, seemingly filled with mere trifles, the end of the play quickly develops into something that is almost surreal. Within a casual conversation the women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, manage to recreate Minnie Wright’s state of mind - seemingly putting themselves through her last day in the farmhouse. In an article analyzing the play, Suzy Clarkson Holstein remarks that, “the play represents a profound conflict between two models of perception and behavior” (Holstein 282). On the whole, the men and women involved observed the identical information - with the exception of the canary. However, minus the canary, the women were already reconstructing Minnie’s life with John Wright. In their reconstruction they are able to uncover and comprehend evidence that would seem like useless information to the formal investigation the men were conducting. “The county attorney searching the Wrights’ home cannot detect the significance in a loaf of bread left out of the breadbox, a kitchen table half wiped, a quilt in progress, and a missing pet canary” (Marsh 201-02). These simple...
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