Susan Glaspel’s drama, Triﬂes, critically portrays gender roles and relations in early 20th Century rural America. Its female characters, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peters, and the unseen Mrs. Wright all exemplify this gender portrayal through their experiences and actions. Glaspel’s portrayal is one of women being conﬁned by society, but also rebelling against and breaking out of this conﬁnement. Mrs. Wright was conﬁned by her lonesome house and hard husband, as well as the expectations that society had for a wife. Mrs. Hale said how the house “weren’t cheerful ... I dunno what it is but it’s a lonesome place and always was.” (1054). She also said that Mr Wright wouldn’t have been easy to live with. (“I don’t think a place’d be any more cheerfuller for John Wright’s being in it.” (1051) and “But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him—(Shivers.) Like a raw wind that gets to the bone.”) She speculated that societal expectations conﬁned Mrs. Wright: “Wright was close. I think maybe that’s why she kept so much to herself. She didn’t even belong to the Ladies’ Aid. I suppose she felt she couldn’t do her part, and then you don’t enjoy things when you feel shabby.” (1052) These circumstances would have been especially conﬁning for Mrs. Wright because of her personality. As Mrs. Hale explained, “she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the twon girls singing in the choir.” (1052) After years in a dreary life, Mrs. Wright ﬁnally found a source of liveliness when she purchased a canary. When Mr. Wright
Karpe 2 snuffed even that out from her life, she ﬁnally had had enough. When he killed the canary by breaking its neck, she struck backin like fashion by taking a rope and strangling Mr. Wright in his sleep. Mrs. Peters was conﬁned by her duty to the law. As she was the Sheriff’s wife, the Sheriff and County Attorney expected her to uphold her duty to the law: “Sheriff: I suppose anything Mrs. Peters does’ll...
Cited: Glaspel, Susan. “Triﬂes” The Beford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford St. Martins, 2009. 1048-1057. Print.
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