Susan Glaspell's Trifles Men vs. Women

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Susan Glaspell’s one-act play, Trifles, weaves a tale of an intriguing murder investigation to determine who did it. Mrs. Wright is suspected of strangling her husband to death. During the investigation the sheriff and squad of detectives are clueless and unable to find any evidence or motive to directly tie Mrs. Wright to the murder. They are baffled as to how he was strangled by a rope while they were supposedly asleep side by side. Glaspell artfully explores gender differences between men and women and the roles they each fulfill in society by focusing on their physicality, their methods of communication and vital to the plot of the play, their powers of observation. In simple terms, the play suggests that men tend to be assertive, rash, rough, analytical and self-centered; while in contrast, women are more cautious, deliberative, intuitive, and sensitive to the needs of others. It is these differences that allow Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale to find the clues needed to solve the crime, while their husbands miss the same clues. Glaspell distinguishes between her male and female characters as they go into the Wright home at the beginning of the play. The men march through the door first, and “all...bundled up and go at once to the stove” with the determination for warmth. (1125) They are the leaders of the community the sheriff, the County Attorney and Mr. Hale. Following behind them are the sheriff and Mr. Hale’s wife and instead of hurrying in viciously trying to get out of the cold, they “come in slowly, and stand close together near the door.” (1125) This simple introduction of the setting says a lot about the men and the women in the play. The way the men came into the house clearly states that they could care less about why Mrs. Wright killed her husband; they’re just there to do their job and head on home. While the women, on the other hand, take their time coming into the Wright House, slowly assessing the situation at hand and planning their next move.

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