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Trifles: Gender and Mrs. Hale

By FireCracker31 Jan 06, 2014 1113 Words
Writer sometimes tends to use their own life’s experiences, influences, and beliefs to create their own stories; this is exactly the case for the creations of “Trifles” written in the early 1900's by Susan Glaspell. Glaspell was one of the feministic writers of the early twentieth century that promoted her personal ideas. Her ideas of feminism were influenced by her social idealistic writer husband, George Cook.”I began writing plays because my husband forced me to” (Glaspell). The oppression of women back then was to the point that they were not fully acknowledged as their own person. Their primary role was to take care of their families, keep the house clean, and perform all their caretakers’ duties. In writing “Trifles”, she wrote this play during a time of controversial feminist issues which drew from her past and current experience events. Trifles are mostly viewed as an example of early feminist drama, because it shows two female characters, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, and their ability to sympathize with the victim's wife, Minnie Foster. They understand her motives, which ultimately leaded them to the evidence they found against her. Glaspell demonstrated how the male assumption that the women were insignificant members in a male dominated society. She made a strong feminist statement that women are more than just housewives, or homemakers, and they are more intelligent than they are perceived. Minnie Foster was a woman who had been mentally victimized by her husband so much to the point she decided to kill him, because she blames him for her cold and lonely life. The men's in this play approached the house as if it was a crime scene, where as Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale accompanied the men's on the investigation, view the house as a home. This can somewhat concluded that the men's and the women's already have a very different reason on why they are there.

Trifles” is a play about an unsolved murder mystery in a farm house. The plot was set up upon John Wright’s murder case, in which Mrs. Wright was accused of strangling him with a knotted rope while he was sleeping. One important role to examine in this story would be sexism. “Trifles” involves a lot of drama within the male dominated society during those times. All the men involved in this play such as the Sheriff, the County Attorney, and Mr. Hale all are representation of the law. These men role in the story is to try their best to enforce the law and find some type of hardcore evidence against the suspected murderer Mrs. Wright. While on the other hand justice is shown in the characters of Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Hale, and Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are at the crime scene to somehow support their husbands in finding evidence against Mrs. Wright. Immediately when the women step into the Wright home, it is obvious that they were not going see things the same way as their husbands do so. Right away, the women drew different conclusions from the state of the house than the men. The women observe the unusual state of out of the ordinary, in which the house is in. They noticed the unwashed kitchen utensils and the dirty towels. Mean while the men was make jokes about Mrs. Wright’s quality housekeeping , the women came to the assumption that there must be a reason for the current condition of the kitchen because it is odd for a woman to leave the home in that state. So this is why they make excuses about the house to their husbands. Mrs. Hale states: “There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm....Those towels get dirty awful quick . . . . Farmers wives have their hands full . . . .” (713). The men in this story overlook the women in the kitchen because they do not believe the women can have any valuable input that they can use to solve this case. But the men underestimated the women and if they would have heed their signs. They would see that their input is the one the men overlooking was exactly the hardcore evidence they needed to find in order to indict Mrs. Wright. Every time when they tried to contribute to finding clues the men comes off as if they are superior and ignored the women’s evidence; hence defining their clues as “trifles”. The men and women in the play tend to respond differently to the evidence they see before them. During that time period the men had a certain perspectives of how women usually think. They would believe that women couldn’t make complicated decisions or think critically. But after being mocked by their own husbands the two women decides to conceal the evidence they discovered in order to bring Mrs. Wright closer to what they feel is justice. When the ladies were gathering Mrs. Wright things they noticed a bird cage on the floor that had a broken door and the bird was not inside. The found the bird in sewing box neatly places in silk with its neck broken. Mrs. Hale related Mrs. Wright to the bird by stating, "she was kind of like a bird herself, real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and fluttery," (Hemingway 1035). One may ask the question: Was this the right decision for the women to conceal the evidence they have found? Some would argue that if she did the crime, then she should have to do the time. But others will argue and say that the way the women were treated back then, made it utterly justifiable. Mrs. Wright was not always living in sadness and oppression; she was once a woman who was full of life and happiness until she started to live with John Wright. Mrs. Wright was a woman suffering from being alone all the time and being married to a cold hearted mannered husband. Mrs. Hale description of him was, “he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him. Like a raw wind that gets to the bone” (Hemingway 1020). The men's in the play had a point of view that once a woman got married, she now looses majority of her identity to her husband. The County Attorney stated that “a sheriff’s wife is married to the law” (Hemingway 1030). The men's also did not understand the many different thing women go through, which can cause them to get a bit emotional. The women felt that the mental and emotional abuse that Mrs. Wright received from her husband was more than enough justification for the crime in which she committed.

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