Trifles: Women's Suffrage and Women

Topics: Middle class, Women's suffrage, Working class Pages: 8 (3312 words) Published: October 10, 2013
Cold Revenge
During the early twentieth century there were some elements which include what the women’s suffrage movement was all about. Life in the rural Midwest of the century was a lonely, difficult, and depressing way of life…….. The twentieth century was difficult for women. Bailey L. McDaniel states, “The isolation and despondency with which Glaspell characterizes Minnie Wright's existence is not far from the reality that many farmers would have experienced, with no telephones or televisions, miles between the nearest neighbor, and backbreaking work a necessity just to survive” (1). Women would suffer in silence; they will stay home the entire time taking care of the family, raising their children, and do housework. Women would see this as an obligation. Even if a woman did have the courage to leave an abusive situation, earning a living would be a difficult challenge to overcome (McDaniel 1). Women's "unofficial" role as the subordinate sex in the private sphere was not the only facet of gendered inequality at the turn of the century. Officially and publicly, adult women were denied the right to exercise their voice in political elections. Although at the time of "Trifles'" writing, women's suffrage was already a powerful political movement across the Atlantic in England — and had gained a strong foothold in the United States throughout the nineteenth century thanks to suffragists such as Frances Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott — American women would not be granted the right to vote in federal elections until the passing of the nineteenth amendment in 1920. (In 1915 a bill legislating women's suffrage was presented to the US House of Representatives but failed to pass because of insufficient votes.) Male domination in 1916, when Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles was written, was the way of life. Men controlled most women and women were not very outspoken during that time period. Mr. Wright in her play was no different from the rest, but she made him a symbol of all the men in the community. The play opens at the scene of the crime. The first three characters who enter the room are the three men involved in the investigation of the murder at hand. The purpose of their visit is to find evidence of motivation of murder, but the women who they leave downstairs find the very evidence that they are looking for. The men presume the women to be harmless for a couple of reasons one being: the women are left in the kitchen where, according to the Sheriff, there are “nothing but kitchen things”(1174). His comment was in response to the County Attorney’s question about the Sheriff being “convinced that there was nothing important” in the kitchen “nothing that would point to any motive” (1174). The concerns of the women are considered little or silly and insignificant and this is the most important reason for the men’s comments about them. The Sheriff laughs when the women express that maybe the frozen preserves have some meaning (1174). Mr. Hale, who is the husband of one of the women, comments “women are used to worrying over trifles” (1174). They figure the women are not dangerous because they are in a room where there could not possibly be any evidence, but also because they believe that the women’s minds are so limited to “trifles” that they are not a threat to the investigation. The men feel that the women cannot think, cannot act, and cannot do any harm to their investigative work. However, the women find lots of evidence in that room. They do think, act, and sabotage the investigation. They find the very evidence that the men are looking for. In most stories of this nature the men are the center of attention, but Glaspell opens our eyes to something new. Not only do the men not solve the case, but they also aren’t the center of attention. Even though the men were not using lots of demeaning dialogue and they are not patronizing the women, it is clear that they are using the traditional manly ways to...

Cited: Ben-Zvi, Linda. Susan Glaspell: Her Life and Times: Her Life and Times. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Bryan, Patricia L., and Thomas Wolf. Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America 's Heartland. North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005. Print.
Burke, Sally. “The Second Wave: A Multiplicity of Concerns.” American Feminist Playwrights: A Critical History (1996): 139-190. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. One-act-plays.com. One-Act-Plays. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2013.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 6th ed. Ed. NinaBaym. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 1893-1903.
Grose, L. Janet. “Susan Glaspell’s Trifles and ‘A Jury of Her Peers’: Feminine Reading and Communication” Short Story Criticism 132 (1999): 37-48. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 Mar. 2013.
Holstein, Suzy Clarkson. “Silent justice in a different key: Glaspell’s ‘Trifles’.” The Midwest Quarterly 44.3 (2003): 282. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Mar.2013.
Makowsky, Veronica. Susan Glaspell’s Century of American Women: A Critical Interpretation of Her Work. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print.
McDaniel, Bailey L. “Literacy Context In Plays: Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles.” Literary Context In Plays: Susan Glaspell’s ‘Trifles’ (2006): 1. Literary Reference Center. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
Mustazza, Leonard. “Generic Translation and Thematic Shift in Susan Glaspell ‘Trifles’ and Jury of Her Peers.” Short Story Criticism 26.4 (1989): 489-496. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 Mar. 2013.
Noe, Marcia. “Susan Glaspell.” Contemporary Authors Online 9. (2003): 1. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.
Ozieblo, Barbara. “About Susan Glaspell.” 2010. International Susan Glaspell Society. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
Wiedeman, Barbara. "Susan Glaspell." Critical Survey Of Drama, Second Revised Edition (2003): 1-4. Literary Reference Center. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Essay about women suffrage
  • Women's Suffrage and Women Essay
  • Essay on Women Suffrage
  • women suffrage Essay
  • Women's Suffrage Research Paper
  • Women Suffrage Research Paper
  • Women's Suffrage Essay
  • Essay about Women’s Suffrage in the play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free