Essay A Journey into Drama: An Analysis of Setting in Feminist Plays

Essay A Journey into Drama: An Analysis of Setting in Feminist Plays

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The treatment of women in the modern era has come quite far compared to recent history. This is shown in numerous works of art of the feminist age of fiction. In the three works: Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, the setting and the home in which the women are depicted in play a major connecting symbolic role within the feminist plays. The setting of a dilapidated or enclosed home is ever present in each of the four aforementioned plays, and each depict a symbol of the ownership, and enclosement of women in the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth century America.

In the short play Trifles by Susan Glaspell, the setting in the cold, abandoned farmhouse plays a major defined symbol in the plot. In the opening of the play, it is noted in the stage directions that the scene is of “... a gloomy kitchen, [having been] left without having been put in order - unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a dishtowel on the table -- other signs of incompleted work.”(1968). This cold, messy scene depicts an underlying tone of disgust towards the woman of the home, who traditionally should have completed the work within the home. in addition to the disgust towards the woman, it also notes a tone that women may be incompetent to finish the simple tasks around the home. This cold unsettling scene is furthered when Lewis Hale entered the farmhouse on the night that John died. He explains that Mrs. Wright “... was rockin’ back and forth. She had her apron in her hand and was kind of - pleating it.”(1969). He also states that “she looked queer.” These statements denote a belief that Mrs. Wright was incompetent, ...


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...partner slave to the men in this era, and that whatever the men are to do, the women shall follow. This has been true for all of the previous works above.

The women of the early twentieth century have been shown through symbols, and also through blatant expression that they are seen as property, and subject to the confinement of their own homes. Throughout these works, the women have been subject to cold, primitive farm homes, childs bedrooms, and trashy downstairs apartments. Whether out of love, or out of mental disability, these women have been subject to whatever the man of the house has deemed to be right for them; and many times it was a second thought compared to how they treated themselves. The symbolic expressions of these women have shown truly the poor treatment, through the setting, of women in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.


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