Comparing Men's Assumptions in Susan Glaspell's Trifles and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

Men's Assumptions in Trifles and A Doll House

There are many similarities in the relationships between men and women in Susan Glaspell's Trifles and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House. The conflict in each play is the result of incorrect assumptions made by the males of a male-dominated society. The men believe that women focus on trivial matters and are incapable of intelligent thinking, while the women quietly prove the men's assumptions wrong.

In the plays Trifles and A Doll House men believe women only focus on trivial matters. While Mrs. Wright is being held in jail for the murder of her husband, she is concerned about the cold weather causing her jars of fruit to freeze and burst. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discuss Mrs. Wright's concern over her canned fruit after finding a broken jar. Mrs. Peters voices Mrs. Wright's concern, "She said the fir'd go out and her jars would break" (Glaspell 1.27). The Sheriff's response is, "Well can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin' about her preserves" (Glaspell 1.28). The women realize the hard work involved in canning this fruit and understand Mrs. Wright's concern. The men see this as unimportant compared to the trouble Mrs. Wright is facing.

Likewise, in Isben's play A Doll House Helmer believes that his wife Nora only focuses on trivial matters. Three weeks prior to Christmas Nora spent every evening working alone. Helmer believes that Nora is making the family Christmas ornaments and other treats for the Christmas holidays. In reality, Nora is working for money to repay a loan that she illegally acquired when Helmer was ill. The house cat is blamed for destroying the nonexisting ornaments. Helmer reminds her of the long hours spent away from the family. Helmer sa...

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Glaspell, Susan. "Trifles." Plays by Susan Glaspell. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc., 1920. Reprinted in Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia Eds. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 1995.

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