Gender Roles In Susan Glaspell's 'Trifles'

732 Words3 Pages
“Trifles” is a play in which Susan Glaspell manages to masterfully incorporate numerous amounts of drama; and at the same time, spin a story of murder, justice, and male superiority all into one. Glaspell writes of a woman who murdered her husband because he was to blame for her cold and lonely life. The women character's in the play, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, solve the murder, while the men, the county attorney and sheriff, try to solve the murder their own way. From the moment the three male characters, George Henderson, Henry Peters, and Lewis Hale, enter the abandoned farmhouse, the reader can begin to acknowledge the presence of a patriarchal society. The men enter first, followed by the two women. Even in the description of the women, it can be observed that they (the women), tend to keep to the side lines, and allow the men to dominate. It is seen when the men which are “much bundled up and go at once to the stove.” (595). While the women almost creep in after them. In Susan Glaspell's “Trifles" the purpose is to emphasize the importance of gender roles during the early 1900s using symbolism. Examples of symbolism that she that she uses includes, the dead canary bird, the title, and the assertion that Mrs. Wright was going to knot rather than quilt the patchwork quilt. Glaspell used symbolism as clues to the murderer's motive that only the women were able to figure out, and in turn kept the motive of the murderer a secret due to the bond of women. One example of symbolism seen in the play is with the dead canary bird. As the women were in the process of gathering Mrs. Wright’s belongings from the kitchen, they came upon a Mumtaz 2 bird cage with a broken door, and a missing bird. As they continued on with their task, the... ... middle of paper ... ...lt it. She was going to-what is it you call it, ladies?" (603) Mrs. Hale replied, "We call it-knot it, Mr. Henderson," (603). The ladies knew that Mrs. Wright killed her husband by tying a rope around his neck, but they weren't going to indulge the men with that information. The women were not going to tell because; the women had begun to build a bond, and knew that exposing the evidence would in turn prove that Mrs. Wright was guilty. Symbolism was a key part to this short play. Glaspell used it throughout the drama to exemplify the bonds between women. She used certain concepts that only the women of that time could understand and appreciate to show the knowledge women held. The men in the play didn't understand the significance of the flawed patchwork quilt, and the empty birdcage, they just assumed that these things were trifles and could be passed over.
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