Susan Glaspell's Trifles explores male-female relationships through the murder investigation of the character of Mr. Wright. The play takes place in Wright's country farmhouse as the men of the play, the county attorney, the sheriff, and Mr. Hale, search for evidence as to the identity and, most importantly, the motive of the murderer. However, the men never find the clues that would lead them to solving this murder case. Instead, it is their female counterparts who discover the evidence needed, and who are able to do so because of their gender.
The male investigators need to find, as Mrs. Peters puts it, "'a motive; something to show anger, or--sudden feeling'" (1329). Yet the men never see the uneven sewing on a quilt Minnie Wright was working on before the murder. The quilt is a symbol of Minnie's agitation--her anger. The men, though, laugh at the women's wonderings about the quilt and its peculiar knot.
Likewise, the canary and its cage are easily dismissed. In fact, the men just as easily believe a lie about this bird and cage. When the cage is noticed, its hinge pulled apart and broken door unnoticed, the county attorney asks, "'Has the bird flown?'" Mrs. Peters replies that the "'cat got it'" (1332). There is actually no such cat, but the men do not know that and never question the existence of it. The bird, however, is vital to the case. Mr. Wright killed the bird, Minnie's bird, which may have provoked her to then kill him. As Mrs. Hale thinks further she says, ”’No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird – a thing that sang, She used to sing. He killed that, too’” (1332). Mrs. Hale is talking about Mrs. Wright before she was married, how she used to go out and could sing like an an...
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...ters, the sheriff, is of the opinion that "'anything Mrs. Peters does'll be alright,'" and later the attorney concurs, "'Mrs. Peters doesn't need supervising.'" (1327, 1334).
These men have certain prejudices about women, and these prejudices cause them to have a weak case against Minnie. The women know this; they are smart, depicted as much smarter than the men. The dynamic characteristics of the women allow the reader to empathize with them and get a fundamental understanding of what it must be like to be a woman in that time period. Due to the narrow-mindedness of the men, they cannot put together a substantial case against Mrs. Wright, but the women have solved the case and act as the judge and jury. Mrs. Hale's final line sums up her bond with Minnie, she says, most likely with a satisfied and knowing grin, "'We call it--knot it, Mr. Henderson'" (1334).
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