Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles, was written in 1916, reflects the author’s concern with stereotypical concepts of gender and sex roles of that time period. As the title of the play implies, the concerns of women are often considered to be nothing more than unimportant issues that have little or no value to the true work of society, which is being performed by men. The men who are in charge of investigating the crime are unable to solve the mystery through their supposed superior knowledge. Instead, two women are able decipher evidence that the men overlook because all of the clues are entrenched in household items that are familiar mainly to women during this era. Glaspell expertly uses gender characterization, setting, a great deal of symbolism and both dramatic and verbal irony, to expose social divisions created by strict gender roles, specifically, that women were limited to the household and that their contributions went disregarded and underappreciated.
Social gender separations are displayed in the manner that men the view Wright house, where Mr. Wright has been found strangled, as a crime scene, while the women who accompany them clearly view the house as Mrs. Wright’s home. From the beginning the men and the women have are there for two separate reasons —the men, to fulfill their duties as law officials, the women, to prepare some personal items to take to the imprisoned Mrs. Wright. Glaspell exposes the men’s superior attitudes, in that they cannot fathom women to making a contribution to the investigation. They leave them unattended in a crime scene. One must question if this would be the same action if they were men. The county attorney dismisses Mrs. Hale’s defenses of Minnie as “l...
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...mpletely dependent upon men. Playwright Susan Glaspell cleverly causes the reader to question the way that women and men are viewed in society. The women in Trifles, though they were overlooked by the men, solved this case while the men failed to do so when they were supposedly in charge. In failing to recognize the women’s ability to contribute to their work the men succeed in causing the women to unite, giving them the real power and knowledge to solve this mystery. All the while the women are moving a little closer together and moving forward toward their rights.
Glaspell, Susan. “Trifles”. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 10th ed. Booth, Allison and Kelly Mays,eds. New York: W.W. Norton & Company UP, 2010. 1385-1394. Print
"Women's Rights 1848-1920." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Mar 2011
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