Feminist Analysis: Trifles
Feminist criticism is concerned with "the ways in which literature reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women" (Tyson). This school of theory looks at how our culture is inherently patriarchal and struggles to reveal males biased writing against women. Therefore, many women rose to fight patriarchy society which gave roles to each of its members. The main roles were: political, productive, social, and reproductive. Women were only briefly part of the social role and were mainly given the reproductive role which confined them to raising children and taking care of their households and husbands. Susan Glaspell, a writer in the early twentieth century, lived in that time. As a result, most of Glaspell’s drama criticizes society’s restricting view of women. This is shown through her play “Trifles.” Glaspell adds distinct details to the play that allowed it to sympathize and speak up for women. A feminist analysis of Glaspell’s "Trifles" highlights thoroughly these details through the title, the characters, the roles, the conflict and the theme.
To begin with, in any literary work, the title helps in reinforcing the work's theme and understanding the text better. In Trifles, the title suggests that the play talks about insignificant and superficial theme or action. However, the truth is far from that. As once the reader begins reading the play, he/she is impressed with the turn of the events. In the play, the two women – Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale- who are only brought along with the sheriff and attorney to retrieve some items for a wife – Mrs. Wright/ Minnie foster- accused for killing her husband –Mr. Wright, are the ones who actually find the evidence to indict the accused. In trifles, the title is ironic as the reader sees what is silly and "trifle" to men, is the key for solving the murder.
There are two main female characters in “Trifles.” They are Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. They come to a farmhouse to gather some things for Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hale is her neighbor and the wife of Mr. Hale who discovers Mr. Wright’s body. Mrs. Peters is the sheriff’s wife. While the rest of the characters have an actual role in the play, Mr. and Mrs. Wright, who are the main focus of the play, are only referrred to through the dialogue of the other characters. The story starts with the entering of the county attorney, sheriff, and Mr. Hale along with Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter into the Wright’s messy farmhouse kitchen. Mr. Hale reports that the day before, he has entered the Wright’s house and seen Mrs. Wright sitting down in a rocking chair looking distant. He asks for Mr. Wright but she tells him he is dead. After that, the men go up to the bedroom, the scene of the crime, leaving Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. They start to gather things for Mrs. Wright and through their conversation they question whether or not Mrs. Wright could have really killed her husband. They discover a slain canary...