7 December 2018
Trifles: Representation of Gender Inequality
Trifles, a one act play by Susan Glaspell, is set in a point of time (1916) when gender stereotypes and male dominance were the norm. The play tells the story of a murder mystery involving a married couple, Mrs. Wright and her husband (Mr. Wright) who was found murdered upstairs in their house. This story displays the ideology of society at the time in the early 1900s when women were treated as second-class citizens. The play demonstrates the discriminatory behavior and it also emphasizes in the end how the role of companionship played in the suspect’s favor just by the women sticking together because of the sympathy they felt for Mrs. Wright.
The play starts off with the authorities arriving at the crime scene, the men begin to take charge of the investigation and leave the women (also their wives) to pick up a few items for Mrs. Wright’s convenience. From the start of the story there are early examples into the mind sets of these men when they’re displaying undermining attitudes towards the women. During the investigation Mr. Hale is explaining his arrival at the crime scene to the county attorney and his reason for visiting Mr. Wright. Mr. Hale then explains that he believed his chances of getting Mr. Wright a telephone would increase if Mrs. Wright was also present when speaking, saying, “Though I said to Harry that I didn’t know as what his wife wanted made much difference to Mr. Wright” (256). This comment throws a hint about Mr. Wright’s attitude toward his wife as if Mr. Wright was the type of husband who neglected considering Mrs. Wright’s wishes. The County Attorney responds to Mr. Hale saying, “I do not want to talk about that” (256) which led to him brushing off a possible a clue. The first note taken by the county attorney was only incriminating to Mrs. Wright, making a note of a scared look on the face of Mrs. Wright according to Mr. Hale who continued to say, “Maybe it wasn’t scared” (257). The County Attorney does not care how Mr. Wright may have treated his wife instead he is only interested in Mr. Hale’s statement about the “scared” look on Mrs. Wright’s face.
The men later show that they don’t feel what the women say is important or relevant because when Mrs. Peters comments on how Mrs. Wright worried about her fruit freezing, the Sheriff says to the men, “Well, can you beat women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves” (258). The men agree about the Sheriff’s comment with Mr. Hale saying, “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles” (258). This conversation shows the lack of respect given to the women’s comment with even the Sheriff speaking to his wife openly as if a women’s role in the home was meaningless. The men’s prejudice is obvious to the reader in regard to the men’s principles. The County Attorney kicks his foot against the pans underneath the sink after finding no clean towels, tell...