Susan Glaspell's Trifles

1658 Words7 Pages
To what extent can a woman go to seek expression and freedom when repressed and trapped? During the early 20th century, women were not considered as partners in marriage but a mere possession of the husband. They were deprived of their basic rights and had no freedom of expression. Written during that time, Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles,” revolves around the story of a farmer’s wife, Minnie Wright, who is accused of strangling her husband to death. Simultaneous investigations are carried out by both men (the sheriff, the county attorney and Mr. Hale) and women (Mrs. Peters, the sheriff’s wife, and Mrs. Hale) who, unlike the men investigators, focus their attention on seemingly insignificant details and ironically discover the truth behind the…show more content…
Women tend to focus on little things and try to derive meaning and make sense of the situation while men like to focus on hardcore evidence and need the direct proof in front of their eyes in order to accept something. These differences are represented in the investigation carried out by men and women in "Trifles". During the investigation, the men follow rules to gather evidence, supporting one another’s assumptions about what is significant, while the women quietly observe the surroundings, noticing important clues that the men dismiss as trifles. As the sheriff says mockingly: “Well, can you beat the woman! Held for murder and worryin' about her preserves.”to which Mrs. Hale replies, “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.” The men are there with a professional goal and all they are trying to do is finding evidence to convict Mrs. Wright. The women however, are focussing on the significance and relevance of little clues they are coming across while sorting through the things of Mrs. Wright. As women, they have their own past experiences which they can relate to the clues. For example, Mrs. Peters recalls that when she was little, how she thought of hurting the boy who brutally killed her beloved kitten with a hatchet thus relating to Mrs. Wright hurting her husband because he killed the little canary who was very dear to her and was her only…show more content…
Susan Glaspell has brought the readers’ attention to this fact by not revealing the first names of the women who are protagonist in the play but by just giving them their husbands’ last name. The men in the play are typical and traditional males who do not acknowledge the separate identity and opinion of the women and instead keep making assumptions. Mr. Henderson, for example, tells Mrs. Peters that because she is married to the sheriff, she is married to the law and therefore she is suppose to follow the law and must do it. Mrs. Peters' response is "Not--just that way," suggesting that over the course of the play, she has come to known a different aspect of her identity and has explored more about herself that ties more closely to her experience as a woman than to her marriage to Henry Peters. She has found her own identity which makes her different and unique as a woman. For Mrs. Hale, Minnie Wright's murder of her husband is the ultimate rejection of her husband's imposed identity. As she concludes, women "all go through the same things--it's all just a different kind of the same thing," suggesting that she is also tired of being suppressed by her husband and living with his identity instead of having her own. This institutionalized male superiority is so prevalent that the men feel

More about Susan Glaspell's Trifles

Open Document