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The play Trifles by Susan Glaspell is the base on murder of Minnie’s husband, Mr. Wright. It tells us of the investigation by men and two women. In the investigation, the differences in a search of any evidence tell us how women and men behave in the society. We learn about the fact how women defend themselves because of the oppression they are going through. The play Trifles is an early feminist play due to the two female characters in the play. The play also shows the ideology of gender culture and sex roles. In the play, the concerns of women are often being as the mere trifles, and not the relevant facts in the society. The play tries to show the values of men and women and their work while drawing the tension in the drama that is unfolding. The play is built on the differences between the male and female perceptions and their behavior at home (Glaspell 5).
Feminism is a movement the aim of which is to define, establish and defend the equal economic and social rights of women in the society. Feminism is all about seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in the employment and educational sector. A feminist is a person the activity of whom, advocacy, beliefs and behaviors are based on the feministic way of doing things. The feministic activities include: the campaign for the rights of women in the society, for instance, the right of property, justice, and working from home or in the employment sector. The feministic activities have played an enormous impact on changing the society, especially in the west, through achieving the gender equality, equal justice for women, reproductive rights for women, and the rights to do anything to reach their aims.. Feminism, mainly, focuses on the female issues, although sometimes they do seek for the gender equality, therefore, involving men into this process (Glaspell 111-115).
Nearly in the 1900s, women had no high rank jobs and never worked at the full time job. The role of women in this era was to do the cleaning, to cook and to take care of their children. Men did most of the work in the society. The play Trifles shows how this has come to the change when two women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, living in the town where the murder had occurred, they decided to figure out the cause of the murder by their own. Yet, this was the work of men then to do so. After having received their finding, they kept it on their own because they knew if they try to get a credit for solving the case, people would laugh at them for trying to do a male job. Reporting on the murder was the right of morality but due to the society they were living in the habit did not allow women to do so. This shows how the society in the past viewed women and denied them in their rights.
The play Trifles is a feminist play because of the evidence in the play, the use of female characters, and what the play is based on. The writer Susan focuses more on women in the drama more than on the men; the women are trying to investigate the murder. The women in the story wait at the downstairs and, ironically, they are the ones who find out who had done the murder. Susan shows feminism in the play with the use of male characters, the description of women and with solving the mystery. (Alice 416)
The play Trifles play came up during the period when females had begun to demand their rights in the society, their roles and wishing to have the right to say their word in the society apart from doing the tasks that housewives are doing, i.e. the domestic work. Women at this time are demanding their freedom and the change in their values and work in the society. Minnie, a character in the play, is changing her expectations from the society by killing the husband. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale came in to investigate the cause of the murder. The play does not only focus on the person who had done the murder, on Minnie, but also on the role of females in the society. (Lois 340)
Men in the play, particularly Mr. Hale, Sheriff Peters and the county attorney, are in the house investigating the murder of Minnie’s husband. Two women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are there also to get the evidence of sentencing Minnie before sending to jail. The play differentiates the affairs of women and their concerns. Men view the mess as the negligence from Minnie and her role as a housewife. The attorney says that Minnie is not more a housekeeper; and he complains about the dirty towels. Mrs. Hale defends Minnie saying there is the immense work on the farm except these towels being washed. Men do not know this because they assume everyone to work but only on their own. To add on, Mrs. Hale says that males’ hands are not cleaned well as required for the towels to be clean as well; and that is the reason the towels are dirty. Minnie is anxious about jars, but men laugh at her that she is supposed to be worried as being a suspect in her husband’s murder. When the women have seen the broken jars of fruit made with the hard work over a stove, their counterpart men did not agree with this (Glaspell 300-302).
The men believe the best way to solve the murder is to investigate the actual evidence of crime. They are unsuccessful; Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale have found the clues to link Minnie to the murder. The two women restricted themselves to the kitchen in Wright’s house, while Wright went to work with Minnie remaining at home. The women make an entertainment for themselves by reviewing the inside conditions and things in the apartment. They realize that the house except being in disorder is rather gloomy. The men do not realize this because they do not think of any situation if there was any happiness in Wright’s home. Mr. Wright always was controlling Minnie; thus, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters came close to get the real evidence. They looked at the pan of the unbaked bread; the bread had risen but had not been baked. This leads the women to the belief that Minnie was disappointed by a case that she had forgotten about her dough. They later investigated Minnie’s recreational activities in which they noticed a shift. They pass across the blanket Minnie had been quilting; they noticed the segment she had been working on and which was not properly sewn. This made Minnie more suspicious; this shows that something must have been bothering Minnie due to which she could no longer stitch well.
The two women have found the evidence at the birdcage; and the bird itself discovering the canary made the women know that John Wright had murdered the only creature that the woman loved. This proves that Mr. Wright was murdered by Minnie. The men wanted to find out something exact that would convince the court; they could not think like Minnie anyway. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale did not inform the men about their discoveries. The women sympathized with Minnie and respected her work as a homemaker. The two women felt sorry for Minnie because her man Wright had been emotionally stressful to his wife. They forgot about the fact that Minnie had murdered her husband. This demonstrates feminism because women had the possibility to make Minnie free or make her guilty due to the facts they have discovered at the kitchen. The kitchen is not a thing or place that shows the female roles but the place where females may have their own mysteries providing the complete empowerment.
The quilt in the story shows that the play is a feminist play. The quilt provided a symbol of Minnie’s life. She sow it; the block she had been working on though all over the place was not good enough as Minnie was angry when her husband had killed her best bird she loved so much. She could not knit neatly; this shows that she did not want any more abuse in her life being alive.
Also, feminism comes out while making the comparison of Minnie Wright with the death of the poor bird. The bird reflects a symbol of Minnie’s captivity; it was a cage as soon as Minnie was living in the stressful relationship with her husband, Mr. Wright. Before Minnie has got married, she was nice looking and happy and usually was singing on a daily basis. When she got married to John, she changed entirely. John abused Minnie though rejecting her own personality and individuality. John killed the bird; he made Minnie’s life worse, and she decided to take the revenge and to kill Mr. Wright. Minnie has received her life back and her own dignity with killing her husband (Kennedy 355).
The nature of male-female relationships is clearly described in the drama Trifles. We get to know the behavioral differences in the play. There is no separation of gender physically, but the difference in gender comes out as a motive of two genders. The differences that one can see in the action of characters show the events in the play. One may see the nature of male-female relationships through the murder of Minnie’s husband, Mr. Wright. One may see the differences in the relationship that are being clearly described with the help of the search for any evidence of the murder. Mr. Hale, a county attorney, and the Sherriff are in the search of the evidence; and we see the differences on the issues how they view the case. These are the women who find out the cause of the murder, but they cannot tell this due to their gender. Men cannot see the uneven sewing on a quilt that Minnie had been working on before doing the murder. The men laughed at the women wondering about the guilt in the house. Also, the fact of not accepting the cage and the bird killed was from the men’s side. This shows how women and men work in the society; there is a demonstration of many differences on the perception and work.
To contrast the men and women in the play, one may note that women take a note of all things they see in the house, and men just assume them. The women notice the bird, the cage and the quilt, the men do not. The women are united together not because they are neighbors but in order to show their gender. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters support Minnie; they have the respect to her work as a homemaker. Mrs. Hale defends Minnie when there are the questions asked by the men about the dirty towels; they tell that there is the immense work in the farm. One is able to see the loyalty of women and sympathy towards each other. They do understand each other especially after Minnie has lost the bird she loved.
Women see men as interfering with others’ activities and criticizing what women do; and they view men as sarcastic. Everywhere in the story the women are showed as the victims of the underestimations from men. Mr. Peter says that everything her husband needed was supervision. The men’s discrimination of women makes them have a weak case against Minnie (Glaspell 356-361).
There is the discrimination of women in the society when men view women without having any value to the society. They even face the abuses from their husbands. The play Trifles shows how women are intelligent and describes their values. Men are unsuccessful in the murder investigation, but women are. The women’s rights should not be violated or taken for granted. Women and men should work together for the success of the society and the country, at large.