The Role Of Gender Stereotypes In The Play Trifles

The feminism occurs in the early 20th century is to protest the inequality of women particularly for women’s suffrage and equal employment. Therefore, as a writer, Susan Glaspell's work at the time mainly focused on the complexities of inequality prevalent in the home along with the public sphere which leads to the publishing Trifles. Trifles is based on one case she covered while working as a journalist for murder cases. Trifles has played a big role in describing the social oppression of women. The story is about a woman, Minnie Wright who has killed her husband, John Wright, and her case was investigated by the lawyer, Henderson and accompanied by Mr. Hale, Mr. Peter, and their wives.

Throughout the story, Henderson and Mrs. Hale had clashed over the meaning of Wright’s dirty kitchen as they both taking their gender’s point of view. For example, when Mrs. Peter saw the exploded canning jars of fruits, she was so shocked and told everyone how worried Mrs. Wright must be about the fruit jars but unluckily it already exploded. Though the ladies were panicked, Mr. Henderson and the other men downgraded their idea that Mrs. Wright would worry about such unimportant things. Mr. Henderson did not take serious of what Mrs. Peter has said because he believes, Mrs. Wright has something more serious than preserve to worry about which is her murder case. After that, Mrs. Hale replied, “women are used to worrying over trifles”. This situation has linked to one of the themes in plays which is the blindness of men. The men cannot see the relevance to concern about canning jars. From the scene, Mrs. Hale, as a woman understands that Mrs. Wright is used to worrying over trifles such as the canning jars of fruit which seem insignificant to men meanwhile Mr. Henderson being a man, is never in the position to take care of those inconsequential things. Thus, he thinks it is ridiculous to worry about minor problems. This is proof that women understand each other when it comes to house chores because being married to a man means women are tied to house chores. Relate to the era of feminism, the writer expounds on how women back then bound themselves for the husband and house. As a result, they have extreme concern over the role of a wife and household responsibility. Their daily activities also have become limited after marriage because they need to focus to manage the housework. Besides, from my standpoint, the exploded canned jars also can be interpreted as Mrs. Wright’s patience. Her patience for her husband’s treatment who locked her in the loneliness of the house has come to the end when her husband decided to kill her pet bird which is her one and only friend despite her isolated world. As her husband has challenged her patience limit, she ended up killing her husband. To sum up, Mrs. Hale is way more sensitive than Henderson wherefore she can see a bigger picture of the reason why Mrs. Wright would concern about the exploded canning jar.

Next, when Mr. Henderson spotted the dirty towels to wipe his hands after touching the sticky cabinet in the kitchen, he commented that Mrs. Wright has been an inexpert housekeeper for John Wright. After Mrs. Hale told him that Wright's house has never looked cheerful which why she never visited her friend for a long time, Henderson replied, “I shouldn’t say she had the homemaking instinct.” Henderson pitied John Wright to get such a wife even though he’s a good man who always pays his debt. He fully blamed women for everything misfortune happened in the house. However, in this scene, Mrs. Hale defends Mrs. Wright by saying there are so many works to be done in the farmhouse yet the miserable house might be John Wright’s fault. She was confident that men’s hands usually dirtier as they work for the family, therefore, the towels get dirty quickly when John Wright wipes his hands after coming back from work and Mrs. Wright might don’t get a chance to clean the towels as she busy doing another house chores. In my view, Henderson tries to point out the women's duty is to take good care of the house but Mrs. Wright failed to do so. On the other hand, Mrs. Hale taking Minnie Wright’s shoes, intuitively knows that her friend has done a good job as a wife but at the time Minnie was not in her state of mind which something wrong might have happened to her. I believe that the writer wants to describe the messy kitchen as to how miserable Mrs. Wright’s mind was due to what she been thinking after killed her husband. Along the story, Mrs. Wright is pictured as a good woman, so commit a serious crime will surely bother her mind for a long time. In short, Henderson will never understand Mrs. Wright's duty as a wife because in that era, women were supposed to do all the housework so all he could think is Mrs. Wright must keep the house clean no matter what.

In addition, after looking around the dirty kitchen, Mrs. Hale has found the unfinished quilt. When she and Mrs. Peter were wondering whether Minnie Right was going to quilt or knot the piece, the men came and laughed at them. Once again, they belittled them for analyzed some foolish stuff. Henderson just walked past them and doesn’t give much attention to the women. But then, when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter were left alone and observed the piece, the started to get into Minnie Wright’s mind. Mrs. Hale discovered that the first part of sewing look so nice and even but not the last part as if Minnie didn’t know what she was about. As Mrs. Hale being the observant person, she started to figure out whether Minnie is innocent or not in the murder case. When she realized that Minnie was going to knot the quilt, she knows right away that Minnie is guilty. Knot the piece can be a symbolism of “knot” or end someone’s life. This incident eventually brought Mrs. Hale to a major discovery of the murder motive as Mrs. Peter found a birdcage in the cupboard while searching for a paper and string after she found the quilt. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter noticed that the cage was broken and the door pulled roughly apart. After a while, they found a fancy red box with the body of the dead bird in it. They realized that someone must have wrung its neck by looking at how the dead bird’s neck twisted. They both figured out that John Wright has killed the bird and Minnie Wright who loves the bird very much decided to kill her husband in the same way. She tied up his husband’s neck until he’s dead. However, they both planned to keep the motive of the murder to themselves without telling the men. To conclude, being ignorant like Henderson who thinks female’s view is nonsense can cause a failure to themselves. In the end, Henderson cannot obtain the motive of murder as he took everything said by Mrs. Hale as a joke and never tried to comprehend with women to solve the case.

In a nutshell, women spent the whole in time in the play by searching for a clue of murder motive in the kitchen while men busy looking for it in Wright’s bedroom where the murder held. The men were somehow forgotten that women are attached to the kitchen and spent most of their time there than the bedroom so they have missed the clue of the murder. Furthermore, the men keep ignoring the women when they tried to explain minor things they discovered which might be the murder motive. They forgot that evidence often consists of little things. Specifically, men are egoistic to listen to women as they believe they have a higher level than women. Plus, if they listen to women, it would hurt their pride. 

16 August 2021
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