Trifles: Gender and Mrs. Wright
Analysis of the women image in Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” According to the feminism critical school (Feminist critical Theory) Introduction “Feminist criticism is concerned with the ways in which literature reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women” (1). This school of theory studies how parts of our culture are dominated by males. Much of feminist theory also focuses on analyzing gender inequality and the promotion of women’s interests. Common aspects in the Feminist Theory
First of all women are oppressed by men economically politically, socially, and psychologically. Secondly, in every place where men control, women are marginalized, defined only by her difference from male norms and values. Thirdly, while biology determines sex (male or female), culture determines gender (masculine or feminine). Finally, all feminist activity, including feminist theory and literary criticism, has an ultimate goal to change the world by encouraging gender equality. (1) According to (Tyson) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Feminism “Trifles” and The Feminism Theory
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Feminism appeared with the women liberation in western countries between the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. From that time people began to think about the rights of women. Writers showed concerns about this in their literary works. A among more than forty short stories, fourteen plays, and nine novels, Susan Glaspell’s best known is “Trifles “. A trifles is a one-act play which deals with one of the important issues of that period which is the feminist perspective. Susan Glaspell became known as a feminist writer after the release of her play “Trifles. “
The title of the play” Trifles “, is a symbol reflecting how men view women. A “trifle” is something that is small, of little value or importance. Throughout the play, Glaspell uses dialogue which allows us to see the demeaning view the men have for the women. Susan Glaspell used the formal elements in the play as a part of technique of symbolism to help convey the feminist theme such as the title, the images, the character names, and the metaphors all work together to paint not only a picture of Minnie’s life with John, but by extension the lives of all women who live oppressed under male domination.
In Trifles, the male characters are regarded as intellectually superior to their wives, who are viewed as rather childish for their concern in domestic details. But, as a matter of fact, Glaspell makes a feminist leap through the way she portrayed her female characters and their behaviors. Most of the play revolves around the women and the kitchen. While the men scramble throughout the house looking for evidence or hints of a motive for murder, the women discovered the entire mystery while remaining at the kitchen.
The kitchen too seems like a remote place and much resembles the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Wright. The kitchen is the spot where Mrs. Wright (and most women of the time) spent most of their time in. Women image in the play and the feminism theory Mr. and Mrs. Wright embody the view of gender roles. Mrs. Wright was a typical woman who suffered the mental abuse from her husband and was caged from life. In Trifles, Glaspell shows two main viewpoints. That is how the men have the role of being the head of everything and how the women are only house maids to the men.
Glaspell characterizes the men as not giving the women the money they deserve for their hard work everyday. The three men in the play help to prove how in that time men were completely superior to women. By showing these two points it makes us feel more sympathetic for the women because of how they are treated. The women always have to obey what the men tell them, even if they disagree. Since the men are distinguished from the women, the women form their own alliance because they feel empathy for each other. The men and women have seemed to take sides against each other.
By always trivializing what the women do, the men are actually working against themselves because the women decide not to give them the information needed to solve the case. The first view that Glaspell gives in Trifles is that the men are far superior or higher than the women. The men in Trifles show the expected character as we would hear about in the past before women had the rights which they have now. Mrs. Wright has been suppressed by a patriarchal husband. Mrs. Wright is eventually driven to kill her husband who has destroyed her identity completely. Mrs.
Wright follows the role mapped by her husband and is directed by society’s patriarchal expectations, her identity is lost somewhere along the way. However, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters quietly insist on preserving their own identities by protecting Mrs. Wright from the men who seek to charge her of murder. Mrs. Wright is described as someone who used to have a flair for life. Her neighbor, Mrs. Hale, comments that the last time Mrs. Wright appeared happy and cheerful was before she was married which reflects the miserable life she lived with her patriarchal husband. The three main characters, Mrs.
Peters, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Wright are all products of an oppressive society which denies them their right to think and speak freely, as in the case of Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, and denies them their right to a happy, free life as in Mrs. Wright’s case. Also Susan could show us that Mrs. Wright was once a beautiful young woman who sang in choir and was happy, and that her husband took that away from her. Mrs. Wright was not a happy woman, she was oppressed by her husband. He took the life out of her so the readers can gain an understand to the society which was a male dominated one.
While looking around, the women discover what appear to the men to be trifles, but are in fact clues to the mystery of the death of Mr. Wright. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters together try to solve the mystery of Mr. Wright’s death. In packing up Mrs. Wright’s things they discover vital evidence. But they also discover an insight to the life of the murderer. They, as women, are able to sympathize with her and thus in a sense justify her wrong-doing. They see that her husband took away her life and that she avenged herself, after many long years, and took his life from him. Ironically, the men upstairs are examining such things as windows.
This also reflects the nature of society who oppresses women and trifles her actions although in many ways women are more intelligent and superior to men. On conclusion A feminist believes a woman should be strong and independent. T he purpose of this play then, was to illustrate the common agreement and feelings between women, even in the face of the law. The play proves that in the hard times people of common feelings usually stick together. The symbolism used in this play is directed towards the need for equal rights for women, and the role many men played in destroying that dream.
Susan Glaspell’s Trifles can be regarded as a work of feminist literature as The play depicts the life of a woman who has been suppressed and oppressed by a patriarchal husband. Mrs. Wright is eventually driven to kill her husband who has destroyed every last twitch of her identity. Trifles dramatize the hypocrisy and discrimination of male-dominated society. This play is about more than the murder of Mr. Wright. It is about women. It is about oppression. It demonstrates that men are not always the stronger or smarter of the sexes, but quite often just the opposite.
For, as the men in this story mock the women, it is the women who solve the mystery of the husband’s death. Through this, Susan Glaspell hints that women are indeed superior to men, in many ways. References http://www. customessaymeister. com/customessays/Feminism/12057. htm Bourn, Bryan D. “A Feminist Criticism of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles”, Internet modified 18 Apr, 2006. 3pages. Home Page: http://www. ukans. edu/wcb/schools/CLAS/engl/dsteward/6/forums/forum1/messages/48. html. http://plays. about. com/od/plays/a/trifles. htm