Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles, reflects her fixation with culture-bound notions of gender functions and the intricacies of inequality prevalent in the house along with the public sphere during 1916. The contending functions and point of views of men and women work to produce a social department by confining ladies to the house where the contributions go unnoticed and underestimated. Glaspell’s usage of symbolism in Trifles works to represent how false presumptions about females result in a dysfunctional society.
The meaning of the setting represents the isolation of females in society, as well as stresses the kitchen as a domain for ladies. The opening description of the kitchen area as “bleak” and “left without having been put in order” signifies a sense of misery (73 ). The cold and isolation of the region likewise plays an essential function. When the group initially enters the house, they keep in mind the coldness and the guys flock to the fire. As Hale remembers his conversation with Minnie, he asks her, “How do, Mrs. Wright, it’s cold, ain’t it?” and she responds, “Is it?” (74 ). The coldness associates with John Wright’s callous actions towards Minnie, and the truth that Minnie doesn’t acknowledge the coldness foreshadows her partner’s death considering that she doesn’t feel his cold-heartedness any longer. Moreover, Mrs. Hale explains your house as lacking cheer, stating “I’ve never liked this place. Maybe due to the fact that it’s down in a hollow and you don’t see the roadway. I dunno what it is, but it’s a lonely place and always was” (79 ). Your home being “down in a hollow” highlights how isolated Minnie Wright’s house is, making it a desolate place to live. Furthermore, this play speaks with the male-dominated society, in which females are entrusted to the kitchen areas. In “The Cult of True Womanhood,” there is a passage that states, “A wife must occupy herself ‘only with domestic affairs– wait till your partner confides to you those of a high significance– and do not offer your recommendations up until he asks for it'” (Welter 161). This additional exhibits that ladies belong in a domestic setting, not speaking their mind till asked to do so by their partners. The guys evaluate the ladies by their housekeeping skills and are dismissive of the effort a lady faces in preserving a home. For instance, when the County Lawyer asks the Constable if there is anything significant to the criminal activity on the first floor, the Sherif reacts, “Nothing here but kitchen things” (75 ). Understanding the kitchen area is the lady’s domain, the males disregard it– turning down the concept that anything of worth might be found in the kitchen area. The men’s neglect for a woman’s role in the kitchen reflects how females were treated at that time. They linger on the edges of society and lose themselves in the care that they give others, being dismissed as inferior beings.
The characterization is symbolic throughout the play due to the fact that it represents a patriarchal society, manifested in law and citizenry, as well as the impact it has on the females. At the beginning of the play, the character list is substantial in supporting males’s status above ladies:
George Henderson, county attorney Henry Peters, constable Lewis Hale, a neighboring farmer Mrs. Peters Mrs. Hale (73 )
Not only are the men’s given names included while the females’s are omitted, but the occupations of each man is listed; this represents how the identities of ladies are irrelevant, decreasing them to property owned by their other halves. The descriptions of the characters checked out substantial also. In the stage directions, the men are depicted as coming in first, wrapped and gathering to the fire, while Mrs. Peters is referred to as a “minor wiry lady” with “a thin worried face” and Mrs. Hale is “larger and would ordinarily be called more comfortable looking, however she is disrupted now and looks fearfully about as she gets in” (73 ). The illustrations of the females depict opposite characters and correspond throughout the play. While Mrs. Peters is less outspoken than Mrs. Hale, they each know their location below the males. Rather of going to the fire with the males, they “stand close together near the door”, signifying the social divide in between men and women (73 ). The men coming in first represents their higher position in society, whereas the women are seen as secondary, coming in after them. The ladies do not follow the males to the fire because they were not asked, indicating males’s authority and how women depend on their spouses.
Throughout the play, the guys’s condescending attitudes attempt to overpower the ladies, showing how men rule over females in society at that time. After Mrs. Peters discover Minne’s frozen fruit jars and reveals her concern, Mr. Hale comments that “ladies are used to fretting over trifles” (75 ). Right after this, the phase directions inform us that” [t] he 2 ladies move a little closer together,” showing that Mr. Hale’s words adversely affected them (75 ). Another essential example of the males’s contempt worries the quilt that Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discover. Mrs. Hale says this of the quilt: “It’s log cabin pattern. Pretty, isn’t it? I wonder if she was goin’ to quilt it or just knot it?” (78 ). While she states this, the guys come down the stairs, and the Sheriff repeats her words, drawing a laugh from the males. Their ridicule paints a clear photo on the vicious nature of males directed toward women at that time. While John Wright isn’t physically in the play, he is discussed as being a good male that “didn’t drink and kept his word along with many”; however, Mrs. Hale continues on stating “he was a tough man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him–(Shivers.) Like a raw wind that gets to the bone” (80 ). This illustration of John Wright highlights his dominance over Minnie, and while he puts up a moral façade, underneath it is a harsh, hard man who managed the home. Handling marriage, “The Statement of Sentiments” states that” [i] n the covenant of marital relationship, she is forced to guarantee obedience to her partner, he becoming, to all intents and functions, her master– the law offering him power to deprive her of her liberty” (Stanton 3). In Minnie’s marital relationship, John deprives her of contact with society, stifling her voice, and forces his supremacy on her, making her obey his orders. The men’s unsympathetic treatment towards females extinguishes the chance of equality in society, asserting themselves above the secondary females.
The ladies’s actions as an outcome of the guys’s callous treatment towards them reflect the various stages of contumacy performed by the ladies in society. When the County Attorney comments on the unclean towels in the Wrights’ kitchen and how Minnie is “very little of a maid”, Mrs. Hale “stiffly” replies with “There’s a lot of work to be done on a farm” (76 ). Plainly, the males have no regard for what ladies perform in the kitchen, and Mrs. Hale makes sure to challenge the legal representative, revealing she isn’t afraid to speak her mind by insulting the males who dare intrude in the kitchen where they believe they have no organisation. While Mrs. Hale sees no problems in being unrefined, Mrs. Peters declines to sign up with Mrs. Hale in making derisive statements. Rather, she tells Mrs. Hale that “it’s no more than [the guys’s] responsibility,” indicating her obedience towards her hubby (76 ). Mrs. Hale is resentful of the method the men believe they can come in and meddle with things, “attempting to get [Minine’s] house to turn versus her”; yet, Mrs. Peters disagrees with Mrs. Hale, stating “the law is the law” (78 ). Mrs. Peters protects the law and serves to represent ladies’s blind obedience to their hubbies, whereas Mrs. Hale stands to represent the rebellious side of women at that time, not backing down from the patriarchal society. Surprisingly, towards completion of the play, Mrs. Peters goes through an internal dispute that works as a turning point for her. After the ladies discover the bird and conceal it from the approaching males, it is Mrs. Peters who disobeys their questioning about where the bird went. After this exchange, the stage instructions state that” [t] he two ladies sit there not taking a look at one another, but as if peering into something and at the very same time keeping back. When they talk now it remains in the way of feeling their way over strange ground, as if scared of what they are stating, but as if they can not assist saying it”, which represents the stress they feel because the females know they simply lied (81 ). The females’s way of knowing leads them not simply to understanding, however likewise to the choice on how to act upon that understanding. As an outcome of embracing by doing this of knowing, the females are able to get power in being devalued, for their low status allows them to keep peaceful.
Minnie Foster’s life spirals downward after her marital relationship to John Wright, clearly obvious in the lack of maintenance in the kitchen area. Mrs. Hale appears to have a cherished memory of Minnie singing in the choir wearing a “white gown with blue ribbons”, highlighting her being widely known among other ladies back in the day (81 ). The color white represents purity and innocence, while blue indicates fact; Minnie’s gown represents her clinging to the truth of the innocence she had prior to marriage. Mrs. Hale also recalls Minnie’s activeness in the neighborhood, apparent when she states, “I heard she utilized to use quite clothes and be dynamic, when she was Minnie Foster” (77 ). From this details, the inference can be made that Minnie entered her marriage instantly and without providing it much idea. As Mrs. Hale later explains about the women of her society, “We live close together and we live far apart. All of us go through the same things– it’s all simply a different sort of the very same thing” (81 ). Minnie perhaps married because, as with other ladies, any other choices to do something else were null. Soon after her marriage, Minnie embraced the mindset of a battered female. John Wright assumes control over Minnie, marked by Mrs. Hale saying, “Wright was close. I think possibly that’s why she kept so much to herself. She didn’t even come from the Ladies’ Aid. I suppose she felt she couldn’t do her part, and then you don’t delight in things when you feel shabby” (77 ). The women find proof of this in Minne’s unfinished household chores, representing Minnie’s incomplete life in her marriage. After additional assessment of the kitchen, the ladies discover all but one damaged containers of cherry maintains. Cherries represent security, and the one container that didn’t freeze represents Minnie’s hope of getting away. After Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters understand what Minnie has done, Mrs. Hale concerns understand her actions behind it. She tells Mrs. Peters, “If I was you I wouldn’t inform her fruit was gone. Tell her it ain’t. Inform it’s all right” (81-82). This works to reveal the women’s understanding and defense over Minnie, swearing to keep her hope alive. Because of their shared gender, the ladies can empathize with Mrs. Wright’s discomfort, and they choose to conceal her criminal offense, concluding that her actions were justified.
Minnie’s state of mind degrades, ending up being more obvious in her desertion of the delights of her house, and in what appears to be a daily battle of survival. The women understand the crazy patterns denote Minnie’s disturbed mindset, which can just come from a battered female. Mrs. Hale discovers the stitching and remarks,” [T] his is the one she was working on, and take a look at the sewing! All the rest of it has been so good and even. And look at this! It’s all over the place! Why, it looks as if she didn’t understand what she was about!” (78 ). The change of the stitching represents Minnie’s spirit breaking when she could not take her husband’s abuse any longer. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover the bird cage, and they note that the door “appears somebody [has] been rough with it”, and Mrs. Hale gets distracted of a memory of Minnie, relating her to a bird, being “real sweet and quite, but kind of timid and– fluttery. How– she– did– change” (79-80). Birds represent liberty and the soul, and Minnie owning a bird represents her longing to be complimentary, however because John kept it in the cage, simply as he kept Minnie in your house, both fell short of the freedom they want. The canary represents joy, and the ladies believe it brightened Minnie’s attitude, provided with a new sense of hope. When the women find the bird wrapped in silk with a wrung neck, they understand that John eliminated it, robbing Minnie of her joy and restored expectations (80 ). In addition to the harsh death of Minnie’s only joy at the hands of her other half, the lots of years in a desiccated marriage drives Minnie to strike back at her other half, killing him in the exact same manner he eliminated her soul.
At the play’s end, the ladies join to work together to right the wrongs of Minnie’s crime. Once the guys’s backs are turned, the two women attempt to hide the box with the dead bird prior to the males see it. When Mrs. Peters attempts to put the box in her bag, it doesn’t fit, causing Mrs. Hale to take package and things it in her coat pocket. Since it takes both women to conceal the proof of Minnie’s actions, it represents how unity between women is needed to overcome the patriarchal society. In an ongoing program of gender unity, the men jokingly buy from the females’s participation throughout the play, hence, encouraging the women to prevail in hiding the bird due to the fact that they are cheapened, indicating they can hide the proof without being questioned. The play ends on the pun “knot it”, which recommends that the ladies are “not it” and will not be pinned for murder because they have actually knotted away their knowledge, referencing the bonds tying them together (82 ). As the title suggests, Trifles insinuates that the issues of ladies are typically thought about to be unimportant issues that bear little or no importance to the true work of society, which is being performed by men.