The male-dominated society of the early 1900’s was flourishing throughout the time that Susan Glaspell was composing ‘Trifles’, her one-act play. Ladies did not deserve to vote and had badly restricted chances in the professional arena. They were expected to remain autonomous, subservient to their spouses, and bear kids. In many methods, guys viewed women as things without any personal objectives, interests, original thoughts or intellectual liberty.
Among the major themes that Susan Glaspell touches on in ‘Trifles’ is the authenticity of a woman’s fight for her individual freedom. From the murder of John Wright to the choice to keep information from police, the actions and dialogue of the play’s female characters embody the theme of efficient female empowerment.
Minnie Wright’s decision to murder her partner represents the consequential and unyielding nature of a lady’s desire for liberation. We find out that Minnie, whose first name is Foster, was a lively and fun choir singer who valued her singing family pet canary prior to her marriage to John Wright. Nevertheless, her overprotective hubby quickly put a stop to all the activities that made Minnie pleased, making her feel trapped in a loveless, overbearing union. Her extreme actions show her ultimate rejection of the lifestyle her partner imposes upon her. Minnie’s desire to be free of her patriarchal chains override her concern about the consequences of her actions. In Chapter 8 ‘Writing About Literature’, Edgar Roberts asserts that “characters and their actions can often be related with certain concepts and worths” (127 ). This holds true when it comes to Minnie Wright’s fight for her self-reliance. Deciding to take fate into her own hands, she kills her hubby in the very same method he killed her loved bird: strangulation. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, when speaking of Mrs. Wright, ponder about the conditions that may have influenced her extreme choice to murder her husband.
MRS. PETERS. […] I have actually seen [John Wright] in town. They say he was a great male.
MRS. HALE. Yes-good; he didn’t drink. And kept his word along with the majority of, I guess, and paid his financial obligations. However he was a tough man, Mrs. Peters. Just to kill time of day with him-Like a raw wind that gets to the bone (397-398).
It is through this discussion that the audience gets a real sense of how John Wright’s cold, callous character emboldened Minnie’s desire for freedom, turning it into an outstanding force. Although Minnie does not ever appear in the play, the audience gets a sense of how entirely miserable and desperate she remained in her marriage after her husband removed her self-reliance and identity. In the character of Mrs. Wright, Glaspell creates a radical and inspired female rebel who best exemplifies the play’s theme. The female desire to get liberty and self-reliance can manifest into an unstoppable, and in this case, deadly, force, particularly if a female is intensely oppressed.
The discussions in between Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters support ‘Trifles” overriding style: a female’s defend her self-reliance. Throughout the play, these 2 characters consistently express compassion towards Minnie Wright. At first, they reveal this sympathy slackly as they read her possessions and even try to assist sew her quilt. Nevertheless, the more the two females continue their conversations, the stronger their commitments towards Minnie become as they recognize the real worth of ladies banding together to achieve independence from men. One conversation comes soon after Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover Minnie’s birdcage:
MRS. HALE. … But I inform you what I do wish, Mrs. Peters. I wish I had actually come over sometimes when she was here. I-I-wish I had.
MRS. PETERS. But naturally you were dreadful busy, Mrs. Hale-your house and your kids.
MRS. HALE. I might’ve come. I kept away since it weren’t joyful- which’s why I ought to have come. […] I wish I had actually come over to see Minnie Foster in some cases. I can see now-
MRS. PETERS. Well, you should not reproach yourself, Mrs. Hale. Somehow we just do not see how it is with other folks until-something comes up (397 ).
Both ladies are sorry for that they did not do enough to assist their fellow woman, who was having a hard time to find comfort in her marital relationship before her situation became unfixable. They feel that they have actually in some way betrayed their own gender by not taking the effort to break totally free themselves, and likewise recognize that by doing nothing, they have actually caught the male-dominated society. Their own marriages are similar Minne’s, which plainly drove her over the edge. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are sorry for that they might not save Minnie from her life of oppression and isolation, and they fix to atone for the lapse by helping her now.
In settlement for their neglect, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters keep the evidence of the play’s main murder mystery from the Sheriff and County Attorney. This is the supreme display screen of the female empowerment versus a patriarchal society. Throughout the play, the Sheriff and County Lawyer pride themselves on their powers of detection and rational thinking to solve the criminal offense that has brought them to the Wright house. However, it is the two females who discover the “smoking gun”: a dead canary in a box that the 2 guys had actually dismissed as a trifling distraction. From this hint, Mrs. Hale and Mrs Peters deduce that Minnie Wright was likely fully responsible for her partner’s murder, the criminal offense the guys are trying to solve. However, because the Constable and County Lawyer are consistently rude and misogynistic towards them, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters become reluctant to expose the important proof they discover.
MRS. PETERS. My, it’s an advantage the males could not hear us. Wouldn’t they just laugh! Getting all stimulated over a little thing like a– dead canary. As if that could have anything to do with-with-wouldn’t they laugh!
MRS. HALE. [Under her breath] Maybe they would-maybe they wouldn’t (399 ).
Mrs. Hale understands that proper justice in this case would require penalizing everyone who had actually neglected and isolated Minnie Wright, including the men of the law. In a time when order were important to the functioning of 20th Century society, withholding details from the authorities would have been rather improbable, particularly in a case where a female was the perpetrator. When Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters realize that their alliance with Minnie is more important than the concept of patriarchal task and justice, Mrs. Hale puts package with the dead canary in her pocket, hiding the prosecuting evidence from the overbearing men. The Sheriff and County Attorney are browsing Minnie’s home to look for clues to solve the murder, and with no evidence, they will fail to serve their precious justice. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters’ choice is the “nail in the coffin” of this case, since Minnie can not be indicted without the evidence. Their actions show the power of a woman’s mission for freedom.
From the discussion between Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters to the suggested actions of the play’s female protagonist, Glaspell suggests that when a female feels the slightest little expect liberation from an overbearing society or individual, she is capable of wielding unstoppable force. Minnie Wright had a hard time to maintain a sense of peace and happiness in her marital relationship to John Wright, and was eventually faced with a severe decision. She took action in spite of what society expected of her. Minnie’s mission for liberation bubbles over in the cold-blooded murder of her partner. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters’ rebellion manifests itself in their methodical and strategic decision to keep vital proof. Glaspell’s play provides the concept that when ladies discover the possibility of freedom from the institutionalized male superiority, it can turn into a substantial force of nature.