The Struggle for Women's Rights

Published: 2021-06-29 06:54:05
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Category: Book Reports

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Trifles (1916), a play by Susan Glaspell , was written at a time when women were becoming active politically and challenging their roles in society. They were realizing that their identities as wives were causing them to be recognized as subordinate to men. Due to their demands for more rights and independence, institutions, especially marriage, were starting to be reexamined. On the surface Glaspell's play is about finding who murdered John Wright but by taking a more in depth view the reality is that the focus is on women's roles in society, their shared experiences, and according to Janet L. Grose, "the confining environments that frustrate the full development of human potential".
During the opening moments of the play the subordinate role of women, most notably the role that Minnie Wright has in her marriage, is apparent when Mr. Hale makes the observation that the victim John Wright did not think much of his wife's opinions: "I didn't know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John -". Here Mr. Hale is suggesting that Mrs. Wright was powerless against her husband's wishes and implying that Mrs. Wright's thoughts and actions were being controlled by her husband, who had been trying to destroy her will to live by forcing her to stay home alone, doing repetitive chores. Her only source of power then at home was her kitchen work, something which Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale could understand because their own actions are also dictated by their husbands. Later on when Sheriff Peters makes fun of Minnie for having been concerned about her preserves, he is actually criticizing all three women for worrying about housework instead of the murder that was just committed. "Well, can you beat the women: Held for murder and worryin' about her preserves". The sheriff's statement comes as an assumption that the lives of the women are insignificant and it is this attitude that influences the opinions of all three men.

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