The Trifle and the Poof are written by Susan Glaspell and Lynn Nottage, respectively. The Trifle was written in 1916, while the Poof was done in 1970. In both plays, the authors depict a culture where women are abused by husbands who later die due to domestic constraints. In the Trifle, the husband to Minnie is known as John Wright, while in the Poof, Samuel is the husband who is married to Laureen. The two plays show occasions where the two husbands die, and women seem to have got justice to a notable extent. Glaspell leaves the audience to ask what verdict was made against Minnie. Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Samuel got their justice according to what they wanted, but the impact of their spouses’ deaths may have made them guilty, which makes the justice to be illogical.
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Marital Abuse and the Extent of Justice to the Two women
In the Trifle, marital abuse is clearly depicted when the two ladies named Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discuss how Minnie’s husband, Mr. John Wright was oppressive to her. The women were wives of Henry Peters and Lewis Hale, who were serving as the local sheriff and a neighboring farmer respectively. At first, the extent of justice that Mrs. Wright gets seems to make her relived from marital constraints (Glaspell 34). The reason is that the concept of justice to Minnie is seen when both Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale conceal a bird killed by struggling by John Wright during their heated chaos at home with his wife, Mrs. Wright. The women allow men to go and investigate the cause of death, but they hide the probable cause of action that may have probed Mrs. Wright to ax her husband to death (Whale 27). In this matter, it is important to understand how Glaspell reveals the element of marital abuse by showing what women discussed when men went ahead to search for evidence against Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hales is seen regretting how she never used to pay a visit to Minnie because she understood her husband was oppressive and never gave her a chance to mingle around with people. The two women hide the killed bird in the play as they sympathize with Mrs. Wright about the occasion.
On a similar note to that of the Trifle, Nottage clearly shows the extent of justice for Laureen, the wife of murdered Samuel. The woman transitions from fear, anxiety to freedom and justice when her husband died mysteriously when they were arguing. Laureen can be seen uttering the word ‘Damn you to hell, Samuel!” (Nottage 47). Her husband completely turns to ashes from the utterance after a random fire consumes his body. Although the reader can be left wondering what powers led to the death of Laureen’s husband, it is clear that the spirits of Laureen would not give a damn when it comes to safeguarding the woman’s life (Uno et al. 65). Therefore, justice is served timely for Laureen, but the reader might have contention with the matter. To show more justice to Laureen, the police never solved Samuel’s death which means Laureen’s situation is solved. Hence, justice served her.
Spousal abuse and other sensitive relationships have changed since 1916. The reason is that through modern civilization, women are allowed to make decisions in their families and also work, unlike before when they were limited to housewifery. However, there is still some significant marital abuse today where their husbands physically or mentally assault women. Most contemporary audiences would judge John Wright and Samuel as primitive individuals who oppress their wives without reason. Some people would support the two men’s impact as justice for their inhumanity against their women. The backstories are important elements as they help develop the ideas the authors want to pass. For example, the instruction of Florence, who shares the same problem with Laureen, helps Nottage maintain the faction that spousal abuse against women was evident.
The marital situations for Minnie and Laureen make them be incapacitated in terms of social interaction with the outer world, which in the end, makes them live unhappily. The future of both women may have been characterized by peace with guilty. Minnie and Laureen may have discovered they needed to solve the matter instead of wishing their husbands to be dead. In addition, the two women may have lived a life of regrets that might have affected their state of wellbeing.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. Frank Shay, The Washington Square Players, 1916.
Nottage, Lynn. Poof! BPPI, 1993.
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Uno, Roberta, et al. Contemporary Plays by Women of Color: An Anthology. Routledge, 2017.
Wale, Instr. Kamal. “Expressionism In Susan Glaspell’s Trifle.” Allstate Journal for Human and Social Sciences, vol 219, no. 1, 2018, pp. 25-38. The University of Baghdad – College of Education – Ibn Rushd for Human Sciences, Web.