Trifles by Susan Glaspell highlights perceptions, thought processes, labels, and stereotypes surrounding the inferior perception of women during the early 19th century. The play illustrates repeated neglect and alienation of three females by male colleagues, symbolizing their suffrage at the time of the play. Although the female gender was regarded as inferior, evidence suggests that the interpretation of their place in society by men was a misconception.
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The first misconception was that women’s role in society was restricted to house chores while men’s roles were mainly outdoor, including working in the industries such as construction work. Indeed, the illustration is evident through the Sheriff’s statement that their roles were ‘nothing but kitchen things’ (Glaspell 1128). In other words, the ascription of these roles as nothing illustrates inferiority, and the kitchen elaborates the confinement of their territories to house duties. Indeed, Mays argues that in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, the industrial revolution ignited “transformations” culminating in the emergence of middle-class women who sought to improve other female’s circumstances (520). Glaspell is an example who provides insight into the misconception that women would only perform house duties through defying the norm and venturing into literature writing.
The second misconception is based on the disregarding of what women say as irrelevant and not necessary. An example is when Mrs. Peters comments on Mrs. Wright’s worry about freezing fruit. However, the Sheriff fires back, asking his male colleagues whether they would beat their wives. In turn, the men respond by stating that females often worry about trifles or things of no value (Glaspell 3). However, the statement is untrue because the females in the play find more compelling evidence about the murder than men. Mays concurs by stating they played a significant role as even house chores were “very hard … that it was hard for a house to run without the role of women” (520). The argument depicts that females performed essential functions, unlike the wrong interpretation of their inferiority in society.
In conclusion, the illustration of females in the time of Trifles’ writing was a misconception. As elaborated, females performed essential duties, which were the basis of family survival, including food provision. Equally, they also defied these stereotypes by venturing into the literature to illustrate their time’s happenings. Overall, even though men regarded them as inferior during the early 20th century, these perceptions were unsupported as women performed essential functions in society.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles: A play in One Act. Baker’s Plays, 2010.
Mays, Kelly J. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 13th ed., WW Norton & Company, 2018.