Gender Conflict In Susan Glaspell's Trifles

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Women belong in the kitchen, or so the sexist joke goes. Perhaps this joke came from the 1900’s when all women were allowed to work in was the kitchen. Women were just beginning to stand up and demand equal treatment. They were putting it out there for the world to see they did not just belong in the kitchen. In Susan Glaspell’s effective feminist classic Trifles, the central conflict is driven by a gender issue: the opposition of the sexes.

The gender opposition is shown through the setting in a couple ways. The first way in which the setting reveals this conflict is the time or era in which it was written. The play was written in 1916, a time when society was basically dominated by men. Women had no rights and were considered inferior.
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In the play “three men, who arrogantly discard the women’s world of “kitchen things” as a world of “trifles,” remain unsuccessful in their own officious search for clues to a motive which would win their case against Minnie Wright in court” (Hinz- Bode 55). They are constantly undermining the women with their sexist attitudes. In the exposition of the play the sheriff made the comment, “Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worrying about her preserves” (Glaspell 604). Mr. Hale responds, “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles” (Glaspell 604). These men cannot understand why the women would worry about such petty things like fruit. They lack the “growing sense of community which develops in the awareness of shared female experiences” (Hinz-Bode 55). Mrs. Hale shows this bond that women from that area share when she says, “I know how things can be- for women… We all go through the same things- it’s all just a different kind of the same thing” (Glaspell 610). The women understand the subtle signs, such as the broken preserves and messed up quilting, for what they really are. The women and men have two different worlds, two different ways of experiencing life. The men are looking for signs that would normally lead to a male murderer. Perhaps they cannot quite think a woman capable of committing such a crime. Nevertheless, they are not thinking like females, which is precisely …show more content…
The title Trifles is ironic itself because the play is about murder, which is no trifle. The men are constantly referring to the women as having trifles. Little do they know that these so called “trifles” are the pieces of evidence they have been searching for. The women find the quilt that Mrs. Wright had been working on and discover that the last piece had been sewn somewhat crazy. This is a clue she may have committed the crime. They also discover a cage and a bird’s dead body. Again the men dismiss this as a trifle. The men used this word to describe the type of interests the women displayed, but it was those interests that caused the women to fall upon what the men had been looking for throughout the entire play. The men are still undermining the women. After all, they are just women, what would they know? It is also ironic that the women are the ones to solve the crime instead of the men. Throughout the play the men are running about searching for evidence, while the women are in the kitchen gathering Minnie’s things. While the men turn up nothing new, the women piece everything together on their own without meaning to. The role of a detective, normally a man’s role, has been switched to the women in the play. The women make the most important conclusions and explore incentives for the crime. Glaspell implies a sense of insight on the part of the women and not the men. The men think that looking at the quilt

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