Guilt And True Justice In Susan Glaspell's Trifles

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When Susan Glaspell wrote Trifles in 1916, Dr. Lenore Walker had not yet coined the term “battered woman syndrome” in her book, The Battered Woman; the United States’ court records contained no precedent for the use of battered woman syndrome as a defense for murder (Rivers-Schutte 7). It is, however, a fair assumption to suggest that Mrs. Hale, had she been privy to the research and studies on battered woman syndrome, would believe that Mrs. Wright suffered from battered woman syndrome, and her potential role in the murder of her husband is defensible—justified even. While Glaspell’s short play did not give all the necessary information to judge Mrs. Wright’s guilt or innocence fairly, she did offer more than enough information to decide if …show more content…
The justice system was designed to decrease the number of innocent people being wrongly convicted while largely ensuring criminals do not go unpunished; any lawful conviction requires a high standard of evidence—without evidence, the truth is often too elusive to ascertain. In the case of the murder of Mr. Wright, the evidence existed, but due to Mrs. Hale’s moral failure, the truth likely remained unknown. By denying the opportunity to discover the truth, Mrs. Hale may have allowed Mrs. Wright to walk free—a woman who showed signs of mental instability and a lack of remorse for her actions. When it comes to a matter as serious as murder, there is little room for moral ambiguity; both parties involved deserved an impartial trial and no amount of evidence, or lack thereof, should change that. If Mrs. Hale had any respect for justice and morality, she would have divulged her findings …show more content…
Hale’s obvious lack of moral decency, supporters of her decision will argue that Mrs. Hale was justified in protecting Mrs. Wright by withholding evidence on the basis that Mr. Wright was, according to Mrs. Hale, “a hard man” (1114). This argument implies that Mrs. Wright was so mistreated and abused by Mr. Wright, that he deserved any retaliatory violence stemming from her abuse—a classic case of battered woman syndrome. Although battered woman’s syndrome is a practical defense for homicide in certain situations, evidence must be presented to support the claim that Mrs. Wright was under constant abuse and suffered traumatic stress as a result. Mrs. Hale’s opinion of the Wright’s marriage, and of John himself, is not tantamount to evidence of abuse. Based solely on the evidence in the play, there is no possible way to reach the conclusion that John Wright did in fact mentally or physically abuse his

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