Trifles: Woman and Mr. Peters Essay

1473 Words Oct 18th, 2008 6 Pages
Since the 1900’s, women have struggled with gender roles in society that leaned more in favor of men. Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles, reflects on this struggle by blatantly separating the ideas, opinions and actions of the men and women in the play. As the title Trifles suggests, the men in the play view the two women’s concerns as unimportant and frivolous in comparison to the “real” work the men have to do. Glaspell’s characterization of the sheriff, Henry Peters, the attorney, George Henderson, and the neighboring farmer, Mr. Hale, portrays them as typical men of the time who decide to take charge because, as men, that is their duty and only they know what can be done and how to go about discovering the truth. They only take along Mrs. …show more content…
Concerning the women, Mr. Peters has as much respect for them as is considered polite. He does not appreciate their womanly “duties” and certainly doesn’t think anything of their disquiet. After Mrs. Peters realizes that the fruit preserves have frozen and makes mention of it, Mr. Peters exclaims, “Well, can you beat a woman! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves” (1371). This particular quote demonstrates Mr. Peters’s lack of respect for women and the things they have to worry about in the way he teases his own wife, for whom he obviously does not have much respect. He shows this lack of respect once again when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover the quilt, comment about it, and he teases, “They wonder is she was going to quilt it or just knot it!” (1373) Glaspell reveals Mr. Peters to be ignorant and disrespectful--despite his position as a man, a man of the law, and his own personal assumption of control. Like Mr. Peters, the attorney, George Henderson, is a man of the law, though younger than Mr. Peters and Mr. Hale. Due to the generational differences, one would assume that Henderson has a more modern respect for women and is more aware and observant. Mr. Henderson displays quite the opposite, proving that simply being a man of intellectual or higher position does not necessarily make one superior. Glaspell’s portrayal of Mr. Henderson is similar to that of her portrayal of Mr. Peters, as

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