Understanding Feminism in Susan Glaspell's Trifles Essay

1576 Words Oct 2nd, 2012 7 Pages
Melissa Prather
English 102
Research Paper
May 8th, 2012
Understanding Feminism in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles Susan Glaspell lived during a time where women’s rights were not fully acknowledged. The oppression of women during this time stretched to the point that they were not truly acknowledged as their own person. They were to be seen and not heard so to speak. Their sole purpose was to take care of their families by keeping house and performing their caretaker duties. Glaspell even demonstrates in her story that the women in this town were referred to as someone’s wife and not as their own individual person. In her play titled Trifles, she shows that women are smarter than the men in their lives give them credit for. Glaspell
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As Phyllis Mael has stated, one could even liken this to putting the pieces together “like patches in a quilt” (281). The ladies even view the dead canary in a different way, saying that Mr. Wright “wouldn’t like the bird – a thing that sang” (Glaspell 1328) where as the men did not think anything of it. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale noticed that Mrs. Wright must have truly loved the bird based on the pretty box she had placed it in for it’s impending burial. This helps them to decide to cover up the items so they would not serve as evidence as motive for the murder, but as things that are unimportant and frivolous as the men believe. The ladies were able to achieve this as they had access to the evidence and they were able to analyze it accordingly. Suzy Clarkson Holstein noted that these women have “access to knowledge because it is assumed they will not be able to make intelligent use of it” when they were ultimately able to change the course of the case (284). The ladies were able to use the men’s view of women as a protective cloak to hide Mrs. Wright’s actions. Mrs. Wright’s role in Glaspell’s play is one that shows how a woman can eventually self-destruct if she is required to suppress her own wants and desires to be able to meet the needs of her husband. Before becoming Mrs. Wright, Minnie Foster was a lovely girl full of hope and life. She loved to sing and she was a genuinely happy person that enjoyed the finer aspects of life.

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