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Trifles by Susan Glaspell

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In Susan Glaspell’s one-act play Trifles, the author illustrates the inequity of gender-bound limits placed on women in the early 1900’s and the insignificance of their contributions outside the household. By exhibiting two different perspectives between men and women and using literary devices such as characterization and symbolism, Glaspell conveys the sexist oppression towards women and the prejudiced superiority of the men who dictated their lives.

Immediately, the author establishes a feminist-based foundation by instituting its setting in the kitchen. The kitchen, typically regarded as a woman’s workplace or domain and solely associated with the female sex, followed by the men’s inconsiderate intrusion of Mrs. Wright’s kitchen, represents the dominance of men and their disregard towards women’s privacy. As the characters are introduced, the author utilizes characterization to further enforce the discrimination of women. While the men’s names and positions are given in full, the women’s first names are omitted and no social statuses or positions are provided; they are merely referred to as “the women” or the men’s wives. By bypassing the first names of the two women and only referring to them by their surnames, the author conveys the absolute authority of the male sex and the discriminatory manner in which women’s identities were constantly overshadowed by the opposite sex. As the women express their concern about Mrs. Wright and the state of her household, the men state that “women are used to worrying over trifles,” revealing the irony of the title and the play itself. Though the men disregard the women’s observations and pass them off as trivial, meaningless matters, they become the very evidence that leads to solving the case. The masculinity and logic of the men’s reasoning proves to be drastically ineffective in comparison to the empathetic thinking of the women, and their incompetence utterly contradicts the treatment of women during the time.

As the women observe the scene, each household object they note becomes a contributing factor to both solving the crime as well as emphasizing the general theme of the play. The house itself is described as gloomy and disorganized, and the cold is so severe that Mrs. Wright’s preserved fruit freeze and break. The frigidity and disorder of the house reflects the bleakness of the Wright’s marriage and the disarray of her mental and emotional state, while

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