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Trifles Drama Feminist Literally Criticism

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Feminist criticism deals with the manner in which literature tends to undermine or reinforce social, political, psychological wellbeing and economic position of the women in the society. This literarly theory focuses on the way cultures are patriarchal and tend to undermine the role of women in major areas. It also tends to reveal male’s negative attitude towards women. However, women have stood still to fight against male chauvinism in the society, the main roles and responsibilities being reproductive, productive, social and political. Essentially, women were primarily given the role of reproduction and raising children in home and taking care of their husband. Susan, a literature writer lived during those days when women had no say in the society. Due to this, Glaspell’s drama tends to criticize society for undermining the views of the women. This is especially evident in her dram ‘Trifles’. The author has used a sympathetic voice for the women and bases his stand as a voice of the women in the society. A feminist literary analysis of Trifles drama depicts this particularly through its title, conflict, role, character and major themes.

To start with, the title plays a great role in uncovering the major themes and helps to understand the text better. In the drama, the title eludes insignificant and superficial themes. Nevertheless, the truth of the title is far from this. The drama is quiet fascinating at the beginning due to various events. In her play, the two women, Mrs Hale and Mrs Peters who are brought together with the attorney and sheriff to recover some stuff for a wife, Mrs Wright is also accused of killing her own husband. However, Mr Wright is the one who makes or rather come up with evidence to charge the accused. Notably, the title of the drama is ironic as it helps the readers to depict what is ‘trifles’ and silly to men in try to solve the murder case before them.

The drama has two major women playing important roles throughout the play. These are Mrs Peters and Mrs Hales. The two women come from a humble farmhouse to collect some items from Mr. Wright. Mrs Hale is the wife of Mr Hale who comes across the body of Mr. Wright. On the other hand, Mrs Peter is the wife of Sheriff. The play starts when the attorney, Mr. Hale and Sheriff enters in the farmhouse accompanied by Mrs. Peters and Mrs Hale. Evidently, Mr Hale reports to the county attorney how he found Mr Wright sitting distant in a rocking chair. Mr Hale asks for Mr. Wright but she alludes to him that he is no more. Notably, the men are seen going in the bedroom and leaves behind the two women. The men start to collect evident to establish whether Mrs. Wright could have killed her own husband. The men come across a broken birdcage and slain canary which they could use as prove that Mrs. Wright was guilt.

Ultimately, the men conclude that Mrs. Wright killed her husband when he killed her cheerful bird and thus she may have been revenging. Essentially, feminists literary seeks to uncover the role of women in characterization. They suppose that “women can not be termed as demons or either angle…such characterizations must be discovered and criticized” (Bressler, 183). In the broad-spectrum of the stage show, a reader can with ease understand the role given to the women during that time. Their role is evident as briefly social, reproductive being the main one. These kinds of roles and responsibilities assigned to the women make them to be place in places such as kitchen thus expecting them to cook and look after their children and husband.

In addition, it is evident that women roles are dictated by their husbands. This is particularly evident as all women in the play Minnie excluded are not given first names rather their husband’s names is used. This reflects how these women are not independent at all. The Attorney eludes, “a sheriff’s wife is married to the law” (Glaspell 10). More importantly, Mrs. Peters attempts to accomplish that task by saying, “Mrs. Hale, the law is the law” (Glaspell 5).

Literally, there are many conflicts in the ‘Trifles.’ The main conflict is portrayed in the dialogues. On the other hand, before her marriage, Mrs. Wright was a very cheery woman and this stands as the reason this woman is given the first name in the drama. On the other side, Minnie was a very lively and an independent person before her big marriage. However , in the present as per the ‘Trifles’, the lady is fed up with her current marriage due to the oppression she is accorded by Mr. Wright and that’s the beginning of her attempts to retrieve her rights (Glaspell, 2). As a result of Minnie’s attempts, her man tries his best to kill her spirit and that stands as the reason of the experienced domestic conflicts between the two spouses as an example of what happens to many others. The same is discussed in the madwoman in the attic “her battle is not against her precursors reading of the world but against his reading of her” (Gilbert and Gubar, 56) .

Another conflict displayed is the one between Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters where they try to show the evidence to their men. The two women have to choose whether to the lawful or the right thing according to their conscience or to stay loyal to their esteemed fellow woman. In addition, the men’s degrading view towards the women accelerates the pain and increases the conflict. All of these mentioned conflicts on the part of the unlawful deeds create so much tension to those involved and to a bid extend influencing the action. Nevertheless, despite the conflicts representation in the conversation of the two women the words themselves boost the pains creating more tension hence the conflicts (Glaspell, 4). The settings and the dialogue portrayed in the “Trifles” are very important occasions in the drama. The setting is described as the Wrights monotonous igloo that is described as “ left without having being put in order”(Glaspell, 13) dirty pans under the sink, a loaf of a bread in the outer surface of the loaf box , a saucer towel on the portion table among other cryptogram portrayed for more digestion. The disorganized description of the kitchen circumstances state is a further description of how women are portrayed in respect to Mrs. Wright drastically points her perplexed state of the wits. In the drama, at this point Mrs. Wright has killed her husband after a series of attempts. This leaves her nervous and perplexed and this is vividly showed through her incomplete work in the kitchen, “where she lives most.” Moreover, the discourse is most significant because it enables further perceptive of the drama. Furthermore, most of the men’s dialogues towards the women express sarcasm and humiliation.

In patriarchal communities, men never take women’s feelings seriously. For instance, when Mrs. Peters expresses her sorrows for the freezing of Mrs. Wrights preserves, the Sheriffs say, “well, can you beat the women! held for murder and worrying about her preserves”(Glaspell, 7). In the context where the women talk about the knot, the knot has two meanings; one meaning is that Mrs. Wright is, going actually knot the quilt but the other is that she knots the rope around her husband neck as she chokes him (Glaspell, 10). This accomplishment proves that Mrs. Wright has finally grip her strength and has affirmed power just as she should have finished long time ago. Mrs. Wright’s choice of words reflects women’s compassionate feelings towards their fellow women.

The main theme of the “Trifles” is women oppression that is expressed by men’s point of views towards women. In the play, men treat women as if they are mindless worthless puppets whose only role is to serve them as “Men”. The play criticizes this type of speaking to women by showing that the “Trifles” that the women are worrying about actually solves the case and not the brains of the trained men does. The author uses the formal elements in the play as a part to help convey the feminist’s argument. That is to say that the title, the dialogues, the characters and the conflicts all work together not only to portray the picture of Minnie’s life with John but by all means portray the image of all women who live under oppression. In the “Trifles”, the male characters are regarded as intellectually superior to their wives (Jabboury, 13). However, the author portrays her female characters as witty who secretly win over their male prejudice.


Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice.  NewJersey: Prentice Hall, 2011.

Gilbert, Sandra m. and Suan Gubar. The Mad Woman in The Attic. New Haven: YaleUP, 1979.

Glaspell, Susan. Trifles.

Jabboury, Latifa Ismael. The Significance of Symbolism in Conveying the Feminist Perspective in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles. Baghdad: The University of Mustansiriya, Web. 8 April2013.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: a user-friendly guide . New York: Routledge,2006.Web.

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