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Trifles Gender Conflict Essay

In the play Trifles, there seems to be one conflict that stays consistent through the entire play. The conflict of gender roles between male and female. The play itself is about the investigation and murder of Mr. Wright. Who has been found dead in his bed that looks to be a murder from a rope around his neck. The play takes place where the body was found, inside the Wrights household. Investigating is County Attorney George Henderson, and Sheriff Henry Peters. Included in the play also is Lewis Hale a neighboring farmer, and the wives of Mr. Peters and Mr. Hale.

The background of the play was written by Susan Glaspell in 1916 as a woman sensitive to feminist issues. An apparent reason of why gender conflict is so evident through the entire play. From the very start of the play you can see the separation between make and female. “The women have come in slowly, and stand close together near the door,” (1366) Susan Glaspell has a very good writing style in her stage direction of giving the play a suspenseful feel.

From the very first line of the play you can see the separation between male and female, “This feels good. Come up to the fire, ladies. ” Says the County Attorney, “I’m not-cold,” responds Mrs. Peters. ”(1367) Intriguing and thoughtful the conflict continues directly after, “not much of a housekeeper, would you say ladies? ” says Hale, “Theirs is a great deal of work to be done on a farm,” Mrs. Hale replies and goes on to say “Men’s hands aren’t always as clean as they might be. ” (1369)Continuously throughout the play the women when asked for opinions defend their sex.

They stand their ground multiple times, as if Susan Glaspell is trying to get men of her time to view life through a woman’s eyes and the bias differences. The men finish their investigation up downstairs and proceed upstairs to leave the ladies to collect and check on some things at the request of Mrs. Wright. The minute the men leave Mrs. Hale states, “I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen snooping around and criticizing. ” This line creates tension and animosity of how the ladies feel towards the men. The ladies continue to talk about Mrs.

Wright and the changes they have heard about her over the years. “I heard she use to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that-oh, that was thirty years ago. ” (1370)This starts to provoke thoughts of what could have changed such a nice lady into a murder suspect. The rest of the scene is composed of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters trying to decide if they think Mrs. Wright was really capable of doing such a horrific act.

Mrs. Peters says “ Mr. Peters says it looks bad for her. Mr. Henderson is awful sarcastic in a speech and he’ll make fun of her sayin’ she didn’t wake up. ” (1370) They continue on in the investigation and find a quilt. Mrs. Hale says “ I wonder if she was just going to quilt it or knot it! ” followed by a sarcastic response by the Sheriff “They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it! ”(1371) It could now not be more evident that the men do not take anything serious that the women are saying. As if they are naive and know nothing a man could know.

The men then proceed out to the barn to look for more evidence as if there could be something out there. The women stay in and continue to look around. They find a bird cage that has been broke open and look to be handled roughly. “I s’pose maybe the cat got it,” says Mrs. Hale, “No, she didn’t have a cat” replied Mrs. Peters . (1372) This comes important in the gender conflict later in the play as the men arrive back later. The women continue on to gather things for Mrs. Wright while she is in jail. They then make the startling discovery of the dead bird. Somebody-wrung-its-neck. ’’ Says Mrs. Peters . (1373) This both frightens the ladies and then they start to hear the men come back and hide what they have just discovered.

“Well, ladies have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it? ” The County Attorney says. “We think she was going to-knot it,” Replied Mrs. Peters. (1373) A sarcastic question from the men not knowing this tied directly into the murder. The County Attorney asks about the bird and the Mrs. Hale replied “We think the cat got it. (1373) A much different reply then earlier in the play when they knew she had no cat. The men then leave to check back upstairs and give the ladies a moment to really grasp the discovery they have just made. After the silence, they talk about Mr. Wright how he would of hated the bird and hated children. He hated singing and referred to him as being the reason Mrs. Wright must of stopped. They lived out in the middle of no where with not many contacts with anyone, and made a point to see the bird was all Mrs. Wright had.


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