Gender Roles Essay Examples

Gender roles essay samples

Susan Glaspell brought to light how gender stereotypes and gender roles were very strong in her era. In her short story, Trifles, she created a scene of the aftermath of a murder with three men and two women present. She was able to point out that the ways of acting towards the opposite gender were culture-wide, not only pertaining to this narrative. The differences between men and women are made abundantly clear through the way the men spoke towards their wives, the conversations amongst the women, and the lack of involvement that the women have in jobs. These gender roles have been improved greatly upon since the time of Glaspell’s writing, but they show the origins of gender inequality run deep in the country.

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Role of Women in Trifles Play

tIn Trifles, the three men that are running the investigation repeatedly act condescending towards their wives and it is seemingly normal. It first becomes apparent that women are commonly believed to be less than men when Hale explains that “Women are used to worrying over trifles” (Glaspell 982). With this, he categorizes all females into the role of housekeepers who do not worry over matters of any importance. As the story unfolds, there is also the repeating joke among the men where they talk about the quilt that the women found. The county attorney asks, “have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it?” (987). While the men spent a long period of time doing what was considered the important jobs, they laugh about the fact that the ladies minds must only have been focused on quilting, a women’s role. Their remarks towards Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, exemplify the idea that women were much less than their male counterparts.

As the men are searching through the home, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are left alone to talk, and their words further depict the inequalities. Mrs. Peters acts almost ashamed of their discussions, saying “My, it’s a good thing the men couldn’t hear us. Wouldn’t they just laugh!” (989). She felt that to be concerned over the death of the canary would be laughable to their husbands, another reason to be made a joke of. Mrs. Hale also speaks of the duties that are women’s to take care of, in defense of Mrs. Wright. In response to the county attorney’s snide comments on the housekeeping, she declares “There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm” (982), and furthers her defense saying, “Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men’s hands aren’t always as clean as they might be” (982). These small comments that she makes help to illustrate the role of women being simply tending to the home and the cleaning for the men. She goes to show that this role actually is being underappreciated and does take much work as well.

Besides the obvious words being shared, the encounter itself also paints a clear picture of the strong differences in gender roles. A key fact to notice is that Hale, who did not have any described job that would prove relevant in an investigation, went along with other men in looking for evidence. The two wives, though, had no part in this. Just simply being a man was enough for Hale to share the powerful job of looking for evidence that could change Mrs. Wright’s life, but the two women both were only expected to gather belongings for her. The irony is that the women actually found much more in the investigation than the men did, but did not share this information as it would be out of place and would only hurt one of their own. Women were considered to be less than their husbands, more of a belonging to them. The court attorney says, “Mrs. Peters doesn’t need supervising. For that matter a sheriff’s wife is married to the law” (989). With this, her own individuality is taken away and she is only what her husband is. The role of women is shown throughout Glaspell’s play as a small one, of a keeper for their husbands.

Evidence That Women Are Equal to Men

Susan Glaspell does an excellent job of making a strong showcase of the downfalls of gender roles in her era. The play Trifles exemplifies the key differences between men and women in their jobs, their attitudes, and their exchanges. These differences put women at a disadvantage, and Glaspell is able to show these through her writing. The women’s finding of the evidence of motive helps to show her take that women are actually equal to the men in the tale. This is crucial in that this idea was not common of the time.

FAQ about Gender Roles

What role did the figure of the prostitute play in wider discussions of sexuality and gender?
...Most importantly she was a reflection of the 'double standard' that existed in English society at that time. Trumbach, however, concentrates too narrowly on the prostitutes role as defining masculinity when, in fact, she served as a model of female i...

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