Susan Glaspell's Trifles Critique the Way Our Perceptions of Gender Influence Our Ways of Seeing the World

Although they are prevalent in today's society, equity and equality are not universal. The need for human equality is acknowledged by society. The particular viewpoint did not exist before the 20th century because men dominated all aspects of living. Women were not given much weight in the community back then. Women were traditionally expected to work in the kitchen, where they would bake bread, serve dinners, and preserve fruits and jellies. The women were expected by society to take excellent care of their families and husbands. In the 19th century saw the emergence of great feminist writers such as Fanny Fern Kate Chopin and Susan Keating Glaspell to advocate for women’s rights. Glaspell, for instance, wrote the novel Jury of Her Peers and Trifles that tackled issues of women in feminist perspectives. These prominent literary figures were inspirational and paved the way for other great female writers in the 20th century. The paper examines Susan Glaspell's Trifles critique on perceptions of gender that influence our ways of seeing the world.

Perceptions of Gender

Susan Glaspell based her story on a real event that took place in Iowa, Glaspell’s place of birth, in 1900. At the time, the author was working as a reporter in one of the media companies. The play Trifles is a murder story where John Wright was found strangled in his bed. Minnie Foster Wright was the key suspect because the husband was strangled to death besides her. Minnie never woke up or raised the alarm. The local sheriff Henry Peters and the country attorney, George Henderson met Minnie’s friend as they launched investigations into the murder. The men were busy looking for evidence, but Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters found some evidence in the trifles the suspect wife had left in the kitchen. The gender differences and men’s sexist attitude helped in looking down on women. The men ignore women’s world thus remain blind and cannot see the truth right in front of their eyes.

Women have the ability to investigate and carry out investigations into a given scenario and uncover the truth just like the men. The five men and three women are the main characters in the play that never had Mr. and Mrs. Wright appear anywhere in the play. The women were the minority and perhaps inferior. Trifle symbolized the view of men over women. “Women are used to worrying over trifles” (Glaspell In Winchell and Glaspell 401). The men isolate and view women as trifles and trivialize the many tasks carried out. Ironically, as the men searched for clues, the women were able to discover insights to the mysterious murder in Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s house. Both men and female are energetic, self-confident and eager to find out the truth from the beginning to the end. The group represented masculinity and could not find anything. From the feminist world, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale described the oppressed women in the male-dominated society. The women moved a few steps around the house confused, shy and talked in low tones. Sheriff noticed the women talk “they wonder whether if she was quilt it or just knot it” (Glaspell In Winchell and Glaspell 405).The intention was not to find any evidence, and when they landed into some clues, they reluctantly accepted its importance.

Men should learn to listen and understand their women. The sex of the interpreter is of crucial importance in the play. The men controlled the authority and led the world. In spite of the powers, the men fail to understand the women who are close to them. What is important to one gender is not vital to the other. The men in the kitchen could only identify how messy and untidy Mrs. Wright was. However, to Mrs. Peters and Hale, something had gone terribly wrong. The women read the disorderly kitchen in both mental and physical perspective thus interpreting the implication of the details. The attorney stated that Mrs. Peter her wife belonged to him and “for that matter, a sheriff's wife is married to the law” (Glaspell In Winchell and Glaspell, 405).

Mrs. Wright sacrificed to satisfy her husband’s demand and maintain the status quo. She remained in isolation, alienation and quiet life. If Mrs. Wright found guilty, the men could have concluded that women have two sides. The women needed to be submissive, obedient and silent while on other they were monsters, conniving and very deceitful. Women such as Mrs. Wright became critical and challenged male dominance thus result to demonic action and killed his husband. The women can manipulate domestic sphere to ensure that the husband attended duties responsibility without oppression. Women can plot and manipulate situations while fighting for their rights and justices.


Glaspell in the play Trifle used characters, symbolism and descriptive language to illustrate that individuals’ residence and way of living can contribute towards the introduction to a private hell. In the play, the audience discovers that things may look different if given a deeper meaning. Sometimes people must view what surrounds them differently. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are products of oppressing society that deny them freedom of speech and thinking. Their lives are miserable due to men dominance. Also, the Mrs. Wright had to contend with John Wright’s abnormal personality and killed him. The women denied the right to speak were able to sabotage the investigation after finding out the evidence the men were searching. The men tend to have the attention from stories of this nature. However, Glaspell enables the audience to open their eyes. From a woman’s point of view, women were capable of solving problems equally as men. Women must, therefore, rise up and continue fighting for their space in the society.

Work Cited

Glaspell, S., In Winchell, D. H., & Glaspell, S. (2004). Trifles. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth.

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