Trifles was written in the early 1900’s by Susan Glaspell. This occurred far before the women’s movement. Women were generally looked upon as possessions to their husbands. Their children, all wages, and belongings were property of their husbands. In Glaspell’s story it is easily depicted as to what role the men and women portrayed in society at this time.
Glaspell proves her point by a conversation between two women in this story. The women, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, are at the scene of the murder of John Wright. The women accompanied the County Attorney, the Sheriff, and Mr. Hale to the house.
Mr. Hale describes everything that he saw the morning he discovered Mr. Wright’s body. The men have come to the house looking for evidence to convict Mrs. Wright. While the men are looking the house over for evidence, they grasp a different image than the women.
The men viewed the house as inadequately taken care of due to broken jars of preserves or discovering dirty towels. All the men notice is clutter. The men do not look deeper behind the meanings of this disarray. However, the women do. The women understand that the reason that things such as the towels are not clean is because she more than likely was busy doing her many other chores of the household. They also considered how much trouble Mrs.
Wright went to fix the preserves. The women reason that the uncaring concern John had for Minnie and the attention he paid to the house perhaps forced Minnie to resort to killing. Even the County Attorney, Sheriff, and Mr. Hale could not understand all the difficulties women go through. They criticize Mrs. Wright as well as insult all women.
Mr. Hale says, “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.” The actions of just these men show how women were taken for granted in this era. Inevitably, the men are unable to prove that Mrs. Wright murdered her husband but are going to convict her anyway. However, the women have solved the case.
They come to the conclusion that Mrs. Wright was not treated very well by her husband and was not able to withstand the mistreatment anymore. They could tell the lack of attention he paid to his wife. The men still have a hard time accepting this concept because they do not believe that men treat women badly.
The title, Trifles, as well as the examples all represent how men view women. A “trifle” is something of little importance.
This story was used not only to show how men perceived women but was also used to foreshadow that there will not be an absolute tyranny by men permanently. Women would not stand to be abused much longer. .