Women and Law in Play Trifles

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Trifles takes place in the farm house of Mr. and Mrs. Wright who live in a rural Iowa town during the early 1900s.(jack108.2011) During this time period women had little freedom of their own being, and were considered objects that were subjected to house duties. Women were expected only to get married and have children. (Truman CN.2015) Women were basically treated a second class citizens and did not have nearly as much rights as men had. Rural Iowa during this time was very conservative and made sure that women stayed in their due positions.

The story was influenced by the John Hossack case in which Hossack was murdered by his wife Margaret. Hossack was murdered in bed while sleeping with two blows of an ax to his head. The vicious murder shook and divided the rural community. Margaret Hossack like Minnie Wright claimed to be innocent while stories of possible domestic problems and abuse provided prosecutors with a motive for the crime. (Danielle LSCC.2016) Women were treated like this because they were viewed as inferior to men and only good for house chores. Society believed that women could not do what men could do and such, they needed men to control their life.

Mrs. Wright had to live through these social barricades, and it was no surprise that she took matters into her own hands and ended her agony. Women are also not taken seriously because they come off as uneducated. In the play when the women figured out what happened Mrs. Wright states that it was a good thing that the men couldn’t hear them, or else they would have laughed at them. (Glaspell S.1916) Men and women have different views on duty because during the time period in which the play takes place, women had an inferior role to men.

An example is when the County Attorney goes to dry his hands because he washed them after touching the mess of preserves in the cupboard. The towels are all dirty and he remarks “not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?” (Glaspell S.1916) He ridicules Mrs. Wright by brings up the female role of housekeeping and how she doesn’t seem too good at it. The men all had legitimate jobs such as the Mr. Henderson the County attorney and were considered as head of the house hold.

As a farmer’s wife, Mrs. Wright had an incredible amount of chores to do and therefore had no time for socializing. Women also have the duty of maintaining their image, Mrs. Wright requests that her apron be brought to her so that she can still look like a decent women in the society. The men only asked the women for help finding evidence not for breaking down the scene and crime. This is because they believe the women are only focused on the household and women items. These items ultimately guide the women to the truth. The women show compassion to Mrs. Wright and her situation, loyalty to Mrs. Wright by not revealing what they found, and attentiveness by catching small details such as her quilting.

The men seem very uninterested in what the women had going on and where more focused on finding evidence get Mrs. Wright indicted. Men are given the role of provider as they had to earn the income, decision maker as they made all the decisions that affected their families life’s, and as having all the authority in the society. It is clearly analyzed that the women were the protagonists by hiding evidence and the men were the protagonist looking for evidence to serve justice. The women from the play disregarded the law because they realized that it was only in favor of men who established it.

During this time jury’s did not have women, so Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters partially symbolized a hidden jury of women who fought for Mrs. Wright’s case. The two women decide it’s better if the evidence such as the bird is hidden from the men. Mrs. Peters struggles with choosing her duty to the law or duty to another women. (Holstein Suzy Clarkson. 2003)Throughout the play female intellect is constantly downplayed and is only considered when trying to figure out what Mrs. Wright wanted to do with her quilt. The women can see a weakness in the law and how justice is served so they disregard the law.

The weakness was seeing women as unintelligent when in reality all human are created equal and had the same capacity. The men viewed the law as something that was above all and should not be delegitimized. The men had authority because of the law and therefore they wanted to serve justice based on the law that was set. The women understood the partial justice that the law served and took actions into their own hand to give the due justice.


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Women and Law in Play Trifles. (2021, Jun 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/women-and-law-in-play-trifles/

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