An Analysis of the Status of Women in Trifles, a One-Act by Susan Glaspell

January 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

Susan Glaspell’s drama “Trifles” is a play about a woman who was suspected for the murder of her husband. The play is set during the 19th century, a time where it was known for women to be treated poorly, especially as wives. Most women were treated as objects rather than as equals in a relationship. However, in our society today, that has definitely changed. In Glaspell’s drama, she focuses mainly on the wife which ultimately gives this writing the ability to be viewed as a feminist piece.

In “Trifles”, a woman is taken into custody under the suspicion of the murder of her husband. The play focuses on two women who enter her house with the sheriff and an attorney, who are searching for evidence. While the men are searching, the women are discussing the case. During this play, the women end up finding more evidence than the men do, but because they’re women they aren’t taken seriously. Glaspell shows that the women aren’t viewed as equal when Hale says, “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.” The men in the play continuously make snide remarks towards the women. Another example is when they reenter the room while the two women are discussing the accused’s stitching. The two women were examining it and noticed her stitching was off, which prompted one of them to wonder why she was so nervous. This shows that the women are much more observant than the men, because they realize that her hasty stitching meant she was agitated for some reason. However, the men enter when they’re discussing the pattern and the attorney asks in a condescending manner, “Well. ladies, have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it?” This example shows that while the men aren’t taking the women seriously, they are the ones who have it all figured out and hold evidence that could easily convict the wife, thus making this a feminist piece.

Situations of abuse have definitely changed over the years. Back in the 19th century, women were treated as objects rather than equals. In the actual case that the drama “Trifles” was based off of, the wife had actively sought out help against her abusive husband. She spoke with neighbors and told them of her husband’s cruel acts, but because he was so well-liked and known throughout the community, and she was just his wife, nobody took her seriously. In fact, people began to scorn her for speaking against her husband. However, in today’s society, women are treated as equal and abuse is taken very seriously. For example, a case similar to the one Glaspell wrote about occurred in 2013. A woman shot her husband as an act of self defense after he threatened her and her children. In this case, there was no question as to whether or not it was her who shot him; yet she wasn’t charged at all because it was in self defense. Even if it was a clear case of self defense in the 19th century, the wife would’ve most likely been charged. In “Trifles”, the wife was being held when she claimed she didn’t kill him, and while the only evidence the police had against her was the fact that she was asleep in bed next to him, they still arrested her. But in the current case where it was without a doubt the wife that shot her husband, she wasn’t charged because it was a case of self defense. The situations of abuse for women have definitely evolved over the years.

Women have fought a long time in order to be viewed as equals in today’s society. Before having the rights they do now, they were treated like objects, which made cases of abuse quite common. Glaspell’s play “Trifles” is a feminist piece of writing that focuses on a wife who murders her abusive husband. This play is a good example of showing how situations of abuse once were, and how things are different in today’s society.

Read more