Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

Women and Their Trifles

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Trifles by Susan Glaspell was written in 1916. Her intention of writing this was to bring up the issue of domestic violence and show the idea of gender roles. The title alone plays a major role in the play, in that it is symbolic and ironic. Trifles has an important meaning to the text.

We start off by learning about how John Wright was murdered. The speculation is that the wife did it. The men in the story are trying to find evidence to back them up. The only thing is that they are looking in all of the wrong places. They are scoping out the bedroom where the murder occurred. Meanwhile, the women are downstairs supposedly gathering items to take to Mrs. Wright, but in reality are solving the case.



The women find multiple clues that point out she is guilty. They find all of her belongings in a disheveled mess, especially the kitchen. In the time of 1916 the women’s role was to be in the kitchen. It should have been nice and clean. Mrs. Wrights kitchen was the complete opposite.

In the play the Court Attorney states “And yet, for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies? Dirty towels! Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?” (983)

This shows how men expect the house to be clean and that her kitchen was not up to standards. The men viewed this as a small aspect whereas the women knew something must have been going on with Mrs. Wright.

The next issue we deal with is the idea of the “Knotting” in the quilt. When she started to quilt everything was perfect and as it went on it got horrendous. This seems to symbolize her life and go hand in hand with the bird. Before she married she was known as Minnie Foster. She had a beautiful life. She loved to sing.

According to Mrs. Peters “I wonder how it would seem never to have any children around. No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird— a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that too.” (988)

This implies that because of Mr. Wright, her life went from perfect to awful. She was no longer aloud to be herself and sing. Marriage had changed her and not in a good way.  The “Knotting” also seems to ironic because she used a knot to kill Mr. Wright.

Throughout the entire play the men are too focused on finding hard evidence that they do not even know the women are solving the crime. The men seem to think they are superior to the women. They believe the women are merely fascinated with their trifles. A trifle is something of little or no importance. The irony is that these are the most important aspects of the murder.

Hale says “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.”(983)

This shows that the men in the story are very condescending. The role of the women in the story is very clear. They are to keep the house clean and continue to worry about unimportant things. The men will take care of the rest. This irony just shows how women are not as useless as the men think they are.




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