The Roles of Women in 'Trifles' Essay

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Trifles, a play written by Susan Glaspell in 1916, provides and interesting picture of what women faced in the early 20th century. The men in the play, though they have few lines, constantly mocked the two female characters and treated them as, essentially, either scene dressing or sources of amusement. The women were constantly the butt of the men’s jokes and were expected to stay downstairs while the men conducted their investigation, despite the fact that the area around the rocking chair probably should have been included in the investigation, and thought that the women wouldn’t be in the way there. Despite this, the women are the ones who end up finding the most pertinent piece of evidence, but they don’t present it to the men. This sheds light on the societal norms that these women were expected to follow, and therefore on the reasons behind the questionable behavior of both the men and the women in this play. Based on the behavior of the characters in Trifles, women were expected to behave much differently in the early 20th century from now. Both female characters that have speaking roles in the play are generally quiet and obedient around the men, even to the point of not contradicting them when they decide to leave due to lack of evidence even though they, the women, had found the dead bird in Mrs. Wright’s sewing basket. This suggest that women in that time were expected not to know anything about investigating, or even to know what constitutes pertinent evidence. Even if the women had pertinent evidence, it seems like the men would expect them not to present it because they, the men, would most likely not think that any evidence discovered by a woman would be pertinent, since the first time a female character talks one of the men responds with “women are used to worrying over trifles” (Madden, 773). Since the men of the time expected the women of the

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