The two best words to describe women in the 19th century were housewives and mothers. Some may ask why so? In the 1900s, men were the head of all marriage which transform the role of women during this era. As a woman in the 1900s, they mostly stay at home to cook, clean, take care of the children, and must obey their husband’s orders at all cost. Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles takes place at a farmhouse that involves a murder case. However, the play has a deeper meaning, the audience will realize that this play isn’t just about an ordinary murder case, but more about the gender differences towards women during this time. The main theme that was shown in this play was gender roles, Glaspell’s message in this play is that women were treated unequally and lower than men which causes them to rise up and prove that stereotype wrong.
As for women in the 1900s, they were treated unequally and less fortunate than men due to their gender and physical features. Men during this time kept their heads high in order to show how superior they are to the family. As the play begins, the audience can view the tension and pressure in Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters with the usage of body language and facial expressions. They both cross their arms and kept their head low, not wanting to look up. The body language of arms crossing has a significant meaning, most of the time that position is meant for a defensive stand for people who are afraid of something. At the beginning of the play, Mrs. Hale along with Mrs. Peters both had their arms crossed which indicates that they are both afraid and nervous by being around Mr. Hale, the sheriff, and the attorney.
As the play goes, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters begin to search the kitchen since the men thought the kitchen was nothing but fill with kitchen appliances which had no benefit to the crime scene. Once the men headed upstairs to further investigate, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, begin their search and they discover an empty birdcage along with a red box inside was a dead canary whose neck was broken that was wrapped around with silk. After finding the evidence, Mrs. Hale hid the dead canary in her dress to hide the evidence from the men. This shows how Mrs. Hale understands and realize how important the canary was to Winnie, and because of its death, it brought loneliness and isolation to Winnie forcing her to seek for revenge.
The course of actions that were made by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters shows that women were underestimated and were not appreciated during this time. The men felt that they were much smarter than the women and decided to not search the kitchen since they thought the kitchen would not have the evidence since it was a woman’s place. However, as smart as they may seem, the women worked together and traced back all of the important evidence that could imprison Winnie, but instead of revealing the truth, they hid the evidence to protect Winnie. This important scene shows that women can be much better than what they were expected to be. Their isolation from society can force them to break their barrier and caused them to do things they were not expected.
As a result, this play is more than just a murder case, Glaspell creates a storyline to show how women were unappreciated and were well forgotten in society. Since this story was in the 1900s, women were considered as housewives and mothers which shows how gender was a very important factor during this time. However, at the end of the day, whether being a male or female, both genders are important in society. Susan Glaspell wrote the Trifles to bring awareness to the gender inequality that most women in the 1900s were facing to show how important their role can be in the society.
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