Reviewof the Play Trifles:Male Chauvinism
Theplay entitled, “Trifle”isa 1916 drama written by Susan Glaspell. It is a reflection of theauthor’s thoughts on gender and sex roles as constructed bydifferent cultures. Just as the title suggests, the play triflesthe role of women and their concerns and relegates them to lesserimportant roles that have no significance in providing additionalvalue to the society. The play gives a picture of the struggles ofwomen in a male-dominated society their interactions with men, andhow they seek to change this perception and find their rightfulplace. This is a story of an early feminist drama, which is hailed asan icon of feminists writing in which men often disguise anythingwomen do.
Thecentral theme in the play is the role of women in a society dominatedby males. The author opens up tension in the play by questioning thecomparative role of women alongside that of men in the society. Thissparks sharp criticisms as the story unfolds through two distinctnarratives, one involving a male while the other involving a female. It is very clear from the play that the theme of male dominance isstrongly demonstrated. The men in this society the author ascribesto view women as lesser beings with very limited knowledge regardingthe affairs affecting the society.
Thefirst revelation of this male dominance is in act one where theattorney Mr. Henderson sought to find out the friendship between Mrs.Hale and the Wrights. As she makes an effort to provide a detailedexplanation of their relationship, Mr. Henderson quickly interruptsher demanding a Yes or No answer. The conversation unfolds follows.Mrs. Hale says, “I liked her all well enough…,” and the CountyAttorney responds, “Yes..?” This is an epitome of male dominanceover women. As the play progresses, the audience is introduced to themystery murder of Mr. Wright in his farm house. The men and womenvisit the scene but are portrayed differently in their actions. Thewomen are displayed as going to the Wrights’ home whereas the menare visiting the crime scene. This is another clear evidence of thedifferent roles that women and men play in the society.
Themen pick up the responsibilities of lawyers and criminalinvestigators to carry out the investigations into the murder of Mr.Wright whereas the women are left to carry out some lighter dutiesthat involve preparing useful personal effects convenient to Mrs.Wright, who is already imprisoned. This act of relegating women tosuch simple duties does not only portray women as having littleknowledge, but also the impact of that little knowledge on thedecision making by women.
Asthe investigation continues, it is apparent that the men, who haveelevated themselves to the role of detectives, cannot in their ownwisdom figure out conclusively the events that transpired leading tothe death of Mr. Wright. Despite this fact, the men refuse to bow andtake any suggestions from the women who try to figure out and puttogether the events of the crime in their own understanding of thebackground of the relationship between Mr. Wright and Mrs. Wright.Their efforts and insight in the whole scenario are trifled as lessimportant. In this case, the women once again are disregarded andtheir role unappreciated (Korda 231).
Thedialogues in the play further advance the notion that men view womenas less important creatures. Mrs. Peters comments on the worries ofMrs. Wright concerning her fruit freezing, a matter that was almostignored. On hearing this, without haste, the Sheriff in turn createsa conversation with his fellow men. The Sheriff says, “Well, canyou beat women? Caught up in murder and still worrying about her ownreservations.” The men in unison agreed to the comments made by theSheriffs following the comments of Mr. Hale who says, “Well, womenare used to worrying over trifles.” This particular dialogueepitomizes the arrogance and the general disrespect that menconsistently show towards women. The prejudice with which men treattheir wives and women in general are openly expressed both verballyand in their actions.
Moreintriguing is the fact that all men agree unanimously to the factthat since Mrs. Wright had murdered their bird, it follows that sheis the one who murdered her husband the same way she murdered thebird. In a male dominated society, this argument would be sufficientto put Mrs. Wright behind bars. A critical look into the relationshipbetween Mr. Wright and his wife when he was alive indicates that hemistreated her. Mr. Hale is quoted saying, “I don’t know whetherwhat his wife wanted to be made any difference to John.”
Inconclusion, the play is a reflection of the attitude and mood of thesociety towards women at that particular time. The social status ofthe women in that society was far below that of their husbands andthe men. Interestingly, the men relegated the women to the littlerole of picking Mrs. Wright’s personal belongings as they undertookto investigate his husband’s murder. However, at the end of theplay, they failed to gather any evidence. This shows that had womenbeen given the power and be involved, they would have exploredseveral options. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are clear demonstrationsof what it takes to fight for one’s own liberty.
Korda,Michael. Male Chauvinism! How it works. New York: Random HousePublishers. Print. 1973. Print.