Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Feminist criticism examines whether the political, economic, social and psychological oppression of women have been enhanced or undermined. Based on the play “Trifles” written by Susan Glaspell, she had criticised the treatment of women in the patriarchal society as one of the earliest feminist critics when even the first wave of feminism was not being done. This short play was about a murder case that happened at John Wright’s house where the men were investigating the murder case while the women were only allowed to handle the “Trifles” which men thought it was unimportant so as the role of females. However, the writer showed an ending with irony when the women who were taken lightly by the men were the one with supreme intelligence. They solved out the mystery of John Wright’s death by looking at the most insignificant things which in some ways, also projected their level of intelligence did not aligned with the status that were given by then men. The writer had used few issues that revolves around theme of oppression towards women which the writer had used based on the feminist theory.
The first issue is the stereotyping on the roles on women. ‘Women cannot be simply depicted and classified as either angels or demons brainless housewives or eccentric spinsters. Such characterizations must be continually identified and then challenged’. The stereotype of women’s characters and roles in the society had limited women to take care of their husbands and becoming a good housewives. “Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves.” Mr Hale had been trying to say that the roles of women as housewives had led them to only care about “preserves” which was considered as worthless thing if it was compared to what the men were doing, investigating for the case of murder which seemed to be a much more noble and important job. However, the intelligence of women had eventually surpassed men as in the end, the most insignificant things in the house which were trifles to them, were the key to solve the case. “She is asked to identify with a selfhood that defines itself in opposition to her; she is required to identify against herself”. Furthermore, women had also lost their role of identity as themselves when they were married to men. This can be seen when the county attorney said that ‘a sheriff’s wife is married to the law’. It showed that when women’s roles was determined by their husband when Mrs Peterss said to Mr Hale that ‘Mrs. Hale, the law is the law’. When Mrs Peterss was married to a sheriff, she was expected to follow the law which can be seen from what County Attorney said to her “For that matter, a sheriff’s wife is married to the law” which had completely denied her identity of herself and can only be known as the sheriff’s wife.
The next issue is superiority of men towards women. “Power that marriage puts in the hands of men”. The status of men and women were not equal as men are often the dominant in the family which led them to feel superior about themselves when they were the one who were earning the income for the family. Men did not showed any sign of respect through their act and speech with all the females in the play. When Sheriff said that “They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it!” The men laughed, the women looked abashed. Sheriff was being sarcastic towards the women even though Mrs Peterss was his wife. This had showed that the men showed no respect towards the concern of the females through degrading women through their speech and women did not had chances to fight back as stated by Judith, “Ownership of women is invoked as the index of power”. Men at that era of time seemed to see women as object rather than lovers. This can be seen when the play continued, we can see from the conversation between Mrs Hale and Mrs Peterss, “She come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and fluttery. How she did change.”The superiority of Mr Wright had led him to kill the bird of Minnie Wright which showed that he might had also stopped Minnie from going to church from singing which changed his wives from a cheerful person to a killer of her husband.