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Consider the opening scene: the order people enter and speak, where they are...

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babypiggy | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 19, 2013 at 9:10 PM via web

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Consider the opening scene: the order people enter and speak, where they are positioned, the actions described to them by Glaspell.

Q: How do the entrance of the characters distinguish between the men and the women as compared with their positions at the ending?

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 20, 2013 at 12:31 AM (Answer #1)

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Ironically, the women are inconsequential in the beginning of Glaspell's play; in fact, they are simply brought along with their husbands and seem reluctant to enter the farmhouse in which a murder has occurred. For, according to the stage directions, they enter slowly and huddle together near the door. In the meantime, the County attorney, the sheriff, and Mr. Hale discuss the case and look for evidence. When Mr. Hale mentions that he had recently gone to the Wright house to ask about their joining him on a party line (telephone),

HALE  ...and talked about it before his wife, though I said to Harry that I didn't know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John--

the attorney stops him, "Let's talk about that later, Mr. Hale" as though it is of little consequence. Shortly after this, the attorney directs the men to go upstairs, asking the sheriff if there is nothing important on the first floor. the sheriff replies that only kitchen things are around. Just then Mrs. Peters speaks up after noticing that the preserves have frozen.

MRS. PETERS.....She [Mrs. Wright] worried about that...She said the fire'd go out and her jars would break.

HALE Well, women are used to worrying over trifles. (The two women move a little closer together)

Having discounted the value of anything connected to the women, including Mrs. Wright's concerns the men do not enter the kitchen.  Of course, the irony of this attitude of the men is that they overlook the motive because they do not examine what is in the cupboards. But, as the play's problem is resolved, it is the women who discover the motive. When the men descend the stairs and enter the kitchen, the women again huddle together; however, it is not because of the cold this time that they do so. Because they "all go through the same things" as the oppressed Mrs. Wright, they do not divulge their discovery of the canary that sang and brought some joy to this desolate and lonely woman. Instead, even though Mrs. Peters is "married to the law," she exerts her independence and tries to conceal the box containing the bird, but it will not fit into her handbag. As they hear the men coming, Mrs. Hale quickly conceals the box in her large coat pocket and casually answers the attorney's facetious remark about Mrs. Wright's quilting.

 

 

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