How can "Trifles," by Susan Glaspell, be interpreted as a feminist document?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The idea that the women are the ones who actually solve the crime could be one area where feminist thought is present.  The male detectives, the authority structure, dismisses the women as being able to or having the potential to solve the crime.  They believe the women are only good for chatting and see no value in what they do. Yet, it is precisely through this domain of talking and examination that the women fully understand the nature of the problem, and reconstruct the scene of the crime and end up understanding what actually happened.  This might be seen as feminist in theory because its shows how women, despite being treated with scorn by the establishment, can actually change things into what can be as opposed to what is if they remain consistent with utilizing their voice to assert their own senses of self.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Glaspell's "Trifles" presents a wife, Mrs. Wright, who is isolated from society and suffers under the dominance of her husband.  This is somewhat mirrored by her "peers," the two women who discover the wife's motivation for killing her husband. 

Living in a patriarchal society, Mrs. Wright is kept at home and isolated, and is not even allowed a telephone.  Society dictates the woman's role in the marriage, and her husband, apparently, makes sure she stays in her role. 

The two women who discover her motivation are laughed at by the men who are officially investigating the death of the husband.   The men find no important evidence, however, while the women uncover evidence of what must have made her snap, so to speak:  the body of a pet bird.  Apparently, the singing bird was a small element of joy in Mrs. Wright's life, and when the husband killed the bird, she killed the husband. 

What are mere trifles to the men in the play--the bird to the husband and kitchen details to the investigators (anything the women are interested in, for that matter)--are worth killing for to Mrs. Wright, and provide the full picture of what went on and why to Mrs. Wright's "friends." 

The play highlights the low status of women in society and is definitely written from a feminist point of view.   

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