How are women portrayed as gaining strength after killing their husbands in "Sweat" and Trifles?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Hurston's "Sweat," Delia is trapped in a loveless marriage with her abusive, philandering husband.  She works tirelessly to earn money while Sykes squanders her efforts on his string of girlfriends. Delia changes churches, endures the community's gossip, and stifles her thoughts and emotions all because of her husband.  For years, her anger and resentment toward Sykes have festered rather quietly; so Sykes is surprised when Delia finally talks back to him.  The last straw for her is when Sykes brings the snake into the house.  At the story's end, as Delia hears her husband's screams from the snake's attack, she finds the strength to let "nature take its course" and rises from the ground upon which she had been cowering.  She walks away, confident in her decision and actions.

Similarly in Glaspell's Trifles, Minnie Wright--once a lovely, singing girl--has been stifled by her husband's domineering, isolating personality.  She has no joy in life other than her little bird, and when her husband wrings the bird's neck, she in turn wrings his with a rope around the bedpost.  Although Minnie does not physically appear in the short play, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters' conversations about her allow the audience to see that Minnie's strength after freeing herself from her husband lies in her hiding the motive in a place where only women would find it, sitting quietly in jail while others comb through her house, and confessing nothing to the police.

Both authors use their works to portray the victory of pensive femininity over physically domineering masculinity.

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