Stereotyping in "Trifles": The reader is introduced to some age-old stereotyping in this story. What are the stereotypes?
How does the stereotyping affect the investigation? How does the stereotyping affect the various relationships within the play?
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A stereotype is an expectation or fixed notion based on limited knowledge. The most important stereotype introduced in this play is that women are lesser creatures than men--that they are not capable of thinking as competently as their male counterparts. The men allow this stereotype to interfere with the investigation as they continually comment on the silliness of their conversation... "They wonder if she was going to quilt it or knot it"...as the women wait for the men to find evidence of Minnie's guilt. Had they paid more attention to what the women were discovering, they would have found the evidence they needed. The broken birdcage, the bird's dead body wrapped lovingly in satin material, the erratic stitching in her quilt blocks. Because of their opinion that women are trifles and they worry themselves with trifles, they did not succeed in collecting valuable evidence against their suspect.
As a result, the women stick together and conceal the evidence they know the men need to convict Minnie. One can only assume that they are also tired of being considered "less than" a man, and instead of killing their husbands as Minnie did, they secretly rescue one of their own from jail and further persecution.
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For the time period this was not stereotyping (both when it was written and when the play takes place). When reading the play one has to understand the time and style of the play.
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