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Although some similarities exist between Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles and Kate Chopin’s tale “The Story of an Hour,” the differences between them are even more striking.
Similarities between the two works include the following:
- Both works emphasize women sitting in chairs and thinking, although Louise Mallard’s chair is roomy and comfortable while Mrs. Wright’s chair is a wooden rocker.
- Both works focus on women who seem to feel that their lives have been limited by their marriages, although Mrs. Wright takes quite an active hand in ending her marriage, whereas Louise’s ends – or seems to end – literally by accident.
Differences between the two works include the following:
- Glaspell’s play features many characters; Chopin’s story focuses primarily on one person.
- Glaspell’s play deals with a much longer period of time than the mere “hour” mentioned in Chopin’s title.
- Louise Mallard sits and contemplates a bright future; Mrs. Wright sits and thinks – if she is thinking much at all – about a future in jail.
- Louise Mallard seems a member of the sophisticated upper middle class; Mrs. Wright seems a member of the limited lower class, or perhaps lower middle class.
- Louise’s husband has apparently died in an accident; Mrs. Wright’s husband has been killed by Mrs. Wright herself.
- Louise Mallard, although shocked at first after hearing news of her husband’s death, begins to feel extremely clear-headed and even exultant. In contrast, Mrs. Wright seemed dazed after the killing, at least in the opinion of an investigator who asked about her husband’s body:
"He died of a rope round his neck," says she, and just went on pleatin' at her apron.
In short, both works are feminist classics dealing with the oppression of women in general and wives in particular, but their differences are at least as important as their similarities.
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