What ironies can be found in Trifles by Susan Glaspell?
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One of the biggest central ironies relates to the title of this play. It is hard to ignore the way that the men strut around the home of the Wrights and look for evidence, and the rather demeaning remarks they make about the women and their comments about preserving and quilting. However, crucially, what the men dismiss as mere "trifles," the exclusive knowledge of the kitchen and home that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters possess, is what enables the women to unlock the mystery of the murder of John Wright and keep the men in ignorance. It is they that find the quilt with the poor sewing that indicates a considerable distress on the part of Minnie Wright, and it is they that find the dead bird with its neck broken. It is the men who stomp around ineffectually making snide remarks and joking about quilting or knotting.
The central irony therefore is the way in which the men, in spite of their attitude towards the women as being individuals who know nothing, are shown to be the people who know nothing, whereas the women, precisely through their knowledge of housekeeping, are able to do what the men are unable to do. The "trifles" are shown to be not so trifling after all. This play therefore presents a challenge to patriarchal attitudes that dismiss women as being inferior to men.
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