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What are the similarities in the marriages of Trifles by Susan Glaspell and "The Story...

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thepirate5000 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 7, 2012 at 8:32 PM via web

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What are the similarities in the marriages of Trifles by Susan Glaspell and "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 8, 2012 at 12:17 AM (Answer #1)

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In Glaspell's Trifles as well as in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," the protagonists, Minnie Wright and Louise Mallard, are clearly repressed in their marriages.  While Mrs. Wright is repressed by her harsh husband and her alienation from other women in her lonely house on a remote farm, Mrs. Mallard is also repressed because of the femme covert laws of her environment.  In Trifles, for instance, Mrs. Hale, a distant neighbor, describes the farmhouse as never cheerful--certainly "no cheerfuler for John Wright's being there."  She adds that Mrs. Wright no longer sings as she did when she was "one of the town girls singing in the choir." In fact, she adds,

....I stayed away because it weren't cheerful--and that's why I ought to have come. I-I've never liked this place. Maybe because it's down in a hollow...but it's a lonesome place....

Within her partriarchal society, Mrs. Mallard, too, is evidently prevented from having any independence of thought or action.  For, when she receives the news that her husband has been killed in a train accident, Mrs. Mallard, who "has a heart trouble," retreats to the privacy of her own room, where 

She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her.

And, of course, when Louise Mallard leaves her room in a victorious descent, she sees her husband in the foyer; the shock of seeing Bentley Mallard and the great disappointment of losing her personal freedom creates "a joy that kills." In a similarly critical situation, Minnie Wright is so miserable that when her husband cruelly wrings the neck of her singing canary--the only joy in her life--she reacts inthinkingly, choking Mr. Wright in a similar way. Certainly, the two repressed wives, Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Mallard, both suffer repression to the point that it breaks them.

 

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