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What would be a good thesis for a comparison and contrast research paper for Trifles...

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mylesawaygirl... | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 1, 2013 at 11:40 PM via web

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What would be a good thesis for a comparison and contrast research paper for Trifles and Battle Royal? [ I am going to compare and contrast these two stories and discuss the oppression before the civil rights and the womens lib movement.]  

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Kay Morse | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted May 2, 2013 at 10:34 PM (Answer #1)

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Always a difficult topic, comparing women's liberation from suppression to the horrific oppression, murder, enslavement, total dehumanization of African Americans, one avenue of contrast would be the difference between fighting for a cause and amidst a large group of unseen co-belligerents (Battle Royal) versus fighting for a single persons liberty amongst a small group of friends (Trifles). A comparison might be between the language of the male suppressors and the language of the nation of oppressors.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:39 PM (Answer #2)

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It is important to remember that Civil Rights legislation affects all people, not just minorities. With this in mind, the exploitation of the white woman in "The Battle Royale" and the treatment of Mrs. Wright in Trifles can elicit some comparisons along with the black men, although the mistreatment of Mrs. Wright is not as cruel as that of the woman in Ellison's work, which is not as egregious as that of the young men made to fight. Here are some points to consider:

  • Both women are depersonalized. In "Battle Royal," Ellison writes that when he looks at the blond, she sees him "with her impersonal eyes." The pretty female has been stripped and placed in the arena simply as a sex object to tempt the black men who are forbidden by the Jim Crow culture to even look at a white woman. In a somewhat similar situation, after her marriage to Mr. Wright, Mrs. Wright has become unpersonalized, as well, since Mrs. Hale observes that

She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir.

  • Likewise, the young men made to fight are unpersonalized, simply made the objects of the amusement of the white men. When Ellison fights the other young man, he notices "His face was a black blank of a face, only his eyes alive."

So, with this lack of personalization with characters, there can be comparisons made between the two narratives. A thesis, then, may be constructed that points to the sharp differences between the exploitation of the young men in "The Battle Royale" and the more subtle oppression of Mrs. Wright while it also points to the similarities in the two narratives regarding the lack of personalization given to the women. 

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