Compare and contrast the issues about gender that are implied in "Trifles" and "Sure Thing"?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In each of these plays, "Trifles" and "Sure Thing," the relationship between women and men is examined. 

In "Trifles," the men are clearly in charge, pursuing their heavy-handed and rather obtuse investigation without any of the more subtle observations the women make.  They are dismissive at every turn, and they fail to see any importance in "woman stuff"--the "stuff" which could actually make and solve their case.  They are equally dismissive of the women.  The roles are clear, and the men win.

In "Sure Thing" the woman is not so easily dismissed.  Betty is the first to change her answer in this exchange, while Bill just keeps asking her until he gets the reply he wants.  Eventually, though, they both change their answers, beliefs, positions about everything at the ringing of a bell--presumably trying to somehow appease the other in order to be found more acceptable.  Here, both of them compromise their integrity in the face of acceptance. No one wins.

I'm not so sure there's a whole lot of comparison here, except the women are clearly seen in the weaker position. In contrast, the men in "Trifles" never waver from their position of rightness and their stereotypes of women as the weaker, lesser, unintelligent sex.  Bill and Betty both change, watering down anything they might truly believe in order to avoid racism or sexism or anything else which might be considered offensive, as in this exchange:

“I believe a man is what he is. (Bell) A person is what he is. (Bell) A person is ... what they are.”

They've obviously devolved to believing nothing, in contrast to the men who only believe or see what they think is worth believing or seeing.