How are gender roles portrayed in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles? What are some examples of gender roles in the play?

The gender roles in Trifles present women as subordinate to men, at least on the surface. The main gender role for women in the play is that of homemaker. By contrast, the men fill what they consider more important roles, such as those of police officers and detectives. However, it is the women's gendered knowledge of domestic "trifles" that allows them to piece together important crime-scene evidence the men overlook.

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The women in Trifles are portrayed as hesitant and timid when around the men, who are depicted as more confident. The stage directions describe Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter, entering the Wright's kitchen, as

women [who] have come in slowly, and stand close together near the door.

The men, in contrast, walk confidently over to the stove.

The chief gender role the women play in this rural society of a century past is that of homemaker. This role includes baking, cleaning, sewing, and putting up preserves. This work is belittled by the men as "trifling." The men assume that their professional credentials as police officers and detectives make them more competent at crime solving than the women. In this society, men have paid work outside of the home or as farmers, while women's work is unpaid domestic labor. The women are subordinate to men, as is shown in the dismissive way the men treat the women.

By concentrating on what the men overlook as trifles not worth noticing, the women are able to piece together what happened to cause the death of John Wright. They realize that Minnie Wright snapped when her husband killed her beloved pet canary and retaliated by killing her husband. The women are able to empathize with her isolated life on a farm with an abusive, uncaring man, because they know what it is like to be in her position.

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