How did the men see the kitchen in the play Trifles differently from the way the women saw it?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Susan Glaspell's play Trifles, the audience is introduced to the characters within the kitchen setting. The men stand warming themselves by the stove and it is interesting to note that the two women behave quite differently on entering, coming in "slowly" and seemingly more aware of their surroundings, which is ironic as the men are there to do the investigation, not the women. As far as anything significant, the men see only "kitchen things," and although Mr Hale notices how dirty the kitchen is, he sees it as more of a criticism of Mrs. Wright than an indication of a problem at home. When the county attorney comments on Mrs. Wright's lack of a "homemaking instinct," he does not relate it to her late husband other than to question whether they "get on." He would rather go and investigate in the bedroom than examine the relationship that the unkempt kitchen may reveal.

The women collect a few things for Mrs. Wright and the county attorney finds it amusing that an apron is considered important enough to take to Mrs. Wright as an essential item. The men see the kitchen as Mrs. Wright's domain and a source of warmth (from the stove). It is because they do not associate themselves, or Mr. Wright, with anything to do with the kitchen that they overlook the subtle clues that exist there. The women talk about how "hard" Mr. Wright was and how isolated his wife must have been because he had no endearing qualities, even presumably killing his wife's canary which is a secret that they keep from their husbands. However, the men concentrate on the physical evidence in the bedroom.

Even though they are looking for a motive, they do not foresee the kitchen holding any relevance, having allowed Frank to disturb the kitchen when setting the fire and not making any connection between the messy kitchen and the deceased homeowner. The minor details, or trifles, which the men ignore and the men's attitudes towards the women, especially as the women check on Mrs. Wright's bottled preserves, also indicate their attitude towards anything they see as kitchen-related and therefore of no significance in this murder; "Held for murder and worrying about her preserves." 

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