Susan Glaspell's play is set in the early years of the 1900s in rural Iowa in an isolated farmhouse.
Both female characters, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, do not have given names other than their title of "Mrs." and their husbands' last names. The same is true of the murder suspect, Mrs. Wright, until Mrs. Hale remembers her as Minnie Foster before her marriage. What is implicit is that the women's only identities are their status as wives once they marry.
There is judgement in the description of the state of Mrs. Wright's kitchen. The county attorney puts his hand in the cupboard where her preserves have exploded due to cold and says, "here's a nice mess," followed by "not much of a housekeeper." And when Mrs. Peters offers that "She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the fire'd go out and her jars would break," the neighbor, Lewis Hale, says "well, women are used to worrying over trifles." It is ironic that the male attorney and neighbor malign Mrs. Wright for the "trifles" of untidiness when there is clearly something more elementally and profoundly wrong at the farmhouse.
Mrs. Hale suggests to the county attorney that Mr. Wright might have been partially responsible for the lack of homey cheerfulness of the house, but he dismisses her and moves on with his investigation. It's clear that he has made up his mind that Mrs. Wright's guilt is evident and that extenuating circumstances are of no interest to him.
Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are infantilized by the county attorney and the sheriff and are kept in the kitchen while the men investigate the rest of the house, tacitly suggesting that the kitchen is the women's only legitimate place. Ironically, it is because of the women's ability to empathize that the motivation behind the murder becomes clear, but they hide the damning truth from the men, who believe that they have all the answers.