How does Susan Glaspell’s Trifles support the treatment of women in the early 1900s? How are women treated at this time?

Susan Glaspell's Trifles shows women being treated as children in the 1900s. Mrs. Wright had an abusive husband, while the husbands of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are condescending and indulgent. In all cases, the women are never treated as intelligent adults.

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In Trifles, the two female protagonists, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, discuss the fate of a third woman, Mrs. Wright, who does not appear on stage. It is evident that Mrs. Wright has been treated with great cruelty by her husband and that no one has done anything about this. Mr. Peters and Mr. Hale appear briefly on stage, and while they are not cruel to their wives, they are condescending and dismissive. The title of the play refers to Mr. Hale's comment that "women are used to worrying over trifles." The men leave the women in the kitchen with the suggestion that this is their domain, and nothing of interest is likely to be found there.

Trifles was first performed in 1916, four years before women were enfranchised throughout the United States. The play makes it clear that Glaspell believed women were being treated like children. Mr. Wright has clearly behaved like a tyrannical and abusive father, curtailing his wife's freedom and making her life miserable. Hale and Peters are more like benevolent and indulgent fathers, mildly amused by the infantile preoccupations of their wives. What none of the men do is to treat the women as equals, who might be capable of making an adult contribution to a discussion about life and death. The play, therefore, shows how women were routinely infantilized in the society of the time.

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