How is the theme of sisterhood depicted in Susan Glaspell's play Trifles?

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The relationship between Mrs. Hale, a farmer's wife, and Mrs. Peters, the sheriff's wife, and their instinctive and tacit readiness to conspire to protect Mrs. Wright from prosecution demonstrates the theme of sisterhood in Susan Glaspell's 1916 play, Trifles.

Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters instinctively move close to...

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The relationship between Mrs. Hale, a farmer's wife, and Mrs. Peters, the sheriff's wife, and their instinctive and tacit readiness to conspire to protect Mrs. Wright from prosecution demonstrates the theme of sisterhood in Susan Glaspell's 1916 play, Trifles.

Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters instinctively move close to one another when Hale uncharitably observes "women are used to worrying over trifles." Mrs. Hale tells the county attorney that "there's a great deal of work to be done on a farm" when he is openly insulting about the state of the Wrights' home, placing the blame on Mrs. Wright. When the attorney goes on to comment "loyal to your sex, I see... I suppose you were friends, too," Mrs. Hale corrects him, telling him that she hadn't been in the Wright house for over a year. This is a demonstration of the idea of sisterhood among women; Glaspell suggests that there is an unspoken bond between women because of their marginalization at the hands of men.

When Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are left alone while the men conduct their investigation, they begin to commiserate almost instinctively, offering up their sympathy and empathy for Mrs. Wright instead of condemning her, as the men have been quick to do. They recognize the work she has done in preserving fruit, preparing bread, and sewing neatly instead of finding fault the way the men have.

Recognizing the emotional cruelty that Wright has inflicted on his wife, the two women don't need to discuss what they will do to hide the evidence that suggests a motive for Wright's murder at the hands of his wife. They quickly and wordlessly cover for her, because as country wives themselves, they understand what she has endured.

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Trifles is the aptly named play by Susan Glaspell in which it is the seemingly inconsequential and trivial things that hold the most importance in potentially solving the murder of Mr. Wright in his own home. This apparent contradiction supports the theme of sisterhood, as it is the wives who find the almost indisputable evidence to support the men's theory that Mrs. Wright killed her own husband. They decide to conceal this evidence because of their shared solidarity with Mrs. Wright.

The men, however, overlook the women's behavior and the detail that would lead them to the same conclusion that the women have already come to. They readily dismiss the women because, as Mr. Hale, the Wrights' neighbor, comments, "Women are used to worrying over trifles." He is remarking that Mrs. Wright is worrying over her spoiled preserves rather than a looming conviction for murder.

Without realizing what they are effectively doing, the men include even their own wives in the same category as Mrs. Wright, the woman who they are convinced murdered her own husband. Therefore, the men's actions also support the theme of sisterhood. The men in these women's lives force the women to form a bond (a sisterhood) in order to survive the harsh reality of their lives.

Even Mrs. Peters, who is initially reluctant to hide the compelling evidence, is persuaded to do so when she sees the reactions and behavior of the men and their complete disregard for what Mrs. Wright may have suffered at the hands of her husband.

The men do not recognize the potential for any meaningful contribution that Mrs. Hale or Mrs. Peters could make toward proving Mrs. Wright's guilt. How could women with interests in common with Mrs. Wright assist with their investigation? The men find it almost preposterous, making the female characters into "trifles" themselves. The men want to prove Mrs. Wright's guilt and punish her for daring to challenge her husband.

The kitchen with its preserves, the quilt, and sewing kit (crucial in solving the case) are so irrelevant to the men because they belong in a woman's world, and so they have no relevance. Hence, the theme of sisterhood is again reinforced.

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Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters show the sort of sympathy and protective instincts towards Mrs. Wright that a sister would. For example, Mrs. Hale comments indignantly that it was underhanded of the police to arrest Mrs. Wright, incarcerate her, and then come to her house looking for clues with regard to the crime that they allege she has committed.

When the two women come across the remains of Mrs. Wright's pet bird, which has died in a manner similar to John Wright and could, therefore, have been entered into a court of law as evidence that Mrs. Wright was guilty of her husband's murder, one of them hides it in her coat so that the policemen do not find it.

This act of protection plays into the theme of sisterhood, as it is natural for sisters to protect one another—even if this protection is not necessarily justified.

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By showing the basic differences in how men and women think, act, and relate to others, Glaspell gives the reader a picture of sisterhood. The women are there to get things for the woman accused of killing her husband. As their husbands come in and out of the scene, the differences between the two genders are made obvious.

Overall, Glaspell shows us that men are aggressive, self-centered, and rough. Women are more sensitive, circumspect, and intuitive. These differences enable Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale to know exactly what happened in the home of the accused. Their husbands, however, leave the scene feeling there are no clues to be found.

The men look for obvious clues, while the women notice the little things, the "trifles". The women are able to find the dead bird and the damaged birdcage and piece together the events leading to the death of the husband. The men patronizingly dismiss their wives' ideas. The women are sensitive to the isolation and loneliness Mrs. Wright felt because they've been there before themselves. They understand why she would have been driven to murder when John Wright took away the only thing Mrs. Wright had to keep her company. As a gesture of their sisterhood, the two women hide the bird and the birdcage, knowing they would help convict Mrs. Wright. Because of this, she will most likely be found innocent of her husband's murder.

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