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In Trifles, Glaspell presents the divide between traditional gender roles and actually satirizes those stereotypes to reveal how misguided they can be.
Mr. Hale, the County Attorney, and the Sheriff come into the Wright home and attempt to reconstruct the crime and look for clues. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are timid and tentative. While the men dominate the investigation, thinking it is their job, the women stay out of the way to allow the men to do "men's work."
During the course of the men's investigation, the women talk about John Wright and how he didn't have a homemaking instinct, implying that he was a less than loving husband. The County Attorney asks Mrs. Hale what she means by this and she says, "But I don't think a place'd be any cheerfuller for John Wright's being in it." The County Attorney says they'll talk about that later but basically dismisses it and goes to look upstairs.
While the men are upstairs, the women notice seemingly trivial "trifles." They see things like the broken bird cage, the transition from a careful to a haphazard sewing pattern, and the body of the dead bird. Overhearing their comments on the sewing, the men chastise the women for arguing over trifles while they believe they've investigated the really important elements of the crime scene.
Read in this way, Trifles is a feminist work that criticizes the way gender roles are stereotyped and exposes the misconceptions that men are more capable of reason and deduction while women are too emotional to make objective observations. In this play, the men are oblivious and the women are much more perceptive to the meaningful aspects of the case and the Wrights' relationship. The men look for physical evidence and the women discover human evidence - or, clues to human motivations. So, Trifles is also a criticism about the traditional roles and jobs that men and women are supposed to have.
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