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Mrs. Wright was a victim of domestic violence and the play touches upon themes such as female oppression and empowerment. Domestic violence was not a topic that was discussed in the early 1900s, so it is critical to understand the kinds of relationships between men and women in society during this period. Women could not serve on juries, nor did they have the right to vote and were held to a traditional code of behavior. Women were to stay home and take care of the house. They were to be seen, but not heard.
Mrs. Wright was completely isolated and unable to connect with others. Before her marriage, she was outgoing, friendly, sung in a choir and wore fancy dresses. Years after her marriage, she became reserved, withdrawn, and did not participate in social associations (Ex. Ladies' Aid). One can infer that her husband "sucked" the life out of her and that the dead canary symbolizes Mrs. Wright's life and state of mind. The murder of her husband was her defiance to the traditional code of behavior bestowed upon women. She could no longer live under such horrific conditions and she believed this was the only way to break free of her dominating and abusive husband. The women in the kitchen uncovered the clues as to what had been happening in the house, but the men did not notice the evidence. Instead, they were too preoccupied with the fact that the house was unkempt and that Mrs. Wright did not know how to keep house.
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