What does the author of Trifles imply about the differences in which men and women view the world?

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Studies of male and female responses to stimuli of all kinds have revealed that the perspective of the genders often differs.  For instance, when a husband and wife go to a house where they have never been before, often--not always--the men will come home with an overall impression, such as feeling that the place was tastefully decorated, had comfortable furniture, and felt cozy. The women, on the other hand, having noticed individual aspects of the house, may ask their husbands if they liked the living room drapes or the pattern on the dinnerware; the husband may, then, query, "What did they look like?  I don't remember."  To generalize about the genders, then, men often perceive "the overall picture" while women notice details.

It is this generalization on the genders that Susan Glaspell manipulates in her one-act drama.  For, the male characters dismiss the kitchen and its contents as of no importance in the search for evidence, while the women uncover in this supposedly insignificant room items--"trifles"--that are essential to the motive for the murder of Mr. Wright. 

And, it is the patronizing remark of Mr. Hale that "women are used to worrying over trifles" and Sheriff Peters's laughing observation that the women waste time worrying if Mrs. Wright were going to quilt or knot a fabric pattern that causes the two wives to bristle at the men's failure to perceive any importance in certain details.  The irony of Mrs. Hale's comment after the men go upstairs cannot be missed, 

MRS. HALE. I don't know as there's anything so strange, our takin' up our time with little things while we're waiting for them to get the evidence....I don't see as it's anything to laugh about. 

Indeed, in the kitchen which has only "trifles," the discovery of the songbird in a fancy box, a pet whose neck has been wrung, is no "little thing.... to laugh about"; it is the very evidence that the professional men who are searching for things that are not "trifles" need. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,929 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question