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This brilliant play above all teaches us much about the differences between women and men and, crucially, the way that men in this patriarchal world so often underestimate the knowledge that women have and their areas of expertise. This is shown centrally through the ironic way in which the men mock the women and their concerns as the women survey the kitchen and comment on the quilt, the preserves and other elements of what is considered to be a woman's domain. However, inspite of the men's activity and their search for a clue that will give them a motive for the murder of John Wright, it is the women, precisely because of their knowledge, who are able to find the missing clue and the motive that explains the crime and what happened. Consider how the title of the play underlines this gender division. When Mrs. Peters talks about Minnie Wright's fruit and preserves, she is almost rebuked by the County Attorney for worrying about such petty and insignificant things. Hale in repsonse says:
Well, women are used to worrying about trifles.
The way in which the men write off the women's knowledge and expertise in so many areas adds to the irony, as it is precisely their knowledge of such "trifles" that leads the women to find what the men are desperately seeking. This play therefore above all calls us to radically reassess our notions of gender and challenges us to not underestimate the power and intelligence of women in a men's world.
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