What is the moral principle of Trifiles?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The overriding moral principle deals with the inequality of the sexes at the turn of the 20th century.  Specifically, the play focuses on the isolation of a wife within marriage.  Glaspell says that, once married, a woman loses her ties with the greater feminine community.  Minnie Wright, who used to sing and socialize, is so held captive by Mr. Wright as a domestic servant, for so long, that she justifiably snaps.

The men investigators in the play are condescending, quick to judge, are foolish in the ways of women; they overlook all the evidence in the kitchen; instead, they search for a "smoking gun" in the bedroom and barn.  They represent the traditional, elitist, sexist "powers that be"--the "good ole boy network."

Mrs. Hale, in the meantime, reconstructs Minnie by observing her recent frantic domestic habits.  Her moral decision to conceal this evidence suggests that she believes Minnie committed justifiable homicide.  Glaspell wants Mrs. Hale and the other women to be the final jury--that Minnie need not face a jury of men in an actual courtroom.  Mrs. Hale does this as a passive form of retribution to protect women from physical and emotional abuse and other forms of psychic violence committed by husbands.

Critic Nelligan writes:

Glaspell intended to show that women in the domestic sphere were vulnerable to the brutality of men like John Wright, but she also dramatizes the powerful sense of solidarity women shared and assumes that this solidarity was somehow responsible for superior female morality.

As with Antigone, Mrs. Hale seems to obey gods' laws instead of man's laws.