In murdering her own husband, Mrs. Wright escapes the gendered domestic roles placed on her as well as the abuse and degradation she suffered at her husband's hands. Mrs. Peters's and Mrs. Hale's understanding of her situation show it to be a fairly common one among women in this male-dominated community, and their decision to protect Mrs. Wright demonstrates a tacit support of her actions.
Throughout the play, the male characters consistently treat the female characters with dismissal and contempt, often disguised as playful affection. They make fun of Mrs. Wright's concern for her fruit preserves and Mrs. Hale's and Mrs. Peters's interest in Mrs. Wright's quilting. Mr. Hale even dismisses his wife's behavior by saying
Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.
They see the domestic world, the world populated by women, as unimportant and unthreatening. This behavior emerges from the gender roles of the society these characters inhabit. Women were confined to the home and often isolated, overlooked, or even belittled by their husbands and families. In taking action to eliminate the male figure in her home, Mrs. Wright breaks free of the expectations of her gender and becomes the thing these men never see women as: a threat.
Glaspell also uses symbolism to reinforce this feminine revolt. When Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover the empty bird cage, they immediately connect Mrs. Wright symbolically with the missing bird.
She—come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself—real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and—fluttery. How—she—did—change.
The language Mrs. Hale uses to describe the bird and Mrs. Wright— words like "sweet," "pretty," and "timid"—would also have been seen as directly related to the feminine ideal of the time. In this way, the bird comes to represent not only Mrs. Wright but women in general. Thus, when Mr. Wright murdered the bird, he was not only taking away Mrs. Wright's only comfort and companion in her home; he was also committing a symbolic act of violence against the women in his society.
The murder of Mr. Wright is a direct response to his act of violence, as seen by the nature of his death. Despite there being a gun in the house, as noted by Mr. Hale, Mr. Wright was strangled in the same way that Mrs. Wright's bird was strangled. In this context, his murder clearly emerges as an act of feminine revolt on Mrs. Wright's part.