What are two examples of gender roles in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles?

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Two examples of gender roles in Trifles are the following: First, George Henderson calls Minnie Wright a poor housekeeper for her dirty towel roll. Mrs. Hale, however, blames this on the men for being dirty. Second, Mr. Hales deems the women's concerns over the ruined cherry preserves trifling. Mrs. Hale, however, knows how hard it is to make preserves in the summer. From her perspective as a woman, the preserves are important.

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The women in Trifles look at the work of a farm wife through a different lens than the men do. One example of this comes out when the country attorney, George Henderson, is dismissive and insulting about Mrs. Wright's kitchen being in a disarray. He says she is not much of a homemaker, but Mrs. Hale, knowing how hard the life of a farm woman is, defends her peer. When the attorney notes the dirty towel roll in the Wright's kitchen, blaming Mrs. Wright for it, Mrs. Hale counters by blaming the men. The passage showing the interchange is below:

Dirty towels! (kicks his foot against the pans under the sink) Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?

MRS HALE: (stiffly) There's a great deal of work to be done on a farm.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: To be sure. And yet (with a little bow to her) I know there are some Dickson county farmhouses which do not have such roller towels. (He gives it a pull to expose its length again.)

MRS HALE: Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men's hands aren't always as clean as they might be.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: Ah, loyal to your sex, I see.

In the Wright kitchen, Mr. Hale dismisses women's concerns as "trifles" because the women are worried about Mrs. Wright's ruined cherry preserves. He says:

Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.

Later, when the men have left, Mrs. Hale says to Mrs. Peters about the preserves:

She'll [Minnie] feel awful bad after all her hard work in the hot weather. I remember the afternoon I put up my cherries last summer.

The men can easily dismiss the work of making preserves as trifling because they don't have to do it: it is woman's work. The women, however, know how hard it is boiling the fruit in a hot kitchen because they have to do it every summer.

Gender roles make it much easier for the women to reconstruct what happened to Minnie; they are better able to understand why she snapped. Gender roles also make it easy for men to dismiss the woman's point of view and overlook crucial evidence that the women see.

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How are gender roles portrayed in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles? What are some examples of gender roles in the play?

The women in Trifles are portrayed as hesitant and timid when around the men, who are depicted as more confident. The stage directions describe Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter, entering the Wright's kitchen, as

women [who] have come in slowly, and stand close together near the door.

The men, in contrast, walk confidently over to the stove.

The chief gender role the women play in this rural society of a century past is that of homemaker. This role includes baking, cleaning, sewing, and putting up preserves. This work is belittled by the men as "trifling." The men assume that their professional credentials as police officers and detectives make them more competent at crime solving than the women. In this society, men have paid work outside of the home or as farmers, while women's work is unpaid domestic labor. The women are subordinate to men, as is shown in the dismissive way the men treat the women.

By concentrating on what the men overlook as trifles not worth noticing, the women are able to piece together what happened to cause the death of John Wright. They realize that Minnie Wright snapped when her husband killed her beloved pet canary and retaliated by killing her husband. The women are able to empathize with her isolated life on a farm with an abusive, uncaring man, because they know what it is like to be in her position.

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