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ENGL 1302- Male-Female Relationships in Trifles

Aug 21, 2023

Drama Analysis

For this essay, you will analyze Trifles based on a specific aspect that you want to work from (ex: characters, conflict, staging, conventions) and how that contributes to the whole work. Keep in mind your introduction will need an attention-getter, the text you are working from, and your thesis statement (topic and main points). This paper will have a persuasive tone because you are trying to convince someone that your view is valid.  Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong, but valid and invalid. You want to present an argument/interpretation that is believable and well-supported with evidence.

Also, remember to use the text as evidence and you must incorporate two articles from the library databases (you can visit the library databases online) or other credible sources (books, the internet, etc) to help support your points. Please avoid Wikipedia, Schmoop, Sparknotes, etc. Remember to quote the passages exactly as the author states them, and do not misrepresent what the author might be trying to say. You need 2-3 quotes per body paragraph to support your point. You must include in-text citations and a works cited page with this essay.

Questions to get you started:

  • What does the play Trifles tell you about the position of women in this early 20th-century community? How does this relate to the theme?
  • Identify and explain the conflict in How is this portrayed in the play?
  • What is the setting of Trifles? How does it affect the play?
  • Discuss the characters of the play How do they affect the play?

Male-Female Relationships in Trifles


‘We live close together and we live far apart’- this quote in Trifles by Susan Glaspell perfectly encapsulates the relationship between women during the upheavals of the 20th century. Women were slowly gaining their sovereignty and natural rights which was not only a cultural shock for them but also for the males, who for so long were used to seeing women in a subdued role and subservient position. These conflicts are evident in the way the males and females interact with each other in this one-act play. The investigators are attempting to approach the whole issue conventionally since the present methodology in which the society is set benefits the males, while females are trying to incorporate a new lens to the situation.


This essay analyses the opposing desires of both genders in this play through the behavior of the characters.

Body Paragraphs

Main Point 1

The males in society want to preserve their superiority. The fact that males want to stick to the present system even with its illogical aspects is clear in the way the case from the beginning is designed to be a male attack against the female defense. The statements like ‘Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves.’ shows that there is no space of doubt in the minds of the male investigators that the crime was committed by Mrs. Wright (Widyaningrum and Rahayu, p.10). Throughout the story, it is only the women who are coming up with defenses, with Mrs. Hale pointing out the sadness of the house and attributing it to Mr. Wright. This case consists of a lot of aspects that only a woman is capable of understanding, such as domestic violence and the psychological state of the victim. Even then the jury was bound to be entirely men, who by all logic are incapable of providing a just decision. In the 20th century, Women weren’t allowed to vote as well as participate in the jury, as men were seen to be the people running the world while women were subordinates. As evident in the statement of the County Attorney ‘But you know juries when it comes to women. If there was some definite thing. Something to show—something to make a story about—a thing that would connect up with this strange way of doing it—‘, the men feel that this jury setup is sympathetic to women when in reality it isn’t. For the emotion of sympathy to arise it is extremely essential that people actually understand and relate to it. This can be easily understood by the happenings of the crime scene, where Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale due to their understanding can deduce the cause of the crime, while the Attorney and Mr. Hale with their experience are unable to figure out the heads and tails of this issue.

Main Point 2

There is also a camaraderie between females that can be noticed between the characters of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters in the text. This camaraderie has developed because of the constant ignorance displayed by the males in their lives. None of the males in the story outwardly say something horrific against women, but there is a subtle disdain that is visible in their tone and attitude (Greene, p.14). The tone and attitude are also hypocritical in many ways, as evident by the statement by Mr. Hale ‘Well, women are used to worrying over trifles’ while displaying worry about a meager towel. The men in these cases are constantly finding faults while women are defending them, as reflected in the responses by the women to the towel fiasco (Jawad, p.30). How the women have to protect themselves against men and their tirades develop closeness in their relationship. They also share a similarity in their suffering as Mrs. Peters to comes out with the same experience of having her beloved animal become the victim of a man’s temper or haughtiness. She understands the force that took over Mrs. Wright that led her to take the fateful call, as she says ‘If they hadn’t held me back I would have—‘. The similarity in the experience is because the trials and tribulations of them by the males are also similar. The men as a whole have not been able to change their thinking, and because of thisich Women have sort of taken up arms with each other, in support of each other. Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale stand together at the beginning of the play and end up making all the calls and decisions with each other for the sake of Mrs. Wright because they are well aware of the subtle misogyny present in the males of the story.

Main Point 3

The males in the story are trying to subtly put down the women and want to halt any kind of progress that females are attempting to achieve. Mr. Peters and County Attorney begin the investigation with the assumption that Mrs. Wright is guilty (Abd-Aun and Haneen, p.182). THowthe story is structured and also showcases the low opinion they have of women. The two characters in the story the investigators have no interaction with are Mrs. Wright and Mr. Wright. This shows that they are literally equating Mrs. Wright to a dead man. This implies that for Mr. Peters and County Attorney, a fallen woman and her reasons hold no value. They do not care about the problems that women need to face in today’s world because the present time is stacked in their favor. Hence there is no need for them to pay heed to them or their opinions. Hence, the investigators dismiss everything that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are contributing to in the little conversation that both genders have with each other. The investigators are attempting to maintain their superiority. They try to categorize the genders by attributing the house’s unpleasantness to the female rather than the male. They accuse the women of being upset about trivial things while they comment about the cleanliness of the house and a towel. The truth is that no characteristics can be attached to particular genders, everybody’s a human who can be affected by a multitude of things. Therefore, to blame a particular gender for something is overall an unfair concept.


How Mrs. Peters, Mr. Peters, Mrs. Hale, and the County Attorney behave showcases the condition of the male-female dynamic in the 20th century. Throughout the story the subtle misogyny of the male characters is evident. The reason they attempted to save the present order, which was slowly deteriorating due to the rising voices of females. The females were also showing a greater understanding of their ordeals, which is reflective of the author’s own experience with the case. Blinded by the misogynistic views Susan Glaspell also attached to Mrs. Wright along with her male companions, but later when she could relate herself to Mrs. Wright and her anger, she began to report about her more sympathetically.

Works Cited

Widyaningrum, Agnes, and Endang Yuliani Rahayu. “Double-Voiced Discourse in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.”

Greene, Amy. “Pronouns: The Importance of Our Everyday Language.” Curiosity: Interdisciplinary Journal of Research and Innovation 1.2 (2021): 1-16.

Jawad, Enas Jaafar. “The Dilemma of Domestic Violence in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Journal of the College of Education for Women 31.1 (2020): 25-36.

Abd-Aun, Raad Kareem, and Haneen Ali Haleem. “The Woman as” the Other” in Glaspell’s Trifles, Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Kane’s Blasted.” International Journal of Arabic-English Studies 20.2 (2020): 169-186.

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