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The Invisible Woman in Trifles Essay

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Trifles is a one-act play inspired by a murder which the author Susan Glaspell followed as a reporter from 1899-1901, yet did not publish until 1916. The difference in time is significant, as the fight to gain the right to vote was advanced during this period. For years the feminist movement had experienced many failures. The play and its themes display the changing attitude towards female injustices. Trifles exposes how American Women in the early 20th century, especially the “invisible” woman Mrs. Wright, were oppressed politically, socially, and psychologically by men, despite several political advances.
The political atmosphere for women in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was fierce and in a constant state of battle. Groups and events such as the National Woman Suffrage Association and the National Women’s Rights Convention were created. Feminist ideals began to gather momentum and support. Married women gained many rights during the 19th century as evidenced by the passing of several laws in their favor. Unfortunately, the social norms remained somewhat the same. 18th century jurist William Blackstone explained the early thinking of a woman’s status: "By marriage, the very being or legal existence of a woman is suspended, or at least incorporated or consolidated into that of the husband, under whose wing, protection, or cover she performs everything” (Offen 1). Women during these early years of the United States lost their identity and became a part of their husband. This school of thought slowly changed over the next two centuries. By the time Minnie Wright finds herself married, she is still under the full control of her husband socially but not necessarily legally. In this way, the patriarchal ideology conti...


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Glaspell, Susan. “Trifles.” Twelve Classic One-Act Plays. Ed: Mary Carolyn Waldrep: Mineola,
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Marano, Hara Estroff. “The Dangers of Loneliness.” Psychology Today 1 Jul 2003. Google
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Noe, Marsha. "Reconfiguring the Subject/Recuperating Realism: Susan Glaspell's Unseen
Woman." American Drama 4.2 (Spring 1995): 36-54. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary
Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 175. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
Offen, Karen. “A Brief History of Marriage.” International Museum of Women. Web. 09
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Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.



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