Stereotypes and Stereotyping in Susan Glaspell's Trifles


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Stereotypes in Trifles  

I like this play quite a lot. It's got murder, mystery and deceit. It's interesting that the play bases a lot on stereotypes. The men are the sheriff, deputy and the attorney sent out to discover the details of the murder of a man found hanged in his bed. They look carefully in the bedroom and outside in the barn for clues and the women are sent in, I think initially, to gather some things for Mrs. Wright. The women are mocked at by the men. Worrying about things like jelly freezing and sewing. Mrs. Hale "Oh, her fruit; it did freeze. She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the fire'd go out and her jars would break"; Hale "Well, women are used to worrying over trifles." They are not taken seriously. They are women and are not intelligent enough to understand the concept of solving a murder. The men forgot, it's the little things that bother people the most and for Mrs. Wright, it must have been death of her canary.

I think the canary symbolized Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hale describes her; "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"; and like a bird, Mrs. Wright even sang in a choir. But after she got married, every thing stopped. She didn't sing anymore or attend social functions. Like a bird, her house became her cage. The only happiness that she appears to have is with this bird. The bird probably sang when she could not. He was probably a companion to her, she had no children. And like her, he was also caged. Because we do not know, we can only guess that her husband killed her bird. If he killed the bird then he would have killed the only thing that was important to her. He killed her once when he married her and caged her in that house, and he killed her again when he destroyed her bird. "No,. Wright wouldn't like the bird - a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too." When Mrs. Wright was used to its singing and her world became quiet again, it was too much for her take.

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So she did to him what he did to her bird. She simply choked the life out of him, like he did to her bird or like he did to her when he married her. By doing this, did she release herself from her entrapment or did she just satisfy her rage? Because she is again imprisoned.

Why do the women help Mrs. Wright? These could be a few reasons. 1) They realized that she had been punished enough. She was alone. Never attended women's organizations or sang in the choir, which is something that she enjoyed before she was married. Her life had been caged already. 2) The women remember a time when something very dear to them was destroyed and the rage they felt. A justification for a crime. 3) The men would not think this was a valid reason for murder. It was only a little canary. No big deal-- right. (A trifle, something of little value or importance) 4) They may have felt that by destroying the evidence, they would help to release Mrs. Wright. 5) They felt guilty for not helping or realizing that she was having problems. or 6) They became an alliance together, against the men and the oppression that they and Mrs. Wright were going through. The things that they felt to be important were regarded as meaningless. They were not even asked for their opinion about the murder or a just cause. Even though we learn through them the real reason for the murder.


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