A psychoanalytic reading: The knot in Glaspell’s Trifles Name Instructor Class 6 September 2012 PART 1 The roles of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are to serve as the foil of one another initially, though later on, Mrs. Peters reveals that she is similar to Mrs…
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Wright for not keeping her house in order, Mrs. Hale defends her through reminding the men of their multiple burdens as women: “There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm” (Glaspell, 1916). For her, men fail to appreciate the work they do to support their families. Mrs. Hale expresses the poor attention given to women’s contribution in society: “Men’s hands aren’t always as clean as they might be” (Glaspell, 1916). This statement has double meaning because it indicates that men should not charge women as irresponsible, when they make their lives so physically and emotionally taxing. Contradictory to the opinionated Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peters serves as her foil; she represents the traditional submissive woman. At first, Mrs. Peters defends her husband and the men doing the investigation. For her, they are only doing their “duty” (Glaspell, 1916). She also resists talking about the culpability of Mrs. Wright. She is adamant that “the law is the law” (Glaspell, 1916). When Mrs. Peters realizes, however, that Mrs. Wright lost her identity during their marriage, she remembers that she knows “what stillness is” (Glaspell, 1916). She understands that it is not right for any woman to stay still for a man all her life. Thus, in the end, Mrs. Peters asserts that she does not see herself as being married to the law, just because she is the sheriff’s wife. ...
PART 2 A psychoanalytic reading: The knot in Glaspell’s Trifles Several female writers such as Kate Chopin and Susan Glaspell contested the idea of a woman’s place under her husband. They questioned gender norms and practices that served male interests, while eradicating the rights of women to speech and self-determination. In the short play Trifles, Glaspell (1916) used the setting of the kitchen to demonstrate the differences between women’s and men’s investigatory skills and processes. Her female and male characters, especially in how they speak with their fellow gender and the opposite sex, reveal the uneven gender relations of the early twentieth century. A psychoanalytic reading that focuses on Mrs. Wright helps uncover her innermost emotions as a woman. The symbolism of the knot and the gender conflict in the play revealed that Mrs. Wright killed her husband because of her repressed feelings of anxiety against her domineering husband and the patriarchal culture of her times. The knot stands for how marriage knots or ties women to their husbands. Marriage is represented as a knot around women’s necks because they are imprisoned in the confines of their homes. Trifles describes the burdens of domestic drudgery, and yet society does not appreciate women’s contributions to it. The County Attorney judges Mrs. Wright’s character as an unfit homemaker, for instance, because her towels are “dirty” (Glaspell, 1916). His attitude signifies his belief that the only right place for women is in the house, and that the house is their only source of identity. Furthermore, the knot represents the idea that men can tighten it around women as they please. The men criticize Mrs. Wright for not keeping the kitchen immaculately clean. For these men,
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However, as the play progresses, one gets a glimpse of how men and women in America in the early 20th century would define their roles according to their gender. Gender is the major determining force that governed men and women in the past and it may still be true at present.
A Critical Analysis of the Portrayal of Women in Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” In her play, “Trifles,” Susan Glaspell manipulates ironies and mystery genre to portray women capable of perceiving right and wrong, planning accordingly and finally of executing their plans by destabilizing the patriarchy-induced stereotypical notion of women’s frivolity and frailty.
The story revolves around the murder of Mr. Wright. Although Mrs. Wright was the prime suspect, being the only person in the house at the time of the murder, the male characters did not find any motive, which is very important in building a case. Although the men found evidences pointing towards Mrs.
Authors, like Susan Glaspell and Edith Wharton, did not back away from the task at hand. Certain as they were of the capacity of literature to represent their marginalized status in society and its apparently boundless ethical objectivity, they placed emphasis on the most excellent techniques to give voice to the marginalized—the oppressed, the demoralized, and the excluded.
Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles, is a book written in 1916 that reflects Susan’s preoccupation and perceptions towards culture-bound notion of gender and sex roles. This is a patriarch society that views women as lesser beings with totally no role to play.
The author has used various literary elements like strong plot, setting, character, gender conflict, symbolism etc. to focus the plight of women and to question the validity of a judicial system where the evidence of crime as confirmed by men is enough to charge the prime suspect of the crime.
So when that same childless, unkempt woman is on trial for the strangling death of her husband, no male judge and all male jury is going to have any sympathy for her difficult living situation, or her troubled marriage. As far as they would be concerned she was not living up to her end of the marriage agreement anyway.
The play, “Trifle” is viewed as the epitome of feminist discourse. And this feminism finds profound expression through exemplary and explicit character representation of two women characters in the play namely Mrs Peters and Mrs Hale.
Man and woman relationships and
However, a deeper reading reveals that a similar thread runs through both the stories. Kate Chopin and Susan Glaspell present a common view of marriage as an oppressive relationship for the woman. The protagonists, Louise Mallard and Minnie Wright, in spite of the differences
John got strangled in his sleep and Minnie is held as a suspect in jail (Glaspell 3). The play’s title provides a clue to its main theme. The play provides a look at the perceived role and place of the woman in society at the time.
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