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Susan Glaspells conflict and identity - Essay Example

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Glaspell’s play deals with a wife’s murder of her husband and the analysis of innocence and guilt; Tan’s autobiographical account is a coming-of-age story of a Chinese immigrant girl and the mother-daughter relationship; Steinbeck’s short story is based on a woman’s life on an isolated Western ranch and her struggle for self-expression. …
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Susan Glaspells conflict and identity
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Download file to see previous pages The focus of all three writings is the exploration of feminine identity. Minnie Wright, the absent protagonist of “Trifles,” Jing-mei, the ‘disobedient’ daughter in “Two Kinds,” and Elisa Allen, the heroine of “Chrysanthemums,” are all women in stifling circumstances, who experience conflict. They are women who share a certain common yearning for assertion and identity and attempt to break out of the constraints of their circumstances. Minnie Wright, Jing-mei and Elisa Allen find themselves trapped in conflict and assert their identities in their own ways. Minnie Wright is trapped in an evidently unhappy marriage, and a cheerless home. John Wright is a kill-joy and a miser. Mrs. Hale asserts, “But he was a hard man” (Glaspell, 22). He is a silent, critical man whose very acquaintance is abrasive. Minnie’s life as Wright’s wife can only be a hopeless situation. Above all, Wright is a cruel man, with a sadistic streak, who deliberately stamps out his wife’s happiness in song and music by killing her pet canary. Minnie’s isolation from the community, the stifling loneliness of her life as Wright’s wife and the loss of her liveliness and love of music move her into deep desolation. . Wright’s killing of the lively, singing canary symbolizes his killing of Minnie’s singing. This brutal act finally pushes Minnie into strangling her husband as he sleeps. Minnie asserts herself by rising against the tyranny of a husband who abuses her as a woman and an individual. Tragically, this assertion of identity comes about only by Minnie being pushed over the border of sanity. This is seen in her laughter, her compulsive “kind of pleating of her apron” (Glaspell, 6), her concern for her preserves and her request for an apron in jail. She does not seem to realize the gravity of her situation. Although the concealment of her motive by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters may save her from a trial and a verdict of guilt, her ability to live a normal life remains in doubt. Minnie becomes “done up” (Glaspell, 6). She resolves the conflict in her life but pays the price of assertion by losing her sanity and her chance of enduring happiness. Jing-mei is caught in her mother’s vicarious search for wealth and fame, and her attempt to use her daughter as a vehicle to fulfill her own dreams. Jing-mei “hated the tests, the raised hopes and failed expectations” (Tan, para. 4). Each of her mother’s experiments in making her a child prodigy ends in failure. What follows is a conflict between the ‘disobedient’ daughter who pleads, “Why don’t you like me the way I am?” (Tan, Para. 5), and the mother’s attempt to fashion her into the ‘obedient’ daughter whose achievements she can take pride in. Jing-mei rebels against circumstances in her own way. She decides to defy her mother, and confesses: “I failed her many times, each time asserting my will, my right to fall short of expectations” (Tan, 9). She resolutely refuses to let her mother force her to meet her expectations: from failing to get straight A’s to being a college drop-out. Jing-mei remains firm in her resolution, “I won’t be what I’m not” (Tan, 4). Gradually, although her mother holds fast to her belief that her daughter has failed to become a prodigy only because of her lack of will, she accepts Jing-mei ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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