Trifles: Woman and Mr. Peters

1480 WordsOct 24, 20086 Pages
Since the 1900’s, women have struggled with gender roles in society that leaned more in favor of men. Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles, reflects on this struggle by blatantly separating the ideas, opinions and actions of the men and women in the play. As the title Trifles suggests, the men in the play view the two women’s concerns as unimportant and frivolous in comparison to the “real” work the men have to do. Glaspell’s characterization of the sheriff, Henry Peters, the attorney, George Henderson, and the neighboring farmer, Mr. Hale, portrays them as typical men of the time who decide to take charge because, as men, that is their duty and only they know what can be done and how to go about discovering the truth. They only take along Mrs.…show more content…
Hale into his account of the story and tries to keep the two men on task and focusing on the objective. Mr. Henderson even talks roughly to the sheriff, “Somebody should have been left here yesterday” (1369), showing not only his effort to control the situation, but that because he is younger and more educated, he believes himself to know more. Glaspell is exhibiting Mr. Henderson’s arrogance and self-assurance as a way to make him seem like a young man with that invincible hero-complex. This is seen again after Mr. Peters teases the women for worrying about the reserves and Mr. Henderson declares, “(with the gallantry of a young politician): and yet, for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies?” (1371) Although this particular line makes it seem as if he appreciates the women more then the other two men do, this is only Mr. Henderson trying to impress the women and show off. For the rest of the play, he mostly ignores their presence, marking the two women as insignificant. At one point, he says to them, “Well, ladies, have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it?....Well, that’s interesting, I’m sure” (1375), not even giving the women’s response half a thought when, ironically, the subject of his question was very noteworthy evidence. Glaspell is characterizing Mr. Henderson as cocky, yet ignorant to prove the women’s legitimacy. Unlike Mr. Henderson and Mr. Peters, Mr. Hale is only a neighboring farmer; therefore
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