A play that explains why women so rarely get convicted of murder

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"We call it-knot it,Mr.Henderson." ---last line Trifles by Susan Glaspell.

I just like this quiet reference to certain other things that Minnie Foster may or may not have knotted around her husband's neck to strangle him in her sleep.

This play probably makes more use of characters coming and going than any play I've read or seen, except maybe Noises Off. It's definately one I'd like to see performed someday.

It's great because there seem to be three levels, each clearly defined by who is present. When the men are there, you have their "investigating" which they don't seem real good at. Then there are the the women dealing with their "trifles," much to the men's amusement. Finally, you get the women, despite being interupted by the men's investigation, actually determining what happened through their examination of the "trifles" which could more aptly be called evidence.

  These different stories are artfully split apart simply by having the men leave. It's interesting to see the two different sets of personnas the women adopt. They switch from clever detectives into obsequious bystanders everytime the men walk in. The change isn't subtle at all. It comes out like this:

"Look at these stitches, the last three are crooked, the pattern indicates that...." [Enter man]

"Look, a quilt! Oh, pretty!"

What makes this change interesting, is the fact that it isn't, at least until the end, a result of the women concealing things from the men, it is due to the men's own behavior. If they let the women talk, and took anything they said seriously, they might have learned how to do their jobs....or at least, after several lengthy explainations, been able to discern a motive for Wright's murder. Ah, interesting references to gender roles during the place/time period.

I think my favorite part is probably when the women go to the trouble to conceal the evidence they've found from the Attorney...as if he'd EVER figure anything out.

3 Comments

Melissa Schwenk said:

I did like the significant change that occurred when the men came into a room and the women were almost forced to be different. It really highlights the gender roles and the time period. However, I'm still not convinced even if the women had helped the men find "evidence" that the men would have been able to figure everything out.

DavidWilbanks Author Profile Page said:

Oh, I definately agree. I think the women would have had to hold their hands and walk them through the interpretation of that evidence.

Jessica Orlowski said:

Honestly, David, Glaspell makes me think that the men won't EVER find the evidence. I'm wondering about the author's background. Was she a feminist? It certainly seems so... this seems like a piercing stab at the male gender. It makes sense considering that the play was written during the heart of the time when women wanted the right to vote.

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