Who Said the Gals Can’t Pull One Over On the Guys?
The play, “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell is full of the interactions between men and women from the very beginning. Mr. Wright’s jailing of his wife, the county attorney and sheriff’s remarks to the women. The very name of the play, “Trifles,” embodies the men’s opinion of their counterparts’ abilities. Ironically, it is this masculine blindness of the time which allowed the women to pursue their own agendas. Mr. Wright’s cruelty to his wife, leads her to take his life. Women are capable of only mere “trifles,” are they? Is murder a “trifle?”
And the county attorney’s remark: “Oh I guess they’re not very dangerous things the ladies have picked up.” His assumption that women are harmless lets his key piece of evidence disappear right out the door! Mrs. Hale is able to slip the little dead bird away without even any questions being asked.
Since time immemorial, men’s underestimations of women have caused them problems. Mrs. Hale’s hiding of the bird reminds me of an instance in the movie, The Battle of Algiers. Women were viewed much the same way in Algeria in the 1950s. They were able to hide guns under their veils (most of them were Muslim) and bring them to their husbands in public without being stopped. The French, who were trying to beat Algeria back into submission, never even considered that a woman might be capable of aiding and abetting their own people and cause. The French paid the price, as Mr. Wright and the county attorney in the play did; Algeria won its independence in 1962.The truly sad thing is that despite the total assurance of the male characters in the play that Mrs. Wright was indeed the killer, the lesson went right over their heads, to the point that they shot themselves in the foot.