Well-Behaved Women Rarely Avoid Murder...

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As was voiced by many of my classmates, Glaspell's Trifles shows a deep chasm between the male and female genders. We see the cynicism with which the men in the play view their female counter-characters (Is that a word?):

SHERIFF: Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin' about her preserves

COUNTY ATTORNEY: I guess before we're through she may have something more serious htan preserves to worry about.

HALE: Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.

Yes... to the men in Trifles, they may just be preserves. Obviously, murder is a much larger issue than a can of preserves- right? See, here's the thing; my grandmother explained to me how much work it takes to can preserves. So, to Minnie, her preserves were everything. It was her only means of displaying a bit of power over the cruel man in her life. At that time, women were demeaned. They didn't hold a lot of power except for in the world of their "trifles" (quilts, preserves, canaries, etc.). In the eyes of the men, the women were meant to be well-behaved. As the old saying goes, though, "well-behaved women rarely make history." Minnie had been silent and well-behaved for a very long time. She bought the canary so that she could emit some semblance of a "voice." When John Wright killed the canary, he also killed the voice that Minnie had. So, when she killed John she voiced a new type of power, one that allowed her to cross over into the male world.



I hadn't thought of the effort one must put into the process of canning preserves. Your insight about this process being one of Minnie's exertions of power makes a lot of sense in the context of the rest of the play. Love it!

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

Thanks, Karyssa! I was trying to see through Minnie's eyes. Obviously, the women of today have much more freedom and power (not enough, but we're not going to get into the subject of feminism here...), but women back then were confined to the kitchen. In this "kitchen world," they HAD to develop SOME sort of power in order to give comparison to other women in the "kitchen world," right? So, they used preserves, quilting knots, and the condition of their kitchens to exhibit power.

OOOO I just had a revelation. Sorry this is long, but I just realized that the condition of Minnie's kitchen was much to be desired. She wasn't much of a housewife. Does this mean that the only way she could regain power was to kill John?

I think that's an excellent idea. Her house was dirty and in disarray, so if her housekeeping skills reflect her power and independence, it's clear she had little.

I just had an idea, too! Since her house was still in disarray when the "inspectors" were there, maybe Minnie didn't actually get the power she hoped to obtain in killing John. Instead, she stayed in the same rut, with men dominating her life, only in this case Glaspell would have been inferring men in general and not just John as the oppressive force.

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

Good point! Well, I could also argue otherwise. I don't think that she was stuck in the same rut at all. I believe that, because she was never FULLY discovered, she got what she wanted. She killled off the oppressive force (John) in her own life and encourages other women to do the same. While Mrs. Hale will not physically kill her husband, she's killing his pride by refusing to reveal the necessary evidence to convict Minnie. Eventually, if the play were to continue for another act, I believe Minnie would have been let off the hook and released because there wouldn't have been any evidence to convict her!

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