Susan Glaspell develops with the play Trifles and later on coins the Jury of Her Peers, a short story, from the play, in which she tells the events that surround the arrest of Mrs. Wright due to her husband John Wrights murder. The play does not tell exactly whether Mrs. Wright was guilty of the killing and the Sherriff and County Attorney go through her house to identify any motive that links her to the murder but by the time curtains close on the play the law enforcers have not acquired any evidence for ill-motive. The play does, however, involve two ladies, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters who accompany the men into Minnies house as they do their investigation. Mrs. Hale is Minnies childhood friend and the farmers wife and Mrs. Peters who is the Sherriffs wife.
The two women bring a unique approach towards murder in the play even as the investigation by the men is underway. Just as the short storys title is Jury of her peers, the two women try to justify her intentions if she is the one who killed her husband. As Alkalay-Gut states Two housewives, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, accompanying their husbands who are investigating the murder of a man by his wife, discover in the kitchen the clues which indicate the motive of the murderess, and silently agree to withhold this evidence from their husbands (Alkalay-Gut 1). It is an indication that the two women were viewing the case from Minnies viewpoint as somehow being women of that day and age felt her anguish and the reasons that might push her to that extent.
It may be the feminist approach to this murder considering that these women especially Mrs. Hale knew Minnie as one who was cheerful and beautiful but all that changed when Minnie got married to John Wright. They define her as one who was close and would avoid any interactions with social groups or women groups in the community. It is evident in the play when Mrs. Hale says Wright was close. I think maybe thats why she kept so much to herself. She didnt even belong to the Ladies Aid (Gwynn 1037). The women describe her as one who used to wear beautiful clothes and was cheerful when she was Minnie Foster but that was a long time before. They also describe John Wright as a hard man, and this may have been what pushed Minnie to strangle him.
Therefore putting themselves in Minnies shoes, the two women view what she did as a way of dealing with her frustration which they know much about because they too go through similar experiences. It is in this right that the two women want to hide any evidence that might incriminate Minnie to ensure that the men do not get any evidence to prove her motive for the murder. The two women discover a cage in Minnies kitchen, and they believe there is supposed to be a bird inside the cage. However, the door is broken, and it seems as if someone broke it. As they continue looking around, they find a beautiful box which they think has Minnies scissors and other tools she uses when knitting.
However when they open the box, there is a dead bird, and they believe that Minnie put it in there to bury the bird. They also believe that John may have been the one who killed the bird and thus one of the reasons why Minnie may have strangled him. Therefore the two women hide the box from the men and even as they leave they go with it. It is to ensure that even as the County Attorney remains behind to continue looking, the women want to make sure that they leave nothing behind that may incriminate Minnie. It is, therefore, one of the views towards murder in the play where the women feel that Minnie was at her limit because of her husband.
The other view is that by law and in particular by the men in the play. The county attorney believes that they need to build a strong case against Minnie and this is only through getting the correct piece of evidence. He believes that the Jury will need to see evidence that will show motive in Minnie and thus create a point for prosecution. It is the reason why the men go through different parts of the house and even the barn to ensure that there is coverage everything. The attorney even asks for Mr. Hales narration of what happened. The laws view of the murder is the reason why Mrs. Wright is currently in prison. She is seen as a prime suspect because her husband's strangling was in their bed where she was also sleeping when it happened. Minnie denies of engaging in the act and explains that she did not hear anything because she was sound asleep.
It is, therefore, the reason why the sheriff and the attorney need to carefully and repeatedly examine the scene to ensure that Minnie faces prosecution as to have committed the crime and not just a suspect. These men have already declared her guilty, and the only reason why they are at the how is to prove her guilty. As Mael says, From the moment the men enter the kitchen, they begin to judge the absent Minnie according to abstract rules and rights (Mael 283). It is an indication that the men are in Minnies house to ensure they keep the law and they can only do this through proving that she is guilty of strangling her husband.
The two views of murder as evident in the play show the various societal views that existed during the 19th century. There is a strong indication of feminism as the women portray through the way they ensure that the men do not find any incriminating evidence against Minnie. It shows that they were not afraid of the consequences if discovered, but were only thinking about the well-being of their fellow woman. Women during this time were viewed as housekeepers and were not expected to be outspoken and confident especially in the presence of men. It is the reason why the two women Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters remain mostly quiet when the men were around but when they leave they talk to each other as they look around Minnies kitchen.
Though feminism may not have been the thought of the two women, their actions prove the solidarity towards a member of their gender. It is also the reason why Mrs. Hale responds to the mens disregard of Minnie as a woman and one who lacks organization through contexts that show that circumstances are what led Minnie to what she is. For example when the attorney brings out Minnie as one who is disorganized, Mrs. Hale explains that the farm is equally big and requires lots of work. She also explains that Minnie left in a hurry as she was arrested and had no time to leave her kitchen organized. It is, therefore, a clear indication of the issue of feminism during the 19th century.
Alkalay-Gut, Karen. "Jury of her peers: The importance of trifles." Studies in Short Fiction 21.1 (1984): 1.
Gwynn, R S. Literature: A Pocket Anthology. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2005. Print.
Mael, Phyllis. "Trifles: The Path to Sisterhood." Literature/Film Quarterly 17.4 (1989): 281.
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